Friday, November 7, 2014

Focusing on the Text

This week, I will be answering the following questions in reference to the text of my memes:
1. What common key symbols, shared ideas, and values or beliefs does your meme focus on?
2. What are the dominant forms of humor used in your memes?
3. How does this impact how religion and religious ideas/beliefs are framed?

My sample group uses communication as a ritual. In other words, the memes I am researching use communication as "the construction and representation of shared beliefs [and] highlights the shared values, symbols, and cultural sensibilities that embody what people see as their communities" (Shifman, p. 60). The memes have an intentional message for an intentional audience and are not concerned with the process of how it reaches the audience. Instead, we are concerned with how the memes interact with the audience. Hence, their representation of a community's beliefs, values, and symbols. The community found on the Atheist Meme Base Facebook page exhibits its values and beliefs through the memes they select for display on their page. These values appear to include objectivity, curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, logic, and humor. The community seems to be united by the belief that an individual should ask questions about the religion they follow, in this case Christianity, and seek answers with an objective and logical view. The key symbols of the community's communication can be seen in the pattern of rhetorical questions and the presentation of a religious concept that is disproven by science or is contradictory to an observation of lived religion. Further textual symbols include the highlighting of hypocrisy, the use of irony, and the provocation of further thought.

The dominant form of humor used in my memes is incongruity. Shifman defines incongruity as "comedy derive[d] from an unexpected cognitive encounter between two incongruent elements" (Shifman, p 79). This could also be defined as comedy derived from contradiction which fits this particular community very well given the fact that a majority of the memes highlight contradictions in Christianity.

The combination of the community's use of communication as a ritual and incongruity allows the memes to frame Christianity as a religion of contradiction while calling into question the reasoning behind adhering to such a flawed systems of beliefs. The religion is further framed as laughable, which lends support to the idea of Christianity as inaccurate and unreliable as a basis for life.

This meme uses a rhetorical question in order to provoke further thought while simultaneously, though somewhat underhandedly, using science to contradict a religious belief. The text references that, according to Genesis 1, God created the Sun on the 4th of his 7 days of labor. However, science has defined a day as the 24 hour period it takes to the earth to rotate 360 degrees on its access while orbiting the Sun. So, scientifically, without a Sun, a day could not occur nor pass. The meme uses an objective, logical, and scientific view to refute this concept of the passing of days without the Sun. The humor of the meme arises from the incongruity or contradiction between the Christian belief that a day could pass without the Sun and the scientific evidence that shows the vitality of the Sun to the process of passing the day.

This meme refers to the story of the beginning of mankind in which the Bible states the existence of Adam, Eve, and their two sons, Cain and Abel. Being the first people to exist, they are tasked with populating the Earth. Due to our current existence, this task was somehow completed but in a manner that contradicts science. Since Cain and Abel were both male, and there were no other families on the planet from whom they could find a woman to reproduce with, how did mankind continue? It is scientifically impossible for mankind to reproduce without a female.
This meme again displays the community's values of objectivity and logic while drawing attention to another religious concept that is disproven by scientific evidence. As with the previous meme, the conceptual contradiction between this religious story and science creates a humorous air about the message that is being communicated.

The creation of humor through incongruity is quite forwardly displayed in this meme. The term "unconditional" literally means "without conditions," but the second line of the text says "with conditions." This is a blatant contradiction of terms. This clear hypocrisy is highlighted in the lived religion and text of Christianity. Though God says he will love everyone unconditionally, he does so only under the conditions that you believe that his son, Jesus Christ, died for your sins and you must accept him as your savior. This contradiction can be seen in lived religion when you apply the belief that, as a Christian, you are required to love everyone equally, but many can still be seen/heard passing judgement and discriminating against non-Christians.

In other news,  I am still working on contacting the creator of the Atheist Meme Base Facebook page, but I intend to make up for the lack of creator input by interviewing individuals who associate with Atheism. 

*Please ignore the highlighting. They are the result of technical difficulties. 

Thanks for reading! 

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