Showing posts with label theology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theology. Show all posts

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Rock & AI - Faces Frozen In Hubris

Stand in this place and look upon the face of someone who's pride cost them everything. Her name was Niobe, and before we get into this discussion, it's important to recall her Myth.

Niobe had it all. She was a beautiful queen of Theban Greece, with seven beautiful sons and seven beautiful daughters, which in ancient times, was a great accomplishment in and of itself, considering infant mortality. Niobe wanted for nothing, and had everything for which to be most grateful. There was nothing inglorious about her life, yet she could not find herself satisfied and humble enough to admit to this. She grew jealous of the fact that people were worshiping Leto and Her children Artemis and Apollon, saying that people should really be "worshiping her own sons and daughters, for they were far greater than the Gods." 

For this offense, Artemis and Apollon drew their bows and killed all of her children (Apollon taking the sons and Artemis the daughters). Niobe found herself, of course, devastated and in unending pain. She climbed to the top of Mt. Sipylus in Asia Minor, today in the modern Manisa Province of Turkey. There she begged the Gods to take away her pain. Zeus changed her into a rock. To this day, people can visit the "weeping rock" on the mountain that is said to be the remains of Niobe, forever frozen in despair and crying when it rains. The picture above is of that rock formation that overlooks the modern population below.

We may assume the moral to be simple, but I theorize that it's a bit more extensive than simply, "Don't offend the Gods." Niobe took hubris to a new level, because instead of simply boasting in pride, she tried to actually take worship. Niobe literally tried to put herself and her children in the place of the Gods.

It reminds me of something I wrote in my philosophy journal several weeks back. Modern scientists tend to be reverent of no power except their own, and see no reason why they cannot mess with whatever they choose, so long as they have the money and legality. It's therefore foolish to give so much power over our world to the most arrogant group of people.

Our world today takes humanism far beyond its healthy and appropriate levels. It's increasingly growing from a philosophy of human strength to human worship, where people literally take the crowns of Gods and attempt to place them upon their own heads. Even more revealing, humans have never learned to stop doing this. So many people either just don't get it, or don't want to. We're not supposed to take the place of Gods, nor claim domain over that which belongs to Gods. Yet, they have. Humans have taken it upon themselves to create life (AI), they try to control the course of the natural environment, and they experiment with everything under the Sun enough to put Dr. Frankenstein to shame. 

Why is AI so bad, one might ask? For starters, it could end up destroying the human mind by making it obsolete. If humans have someone to think for them, the mind will no longer have a need or a desire to be creative, inventive, or do anything for itself. Second, it's one thing to have a GPS in your car, or some kind of medical device that saves lives. That's wonderful. But when you're creating full robots that are just like humans, you're toying with life. Humans have no such right or capacity to go down that road. Not to mention that when you're creating a robot that can outthink human beings, there's a clear and present danger to human safety itself. And the fact that AI could end up taking even high level employment from people is not even the biggest hazard, and yet that in itself is still a disastrous cliff.

It not only stems from arrogance, but I also think, a resentment toward the Higher Powers. The Gods decide what happens to this world and this universe, not scientists, politicians or religious leaders, and this factor makes the latter three the most furious. They have grown to think of themselves as deserving to rule instead of the Gods, just like Niobe. The worst part in terms of interacting with our fellowman, is that arrogance cannot be reasoned with, neither philosophically or literally. No amount of argument or lightning strikes will change a hard head. And sadly, most of the consequences often fall on the innocent.

Although human self-destruction has never been something new to the human scene. The most tragic factor is that people never learn from it. So what can we as individuals do to stem the tide? The first obvious one is to live differently ourselves. Second, we can reject the idea of hubris by refusing to use and support the things that further it, like AI. We can't stop people from being foolish, but we can refuse to participate, and if enough of the human population refuses to support it, there won't be a market for its posterity. Third, educate the populace. Evil or toxicity often displays an illusion or act, because if it presented its true self, most people wouldn't tolerate it. And it's rather easy to expose the reality behind the mask, because the mask isn't real.

Generally speaking, we preserve ourselves through real humanism, and the actuality of what it should be.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge. 

And consider subscribing to my site by bookmarking it by clicking on the star in the top right of the web bar.

