Sunday, June 5, 2011
The Great Monotheistic Error
Jack suggests that I use a word like “angel” to describe my gods in order to avoid confusion, but I stick to the word “god” deliberately, using it as the classical polytheists used it. My gods are very like the Greek or Roman or Norse polytheistic gods. They’re fallible, emotional, greater-than-human people, with personalities and a penchant for meddling in human affairs. They may live so long as to appear immortal to us lesser creatures, but they have vulnerabilities and can be hurt and will eventually, like all things, be reabsorbed into the great Everything-That-Is.
Everything-That-Is (ETI) is Mastery-Mystery’s word* for the Unknowable One (which is Jack’s word for it) which MM describes, in short, as “Everything That Is, Is Not, Was, Was Not, Has Been, Has Not Been, Will Be, Will Not Be and Could be and Could Not Be . . . " This Great Mystery of Everything Universe As God All At Once is way beyond human comprehension. I can’t experience it, hence, like the animists of old, I leave it alone. I don’t try to know it or define it. It’s not my big-G “God.” Since I can’t experience it, I don’t “believe” in it. I don’t worship it. I don’t relate to it. It’s way too big for this puny human.
But the monotheists believe in it. Not only do they believe in ETI, they think that ETI is their personal, book-writing deity and that it’s ETI who created them on purpose and that ETI has a personality and meddles in their affairs. In short, that ETI is their personal god. That’s the great monotheistic error. Monotheists call ETI big-G God, but their capital letter doesn’t fool me. They can’t have a relationship with ETI because no one can. It’s way too great for any of us and It would be way too great to give much of a shit about us, if It had any shit to give, which It doesn’t. Monotheists confuse their little-g god with ETI.
Monotheists have got the market for gods on this earth cornered and monopolized in their corporate churches, and they’ve plastered their gods' various names all over the media for several thousand years. Therefore, a lot of people think their big-G God-of-Choice is the only way to think about deity. They think there only exists one big-G God (and it’s the God of their choice) and he has to be ETI. In other words, they deny the existence of any gods but ETI and claim ETI as their god.
That’s why I have to be careful. Because when I say the word “god” most people think I’m talking about some big-G God or other as my personal ETI. It’s not just traditional monotheists who get confused this way. Many new age folks and other ETI believers still think ETI is the only possible thing that can be called god, and that the ETI of their choosing (whether they call it One-ness, the Creator, Great Spirit, etc.) is their personal god. That’s impossible! ETI ain’t nobody’s personal anything. IMHO . . . in my humble opinion . . .
The great monotheistic error makes it difficult to be polytheistic in the contemporary world. As much as I disbelieve in a personal ETI, monotheists disbelieve in the possibility of any gods besides ETI. Many folks dismiss my gods as metaphors, emanations or messengers of ETI, mythologies (meaning fictions), or disembodied forces. Boy, it’s hard to convince even my closest friends that this highly functional, highly educated, professional person experiences real, embodied, greater-than-human beings with names and personalities. But I don’t believe in anything I haven’t experienced, and I’ve never experienced ETI.
Maybe you have, though, and I’d be delighted to hear your experiences and thoughts on this topic. There’s no right or wrong, after all. We’re all just puny humans struggling to understand what’s greater than ourselves.
*Thanks to MM for defining ETI and for letting me snag the word. At least, I hope he doesn’t mind. MM has his own understanding of ETI. You can check out his fascinating philosophy at Cosmic Rapture.