Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes Split: A Rhetorical Entry Point?

Most people don't really care much either way about having a consistent, true worldview: they just want to keep their kids out of trouble, pay their mortgage, and be comfortable. This often involves not rocking the boat and not thinking too hard about things. To many of us atheists, this is a very alien outlook, if indeed it's an outlook at all. And it makes it very difficult to get through to people about the importance of how we can know what's true, which is (I think) the main reason that most people in the U.S. keep calling themselves Christian. Inertia. Not wanting to make waves. But if you can link this to something that's easy to understand, that they already know about, and it affects something in their immediate life, then you can get their attention. That's why I risked making this blog post seem like I was turning into a gossip column. The Cruise-Holmes split is on a lot of lips right now, and of course a central part of the story for many people is the weird Scientology stuff he's into. The narrative seems to be, "He's in that group and did weird stuff with the kids, and she left him. Serves him right." To which one might say, "You're right. Come to think of it, we have neighbors who tell their kids ["gay people are evil, non-Christians are evil, vaccines cause autism", etc - fill in the blank]. They're kind of weird too!" Just an opportunity for an "elevator pitch" for something that's going to come up at work or BBQ's this month.

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