Friday, February 16, 2007

On the banality of Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale's philosophy can be summed up by the last scene of "Monty Python's The Life of Brian", where Brian is hanging on the cross dying and the whole chorus of dying people is happily singing "Look on the bright side of life." In that respect, it is similar to many Oriental philosophies, which advocate looking beyond worldly things to the spiritual. It is, fundamentally, the philosophy of someone with no hope and no courage.

It's a nice philosophy if you're living under a Confucian dictatorship with no hope of changing the conditions under which you live, or if you are a mouthpiece of men of wealth and power who want you to convince the rabble to not overthrow their oligarchy, or if you're hanging on a cross dying with no hope and no future. It is not, however, the philosophy of a free man who is both ready and willing to stand up for what is right and oppose that which is wrong. A free man must be willing to be outraged by injustice, applaud courage, worry about those in need, and otherwise experience the full gamut of human emotion. Otherwise he is but a tool.

If you wonder why I am no big fan of "spritual" approaches to life, that is it. Life is a mean, nasty, dirty, ugly business for far too many people both in our nation and elsewhere. Until you acknowledge this, until you bother your beautiful mind with reality, there can be no hope for the better.

- Badtux the Philosophy Penguin


  1. It doesn't matter who you are, or how you live. Sooner or later you seek your spirit. Or it seeks you.

    If you don't find it, well, you just don't I guess. But spirit makes a person better.

    I'm generalizing of course. Assholes are just assholes.

  2. In the end, we're dead. Religion and/or spirituality is just an attempt to paper over that nasty little fact.


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