Friday, June 25, 2010

We're all perfectly normal ... I think ...

Pondering the Improbable

I’ve been pondering – do pixies ponder? Or do we wonder? – I’ve been speculating about the motives and manner of thinking that lead people to believe the improbable. Our new history book profiles a belief system that contains elements of the improbable. The movement fractured multiple times and by 1918 (we will end our history at 1887, a good cutoff date.) it was very complex. But some of the “improbable” stayed with most of the factions.

Many of them believed that Christ came, albeit invisibly, in 1874. They believed this solely on the basis of a complicated scheme of prophetic dates and went looking for proof of it in world events. Now this may make them sound like fruitcakes, and some of them were, but these were talented, even brilliant men – men who served in mainstream churches before they accepted this doctrine.

They differed doctrinally from the usually accepted view in other ways too, but stayed within the boarders of historical though sometimes heretical Christianity. It’s that one belief that was fanciful. Why were they willing to believe it? Against the weight of evidence? Against the weight of common sense? It was an important doctrine. They staked their fortunes and reputations on it. Preaching it detracted from some good, solid Biblical scholarship found within the larger movement.

And … why is it that this sort of thing is common? A hundred and forty years later people still poke fun at these groups for believing this. But among those who write snide polemics against the remnants of this belief system are those who think there is a vast Masonic conspiracy. (If my thirty-third degree Mason neighbor is involved in a world-wide conspiracy, it’s doomed to failure. Think about it … He’ll never stay sober long enough to carry his conspiracy to fruition.)

Taking the improbable seriously seems to be a human fault. Maybe just enough of what seems improbable proves to be real that it’s easy to believe the rest real too.

Which brings me to giants. … In most mythologies giants are GIGANTIC. Without discussing Hebrew words and such, the Biblical giant mythology (Okay, dear heart, I’m using that word of a collection of folk belief, not necessarily untrue. I’m not calling the Bible a work of myth. … Dang … I shoulda chosen another word, but since I’ve written this much already, I’ll keep it) … the Biblical giant mythology does not present them as improbably tall, mountainous creatures, but as mighty men, men of fame. A height advantage, when described, falls within what is possible for humans. I like this better than Celtic or Anglo-Saxon mythology.

It’s much easier to believe in a race of overly tall men than it is to believe in a mountain-high creature with a club. But, those who take giant myth seriously suspend good sense and go for the mountain-sized man. Why? (Yes, there ARE those who take giants seriously.)

Now, it’s my turn. Fairies and Pixies and such are real. … Maybe they’re not what you think, but they are real. My proof? All my daughters have wings. Prove me wrong …


  1. Hundreds of years ago when the average height of men was around five foot, anyone who was six-plus feet would also have been ranked al a giant.

    By the way my favorite was Fezzik in the Princess Bride played by Andre the Giant.

  2. Sneaky... getting them to prove a negative.... Clever Pixie Princess