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Hello, everyone. I am Ithaka. And this is Sponge, a podcast of absorption and reflection in the process of returning to or becoming our most unreal selves.

The theme for today’s episode is this: in articulating a message, delivering it by using the stories the recipient is accustomed to is highly effective. That is something I absorbed from “The Wonder,” a movie directed by Sebastián Lelio, and also, from ”The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy.

Spoiler alert, everyone. Spoiler alert. Of the works we will discuss in this episode, “The Wonder,” a movie directed by Sebastián Lelio, is a fictional work. In this episode, there will be spoilers. If you plan to watch “The Wonder” and do not want spoilers, do not listen to this episode at this time.

Let’s get right into the plot summary of “The Wonder.” From IMDb, quote, “Set in The Irish Midlands in 1862, the story follows a young girl who stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright is brought to a tiny village to observe eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell. Tourists and pilgrims mass to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months.” End quote.

The movie begins in an unconventional way. Based on the plot description, we would think that it’s a period piece, that we would jump straight into the Irish Midlands in 1862. But instead of that, what we are shown first is a film set. An indoor studio setting. And over that scene, a woman narrates the following.

Quote, “Hello. This is the beginning. The beginning of a film called The Wonder. The people you are about to meet, the characters, believe in their stories with complete devotion. We are nothing without stories. And so we invite you to believe in this one.

“It is 1862. We left England, bound for Ireland. The Great Famine still casts a long shadow, and the Irish hold England responsible for that devastation.” End quote.

And with this narration, the camera pans to Lib Wright. She sits in one of the sets within the indoor studio.

The narration continues, quote, “There sits a nurse. An English nurse… traveling all on her own. And it’s with her, we begin.” End quote.

From then on, we are in the story, actually in the story, leaving the meta setting of the indoor film set, until the end of the movie, at which point the meta surroundings appear again.

Both because of this obvious meta structure of the film, as well as the plot that this meta-ness frames, it’s abundantly clear what the movie’s message is about: it’s as much about the message as it is about the articulation of the message; about the stories we choose when delivering the message.

The recipients of the message, in the greater meta case, are us, the viewers. And presumably, we’re watching this movie because we like stories—movies, novels, whatever the format. Perhaps also presumably, because we like stories, we also like stories about stories. And so the movie articulates its message on how to effectively articulate a message by delivering it with the use of the stories the recipient is accustomed to.

This strategy of adopting the stories of the recipient in order to get one’s message across may sound obvious. But it’s easier said than done. Often, outside of a setting like this—a setting where, clearly someone started playing the movie because they like to consume stories—it’s not as clear just what exactly makes the recipient of a message tick. Sometimes, I daresay the recipients themselves are unaware of what stories they function under. Because, often, there is the label, and then there is the actual thing. The label is not necessarily the actual thing. For example, this is how, in this movie as well as in real life, people can kill in the name of their God or gods. There is the label of godliness and then there is the actual thing that happens. If one takes the words of the supposed god believers at face value one might not get anywhere, which is exactly what happens with Lib Wright, the nurse, in “The Wonder,” initially. To us, as outside viewers, her situation is clear. But to her, in the story of “The Wonder,” the individual stories adopted by the individual characters aren’t as clear.

And, since we ourselves, in the real world, live in stories of which we cannot necessarily see the whole picture, again, it’s easier said than done, this strategy of delivering a message by using the stories that the recipient is accustomed to.

Still, it’s useful to consume stories about how, when one is aware of which stories other people believe in, one can pretty much say anything, and make the recipient actually process the message. In other words, occasionally, more important than the message of the message, the delivery of the message is the critical factor in determining whether the message gets through or not.

Before we get back to the theme of this episode, I just wanna say. Florence Pugh plays Lib Wright, the nurse. And oh, Florence Pugh has an amazingly intriguing filmography. And I love her voice. Her voice is so… grounded. It has mass. It has presence.

Also, this film, “The Wonder,” has some quite spooky music, almost like sound effects. It’s atmospheric, and occasionally, even more minimalistic than that. Truly, it sounds more like sound effects sometimes, rather than a piece of music that is connected as one.

So, sound, in this movie—Florence Pugh’s beautiful voice, and the soundscape. These are some additional elements that make the movie enjoyable, besides the core message—or the message that I received—that I want to discuss for the rest of this episode.

In the movie “The Wonder,” there is one… fact, for lack of a better word. The fact is that there is a girl who seems to be not eating anything, and yet, is still alive after months. But regarding this so-called fact, there are various stories. Three, at the very least. There is the religious story, there is the medical story, and then there is the journalistic story.

