Friday, June 20, 2014

What's that I see behind you?

In the Babylonian story of cosmic origins, the one who reigned had the tablets of destiny around his neck, and they had magical power. Did you notice any reference to magic in the book of Psalms? Did you notice any appeal to witchcraft or sorcery? Yet there is no god in any of the pantheons in the Ancient Near East who was not very skilled in magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and the occult. Why is that? If you are a god, why do you need a magical amulet and the skill to use it?...It is because there is a power behind the gods to which we must turn if we are to gain power. Notice that in magic there is no appeal to a personal god. The realm for magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and the occult is what [Yehezkiel] Kaufmann call the “metadivine,” the real beyond the gods. So he says, behind everything in the pagan understanding of reality there are two worlds, not one. There is the divine world and behind the divine world, there is the metadivine one. And the gods are as dependent on that metadivine world, the world of raw, faceless power, as we humans are. This idea is at the heart of every mythology; if you read Greek mythology, you will find it; if you read Norse mythology, you will find it, and on and on. In every one of them you will find that the nature, the activity, and the fate of every god is determined by a force outside of themselves.— Lectures in Old Testament Theology, pages 77-78

<idle musing>
And nothing has changed since then. Even among Christians, you see this. Use a particular verse to bind God to act in a certain way. Pray a certain prayer in a certain way. Do a liturgical act. Get up at a certain time. Read a certain number of Bible verses/chapters a day. The list goes on.

Why? Because we want to be in control! If there is a power behind God that we can get a handle on, we can control our destiny. We don't really believe that God is love, do we? If we did, we wouldn't see a need for all of that stuff...we would be able to "cast our cares upon him" and "take no thought for the morrow" and "in everything give thanks" and...well, you get the idea.
</idle musing>

No comments: