July 31, 2003 (Ira Pilgrim)
Man is, and always has been, a maker of gods. It has been the most serious and significant occupation of his sojourn in the world.
I think that the monotheistic religions have it all wrong. I just can't believe that the same just, omnipotent and loving god that watches over little children could be the same one that takes care of stock market speculators, crooked politicians, generals and terrorists. The ancient Greeks, who created a slew of gods for a number of purposes, may have had more sense than the people who created a single omnipotent god. To have monotheism make some sense to the people, the monotheists then had to create a number of other sub-deities such as Satan and a slew of saints and prophets. Once that is done, monotheism doesn't seem like monotheism any more.
The Greeks created very human gods who fought with each other, loved, ate, drank and caroused. If you were horny, you could pray to Venus. If you wanted victory in battle, Mars was your god etc. Since the stock market didn't exist at the time, there wasn't a god for stock speculators. You can be sure that if a stock market had existed at the time, they would have invented a god for the purpose. Do the Catholics have a patron saint for stock market gamblers?
An orthodox Jew believes that JHVH(Jahveh or Jehovah) will take personal care of him. Oprah knows that Jesus watches over her and her people.
Deification is the process of making a god, usually out of a person. After the Russian revolution, the soviet government outlawed religion and declared the communist state to be atheist. The government declared that henceforth people will no longer believe in a God or gods. They did however deify Lenin as a reasonable substitute. One sign that Lenin had become a god was the fact that every little thing about his life was elevated in importance. For example, Lenin's last words before he died were "vot sobaka" (see the dog). Jesus' last words were said to be "Eily, Eily, lamo asaftoni" (Lord, Lord, why have you forsaken me). I wonder what Elvis Presley's last words were. I'll bet that someone knows what they were and that he probably has published a book that quotes them..
Lenin body was embalmed and incarcerated in an elaborate tomb in Red Square in Moscow, where there were always long lines of people waiting to see it. When I was in Moscow, I decided to pass on viewing Lenin's body. I have seen a number of dead bodies, so it didn't interest me. Besides, I hate standing in lines. Visiting Lenin's tomb was an act of worship that was not discouraged by the state. Churches, however, were forbidden and religious people had to worship without the benefit of an elaborate building. Lenin's tomb is quite modest compared to the shrines to Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, and others. The Jews have not deified Moses, but have deified his words as the Torah, which is worshipped in much the same way as the symbols of Jesus are worshipped in Catholicism. The "people of the book" worship one God, and Words.
While religions differ, it seems likely that they will persist forever. Most people need the comfort and certainty that they provide in this uncertain world.
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