The religious story is that this girl is blessed, she is a saint or an angel.

The medical story, represented by Lib Wright the nurse, is that something else has to be going on, because a human cannot survive without eating for months.

And the journalistic story is covered by a journalist character, who later on helps Lib and the girl escape the chains of the religious story as well as some other stories, and start a new life.

And part of how they escape the chains of the various stories is that, Lib eventually figures out that indeed,  the girl wasn’t alive without eating anything because she was a saint or because angels visited her or because God blessed her.

No. What was happening was that the girl’s mother had been giving her daughter chewed-up food when they kissed good night. And the daughter, a young girl, firmly, genuinely, truly believed that this act did not count as eating. She calls the chewed-up food that her mother delivered via kisses “manna from heaven.” And to the girl, “manna from heaven” isn’t food. It’s “manna from heaven.”

And there is a fourth story around this fact, I would say. There is the historical story. One could also say that there is a fifth story, by dubbing it a political story and separating it from the historical story. Remember we were given the historical/political background of the Great Famine, at the very beginning of the movie. So, this act of this girl not having to eat and yet living—there is great symbolic power in that. The power to not eat, in a place where people died from famine, is huge.

Thus, for many different reasons, the villagers wanted this girl to not have eaten. She had to be a pure, symbolic, blessed being in order for them to continue believing in their stories.

The plot is straightforward. Until Lib finds out the truth about what’s going on, there are several attempts to do so. And once she does find out, one of the things Lib tries is to convince the girl that what she is eating via the kisses from her mother is food. It isn’t “manna from heaven.”

These attempts fail. The girl is heavily, heavily brainwashed with the stories around her, although, I do not think that she is aware of the political and historical stories; she is too young. And first and foremost, she is most brainwashed by a sixth story, which is the story that her mother loves her. And that her family, in general, loves her. And that they would never do anything to truly harm her.

Yeah, I think that is the story she is brainwashed with the most. More so the family love story, than the religious story or any other story. In fact, this eleven-year-old girl thinks that she is saving her dead brother from burning in hell. And I think for her, the emphasis is more on the brother than the hell. She loves her brother despite everything. And by “despite everything,” I mean that this brother raped her when she was nine.

So, the brother is a rapist in the narrowest legal sense. And what about others in this movie? To me, it seems they are also rapists. They have been rapists before the brother ever touched this girl, and have continued to be rapists after he died.

If you are a judge, a lawyer, then, sure, the law, by definition, cannot take care of everything and it must be narrow. The law is incomplete and intentionally so. The law, at least I believe in many countries, does not aim to punish as many people as harshly as possible.

No. The law, frequently, errs on the conservative side, or at least attempts to, so that no one who did not do wrong is punished wrongly. I guess this is the counterpart of the medical ideal of “First, do no harm.” And indeed, in the narrow legal sense, I agree. First, do no harm. First, make sure that whoever is getting punished must be punished. Otherwise, we’d be punishing people for all kinds of small things, and it would be impractical. And not only that, it will not actually make the world a better place, under most people’s definitions. This, I understand.

However, outside of the legal system, I don’t see a huge difference between this brother, who raped his little sister, and the mother, who tells her daughter to shut up and save her already-dead son from burning in hell. I also don’t see the difference between the rapist brother and the church folks. It is irrelevant to me whether the church folks are aware of the legally-defined rape committed by the brother. What is relevant to me is that the church folks so readily rape the body and mind of this girl in order for them to first-hand experience the making of a saint. Or an angel. They are abusing her body and mind, starving her slowly, deliberately or unbeknownst.

 And from that practice, from the various stories that make that abuse all right, is how the narrowest legally defined rape by the brother can also be committed and also be all right.

And what is most disturbing is that these men—the town council, including the church folks—feign calmness. Oh, they are so calm. Oh, they use such civilized language, no strong words, so very cultured, they are. This is another popular story, within the movie “The Wonder” as well as outside of it: the story that if you use pretty words, you can say pretty much whatever you want.

It’s a great story useful when you are attempting to ignore the actual message and still appear as if to be paying attention. The message is likely different every time, but so long as one sticks to the story that the pretty delivery is more important, one does not really have to listen for the message. One simply has to determine whether the message is being delivered prettily or not.

Lib Wright is understandably furious about this particular story too. But she is not unfamiliar with this story, it seems.

