So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

28 June, 2009

Reality is Messy

Okay, crawling out of my horrible state of incoherent illness or whatever the hell is wrong with me for at least one more pagan values month blog post. This will wind it up for the month, hope you've enjoyed the trip.

I've done a whole bunch of these things, and I haven't talked much at all about gods. Which may be a bit odd for a sequence of posts about religious values. So here's a goddy post for all of you god fans.

I've found that a lot of people steeped in a monotheistic background of whatever flavor have a really hard time parsing their way through polytheism. Enough so that in a lot of discussions, when I point out that monotheistic assumptions don't apply to my religion, I just get ... ignored, passed over, as if someone turned on the Somebody Else's Problem field, and people keep going on arguing about religion as if they were actually talking about religion and not some subset thereof. And when people actually respond, it's often ... I pointed out the flaws in a monotheism-assuming argument to an angry atheist once, and got the fascinating response of, "Well, why would anyone want to worship a god who isn't omnipotent in the first place?"

What an alien world that is to me, though that's unsurprising with my little postcards-from-Gehenna schtick.

For context, I gotta tell you what I think about gods. Gods are elemental. I don't mean this in the sense of that earth-air-fire-water shit, I mean elemental, I mean like the periodic table, only with a lot more little boxes and squiggly abbreviations that require context and opaque numbers. Gods are exactly and precisely what they are, a coiled knot of consequences around a pure idea.

This doesn't mean that gods aren't complicated. You can't take a pure idea and fractal* it out to encompass all its consequences without getting complicated. The stories we tell about gods aren't the shard at the center of the god, they're all the stuff out on the edges that we can relate to and understand. Getting at that elemental core requires figuring out in what way all the stories are the same -- finding the part that iterates.

If I talk to you about Neb.y, sometimes I'll talk about transgression, sometimes I'll talk about sex and power, sometimes I'll talk about the initiator, sometimes I'll talk about the twinning of the desert and the fertile land, or the king and his twin the usurper, or deviancy and the foreign, or the strength borne of the individual, or the difference between destruction and annihilation, or the force of the storm, or the dread of the dark and the things that may go bump there. All these and more are part of His mythology, after all. But nestled into the centre of all of those is the Other. Edge of the map stuff, here be dragons - and will you be a dragonfriend, or will you be lunch?

Set as god as storms is the same thing as Set as god of redheads is the same thing as Set Who (in one set of myths) killed His brother is the same thing as Set in the prow of the solar boat as the one strong enough to break Apep's neck every night is the same thing as Set on the stolen throne waiting for Heru-sa-Aset to kick Him off is the same thing as sexually insatiable, pervy, queer Set with His foreign wives is the same thing as Set clasped hands with Heru and crowning the king. Dig into this and one can learn the mysteries of this god. It's all of a piece, the same thing, just requiring the right understanding to find the elemental equation that is the god.

Now, obviously, within this sort of system, this conceptualisation, one can't have just one god. If we got nothing but hydrogen, the universe looks a hella lot different than it does now.

Reality can be seen as being made up of this complicated tangle of all of these fractalised deities, twined through each other, rubbing up against each other, this glorious profusion of blended iterations. Just about everything we run into is composite, a sticky fornication of thousands of different raw principles: is the mask on my wall the Other? Is it Transformation? Is it Creation? And that's just a superficial getting into it being a mask, without considering what face it contains.

And this reality, this twined-together mass of composite being, answers things like the "Problem of Evil" quite simply - in a world where the millions of different pure fractal being-concepts are all tugging in their own particular directions, the composite is not in for an easy time, simply because there are too many flows. And that's without getting into the fact that being-concepts can include things like Strife For Glory or perhaps Appease The Abyss. And some systems want to suggest that all these arguing-combining-twining fractals, that entire fecund pile of conceptual DNA with its frantic combinations and recombinations, is sort of an intercessory layer between the composite and the ultimate, but even if true, that's a long way off into actual practical irrelevance.

Why worship a god that is not omnipotent?

Why not ask, have you ever fallen in love?

This is not a flip question, this is the core question. To be in love with the messy tangle of reality, to maybe find in the twisting apparently-contradictory convolutions something that speaks to what one loves in the manifest universe, something that makes up a little of one's own compositeness, or maybe something that answers a part of that, meets the valence number of some loose end and energises a system -- to be in love with this and to accept that that means all of the things which are not tidy, friendly, which are not matters of perfect benevolence.

And if the gods are flawed in their incompleteness, their lack of encompassing all of everything and thus having unquestioned power over it, then They are flawed, but They have the virtues of Their flaws.

And the virtues of our flaws is something that we, finite, composite humans can aspire to.

* Verbing weirds language.


Anonymous said...

Dw3t Dude-

I love these posts. I want you to know I am letting them mull around a bit; I have a kink for posting comments on old threads. I'll be back around. In the meantime, my gratitude.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

*grin* Just imagine what I'd come up with if I managed to get some formal training in how to construct theology! ;)

Alcibiades said...

I'd also like to thank you for this post, Dw3t. It's a culmination of reading things on this blog that's gotten me fairly interested in paganism- though I don't really know how to take the next step. It's a shame so few- pagan, Christian, or otherwise- are able to approach religion as well as you do.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Alci --

I'd say that the best resource for someone who's curious and wanting to know more is probably The Cauldron. is the general URL; for a good introduction, hit the pagan primer and start wandering around the articles as you find things shiny. If you're interested in news and commentary bloggystyle, I believe The Wild Hunt is generally considered a good resource; I keep meaning to start reading it and failing. :}

Anonymous said...

I worry for Christians who see God's omnipotence as the Really Important Thing and the reason for their faith. To quote Madeleine L'Engle (perhaps not noted for her theology, but she's someone I've always found to hit the nail on the head religiously speaking, even when she's writing about other things):

"If I am hurt, I don't someone...invulnerable... but to someone who has [been hurt]and...can therefore understand."