Source: Photo: The Weeping Rock, photographed by Carole Raddato from Frankfurt, Germany. Photo is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic. No changes were made. Link to material can be found here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Life's Altar Blocks Are Always Drenched In Blood

When people hear that word, sacrifice, especially in an ancient Greek or Pagan context, their first thoughts are the common forms of said practice, whether it be a sacrifice in terms of something of great value given to a God or Gods, or the ritual sacrifice of a prized animal such as livestock, to those Deities. Normally, we conjure up an image of the goat or lamb being laid upon the altar, or at least led up to it, and their throats cut open as prayers are cried out to the Higher Powers, and the blood of the victim drenches the ground. Then perhaps some wonderful libations follow. It might even end with a Seer inspecting the entrails for a sign or omen from above.

Generally speaking, sacrifices of this kind are to gain the attention of the Gods for reciprocity, but I also think that something the ancients understood, and that we should still realize to this day, is that there is no blessing that doesn't require a sacrifice. Everything we do in life, we have to give our best. Nothing comes easy or falls into our lap. Anything good or valuable you want out of life takes blood, sweat and tears, pain, hard work, and giving up certain things for others so that you can attain said goal. Sacrifice is what makes life itself move forward for everyone and everything. Just because it's not an animal's head on a blade, doesn't mean it's any less of a dedication and devotion, or a loss of something you might prize in order to hope for something more or better.

People seem to make the concept of sacrifice into such a taboo topic, or at least, they certainly used to. But when I think about all of the things I have willingly given up over the last 14 years to be where I am now, it amounts to far more than a farm animal. In order to get my wife, son, a new home and a new life, I've had to go through over a decade of sacrificing everything I knew from my life prior, giving up my homeland and everything that might have been any inheritance, and enduring a thousand mile trip across the nation. I've had to give immeasurable time, energy and stress to raising a special needs child so that he could be the best man possible. I spent years doing everything I could, hard or easy, to finish my college degree, and finally have done it just this year. Not to mention periods that were stationary and, at times, seemed like they were never going to progress, which caused a lot of depression and anxiety issues. 

But there's also an additional question you must ask yourself, Is it all worth it? I would say that, deep down, I always knew it was. With each sacrifice I made, hardship I endured, or obstacle I faced, the Gods put that vibrating spirit in my heart that always had the hope that, one day, it would all come to fruition. And so it has. Life, of course, is not over, and hopefully won't be for a great many years to come. As we continue to drive the chariot that the Gods have given us, there will be more bumps and broken axles, more potholes and perils, and more rainy days to accompany the sunny ones. Life is ever changing. More sacrifices, in whatever form, will probably be made. But again, sacrifice drives the chariot on.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

And consider bookmarking my site by clicking on the star in the top right corner of the web bar.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Difference Between A Sacrifice and An Offering

In Hellenism and contemporary Pagan and Polytheism, we are familiar with the terms sacrifice and offering. 

Some people use them interchangeably, and I suppose on the surface it's not really a big deal, as some consider sacrifice to be anything made scared, but I think it's worth discussing that the two are not historically the same thing generally speaking.

A sacrifice is normally something of exceptional cost or worth to you, that you give up to the Gods, and in so doing, make sacred. 

In ancient Greek times, this would have encompassed livestock a lot, because they met the above criteria. Giving up sheep, goats, and cattle was, or could be, very costly to the livelihood of the average person.

Yet that willingness to still risk the loss in order to show love, admiration, and request favor from, the Gods, is what made it a sacrifice and a sacred act. The willingness to go long was believed to have grabbed the Gods' attention more.

Today, of course, it doesn't have to pertain to livestock because most people don't live that kind of life anymore. Now our costly sacrifices would be things like money, valuable properties, and our physical time and labor. Even large portions of food and drink, things that take a lot of effort to put together, would be sacrificial.

An offering, however, is a general gift, such as a votive statue, libation, a valuable, or some appropriate foods. They are things that are more readily available and not as costly; easy for pretty much anyone to obtain.

If I give a fresh bar of soap to Aphrodite for Her baths, a libation of olive oil for Athena, or burn incense to Zeus, those would be offerings. This is a bit contradictory to me, because I have normally called all of my burned offerings sacrifices, but to be more accurate, I should use the term offering: my burned offering.

Then again, if it were a huge portion of incense, it may be able to be called sacrifice, but that would take an almost comical pile. Not something normally done. 

Often these days, I find myself paying more attention to how I term things, especially publicly. In many cases, I felt the term offering had been used in the religious communities almost to the point of being cliche or monotonous, so I didn't really like using it a lot.

But as a Reconstructionist Hellenist, I find myself more and more concerned with historical accuracy and appropriate piety on a regular basis. It's a lifelong learning experience. Do I think the Gods are petty and care about which term you use? Absolutely not. But the properness sets the human mind correctly. 