Notably, visuals-wise, she is the one bright star in this whole dark mess. She, in her blue dress, is a stark blue dot in a land of mostly brownish green. But the hem of her dress gets dirtier and dirtier by the mud, as if this village were tainting her outwardly.

However, they cannot taint her mind. What they did to this little girl, they cannot do to Lib Wright. Lib has been through some things. See, Lib, one might say, is mentally ill. She is by no means “normal,” in air quotes. What she does isn’t the norm, the average. When alone, she performs a ritual. She drugs herself and does some minor self-harm, as she takes out the tiny knitted baby shoes of her now-dead baby.

So, her story is a medical one, but also a motherly-love one. Not the kind where a co-rapist mother tells her daughter to nearly starve to death because her rapist son might burn in hell, but the kind where a stranger woman cares more about a starving girl than the biological mother. Lib sees her dead baby in the eleven-year-old girl that this village is threatening to kill, without even admitting the crime.

At first, Lib tries to use the medical story to convince the villagers to stop this nonsense. When that doesn’t work, she also attempts the family love story, because to Lib, it is unfathomable that a mother would do this to her daughter.

There is a scene in which Lib says, “She’s dying.” She, meaning the girl.

To this, the mother says, “She’s chosen.” Meaning, chosen by God. Lib still tries to convince the mother. Even after that, the mother says, “This is for her salvation.”

That’s when Lib changes strategy. In other words, in articulating her message, she delivers it using the story the mother is accustomed to.

As in, Lib says, “Perhaps you could kiss her good night again? Or good morning?”

Lib is playing along with the religious story that this mother chose to adopt instead of actually caring for her daughter. Lib is practically saying, “Okay, fine. Your chewed-up food, I will stop calling it food. Okay, it’s manna from heaven. Give your daughter some more of that. Kiss her more often so you can deliver that manna to her more often.”

There comes a point in time in the movie, in which Lib gives up convincing the adults. Whether they believe in the religious story or the historical story or the political story or whatever other story, their message is received loud and clear by Lib, through the notable absence of a key element: the element of the girl herself. Nowhere in these people’s stories does the girl feature as the girl. She features as a potential saint or angel; she features as a symbol of the power to survive without eating despite the Famine; or she features as the potential savior of the son about whom the mother cares more about than the daughter.

But this girl, in none of these stories, features as the girl herself. Just a girl. Just an eleven-year-old girl.

So, after understanding that, what Lib does is talk to the girl directly. The girl’s name, is Anna. And Lib tells Anna this.

Quote, “Anna is going to die, but Nan is going to live.” End quote.

In other words, Lib is convincing this girl that she isn’t gonna be Anna anymore; that Anna is going to die just like her mother wanted; just like the church people wanted. And when she—the girl who is both Anna and Nan—is reborn, she will be Nan, and everything will be fine.

That is how much it takes to make this girl want to live. She is relieved to hear that Anna can die. This girl, I believe, might not have lived, even if, medically speaking, she could’ve survived on “manna from heaven” indefinitely. She has been wishing to die for her brother. That is the extent to which her body and mind have been raped, aside from the legally-defined rape committed by her brother.

And Lib gives this girl exactly what she needs: give her a way to both die and live. Lib tells her a story of Anna’s death and Nan’s birth.

Unlike the biological mother who chewed up food and delivered it via kisses to pretty much kill her daughter slowly and painfully, Lib chewed up the story of Anna’s death and Nan’s birth into digestible chunks for Anna, for Nan. And Lib delivers that story lovingly. And more importantly, the message itself is loving: the message being, that the girl, as the girl herself, not as saint or angel or savior or political symbol or whatnot, but just this girl who is both Anna and Nan, and perhaps due to that, neither Anna nor Nan, can live.

After hearing this story of death and birth, Anna closes her eyes. She “dies,” in air quotes.

Then the nurse calls her by her new name, Nan. And Nan opens her eyes and accepts the food—the physical, tangible food—that the nurse feeds her.

Before we continue, a reminder. Please leave a review and/or rating where you listen to this podcast, so that other Thursday’s children can find it. Thank you very much.

And we continue with Anna, who isn’t Anna anymore, but is instead, Nan.

After Nan awakens, Lib sets the family’s house on fire. From this act is born yet another story: a lie, which gets into the official records. Anna died before the fire, Lib says. Then, Lib got frantic and the fire started. Nothing of Anna can be found in the fire, not even the bones.

And, here, there is a shift in one of the characters’ story. It’s a nun character. This nun character was taking turns with Lib in monitoring Anna. This nun is someone the church side, with its religious story, had sent, so that it could balance the facts of the situation against the medical story.

