My dog appears to hang on my every word, but I can see through the thin façade of interest she displays. Underneath it, she’s linguistically challenged. The details of what I say are lost on her.
And yet I’ll talk. I don’t worry about my wasted breath, and she doesn’t worry that she’ll be tested on what I say. It’s just me talking to myself and talking out loud. I understand what I’m saying. Talking out loud is often the first time I’m hearing the details, so it’s worth it to me, regardless.
Suppose that God were our name for the prime mover, but that God only did the things that can’t be done by other means. Did God make my toast this morning? No, I did. Did God make me? No, my parents did. Back we’d go to a God exclusively for those things that couldn’t have been made otherwise.
Mind Readers Dictionary: The Podfast : Play in Popup
Mind Readers Dictionary : Play in Popup
This God would be responsible for setting the universe in motion but as such would be very different from you or me. Not human at all. But people want a human God, or else there would be no one to pray to. An inhuman God would likely be no more engaged in my personal issues than my dog.
Still, if my chats with dogs are any indication, a God so otherworldly that it can’t heed my prayers needn’t stop me from reciting them. So long as I believe I’m heard, it doesn’t matter if I am.
Maybe it’s no coincidence that people who will talk your ear off about how God listens don’t notice when you stop listening. While I do my best to avoid conversations with these people, I admire them for their capacity to ignore their audience. No, really I do, because I know what they gain in self-direction as a result.
I’ve long wanted to start a new church called “Toastmasters’ Anonymous,” for people who, like me, are addicted to hearing themselves speak. The church’s motto would be “We say what we need to hear.” Up front, we would admit our powerlessness to stop talking, and that we’re powerless because it serves us. Our words project a world other than the one we’re in, a world in which we stride forward with focus and confidence, a world that surrenders to our will, reliably granting us success in our highly speculative ventures. We talk to hear someone agree with us, even if it’s only ourselves.
I believe that with a little practice, any of us can learn to speak our hearts out to objects and entities that don’t attend to what we’re saying. I also believe that most of us are in for a lot more practice.
When news of the Internet first broke, I gasped with excitement at the thought that now I could reach people everywhere all at once. I sighed with disappointment when I recognized that this new power to broadcast was in everyone’s hands. We can all speak our hearts and minds, and a great many of us do—millions of blogs, personal Web pages, and podcasts. We’re discovering that it’s more fun to write than read, more fun to perform music than listen to it, more fun to have an audience than be an audience, even if the audience we have is extremely limited.
Today the resource in shortest supply is demand. Any economics 101 textbook will tell you that if demand dries up, so does supply. I don’t think so, though. We’re having too much fun expressing ourselves to quit now, even if our audience is too busy expressing itself to give us much attention.
We’re enjoying an information market boom and will continue to do so even if the information economy goes bust. I believe this with all my heart, and not only that, last night I was talking to my dog about it, and I’m convinced that she agrees with me.