In the Goodness of the Gods, I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,

Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

In Another Solar System, Would I Still Call Him Helios?

The Sun is a God to ancient Greeks; they called Him Helios. Hence the terms mainstream still uses today that are named after Him, such as Heliocentrism and Heliotropium. 

Really, anything centered around the Sun could begin its term with Helio.

To Hellenists like me, Helios and Apollon are not the same Gods. I see Apollon as God of the sun and light, and Helios as the Sun itself.  Perhaps I will be considered the one to have coined the term "Extreme Polytheism" as a theological worldview.

Without the Sun, life would not exist. Not to mention that the Sun can actually cure humans of illnesses. The Sun obviously has a consciousness because it can intentionally move things from one place to another, or in and out of human beings. Put babies in this Divine light, and it will save them from jaundice. Stand in it on a daily basis, it will fight your depression.

But wait, can't it also give you skin cancer? Yes, it can, because within a God is also the power to destroy. Although most people are not harmed by an appropriate amount of sunlight. Quite the contrary, they are given life. Perfection is not needed in order to understand that the Sun gives far more benefits than disadvantages. 

It's no wonder that, for countless time periods, the Sun was worshiped across cultures as a God, because it is. Some historians and scholars still argue to this day that even Jesus is a sun god. But that is neither here nor there in this particular post.

Unlike the ancient Greeks, we today know that our Sun is not the only one out there. I suppose it's certainly possible that some Greek thinkers and scientists could have theorized such a reality as well, but not that there are 200 billion galaxies, and those are probably just the ones that we know of. 

There are, in fact, suns out there all over, some far larger than our own.  So if I were on another planet far outside the Milky Way, and there was a bright and wonderful Sun overhead like, or similar to, the one back home, what would I call it? The answer is still Helios.

Why? Because the power of Helios, like the power of all Gods, is not caged into a single body. That's why many of the myths show the Gods changing forms, and even changing the forms of the universe around them, at their whim. 

And for that matter, how do we know that every Sun isn't Helios? What if they are all His body or part of it?

Helios, at least in part, is a universal consciousness. For humans, the mysteries of the Gods dictate that we will never have perfect knowledge or even understanding of all things. Like I commonly tell people; I cannot tell you everything about the Greek Gods, but what I can tell you for certain is that they are real, because they've saved my family more than once.

Pick a nice summer sunset to sit and just look at Helios out there on the horizon, and think about the fact that the same Sun looked upon the dinosaurs, has watched over your entire life, and presided over all Eras and Ages in-between. And that's just the mystery and eternity of one of the Divinities. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Pendants From Greece Hold More Natural Power

In the modern Greek Polytheistic community, some people may not be too explorative about jewelry or necklaces, even if they are religious. 

In fact, with the exception of my own works, I haven't read a book on the topic that really puts any significance on it. I'm not being critical; it's just an observation.

But I am most certainly someone who loves anything I can carry with me that reminds me of, or connects me with, the Gods and Heroes, especially when its a remake of what once existed.

In the picture above, you can see my own that I recently purchased from Greece herself, Athens specifically. The coin is a replica of the Athena Tetradrachm, meaning it was worth the value of four drachmas in the ancient world, eventually working its way up to a standard form of currency. 

The silver mines were located probably in Laurium in the Athenian countryside. This particular coin originally came into being in the late 6th Century BCE. More importantly, the coin is a direct connection to Athena, not just by Her frontal image, but by the AOE on the back, 

AOE means Alpha, Theta, and Epsilon, or Of The Athenians. The coin embodies all that is Athena and Athens (the Goddess and Her beloved City).

After I received the pendant, I put a chain on it to wear around my neck during the day, not really giving it that much thought. I didn't even try to put any energy or blessings onto it myself. It was intended for purely cosmetic purposes.

But I noticed that when I wrap my hand around and just hold it, Athena's amazing presence comes over and calms me, no matter how frustrated, angry, sad or hopeless I may be feeling at the time. It's like a cure-all for the mind and emotions.

The only thing I can figure, as to the pendant's natural power, is that it is directly from the land of Athena Herself, and carries on that ancient connection that has existed for thousands of years. 

Not even pendants that I have bought of Athena in America and placed blessings upon have had this kind of natural, never-ending spiritual strength. And of course, when you have a pendant with this kind of natural power, adding prayers, hymns or other spiritual significance along with it will only strengthen it further for you, and perhaps others as well. 

I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting Hellenic jewelry for religious purpose, to consider Greek sellers. There is just a charm that you cannot get anywhere else.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

What If Mount Olympos Is The Unknowable Center?

