Polytheism in Modern Society

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Now let me start off that my mythology and history is a bit rusty...very rusty in hindsight. Anyways I was thinking the other day: What would life today be like if the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Norse etc. still worshiped their ancient gods (Zues, Jupiter, Ra, Odin and all those other gods)?

What would it be like amongst the monotheistic religions today? Without the monotheistic?

I think it would be interesting since to my knowledge there were so many different followers of different gods. Would organized religion be as large as it is today? Society be more savage? Thoughts on this.

Also, god you'd follow if it was the case.

That depends on a lot of factors.

If you meant that people followed, for instance, the Greek religion precisely as it was prior to the Roman empire swallowing them up, I suspect that our culture would be quite a bit more savage than it is.

Then again, I would say the same if Christianity had not adapted over time.

In any event, if you want a more specific answer, look at the polytheistic religions that have survived in the modern age. Hinduism and Shinto in particular.

Biiiig Mythology-enthusiast here. The most important difference, in truth, is the idea of different deities reflecting different ideas and concepts, and the idea that these concepts can be in contest or even in combat against one another. So, we do away with the idea of "Right" against "Wrong" in quite the monolithic, black-and-white sense that the monotheists believe.

(This isn't to say that these Polytheistic religions didn't have their villains; most did, but these villains were usually a lighter shade of grey, sometimes even worshipped despite their dark nature. And, the "good" gods still contested and fought one another in many cases, too).

If the Norse gods still held sway, we'd have the greater focus on masculinity and physical strength, but that's really not all they were about. Forseti was Aesir of Justice, Bragi was Aesir of Poetry; they did respect intellect and art. That said, we'd still have the greater focus on strength and battle. Even death by sickness was a negative in Norse society (not by the gods' designs, but because Hel took the souls of the sick upon their death).

With the Greek and Egyptian pantheons, if we still had generally the same societal developments that we had (other than religion), then I believe our general moral values would be about the same. For the Greeks, the gods were far less the paragons of moral virtue, but hey, we forgive Yahweh his moral slips, don't we? All that murder & stuff is contextualised-- I'm sure we'd turn a blind eye to Artemis having Actaeon torn apart, or to all of Zeus' animorphic rape.

For the Egyptians, it's a little harder to predict. They revered intelligence & wisdom alongside strength (perhaps even above it), and they judged you purely on your morality and deeds come your death (though there was no "hell" equivalent for the worst of us: Ammut would eat the Ka [spirit or spark of life] and you would simply cease to be). I do believe our moral values would be mostly unchanged. We would simply refer to "Seth" where we would usually refer to the "Devil", and would pray to whoever was most appropriate rather than a single entity.

The Aztecs, I have only recently began to delve into, but I know that the 'Dark' figure of their mythology, Tezcatlipoca, was considered central to the pantheon, not on the outskirts of worship like some other 'dark' figures of mythology. Whatever the case, human sacrifice would have died out, regardless, this is pretty certain to me. We scoured burnings and witchhunts from Christianity, we would have done the same for the Aztec pantheon once it became clear it wasn't really having an effect.

Now, for the question I was looking forward to: who would I be a primary follower of?

If Greek, then possibly Gaia, Titan of Nature and Earth. Despite the overthrow of the Titans, Gaia (and certain others) were still popularly revered. Or possibly Hades. Note, Hades wasn't a hated figure in Greek mythology; that's a misunderstanding. He was a dark figure, yes, and slightly resentful, but not hated: He was more known to be quiet, brooding, fulfilling a vital role with a sense of duty. He's the Stannis Baratheon of the Olypians (Zeus was definitely Robert).

If Egyptian, certainly Thoth, the god of wisdom, intelligence, writing and astronomy, judge of the dead (along with Anubis & Ma'at). Or Bast. I really love cats.

If Norse, I'd probably worship Forseti or Odin, gods worshipped for less violent reasons.

If Aztec, there're less to choose from. Quetzlcoatl is kinda the 'default' central god; many others are pretty limited in their role in mythology, or downright terrifying.

Silvanus:
If Norse, I'd probably worship Forseti or Odin, gods worshipped for less violent reasons.

You mean Odin, the god of war, battle and death? The same one that so enjoys starting wars and getting brothers riled up against each other? The Odin that made Harald of Denmark start a war and then in the middle of it turned around and beat him to death with his own club?
Alrighty.

Expanding on your great analysis, I'd like to suggest the Celts. They had some pretty awesome mythology. Not "got rid of snakes that had already been gone since the ice age"-Patrick. Proper guys.
Like Finn McCool... which is his actual name, or the pronounciation of it anyway (Finn Mac Cumhaill). Or Cuchulainn from the Ulster Cycle, who was the original Hulk eons before Marvel. Or the Tuatha de Danaan, who were a magic shapeshifting folk during the Golden Age of Ireland and somewhat revered as deities.
I don't actually know much about the god-concepts of the Celts though, more about their awesome mythology. But I would consider giving something to Brigid from time to time, who, quoting Wikipedia, is the goddess of "all things perceived to be of relatively high dimensions such as high-rising flames, highlands, hill-forts and upland areas; and of activities and states conceived as psychologically lofty and elevated, such as wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship (especially blacksmithing), healing ability, druidic knowledge and skill in warfare."
That's a seriously huge work area.

Quaxar:

You mean Odin, the god of war, battle and death? The same one that so enjoys starting wars and getting brothers riled up against each other? The Odin that made Harald of Denmark start a war and then in the middle of it turned around and beat him to death with his own club?
Alrighty.

Heheh, this is all true. I didn't mean exclusively for non-violent purposes; Odin was also god of wisdom, forethought, etc.

For his relationship with war, think in part of Ares and Athena of the Greeks; both gods of warfare, but vastly different sides of it. Ares and his sons were bloodthirsty, whereas Athena represented strategy, tactics and wisdom.

But, yeah, I wasn't clear on that point. I meant to say worshipped also for non-bloodthirsty reasons.

Quaxar:
Expanding on your great analysis, I'd like to suggest the Celts. They had some pretty awesome mythology. Not "got rid of snakes that had already been gone since the ice age"-Patrick. Proper guys.
Like Finn McCool... which is his actual name, or the pronounciation of it anyway (Finn Mac Cumhaill). Or Cuchulainn from the Ulster Cycle, who was the original Hulk eons before Marvel. Or the Tuatha de Danaan, who were a magic shapeshifting folk during the Golden Age of Ireland and somewhat revered as deities.
I don't actually know much about the god-concepts of the Celts though, more about their awesome mythology. But I would could giving something to Brigid from time to time, who, quoting Wikipedia, is the goddess of "all things perceived to be of relatively high dimensions such as high-rising flames, highlands, hill-forts and upland areas; and of activities and states conceived as psychologically lofty and elevated, such as wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship (especially blacksmithing), healing ability, druidic knowledge and skill in warfare."
That's a seriously huge work area.

This is pretty interesting. I really should look into the Celts, considering I have Celtic blood myself.

Heronblade:
That depends on a lot of factors.

If you meant that people followed, for instance, the Greek religion precisely as it was prior to the Roman empire swallowing them up, I suspect that our culture would be quite a bit more savage than it is.

Then again, I would say the same if Christianity had not adapted over time.

In any event, if you want a more specific answer, look at the polytheistic religions that have survived in the modern age. Hinduism and Shinto in particular.

