HOW TO FIND GOOD LUCK IN 2018

HOW TO FIND GOOD LUCK IN 2018

By Ron Steelman

21301b9c7ac5fcbd80161ac30534c7bf-10

Around this time of year, people make toasts with wishes and hopes for the New Year. Certainly we all hope our year goes smoothly. However, some folks will do all kinds of superstitious things like consulting their horoscope or seeking “professional” help from a soothsayer (old-timey talk for a “fortune teller,” you know, like Professor Marvel in The Wizard of Oz). According to the dictionary, a superstition is “an irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion, or any blindly accepted belief or notion.” 

It’s true: life is mysterious. And, because there are so many things about the natural world that people don’t understand, we often ascribe our own meaning to these mysteries. Unfortunately, since we humans are so superstitious, we have invented a myriad of convoluted trickeries and procedures to explain the inexplicable, to protect ourselves from bad luck, or to provide a peek into the future so that we know what to expect.

Before we leap into the new year for personal predictions about your life (I’ll tell you how to go about that in a minute), let’s take a deep dive into the fortune telling world.

SUPERSTITIONS

cb7eea041489c824e5295cfb5c6eb3fc

Good Luck/Bad Luck
♦  
crossing your fingers or knocking on wood for good luck
♠  
avoiding bad luck by NOT crossing the path of a black cat
♣  
a lucky rabbit’s foot charm
♥  
convinced that bad luck comes in threes
♦  b
reaking a mirror means seven years bad luck
♠  
actors say it’s bad luck to say the word “Macbeth” while inside a theatre
♣  never put shoes on a table
♥  
Friday the 13th is an unlucky day
♦  Look out for ravens, crows, and magpies. You remember this, right? “Quoth the raven,  ♠  Never more.”  (The heartwarming tale of a defective verb)
♥  Don’t forget those “Lucky Symbols” – here’s a link: Lucky Symbols

Magical Wisdom
– famous people always die in threes
– spiritualism: says you can actually speak to the dead


tarot-cards

FORTUNE TELLING – TOOLS OF THE TRADE
∞ 
– Palmistry
∞ – Tarot cards
∞ – astrology/horoscopes
∞ – psychic readings/clairvoyance
∞ – phrenology
∞ – crystal readings, healings
∞ – metaphysical readings
∞ – ESP
∞ – herbal healing
∞ – rune reading
∞ – aura reading
∞ – numerology
∞ – and I almost forgot, Tasseography, the reading of the tea leaves left in the bottom of          the cup (what have I left out?)
∞ – Oh yes, the Ouija Board
∞ – And, have you heard about an octopus named Paul II at the Sea Life Aquarium at                Oberhausen? People there use him to predict the outcome of matches played by the          German national football team.
∞ 
– I have to admit, I never heard of this fortune-telling method: Ureamancy, a way to              foretell the future by gazing upon the foamy froth of urine created within water.

**** I think I’ll leave the belief in malediction (putting a curse on someone) alone for                 now. Although I can think of various politicians who do need a comeuppance.

10417931_illustrated-gifs-with-a-cinematic-twist_ta0f94920



THREE SHORT EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH KURT ANDERSEN

werner01-300x300

Kurt Andersen

 

Three excerpts from “How The Loss Of Critical Reasoning Is Harming America,” an interview with Kurt Andersen by Michael Werner, from The Humanist, The Magazine of the American Humanist Association – Jan/Feb 2018. They discuss Kurt’s latest book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire:
A 500-Year History.

 

 

MICHAEL WERNER: Your new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, is a theory about how the triumph of the radical right, and Donald Trump in particular, are only part of the culmination of a long historical process. Can you explain?

KURT ANDERSEN: We began, of course, as an Enlightenment nation and in our school histories we have most emphasized that proud and self-flattering part of our history. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were certainly people of the Enlightenment, but the strange bedfellows of the American idea were these passionate beliefs in the untrue and unprovable held by the Puritans, in their theocracy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and by the gold hunters in Virginia who, despite no evidence, kept assuming they were going to find gold.

