Ain't No Atheists In This (Economic) Foxhole

I can always count on the New York Times' Sunday "Styles" section for my weird-reading-of-the-week.(*1) And this past Sunday was no exception: a long piece about boom times for psychics.

Why is the fortune-telling biz so good these days? Because investors, at a loss (no pun intended) for what direction to turn, are asking psychics for advice about how, where, and when to invest.

My immediate reaction was an eye-rolling "ohgimmeabreak." But then I thought about it some more. And realized that people visiting psychics are doing what humans have done since we began standing upright: Reaching out to that-thing-that-might-be-there in hopes "it" can provide guidance, wisdom, and knowledge. Reaching out to something we sense, rather than something we know.

In short, these investors are turning to the subset of spirituality known as "magic." Other subsets include Christianity, Islam, voodoo, witchcraft, etc. (Although I suspect many would argue that witchcraft and voodoo are all just names for "magic.") I have no substantive point here, other than to admit that my own knee-jerk eye-rolling (how's that for a mix of body parts??) was unwarranted and unfair.

After all, when I fly, I do this: As the plane takes off, I "pray" to whoever/whatever is out there, asking for a safe journey for all the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and, especially, the children on the plane. And when we land, I say another "prayer" of thanksgiving that all those people will get home to their loved ones. I'm not praying to any particular person, thing, or place.

Just, well, reaching out beyond my "self" to commune with the universe. Reaching out to that force/power/whatever that enables us to love (because that, in my opinion, is what matters most.) I'm about as areligious, agnostic, and atheistic as it's possible to be, and yet -- if this makes me religious, yes, I confess: I am!


*1: The "Styles" section offers up a weekly anthropological excursion through cringe-inducing hipness, and the lives of fashion fascists and the terminally neurotic.