Psychologists now recognize that repeated exposure to ambiguous statements tends to increase people’s belief in them — a phenomenon known as the illusory truth effect. For example, research has shown that even hearing a claim that seems difficult to accept (e.g., one that 80% of people believe is untrue) for a second time makes people give it a little bit more credence. It’s not that they suddenly buy the information totally, but people weren’t quite a quick to reject it after the second go-round. As one might expect, repetition’s effect on beliefs not only hold true for adults, but for children as well.
Indication of Likelihood
This illusory truth bias happens because the brain uses the case with which we can retrieve something from memory as an indication of its likelihood. If you’ve seen or experienced something before, it’s easier to recognize, and thus seems more likely to be true or to happen again. And, the more times you see or hear it, the truer it rings. It’s easy then to imagine the power that daily or weekly recitations of creeds and prayers can have on belief.
Rituals are a set of actions designed to be special — to highlight, differentiate, and privilege what is being done. Making certain acts feel formal, using symbols, evoking emotion, using repetition — these all are potential ways to mark that specialness. None of them are strictly necessary. Yet, just by declaring that certain acts are special, we make them meaningful. They draw our attention, imagination, and sometimes hopes, in a way that mere habits don’t. As such, they change the way that otherwise mundane actions speak to our minds.
Bringing About Change
At heart, almost all rituals seek to bring about change. By altering how our minds encode and process information, the ways we move our bodies in space and in relation to others, and the values and expectations we place on ourselves and those around us, rituals regulate our beliefs, our behaviors, and our bonds with others. In so doing, rituals help us to experience joy, manage pain, persevere toward difficult goals, and bounce back from painful losses.
The present moment is the only dimension of existence worth inhabiting, because it’s the only one available to us — the past is no longer and the future has yet to come. Yet we live virtually all of our lives somewhere between memories and aspirations, nostalgia and expectation. Greek philosophers looked upon the past and future as the source of all anxieties which tarnish the present.
A Life Worth Living
We imagine we would be much happier with things like new shoes, a faster computer, a bigger house, more exotic holidays, different friends. However, by regretting the past and guessing the future, we end up missing the only life worth living — the one which proceeds from the here and now and deserves to be savored.
Ba’al, whose particular responsibility was agriculture, was a well known god in Canaan. He was the storm god who came riding in on the clouds to fertilize the parched ground. In fact, that is the reason for the name Ba’al.
Meaning of the Name
Officially, Ba’al’s name was Hadad, but he’s usually referred to by the Hebrew word Ba’al, which meant “master” or “lord,” but also “husband.” Ba’al was the earth’s spouse, whose rainwater fertilized the soil and made the crops grow.
Modern astronomy has given us a perspective on our place in the universe. Life is a fragile development in an air pocket on the surface of Earth, a small planet revolving around a minor star in a galaxy of trillions of stars in a world of billions of galaxies.
Our fate is intertwined with our planetary air pocket and the life that shares it. Within the “small space” many competing agendas bump up against each other — species against species, group against group, individual against individual.
Importance of Life
If humans are important, it is because we are important to ourselves. And, if life is important, it is because life is important to us.