Polytheism & Polytheistic Themes In Religions

Alexius4

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I agree - folk expend too much energy criticising how it is expressed rather than what is being expressed.
 
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Alexius writes

For instance, Islam contains schools favouring the model of a God intimately involved in the workings of the world, having created and sustaining it, while others go with the primum mobile model - a God who winds the mechanism and sits back to observe.

Again, I guess it comes down to taste, upbringing, reading and experience.

Both models seem to work fine, just as whether you employ a Ptolemaic or helio centric paradigm to tell the time from the stars doesn't really matter. Likewise, whether you account for the consciousness apparent in nature by evoking the presense of many Gods or one omni present God doesn't seem to make that much difference.


Both those models work fine as far as they go . However there is another one. When the woman who, in the Gospels has a bloody discharge , touches the hem of Christ's garment, gains a cure, and Christ feels energy leaving him without actually consciously healing her, although she is healed- how are we to explain that as something explicable in your terms ?
 

Alexius4

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Well, as a fully paid up monotheist, I have my own take on that - but I am a generous monotheist who acknowledges that things can be validly accounted for from more than one perspective. My own commitment is a blend of intuition and reason, and is intensely felt - but that does not mean I am right.

I can think of a lovely Nestorian explanation of the event you describe; and I can certainly give a variety of Islamic critiques. Come to think of it, the Socratic account of the Daemon fits nicely, and a Taoist would be able to provide a charming & exceedingly persuasive evaluation. A devottee of Santeria would likewise be able to provide a coherent explanation, and Robert Graves would have a thing or two to say, too.

Which goes to say that in the presense of such a wealth of interpretations from such estimable people, and with regard to the numinous, it behoves to cultivate intellectual humility. Not mere tolerance, which implies concession despite unwillingness, but a true acceptence of diversity in the belief that truth is single but may be interpreted in as many ways as there are human hearts. That kaleidoscopic diversity of vision is real, and what is real has been created....I think you can see where I'm leading with that....;)
 
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Anonymous

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Woooooh.....

Don't just appreciate my problem, please give the nestorian etc explanations....one of them may well make sense to readers of this column.

My explanation (without reading anyone else's) is that there was an energy of some sort which was attached to the Christ (or Isa - a second-rate prophet to some) which acted upon its own because of the faith of the person touching the hem of the garment, and the gift from God of the being whose garment was touched. Some sort of electrical or super-electrical charge recharged the body in question, like a rundown car battery..
 

Alexius4

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Marinina - last time I looked, Hz. Isa was not a second class prophet for Muslims - because there are no second class prophets. He is in fact held in enormous esteem.

The Nestorian interpretation...for the record....given that Christ had two essential natures and two personalities, the example you site shows the Divine self acting through the Human without the latter's knowledge.
 

escargot

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I like the idea, described elsewhere on the board, that the old Greek and Roman gods are still around but powerless now because nobody belives in them.

Sometimes peeps bump into Pan in woodland, I have read, and embarrassed foot and hoof shuffling ensues, before said god slips back into obscurity!

:)
 

Alexius4

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Rome, Constantinple or Alexandria before the big clampdown on the Pagan faiths must have been wonderful - a real Hellenistic fruit bowl :)

I like the Graves notion of the old gods resting beneath the surface and occasionally stirring into consciousness - in that respect I have no difficulty emphasising with Neo-pagans.
 

NilesCalder

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Having shared a few rounds of mead with some of the Gods of Old I can confirm that they're still around and still worshipped.

Old "pagan" worship is somewhat underground and secretive out of habit; Neo-pagan worship is typically confused and as for the accidental worship, such as the lighting of the Olympic torch... :D
 
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Hello,

What if every other galaxy is ten times more advanced then we are and just as man was rising from the primordial ooze, these countless civilizations were ascending the spiritual plane, so that as time progressed, they BECAME Gods. What if we are just the babies of the Universe, passing quips about ONE omniscient God and countless pagan gods and Demi Gods when it all boils down to who got to us first; who got to teach us a thing or two before anyone else even knew we existed. What if YAHWEH is just such a God, who pretty much pulled a 'I was here first' move and claimed us for himself. Other Gods could have came to the Milky way Galaxy, perhaps seeking some place to settle,because maybe when you are a god you've seen everything and the only way to see things anew is through new eyes. Maybe it's been a battle ever since---a war along the lines of, " I saw them first," and "Yeah, YAHWEH ya did, butchu' don't own 'em!" etc., etc., etc.,

Hey, it's early...without coffee, I am nothing!

