Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Of Deepities, the Gambler, and UU

Deepity is a term coined by Daniel Dennett in his 2009 speech to the American Atheists Institution conference. It refers to a statement that has (at least) two meanings; one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless. I had that experience, with no word to attach to it, when Kenny Rogers had a monster hit with “The Gambler”. Here are the words that drove people to tears, and a series of movies:

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em

Know when to walk away and know when to run

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table

There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealing's done

Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin'

Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep

'Cause every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser

And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep

And when he finished speakin', he turned back towards the window

Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep

And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even

But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep

I remember wondering if I was the only person in the whole country who realized that the Gambler had not said a damn thing for all his profound sounding words... Well, duh, HOW do I know when to hold them? What are the indicators that I should fold instead? What tells me that this card should be kept, and that one thrown away? Is there a formula for knowing whether to stand pat or run? For all those deep, profound words, there wasn’t a bit of practical advice I could actually USE- no ace to keep. I was reminded of that irritation when listening to Colleen Kessler - What do Unitarian Universalists Believe? Can anyone point to an ace worth keeping in all of that?


Unknown said...

I believe the crime here is the belief that an organization can be all things to all people. Unfortunately my experience with UU, this situation has not been so.

As in any group, a few rise and set the tone for an organization. The atheists demand no public acknowledgement of a God or Higher Power, so one cannot be mentioned even if a larger segment may believe in a Divine Intelligence.

Coupled with the atheists demand is the belief that liberal theology equates with liberal politics. And, at the UU Church I went to (Church is on the physical sign outside - however many people are outraged over this fact) many, many, many congregationalists spurn hatred towards conservative Christians proving the fact that "Be careful what you hate, for that is what you will become."

Anonymous said...

hi Joel,
the most amazing experience of being UU for me has been being one of those 40 people finding themselves unexpectedly out in the lobby, and now 3.5 years later finding myself a stalwart of a THRIVING UU emerging congregation made up largely, but no longer entirely, of those same stunned and heart-broken lobby folks. It does take a special situation to have endured, mainly to have a core of hugely open-hearted UU's with a deep commitment to congregational worship. But have them, we do, and so a new Fellowship is on the map.
In a long career of social justice organizing, this is THE single most successful project I have been part or.
Wishing you a similarly rewarding outcome.