Whether we host our own theories or read from ancient authors or poets, no one knows where Mount Olympos actually is. 

There are certainly mountains on Earth named after it, such as the one in northern Greece and the other on Lesbos. 

But Homer describes the real Olympos, the home of the Gods, as a place without wind, rain or snow. Such a place cannot be anywhere on Earth, or really, on any other planet either. 

Over 13 billion years ago, the Big Bang occurred, a massive explosion that sent untold sums of energy, power and consciousness outward, but what some people don't realize is that there is no point from which we can observe or conclude that it came from. There is no black spot, as it were, that was left over.

The universe has been in a constant state of expansion ever since, which can be studied from the exact same position anywhere in the universe. In other words, the center from which all things came and come is nowhere, but it is also right where you're standing. It is nowhere and also everywhere at the same time. This also means we know it's there, but yet we cannot see or touch it. 

What if that place humans cannot possibly reach, because only Gods can live there, is the home of the Gods? Could it be that the center from which all life past, present and future is expanding, is where the Gods reside? What if within or parallel to that unknowable center, is Mount Olympos? 

It would make sense being that the Gods control all things, can pass through the universe at their own wills, be anything that they choose, and conquer all of their enemies. In some of the myths, they even changed the very fabric of reality and transformed lifeforms into completely different ones at a mere whim. The centrality of all power is in their hands.

The theory of blackholes is also very interesting to think about when discussing Mount Olympos. The theory states that blackholes have the power to tear open time and space, and in that opening, the laws of nature do not apply. So what exists beyond that opening? What's there? To my mind, there is only one race of beings to which the laws of nature cannot impact; the Gods.

The theory of blackholes would also disprove the belief that even the Gods are subject to fate, because if everything is subjected to fate, that means fate is a law of nature, and as we have discussed, there are places where the laws of nature do not apply. Thus, there must be some things that are not subjected to fate.

And being that the Big Bang was not a single point explosion but a constant unknowable expansion, makes our universe a supernatural place, as one may commonly define as supernatural, in and of itself.

In short, there exists places in the universe in which only Gods could possibly live, and places that we know exist even though we cannot experience them with any of our immediate carnal senses. Yet that same realm can come here. In order for us to contact, it takes quietness, reflection and the perfection of one thing that can certainly transcend realms; our spirit, and in so doing, effect the physical world. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

It's The Size Of Your Devotion, Not Your Altar

It has taken me over a decade to build the beautiful temple and sanctuary that I have today, and I won't pretend for a second that I don't love it. Like anyone, and as the Maxims of Delphi say, I would stand to protect and preserve what is mine. 

But that is certainly not to say that I have always had big and elaborate places of worship. In fact, for most of my Hellenic life up to this point, I've been lucky to have enough space for religious purpose at all. The picture on the left is of my Sphinx Altar, if you will, that I had back in 2018 when I lived in South Beloit, Illinois, only about a year before my wife and I bought the house and land that we have officially built our temple on. 

The altar sat on top of a slim bookcase at the window where sunlight could reach it, and the tools were simply a small brass tripod cup for libation offerings (normally oils), a decorative glass on the far right for digestive libations, a porcelain block for burned sacrifice (normally incense), and a decorative brass plate in the back left for solid offerings like food and valuables. 

It was incredibly small compared to what I have today, and nothing to match any kind of public space. But it was mine, and I made it beautiful with my statues, artworks, and most importantly, my devotion.

There's a wonderful ancient story from Delphi about a very poor man named Hermioneus. Upon his visit to Apollon's altar there, he encountered a very rich man from Thessaly. The rich man showered the God with very expensive and lavish gifts that only the fullest of pockets and bank accounts could accrue, thinking that he surely had the favor of Apollon as a result. 

When Hermioneus came forward to present his gifts, he took from his pouch a mere small portion of field barely and placed it upon the altar. The rich man may have laughed, at least on the inside. But through the Oracle, Apollon spoke, and said that He liked the offering of Hermioneus more.

You see, the rich man was concerned with vanity, whereas the sincere devotion came from Hermioneus. It was nothing for the rich man to give Apollon the best money could buy, because he had all the money. It would be like Jeff Bezos donating ten thousand dollars, knowing that it means absolutely nothing to him. 

