Class Warfare Blog

December 29, 2017

Monotheism Only an Inch Deep

I noted in my reading the other day that the Catholic Church fell all over itself finding a person named Brigit to canonize after the church took over Ireland. St. Brigit’s declared feast day just happened to coincide with the feast day of the Celtic goddess Brigit. An amazing coincidence, no? And, of course, there is some debate over whether St. Brigit was a real person. So, if you can’t find an appropriate real person to canonized, canonize a fake person.

This was the same procedure used by the Romans when they conquered a new people. All of that people’s gods were swept up into the mix of Roman gods. Some equivalences to Roman gods might be noted but if there were a passel of absolutely new ones, well, the more the merrier. The master administrators the Romans were almost guaranteed there would be an office to keep all of these gods straight, and of course there was, a significant one.

It is puzzling that the Romans eventually adopted a monotheistic religion, Christianity, because of all of the problems created by just the idea. Prior to Judaism, polytheism ruled. A few places dabbled in monotheism (Aten in Egypt, etc.) but those efforts failed. Under polytheism, people were quite tolerant of other people’s gods, which made for social harmony. The suite of gods that came with such beliefs had many benefits. While most of these systems had an over-ruling Big Kahuna god (Odin, Zeus, Jupiter, Brahman, etc.), those gods were rarely called upon for help. The lesser gods were much more approachable because they specialized. Each was the god of this or the god of that. If you wanted a good crop of olives this coming season, a believing Greek didn’t go to Ares, the God of War for that; they went to Demeter, the goddess of the harvests. So, there was a built-in incentive to learn all about the appropriate gods and how to beseech them. Also, since there were so many gods and goddesses, there was no Problem of Gender of just the one god. Both feminine and masculine qualities were recognized in gods.

And, if there was a drought, or crop failure, or devastating storm while at sea, the big god didn’t get blamed for that. The smaller gods were notoriously capricious and it never shocked anyone when one of these acted up. As a consequence, there was no “Problem of Evil” to deal with. There was little to no conflict (jealousy, yes; open conflict no) between faiths; many coexisted side-by-side. Like I said, social harmony, much valued by the Romans and all other empires.

Along comes Christianity, a form of monotheistic Judaism on steroids, and all of a sudden, things were quite different. Jews and Christians did not tolerate other religions at all. They refused to acknowledge the divinities of any of the Roman emperors, which was the primary cause of their persecutions by the Romans. The Romans thought them more than a little problematic because of this, so why embrace them?

I suspect Constantine was trying mightily to hold a shaky Roman empire together and thought that bringing Christianity into the fold might normalize their relations with the state. Basically, taking an unruly, more and more powerful group, and co-opting them. (Christianity was not adopted as the state religion of Rome until later. Constantine made it a state religion of Rome.)

The problems inherent in harmonizing a monotheistic religion, though, were quite great. As far as the people were concerned, if there were only one god, then that god was responsible for all of the bad things that happened as well as the good things (aka the Problem of Evil).

The Catholic Church (and all other Christian churches) solved this problem by making the veneer of monotheism so thin as to be almost invisible. Christians, for examples, had more than a few wars over the creation of the trinity: three gods in one! These are not three gods! There can only be one god, so these three … well, it’s complicated. There are not just three versions or manifestations or disguises of the one god. Zeus could walk the Earth as a bull or swan, and still be Zeus; now that was a disguise. The Trinity was and is … a mystery … three gods of one essence, whatever the heck that means. (I think it means “one, not three,” and nothing else.)

Because there was only one god, one had to approach the “all mighty” for even the most trivial of favors, the things always done by demigods in the polytheistic religions. So, Christianity (and Judaism) invented all kinds of god helpers. There were angels and archangels and cherubim, seraphim, and whatnot. What are these other than demi-gods? And to cover the Problem of Evil, Satan was invented. Here is a god if there ever was one. Imagine a being responsible for all of the evil, temptation, and lies, and Republican politics in the entire world … but He is not a god, nope; there is only one god. In any polytheistic suite of gods, Satan would be a major god.

