They do, of course. But that connection between real life and academic theories is (in my experience on both sides of the podium) rarely made.
Last week, I saw a vinyl decal that might help. I’ve reproduced it below:
|“You better praise him”|
For many people, the message here seems obvious. It is familiar to a broad range of Americans (USAians, really, but you get the point).
Let’s think about this for a moment, though.
- Who does “him” refer to? The default USAian answer is “Jesus”, but it’s never specified. Cthulhu? Could it be…. Satan? The only thing we know for sure is that they’re talking about an entity that identifies to itself as male, which definitely rules out Shiva, but could rule out JHVH.
And for the default USAian answer (Christian), it’s awfully aggressive. You “better” praise him? Not exactly the peace and love message that Yeshua was known for.
Further, we don’t know that it actually refers to a deity. It could be referring to Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, or freaking Ronald McDonald.
And if it is referring to a deity, the person who put this on their vehicle has… well, issues. Many Judeo-Christian traditions have injunctions about even writing out the (man-made) names of their deity, but those that do allow it, always capitalize it as a sign of respect.
So if it is the presumptive default of someone espousing that one must believe in Yeshua (a.k.a. Jesus), they’re not only taking a very aggressive tone about it, but are simultaneously disrespecting their deity in the very message meant to praise Him.
It’s this kind of examination of the familiar – of questioning not only what is meant, but how it’s meant, and what it says about the person saying (or doing) the thing – where sociology really shines as a tool to investigate human behavior.
While supposedly one of the “soft sciences”, sociology is a science, when practiced properly. When we look for the strange in the familiar. When we realize that our “givens” about behavior are really nothing more than hypotheses dressed up in fancy clothing. (LT Zapfino Four, in this case – FONT NERD JOKE! HA!)
When you give up your presumptions about people’s behavior – and that’s a hell of a lot harder than it sounds – not only does it lead you to have a more examined and thoughtful life, but it also leads to you begin to question the more insane elements of it.
How you respond to those more insane elements… well, that’s your choice.