So we began in this new world wishing with all our hearts that this place we imagined as the empty slate could fulfill all the dreams and fantasies the English settlers had, whether they were dreams of a supernatural New Jerusalem and Garden of Eden or dreams of instant wealth, El Dorado. We codified that essential American ultra-liberty and ultra-individualism: “I can believe whatever I want,” which is a residue of the Enlightenment. For most of our history the people in charge of our political and cultural establishments generally kept the various forms of magical thinking, extreme religion, and religious delusion from getting out of control.

There’s a good side to dreaming the impossible dream, which is part of what made America grow and accomplish so much. The downside is that religion has always been more extreme in this country than other places in the developed world. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, but it has become more and more extreme, especially in the last half-century. It’s not just religious myths of 2,000 years ago—there are beliefs in supernatural events and magical happenings today that simply aren’t widespread elsewhere in the developed world. Over the last century, and especially the last few decades, our divergence from what we used to call the rest of the civilized world has become extreme. . .

. . . Had Trump not been elected, everything I say about Fantasyland would still be true. I just wouldn’t have the convenient vessel that Donald Trump provides to illustrate what I’m talking about. . .

. . .we have to share a common set of facts based on how empirical reality has been understood for the last millennium or so.”

Read the full article here.


Q: How to find good luck in 2018? 
A: Focus on “empirical reality” and never go to a fortune teller or psychic.


NEXT UP: I had so much to share on this one, I had to divide into three posts. Look for my upcoming posts about the “Intersection of Superstition and Religion,” and “Amazing Stories of Evil Fortune Tellers.”

TODAY’S FINALE!

tumblr_on4sh3zHnx1w7gocjo1_500

UNEARTHED FROM ONE OF MY PHOTO ARCHIVE BOXES
When I lived in LA I kept a camera in the car. Every time I saw a store front like those below, I would take a picture. These are real. After a while I gave up because there were so many. This post finally gives me the opportunity to share those photos in a constructive way. By showing them I hope to put a curse on fortune tellers. Or at least by mocking them, dissuade you from ever going to one of these bandits. How many people frequent these joints? There must be hundreds of people going to these dives every week. Apparently, there are enough people to pay the rent and utilities and provide some income. It’s a puzzlement to me. There must be a lot of superstitious suckers out there!


“It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker
to keep his money.” – W. C. Fields


 Fortune_Teller_01_750w

Fortune_Teller_03_750w

Fortune_Teller_06_750w

Fortune_Teller_08_750w

Fortune_Teller_14_750w

Fortune_Teller_13_750w

Fortune_Teller_11_700h

: : :

THE PERFECT MATE

The Perfect Mate
by Ron Steelman

(Case study #03059)

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.
– Oscar Wilde

Just about everyone I know hopes for success in finding a compatible mate with whom they can share a happy life. However, it is inevitable that one falls in love without any control whatsoever. Affairs of the heart do not seem to fit into the scientific arena. The idea that one could create a list of personality, philosophical, and physical attributes for a potential mate, then find this person, and then have that person fall for you at the same time you fall for them, is simply laughable.

Love won’t play that game. Love doesn’t want to be a controlled experiment that can be replicated precisely in a laboratory. Love is messy, mad, and marvelous. Attempting to control the elements of love in a scientific way is like trying to herd cats, or nail Jell-O to a wall.

My second marriage is working out much better than my first. I’d like to say I had complete control over the conditions that led to falling in love with my current wife of 29 years, but that is not true. I’d also like to say that I utilized all I had learned from the mistakes in the choice of my first wife. I’d like to say that I was totally in control at the moment thunder and lightning struck – I may be mistaken, but I believe the Italian for that is: “tuoni e fulmini.” But, alas, I was simply a pawn. I was not in charge of the experiment. The attraction was too powerful. I was struck dumb with love.