Actually, as an amateur theologian, I can tell you that Hinduism is monotheistic. Each God in Hinduism is believed to be just another "mask" that the formless, true, ultimate God uses to grow closer to humans. The reason Hinduism melds so well with other religions is because, well, they just view every other God as another "mask" of the one true God.

Shintoism, however, is definitely Polytheistic... Hell, I think the main doctrine of Shintoism is that there is a Kami for literally everything.

----------------------

Anyways, in regards to how Polytheistic religions would develop into the modern world, it's a bit difficult to explain. Certain Polytheistic religions, such as the Egyptian Religion or the Celtic one would probably go the way of shinto. What I mean by that is it sort of "melds" into the culture, maybe moreso Celtic faith than Egyptian faith. The problem with a great deal of polytheistic religions is that Paganistic Polytheism was the culture of the time. When looking at cultures you didn't necessarily look at shared language, in fact most of the time you would look at similar religious rituals and Gods. The Celtic Gods were literally so vast, with no main pantheon really being "the biggest" that eventually it would probably just bleed into the culture, with people "worshipping" the Gods not because they necessarily believe in them, but because "this is what we do".

Now, Norse Paganism? Yeah, if given a few years it could probably have become a very organized religion. The Norse had the advantage of a smaller Pantheon, which meant that while each village may have had it's own personal "God", they all still acknowledged Odin as the king of the Gods. The Norse also had the advantage of some form of philosophy and teachings behind their faith. The thing is, the religions that came to dominate the world did so because they actually taught people something. People worshipped the Celtic Gods, yes, but that was more or less "forming a contract" then trying to live up to any spiritual ideal. The thing with most early Paganistic faiths was that the Gods weren't "great moral teachers" or trying to lead humanity or had some great goal to accomplish, they were just there, humans could interact with them but there was no great "teachings" they were trying to bestow upon people.

The thing is, the Norse actually did have a divine "goal" in their mythology (mainly to constantly be prepared for Ragnarök) and a philosophy that was forming around that "divine goal" (I.E. be strong, both emotionally and physically). The norse had all the things going for them to begin their own organized faith, the problem is they were christianized before any massive changes could be made. If the norse were organized soon enough (say, when christianity was just arriving in Turkey/Greece), chances are their faith would manage to live on to the modern day. I believe that in the Baltic, Scandinavia, parts of Germany, and maybe even England they would root themselves. Chances are that west Germany would be norse for a time then most likely Christianize after years of cultural "bleeding" in the country.

So, in short: if any polytheistic religion had a chance of surviving the rise of Christianity and organizing it was the norse.

Silvanus:

Now, for the question I was looking forward to: who would I be a primary follower of?

If Greek, then possibly Gaia, Titan of Nature and Earth. Despite the overthrow of the Titans, Gaia (and certain others) were still popularly revered. Or possibly Hades. Note, Hades wasn't a hated figure in Greek mythology; that's a misunderstanding. He was a dark figure, yes, and slightly resentful, but not hated: He was more known to be quiet, brooding, fulfilling a vital role with a sense of duty. He's the Stannis Baratheon of the Olypians (Zeus was definitely Robert).

Oh! Talking about what God's we'd worship is fun.

Hades was one of the most moral figures in Greek Mythology, so I'd definitely be a follower of him or Gaia... It's rather Ironic though since while he was honestly portrayed as the most moral -the worst he did was kidnap Peresephone, and even then he genuinely seemed to be infatuated with her and wasn't lecherous in the slightest... At least compared to Zeus- The Greeks still hated him because they absolutely feared death. I'd also possibly worship Nyx because... Well I imagine being the ruler of the night is a thankless job and she also seems to be a rather easygoing woman.

And if not those three, maybe Eris Goddess of Discord because... Aw hell, who doesn't want to snap and go crazy at least once?

When it comes to Norse mythology... Well, it would be an honest debate between Loki and Odin. I can appreciate cunning and intelligence, those are two things I find the world sorely lacks at times.

Witty Name Here:

Hades was one of the most moral figures in Greek Mythology, so I'd definitely be a follower of him or Gaia... It's rather Ironic though since while he was honestly portrayed as the most moral -the worst he did was kidnap Peresephone, and even then he genuinely seemed to be infatuated with her and wasn't lecherous in the slightest... At least compared to Zeus- The Greeks still hated him because they absolutely feared death.

I haven't heard about any real hate going on for Hades-- it's Thanatos that comes to claim you, it's Thanatos that manifests to take people away from their families. When Herakles faced Thanatos, he wrestled him to the ground, but he only spoke to Hades with respect.

Absolutely willing to be convinced otherwise, though.

OT: Though for the most part I'm in the Greek > Roman mythology camp, I do also love the idea of Janus, a Roman invention (one of the few, bloody plagiarists). I'd have a shrine to Janus in my household, certainly, as was pretty common in Roman society.

Witty Name Here:

Heronblade:
snip

Actually, as an amateur theologian, I can tell you that Hinduism is monotheistic. Each God in Hinduism is believed to be just another "mask" that the formless, true, ultimate God uses to grow closer to humans. The reason Hinduism melds so well with other religions is because, well, they just view every other God as another "mask" of the one true God.

I know, but while I cannot exactly claim this as my field, the last time I checked, the multiple gods in one thing for Hinduism was a relatively recent phenomenon, and not one that is universally held. Hinduism has gone through a lot of changes in the past few centuries in order to fit with a changing world, which is a big part of why I mentioned it here.

I think we already have some polytheism going on today with a certain brand of Buddhism, correct me if I'm wrong.

I guess we wouldn't have the Babylonian good vs. bad struggle center in our faith, which would be a game-changer.

TheIronRuler:
I guess we wouldn't have the Babylonian good vs. bad struggle center in our faith, which would be a game-changer.

Wasn't that Persian? I'm pretty certain you're referring to Zoroastrianism, and that is definitely Persian. I thought the Babylonians and Assyrians were polytheists and that their gods were somewhat cruel like the Sumerian gods. The gods were simply to be obeyed, nothing more.

Edit- I cut out your first sentence to make this a bit more clear.

Revnak:

TheIronRuler:
I guess we wouldn't have the Babylonian good vs. bad struggle center in our faith, which would be a game-changer.

Wasn't that Persian? I'm pretty certain you're referring to Zoroastrianism, and that is definitely Persian. I thought the Babylonians and Assyrians were polytheists and that their gods were somewhat cruel like the Sumerian gods. The gods were simply to be obeyed, nothing more.

Edit- I cut out your first sentence to make this a bit more clear.

.
Lets see if I remember something out of my bible class-
Assyrians and Babylonians were the collection of city states and tribes rules over by Babylon and Assyria respectively. They went with the local deity ideas, which is why they used the switch tactics on local populations in order to quell potential rebellions... which makes you right and me embarrassed. The good vs. bad were of the Zoroastrianism faith where the idea of opposites that fight each other is prevalent to the faith (day vs. night, sun vs. moon, good vs. bad, etc.).

Gods were mostly tied to the land they were in. Kinda similar to the Greeks with patron deities to tribes and city-states, but more lenient.

That's difficult to answer. It would really depend on whether those religions would've been tampered by ideals of the Enlightenment or not, but that's just one of countless variables one might have to include in such a hypothetical. It's difficult to think of all the things that could've happened, could've happened differently and along the way and in what way.

As for the second question? Probably none, assuming things wouldn't be that different. If I had to choose one... I dunno, do Titans count? I have an appreciation for Prometheus because of his role in advancing mankind in spite of the gods. If not, then probably Thor, the defender of and champion for humanity.

Catholicism (and therefore much of Christianity) does have shades of Polytheism especially in relation to "the Trinity" and the virgin Mary.

that's 4 "gods" : God , Jesus, "The Holy Spirit" (yes, yes i know they are supposed to be the same...but they aren't) and to a slightly lesser extent Mary aka "The Madonna" (a pseudo "fertility goddess" ?) of which it is claimed "no image permeates Christian art as the image of the Madonna and child"...

then you have "The Saints" who are worshipped and prayed to and who can bestow gifts/miracles/protection etc, etc

only the language used really separates them from lesser "demigods" under a higher pantheon...and indeed that's exactly the practical role Saints (and "The Madonna") have usurped in many Christianised "Pagan" countries...the church was always good at that...using constructed language to set it and those not of it apart...

then you have the Devil...who's supposedly Gods equal (despite being created by him) and enemy but still obligingly runs his torture chamber FOR him...where, being evil, he tortures people for being evil...eh wut ?...anyway there's also the archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim etc, etc and demons all of which must a least qualify as "demigods" or minor "gods" in comparison with others in polytheistic religion.

so all in all, i'd reckon Christianity, that great supposedly "monotheistic" faith has oh...at least a couple hundred named "demigods" in the canon ?...i don't know the names of all The Saints but there must a least be a couple hundred right ?...

indeed the fact that Christianity has multiple gods is one of the things Islam takes pretty serious issue with...but then they still have angels...and genies (jinn, a 3rd non-corporeal race created by God along with Angels and Man) and say a prayer when they go to the toilet so none hang about to perv on them having a crap/pee oO

Judaism ? not so familiar but i do know they do have a whole hierarchy of angels so again not strictly "monotheistic" in the sense that you have other supernatural beings with "powers" literally flying about...

seriously if Hermes is a God so must Gabriel be.

it's all bloody semantics :P

anyway i'd follow "the way"/"the path" much as do now...so still no god :P

Sleekit:
Catholicism (and therefore much of Christianity) does have shades of Polytheism especially in relation to "the Trinity" and the virgin Mary.

that's 4 "gods" : God , Jesus, "The Holy Spirit" (yes, yes i know they are supposed to be the same...but they aren't) and to a slightly lesser extent Mary aka "The Madonna" (a pseudo "fertility goddess" ?) of which it is claimed "no image permeates Christian art as the image of the Madonna and child"...

then you have "The Saints" who are worshipped and prayed to and who can bestow gifts/miracles/protection etc, etc

only the language used really separates them from lesser "demigods" under a higher pantheon...and indeed that's exactly the practical role Saints (and "The Madonna") have usurped in many Christianised "Pagan" countries...the church was always good at that...using constructed language to set it and those not of it apart...

then you have the Devil...who's supposedly Gods equal (despite being created by him) and enemy but still obligingly runs his torture chamber FOR him...where, being evil, he tortures people for being evil...eh wut ?...anyway there's also the archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim etc, etc and demons all of which must a least qualify as "demigods" or minor "gods" in comparison with others in polytheistic religion.

so all in all, i'd reckon Christianity, that great supposedly "monotheistic" faith has oh...at least a couple hundred named "demigods" in the canon ?...i don't know the names of all The Saints but there must a least be a couple hundred right ?...

indeed the fact that Christianity has multiple gods is one of the things Islam takes pretty serious issue with...but then they still have angels...and genies (jinn, a 3rd non-corporeal race created by God along with Angels and Man) and say a prayer when they go to the toilet so none hang about to perv on them having a crap/pee oO

Judaism ? not so familiar but i do know they do have a whole hierarchy of angels so again not strictly "monotheistic" in the sense that you have other supernatural beings with "powers" literally flying about...

seriously if Hermes is a God so must Gabriel be.

it's all bloody semantics :P

anyway i'd follow "the way"/"the path" much as do now...so still no god :P

No.

Just...no.

You have such an unbelievably theme park view of Christianity that I don't think an alliance of Peter, John the Baptist, and Martin Luther could set you straight. Let's start from the beginning, though, because I'll be damned if I won't try.

Catholicism (and therefore much of Christianity) does have shades of Polytheism especially in relation to "the Trinity" and the virgin Mary.

No.

that's 4 "gods" : God , Jesus, "The Holy Spirit" (yes, yes i know they are supposed to be the same...but they aren't) and to a slightly lesser extent Mary aka "The Madonna" (a pseudo "fertility goddess" ?) of which it is claimed "no image permeates Christian art as the image of the Madonna and child"...

No. The Trinity is not three. It is Three in One. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the father, but they are all Deus. There's a symbol for it in the Christian Faith that I could dig out, but my internet isn't being particularly cooperative at the moment.

Mary is -not- a Goddess in any significant branch of the Faith. The reverence for Mary is considerable, yes, she is probably Christianity's greatest Saint, but the Saints are Christian -Heroes-, not Demigods. This is not hard to grasp.

en you have "The Saints" who are worshipped and prayed to and who can bestow gifts/miracles/protection etc, etc

only the language used really separates them from lesser "demigods" under a higher pantheon...and indeed that's exactly the practical role Saints (and "The Madonna") have usurped in many Christianised "Pagan" countries...the church was always good at that...using constructed language to set it and those not of it apart...

No. The Saints are not worshiped, they are respected. Revered, even. Worship and reverence are two very different things. When people pray to the Saints, they are praying for them to intercede on their behalf to -God-. Let me read you the Hail Mary prayer.

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace
The Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God.
Pray for us Sinners
Now, and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Note the "Pray for us" part? Not -do- anything, just to pray for us? Yeah, that's because we aren't under the impression she has the power to do anything directly. The prayer - and every other prayer to the Saints - is asking for them to essentially put a word in with God. To put it bluntly, and somewhat blasphemously, they get used as God's Secretaries.

then you have the Devil...who's supposedly Gods equal (despite being created by him) and enemy but still obligingly runs his torture chamber FOR him...where, being evil, he tortures people for being evil...eh wut ?...anyway there's also the archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim etc, etc and demons all of which must a least qualify as "demigods" or minor "gods" in comparison with others in polytheistic religion.

NO.

Jesus Christ. No. The Devil, one, is not God's equal. Not in any branch of the Faith I've -ever- heard of. And despite what you may have seen in the Theme Park versions of Hell in fiction, Satan is not God's jailor - Satan is another prisoner in Hell.

And no, The Angelic Host do not qualify as Demigods or Divinities in any way, not without stretching the term 'Divinity' until it resembles a slinky. The Angels are the Army of God, God's servants and messengers. If you want a direct comparison in more ancient religions, the closest you'd get is probably the Einherjar, although Angels and the spirits of Human beings are two different things, despite occasional merging of the two in popular culture.

so all in all, i'd reckon Christianity, that great supposedly "monotheistic" faith has oh...at least a couple hundred named "demigods" in the canon ?...i don't know the names of all The Saints but there must a least be a couple hundred right ?...

Already refuted this, moving on.

indeed the fact that Christianity has multiple gods is one of the things Islam takes pretty serious issue with...but then they still have angels...and genies (jinn, a 3rd non-corporeal race created by God along with Angels and Man) and say a prayer when they go to the toilet so none hang about to perv on them having a crap/pee oO

Jinn aren't Gods either.

