Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daddy Deities

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," o ye of great faith! So glad you could drop by! The New Jersey blueberry crop is in, so you've picked a great day for a luscious piece of pie.

Evn has been writing his own -- and linking to -- posts about the nature of deity. Deep, ponderous questions, such as How Does the Goddess Feel about Us Moderns, and Is There a Common Deity from which All Others Flow?

If you write a blog post about such things, you're a Thinker. If you write a treatise about them on vellum, later published, you're a Saint.

Myself, I tend to consider deities in relation to the praise and worship teams they serve. Granted, we are all Homo sapiens. A Maori tribeswoman could mate with a Wall Street banker and produce a perfectly sound kid with ten fingers and ten toes. Are both of these people united by one deity that takes separate forms, or are they tapped into deity systems that are unique to them?

You would hardly think that someone who entitles her web log "The Gods Are Bored" would feel that all humanity can trace its religion back to a unifying deity. That's deity as DNA in my book. I like to think that any group of people who takes the time and effort to communicate with the divine gets a whole pantheon, perhaps somewhat related to others' pantheons, but actually unique to that culture. In other words, I think the universe is big enough for a grand number of deities, both here and on other planets where blobs of thinking carbon ponder such issues.

Having said that, you can understand why I'm reluctant to throw Daddy Deities out with the bathwater. Granted, some of those we know the best aren't great prizes. One need only point to the jealous, sexist, xenophobic, baby-killer in the Old Testament to find a perfect example of God Gone Bad.

Are all Daddy Deities like that, though?

When my grandfather died (I grieve for him to this day), the good ol' Southern Baptist preacher who would be giving Granddad's send-off called my father and my two uncles into a conference room to get some personal stuff to shove into the sermon. The first thing the preacher asked was, "How did your father contribute to your religious faith?"

There was a long, pregnant pause. My dad was agnostic, his younger brother was a physician who never attended church, and Uncle Foggy attended Old Order Mennonite meetings simply as an anthropological exercise.

Finally my dad said: "We all think of God in personal ways, and our feelings about God are based on our experience of our fathers. Whenever I think about God, He has all the traits of my dad."

So, for my father, God was a kindly, gentle, family-centered man who always did the right thing and set an example of love and charm that trickled down into his grandchildrens' generation.

I take this one step further.

My dad was even more loving and nurturing than his father. To the end of his life he lavished me with tenderness and care. Yes, I put a picture of To Kill a Mockingbird at the top of this post, because my dad was very much like Atticus Finch. The dog had to be rabid before he would shoot it. He had principles that meant more to him than public approbation. He taught Sunday School for 50 years, and every single one of his classes had the same theme: "How can we all live in harmony?" Like Thomas Jefferson, he snipped the Bible down to the good stuff and left the rest in shards on the floor.

Most of all, he had a lap to hide in. A tender pat for the shoulder when the going got rough. An open invitation to consult him about anything and everything. His spare time was devoted to taking me for hikes, helping me with my science, canoeing and biking with me, and attending every horrible, squeaky, orchestra concert I ever appeared in.

Dad taught high school chemistry and was beloved by all his students. Yes, all. When he took to his deathbed and I had to go help him out, I sought solace in the local bar. The bar owner told me, "Your dad flunked me, but I deserved it. If I'd done any work for him, he'd have passed me. I liked the guy. Drinks on the house as long as you're in town."

With such a shining example of male parental nurture, it's no wonder I looked around for a personal pantheon that included male deities. Just because the busiest male deity is a jealous, vengeful, woman-hating, child-killing loser doesn't mean that all male deities share those ugly traits.

There are a great many women all around the world who have been treated horribly by men who, if they even bother to justify their behavior, can lean upon some nasty male deity for excuses. I count myself the lucky one to have had a dad who was steadfast and godly. Even as I write this, he's playing games with Peter Pan and the other boy faeries, his eternal reward being perpetual, blithe youth.

So today, we at "The Gods Are Bored" salue Bile and the Dagda, Ogma and other numerous male Celtic deities who are far better Daddy Gods than some of the deities in wider usage. Praise be to the Good God Fathers. It's a damn shame more people don't know They're out there.

Our operators are standing by to take your call.


sabrinam82 said...

Thank you so much for a wonderful post! Having spent close to 50 years as a Roman Catholic, I became well-acquainted with the Deity you so succinctly referred to as God Gone Bad, and so, as I have recently stepped onto the Pagan path I have understandably focused my exploration on the feminine aspects of Deity. But as I come to know more about who I am as a Pagan, I recognize that I am really longing for a balance in my spiritual life between feminine and masculine characteristics of the Divine, so I very much appreciated the references in your post to Bile, the Dagda, and Ogma. I knew they were out there somewhere, and now I know what some of their names are, thanks to your post.

Your grandfather and father sound like they were wonderful human beings. I would have loved to know them.


THE Michael said...

I envy you a father you could remember so fondly. I was not so fortunate. Yet I still insist on a balance of male/female divine influence, for I have no love for imbalance. I take my ying and yang very seriously, and I want to thank you for one of the most wonderful posts I have had the pleasure to read in quite a while.

Evn said...

I'd just like to say how honored I am to be mentioned in such a lovely, poignant post.

I'd also like to point out that I've been publishing my blog on vellum for years.

Unfortunately, vellum is not compatible with Vista. But I'm not giving up just yet.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

That was a great post, Anne.

The male diety I'm closest to has the characteristics of a dog. Protective, loyal, and guiding when you're a bit lost.
All hail Anpu.

Terri in Joburg

Raevyn said...

Your father would be so immensely proud of you, Anne. At the risk of sounding condescending (but coming from a place of profound respect), *I* am proud of you. ALL the Gods, bored or otherwise, should bless you for your well-thought-out musings. *HUGS*

yellowdog granny said...

if God was like your and my Daddy I might still believe in him instead of switching to the Goddess...who by the way is taking questions..

BBC said...

I did a better job than my parents, but I could have done without having any kids at all.