June 12, 2014

Brett Finds God

All of my life I have been an avowed atheist -- well, at the very least, I'm unaffiliated from any run-of-the-mill Gods. 

Yet, I have read countless times about the benefits of praying.  Praying helps you focus your thoughts, and helps you live up to your own ideals.  Nevertheless, for the longest time, I thought this was one of the downsides of atheism:  No praying.

Then, a few years ago, I decided to forge ahead with praying anyway.

Nothing In Common With "Capital-G" God
I quickly concluded that if I were going to pray, it certainly would not be to the Judeo-Christian God.  I have virtually nothing in common with that Guy.   I mean, how boring is He: totally all-powerful, all-knowing, all everything. I cannot relate to Somebody like that whatsoever.

I need a lower-case-g god:  A god who is more human, more flawed, with strengths and weaknesses, not one who checks every goddamn box in the Awesome column.  Not somebody for whom I gotta capitalize my frickin pronouns when I refer to Him.

God Shopping
I'll Pass
So I went god shopping. I inspected a few of the Hindu gods that had promise -- but nothing panned out.  I discovered that I have a natural aversion to praying to any god with any of the following:
  • A trunk
  • More than two arms
  • A pastel complexion
Then I investigated the Christian saints: So lame.  Christian saints are to mythology what Thomas the Tank Engine is to children's toys -- they took something that could be cool and made it uptight and stodgy. 

But then I hit the treasure trove: the Greek gods!

Here's my take on each God:

Asshole Divorcee
Zeus:  The ultimate father figure, but more of a selfish, divorced dad than Mike Brady.  Too philandering and bossy -- kind of an asshole.  If he were a mortal, I have little doubt he'd drive a Corvette, date twenty-something waitresses well into his late 40s, and occasionally have chlamydia.

Hera:  Meanwhile, if Zeus is the prototypical divorced dad, then Hera is the bitter ex-wife.  It seems like she spends all of her time bitching about Zeus (not that he doesn't deserve every bit of it), rather than just getting on with her life.   Hardly inspirational.

Achilles:  Sure, Achilles is a great warrior, but in kind of a single-dimensional way.  He doesn't really represent my values. Plus, do you know why Achilles sat out the first half of the Trojan war? It was because Agamemnon filched his most attractive slave (Brisies) for himself! I could hardly worship somebody who took sex slaves in the first place, much less was happy to stand by while a war raged, because his harem was a bit light.

Hercules:  Great, you're really strong, we get it.  Maybe I'll pray to him if the lid gets stuck on the pickle jar again, or if I want to carry three boxes up from the basement in a single trip.   But otherwise I'll keep looking.

Attractive Dingbat
Aphrodite:  She's the stereotypical brainless hot chick, who almost got herself killed by a mortal (Diomedes) because she wasn't paying attention.  Put on some decent clothes and get a job, you trollop.

Hephaestus:  Not cool himself, per se, but he has all sorts of neat stuff:  he was the armorer for the gods, and makes some really slick weapons. But he himself is weird and moody.  Worshiping him would be like hanging out with a creepy kid just so that you can play his Xbox One.  Nope.

Paris / Helen of Troy:  Fuck no.  Choosing them would be like worshiping Jason Priestly or Shannon Doherty.  Out of the question.

Apollo / Ares:  I could never quite figure out Apollo, except for the fact that he was typically pissed about one thing or another. And Ares was even worse.  A bunch of meatheads, if you ask me.

Hades:  He's like a creepy goth kid, with whom nobody wants to hang out.  So he gets this angry dog (Cerebus) to make some sort of statement. Get a life.

God Found!
So far, I had no luck.  I needed a god who was strong, yet clever. Someone who could not rely on power alone, because in the real world, nobody can.  Someone who was cunning at times, but clearly had a very good heart.  Someone who did important things.  Someone I could relate to, and be inspired by.

At long last, I found my god -- or, as it turned out, goddess: Pallas Athena.

About Pallas Athena
Pallas Athena is the goddess of Just Warfare, which is awesome.  In other words, she fights, but she fights nobly.  Also, while she's not quite strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Ares (who is the primary god of war), she typically gets the best of him anyway.  

Totally Awesome
She's kind to mortals, and isn't always bitching about sacrifices, like some other gods I could mention.  Generally, she wants to avoid bloodshed, and tries to help the mortals to get along.

Her symbol is the owl, which is an awesome creature in its own right:  An owl is a quintessential predator, yet is known for its wisdom.  (Plus, have you ever seen an owl up close?  Man, those things are cool.)   It captures her spirit perfectly.

Oh,  and she's not some hussy.  Aphrodite or Hera were always tramping around with the other gods, or seducing mortals, but not Athena.  Hephaestus tried to throw himself at her once, but he was no match for her, and just ended up embarrassing himself.  She very well might be a lesbian.

Even how she was born is awesome: She sprang from Zeus's head in full battle armor, and pretty much had a not-to-be-fucked-with demeanor from the get go.

Worship 101
I'm still figuring out how to best worship her.  I'm treading a bit lightly -- I certainly don't want to piss her off.  But I hope she doesn't hold me to ancient Greek standards, as I can hardly afford to be sacrificing hecatombs, like they did back then:  I looked it up: a hecatomb is 100 cattle.   My wife would be pissed if I bought 100 cattle and then slaughtered them in the back yard.

But I did buy a statue of her decked out for battle, with this awesome owl.  I pray to it now and then, when I need strength or focus -- like before a big presentation at work.  I like to think that she's rooting for me, too.

However, if you ever hear that I've been struck dead by a bolt of lightning, you can conclude that I either offended her, or one of the other gods heard I was talking smack.  For my sake, please do NOT forward this blog to any dieties.

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