Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Gods And Us

The Gods And Us Cover We weighed monotheism against polytheism, and found the arguments for a multitude of deities more convincing than the support for a single God such as that proposed in the Bible. We focused on one particular pantheon, that of ancient Europe, and considered the idea that these deities might have a reality outside of mythological lore and the human imagination.

But if we are going to assume that these divine powers are real, another question quickly becomes important: What is the Relationship between them and us?

With Bible-based religions, there is no doubt where you stand...or kneel, as the case may be. The Abrahamic religions, as we call Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, decree that humans are utterly nothing in the face of The Almighty. Human beings have rights and dignity only because God has given it to them; they have no innate worth aside from this gift. Nor can they earn such right or dignity - these are gifts given unconditionally to those who could never, ever actually deserve them.

The Bible makes an attempt to portray its God as a father, and humans as his sons and daughters, but what really comes through is the idea of God as a patriarchal and arbitrary dictator of the kind popular in the Middle East. Yahweh wipes out cities, slays the first born of Egypt, urges his chosen tribe to commit genocide against their neighbors, and annihilates all who will not give him his due. In the New Testament, this harsh picture is somewhat softened, and we are given the image of Jesus as a shepherd looking over his flock of sheep. This is not much better, since sheep are herded to and fro, sheared, sold and slaughtered as the shepherd wishes. When we want to portray passivity and submissiveness, what animal do we choose? The sheep, of course.

The Germanic peoples, on the other hand, looked to their Gods as their kin. The kings of the ancient tribes listed Wotan or Freyr, two of our Gods, as their forebears. In one myth, the God named Heimdal travels among humans, impregnating women and establishing the social order. The Holy Powers are thought of as the Elder Kin, and we men and women as the corresponding Younger Kin.

The idea that Gods and humans are two parts of a single family is one that carries implications. Most obviously, it means there is a reciprocation of loyalty and duty. This stands in stark contrast to the Biblical religions, where only one party - God - is owed anything at all.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Anonymous - The Gospel Of Thomas
Kathryn Paulsen - Witches Potions And Spells
Arlo Bates - The Pagans
Morwyn - The Golden Dawn