I do think there are a few things I’ve learned about our relationship that may be helpful to analyze. Experience has demonstrated that there are certain compatibilities – certain conditions, if you will – which have proven to be the keys to the success of our particular relationship. This is real science and I will present the supporting data and results at the end. Therefore, here are the four conditions for compatibility.

  1. bone-jokeHumor is our joy. We love to laugh. We both laugh at the same things. We love to make each other laugh. Some people prefer whips and chains for love-making; we are likely to fall out of the bed in hysterical laughter. We often make each other laugh a split-second after we wake up, or even while falling asleep. We share things that make us laugh. Sharing a sense of humor is one important condition.
  2. Civility is critical. ignore-the-snide-comments-quoteWe made a pact early on not to snipe at each other. We don’t use sarcasm in our speech to each other. Snide and mean remarks are not allowed. This forces us to speak to each other in civil tones. And when we don’t, the air turns heavy and dark, and we know why we agreed to this covenant in the first place. We sit down then and figure out what the misunderstanding was between us, or what was the cause of the “hurt” that made us break our agreement.
  3. Item #2 above leads directly to this: Respect. I loathe the typical “battle of the sexes” clichés that many men moan about women over and over behind their backs, and that women wail about men when they’re not around. I love my wife aretha-franklin-respect-1967-30-1and who she is and all of the good things in her character that make her an intelligent, witty, charming, loving partner. When I sometimes hear men trash women, I am surprised. For me, I love women. They’re neat! I’d have two or three if my wife would allow it! (this will make her laugh; see Item #1 above) I stand on my soapbox frequently lecturing others, “My wife is not my ball and chain, she is my accomplice. Life can be hard enough at times. We must help each other get through the day, and nights.” She is truly my partner. She must have my respect.
  4. Religion and Sex. Yes, they do go together. Seek someone who is compatible with your religion or life philosophy. This is key. Sometimes one of the lovers is willing to convert, but I always wonder about that. If you don’t share a religion or a philosophical view of life, you may be on thin ice. If you fail at this, you may also have trouble when it comes to the bedroom. Many religions seek to control your sexual life and birth control. eve_in_the_garden_of_eden_by_whimsicalmoon-d38i967Some religions also like to blame women for the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Some even attempt to punish women through mutilation of sexual organs. . . to diminish their pleasure during sex. This seems to me to be grossly unfair as well as primitive.  However, once you are aligned in your religious or non-religious beliefs, then be sure to seek a partner who happily shares your desires when it comes to the bedroom. It takes two to tango (if that’s the way you like to do it).

The results of my “scientific study” demonstrate that certain minimum conditions must be present to create a successful partnership. However, before you set out on your journey toward a permanent partnership, you must take some time to conduct the proper experiments yourself to test your assumptions about a potential mate. This chart reveals the possibilities for success given the results of your research.

Mate_Chart

If you have achieved proper test levels, i.e. the target conditions in the four areas of compatibility, this will certainly produce excellent results. Happy hunting!

: : :

THIS IS FOR YOU CLOSETED ATHEISTS

I feel so bad for you closeted atheists.  I was lucky. My parents were both gone when I declared that I was a “devout” atheist. I was so shocked, yet happy, to first hear someone say that. I love describing myself that way now because I know it will rankle all those fundies out there who truly believe in a heaven and a hell. Especially those who expect to shame you or scare you into their belief system. However, because you’re still in the closet, I know you can’t afford to be so cavalier. Some people may take years to come out of the closet. Some people may HAVE to wait for a while. I know it all depends on your situation. I can say that the sooner your journey is over, the better you will feel about yourself and the life you have in front of you.

First, I refer you to my blog post, “My Apostasy.” If you haven’t already read it, that will tell you my story. Maybe it will give you some background about how I came to be an atheist. And maybe you will have a laugh along the way.