Then there are the Saints. Christians scoff at Roman emperors deifying themselves. (Actually, they had to be dead first, so they had people to do that form them … there were forms to be filled out, rituals and sacrifices to do, etc.) What are saints but deified humans?

St. Brigit of Ireland is apparently a “patron” saint of Ireland, which is another way to say “important” and “popular.” Brigit started out as a Celtic god and ends up being a Catholic saint, serving the exact same purpose: providing a mechanism to appeal to the god(s) for favors. Why bother “Him” if you can pray to a saint to get a small job done.

So, Christianity is “monotheistic” in name only. In its structures, even the Protestant structures with no saints and whatnot, it is still quite polytheistic. This is why Yahweh/Jesus cannot do away with Satan, even though He created Satan. To do so would give the people no source for all of the evil in the world other than Yahweh/Jesus.

Always give the people what they want, otherwise they will turn on you. This is an inherent principle in the structure of all scams. The scam is to appear to give them what they want, without actually giving them anything. A mob “protection” racket is a prime example. For just a small or maybe large fee, the mob will protect your business. Who will they be protecting your business from? The mob, of course.

Some wonder why I spend so much time discussing religion in a class war blog. I do so because religion is one of the, if not the, primary control mechanisms by which the “elites” extract wealth from the masses (us). The current mainstream religion of the U.S. insists that each of us is weak and sinful and can only be saved by turning over all of our decisions to them. Saved from whom? Guess.

And the primary message is that when you die, you will be rewarded and your enemies punished but, whatever you do now while you are alive, just don’t rock the boat. Too may elites are dependent upon your passivity! Remember, you are unworthy … as one evangelist puts it “God only requires from you the honesty to admit that you are morally and spiritually a failure. You can come to Christ just as you are.” He will accept scum like you, but only if you accept someone else controlling your life. Their class (the religious and secular elites) are making war on our class (the hoi polloi/you and me) and their religion is a tool of the oppressors.

A Note on Original Sin Many Christians believe in Original Sin as the source of mankind’s sinfulness. Sin is defined as a transgression of the law of their god. But the Bible describes what is called the War of the Angels, who rebelled against God’s will by refusing to bow down to mankind on the occasion of the creation of man. So, how original could Adam and Eve’s sin be if there were angels transgressing God’s law well before their “fall?” For those who therefore claim that Adam’s sin must have come first; if that were so why would God demand his angels, his perfect heavenly angels, bow down to such sinful creatures? It seems a stupid idea, no?

It seems, rather, that disobedience of Yahweh’s will was commonplace, not something that was so heinous that it should become heritable by all humans … unless, unless you wanted to beat people’s spirits down so low they would jump at a chance of salvation by doing what you tell them to do. (Luigi and Salvatore, your local protection insurance payment collectors, would be proud.)

11 Comments »

  1. Under polytheism, people were quite tolerant of other people’s gods, which made for social harmony.

    Never thought of it that way, but you’re right. Absolutely right. That’s really quite interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by john zande — December 29, 2017 @ 10:41 am | Reply

    • I has an original thought from time to time … (aka rarely). It just seemed to me that the monotheistic religions took all of the features of a polytheistic religion and called them monotheistic. From that point it becomes a bit of a Monty Python routine a la the “Argument Sketch.” Or possibly a Carrollesque ” ​ The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things. The question is, said Humpty Dumpty, which is to be master – that’s all.”

