Briefly: On the ‘Universal’

Sometimes I get so caught up in thinking and turning over ideas and doing yet feel I don’t have anything to write about. That’s not true – I have myths I could write, and we just got chickens at the home and I could talk about that, or how stressed I am because I’m supposed to make dinner tonight and am not sure how to handle household responsibilities and that doesn’t reflect well on me, or I could rant. But none of those topics seem very useful, not for this venue (I’ll probably be talking about the chickens on tumblr, because, dude, chickens).

A topic that is more fitting for this venue, however, did wander into my mind. My, admittedly, focused on fluffy little birds that squeak all the time mind.

Call of the sea by ~monotonelee

I don’t think my gods are universal.  Well, correction, I don’t even really think the gods are universal. That isn’t to say I don’t think only certain people can call on them – I don’t think that – but I don’t think that they are universal forces. I always get a little nervous around universalism and universal truths and such. They too easily wipe away and erase key differences and stifle diversity.

Yesterday’s post on community can be tied in to this – I am not looking for a community of sameness. When I go for a more formal community, it’s going to be one with shared bonds, shared goals, and diversity of opinion, belief, and style. That’s possible with a backbone of universalism, but that isn’t something I want. I like recognizing that someone is fundamentally different than I am. That makes it so much more exciting when we find similarities.

My Gods of Love are not another’s Gods of Love – I’m not a big lover of archetypes to begin with, but it’s something even more than that. I believe in connections, but I don’t feel comfortable with archetypes or roles. My Gods of Love are called that because they preside and interact with love and romance (usually by blundering through it), but I don’t think they have an approach or reach that is very universal. I think some people would find these gods to be strange or repulsive, while others may find their lessons and the love they teach to be exactly what they need. They may be multifaceted, but they aren’t universal.

I just don’t understand universal truth, I think.

It could be that I just get more interested in differences and find starting from that place more interesting, and the connections that blossom from that place to be more useful. It could also be that I’m just cranky when it comes to this.

About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Not to at all contradict what you’re saying here, but: how is it that you’re so often reflecting a viewpoint that is a section of my current mind and understanding, but over 16 years in advance of my current position? (And I say this with the greatest admiration and respect, please understand–not the least hint of “Hey, no fair! That’s what I think!”)

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head (again!), though, as far as I see it. I’ve often said the Ekklesia Antinoou is “for anyone, but not for everyone,” i.e. anyone can do it, but not everyone can or will want to…and, that’s fine. Antinous and the other gods associated with him don’t get “greater validity” by the more people who are in our group, or who are devoted to him generally; no one is utterly required to be devoted to him, even if they happen to be (let’s say) a gay, young, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretistic-leaning polytheist…in fact, such a person may in fact have the least interest in a god like Antinous in many respects. No matter what, though, that’s okay…

    I don’t know how it is that far too often, either stating a viewpoint, or putting a god out there as one deity amongst many, or even articulating one’s positions on these matters as beliefs or even as a systematic religion, automatically makes people have an allergic reaction and assume one is saying “This is how ALL REALITY IS and if you disagree you’re DAMNED!!!” That’s the furthest thing from the truth for polytheists…

    Anyway, this is sending ogam-lists to ollamain, and you already know this and are well aware of it. In any case…

    • Aine

      I do find it very interesting, the assumed ‘truth’ when someone discusses their gods or their experiences or their theology. I know I try to only raise an eyebrow or my hackles when someone is telling me what I believe or what I should believe. (Or that what I believe is somehow inherently extremist or damaging but that’s a tired conversation.)

      I think it is very easy to misunderstand, “That isn’t the truth for me,” as, “That isn’t the truth,” which, gah, is frustrating.

  • yvonne

    I think people who like the idea of universal truth do it for two reasons: (1) a well-intentioned one of affirming that everyone’s perspective on the deep mysteries of the universe is valid; (2) a hegemonic one that wants to impose their truth on everyone else.

    The net effect is still to erase difference and diversity, but at least the first option seeks to include diverse perspectives, whereas the second one seeks to close them down, even to eradicate them.

    • Aine

      I think the first one seeks to include different perspectives, but in practice/application often stifles them. Or, at least stifles the identification of perspectives as different. But I’m very biased, because I’ve had so many people tell me that the world really does have this ‘underlying’ nature and that I need to just accept that (which always makes me sob a bit inside) and not realize how rude that is >.>

    • Christopher Scott Thompson

      I don’t believe that universalism inherently stifles or denies difference. In my view, two things can be genuinely different and genuinely not-different simultaneously, depending on perspective.

      • Aine

        I don’t think it’s inherently bad, but…whenever there’s a perception that ‘[x] is the truth’ (‘we’re all /really/ the same’) problems start popping up. I’ve been told that just saying I’m not a universalist is encroaching upon that belief, which…boggles the mind o.o (Thankfully that is rare – usually what happens is I’ll say, ‘no we really have [x] difference’ and am ignored.) I don’t think most viewpoints are inherently stifling, but I think they can all become a bit warped when we assume that they are the truth or inherently correct.