Posted by: religionthink | August 20, 2007

The Murder of God

The Murder of God

By A D. Wayman

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”1

The above quote by Nietzsche touches on one of the main issues possibly facing religious thought today. It is a question of how to transform the religion into something we can identify with. Is religion about emotion, churches, the asking of favors, group therapy and the many other uses we have selfishly used the deity for? By confining the religion to these shallow means we all have been murders and it is these very selfish desires that have killed the gods and closed their paths to true understanding. There are many murder weapons that we have constructed, both knowingly and unknowingly.

The anthropologist Joseph Campbell spent most of his life time explaining how the myth transforms through times and how the metaphors are pathways that are well trod. They are the road signs that direct through life’s challenges, adventures, and battles. Many however mistake them for the end result and fail to push on. It is at this point of the trip that divisions are created and fences are constructed to separate the perceived truth from the false and the perceived evil from the good. It is this polarized world view that possibly may be one murder weapon that we have used.

Another murder weapon used against the deity is the failure to view common themes on a global scale. Some are quick to label themes of a belief system outside their group as pagan or false but fail to notice that the same may exist with in their own. Others, upon noting these themes, write volumes of material to justify why the theme is acceptable in their own belief system and not in others. Such a fence enhances divisions among groups of people and hinders the contribution of abstract expressionism, which religion happens to be just one aspect of the whole.

Lastly, another murder weapon is ignorance of history and culture. Many times modern theology is forced on texts, without knowing the political, social, religious, and cultural environment the writings come from. Many texts are changed, rewritten, reworded, or reinterpreted, to support such theological view which is then passed off as the original.

The question remains on how to reconstruct the metaphor in a way that is relevant to ourselves and to our community. No matter how hard one tries to fence in such themes they tend to flow over the dam` in other forms of expression. From Marduk and his fight with Tiamat to Harry Potter fighting the serpent in the Chamber of Secrets, themes spill over and are expressed abstractly in a meaningful way no matter how much the established orthodox views of religion fight it. The fix is not to try to contain such a force but let it flow like water in our minds and lives. Because once contained, we have contributed a fatal thrust to the deity with our sword of ego. Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

1. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

(A. D. Wayman is the author and creator of http://www.religionthink.com)

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