      On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 10:41 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 29, 2017 @ 10:59 am | Reply

    • I vote we bring back polytheism! Obamalama will be my God of choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Anony Mole — December 29, 2017 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  2. I know you consider religion as a factor in economic system, but the reverse is true as well and it may explain why a monotheistic religion came to dominate. A monotheistic religion is a religious monopoly corporation, that maximizes the profits of the church, as opposed to the situation when multiple churches and temples compete for the followers. Can you imagine a temple of Zeus, or Juno, or Seth, or Ganesh, levying a 10% tax on all income of those who come to pray there? Well, a monotheistic religion can, because they know there isn’t any other deity you can pray to – even all those saints are merely subordinates of Yahweh and Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by List of X — December 29, 2017 @ 11:21 am | Reply

    • Actually, I didn’t wonder why a religion would turn monotheistic, as Judaism did (clearly described in the Bible). The motivations are very simple: greed and power. My question is why Rome would embrace such a thing, seeing as how they wanted the power to themselves and not in the Christian churches, which they considered unstable.

      I do not at all disagree with your assessment. Just like the Mafia. staying in the “neighborhood,” limited “profits,” so expand they did. A monotheistic religion, claiming to be the one true religion (how could they not if there were only one god), cannot tolerate competition, so the others must go … and all of those offerings … just send them over here.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 29, 2017 @ 11:27 am | Reply

  3. Gods helpers and 3 in one is a great comparison. “The unknown god” was there too, and Christians believe you can be used too for his purpose. Even if you don’t want to Steve, you can be an angel.

    Like

    Comment by jim- — December 29, 2017 @ 11:46 am | Reply

    • Well, I have eaten both angel’s food cake and deviled eggs, so I am conflicted on this.

      On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 11:46 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 29, 2017 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  4. My personal opinion of the older Roman times, polytheism, was that when they took over some new territory and saw the gods of the people they had defeated, they’d say, who is this god? The newly conquered folks would say, for example; “that’s George, he’s our god of the wood lands.” The Romans might reply, “Hey, he looks like our god of the woodlands, Fred.” They’d all sit down together, round the old camp fire and say, George, Fred, who cares, one is the same as the other. A woodlands god by any name is still a woodlands god. Yes, I do think things were nicer, religion wise back then.
    It always struck me as funny how the stain doG could not do away with the devil/Satan. Not powerful enough? See, it was me and my ‘bad questions” that nearly got me excommunicated from the nasty Lutheran church. I have been so much happier ever since I quit that crap and just accepted the fact that my life has been/will be hard and then I will die. Back into the nothingness from where I came. Where is that? Beats me and no, I don’t care. IF there is anything after this life is done, I am certain it will be a surprise. I do hope hell exists though. In my 70 years in this life, so many folks have told me I should go there, I really do feel the need to atlas go check it out. At least I won’t need cold weather clothes there. I bet within a week of shoveling coal into the furnace old Satan will be on the phone ordering air conditioning. No way can he out stubborn a former US Marine of German ancestry.
    Oh, I am NOT being sarcastic in any of this comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — December 29, 2017 @ 11:47 am | Reply

    • Coming in clear as a bell, Magnifikat! It has always fascinated me that the religion of “peace and love” would be so focused on separation and error and killing one’s enemies. Yahweh, said “Kill them; wipe them out!” But Jesus said “Turn the other cheek.” And I am supposed to believe that Yahweh and Jesus are “one.” Right. Al;l this does is provide cover for any damned thing we want to do.

      If our soldiers are given rules of engagement that vague, it could only result in disaster for those soldiers, yet we sit in nice tidy rows saluting and saying “yes, sir!” to these morons. Something wrong with us if we continue.

      On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 11:47 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 29, 2017 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  5. Great post Steve.

    Now that you’re on a roll… equate monotheism with capitalism.

    Many gods = harmony. Love it!

    Many — One — None
    Good — Bad — Good

    Like

    Comment by Anony Mole — December 29, 2017 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

    • Capitalism is the worship of wealth … solely, so I guess you could classify it as monotheistic.

      The problem with capitalism comments is most focus on how it starts. Instead we should look at how it ends. It is not pretty. Capitalism is a mechanism by which greedy people can express their greed … at the expense of everyone else. If you value self-expression above all else, then capitalism is great … uh, if you are also greedy.

      On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 8:39 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 29, 2017 @ 9:31 pm | Reply


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