I'm still slogging through The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Non-linear timelines in books drive me batty and this one takes it to an extreme. Still, there have been some great moments in the reading and I wanted to share a few.

"You're not some sort of mystic, are you? I must tell you that I don't intend to convert to anything heathen."
"Conversion, as you understand it," the aged figure told him placidly, "consists of pounding one's own words into a man's ears until they start coming out of his mouth."

Ha! I love this little exchange. On the one level, conversion to a new religion is just as he describes it. It's about indoctrination, not assimilation of truth. It gets me thinking about the conversion of Native Americans or the inquisition or any of countless other historical accounts. Or, even on a more personal level, the raising of children. I was just talking about this last night with a friend. Kids have such a sweet innocence about them that at some level, is a purer form of compassion, fairness and openness. It is often the conversion and indoctrination to societal norms, religion and belief in the associated expectations that stomps these traits right out of them. I'm not a parent, myself, so I could be totally talking out of my ass, but I'm fond of the way my own parents raised me in this regard. They made me go to a local church every week, but they made it known to my sister and I that it wasn't because they identified with being Lutheran themselves, it was so that my sister and I would know what it meant to be Christian and would have that as a basis of comparison as we made our own choices. So, as soon as we were confirmed, the choice was ours. They encouraged me to visit other churches, learn about other religions, and find my own path. They raised me similarly in other respects too. I guess I was a 'free range' kid. If you're not familiar with the term, I encourage you to check out this blog at freerangekids.wordpress.com.

Another great moment in the book today was this little gem:

"Reincarnation works backwards in time," Hagbard went on, as the narcs opened drawers and peered under chairs. "You always get reborn into an earlier historical period. Mussolini is a witch in the 14th century now, catching hell from the Inquisitors for his bum karma in this age. People who 'remember' the past are all deluded. The only ones who really remember past incarnations remember the future, and they become science-fiction writers.

I laughed so hard I had to get up and make some tea to gather myself. Total bull, of course, but funny.