Reducing the Gods to…us?
So the conversation with Halstead on his fb continues. His recent comment, I think, reveals his innate contempt for polytheism, or indeed real theism of any kind, and also his agenda: to force polytheists to accept his version that all gods are fiction. It’s rather nauseating to read, but I’m going to share it anyway:
“I appreciate the importance of distinguishing entertainment from religious devotion. And I also appreciate the concern that some devotional polytheists have that association of their gods with pop culture symbols will trivialize their religion. But I still think gods and pop culture symbols are not that different. Superman has been around for 80 years, which is almost as long as the current incarnation of the Neo-Pagan Triple Moon Goddess and Horned God. That’s not just because he’s entertaining. He’s a symbol of something that resonates deeply with a lot of people. And while Superman is not the focus of a great deal of explicitly religious devotion, he could be. And I don’t think the origins of the myths of pagan gods were much different than Superman’s. They started with storytellers and poets, as “deliberately created” and “human constructed”. The ancient pagans had their bards and poets and we have Hollywood.”
It is trivializing and also inherently destructive. It is incomprehensible to him that the Gods may have inspired the bards and not the other way around. His starting point is skewed, and, if I may, incorrect. For him, as for so many humanists, it’s always about humanity first. They are, like Plato’s parable of the cave, incapable of seeing beyond their own darkness. The Gods are never more than symbols for people like this, things to be used to spur our own self-aggrandizement. It is a phenomenal lack of vision, but I am not surprised. I think that if people so committed to this worldview ever do have a direct experience with a God, they doggedly find ways of explaining it away as something else. Their agenda seems, to this polytheist at least, ever and always to be that of reducing the Holy Powers to the level of humanity, if not subservient to humanity’s needs and will. It is a violent twisting of theology into some uber-Durkheimian paradigm that has no resonance outside of human consciousness. Halstead would (in fact did in our discussion) argue that by reducing divine experience he wasn’t rendering it insignificant and that is true. He was reducing its significance solely to the limits of himself.
In the course of our conversation he said that he realized it didn’t matter to him whether it was Gods first or author first, the result was the same. It isn’t though and that difference is crucial and I find it immensely sad to encounter someone so apparently hungry for the benefits of religious experience and so incapable of accepting (not receiving, but accepting) theophany at the same time.