Almost a month behind, but you know.
Today’s question: How would you describe your connection to the divine? How would you like your connection to progress?
That is not necessarily an easy question for me to answer! I guess the problem is that I was raised Roman Catholic, and while I think if I were Christian, or believed in God, I would still be Roman Catholic, the problem is that I, well, don’t believe in God. I think I went through at least one too many philosophy classes and had to think about logic and watched Christians who were being really unChristian, and really, while I used to be quite religious, I feel like that’s something I can’t reconcile with my life.
I touched on this already with the #9 post, but really, ethically, I couldn’t back the Christian God. One of these reasons was that, for me, it didn’t make sense that an all-knowing, omniscient God–who would, theoretically, know who was going to Heaven or Hell in the end–would bring souls into existence whom He knew would be going to Hell. It’s like, why would a merciful God bring people into life knowing they will suffer in life, and knowing full well that they will suffer for all of eternity? Why would He do that? That is some messed-up stuff right there. That is cruel, and sick, and even though people have said, “Well, that’s something that people have debated over, but you just have to trust that God wouldn’t do that.” I’m like, “What? No. No, you cannot just give God a pass. He’s GOD. You have to hold Him responsible for some stuff!” I mean, seriously. If our theology is going to state that God is omniscient, you have to sacrifice that he’s merciful. If he’s merciful, you have to sacrifice that he’s omniscient. Somehow, they just don’t work together.
One of my favorite professors from college, whom I learned later on is Catholic also, wrote a paper about this very issue. While I haven’t actually read it yet (now I feel bad), and theoretically it could change my mind on this matter, even then I’m not sure if I would want to go back to God. Let me put it this way: when Christians talk about God, when they talk about praying, when they talk about deity and all that, I get this strange disgusted feeling, like the horrible sensation you get when you want to spite someone, or you see some awful injustice happening. That is not how I want to feel toward my religion, and that is not respecting deity as I know it. If my Christian friends knew how I felt about God when He’s mentioned, they’d probably be like, “Alright, yeah, man, we don’t want you anyways. We don’t want someone who is going to despise God in their heart.” After all, if God knows everything, He knows how I feel about Him. Nobody wants a follower who hates him.
So, therein lies my strange relationship with deity. To be honest, I don’t even know what I want from deity, or what kind of relationship I’d like to have with deity. When I think about the Goddess and the God, generally supplied by Wicca, I think that’s my main reason for not wanting to be Wiccan (but rather, just be a Witch). How can I possibly reconcile my opinions on the single deity I had to two more deities? Even though the Goddess and God of Wicca are very distant from the Christian God in many ways, there is still the logic and philosophy that rules my mind somewhere deep down, and wants to say That just doesn’t make sense. I mean, how much of a cop-out would that be if I just said, “Alright I don’t like Christianity for these reasons,” but in my next breath I turned to another religion and accepted their gods, which have many of the same flaws as the Christian God?
All of this being said, I have been studying Wiccan ideas. I have read a lot of Ellen Dugan’s books, I’m making my way through Scott Cunninham’s Wicca, and in general I see a lot of Pagan resources that are directed toward Wiccans online. I think if I want to be a Witch, I have to research what the mainstream Witches believe in. (Can there be such a thing as a mainstream Witch? I guess I mean the religion with which many Witches identify/are associated.) But one of my Witch friends told me something when I was beginning to research paths, which was that even though she identifies as Wiccan, the Goddess and God for her are like representations of forces of Nature, of the Universe. The Goddess represents the female aspects of Nature, and the God the male aspects, but they don’t have to be actual beings, seated on some heavenly throne, the way that the Christian God seems to be. When a Witch pays homage to the Goddess, she is reverencing and trying to understand the female aspects of Nature. And the same way with the God. But perhaps the Witch is not necessarily praying to a real holy being in the sky or in some realm that is, you know, physically making love to the other deity on Beltane and stuff like that. Like, these are stories and ideas of beings that are created to personify and attempt to understand the craziness of the Universe that is around us. These are ways to reverence and organize the seasons, the forces of Nature that were once a real blessing and threat to human life (and still can be). I don’t want to insult anybody by saying these things–you know it can be pretty harsh when you say, “Your gods don’t exist!”–but I’m just saying that, for me, I can’t deny the Christian God and accept other gods. For me, they are all ideas of humans to understand the Universe.
BUT THAT’S OKAY.
The great thing about being a Witch is that I can believe this, and still be a spiritual person! I don’t have to feel so guilty about not concretely believing in the Goddess and God (or, you know, the slew of other gods and goddesses available to Pagans), because my beliefs are acceptable to this flexible way of life. If I were to identify as Catholic, but go up to another Catholic and say, “Well, I don’t believe in God per se, but I do recognize Him as a human-made construction coming out of an attempt by humanity to understand various aspects of life, such as purpose and death,” I would probably get any reaction varying from shock to disgust to confusion, but I doubt I’d get any sort of support. And you know, I probably wouldn’t go up to a Pagan and say that, either, because it’s pretty harsh (and who am I to tell someone their god doesn’t exist just because I don’t believe in him?), but if a Pagan were to ask me about my concept of deity, I wouldn’t be afraid to tell them that I think of deity as an aspect of the Universe and not so much as a real being. I think they would probably understand me, and share their opinion also.
The other great freedom about recognizing the pantheons of gods and goddesses as ideas but not necessarily true beings is that I don’t have to be pissed off about the flaws and shortcomings of various deities. If I want to have a Tuesday ritual honoring Mars, I don’t have to worry about the fact that I’m paying homage to a god who has violent mood swings, and wonder Man, is this ethically okay? Because what I’m really doing is paying homage to the very human aspect of courage and strength, and recognizing and respecting that sometimes violence does come out of that, and I must be aware of that fact. I think we get trouble by brushing over these ideas, and trying to make everything seem so good all the time. If I were ever to go back to the Christian God, I’d probably just accept the fact that sometimes God’s behavior is kind of cruel, and that’s an aspect of life. But other Christians are going to fight you over that idea (ironically), because they want to believe God is peaceful and perfect, because they’ve built Him up as a real being who seriously rules the Universe and they can’t handle worshiping someone with flaws. Lots of pressure on the big guy.
Anyway, I think I did actually somehow manage to tackle this topic pretty well. I’m really glad that I have this blog to look back on in the future, and see how this journey is going and how my ideas change over time. I hope they make sense, to anyone who decides to read this.
I’m wishing everyone a blessed Saturday/Sunday (Sunday for me, Saturday still in the States), and I hope that you cherish the divine aspect of the day.