Second, I’d like you to read something that when I first read it, it seemed so radical. When my wife and I first moved to Hollywood, we tried to explore that mythical thing called spirituality. Since we knew we were not into organized religion, we studiedCynthia_Voodoo_Priest_e various fringe spiritual groups and decided it was all silly mumbo-jumbo. Have you ever heard of the Hare Crishners? Theosophy? Wicca? Chanting? Ridiculous. Gosh, why not look into Voodoo!

 

Ron Steelman as the Voo-Doo Priest in the comedy, “Sleeping With Cynthia” (yes, rubber chicken)

Sometime in 2000, I discovered secular Humanism. And while researching that, I found the Robert Green Ingersoll, Thanksgiving Proclamation. When I read it I felt as though I had found what I had been looking for. No rules. Just freedom. I wanted to stand up and shout hallelujah (that’s a little joke).


A HUMANIST THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION

by Robert Green Ingersoll

When I became convinced that the universe is natural–that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.

The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the world–not even infinite space.

I was free–free to think, to express my thoughts–free to live my own ideal–free to live for myself and those I loved–free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination’s wings–free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope–free to judge and determine for myself–free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the “inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past–free from popes and priests, free from all the “called” and “set apart”–free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies–free from the winged monsters of the night–free from devils, ghosts and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought–no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings–no claims for my limbs–no lashes for my back–no fires for my flesh–no following another’s steps–no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers, who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain–for the freedom of labor and thought–to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains–to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs–to those by fire consumed–to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons [and daughters] of men [and women]. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they have held, and hold it high, that light may conquer darkness still.


CARROT & STICK + GUILT

Smile_No_Hell_BlackLife everlasting in heaven if you follow the rules. Hell if you don’t. And lots of guilt to keep you in line. Religious folks will use every form of guilt and bent logic possible to make sure you follow all the rules the way THEY understand them (even if that isn’t what it says in their “sacred” book). They want you to suffer along with them. If they  have to follow those silly rules, then everybody should.

If you’re just beginning your journey to freedom, I have to tell you something that made a lot of sense to me. Yes, I’m an atheist, but more importantly, I’m a secular Humanist.

If you haven’t watched any of my videos yet, please do. In 2003 I founded the Red Bank Humanists here in NJ. Many of our members were willing to talk to me on camera and discuss what Humanism means to them. Your homework assignment is to watch all the videos on my video page and listen to these good people. That’s what they are. They are “Good Without God,” as we say.
Goodwithgod

Now I know you might still need to be in the closet, but while you’re in there, first learn about Humanism, and then learn about all the ways the devout religionists attempt to challenge your disbelief. They can show such outrage. If you don’t have your protective shields up, they will confuse and confound you.

I repeat: Yes, I’m an atheist, but more importantly, I’m a secular Humanist. I say this for two reasons: 1) religious people just hate the word, atheist, 2) Humanism is such a positive thing.  Read these:

American Humanist Association Definition

I’m Spiritual, But Not Religious (Bronx Cheer)

To be continued. . .at your request.

                                    : : : 

 

HOPE REVISITED

(Today I saw a FB post about an interview with Leonard Bernstein. In it, it made clear Bernstein’s feeling that hope is the best weapon to conquer cynicism. It reminded me of my post from five years ago. Perhaps you missed it. I like it because it reminds me of my mother.)

HOPE
by Ron Steelman

Sometimes life can wear you out, beat you up, and leave you sittin’ by the side of the road. You’re down in the dumps. You’re wonderin’ just how you’re gonna keep smilin’ and where you’re gonna find the will to stand up, dust yourself off and get back on that road again. But right then, somethin’ unexpected happens. Somethin’ you never contemplated happens right on cue. That’s right. It starts to pour down rain! wile-e-coyoteSo now you’re sittin’ there in the mud. Oh, thank you, big machine of random cosmic timing. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another, feeling like life couldn’t get any worse. At times like this you just want to roll up into a little ball and crawl under a rock.

In honor of my mother I’ve always tried to be an optimist. She woke up every day with enough cockeyed optimism to give everyone in our family a double dose to start out the day. We all laughed at her dogged determination to create a happy little party, but every morning she distracted us from our worries, coaxed smiles onto our faces. I want my Mommy now!

