Friday, March 13, 2009

Top 10 Gods

Most people form some kind of belief system about their surroundings. This of course is because we can't possibly know everything about those surroundings. We hunger for rhyme and reason in a seemingly random and chaotic world. Yes,we have science but for now I am going to ignore my atheist readers and assume that there is in fact at least 1 God. What you say? You believe in several? Why not. Well the truth is, the God you believe in is very likely the one that your parents brought you up with. Not too many of you will convert to other faiths, and some of you will lose your faith all together.

The funny thing about deity is there really can only be one RIGHT way that things are. I can't for the life of me figure out how everyone could be right. On the other hand it's pretty easy to come up with a model where everyone is wrong (there are you atheists happy now?). So I'm going to list my top 10 Gods. This is of course based on my personal experience and not their relative merits or powers. So the actual GOD may be a little miffed about my estimations. If God would like to correct me, then He/She/They is more than welcome. This will mark my first top 10 list that will not have numbers because I don't want to put anyone's false God up against any one else's true God.

Also, I will not be paying any deference to mono-theistic Gods over poly-thestic. The truth is, there are a lot more multiple God belief systems. Granted most of these were available in antiquity and currently have lost ground to the mono-theistic Gods.

Heavenly Father - AKA God the Father, The Great I am. This is the God of Christianity. There are a lot of names for him. No matter what your Judeo/Christian stripe, The Father is consistent and unchanging. Now there are the other 2 in what's known as the Godhead. Namely Jesus and the Holy Ghost. This triumvirate combine to make the all powerful purpose of Christianity. There is no Origin story for God the Father, but quite an interesting one about his son. Also, there is no real mention of who the Holy Ghost is, or what he does. As the more enigmatic of the three, the Holy Ghost is the part of the Godhead that remains somewhat aloof when it comes to mankind. We can feel his effects, but other than that there have been no real public appearances as opposed to the other 2 members, and no mention as to his ultimate whereabouts. Chronicled in oral as well as scriptural narritave this God has many different religions devoted to him among the worlds major ones Catholicism and Judaism. This was the God I was brought up with and by virtue of that the one I most identify with. I hope I don't get him mad with this discussion, but he seems to get mad a lot, so I won't blame him.

Brahma - Brahma is the creator of the Hindu belief. He is also many times mentioned as a part of a trio but for a different purpose. The other two are Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. The Hindu belief system is rife with interesting Gods and Goddesses as well as evil personages that approximate many of our own human frailties. At times the tables are turned on the forces of good and Vishnu will take on a human form to battle evil to restore Balance. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva each have parts to play and are not without conflict among themselves. Brahma originally had 5 heads but at one point lost one of them because he lied to Vishnu causing Shiva to become angry. These 3 major gods represent the cycle of the earth as Brahma will create, Vishnu will preserve and Shiva will destroy. There are more interesting stories and traditions connected with Hinduism than I could count. I list this God because I had a friend that I worked with that was Hindu and told me many of them. I found them absolutely fascinating and would always bug him for another Hindu story.

Cthulhu - I mention this guy because he's not actually a God at all. But when I first saw his name, I thought he was associated with some cult religion and not just a made up deity in a fictional work. Cthulhu has a lot of different spellings and is sprung from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft. I seriously doubt that's his real name. Apparently He's a squid like creature with a mean outlook on life and his followers are pretty cult like. Sure he's not a REAL deity, but neither are all the others except one unless it's more of a club kind of thing. I've never read about Cthulhu, but It appears to be an inside joke that I should become more aware of.

Quetzalcoatl - Pre Columbian feathered snake God. Creator of all things on earth and in the air he was pretty cool. I don't know that there are any cultures that still worship him, but I'm sure he was worth a sacrifice or two. Seems like the legend of KETZ-ul-KWA-tul for those of you without a pronunciation guide talks of the serpent God transforming himself into a white man with a beard. Cortez heard of this legend and proclaimed himself the great snake God made man and ransacked the South American tribes. I hope Quetzalcoatl exists and is still kicking Cortez's butt in the afterlife. My first personal exposure to this God came about as an affirmation of my own religion's voracity. The claim that there was a God that bore the visage of a bearded white man on the American continent dovetailed nicely with my religions theology as I was growing up.