You seem to be unable to differentiate between "Supernatural" and "Divinity." I'm surprised you're not bringing up Vampires or Witches at this point to refute the Abrahamic religions being Monotheistic.

seriously if Hermes is a God so must Gabriel be.

Hermes wasn't created by Zeus for the purpose of being his Messenger. Nor is Gabriel of the same order of being in any way, shape, or form as Jehovah, whereas Hermes is. The difference between Hermes and Zeus is pretty small, especially compared between Jehovah and Gabriel.

it's all bloody semantics :P

It really isn't.

Er polytheism is still in existence today, it's just not very big at the moment.

PrinceOfShapeir:
*snip*

so when someone wears a "St Christopher" to protect them they are not appealing for his protection ?

if you pray to "a saint" to appeal to God on your behalf you are still prescribing influence that can effect your life to a supernatural entity (given they are dead) and that is "a god" in much the same way as an ancestor is in ancestor worship or Hindu Devas.

if Devil is imprisoned in Hell how is it he has walked the Earth ? (on multiple occasions)
he met Jesus personally on Mount Hermon did he not ? did "God" let him out for the day ? (and others)
oh wait "God" was already there right ?...well at least that makes one of them...

maybe he was having one of those days...maybe he was just a 30 something wandering delirious in the wilderness having a midlife crisis and a mental breakdown...who knows ? certainly not you or i...but then that's the thing isn't it...some purport to know the unknowable...the mind of God, the structure of the afterlife, the fact that there even is one...so much assurance based on little more than old storys, Chinese whispers, "faith", and perhaps most incredulous to me personally the very idea that you are even able to know.

even if the Devil is a prisoner (which the Christian Bible itself clearly shows he is not) it still makes absolutely no sense that he should punish the "evil"...logically he should bro-fist "evil" and those who reject God...

"hey dude, i totally rejected Gods teachings."
"BURN IN HELLFIRE!" makes absolutely no f'ing sense ¯\(°_o)/¯

at least in the Jewish tradition in which he works loyally for God tempting people with sin to test them makes some kind of basic sense within the wider (and "canon") narrative.

these are rhetorical questions. i don't want an answer. i no more feel the need for an answer to these questions than i do to a point of obscure canon in a comic book i'm not really into (...and even DC and Marvel combined probably have less variations...). i'm sure you or your priest/pastor/minister/imam/svengali/witchdoctor/shaman can probably supply some explanation...much like the guys down the local comic book store could...on the comics...

and i never intended to infer Jinn were gods...i was just generally poking fun and them.

i don't have a "theme park view of Christianity"
a theme park would be more fun and less bothersome.
i only ever concerned myself with stories.
that's all "religion" is to me: more (Human) stories.

just stating "No" reputably and then spilling out the dogma and expecting me to accept it isn't going to work...don't lecture me with your cherry picked Latin and expect reverence for it's use...you don't get to define the "divine" any more than i do...i could be far more insulting if i wanted to be but i won't. that's not my game. but don't assume i haven't read the worlds myths, apocryphal stories and "religious" books because, given your utterly adamant approach, i suspect i've read far more widely than you.

i don't normally "do religion" here because (much like vegetarians) i just consider them wrong but i'm not aggressive, fanatical or fundamentalist about it.

i thought this was a fun, fairly risk free tongue in cheek topic so i joined in.

if you don't like it tough but i'm not getting into a back and forth over anyone's interpretation of their favourite "myth".

i don't do that.

you will find plenty here to indulge you in other topics if that's what you want but not from me.

i don't object to you drawing personal comfort in life from what you may believe.

but understand this: it's yours and yours alone.

because any god, if such a thing exists, is ineffable.

ps and as for "witches"...well there is the small inconvenience of The Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel...but hey let's just forget about them...everyone else does now...

Heeere we go again.

Starting from the top.

so when someone wears a "St Christopher" to protect them they are not appealing for his protection ?

if you pray to "a saint" to appeal to God on your behalf you are still prescribing influence that can effect your life to a supernatural entity (given they are dead) and that is "a god" in much the same way as an ancestor is in ancestor worship or Hindu Devas.

Wears a St. Christopher? The hell? But to answer your question, no, they are not. At least, not the people who actually pay attention. There are some people who genuinely don't understand because there's a serious problem in several of the Churches, particularly the Catholic, about educating people on what this shit actually means. That does not mean the Religion preaches it.

if Devil is imprisoned in Hell how is it he has walked the Earth ? (on multiple occasions)
he met Jesus personally on Mount Hermon did he not ? did "God" let him out for the day ? (and others)
oh wait "God" was already there right ?...well at least that makes one of them...

Hell is the Devil's prison, but he hasn't been put in there yet.

maybe he was having one of those days...maybe he was just a 30 something wandering delirious in the wilderness having a midlife crisis and a mental breakdown...who knows ? certainly not you or i...but then that's the thing isn't it...some purport to know the unknowable...the mind of God, the structure of the afterlife, the fact that there even is one...so much assurance based on little more than old storys, Chinese whispers, "faith", and perhaps most incredulous to me personally the very idea that you are even able to know.

Nice bit of rambling, but I have no idea what you're actually trying to say, you seem to have bolted about a half dozen independent thoughts together and crafted it into a wall of incomprehensibility. Well done, sir.

even if the Devil is a prisoner (which the Christian Bible itself clearly shows he is not) it still makes absolutely no sense that he should punish the "evil"...logically he should bro-fist "evil" and those who reject God...

"hey dude, i totally rejected Gods teachings."
"BURN IN HELLFIRE!" makes absolutely no f'ing sense ¯\(°_o)/¯

Quite right it doesn't make sense. BECAUSE THAT'S NOT WHAT'S GOING ON. The Devil is a prisoner just as much as the mortal spirits. He isn't doing any tormenting. He is being tormented. Jesus Christ, even Dante got that right.

these are rhetorical questions. i don't want an answer. i no more feel the need for an answer to these questions than i do to a point of obscure canon in a comic book i'm not really into (...and even DC and Marvel combined probably have less variations...). i'm sure you or your priest/pastor/minister/imam/svengali/witchdoctor/shaman can probably supply some explanation...much like the guys down the local comic book store could...on the comics...

These aren't actually rhetorical questions. You're not asking questions at all, you're saying things about Christian doctrine and beliefs that are patently incorrect.

and i never intended to infer Jinn were gods...i was just generally poking fun and them.

Yes, you did. You equated them with Gods, same as Angels and Saints.

i don't have a "theme park view of Christianity"
a theme park would be more fun and less bothersome.
i only ever concerned myself with stories.
that's all "religion" is to me: more (Human) stories./[quote]

Yes, you do. If you didn't have a theme park view, you wouldn't be saying that the Devil is the tormenter in Hell, just as an example. You don't actually understand the religion because you haven't actually studied it, you're just regurgitating things you've seen in pop culture and on the internet.

[quote]i don't normally "do religion" here because (much like vegetarians) i just consider them wrong but i'm not aggressive, fanatical or fundamentalist about it.

i thought this was a fun, fairly risk free tongue in cheek topic so i joined in.

if you don't like it tough but i'm not getting into a back and forth over anyone's interpretation of their favourite "myth".

i don't do that.

you will find plenty here to indulge you in other topics if that's what you want but not from me.

i don't object to you drawing personal comfort in life from what you may believe.

but understand this: it's yours and yours alone.

because any god, if such a thing exists, is ineffable.