Getting older though has taken a toll on my optimism, especially given all the things we’ve lived through in recent years. So many people and events in our world have left me somewhat discouraged. At times I feel like I’m teetering on the abyss of cynicism. I really don’t want to become a cynic, though. Cynicism is so cheap and easy. One simply has to be negative and snide about everything. I will continue to be a skeptic, just not a cynic — for believing that selfishness is the only thing that motivates human actions does not sync with my philosophy of life.

Luckily, in my quest to find something to hang on to, something between cockeyed optimism and cynicism, I discovered HOPE.

Vaclav Havel

In 1989 Vaclav Havel, writer and dramatist and the first President of the Czech Republic, wrote: “Hope is an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced. . . Hope is not the willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

I think I understand now why hope is one of the three themes of the new Humanist holiday, HumanLight: reason, compassion, and hope. Hope gives us a clearer perspective on reason, and it certainly informs our commitment to compassion. I do love my Mother’s cockeyed optimism, yet I think it’s time now for a more mature hopefulness. I am focusing my hope on the goal of Humanism, which is to “lead an ethical life that aspires to the greater good of humanity.” That’s the kind of thing that’s worth hoping for, because as Mr. Havel said, it “. . .makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

So the next time you’re sittin’ there in the mud, I hope you can summon the hope you need to pick yourself up and get on down that road.

: : :

(originally published for the HumanLight essay contest, December, 2009)

Oh, God. . .Oh, God. . .Oh, God!

6895019_orig

If you grew up with a God, I know she’s pretty hard to let go of. However, once you do, you’re free to just be a good human being.

It’s so rewarding to be free of “all gods and all masters. ” And to prove it, I love to say that I’m a devout atheist (just for the shock value – LOL). But most importantly, my real goad is to be a good person, a Secular Humanist.

Question: did you flinch when I used the word, “Secular?” Some people tell me that’s an off-putting word, because it’s somehow associated with atheists, and we all know you atheists are “Godless, evil people with no morals.” Of course, that position is espoused primarily by Christian fundamentalists, who don’t understand that they don’t need a god to keep them on the straight and narrow. Maybe they do. They think because atheists don’t believe in God, atheists are capable of just going off willfully, raping and pillaging across the countryside. (Really?!) Religious people are so desperate to keep you in the fold. For example, Muslims in a large part of the world even believe that they must kill apostates, those that quit the religion. As stand-up comics might say, “Tough room.”

As a cornerstone of our democracy our founders included “Freedom of Religion.” You have the right to reject any or all faith, or any or all gods.  You know what an atheist is, don’t you? Answer: someone who doesn’t believe in your god. You simply need to be your “own good self.” Practice using your empathy and compassion for other people. Out of that you will likely become a very moral person, perhaps a secular humanist.

So what’s a good definition of Humanism? Here are two:

Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.
– American Humanist Association

But look at the second one as well. It reveals many more aspects of Secular Humanism to ponder. You will see that Humanists are actively trying to be good humans. That’s why we say you can be “Good Without God.” Here’s how. I also like the emphasis of the arts, which can be vehicles to understanding how to be a better person. It has one of my favorite lines as well: “Humanism is a philosophy of those in love with life.” (a quote from prominent humanist, Fred Edwords quote, I think). And finally, it has a kick-ass finish. Humanism is:

A joyous alternative to religions that believe in a supernatural god and life in a hereafter. Humanists believe that this is the only life of which we have certain knowledge and that we owe it to ourselves and others to make it the best life possible for ourselves and all with whom we share this fragile planet. A belief that when people are free to think for themselves, using reason and knowledge as their tools, they are best able to solve this world’s problems. An appreciation of the art, literature, music and crafts that are our heritage from the past and of the creativity that, if nourished, can continuously enrich our lives. Humanism is, in sum, a philosophy of those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.
– The Humanist Society of Western New York

: : :