Sunday, May 18, 2008

Extremes of Worship

Doing It, Religiously

Every now and then I'll run into a Unitarian or a Southern Baptist or somewhoever, and after it's established that I'm not Christian but I claim to being "religious" in some ill-defined sense, I get told this: "Well, we all worship the same God really, don't we?"

I have to stifle my laughter sometimes. There are two ways in which that statement is comical to a polytheist such as myself. The obvious way, and the not so obvious way.

The obvious way is that, clearly, if I don't believe in the singularity of gods, then I am not going to go along with the notion that "your god" is "my god". "Which of 'my' gods, pray tell, are you saying is the same as yours, Bwana?"

[Above left: Not all directions are up. I made these to "worship" possibilities.]

The not so obvious way that the statement is laughable to me, arises from the fact that, for polytheists such as myself, we find monotheistic worship to be absurdly extreme.

Think about it. If you believe there is only one all-powerful and omniscient and all-loving god, you've only got one shot at worship. All your devotion has to be focused on your one and only worship-able object. I see this as dysfunctional. It results in the same kind of over-the-top devotion we've come to expect from stalkers.

Whereas if you can see the impersonal god-hood's multiplicity of personal faces and identities, you can spread that devotion out, and probably will.

"We're all basically the same."

Some polytheists are what are called henotheists (or monolaters). They believe in many gods but pick one out for exclusive devotion. Monotheists might see such people as being "practically" monotheists. But to see how far off that could be, consider that one of my gods is the one I call The God Of Highest Worship.

The name of The God Of Highest Worship is The God Of Highest Worship. The chief attribute and only significant source of power of The God Of Highest Worship is that the God Of Highest Worship is the god of highest worship.

The God Of Highest Worship has never created or destroyed a world or a single creature. The God Of Highest Worship is probably the weakest god I can imagine in terms of his/her/its effect on the rest of the world.

However, by meditating on how I feel today about The God Of Highest Worship, I can discover how my own values are changing. This is extremely valuable to me. It helps me figure out what I am becoming.

It's a far cry from bowing down to the God who could draw out Leviathan with a hook. Like that would matter to me.

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