Disclaimer: I wrote this last week Tuesday and scheduled it to post today. I forgot about it until just now… If it seems a bit blasé or like it was written with a bit more levity than one might expect in the aftermath of the terror attacks last week, it is. I thought about taking it down and rewriting it, or just holding on to it for a while…but too much levity or not, its something that needs to be said.
You may or may not have noticed, but there’s whole lotta “holier than thou” goin’ on ’round the internet. From Starbucks cups to the literal polytheist vs everyone else match #892 Pagan Blogosphere bitchfest, there isn’t a corner of the internet where someone isn’t thinking someone else is doing religion wrong, while their oh-so-persecuted selves are the only one doing it right.
I have been inspired to discuss my oh, so favorite Delphic Maxim. I call this the “religion is like a penis” maxim. You know how the saying goes (though there are a few variations)…
Look, everyone has an opinion on the nature of the Divine (whether it be one god, many, or none, or something else altogether). And everyone has (or has interpreted) experiences that have convinced them that their opinion of the Divine is the *right for them* opinion of the Divine. But somehow, *right for them* just becomes *right*. And then it seems to follow that since we are *right*, everyone that disagrees with us must have the *wrong* opinion. And of course, if they actually think that their opinion is the *right* opinion, it must be because they have decided that they are somehow *better* than those of us that think in this other way. And if they think they are *better* thank we are, then it follows that we should be personally insulted! And since we have been personally insulted, we must immediately get angry and Defend The Faith.
But I can’t help but think that when we feel the need to Defend The Faith against those whose personal experiences and interpretations of those experiences differ from our own*, that we do so from a place of insecurity. Because if the gods are, indeed, literal and discrete entities with capability that far outstrip those of mankind, then those gods should have the capacity to inform those *wrong* worshippers that they are, indeed, actually *wrong* in a way that they would be heard and understood…but if they aren’t actually doing that, then it seems like it should follow that maybe they (the gods) don’t actually care as much as we do about either orthodoxy or orthopraxy. Else, the people making these sorts of doctrinal tests are really no better than some of the more obnoxious fundamentalist Christian denominations.
When we open our big, fat mouths and proclaim that we understand the substance and nature and desires and will of the Divine for each and every single of the several billion people upon this planet, we look like a jerk. Claiming to know the will of the gods is pretty much the ultimate hubris. Our experiences of the gods are individual experiences. Certainly, they are often shared among people with common beliefs (by the way, there are likely evolutionary reasons for that–both biological and cultural), but there are also differences in those experiences. And if we can’t talk about our religion without waving it in air and whacking people over the head with it, maybe we should keep it in our pants.
So go ahead–long for wisdom** and please, honor providence** (where ‘ere you may find it)! But don’t forget to control anger**, exercise prudence**, and find fault with no one** while you are at it. After all, you are not a god…so restrain the tongue** when you decide to open your mouth, ‘else you might betray your inability to think like a mortal**. Keep your religion in your pants.
*telling someone else that they are incorrect is radically different than telling them that you disagree with them, and why–the first is an argument, the second is a discussion
**yeah, these guys are all Delphi Maxims too :)