While this is not a 9/11 post, there is some discussion of religious belief and mind control, and I suppose you need both those things to convince 19 hijackers to fly planes into buildings. But let's go back to a simpler time, pre-9/11 . . . 1990.
It was my sophomore year at William and Mary, and Whitney, Rob and I liked to listen to Paul's Boutique. All the time. We had the luxury to do this because we skipped class. All the time.
Time was on our side. All the time.
One of the classes I skipped all the time was "American Cults, Sects, and Small Denominations." I took this class because I found cults and fringe-religions interesting. As a bonus, the class had the word "cult" in the title, and I loved the rock band The Cult. So I took this class despite that fact that it required some prerequisites (which I had not taken) and despite the fact that religion classes at W&M were notoriously difficult.
I didn't do my reading, nor did I attend class very much, and so I wasn't particularly surprised to receive a D- on the first test. As a bonus, the professor-- I can't remember his name-- gave us an extra piece of data along with our grade: your class rank on that particular test. I was #39 out of 42. I took solace in the fact that I wasn't dead last, but I never counted more than 39 students in class . . . so the other three students-- the students that finished below me-- could have been dead, comatose, or nonexistent (perhaps the professor didn't want me to have terrible self-esteem, so he invented three people to buffer me from the very bottom).
I took this low test ranking to heart-- as our grade would only comprise two tests and a final exam-- and so when the next exam approached, I was determined to study. I would do the reading, acquire the notes, and get my act together. This was the plan. Or it was the plan until someone told me something life-altering. Something that would literally alter the course of my life. What did this person tell me? She told me this: There's a hypnotist at the student center. People are gonna get mesmerized! Hypnotized! A once in a lifetime event.
I had a great time at the show. I tried my best to get hypnotized, but my hands didn't stick together. They felt a little tacky, but I was able to pull them apart. Other folks couldn't separate their fingers, and these people-- their hands stuck together with hypnotic crazy glue-- walked up to the stage. Within moments the hypnotist had them in his command. The enthralled students enacted a circus, saw aliens, and swooned when the word "lemon" was mentioned.
It was awesome to watch. I felt relaxed and energized. It was far more salubrious than studying. I went into the exam brimming with confidence-- I was calm, cool, and collected. I had an excess of mental energy. I had done no reading and I had perused no notes. Yet I was a ball of cognition, a flaming sphere of mental activity. The power of my mind had been released.
I believed this was all due to the hypnotism show at the student center.
Several weeks later, when I received this exam back, I was (mildly) shocked to find that I scored a D- again. The mildness of the shock was due to the fact that I had inured myself to bad grades in the previous seven years. But I learned a lesson. Hypnotism is fun, but it's no substitute for reading the text, especially in an obtuse religion class. But while I was disappointed with my grade, I was oddly pleased by the fact that once more I was #39 out of 42 in the class ranking. It's always exciting to discover a pattern. And I still couldn't locate students 40-42.
Weeks passed. Whitney, Rob, and I memorized the lyrics to Paul's Boutique. We skipped class more than ever. Then it was time for the final exam, and I realized the gravity of my situation. I studied. I really did. I read some shit, and got a hold of some notes. I wrote a lot. And then I saw it. At the end of the exam, there was a spot where you had to verify your test scores during the semester. I smiled. I smiled knowingly. This was the perfect spot for me to plead my case and improve my grade. Who could resist my wit? My clever clever wit. I wrote "D-" and "D-" in the two grade slots, and I included my class ranking with each grade. I put the information in parentheses. Number 39 out of 42. Then I wrote:"Dave . . . number #39 on your roster, but #1 in your heart."
I received a D- for the course. I assume the professor just didn't get it. But I wish he could see me now . . . because The Test has just released two religious episodes. One is on cults, but no prerequisite podcasts are necessary to enjoy it. The other is about the Bible . . . mainly the Old Testament. This episode is as close as we've come to informative (although God has a couple of monologues that some folks might consider heretical). Check them out, keep score, and see if you can virtue signal your way through the pearly gates.