It's not my interpretation. This is the fucking Bible. The stuff I'm talking about? Pretty much ironclad, hard to misinterpret. If you don't want to get into a back and forth, don't offer flimsy defenses when I point out how little you actually understand about the religion you're deriding. If you don't want to have a discussion, there's not really a point in posting here. I'm not here for my personal comfort, I'm not trying to convince you of anything, I'm trying to educate you on Christian doctrine and beliefs. I'm telling you what Christians believe, I don't really give a damn whether you think it's true or not, I just find people saying things that are blatantly incorrect to be rather irritating.

thaluikhain:
Er polytheism is still in existence today, it's just not very big at the moment.

There's actually an important point in this that I think bears clearly stating:
Religions come and go. I guess some people think their "true religion" will never go out of style - a bit of arrogance in that considering that's how some believers of every religion ever probably thought - but in a few thousand years, who knows what the "religious landscape" will look like?
I wouldn't be surprised to see a reemergence of Polytheisms or perhaps something we've never seen before. No, I don't think religion will ever completely vanish, but considering I don't think any of them are true, I wouldn't extend any special life-expectancy to any particular one of them, either.
As an outsider, this is about politics, society and PR to me, not about revealed truth, after all. And at some point, somebody with better PR (with all that may entail, good and bad) could come along.

i hate bullet point posting but just for your further entertainment

PrinceOfShapeir:
Satan is another prisoner in Hell.

PrinceOfShapeir:
The Devil is a prisoner just as much as the mortal spirits. He isn't doing any tormenting. He is being tormented.

PrinceOfShapeir:
Hell is the Devil's prison, but he hasn't been put in there yet.

seriously WTF ? ¯\(°_o)/¯

Sleekit:
at least in the Jewish tradition in which he works loyally for God tempting people with sin to test them makes some kind of basic sense within the wider (and "canon") narrative.

\o/ for ingnored paragraphs in bullet point posting ? (this is why it was banned on a previous forum i used to frequent btw).

PrinceOfShapeir:
This is the fucking Bible. The stuff I'm talking about? Pretty much ironclad, hard to misinterpret.

ironclad ? hard to misinterpret ?

there are countless schisms in the church past and present and ALL of them are based on interpretation.

there is practically nothing else to schism about...

PrinceOfShapeir:
If you don't want to have a discussion, there's not really a point in posting here.

i was answering the OP propositions and commenting on the subject of the thread.

something i note you have completely failed to do as instead you've entered into the thread with the sole aim of attacking my post and perpetuating the same.

argument =/= discussion

PrinceOfShapeir:
I'm telling you what Christians believe

no you're telling me what you and probably your local peer group of Christians believe.

i can assure you as a Northern European Protestant by birth i know there is no singular interpretation and more than that if i actually followed the tenants of the particularly hard line Protestant faith i was born into you couldn't even tell me my personal interpretation of the deeper religious truth hidden within the pages of a book that stands recognised as having been written down and translated by fallible mortal men was wrong.

ain't you lucky i read the Greek "myths" first otherwise you'd perhaps have to deal with a boorish intransigent religious asshat...

anyway i wasn't talking about what they are from a Christian pov.

i was talking (fairly casually actually) about what they appear to be similar to within a wider external context.

anyway ttfn \o

don't wait up.

Oh, for the love of God.

Read the fucking book.

Satan is not and has -never been- described as the Warden of Hell.

PrinceOfShapeir:

It's not my interpretation. This is the fucking Bible. The stuff I'm talking about? Pretty much ironclad, hard to misinterpret.

I don't usually get involved in religious discussion on the internet, especially one with this much baiting going on, but the Bible is quite possibly the single book with the most interpretations mankind has ever received/written/been inspired to write. Wars that devastate entire continents, mostly Europe, have been fought over the various possible meanings of obscure passages. The thousands of Christian sects all have different interpretations, and each member of those sects quite possibly has a different view on certain passages.
Be it that the 6th Commandment states a law against killing or murdering, about the religious legality of divorce, or about whether or not the whole thing was dreamt up by some marginalised Middle Eastern tribe.

Witty Name Here:

Silvanus:

Now, for the question I was looking forward to: who would I be a primary follower of?

If Greek, then possibly Gaia, Titan of Nature and Earth. Despite the overthrow of the Titans, Gaia (and certain others) were still popularly revered. Or possibly Hades. Note, Hades wasn't a hated figure in Greek mythology; that's a misunderstanding. He was a dark figure, yes, and slightly resentful, but not hated: He was more known to be quiet, brooding, fulfilling a vital role with a sense of duty. He's the Stannis Baratheon of the Olypians (Zeus was definitely Robert).

Oh! Talking about what God's we'd worship is fun.

Hades was one of the most moral figures in Greek Mythology, so I'd definitely be a follower of him or Gaia... It's rather Ironic though since while he was honestly portrayed as the most moral -the worst he did was kidnap Peresephone, and even then he genuinely seemed to be infatuated with her and wasn't lecherous in the slightest... At least compared to Zeus- The Greeks still hated him because they absolutely feared death. I'd also possibly worship Nyx because... Well I imagine being the ruler of the night is a thankless job and she also seems to be a rather easygoing woman.

And if not those three, maybe Eris Goddess of Discord because... Aw hell, who doesn't want to snap and go crazy at least once?

When it comes to Norse mythology... Well, it would be an honest debate between Loki and Odin. I can appreciate cunning and intelligence, those are two things I find the world sorely lacks at times.

This may be odd for someone who, despite being brought up as a Catholic and actually taken to church each Sunday, has never been religious, I've always known which deity I would be a follower of in such a situation. It would be Pallas Athena.
I'm not entirely sure why, but since I read the Odyssey (A somewhat cut down version, I'm hardly a prodigy) at a surprisingly young age, I've just always admired her amongst the various pagan deities.

Da Orky Man:
This may be odd for someone who, despite being brought up as a Catholic and actually taken to church each Sunday, has never been religious, I've always known which deity I would be a follower of in such a situation. It would be Pallas Athena.
I'm not entirely sure why, but since I read the Odyssey (A somewhat cut down version, I'm hardly a prodigy) at a surprisingly young age, I've just always admired her amongst the various pagan deities.

Yeah, second that, seems to have a minimum of pointless vengeance against the innocent.

Having said that, the Eumenides seem to get a bad rap. Sure, they are unspeakably horrible monsters that do terrible things to people, but generally only people that deserve it, or who get in their way, or that live nearby someone else they want to do something terrible to, or who create a system of laws rendering them obsolete. Which is sorta progressive.

Monotheism doesn't make sense in a modern, educated, society.

Why would polytheism be any different?

Monotheism is the single most important movement in history, even if you are an atheist you can't deny it's impact. Instead of worshipping multiple false gods with images, which do not care for humans at all in the slightest and the stories around them do not convey moral teachings, we got the knowledge of the one True G-D of Israel who is all loving and powerful.

But I also believe in the freedom of religion, so if people do want to worship multiple pagan false gods then they have every right to do so and I will protect their right to do so. Same goes for people who choose to be atheists, we have to learn to respect each other even if we disagree or think other people are wrong on something.

