Tuesday, January 4

Fish and Religion

In Texas, there is a church on every street corner. I would even guess that there are more churches than schools. In neighborhoods where people live in shacks, the house of God is a mansion.

Now before I get too far into this post, I'd like to be clear about my intent. I'm not trying to be judgmental about this. I don't want to get into a war over religion, at least not with this particular thought. This is not a criticism on religion, but an observation and hypothesis of why I think Texas is overflowing with it.

It's really quite simple: Texas is a huge, flat place. The sky seems like it goes on forever and ever, and in any direction you look, all you see is land and more land, that goes on forever and ever and ever. I've now traveled up and down southeastern Texas and it is mile after mile after mile of horizontalness. It's exactly like living in Flatland. (Granted, south and east Texas isn't all of Texas, but it's where most of the people are. Also, west Texas looks pretty flat when you fly over it.)

Contrast this to where I live, Silicon Valley. The most obvious thing is that I am bounded by hills. I see limits, the sky is diminutive in comparison. If I want to, I can actually reach a mountain without much effort. I have the option to get somewhere, and I am never ever lost.

Just imagine the psychological ramifications of this:
  • In one land, a person is insignificant, with no end in sight, with limitless surroundings, and where it is pointless to go anywhere because everything is exactly the same, no matter where you go. The smaller you are, the more likely you are to notice how colossal everything else is, and be more inclined to prioritize the observance of an infinite being.
  • In the other, a person can easily reach landmarks, goals are achievable, and the sky does not intimidate. Horizons are varied, and thus things may change. The bigger you are, the more likely you believe that the heavens are in your grasp, and be more inclined to neglect the observance of an infinite being.
In essence, in Texas, you are a small fish in a big fish bowl, and in California, you are a big fish in a small fish bowl.

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