Monday, February 19, 2007

RU Raptor Ready #1

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where snark is a lark! When life is dark, kindle a spark.

Yeah, I know it's easier said than done. My life is dark too.

Every year between Imbolc and Equinox, we at "The Gods Are Bored" examine the sadly under-utilized religion of vulture worship. We are gearing up for the East Coast Vulture Festival, the only collective Buzzard Appreciation Event east of Hinckley, Ohio.

If you missed our series on Buzzard Worship last year, we invite you to check out the old archives and ground yourself in buzzard basics.

Just a quick "for instance": Wouldn't you be honored to worship something called the Golden Purifier? That's what turkey vultures are called in their Latin nomenclature. I don't know about you, but Golden Purifier sure sounds celestial to me.

My beloved grandfather was a lifelong Southern Baptist, very devout. When he died and was laid out in the funeral home, the pastor of his church came to talk to my dad and my uncles about the service. As always seems to be the case (or curse) at funerals in my family, this good Baptist pastor was a young fellow who hardly knew Granddad at all. The pastor did not know my father or my uncles, not even a little bit.

So the pastor gathered Dad and Uncle Superior and Uncle Diaspora into a little office. It must have been crowded in there, because they left the door open. I could hear every word.

And of course the pastor began as all pastors do. "What would you like me to say about Mr. X?" he asked. (Can you believe it? Damn pastor didn't even know that everyone always called Granddad "Zeb.")

There was a pregnant pause, which surprised me. Both Dad and Uncle Diaspora are great talkers. Uncle Superior could engage in a conversation on any topic under the sun and know more about it than the experts. But for a moment all three were at a loss for words.

Then my dad said: "Well, emmmmm. This is what I think. Human beings model their understanding of God upon the relationship they have with their parents. I have always felt that God must be a great deal like Pop."

(At this point my dad choked up and had to wait a moment before pursuing his philosophical statement.)

Dad added: "I've read the Bible all my life, and really you don't get a clear picture of God from reading it. He seems different in different parts of the book. But I've always felt in my heart that He must be kind, and gentle, and slow to anger, and eager to figure out vexing problems, and quick to forgive. Because that's how Pop was."

A silence descended in that room. You could have cut it with a knife. If I hadn't been sitting wake by my dearest granddad's coffin, I would have burst out laughing. To this day I wish I could have seen that Baptist pastor's face when confronted with the heresy that people base their worship of deities on the behavior of other people around them, especially their parents.

If pastors were allowed to say WTF, I think that one might have uttered it.

Anyway, I waited for my uncles to chime in with their opinions, but neither one of them said anything. And I took that as silent consent. Because as I say these weren't men of few words when they got going.

My dad was a very intelligent man. I mean, look around at the various pantheons of bored gods. Look at the behavior of the popular modern gods. Look at the way they're drawn or painted or sculpted, for the love of fruit flies. Most of them look a heck of a lot like people, give or take an extra set of arms or some horns and a tail.

So, if I might be so bold as to say so, it takes a true leap of faith to be an animist and worship some creature that isn't a thing like a human, in looks or behavior.

Ack, forget you read this. I was probably just a vulture in a previous life or something.



Rosie said...

I especially loved this post, Anne. Your Dad really nailed it on the head. What a lovely tribute to him.

I've always been fascinated/repulsed/attracted to the Tibetan sky burial. I wonder if they'd let me do that when I die. Just plop my corpse on the top of Klingman's Dome and let the buzzards have at me.

BBC said...


He, he, he.

Throw me on a pile of driftwood at low tide and party and sing while I burn.

Talk about what a weird fuck God was.

buddy don said...

i lack this post jes as much as everbidy else did. it putt me in mind of a quote frum xenophanes: "Mortals made their gods, and furnished them / with their own body, voice, and garments. / If a horse or lion or a slow ox / had agile hands for paint and sculpture, / the horse would make his god a horse, / the ox would sculpt an ox. / Our gods have flat noses and black skins / say the Ethiopians. The Thracians say our gods have red hair and hazel eyes."

mayhap ye wuz a golden purifier in a nuther life after all ...

Jeff Lilly said...

I thought this was just beautiful. Just beautiful.