JemothSkarii:
Now let me start off that my mythology and history is a bit rusty...very rusty in hindsight. Anyways I was thinking the other day: What would life today be like if the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Norse etc. still worshiped their ancient gods (Zues, Jupiter, Ra, Odin and all those other gods)?

What would it be like amongst the monotheistic religions today? Without the monotheistic?

I think it would be interesting since to my knowledge there were so many different followers of different gods. Would organized religion be as large as it is today? Society be more savage? Thoughts on this.

Also, god you'd follow if it was the case.

as Yhawheh in his current form was originly Yahweh Saboth(Yahweh, god of the Armies)

I guess that leaves most of the world Cannite polytheism.

Heronblade:

In any event, if you want a more specific answer, look at the polytheistic religions that have survived in the modern age. Hinduism and Shinto in particular.

This was pretty much what I was going to say. Shinto is such a wide ranging religion, I'm by no means an expert on Shinto but to my understanding you can pretty much worship things like a particular shire in your local village through to nationaly aclaimed deity's.

TheLycanKing144:
so if people do want to worship multiple pagan false gods then they have every right to do so

Yer.... that didn't sound judgmental at all. There's no more proof that polytheistic pagan god's do/don't exist than that the monotheistic judeo christian god does/does not exist.

Tanis:
Monotheism doesn't make sense in a modern, educated, society.

Why would polytheism be any different?

Again that's a pretty bigoted view point, some of thee most educated and intelligent individuals through out time have been very religious. Let me guess you believe that story's like noah's ark should be taken literally?

Charles Darwin (the man who created our current understanding of evolution) was an incredibly devout christian.
Issac Newton (Conceptualised our modern understanding of modern physics) Was again very religious.

So 2 of the most intelligent men ever to have lived......

Going back to the topic of of greek/roman religious practices I studied for a couple of years classical civilizations which covered the ancient greeks thru to the classical greeks into the romans, again I'm by no means an expert so feel free to correct its been a few years. But it was my understanding that.

- It was a common misconception that the roman/greek gods were the same gods. Greek and roman gods where both worshiped in the roman empire as separate entity's
- Romans at their core however looked down on greek culture (confusing I know as they borrowed a lot of asspects, but they liked to think they were better) so they did blend the lines a bit to try and encourage transition of worship of greek god's to roman.
- People are right that the majority of the gods were depicted as uncaring to the affairs of men (but not all, ie I remember reading about the god of maternity an things who looked after pregnant women)
- Many of the story's about the god's could be considered immoral (but I kind of liked this to a limit as they were not perfect, to a limit. like no the incest ones, it made them more relatable, a god has not always been perfect)
-To me the pagan gods always came across more like the patron saints of Christianity, there was literally a good for everyone.

But yer very interesting concept how the religions would have adapted if they had survived to modern day. They kind of picture it a bit in Battlestar the gods they have in that are the classical greek gods.

Tanis:
Monotheism doesn't make sense in a modern, educated, society.

Why would polytheism be any different?

Well, to me, polytheism makes slightly more sense: polytheists see the patrons of the world/nature etc frequently in conflict with each-other. Makes more sense to explain a world that is quite clearly chaotic and conflicted.

Polytheist religions tend to be less monolithically black-and-white in morality; what is sacred and moral to one god is not to another.

Polytheism to me better reflects the vastly diverse, conflicted, morally-grey existence we have than the idea that "one perfect god embodies everything good ever, and created everything to be in harmony".

TheLycanKing144:
Monotheism is the single most important movement in history, even if you are an atheist you can't deny it's impact. Instead of worshipping multiple false gods with images, which do not care for humans at all in the slightest and the stories around them do not convey moral teachings, we got the knowledge of the one True G-D of Israel who is all loving and powerful.

Where did you get this from? Many gods of the polytheists care for humanity, and stories very frequently convey moral teachings.

Jedi-Hunter4:

Charles Darwin (the man who created our current understanding of evolution) was an incredibly devout christian.

That's not true. Darwin was far from devout, and drifted further and further away from Christianity later in his life. It's a complete myth that he recanted, for example.

See here for a letter in which Darwin describes his state of mind as "agnostic", and here for an excerpt from Darwin's autobiography, detailing his relationship with Christianity. He states, "Thus disbelief [in the gospels as reliable evidence] crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete... I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true".

My point being, he can scarcely be called "incredibly devout", if a Christian at all.

Jedi-Hunter4:

- It was a common misconception that the roman/greek gods were the same gods. Greek and roman gods where both worshiped in the roman empire as separate entity's

Hrmm, also, not really true. Almost every Greek god had a direct equivalent, and that Roman equivalent directly took the former's role in every myth that carried across.

Jedi-Hunter4:

- Romans at their core however looked down on greek culture (confusing I know as they borrowed a lot of asspects, but they liked to think they were better) so they did blend the lines a bit to try and encourage transition of worship of greek god's to roman.

Parts of Roman society, yes, but other parts did not. In Latin, we were taught to translate a story that Roman children used to be taught, which ends with the line, "Conquered Greece Conquered Rome"-- the moral of the story being that Greek culture has had a profound effect in defining Roman culture, despite the latter's military superiority.

TheLycanKing144:
Monotheism is the single most important movement in history, even if you are an atheist you can't deny it's impact. Instead of worshipping multiple false gods with images, which do not care for humans at all in the slightest and the stories around them do not convey moral teachings, we got the knowledge of the one True G-D of Israel who is all loving and powerful.

But I also believe in the freedom of religion, so if people do want to worship multiple pagan false gods then they have every right to do so and I will protect their right to do so. Same goes for people who choose to be atheists, we have to learn to respect each other even if we disagree or think other people are wrong on something.

Gods in every religion serves a purpose. Whether we considered it moral or not is different, as morals as history can show do change with culture. The motivations of a culture affect the stories and beliefs they have. The Bible is a collection of many stories from a wide range of times brought together. You can see the differences between these books. The different surroundings of the authors greatly changes what is spoken off. The Roman's who valued power and status above all else, that life is hard so you should take what you can get out of it while you live. A harsh society where those at the bottom are kept there by over whelming differences in money. The division between rich and poor causing those on top to look at people as less then themselves. But these same beliefs brought immense wealth to these same people, an empire that lasted for 1500 years.

Whether there is one, many or no god(s) does not matter to me. A human being should do things not because they can, but because they think it is right. Humanity must work for the betterment of itself and to preserve the things that it holds valuable. I do what I do not because I care about how I am viewed in the eyes of God. I do what I do because if I present a mask to hide my true self from others would be to demean myself. So I will use the values and motivators instilled in me by my upbringing, my family, and my culture to guide my belief to the best decisions I can make at the time.

Monotheism is the dominant belief system. Polytheism being a small percentage compared to different periods in man kinds history. The existence of the belief systems is important though, in that our cultures and societies view them as important. Religious institutes throughout time has served purposes helping communities; advancing knowledge in sciences, medicine, providing safe places for those who need it.

Viewing religions themselves as a static thing, unchanging with time is a falsehood. The Bible has been read by many and many of them interpret the same words in different ways. The meaning of things also changes with time as our values change as well. Having something to believe in when you have nothing else is reassuring in a way people have valued for years.

Jedi-Hunter4:

Tanis:
Monotheism doesn't make sense in a modern, educated, society. Why would polytheism be any different?