But the devotion of Hermioneus meant everything, because it was the best he could give, to do his best, before the Gods. In short, there was character in his sacrifice. It was sincerity not flattery. I highly doubt that Hermineous returned home to a lavish altar or shrine either. You yourself may also raise your hands before a very humble worship space, but remember the story and what it really means to be Hellenic.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

How I Know The Gods Love Humanity


When a Hellenist speaks of the love of the Gods, they may not intend it to be in the way mainstream religions think. Of course, I cannot speak for all Hellenists, but as for myself, when I say that the Gods love us, I largely mean that they are fascinated by humans, and in turn, this does create a certain level of affection. They are everywhere in our world, and with us constantly, sometimes whether we invite them or not. In my personal experience, the Gods have shown an affinity for my own family and I. I have talked about these cases many times, from the conversion to Hellenism that happened to my wife and I, to the recovery of our premature child and various other blessings the Gods have given us along the long and hard road called life. Additionally, I've also had the privilege and honor of seeing the Gods and Heroes brighten the lives of the friends and people around me.

But the question remains in the title of this post, how do I know the Gods love humanity? Simple, because they don't have to. The universe is so huge that it's beyond human comprehension. There are places and things out there far more beautiful and far more fascinating than we are, and yet the Gods still choose to be part of ours. Chances are, there is a world out there that puts Illinois to shame, and a lifeform that makes me look unevolved, but if I ask Hermes to accompany me on my travels today, there's a conceivable chance He will. The human being, and the world in which we live, hold a place in the hearts of Gods. I know the Gods love us because there are greater things they could focus their time on, but they choose to spend some of it with us.

And why is that? What is it about us that draws so much attention from the heavens, the Earth, and the Underworld? We humans in general, especially today, may not think much of ourselves. Sometimes we can get so used to something that we take it for granted or end up conceiving it to be dull. But the fact of the matter is that we have become extraordinary beings. For starters, we are the most intelligent and evolved mortal lifeform on Earth, and we can accomplish things that none of the others can. We can build magnificent temples and skyscrapers, travel to other planets, make amazing foods and medicines, produce mansions, machines, and breathtaking art, and even prolong our own lives as time goes on. The Gods love us because there are no others like us here. We make Earth glimmer in the solar system. 

So the next time you're depressed or thinking lowly of yourself, just remember, you're amazing enough that Gods are interested in you.

In The Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, February 7, 2022

How Do You Release All Your Doubts?


"I think you're awesome," a very close friend of mine said. "Why?" I asked. "Because you're so spiritual. I wish I had your faith. You have no doubts at all."

I do not consider myself to be anything special or profound. I'm just a man being himself and doing what he loves and believes in. But at the same time, there are some people in my life who think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. And there is certainly something undeniable in what they said, I have always had incredibly strong faith no matter what has happened or hasn't happened in my life. Growing up dirt poor, struggling through my young adult life, having a premature child, enduring years of hardship as a parent; there were many things that would attack the spirit of some other people. But not me. Why is that and how do I release myself from doubt?

For starters, I think my spiritual upbringing plays a part, even though it was an entirely different theology. Several religions, despite their vast disagreements, can at times agree on some human values, or at least not devalue them. I grew up in a religiously conservative community and environment in the South. Enduring faith as a concept in and of itself, was instilled into me. I was taught that belief in deity was vital, and simply childish to only be loyal when something goes your way, and turn your back when something goes wrong. In short, a tremendous sense of honor. 

Is it also possible that someone could be born with inherent faith? I certainly think so. We are born with schema, which enables us to look for Higher Powers in the universe, and so we are always looking for Gods even from the time we are born. For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with the natural world and could always see the powers and minds behind it all. I still retain that mindset and interpretation to this day. I can't disbelieve in the Gods just as I cannot disbelieve in anything else around me. I can't disbelieve in the Sun, Moon, the forests or oceans because they're obviously there.

Finally, I would call it bliss. I've heard people in the Hellenic community say that we do not worship the Gods because we want something in return, but simply because it makes our lives more blissful. I cannot logically deny that the Gods have given me so many blessings and helped me through all of my hardships. Yes, life has had trials, but the Gods are the goodness we can always experience, and that can help us overcome our problems.

How do I release all doubts? I suppose it would boil down to a simple factor. No matter how long they've been in the religion, whenever a fellow Hellenist tells me they are scared or worried, I always say, you still haven't learned to trust the Gods yet, my friend.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Ask and The Gods Will Tell You, Every Time

One of the most common questions asked by atheists and agnostics today is, "If there is God or Gods, why are there so many bad things in the world?" But the thing is, there wouldn't be anywhere near as many if we would listen to the Gods every time. 