WW
 

MrRING

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An interesting thought about pantheism:

Pantheism and Western Monotheism
How does pantheism relate to traditional Judaeo-Christian conceptions of God? As Paul Harrison ("Defining the Cosmic Divinity," SP website) points out, traditional (Western) religion describes a God who is ultimately a mystery, beyond human comprehension; awe-inspiring; overwhelmingly powerful; creator of the universe; eternal and infinite; and transcendent. The divine universe fits some of these descriptions without modification and it fits others if we allow ourselves to interpret the terms flexibly.
The divine universe is mysterious. Though we can understand the universe more adequately as scientific research proceeds, there will always be questions to which we will not yet have answers; and explanations of ultimate origins will always remain speculative (they are too far in the past for us to decipher clearly).

The divine universe is awe-inspiring. Would a creator behind it be any more awe-inspiring than the universe itself?

The universe is clearly very powerful. It creates and it destroys on a vast scale.

So far as we know, the universe created all that exists; which is to say that, the universe as it is now was created by the universe as it was a moment ago, and that universe by the universe that existed a moment before that, and so on. If we view universe in this way, we can keep the idea of creator and creation and yet have no need to imagine a being apart from the universe who created it. The divine being is indeed a creator, in the pantheist view. Indeed, the creativity of the natural universe is probably the best evidence for its divinity.

Is the universe eternal? Well, it depends on how you understand eternity. Traditional Western theology understands eternity as a quality of a God that exists altogether outside time. Yet the dynamic and changing universe is very much bound up with time, so it is not eternal in the theological sense. Possibly it is everlasting, maybe it had no first moment and will never cease to exist. Scientific evidence does point to a Big Bang several billion years ago, from which our universe in roughly its current form originated, but if we accept the time-honored precept that nothing comes from nothing, we cannot rule out the existence of a material universe before this Big Bang.

Is the universe transcendent? In Western theology transcendence is a term often paired with eternity. A transcendent being is essentially outside and independent of the universe. Of course, the divinity which pantheists revere is not transcendent in that way. However, in ordinary language, to transcend is to surpass. Well, the universe which includes us also certainly surpasses us, as it surpasses everything we are capable of knowing or observing.

Differences with Western Monotheism
Pantheism has clear differences with the traditional description of God. It departs from the picture of God given in the Old Testament to the extent that the Old Testament attributes human attributes to the divine being, such as a willingness to make deals (You worship me and I'll make you my Chosen People) and anger (for example, Yahweh's anger at the Israelites' worship of the Golden Calf).

Pantheism also avoids some features of the theological conception of God which arises from a mix of Greek philosophical influences and Judaeo-Christian thought. For example, pantheism does not hold that the divinity we revere is a first cause wholly independent of matter, or that the divine being freely creates the physical universe from nothing but its own will.
http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/panthesm.htm
 

AlchoPwn

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Presently there are a few surviving pantheist faiths. Hinduism, Taoism. Various forms of animism. Religious Buddhism with its Dharma Protectors. Hagiological Catholicism. Voudon. etc. All united in the belief that the present world seems to be the product of a comittee.
 

PeteByrdie

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Presently there are a few surviving pantheist faiths. Hinduism, Taoism. Various forms of animism. Religious Buddhism with its Dharma Protectors. Hagiological Catholicism. Voudon. etc. All united in the belief that the present world seems to be the product of a comittee.
Personally, I've always fancied the ancient Greek model. The notion that the world is governed by a family of spoiled, petty, squabbling siblings makes more sense of what I see around me than the idea of a single, all powerful overseer.
 

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All united in the belief that the present world seems to be the product of a comittee.
er.... not in the case of Catholicism.
 

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No, one god in three persons :)

However, @AlchoPwn specifies hagiological Catholicism which is to do with saints rather than the doctrine of the trinity? Which is also a No! :)
 

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Not in doctrine and not in most practice. BVM isn't a god.
 