Again that's a pretty bigoted view point, some of thee most educated and intelligent individuals through out time have been very religious. Let me guess you believe that story's like noah's ark should be taken literally?

Charles Darwin (the man who created our current understanding of evolution) was an incredibly devout christian.
Issac Newton (Conceptualised our modern understanding of modern physics) Was again very religious.

So 2 of the most intelligent men ever to have lived......

1) Google the word 'bigot', then come back to me.
Thinking that believing in MAGIC is stupid isn't the same as forcing a women cover up their skin (or risk a beating) because you're religion says so.

2) Newton also practiced Alchemy.
Just because someone is VERY smart, doesn't mean they can't believe in something VERY stupid, or wrong.

3) Again, you're taking things out of context.
Both men, if they had come out as Deists or non-theists would have risked things like death, become social outcasts, lost their jobs & families, etc.

How many of the USA's FFs were 'in the closet' when it came to their religious views?
Many of whom where NOT Christians, but Deists or even agnostics or atheists.

I'm a modern polytheist and something of a pedant, so I have a feeling I'm going to be posting a *lot* on this thread. :)

Silvanus:

If the Norse gods still held sway, we'd have the greater focus on masculinity and physical strength, but that's really not all they were about. Forseti was Aesir of Justice, Bragi was Aesir of Poetry; they did respect intellect and art. That said, we'd still have the greater focus on strength and battle. Even death by sickness was a negative in Norse society (not by the gods' designs, but because Hel took the souls of the sick upon their death).

Well, environment matters. Death by sickness is a negative and strength is prized because the climate was so bloody harsh. A sick tribe member is a mouth to feed who can't put in the same amount of work. I'm Norse-focused and it bothers me more than a little to see modern Heathens who think this way now, because they think that's the properly Heathen way to think. We don't *have* to look on physical strength or sickness the same way now because most of us don't have winter's starvation howling at our door along with the snowdrifts if we don't put in enough time gathering in food. You can't ignore *how much* environment mattered with ancient cultures-- the bloodiest periods for the bloodiest cultures had desperation as a major factor; if you've got a city full of starving people because of a drought that won't end, you might think human sacrifice is a fitting idea. Most polytheistic systems worked off reciprocal gifting. You, a god, give me a good harvest and a healthy herd, and I'll gladly give you part of the cow we killed for the big community feast. If I need a big gift (and ending a drought is a big gift), I have to give a big gift in return-- and a person is a big gift. (Note also that the ancients weren't afraid to curse out their gods if they gave and it felt like the gods weren't giving back.)

For the Egyptians, it's a little harder to predict. They revered intelligence & wisdom alongside strength (perhaps even above it), and they judged you purely on your morality and deeds come your death (though there was no "hell" equivalent for the worst of us: Ammut would eat the Ka [spirit or spark of life] and you would simply cease to be). I do believe our moral values would be mostly unchanged. We would simply refer to "Seth" where we would usually refer to the "Devil", and would pray to whoever was most appropriate rather than a single entity.

Yes on Ammit (and you had to work pretty hard in your villainy to get your ka thrown to Ammit), a big "no" on Set. Well, a qualified no. Set's image changed markedly over time. Remember, Set represented half of the Niswt's double crown; Herw represented the other half. The Contendings is something of a coming of age story, Herw-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger) wasn't ready to bear the crown. Set's actions tested his maturity until he *was* ready. Set also stood in for the foreigners, and generally represented the desert beyond the bounds of fertile territory-- Set guards Ra's solar barque every night from the threat of Apep, another manifestation of Set watching over the outland for the Netjeru. The closer to the Greek period you got (from partway through the New Kingdom on forward), the more Set's image took a drubbing. Set=Satan is still wrong, though. (Apep=Satan is closer, but still not right. There really isn't a polytheistic version of the modern Christian idea of Satan. The "inimical to people" part, yes. The "god of this world who tempts the soul of every man" part, not so much, no.)

Now, for the question I was looking forward to: who would I be a primary follower of?

Polytheism doesn't work this way, despite how many modern Pagans think it does. You follow your local area's gods, you don't pick and choose a personal patron from among them. If you *do* toss more offerings one god's way, it's not because you think they're cool, it's because of what you do or what you need. I especially revere Frigga because my disability means I spend almost all of my time in my home, because I'm also trying to get *out* of this house and sell it and find a new place to live, hearth-related concerns are pretty central to me.

Odin, gods worshipped for less violent reasons.

Someone else already had fun with this one, but I admit it did make me chortle. Odin, the death god with the berserker cult? Less violent than *who*?

I freely admit that Odin scares the shit out of me. I pay him heed where it's appropriate, and generally otherwise hope he doesn't notice me.

Witty Name Here:

Actually, as an amateur theologian, I can tell you that Hinduism is monotheistic. Each God in Hinduism is believed to be just another "mask" that the formless, true, ultimate God uses to grow closer to humans.

*quibble* I'd say more monist than monotheist. The facets-of-a-jewel thing also gets called "soft polytheism".

The Norse had the advantage of a smaller Pantheon, which meant that while each village may have had it's own personal "God", they all still acknowledged Odin as the king of the Gods.

No, this is definitely wrong. Germanic polytheism was *incredibly* localized and no, they absolutely did *not* all hail Odhinn as king of the gods. In fact, Thor/Thunor/Donar as primary was way, way more common on the continent, particularly as you go back further in time. (Now I'm trying to remember who gets the pillars in the Scandinavian temples dug up... Thor, Frey, and (Odhinn?) I really should know this...)

To everyone on this thread: be careful of using Snorri's Eddas as your primary source because Snorri was a) a Christian writing after conversion, and b) trying to preserve a form of poetic narrative, so he was very interested in trying to string all of the stories he grew up being told into a contextual whole. A fair bit of what Snorri wrote about has a very Christianized flavor to it (like the whole Baldur-Ragnarok thing), and the Eddas should be taken into a wider context that also includes the archaeological scholarship and the Sagas.

The thing with most early Paganistic faiths was that the Gods weren't "great moral teachers" or trying to lead humanity or had some great goal to accomplish, they were just there, humans could interact with them but there was no great "teachings" they were trying to bestow upon people.

Well, they all had "live well" as a teaching and a culture-bound idea of what that meant. I'm not sure how that's really any different than what your religion does, except that yours intends itself to be seen as universalist.

The thing is, the Norse actually did have a divine "goal" in their mythology (mainly to constantly be prepared for Ragnarök)

Gah, there's Snorri fucking everything up again. There's evidence that some form of the idea of Ragnarok was around for some time, but we really aren't sure what that idea was or what it meant for daily living.

and a philosophy that was forming around that "divine goal" (I.E. be strong, both emotionally and physically). The norse had all the things going for them to begin their own organized faith, the problem is they were christianized before any massive changes could be made. If the norse were organized soon enough (say, when christianity was just arriving in Turkey/Greece), chances are their faith would manage to live on to the modern day. I believe that in the Baltic, Scandinavia, parts of Germany, and maybe even England they would root themselves. Chances are that west Germany would be norse for a time then most likely Christianize after years of cultural "bleeding" in the country.