In the opening of The Odyssey, Zeus is talking to the other Gods about the tragedy of Agamemnon's wife and her lover, who chose to murder Agamemnon. Zeus says, humans blame us Gods for evil, when it is nothing but their own folly. I even sent my Messenger, Hermes, to warn them, and they would not listen, and now they face destruction. Athena finishes the dialogue by saying, may this be the fate of all like them.

The people who ask the question above often don't realize that they are repeating the same error that was made thousands of years ago, and that Zeus has already answered them. They are still laying blame upon the Gods for evil, instead of their own refusal to listen. The Gods would tell us all good things to do to make our lives and the world a better place, if we would only obey their words instead of our own desires which we often allow to take the place of wisdom. Humans listen to their prejudices, hate, greed and destructive desires more than to good, and the Gods know this. Thus, the evil in the world is the fault of humans, not the Gods, and the result shall be the fate of all likewise.

If a murderer, robber, rapist, and every other criminal would listen to what the Gods say, they would not be a murderer, robber, rapist or any criminal. If we would ask the Gods whether we should cheat our fellowman or be honest by them and listen to the answer, we would eventually never know what a lie or a falsehood is. What's even more revealing is that deep down, we already know the answers, because the Gods put their goodness inside of us and the world. Without asking, governments know they should help the poor instead of gluttonizing the rich. And what of disease and illness? We can solve that, too. But we have vaccines that people refuse to take. We have hospitals and technologies that care more about money than human beings. We have natural remedies, like cannabis, that we have kept illegal for countless years, and is still illegal in many places, despite the fact that it's been proven to be a miracle drug for many patients. The Gods gave and are willing to give us the power and knowledge to end about 99% of Earth's problems.

The Gods are not our babysitters, nor did they come to this world with the intention of attaching strings to us like puppets. It is our duty to make something great of our existence, otherwise there is no purpose to said existence.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Gods Give Us Emotion To Make Us Moral

An epiphany was what my wife and I called it last night, during our discussion on the Gods, nature, and emotion. Many times, we humans tend to think of our emotional side as a weakness, as we are the most emotional of all other beings on the planet. It's true that we can sometimes be irrational, but the benefits of our emotional state far outweigh the debts. In the grand picture of things, it's hardly a weakness, but a necessary virtue. Being the most powerful and smartest mortal creatures on the planet, things would be much, much worse if we didn't have emotion. It also allows the Gods to appeal to our moral, ethical and compassionate side far more than if we didn't have it.

Let's start with an example from my own life, so that the reader may better understand this universal truth. I have a very cute cat named Rosie, who we adopted from a local animal shelter a year or so ago. She is a valuable asset to our family at times, but she also has her many problems. The trouble she gets into will sometimes make me incredibly angry to the point that I want to get rid of her, but here's the thing, I can't. No matter how much I want to pick her up and toss her out my door, my emotions create empathy and love, and make me realize that such an action is not only cruel, but very wrong and dishonorable. More so, the Gods are able to appeal that ethical side to me because of the fact that they enabled me with the emotional capacity for empathy and compassion. If I had no emotion, I could do whatever I wanted to other living creatures and indeed the world around me. No matter what the Gods or humans told me, I would be unable to feel or understand it, and that would be a recipe for disaster.

The same goes for other people. The reason we don't abandon our children, spouses or loved ones is because our emotional states will not allow it. Our ability to love and feel keeps us moral and honorable. If we didn't have that capacity, our species would de-evolve into extinction. The Gods gave it to us because it was necessary for our survival and the prosperity of everything around us. And if we encounter someone who fails to show emotion, such as a sociopath, we consider them to be mentally ill, not a natural production.

Realizing this about ourselves is crucial to beginning to understand the genius of the Gods and the intelligence behind our natural existence.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Why Is "Evil" Controversial In Paganism?

Evil may be a bad word depending on your Pagan or Polytheistic tradition. Many people in the modern Pagan community don't like using it because they don't believe in absolutes or an inherent value, believing that good and bad, positive and negative, are both possible from anyone or anything, while some Reconstructionist religions like mine talk about evil many times in their myths and morals. You don't have to look far at all to find the word in Hellenism. Delphic Maxim 31 explicitly and simply says, "Shun Evil." But many Pagans, I would imagine, do not think that things are as simple as good and evil. 

In many ways, they are correct. Absolute evil means that nothing good can come from it, but any being with free will can choose to do good, and if they can make that choice, then they are not absolutely evil, because they have the capacity for the opposite. However, I can certainly say from experience that there are people and things that prefer to act on their hostile and evil sides, at least toward certain people anyway, and that person may unfortunately end up being yourself. 

