The Gods Must Be Crazy

I’m still in “book jail” for a few more days, so here is another post from the original blog archives, this one dates from October 2015. Enjoy!

I feel like lately I’ve been seeing a lot of commentary about how the Gods aren’t nice.  The basis of the discussion roots in the “realness” of the gods, and that they aren’t all sugar and spice, made of just pretty statues and paper cutouts, waiting to grant our wishes and desires.

As someone who spent 10 years in Catholic School and whose mother taught religion while also having a Jewish father, my education included fairly intense theological discussions, and a keen interest in the Old Testament. Add to that a life-long passion for mythology from around the world – Egypt, Babylon, India, Native American, Greece, etc. So I can’t help but think of both “my God is a vengeful god” and “and the Goddess/God was jealous of X, and cursed her to…” and go “No shit Sherlock, really? Who really thinks that?”

The Triumph of Civilization, 1793. Painting by Jacques Réattu 1760-1833
The Triumph of Civilization, 1793. Painting by Jacques Réattu 1760-1833

Whether you view myths of deities as a means to explain the mysteries of nature and human existence, or have a very real, personal relationship with a divine entity, it’s very hard to deceive yourself  into ignoring the reality of how the world works.

Water gives life, but can flood and drown you.  Fire brings warmth, but can burn down homes and ravage the landscape. Earth brings us food, but can also yield poison and swallow us whole. Air gives us breath, but can also destroy and break us down.  Myths from every culture extol the virtues and blessings of the Gods, as well as their most foul attributes.  Which is no surprise when we look at the nature of humanity – our brightest and darkest moments, and everything in between.

If we are modeled in the form of the gods, why would they be different from us in virtue, vice, and personality?  If we all (gods and humans) come from starstuff, why would we not have other things in common?  Whether they exist because of us, we exist because of them, or something in between, we are undeniably linked.

I do understand the tendency for one breaking away from Judeo-Christian religion to want to embrace an opposite sort of deity – often one that is female, kind, accepting, and understanding.  But I think that is a fantasy that is short-lived as one grows to understand our relationship with nature, the divine, and ourselves. We know that a woman isn’t just one thing, and that a mother goddess can be fierce and angry, just as a father god can be nurturing, protective, giving, and supportive.  One cannot be aware and not have an inkling of the balance.

As you journey along your path, if you happen to forge a personal relationship with a divine entity or spirit (or multiple ones), then you very quickly grow to understand the nature of it – the give and take of energy, the diversity of personality, the blessings and the curses. If we do come into it naively, the gods do not suffer fools well, and it’s either sink or swim with the current.

So it makes me wonder, who are we really scolding about understanding the nature of gods? Or is it more about congratulating ourselves on figuring it out?

Either way, the gods are laughing.

A few words to listen to:
(link here to audio in case the plug-in doesn’t work)
[bandcamp width=400 height=120 album=1504096119 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

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