Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Many Gods?

Click on photos to enlarge!

A rarely seen image: Diamond Head under cloudy skies. Alert the tourism police!

"Art washes away the dust of everyday life."
Pablo Picasso

It's not enough to glory in the moment. We need to buy the t-shirt too!

"There's a difference between beauty and charm. A beautiful woman is one I notice. A charming woman is one who notices me."

John Erskine

Sally Field, TVs Gidget in the 1960's, has a new TV show in which we can watch as "Gidget Goes Senile."

"I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate."
George Burns

Nature, red in tooth, claw, and leaf!

Recently we have been hearing more "New Age" talk about angels, and animating nature-spirits like faeries, gnomes, nymphs and naiads. Any glimpse at shamanism immediately introduces us to a well populated invisible realm. . . We think of this merely as the childlike explanatory stories of immature humanity - never guessing the distilled wisdom behind it. We admire these artifacts, and pass the traditional stories on to our children as markers of ethnic identity, or multi-cultural enrichment.

For us moderns raised up in the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism ("The Lord Our God is ONE") Islam ("No God But Allah") and Christianity ("One Name, One Faith, One Lord") these mythologies of multiplicity can actually stir a vestigial anxiety: Idolatry. Just look at the parents who want to ban the Harry Potter books from their school's library! We must go, they remind us, to God (big "G") ONLY. Appeal to any other agency, or any exploration of the animate traits and personalities underlying worldly phenomena, feels like abomination. Jesus may have spoken of "powers & principalities" and confronted spirit beings, but western religion explains that the Age of Miracles has long since ended. Our world is now made up of "processes" and "rules" that we have largely discovered (Electricity!) and manipulate at our pleasure. Only very recently have mainstream churches advocated for stewardship, rather than domination of the formerly despised "natural" world. We don't care to be in harmony with the personalities of nature. God supersedes them and makes of them our mere servants . And so our world becomes more static and lifeless everyday. Our pets are the only place outside of ourselves where we routinely see companion hearts returning our gaze and regard. No wonder they are so dear to us. All of our relationship with "other" is now borne on their furred and feathered shoulders!

The ancients' discovery of Monotheism grew from their intuition of a Unity underlying, overriding, and running all through the world's sporting multiplicity. Their myriad animating nature-divinities were then revealed as more than capricious free agents; They too served a higher intelligence.

Today, the ancient small "g" gods have been further demoted. We have reduced them to mere "processes," and "explanations." We leave them to the mediation of calculating experts. Our seasonal celebrations bring only tourism dollars - not unity, collective catharsis, or bountiful crops at harvest time. We no longer claim friendship with a lovely water goddess, a loved and lively bringer of music, satiety, joy and life. We turn the tap expecting only a mundane commodity, and that's all that we get anymore. Nature seems listless because WE have bored her with our greed and pedestrian gracelessness.

We have journeyed from the glory of One Majestic God behind nature's dazzling animate multiplicity, to a distant God dogmatically locked behind a gate-keeping priesthood, to an abstract "God" who is more concept than threat or promise. Then, for a while, God was regarded as "Providence," a watchmaker who set all this in motion and then went out to a billion year lunch. Next we heard of God's demise. Then we ceased to think of God at all, except in the operating room, courtroom, or battlefield. Prayer became a public duty, or something to DO with our fear and pleading: holy chewing gum for our anxiety, more debased than any Shaman's familiar spirit . . . . Your thoughts? A L O H A! Cloudia