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Jim A.

Metaphysical serenity, confidence, courage

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Recently, I went to see the haunted house thriller, The Conjuring. I don't usually see this kind of movie, but a friend wanted me to see it with her. It was an interesting experience for me, not because the film is one I would encourage people to see, but because for me it was a measure of the distance I have travelled psychologically since 1976.

Why do I mention a year? Because in 1976, I was an agnostic, and, therefore, could be swayed either way on the issue of the existence of God (and the supernatural) depending on the power of someone's argument (power, not necessarily validity). In that year, the film The Omen (the original) was released to theaters. That movie--a story about the Anti-Christ arriving on earth--was so manipulative and powerfully malevolent that, because I was wishy-washy in the area of metaphysics, almost scared me right into church. For years I had a sense of metaphysical dread when starting to watch any horror film based on the supernatural. So, at first, I was a little hesitant about seeing The Conjuring. But--for the sake of a good time with a friend--I went.

This time I didn't have that feeling of what I call metaphysical dread (in fact, my friend, who had her face covered for most of the movie, told me that when she looked at me I seemed pretty calm). I attribute this to the fact that sense I first began to study Objectivism and realized how important it is to recognize the Law of Identity--that a thing is always itself, that A is A--and the primacy of existence I have instead developed a sense of what I call metaphysical serenity or metaphysical confidence. I may have jumped once or twice during the movie's scary moments, but I didn't have that overall sense that I was living in a "nightmare universe". In fact, through the whole film, I kept thinking that the events I was watching on the screen could not really happen, and that I live in a rational universe.

Even though the producers of the movie have stated that it is based on a true story(!).

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I find this type of movie so preposterous that I can only view it on the level of "give me a break". I cannot get involved no matter how much I try, it's all so stupid.

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It is stupid. And the worst example of this kind of movie, I think, is The Exorcist. It was so preposterous that it didn't even scare me, the way I thought back then. But what's even more stupid is when people let these movies--and the hellfire and brimstone sermons they listen to in church--terrify them to the extent they do. They fear not only God, but the Devil and Hell. They don't stop and ask themselves: If I go to Hell, will I have the urgent need to find a burn clinic? (Which reminds me: the best--and only truly correct--description of hell, or the punishment one would receive after "Judgment Day" that I have ever read can be found in the essay "Philosophy and Sense-of-Life" in The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand.)

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I'll always remember a line (which is probably a famous quote) from an old Twilight Zone episode: "There's nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on." For me, that is an expression of recognizing and looking at objective reality.

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