The Greeks. I suppose we owe a lot to them, the democracy and all. At least that is what I learned in High school. And now, I am teaching High School and the ancient Greeks as we run through Oedipus or read Antigone, you can’t really understand a piece of literature if you don’t understand the culture (where is the Sunday School unit that teaches that?).
So we talk about the gods, and the way the Greeks interacted with their gods, and I lead the class in shaking my head and poking fun at the silly Greeks and their silly beliefs about Mt. Olympus and its inhabitants. Those crazy Greeks with their crazy ideas about getting and avoiding the attention of the gods, how could anyone believe that? What an antiquated idea!
But the more I teach about Zeus the more I learn about Zeus, and the more I learn about Zeus the more I find him in my heart. As the democracy and literacy were passed down, so were the ideas about who God is.
I always think of theology as something I am not very interested in. I associate theological discussion with naming names and pointing fingers, drawing lines so it is clear who is in and who is out, letting people know that they don’t belong at the table. At its worst I have seen theological discussion boiled down to telling people that they aren’t even Christians. I get physically fidgety when someone wants to talk theology.
While I claim to hate theology, I am desperate to know God. And isn’t that what theology is all about, knowing the ways of my God? In the past I have been afraid that wrong theology will put me at the wrong table in the proverbial religious cafeteria. But I am starting to understand that my theology, what is in my head, has so very much to do with the way my heart responds to my God.
And all to often, it is Zeus in my heart. When I find myself asking God what else He wants me to do, what other hoops He wants me to jump through before He will hear my cries. That isn’t God I am thinking of. When I think I can somehow fly under the radar, that if I don’t draw attention to myself then God won’t notice, that is Zeus in my heart. When I think that God is withholding good things until I finish some near impossible quest, when I am afraid God will change His mind about promises, that isn’t God I am thinking of at all, that is Zeus in my heart.
It is Zeus that forgets and ignores, who is far away. God is with us, and doesn’t withhold good things. When I think that God will punish me with a flat tire, a broken washing machine, a lightning bolt, it is Zeus I am mistaking for my God.
Zeus is fallible. God is love. Perhaps I am more interested in theology than I thought.
Well put! Christian theology really should be summed up in that one statement: God is Love. All else is man-made dogma.
i am a pagan. i do not happen to follow the greek pantheon but i know people who do. your broad stroke dismissal of other people’s religion in order to make your point is not admirable. and while i do understand the point you are trying to make but there are plenty of judeo-christian examples you could use. in fact, regarding jumping through hoops in order to be heard – your bible holds plenty of examples of that.
it’s nice to see someone, of any faith, engage in self reflection and reflection upon their own faith but disparaging someone else’s faith – about which you seem to know very little – is perhaps, not the best way to go about it.
I had no idea people still practiced this. You are right that I would likely have been much more careful in the description. Is there a good resource for modern practice of greek pantheon?
i’m hesitant to provide a source. paganism is marked most significantly by its lack of uniformity and as i’m not a hellenic . ..
i’m also hesitant because of your response and i’m concerned i’m feeding you fodder . . .
that said. googling “hellenic neopaganism” is a good jump off point.
this woman is great – writes about a ton of varieties of paganism http://paganwiccan.about.com/
and here is an article on hellenism in particular http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/pagantraditions/p/Hellenism.htm
and this site in particular is great to learn about all the niches you mayn’t have known existed: http://www.religioustolerance.org/
if you compare worship of zeus to worship of the judeo god around the same time – there aren’t many differences. and dionysus – zeus’ son – was the only god with a mortal mother, the only one to live and die and live again, was known as “the liberator”, there is transubstantiation in the dionysus myth etc etc. . .
my personal conclusion from all that is that it is people that have changed. while atheists then use this jumping off point to nullify a divine existence – i choose to see it as an evolution of our understanding of divinity.
Thank you for your reflection. I am somewhat of an invalid now, spending a lot of time on my back in bed. I try to pray. It is tempting to pray to God to jerk things around for my benefit, or even for the benefit of a loved one. I think I am praying best when I am thinking of someone of some situation with love in my heart. I will pray for you and your writing.
This offer is so dear to me. Thank you for the prayers, I surely appreciate them.
Grace is difficult enough to grasp, given our societal structures…Here’s what I try to be: I (sometimes metaphorically) take off my shoes and walk softly in other cultures’ sacred spaces and try to share their sense of awe of the sacred. A pet peeve is my tendency to look back in history with some condescension because they lacked electricity, computers, cars, literacy etc. Jesus may not even have been literate. What do I make of such a person!!!
Zeus, please help me find a parking space so I won’t be late for the appointment!
I loved this, Abby. Thank you.