Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Have The Gods Changed, Or Is It Us?

I'm late (as always) to the thread "Just Say No to the Gods..." and I'm still working my way through the fascinating responses, so somebody stop me if this has already come up. It seems that most folks responding to that thread didn't perceive their gods as "punishing" them per se (again, correct me if I'm mischaracterizing the responses), and it struck me that this is in marked contrast to how folks perceived their gods in ancient times; in those cultures, punishment by the gods was very much possible.

So how do we explain the discrepancy? For those of you who worship the gods of ancient pantheons, are these exactly the same gods? Have they changed their ways? Lost the power to punish? Or have we changed...or has our perception of their ways changed?

It also struck me that much the same shift might be happening in much (but not all*) Judeo-Christian belief. I know little about their bible in detail, but I've heard that their God is more on the vengeful side in the Old Testament, but more on the loving side in the New Testament (again, apologies if I'm oversimplifying or just plain getting wrong). Moreover, where once folks might point to their tribulations as God punishing them for their sins, that mode of thinking doesn't seem to crop up much these days.

*The one exception seems to be when misfortune strikes others, esp. others who are unpopular. Then, some folks seem all too willing to attribute it to God punishing their foes. (Case in point: The right-wing "Christian" group Repent America says Hurricane Katrina and the downfall of New Orleans was God's punishment on that city for hosting the annual gay party Southern Decadence.)

(But don't pagans sometimes indulge in the same kind of thinking? Something awful happens to someone who did you wrong, and you might see it, rightly or wrongly, as your gods punishing them.)

So have the gods changed, or have we changed, or what?

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template