AlchoPwn

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Not in doctrine and not in most practice. BVM isn't a god.
I must disagree. Mariolatry is the primary form of worship in Catholicism, as ordinary worshippers are discouraged from praying to God directly. Also, Mary carries many of the same titles as the Egyptian goddess Isis, which is unsurprising given the Egyptian origins of Christianity. The whole separation between Dulia and Latria (Link discussing Dulia and Latria) is merely casuistry(what is casuistry? link), and even Catholics admit that, tho not the fellow in the article, for obvious reasons. Incidentally the Dulia/Latria distinction also has its origins in Egyptian religion, as that is discussed in Iamblicus "On the Mysteries". In a religion where 70% of all prayers go to the BVM, it is sheer patriarchal rhetoric and blind to the anthropological truth to pretend that she isn't a deity in every sense that matters.
 

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^ Absolutely right.
 

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I must disagree. Mariolatry is the primary form of worship in Catholicism,
The Mass is the primary form of worship. Catholics, Roman and Old, do not worship Mary.

as ordinary worshippers are discouraged from praying to God directly.
They are? Not in Scotland, western and east europe, or north america and not in Malawi either - going by the congregations I ahve contacts with. Where are you getting this from?

Also, Mary carries many of the same titles as the Egyptian goddess Isis, which is unsurprising given the Egyptian origins of Christianity.
BVM is there in the early church - see the debates over her title as "mother of God" etc - but the flowering comes in the middle ages, with the Assumption doctrine spreading, and especially the devotion of St Francis. There isn't anything wrong with Mary having these titles is there? you seem to be treating it as "point proved" but I can't tell what your point is. Given the gradual unfolding of Mariology, there isn't a continuous history of the terms being used - not sure if that is relevant to your point or not.

The whole separation between Dulia and Latria (Link discussing Dulia and Latria) is merely casuistry(what is casuistry? link), and even Catholics admit that, tho not the fellow in the article, for obvious reasons. Incidentally the Dulia/Latria distinction also has its origins in Egyptian religion, as that is discussed in Iamblicus "On the Mysteries".
It isn't casuistry if it is what is taught and what is practiced and what is believed. I'm just checking that you know that all this is covered in basic catholic education? Also, don't get lost in translations between different national languages.

In a religion where 70% of all prayers go to the BVM, it is sheer patriarchal rhetoric and blind to the anthropological truth to pretend that she isn't a deity in every sense that matters.
Every sense that matters to you perhaps. However, with your deep feelings on the matter, you seem to be ignoring primary evidence. It's the problem that all anthropologists face of course - the separation from the material and the impossibility of "knowing" if you do not partake of the mystery at first hand - be it this or ayahuasca or wiccan handfasting or succot.

Can I ask why this matters so much to you? It comes across that you are laying down the law about something that doesn't intimately involve you, which isn't a glowing start to a discussion.
 

brownmane

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Personally, I've always fancied the ancient Greek model. The notion that the world is governed by a family of spoiled, petty, squabbling siblings makes more sense of what I see around me than the idea of a single, all powerful overseer.
OMG sometimes I swear that someone is reading my mind. Some days, I have bemusedly entertained this exact idea!
 

brownmane

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OMG sometimes I swear that someone is reading my mind. Some days, I have bemusedly entertained this exact idea!
I choose, some days, to be agnostic, monotheistic (though that serves me less and less each day), pantheistic or atheist. Depending on my mood.
 

AlchoPwn

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The Mass is the primary form of worship. Catholics, Roman and Old, do not worship Mary.
Latria or Dulia? Most Catholicism is practiced as Dulia.

They are? Not in Scotland, western and east europe, or north america and not in Malawi either - going by the congregations I ahve contacts with. Where are you getting this from?
I get my info straight from my dear Jesuit frenemies (It was all fun and games debating each other until I deconverted one of them, now we're a little less friendly :cool2:). When a Catholic Priest performs mass, he is praying to and evoking God, hence the lighting of the Monstrance, which is lifted straight from the worship of Sol Invictus, in much the same way that the spiked crown of European monarchs also mimics the rays of the "Unconquered (except at night) Sun". Your ordinary Catholic is normally educated to pray not to God directly, as that is hubristic unless done by a priestly initiate, and instead to direct their personal prayers to their patron saint i.e. "veneration of saints". Of course everything went a little less rigid after Vatican 2.

