Thoughts on Deities and Old Lore
If you’d met me when I was a teenager, you’d probably hardly recognize me. I was a product of my conservative Christian upbringing - homophobic, sexist, and cringeably White at times (I might still be that last one occasionally, though I try not to be). I look back on some of the things I wrote and find myself shocked and embarrassed. Oh my stars. Was I really that big of an ass? (Yes.)
Sure, some things are the same. I’m still overly emotional at times. I flip out at things people consider ‘minor’ issues. But ye gods, I think if past me could see present me, past me would faint from shock.
This is why I’m always a little leery when people bring up centuries-old stories to “prove” how deities should act now, or how we can absolutely, definitely expect them to act. There is evidence that gods change. Even Yahweh, who stubbornly insists that he’s the same today as he’s always been, has shown undeniable signs of change over the years.
Furthermore, I suspect that many of the gods will have to change if they expect to get and keep followers these days. I’m sure many of them will be stubborn old codgers, but these ones will probably end up mostly alone.
I’m also leery of ‘prophecies’ that say that say that this and that must happen in some end-of-the-world finale. I’ve seen prophecies that describe the immediate future and relatively small events come true with startling, detailed precision, but predictions of major Earth-shattering events have had a 100% rate of failure thus far. Jesus was supposed to come back and collect his followers sometime in the first century, before or after spectacularly trashing the world depending on who you ask. Ragnarok, if you take it literally, is long past its own due date - remember, not all of the major players were gods with access to Idunn’s golden apples.
It is also my suspicion that the gods are what we influence them to be. Is it coincidence that Yahweh suddenly started picking up Zoroastrian and Hellenic ideas when the Hebrews had contact with the Iranians and Greeks respectively?
It’s another suspicion that there may be multiple versions of the same deities. I am not unconvinced that there are hundreds, possibly thousands of Jesus of Nazareths roaming around by now. The Jesus that a liberal talks to might very well be a whole other Jesus than the one a conservative talks to. Yahweh and Jehovah might very well be two different characters, and not in the gnostic sense. I very strongly suspect that the Lucifer many pagans deal with is not the same entity Christians know as the Devil.
Take all of this as you will.