A guy in my dorm told me you shouldn't talk about Religion and Politics because they're controversial (this I'd heard before). But then he added you shouldn't talk about the weather either because it's boring. So that's me off to a good start. I'd always thought talk about the weather was what one did to avoid a silence that would be even worse. I'd never heard weather-talk trashed like that before, without qualification. Oh well.
Hadrian's Arch exerted a vivid hold over me as I ambled around it, imagining I was a Greek dignitary, or Caesar. I recommend such imaginings in Athens and Rome. How else can you enter into the spirit of such places? I made various monumentalist arm raising gestures which made me feel sublime and lofty within, and which had an unknown effect on the strangers that surrounded me.
I have pondered the glory that was Greece and what it must have meant. Were these people really less degenerate than we are, as Nietzsche for one supposed? If so why, and how precisely?
Meditating on the generous capaciousness of the polythesitic set up, I've been sensing how this must have been allied to a less rigidly focused, tunnel visioned mindset than we see in MonoGodland. Yet it's also clear that the Greek Gods of Olympus are not creator Gods. They are not different from, nor do they exist prior to, the Universe. They are created and fallible beings like us, different only in their degree of power and the not so small matter that they refuse to die. Identitfied anthropormophically with particular human qualities and emotions, their actions, passions and absurd caprices make sense of, giving reason and coherence to, human collective and subjective experiences. In this way, it seems, their function is to explain and elucidate this normal everyday human reality that we seem perpetually to undergo. Such a role can not be imagined for the God of Abraham, who is concerned to challenge and change human reality by exhorting it to become something different by pressurising his worshippers, by both promise and threats, to act differently in general, both towards him and one another. Here, history is not a circle, the eternal recurrence of the same that wants mythopoetic explanation; history instead is an arrow, with a beginning, a middle and an end, a process we're stuck in the middle of, a destiny awaiting resolution, an expedition not yet home.
How is this difference reflected in the different degrees of alienation or intimacy humans must feel towards the 'Olympian Twelve', and the Abrahamic Creator God of the currently reigning Monotheistic Religions? In one sense it must be much easier to love, or at least relate to, a wisdom showering Athena, or a pregnancy protecting Artemis, a shamelessly warmongering Ares, or a musically prophesying Apollo, a wine pouring Dionysus or a draconian womanising Zeus, than to relate to or love an imageless, non-human all powerful God, who will nonetheless not let his absence of a personality get in the way of his imposing all kinds of laws and duties and prohibitions upon us that affect and penetrate the most personal dimensions of our lives. On the other hand, the Olympian Twelve, so long as we give them the appropriate devotion and sacrifice, don't much care for us individually -unless they happen to find us personally attractive. Whilst some might find that lack of interest liberating and reassuring, others might feel it callous and insensitive. At the end of the day the Olympian Twelve, like us, are the abject prisoners of fate. They therefore can give us less to hope for than can the Abrahamic God, that is if you believe in him and, more to the point, if you believe you are on his right side.
It seems that the difference might boil down to a question of identification and hope. Whilst the Olympian Twelve are easy to relate to and love, in that they share in and somehow glorify the human experience, they can offer little in the way of personal salvation or deliverance or enlightenment, in terms, that is, of a transportation to a whole other world or dimension of reality. Such a deliverance, such a salvation, however, seems central to the Abrahamic path, but when we think about what exactly this God is we are dealing with, our minds and even our hearts might draw a blank -and this quite simply is because this God is not human (a fact you might consider a good, a bad or a neutral quality about him).
Now of course you might want to argue that this Abrahamic God becoming a real, live, walking human in the person of Jesus Christ changes things somewhat. But that, as it is said, is a whole other chestnut- ballgame- scenario. At least today anyway.
I must go, people wait for the computers.