And this nun character, after the fire, admits that these men—they were all men, in the story, the town council and the church folks, besides the nun herself—were letting it—the situation with the starving girl—go on for too long. And then the nun says, she thinks she saw a vision of an angel riding away on a horse, with a girl. That’s how this nun puts it, because she cannot say out loud that Anna fled with the help of someone, and that she saw it.

Lastly, the nun wants to know from Lib, “Has she gone to a better place?” and Lib says, “Yes.”

So, at least one of the advocates of the religious story wasn’t delusional enough to actually believe in it. Perhaps this nun even believes in an actual god. As in, she believes in God, not the church. You know, Jesus says and does beautiful things. Buddha says and does beautiful things. But they aren’t the religions formed around them. There is God, there are godly figures, there are divine entities—and then there are the manmade religions. They aren’t the same thing. Perhaps this nun knows that.

Anyway, it turns out, the person with whom the girl fled, was the reporter. Yup, he got over his hometown pride of coming from this village, and also risked his journalistic integrity, to help save the girl.

In the last sequence, Nan, Lib, and this reporter take a family photograph. Nan looks healthy. She can certainly sit upright and talk, instead of lying limply in bed.

The second-to-last scene is them eating, together. And then we move to a scene of the set—the film studio setting that we saw at the beginning of the movie, the part that for most of the story, had stayed behind the camera. One of the actors says, “In. Out. In. Out.” And with that, the movie ends.

Clearly meta, this movie. It’s so clear, it was refreshing for me. When the message is important enough that it deserves articulating, as is the case with this girl’s life or death, delivering it by using the stories the recipient is accustomed to is highly effective. What got the girl to want to leave with Lib was the possibility that Anna could die. Anna had to die, in this girl’s mind. So, Lib stopped trying to fight Anna on that part. Lib gave the girl the possibility to die, and also, the possibility to be reborn as Nan.

All the various stories—the religious story, medical story, journalistic story, historical story, political story, and even the so-called family love story of Nan’s original family—paled in the face of Lib’s desire to save the girl. To her, the message was more important, therefore she was willing to adopt any method that would get it through. The message being: Anna, or Nan—you deserve to live, and you can live, by dying.

So… earlier, I said that “occasionally, more important than the message of the message, the delivery of the message is the critical factor in determining whether the message gets through or not.”

By that, I mean that “whether the message gets through or not” may be more influenced by the delivery rather than the message itself. However, that does not mean that the delivery is more important than the content of the message. The delivery is only more important in whether the message gets through or not. The delivery is simply like setting the right frequency for a radio station. Once that frequency has been established, then the content can begin to take priority.

For example, although we do not see how Anna/Nan’s rest of life plays out, I think it’s safe to assume that as she gets older, she will see just how much Lib tried to communicate with her; how Lib gave up on her medical story, adopted the religious story so that Anna/Nan could understand the situation, and replaced the fake-motherly-love of Anna/Nan’s biological mother with Lib’s own, more profound and close-to-unconditional one. The stories that Lib wove in order to give Nan a chance to weave her own are… in the movie it sort of happens automatically, at the end of the plot, but think about how much love went into all those steps.

And because of all those steps, all these stories that were eliminated and nurtured, one day when she is old enough, Nan will, perhaps, see the beautiful senselessness of the situation: that the content of the message was Lib’s desire to save this girl, and that the way it was delivered was by no particular story. And so, pretty much… in this case… wow. If someone can abandon and adopt stories the way Lib did, in order to deliver a message—this shows that the message is critical. Absolutely critical. And it is, perhaps, close to being unconditional.

And now we’re going to Joseph Murphy’s works to look at some other examples of how the delivery could very well increase the getting-through of the message.

Joseph Murphy happens to be Irish. According to Wikipedia, he was, quote, “an Irish author and New Thought minister, ordained in Divine Science and Religious Science.” End quote.

I mainly know him from his writings about the power of the mind. Actually, the particular work I will be quoting from is titled, “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind.” On Scribd, the description for this book is as follows. Quote, “In The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Dr. Joseph Murphy gives you the tools you will need to unlock the awesome powers of your subconscious mind. You can improve your relationships, your finances, your physical well-being. Once you learn how to use this unbelievably powerful force there is nothing you will not be able to accomplish. Join the millions of people who have already unlocked the power of their subconscious minds.” End quote.

