Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stumbling over the word "god"

Followers of the monogods spell the word god with a capital G. They then use the word God to mean only their own particular and singular deity. What confusion this creates! The dictionary definition of the capitalized God runs something like, “the one creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being,” and yet when different people say the word God, they could mean any one of the monogods who seek dominion over the earth. The tripartite God of the Christians, Allah of the Muslims, the Lord God of the Jews, and the abstract Source of the Agnostics are all examples of capital G Gods, and yet monotheists insist that there is only one. What a setup for celestial bickering!

In a monotheist world, the word god spelled with a small “g” is used to mean a lesser divinity, a spiritual being of myth, or the capital G God of someone else’s religion. What’s a polytheist to do? Does a capital G god actually exist in a polytheistic world? Can we use the capital G word to indicate the gods in our particular pantheon, or has the word become so burdened with previous meaning as to render it unusable in our case?

I have given up using the capital G word because it points inexorably toward a singular divinity. And yet, alternative words such as angel, divine being, spirit guide, and so on, do not do justice to some greater-than-human beings, and no one word of them can describe all the beings in my pantheon. So I have chosen to use the small g god to describe the greater-then-human beings that I love and serve.

Some of my gods are more powerful than others. Auntie Chaos, for example, could squash my Mother Earth with her pinky finger, although, in fact, she has blessed her many times over. Some of the gods in my pantheon, like Charlie, could be defined as angels. I call him god anyway, because I adore him with a passion that rivals the Christian love for Jesus. I honor and serve the Creator, he who created the heavens and the earths, even though he is far beyond my understanding, but I do not call him God because he is not singular. There are other Creators, breathing life into other heavens and earths.

Sometimes I contemplate the Great Mystery, but not for long, and I never mistake the Great Mystery for a god or even a God. In seeking to promote their particular God to the position of the Great Mystery, the monotheists stumble over the vastness of the string-entangled multiverse, the problem of origins, and the fact that a single discreet entity cannot, in fact, be Everything. Once you claim your God or god to be the Great Mystery, you have lost him, because the Great Mystery is, by definition, unknowable, indistinguishable, and beyond our reach.

Oh, how I love the gods of love!

Fellow polytheists, what do you think?


nefaeria said...

Hi there! Thanks for stopping over at the nefaeria blog and leaving a lovely comment. I look forward to catching up with yours. :)

As far as whether to capitalize the 'g' or not, I like to do so. I do so not for my own, but for any other as well, including the jealous sky variety. ;)


Anonymous said...

interesting us something to think about ;-)

susan said...

hmm, I am for the small g because stumbling in the woods is one thing and stumbling over language is another. when small g gets used I feel like it includes the flexibility to include the godliness of every breath, interaction, experience with out the excess toxic energy of qualifying or defending against the big G domination and assumptions.