|"I'm your friend to the end!"|
At one point in an interview with NPR's Terry Gross, Clash talks about how the illusion of Elmo stays intact, even when kids know the muppeteer is there:
We have a lot of children that will visit [the set of Sesame Street]. And what we've found is that they really don't care about us, about the puppeteers. They've watched these characters on the show, on TV for so long, that they're really like close friends. It's interesting. They really don't look at me when they see Elmo. They run to Elmo because it's a friend of theirs that they've been talking to and communicating with and singing with for so many years. We've found that the delusion is not broken by seeing us puppeteers. They see the characters in front of them. ... I get humbled by it all the time. The things that they tell Elmo, the expression on their face when they see their friend.Are there not parallels here with God-belief? God/Jesus is familiar to people, especially Americans. Even non-believers and non-Christians can't get away from it. Witness the nonsensical levels of attention given in past weeks to the faith of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. On both my way to work and on the way home, someone has put a home-made sign on a tree by the side of the highway. Both read: "Jesus saves."
When people pray to God/Jesus, they don't see themselves as "pulling the strings." They don't see themselves animating the deity. What's more, perhaps like with Elmo, the illusion would not be broken if they saw.
If correct, this tells us something of the magnitude of fundamental psychological needs that are answered by god-belief. The belief is real and powerful, and it is personal. And maybe it doesn't have that much to do with God as a being or thing, but rather God as an ideal person giving ideal personal love.