Yesterday I posted a rather brief and cryptic analysis of the death of Oral Roberts, self-proclaimed healer via God who died from ... some disease. For his trouble he collected millions of dollars from people who believed him because - well, we want to believe I suppose.
It's the same reason we want to believe in Santa Claus, or more accurately, why parents want their children to believe. They say it's childlike wonderment or some junk, but it's really our parents perpetuating a myth on our young minds that has its roots in a belief in some healing power or that we are somehow not just amorphous blobs of protoplasm wandering aimlessly - which of course, we are. And we're too young and naive to realize that not only do good kids get stuff at Christmas, but the kid who beat us up in the playground and the one who cheated on his math test got stuff too. Nicer stuff than we got, too. Maybe Santa isn't as diligent as we were led to ... um ... believe? Another fine life lesson.
We like to think that we have some influence over things, hence superstition and other such nonsense designed to relegate responsibility to something that has nothing to do with our actions. We like blaming things on other things, and if we can use luck we're a happy bunch. If we are bad at something we're unlucky, but if someone else is good at something they're lucky - especially if we don't like them very much.
Likewise, we like to think that we're more important than we are, which is why we invented Twitter, Facebook and - egad - blogs to give us a voice in the wilderness and, in Twitter's case, followers who leap and bound on our every Tweet as though what we thought had some mystical importance. Mostly, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened.
So people like Oral Roberts and Santa Claus exist in our minds and we give over to them some other-worldly gift and think that they can either heal our wounds or make us happy by giving us junk.
Even though our common sense (or what's left of it) tells us that we're all alone here, wandering aimlessly, we cling to these things to the point that when others tell us that we're clinging to a thread we are offended and condemn them to Hell or a lump of coal.
Religion is a perfect vehicle because the only people who know for sure are dead and the Santa Claus bit is acceptable because we know that when we have children we'll get to pull the same crap on them, so there's a little revenge in the deal.
And the only thing we like better than relegating responsibility is exacting revenge for the people we blame for stuff.