Gods are not characters
Figured this was worth re-posting on my own blog. I just made a comment on a post called “Who oversees the modern marvels?” over on the Witches and Pagans blog. Aside from the fact that it’s a bit depressing to see the same basic theological concepts spoken of as if they were completely new ideas, when we’ve been discussing them for decades (meaning that all our “community” and online “networking” isn’t actually resulting in any serious development of the religion as a whole), the post also hit on one of my biggest irritations – people who talk about what gods “would” like or do, as if they are nothing more than characters in a story, and as if the answer doesn’t have any practical relevance to one’s own life. (Because if it did, one would do more than just idly speculate and imagine – it actually does *matter* which god oversees cars, for instance, if you drive one every day and strive to make the gods an integral part of your life.)
Go read the whole post (it’s short) first to really understand my comment in context, but the tl;dr version is this quote:
“I’m going to see who of the Theoi would oversee some of the modern marvels, should They be willing to adopt them.”
And my response:
You’re not the first modern Hellenic pagan to ponder this concept. It has been a frequent topic on forums for over a decade. However, I have to say that the way you phrase this, while sadly not uncommon, concerns me.
You ask which gods “would” oversee these things, as if it’s just a game, a thought experiment, rather than reality. Well, the gods are real. They are involved in every aspect of our lives and the workings of the world. And with most of these issues, the main concepts remain unchanged from ancient times, even if the details are different. It’s not a matter of which god “would” like such-and-such. The god who oversees travel is Hermes. Does it matter if the travel is by foot, horseback, carriage or airplane? No. Is it just an amusing pastime to conjecture about which of these characters – I mean, gods – would do what, or do you actually believe in Them and Their powers? If They are real, why not ask Them directly who you should pray to regarding these kinds of issues. If, in fact, you do pray and have a religious practice, in which case most of these issues will eventually resolve themselves as you deal with them – next time you’re going on an airplane, who will you make sacrifices to beforehand for your safety? That is how a religion works.
By treating the gods like characters in a fanfic, the future of Hellenismos as a serious religion of devotion is put in danger.