The Norse meandered all over the known world at the time. If they'd wanted to be "organized", they would have been. Norse/Germanic religion prioritized family and community. You know, *local* things. There was no interest in trying to unite all the tribes under one religious banner; indeed, the very concept would have been completely bizarre to them. In fact, it *was* completely bizarre to them when missionaries first arrived bearing word of the "White Christ" (as it was spoken, vs. the "Red Thor"), and they initially wanted nothing to do with it. Christianity had to change *itself* quite a bit in order to be marketable to the Germanic tribes-- let me reference "The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity" by Russell to you. It's a great book, both for the scholarship on the Germanic worldview and on early Christianity.

So, in short: if any polytheistic religion had a chance of surviving the rise of Christianity and organizing it was the norse.

That, though, is true. Not for the reasons you think, but because the culture, for all that it's also Indo-European rooted) had so little Greco-Roman influence in it (which itself had a ton of Eastern and Egyptian influence in it) and so completely lacked the individualism and anomie that made Christianity so appealing in Rome.

PrinceOfShapeir:

No. The Trinity is not three. It is Three in One. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the father, but they are all Deus. There's a symbol for it in the Christian Faith that I could dig out, but my internet isn't being particularly cooperative at the moment.

But there are Christians who deny the trinity and absolutely *do* think it's polytheistic. I'm out on a bit of a limb here, but aren't Oneness Pentecostals in this category?

Mary is -not- a Goddess in any significant branch of the Faith. The reverence for Mary is considerable, yes, she is probably Christianity's greatest Saint, but the Saints are Christian -Heroes-, not Demigods. This is not hard to grasp.

In this post's case? Actually, yeah, it kind of is hard to grasp. The difference between gods and heroes, from a polytheistic point of view, is so thin you could have a difficult time skating on it. In Indo-European polytheisms, ancestors are revered, as are nature and house spirits (in the Norse, "wights"), and the Gods are... basically, Really Big Wights, or Big Ancestors (in the sense of being ancestors for an entire people, not just one family). So the Catholic insistence on Mary worship ("not worship, dammit! not a goddess, dammit!") and Saint-reverence ("most decidedly NOT ancestor cultus!") as a Completely Different Thing, Really, We Mean It from the worship of the Trinity is, well, odd from the polytheistic POV that this post wants us to consider.

In *practical* terms, Mary absolutely is the People's Goddess, the one to whom the lowest and most desperate turn because she'll answer when nobody else will (and I do revere her in this context, heretical as it is :). This is and has been the thinking among the poor in just about any Catholic country you want to name. In *theological* terms, no, she definitely isn't, because there is only one God.

en you have "The Saints" who are worshipped and prayed to and who can bestow gifts/miracles/protection etc, etc

only the language used really separates them from lesser "demigods" under a higher pantheon...and indeed that's exactly the practical role Saints (and "The Madonna") have usurped in many Christianised "Pagan" countries...the church was always good at that...using constructed language to set it and those not of it apart...

No. The Saints are not worshiped, they are respected. Revered, even. Worship and reverence are two very different things.

I'm on Sleekit's side in this one: the Church is *very* good at using constructed language to set it apart from the folk faith in the lands it colonizes, and this is absolutely an example.

Note the "Pray for us" part? Not -do- anything, just to pray for us? Yeah, that's because we aren't under the impression she has the power to do anything directly. The prayer - and every other prayer to the Saints - is asking for them to essentially put a word in with God. To put it bluntly, and somewhat blasphemously, they get used as God's Secretaries.

"Radiant flame of gold, noble foster-mother of Christ.
Bride the daughter of Dugall the brown,
Son of Aodh, son of Art, son of Conn,
Son of Crearar, son of Cis, son of Carmac, son of Carruin.

Every day and every night
That I say the genealogy of Bride,
I shall not be killed, I shall not be harried,
I shall not be put in cell, I shall not be wounded,
Neither shall Christ leave me in forgetfulness.

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown me,
No arrow of fairy nor dart of fay shall wound me,
And I under the protection of my Holy Mary,
And my gentle foster-mother is my beloved Bride."

Yeah, I'm seeing Mary and Brigid totally being powerless secretaries there, yuppers.

then you have the Devil...who's supposedly Gods equal (despite being created by him) and enemy but still obligingly runs his torture chamber FOR him...where, being evil, he tortures people for being evil...eh wut ?...anyway there's also the archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim etc, etc and demons all of which must a least qualify as "demigods" or minor "gods" in comparison with others in polytheistic religion.

NO.

Jesus Christ. No. The Devil, one, is not God's equal. Not in any branch of the Faith I've -ever- heard of. And despite what you may have seen in the Theme Park versions of Hell in fiction, Satan is not God's jailor - Satan is another prisoner in Hell.

Actually, Satan is basically God's prosecuting attorney who never stopped working for Him, in the *original* version. You know, the Jewish one? The people whose stuff Christians blatantly appropriated?

From there, it devolves. Satan in the NT is like the PT to the OT in Star Wars, and when you get to the level Sleekit's talking about, what actual working teaching does to that understanding? You're past the EU and straight into fanon. And low church Christians, particularly the fringier Evangelicals and Pentecostals, teach some damn weird Satan fanon. (I came across the one about the King of Tyre in a Kindle freebie on Satan from the Christian POV just this week, that this king=Satan. I thought of what I knew of the Jewish idea of Satan and thought "this doesn't make sense", and knocked it down in ten damn minutes on Google when I found a site that talks in detail about the Hebrew and where the English translation goes astray. But it's apparently key to at least *some* Christians' understanding of Satan, even though it's quite likely bogus.) So when you look at what's actually going on, in church after church, where people are so incredibly afraid of Satan that if they put one micrometer of toe even an iota over the line, BZORT! Satan has you, I don't know how an observer *wouldn't* conclude that Satan and God are equals. Sex? Satan. Unless it's missionary sex with your wife, and even then, if you have it too often or she likes it too much. Gaming, Satan. D&D, Satan. Whiskey? Satan. The horoscope in the morning paper? OMG SATAN. Dancing? Satan, duh. Oh, for crying out loud, *coffee*? Satanic. As is rock music, the number 13, any music that isn't a hymn or specifically glorify God, makeup, the lack of makeup, and probably a list so long it would strain the bandwidth of this site. It makes a lot of people wonder what God actually *does*, if Satan infests literally every single thing that makes a good Christian feel like a living human being. Yes, this is denominationally bound, and thank fuck, many of them don't do this... weird all-powerful-but-defeated-after-death Satan fanon... thing. Yes, the ones that do would argue what you just did until the cows came home and died of old age, but *still*... in practical terms, that conclusion is hard to unsee.

I know, I know, you'll tell me I'm theologically wrong. And you'll be correct about that. But in working, practical, orthopraxic terms? Proper theology ain't what's happening on the ground.

Silvanus:
Hrmm, also, not really true. Almost every Greek god had a direct equivalent, and that Roman equivalent directly took the former's role in every myth that carried across.

Major god, yes. You had oodles of minor gods that weren't important enough, or fell from popularity.

Sleekit:
[
at least in the Jewish tradition in which he works loyally for God tempting people with sin to test them makes some kind of basic sense within the wider (and "canon") narrative.

these are rhetorical questions. i don't want an answer. i no more feel the need for an answer to these questions than i do to a point of obscure canon in a comic book i'm not really into (...and even DC and Marvel combined probably have less variations...).

Oh goddammit, ninja'ed!

TheLycanKing144:
which do not care for humans at all in the slightest and the stories around them do not convey moral teachings

Where'd you get that from? And why would I care about the god of Israel when none of my kin have ever been there?

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