In a post exploring the worship of power and powerful gods, Star Foster raises an issue with wide-ranging implications. Star says:
As a polytheist, I worship multiple gods … I am closer to some gods than others, and there are gods out there that I do not worship. I don’t worship gods based on how powerful they are … Zeus may be the most powerful Olympian, but he’s no match for all the Olympians, and even he can’t throw a thunderbolt if the lame Hephaistos doesn’t make them for him. The gods, like us, exist in an interdependent community. No god is an island.
To that, let’s add this famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
It behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.
If we are worshipping interdependent gods, what are we becoming?
We’re becoming people who realize our fate is intertwined with the fate of other people, other nations and other species. We’re becoming creatures who recognize we weren’t placed on the Earth, we grew out of the Earth. We’re becoming people who understand individual effort is necessary and laudable, but cooperative effort is more effective and can be just as heroic. We’re learning the best legacy isn’t a big bank account but a thriving community which will carry on our customs and promote our values long after we’re gone.
Are we there yet? Certainly not. We live in a culture that promotes the individual at the expense of the community and Pagans come out of that same culture. Pagans can be as overly individualistic as Evangelical Christians who worship Jesus as their personal savior. And we’re just as vulnerable to evolutionary selfishness as anyone else.
But we worship interdependent gods, and what we are worshipping we are becoming.
In yesterday’s Wild Hunt, Jason Pitzl-Waters proposed that this year’s election shows we are “Living in Post-Christian America.” Even if Jason is claiming victory too soon (and I think he is) there is no doubt the influence of Christianity in general and conservative Christianity in particular is waning. It will not be replaced by another monolith. Instead, many religions and philosophies are competing in the marketplace of ideas, each clamoring to be heard. Those that are presented well will be tried; those that prove helpful will grow.
We worship interdependent gods, and what we are worshipping we are becoming.