I think that we are quick to reject the word evil out of existence simply because we don't actually understand what it means. We're so used to being conditioned by the mainstream to think that evil is a Christian concept of ultimate inherent character, but it's not. Evil is simply the opposite of good, or the absence of good. So therefore, we have to ask, is it possible that someone or something can do the opposite of good, or that a thing cannot possess any good qualities? Most certainly. Someone or something who tries to murder you or destroy your family, isn't good or creating any good. It may cause you to do something that results in good for yourself, but they and their act themselves are not good in any capacity. Or perhaps a more common example, if you have a severe mental disorder, like depression, that drives you to want to commit suicide, it is also something that carries no good, and in fact, is in direct opposition to what a "good" brain or mind would be.

In my view, the only Ultimate Good in the Universe, that has no capability or desire of evil, is the Gods and the Higher Powers, like the Spirits and Heroes. Because the Gods were made from all that is good in the first place, and because they are the most powerful of all things and are never able to be conquered, evil can never consume or impact them in any form. In fact, the Gods exist explicitly in opposition of evil, chaos and disorder. This is why evil or negativity runs away when the Gods and Heroes are invoked successfully. It becomes vanquished immediately. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gods As Universal Consciousness

As a writer and a theologian, I never quite know when something as simple as a general conversation or experience will give me something to write and philosophize about, but today was such a time, and it involved one of my favorite Gods. 

My wife and I were discussing statues and we got onto the topic of Poseidon's trident. Talking about all of its different functions from spearing fish to ruling the sea currents and creating water sources entirely, she asked me, "How would you reconcile the belief in earthquakes with modern science?" In words words, "How do I accept the fact that quakes are caused by plates rubbing together and pair it with the idea that Poseidon causes them by striking the ground with His trident?"

My response was rooted in the belief that the Gods are everywhere and in everything, as the ancients also believed. "Do I believe that there's someone standing there who looks like me, hitting the ground with a trident when there's an earthquake?" I replied. "No, I think that the movement of the plates is the movement and consciousness of Poseidon in the Universe itself." 

To me, the Gods exist, at least in one form, as the consciousness of all that was, is and ever will be. That's why I don't even consider them to only be Gods of Earth, but of every other planet, galaxy, and all other lifeforms out there. For example, I don't consider Artemis to be the Goddess of only Earth's moon, but of every moon. The Gods are all that is, and their consciousness, direction, intelligence and Divine Powers give existence and place to everything; the sun and moon, Earth and sky, water and fire, love and sex, wind and rain, freedom and justice, all things possess their minds, bodies and powers. That's why, for example, it makes perfect sense for people like us to consider the sun a God, while other people may think us primitive or even crazy. When you understand that the Gods are literally the beating hearts and blood flows of the Universe, you begin to see them everywhere and recognize the fact that they are there.

As for Poseidon's trident, that is also part of His embodiment. I don't mean to say that He is a trident, but that the weapon and staff is something through which His power and consciousness flows. So, in a way, yes, He is striking the ground with His trident, but in a way that people may not have yet considered. Perhaps the trident may be, at least as one manifestation, His channel, His key to the realms of the Universe over which He rules. All things have a path or opening which lead to them. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How I Explained Polytheism To A Young Christian

Yesterday, I held a literary signing at the Freeport Public Library in Freeport, IL to promote some of my latest publications in magazines and journals. I also brought some copies of my memoirs In The Presence of the Gods, which outlines my experiences with the Greek Gods throughout my life. It was originally intended to be an event to just promote my latest fiction, but I figured that the more stuff I could sell, the better, so I brought some of my non-fiction material as well, and it sold just as good as the opposite. 

But an encounter happened to me that I will always remember, and that I think is worth noting. A very friendly young man hung around me for a good portion of the day, being interested in my writings and what I was doing. When he picked up my memoirs and learned that I was a Polytheist, it became clear to me that he was a Christian, because he asked me, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" I told him that I did believe Jesus to be a real historical man, but that I didn't believe him to be a god or divine. The boy basically went on to ask me, "Why do you believe in many Gods instead of just one?" Being that he was a young man and more curious than anything else, I came up with what I thought was a good way to explain my theology to him on a level he could comprehend. I never, at any point, tried to tell or convince him that his beliefs were wrong. Instead, I taught him about my own.
I asked him, "Have you ever been outside?" He replied, "Yes." Then I asked, "Do you see one tree or many?" He replied, "Many." I went on to ask, "Are they all the same or different?" He answered, "Different." I continued my line of questioning. What of grass, is there one blade or many? What about clouds? Is there one or many? And what of other worlds? Does our Solar System have one or many? He replied, "Many" to all of my questions. Then in conclusion, I said, the nature of the universe dictates that everything exists in multiples, not singulars, so why should God be any different?