Nowadays, I think the Law of Attraction is pretty widely known. It seems that a lot of people know about the book “The Secret,” which, I think, has greatly popularized this concept. But well before that, both in the East and the West, the same exact ideas have been shared by many different religions, philosophers, and, in general, schools of thought as well as individuals who just… live life with anything other than the autopilot program that they are either born with or learn to adopt as they grow in whatever system of education that is perceived to be normal in a given timespace.

The same exact ideas have existed for a long long time; they just weren’t called the Law of Attraction or the Law of Assumption or any law. And no matter what the label is—what religion it is, what school of thought it is, or whether there is a label at all (maybe there is no label)—no matter the label, there are parts that overlap. Because, if there truly is a truth, which all these camps are arguing that they represent, then the truth must be one. There can’t be counteracting truths, or it won’t be the truth. So, it’s fascinating to look at the actual thing—not the derivative of the derivative of the derivative watered down by a million humans within a system—and find the same exact ideas.

For example, quantum physics and the Heart Sutra. It is amazing how much overlap there is. One day when I get over the inevitable fullness of the English translation of the Heart Sutra, maybe I will do an episode about that. And by “fullness,” I mean that the English language cannot help but need a subject and verb. It’s… I don’t know how many languages do that, percentage-wise, but it certainly feels different from some of the Asian languages. And because the Heart Sutra talks so much about emptiness, it just feels ironic to read it in English.

But also, say, something like Hoʻoponopono. A short description in Wikipedia says that Hoʻoponopono is, quote, “a traditional Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. The Hawaiian word translates into English simply as correction, with the synonyms manage or supervise.” End quote. And from some of the books on this practice, Hoʻoponopono more specifically means “to correct an error.” And basically, to me, it is the same thing as what quantum physics is beginning to imply and what has been in the Heart Sutra all along. They’re all talking about the void, the emptiness, the zero state. The infinite nothing where there is everything.

Anyway, maybe there will be another episode on the content of the message of these various camps: Buddhism, quantum physics, and Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono. For today, the theme is: in articulating a message, delivering it by using the stories the recipient is accustomed to is highly effective.

See, the reason there cannot be but one truth, and nevertheless, there are so many different ways of articulating it, is that delivering the message by using the stories the recipient is accustomed to is highly effective. At the simplest level, if someone is into scientism, whether mild or very strong, then they will likely treat Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono as rubbish. Anything that cannot be “scientifically proven,” in air quotes, they will treat as superstition, not realizing or simply choosing to ignore the history of science, which is, intentionally the history of theories being debunked all the time. Of all the various kinds of blindness that one can be susceptible to, the blindness from scientism is one of the most interesting ones, because some proponents of scientism do not even realize that they are believing in scientism. It’s a belief. It’s no different from any religion, sometimes.

Anyway, another simple example is that, if you’re Christian, perhaps you will not read the Heart Sutra. And that’s where Dr. Murphy comes in.  It seems that he is also fascinated by going directly to the source—in this case, the Bible—for what he thinks are the answers. And I… I would rather read about at least the second-hand interpretation, say, the interpretation of Dr. Murphy about the Bible, than the hundredth-hand interpretation, which is not uncommon. The hundredth-, the two-hundredth-hand interpretations are thrown around and the source is just forgotten. Which is tragic. Go to the source, whenever possible. I mean, why not? We live in an era where going to the source is so easy. You don’t need to listen to me or Dr. Murphy or your pastor or priest. You can, but you can also read things yourself. Read the Bible yourself. Read the Sutras yourself. Read anything yourself. Watch anything yourself. Listen to anything yourself.

Anyway. So, Dr. Murphy, in articulating his message about the powers of the subconscious mind, clearly knows his target audience. That is why he quotes from the Bible so much. He knows that most people reading what he writes will be fellow Bible readers, or at the very least, people from cultures where Bible stories are part of the common social story; cultures where Bible stories are part of the public subconscious.

Here is an example. Quote, “Your subconscious mind is principle and works according to the law of belief. You must know what belief is, why it works, and how it works. Your Bible says in a simple, clear, and beautiful way: Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. MARK 11:23.” End quote.

And in a section that is titled “The Science and Art of True Prayer,” he says the following. Quote, “The term ‘science’ means knowledge, which is coordinated, arranged, and systemized. Let us think of the science and art of true prayer as it deals with the fundamental principles of life and the techniques and processes by which they can be demonstrated in your life, as well as in the life of every human being when he applies them faithfully. The art is your technique or process, and the science behind it is the definite response of creative mind to your mental picture or thought.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. MATTHEW 7:7.” End quote.

In another section titled “The Law of Belief,” he says, quote, “Belief is a thought in your mind, which causes the power of your subconscious to be distributed into all phases of your life according to your thinking habits. You must realize the Bible is not talking about your belief in some ritual, ceremony, form, institution, man, or formula. It is talking about belief itself. The belief of your mind is simply the thought of your mind. If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. MARK 9:23.” End quote.

It is my impression that some believers of Christianity do not like being associated with these newer branches of Bible interpretations. At the same time, Dr. Murphy’s use of the Bible in explaining his interpretation of what belief is and what prayer is does get his message through to some other believers of Christianity. At least, I daresay, it does get his message through way more effectively than, say, if he had quoted from the Heart Sutra.

My guess is that his primary reason for quoting from the Bible was that he was a believer of the Bible. But secondary to that, I mean, he could’ve not quoted anything at all, yet he chose to quote so many verses.

And me, right now, if I were to convince a Christian that “whatever you believe will come true,” I have two main options. I could just say so, or I could, as Joseph Murphy did, quote from MARK 9:23. Which one will be more effective? The latter, I would guess.

So… yeah. Interesting things, Joseph Murphy writes. And, as I mentioned before, to me, what Joseph Murphy says, fundamentally, is not different from what I think the Heart Sutra says, fundamentally. I do think the way the truth manifests can appear to be different depending on who uses its principles. But that cannot be avoided. It’s like when you give someone a bunch of paint—blue, yellow, red, white paint—the principle is that you can paint whatever you want with it. That’s the fundamental truth. From that, there can be the Impressionists and the Surrealists, and they may create drastically different-seeming paintings, but fundamentally… they’re paintings. Even, say, ink and wash paintings—the kind of paintings that you imagine when you think “Asian painting” with lots of empty space—they’re also paintings. Painters paint. Their styles might be different, but fundamentally, they see something, either with their physical eyes or mind’s eye or both, and they put it to paper. Or canvas. Or some other medium. Even that doesn’t matter.

The fundamental truth, or any message, is not the style of the painting or the medium. I would say the truth is closer to… whatever makes the painting possible at all. And that is not different whether it’s from the Bible, the Heart Sutra, or Hoʻoponopono.

So… where was I going with this…

Perhaps this era that we live in, and this space we live in–and if you’re listening to this, you are living somewhere with electricity and internet connection, and presumably, a smartphone—this timespace we live in… this is when we can really focus on the content of the message above and beyond anything else, if we so choose. There used to be timespaces in which, say, if I were a Buddhist during the Inquisition, I would’ve been… I don’t know. Hanged? Quartered? Burned at the stake? But now, the timespace I live in, well, there are religious dramatists, but there always have been and probably always will be because there is a market for religious dramatism, also philosophical dramatism, and all kinds of “oooh the enemies are near, we need to protect ourselves, set up barriers, blah blah”—but, aside from them, if we wanted to, oh, we can access all kinds of information from all kinds of sources. And personally, I think the idea of “check your sources” can also be overdramatized, depending on what you’re doing with your information. Like… I guess if you are forming national policy, check your sources for multiple reasons, including the protection of your job. But if you’re, like me, wanting to take the truth, whatever it is, out of the realm of theory and apply it to your life, then… the source isn’t as critical as what you do with it.

For example, I made sure that the quotes I used did come from Joseph Murphy’s book, so that I don’t misattribute them to someone who did not write that book. But the fact that Joseph Murphy said what he said does not make the quotes more or less valuable to me. Even the quotes from the Bible. Or the Heart Sutra. Or any science book. Being aware of these various stories may give me an edge if I ever attempt to convince someone who believes in a particular story, but unless that, if it’s just me… the delivery matters less than the message.

So I guess, today this episode is ending with what seems to contradict the theme, but… no, it doesn’t. The theme and the conclusion aren’t contradictory. In articulating a message, delivering it by using the stories the recipient is accustomed to is highly effective. But if you’re not delivering a message to anyone in particular… and especially if you are looking for the message itself, and less the delivery… then… do not be blinded by the stories. Do not be attached to any particular story. Instead, what is the story saying? Maybe this story is saying the exact same thing as that other story that we thought we could never understand because it’s just not the kind of story that we’re used to. Or, maybe this story is saying something that we never would’ve adopted as part of our own belief system, had it come from a different storytelling pattern. It could be either way.

And that is all for this episode. Thank you for listening.

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You can find a link to the full transcript in the show notes. Also, visit ithakaonmymind.com to find out more about everything else I do, besides Sponge.

Stay true, everybody.

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