Tuesday, 6 December 2016

On Identifying "Top Gods"

Of a goddess:

"'She did what gods are supposed to do, gave courage and solace, made men a little more decent than they might otherwise have been, and sometimes opened their eyes to beauty.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Star of The Sea" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2006), pp. 467-640 AT p. 634.

Courage, solace, decency, beauty. Not all gods do these things.

"Hers are the trees, the vine, and the fruits thereof. Hers are the sea and the ships that plow it. Hers are the well-being of mortals and peace among them." (p. 628)

Yes, a good story in more ways than one. I value this goddess without believing in her literal existence.

Gods that need not apply for the top jobs include:

those that will destroy their worshipers if they do not receive blood sacrifices;
the gods of intolerant sects;
the god of the Mosaic Law.

Does the Golden Rule encapsulate "the law and the prophets"? In general terms, yes - but only if we leave out details like stoning adulterers. The Buddha is not a god but is, according to the mythology, a "teacher of gods and men" - and he taught that the best sacrifice is an offering not of blood to the gods but of fruit to the poor.

2 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I disagree with your critique of "the god of the Mosaic Law." Because I think you need to keep the context in mind. Compared to the even harsher laws of their pagan neighbors the laws of Old Testament Jews were just and mild and far in advance of those of the pagans. And as time passed the rigors of OT law were ameliorated.

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. Sean,
      However, when reading certain texts, we are being asked to contemplate a god who says things like "If a woman lies with a beast, both must be slain. Their blood is upon them."
      Paul.

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