Class Warfare Blog

November 19, 2018

Culture Signaling

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , , , ,

There are myriad ways of signally where one stands in our culture(s). One of my favorites is the middle class grunt. This can be observed in any bar in which a middle class man takes a stool at the bar. Often the taking of a seat is accompanied by a slight grunt, as if the climbing thereupon were strenuous. This signal tells all of those nearby that you, too, work for a living and that you deserve the respite of a pint with your friends.

There are myriad ways in which the signal “I Believe in God” is made. While leaving a hotel recently at a too early hour, I was making a cup of coffee to go in the lobby when a cheery staff member asked how I was doing. (I hate perky, by the way, but that’s something else.) I grumbled back that “I was alive.” She responded with “Thank god for that,” and smiled her way away. I did not respond as that would have been unkind.

People often use phrases in ordinary language that identify them as a member in the god-fearing culture. You will hear such way more often in the hinterlands than in big cities but you will hear such everywhere in this country.

Signally that one is religious is a way of signally that you are a trustworthy person, and that you are not a threat. Basically, you have morals. The cost of this is to the people who do not signal back. Atheists are not to be trusted and signally is one way to identify these amoral threats to a good Christian life.

Maybe we need some atheist signals to show the religious crowd that we are amongst them. Maybe “As Daniel (Dennett), Richard (Dawkins) and Sam (Harris) say …” or ‘What would Hitch do?” (WWHD). I don’t think we need a secret handshake or anything but recognition for the Atheist Headquarters in the Colorado mountain bunkers would be nice. Publication of Atheist Statements of Disbelief and the posting of them in public spaces would help, I guess, but I will start with culture signals. What do you think?


  1. I’ve been thinking about this all day Steve. Be nice if all atheist drove jeeps or rode motorcycles. I like the idea of an atheist shirt or something that stands out. We could all get WWHD tattoos?


    Comment by jim- — November 20, 2018 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  2. Well Mr. President, I am very much nastier than you. Had some perky lil’ critter told me “thank doG” when I replied “I’m alive” to the question of how I was, I would have asked the perky critter which bloody damn doG should I thank. Oh, and I will make certain to have a nice long list. There are thousands of different doGs that we silly humans have worshiped and made various other offerings/sacrifices to in our history.
    I’m not a morning person. Yes, we did get out of bed at 0 dark thirty when I was in the USMC and at times I’d still be hard at work during that time at 00 darkest thirty. Still, with my current health and even though I keep asking people to treat each other the way they want to be treated, early in the pre-dawn part of the day, I’m NOT perky and more of a very big grouch.


    Comment by Walter Kronkat — November 20, 2018 @ 12:19 am | Reply

    • I have used the phrase “0 dark thirty” for years because of its evocative nature, but most people just look at me what “Wha …?” on their faces.

      I could have said something to that young lady, but as I said it would be unkind. She was just mouthing things she was trained to say *without thinking*. I had a transformation as a teacher when I decided to stop blaming students for not learning what I was teaching and entertain the idea that they were playing by the “real rules.” I don’t know whether they noticed but I was transformed. I worked just as hard to get better as a teacher, but I listen to them more and responded to their requests as if they had been made by a peer. One older student asked me for an “executive summary” of a topic because as he pointed out, truthfully, the textbook did not do that an there was too much information to process well. (He was correct on all of these accounts, so I wrote a summary for the current topic and asked him to critique it. By the middle of the next term I had a compendium that i published in house and asked the students to purchase (the price only covered the cost of reproduction). I expanded upon this document with objective statements and examples of previous test questions used to test their learning. It became a focal point of my approach to the course and I referred to it daily. I knew I had done something of value when a clueless student asked at the final exam prep session “Is it worthwhile to read the doc?” and almost all of the rest of the heads in the room turned to look at the questioner with great puzzlement on their faces (well, and a touch of scorn).

      On Tue, Nov 20, 2018 at 12:19 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 20, 2018 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  3. I think it would be nice to have a culture signal for atheists, but it’s probably not a good idea at this point. It would be like coming up to the bar filled with the middle and lower class, and, instead of uttering the usual middle class grunt and ordering a pint, extending a pinkie finger while drinking Perrier from a teacup.


    Comment by List of X — November 24, 2018 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

    • But, discretion is the heart … of something, I am sure.

      On Sat, Nov 24, 2018 at 7:26 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 24, 2018 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

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