BVM is there in the early church - see the debates over her title as "mother of God" etc - but the flowering comes in the middle ages, with the Assumption doctrine spreading, and especially the devotion of St Francis. There isn't anything wrong with Mary having these titles is there? you seem to be treating it as "point proved" but I can't tell what your point is. Given the gradual unfolding of Mariology, there isn't a continuous history of the terms being used - not sure if that is relevant to your point or not.
"Stella Maris" is straight out of Isis worship. Here is the wiki link: Isis as Mary Go to possible influence on Christianity, and note that they haven't even included Stella Maris.

It isn't casuistry if it is what is taught and what is practiced and what is believed. I'm just checking that you know that all this is covered in basic catholic education? Also, don't get lost in translations between different national languages.
As I said, I get my info from my Jesuit "buddies". Someone has to keep them honest.

Every sense that matters to you perhaps. However, with your deep feelings on the matter, you seem to be ignoring primary evidence. It's the problem that all anthropologists face of course - the separation from the material and the impossibility of "knowing" if you do not partake of the mystery at first hand - be it this or ayahuasca or wiccan handfasting or succot.


Actually anthropologists normally do take part in ceremonies if permitted, but do extensive pre- and post-fact research with informants to infiltrate and decode the symbolic interactions and come to terms with the systems of encoded cultural meaning involved. The issue isn't in the "knowing" but in the "believing". In fact some anthropologists "go native" even after their project has ended.

On the other hand, when something looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, perhaps it is a duck? People allegedly "venerate" (dulia style) the BVM, and they attend mass. On the other hand, when they spend more personal time voluntarily praying to the BVM than they ever do to Jesus or God, as the BVM allegedly has "God's ear", then the whole line separating Dulia and Latria becomes pretty thin and stretched. In fact I once asked a dear Jesuit friend what method he used practically to insure his prayers to Mary were not Mariolatry (i.e. Mary + Latria), given that her title "Mother of God", seems a lot like Latria to me. He said "it is enough that we know that Mary is inferior in status to God the Father, and Jesus his Son", but he looked REALLY uncomfortable saying it. Naturally I ribbed him a bit about how unsatisfactory his answer was. Eventually I relented and said "put it in the suggestion box for Vatican 3".

Can I ask why this matters so much to you? It comes across that you are laying down the law about something that doesn't intimately involve you, which isn't a glowing start to a discussion.
On the contrary, as a regular student of comparative religion it is a subject which I am intimately involved with. I have made a point of becoming knowledgeable about all the major religions and many of the minor ones and I'm always on the lookout for fresh info. I have even spent time doing translations of religious texts in the Middle East back in my post-graduate days. Why do you think I'm an atheist now? Nothing will "atheize" you faster than seeing religions in their full ugliness.
 

James_H

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[A certain interpretation of some] Drawings indicate that Ancient Judaism had more than one God, God had a wife, and also a fairly impressive penis.

https://outline.com/sLMUUr



Other phrases found at the site also challenge the known pantheon of Israelite faith. “Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah” and “Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah,” for example, were also found inscribed at the site.

These are doubly outrageous. If God is one, then how can there be god for the north (Shomron) and for the south (Yemen, still called Teman in Hebrew)?

To make matters worse, does the word “Asherah,” formulated as “his Asherah”, hint that the gods of Israel had a wife? If so, where has she gone?

For Meshel, the site’s main researcher, the issue remains unresolved.

He and Ben Nun suspect the site brings insight to the beliefs of the people living here 3,000 years ago. They did not worship a single al-powerful deity: they were devoted to a pantheon of gods.

It has also long been known that households with Jewish hallmarks, certainly in the First Temple era and later too, also had images of other gods, a.k.a, figurines.

If anything the discoveries at Kuntillet Ajrud indicate that in the late ninth century B.C.E. or the early eighth, the idea of a single deity had not yet consolidated, suggests Meshel. "In this religious reality YHWH is local, for the city, the village, for Shomron and for Teman (Yemen)."
 

Mythopoeika

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[A certain interpretation of some] Drawings indicate that Ancient Judaism had more than one God, God had a wife, and also a fairly impressive penis.
That would presumably be in the days before they started to chop bits off.
 
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