And yes, I know some people might ask, "Can there not be one painter who paints many things?" Of course there can be, but is there just one painter in the world or many? Is there only one who paints all paintings? No, there are countless painters. So once again, all things exist in multiples. 

He didn't have an answer for me. He just shrugged it off, but I would like to think that I encouraged him to think outside the box in his life, to come to his own beliefs and conclusions about things, instead of just blindly accepting what others tell him is truth. It's quite possible that I will never again encounter the lad, but I hope that I created another student of Socrates at least.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Are The Gods Perfect?

Sometimes, I get the question, Do you think the Gods are perfect? The problem with this question first and foremost, is that humans have no idea what perfection is. Not a single mortal on this planet can look at a forest and tell me which tree is perfect, or look at the sky and tell me which cloud doesn't have any imperfections. No one can tell me which blade of grass is better, the tall or short one. No human can even tell me which human being is perfect and which one isn't, and more so, explain why. Which color of hair, eyes or skin is perfect? What height is perfect? Which sex is perfect? If you get where I'm going with this, good.

Are the Gods perfect? The plain answer is, I couldn't say, because as a human, and like every other human around me, I have no idea what perfection is. There are, however, a few ideas we might entertain. One, perhaps everything is indeed perfect because everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be. And/or two, if there is no perfection, perhaps there doesn't even need to be. Do the Gods have to be perfect? No, they don't. But they are undoubtedly the highest level of perfection that could possibly exist. In other words, if they're not perfect, they are certainly as close to it as you can get, completely unmatched in the universe. When I praise the Gods, or invoke them for something, what I am literally doing is praising or asking for that highest level of something. Their power doesn't have to be perfect in order to be unsurpassed. The idea that a God must be perfect really more so comes from the Judeo-Christian mythos than anything else. In order for the early Christians to claim theological superiority over everyone, they had to create a perfect deity. It's not really something that existed a lot in Pagan culture, and yet the Pagans still loved their Gods all the same. It does not, by any means, indicate that the Gods are not excellent.

Then the final question begs, if the Gods aren't perfect, why worship them? The answer is simple, because they are the Gods. Your parents may not be perfect, but you still love them. Your boss may not be perfect, but you still respect him or her. Your spouse may not be perfect, but you're still devoted to them until the end. Why should the Gods, who are far greater than anything else, not be given the same respect, obedience, and loyalty? It makes no sense to be devoted to imperfect humans, but refuse to worship a God on the grounds that they may not be perfect. A human is far weaker and less wise than a God, whereas a God will exceed the human in all things. To adore the human and reject the God isn't logical. 

So, are the Gods perfect? My answer is, it doesn't matter.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Transcendental Gods

Many religious and spiritual people look at their God or Gods from only one angle, instead of a transparent or a transcendental one. For example, some people may say that they believe Deity to be within humanity and not nature, or completely outside this universe, whereas others would say that Deity is nature or is part of nature itself, and not in modern, mundane things. But I disagree with the extremes of both of these theologies, as I believe the Gods transcend into everything.

For example, Dionysos, in a simple perspective, is the God of Trees, but He's also the God of the Theatre. Now I would say that Dionysos is in the stage made from His trees, just as much as He is within the trees themselves in their original habitat. Poseidon rules the waters, and I would say He is present in the city or town pools or water parks as much as He is in the natural rivers and seas that surround them. Hermes, being the God of Communication and therefore a God of Writing, is in the book I am reading just as He flies about the world on messages for the Gods. And Athene is in the city council just as She is in the beautiful owl that stands on the tree branch outside the window.

Some may say that I am still a Pantheist in some respects, believing that everything is Deity. But it's actually the other way around, I believe that the Gods are in everything, at least everything that is good. Nothing upon this Earth came from anything other than the natural resources that formed it, and the Gods rule over nature. The simplest fence to the most advanced technologies came from nature, and we know that our ancient ancestors used natural resources in abundance, probably more than we do today because we have technology to replace older necessities. Yet the ancients still retained belief in their Gods. The Gods don't leave just because things take on new shapes. In fact, the Gods can take on any form they choose. I am actually what one would call a Panentheist, if anything.

In the Goodness of The Dodekatheon,
Chris.