Amy Schumer wrote a skit for Bill Nye, and it's funny but not funny. Here it is.
I love Amy's sharp mind- that girl has been on fire lately with her skits, and I have all the respect in the world for Bill Nye, although I don't know him that well. I just know he's a comedian-scientist who explains things to the public, and I'm all over that.
When I saw this skit, though, I was a bit dismayed. On the one hand, I agree that the affirmations movement started by Louise Hay in the late 1970's to "claim" support from the universe can be miscontrued to mean we can take in bits and pieces of reality and reject other, more glaring ones, in response to which Bill Nye says sarcastically, "We now know the universe is essentially a force sending cosmic guidance to white women in their 20s."
Ha. Amy and her girlfriend just show us how spiritually retarded the West is, but that doesn't mean we need to quash the impulse behind trying to make sense of life's tangled strands.
What this skit does is completely flatten the mystery of the starry night sky and our millenia-old connection to and fascination with it. Nye and Schumer wave their hand in the face of the complex understanding that the first peoples had of the planets and stars that kept time and anchored stories for thousands of years. The heavenly bodies and their stories essentially provided the means of survival for the human race, allowing it to progress from nomads and shepherds to civilizations who farmed and experimented with animal husbandry, giving way to civilizations who brought us philosophy, mathematics, logic, morality, and art, which eventually gave way to the development of the three major mystic traditions, Christian mysticism in the tradition of the Desert Fathers, Kaballah from Judaism, and Sufism from the Muslim heritage. The universe was found to have spiritual laws before rationality was even beheld by Socrates. Rationality is underutilized today by certain personality types, and overutilized by others. We all need a balance of the two to exist with integrity in this world.
Carl Jung talks about the ying and yang of the divine masculine (knowledge) and divine feminine (context). The former Catholic monk, Thomas Moore, says reason and ego can only take us so far. They CAN take us far, and we need that element, but the wisdom, -- and the emptiness of the other side of the wisdom-- is also needed.
No one wants to appear foolish, so we use our rationality to defend ourselves from the unknown, but we all know people who have been forced into the unknown with an uncurable illness or a divorce, and any transformation that has taken place in the lives of those survivors has come because they embraced the unknown, the mystery, that which is not defined, the vaccuum.
This blog is a call for a conscious "staying" with the discomfort around the paradox of reason and science on the one hand; and mystery and ancient wisdom on the other. As long as we have one without the other, we're incomplete beings.
I don't blame Amy for making fun of people using random t-shirts as signs to validate their immoral behavior. But I disagree with how she used Bill Nye to invalidate any use of mystery at all. Poking fun of those who don't know how to read the signs of the universe is kind of funny, but let's not do it at the expense of the "yin". Any ignorance around it needs to be met with sane formal and information education on how to use it, so we can not only become more intelligent about the universe, but also operate more intelligently within the universe.