Odin - Father of Thor, God of thunder and son of Borr and Grandson of Buri. Odin is the recognized God of Norse paganism. My exposure to Odin and Norse mythology came in the form of comic books and Thor of the Avengers. I understand that Odin was and may still be very real to some people, but to have a God whose strong points appear to be spears and horses is pretty cool. Also a God of poetry, death and prophecy, Odin seems to be a guy you wouldn't want to cross. Odin is the first God I had heard of that had a wife. I know now that many Hindu Gods had wives and so did other faiths, but Odin was the first that I had heard of. If you are good, you can meet Odin in Valhalla. If you are a fan of Wagnerian opera, you can follow a Valkyrie there but you MUST promise not to sing 'kill da wabbit' as Odin tires of that one.

Zeus - Greek God of Gods. Father of Aries and a whole host of other Greek gods, Zeus is the King of Gods. According to his mythology, Zeus was the youngest of the children of Chronus and Rhea. Greek gods were the first exposure I had to polytheism as well as God stories that played out more like soap operas than divine tales of origin. Apparently Zeus was quite a playa. Of course anyone that carried a thunderbolt around and was willing to use it was probably going to catch the ladies eye. I guess it worked for Hera among others. My most full understanding of the Greek God system didn't come from school however, it came from a great movie by Ray Harryhausen called Clash of the Titans. Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and the eye of the tiger where others of the same style. mmmmmmm stop motiony goodness.

Ogdoad - Egyptian spring of Gods. We are all exposed to Egyptian gods when we are in grade school. Any culture that creates giant stone cats with human faces and giant pyramids will have some pretty interesting cultural aspects. I wasn't actually exposed to this God-group but rather it's offspring. Ogdoad is the name of 4 pairs of male and female Gods that are said to be the wellspring of Egyptian deity. I only knew Egyptian mythology through Isis. Or more specifically the Shazam! Isis hour that was on TV just before I had to mow the lawn on Saturday back when all TV was free (and I had to mow lawns). This hot chick that was a librarian would utter the words 'Oh Mighty Isis' and immediately turn into Isis. She could fly and control the weather. Very, very nice. I didn't mind Shazam! either, but I definitely tuned in for Isis.

Allah - I will attempt to be very careful when describing Allah. I know that there are a great many people that follow the Islamic tradition and I really don't wish to offend, so I will treat Allah with the same care that I treat any of the current Gods. The interesting thing about Allah is that it is actually a generic term used for deity, much like our word God refers more to an office than to a person. I had heard of Allah when my parents came back from a trip to the Middle East and told me about how everyone talks about the will of Allah. I later found out that Allah's relationship to the God of Christianity is very much like two families fighting over the estate of a dead father. Both sides of a family will have many claims to an older passed patriarch and their stories will be many and very convincing. Both Deities have been used as an excuse for a lot of violence in the world as well as for the authorship of peace. I will stop there because it is very disrespectful to describe any of the characteristics of Allah so I will not. But I will say that he seems an awful lot like the God of David. Maybe they are brothers.

Jupiter - Roman God of Gods. Obviously my exposure to the Roman gods was through the names of the planets. Jupiter = Zeus, Mars = Aries, It was really handy. Of course at the time I had no idea that the planets got their names from Roman Gods, but when I found out I wondered why the Greeks were given the short shrift when it came to planet names. Greek Gods seemed to corner the market in every other venue, why not the naming of heavenly bodies? Who knows. He was known as Jupiter or Jove (as in By Jove he's got it!). Jupiter's kids Remus and Romulus were supposed to have created Rome which is a fair distinction to other Gods since they don't usually go around creating cities for us to live in. Since they never saw fit to make any others, maybe they decided that we didn't appreciate the one they made enough.

Baal - Bad Guy God of the Bible and actually named Hadad and was a God for the other Team when it came to the Hebrews. Baal was the God of the Carthage region and would easily have been the God of Hannibal who lumbered over to Rome with his elephants to cause a lot of trouble. Like God, Baal was more of a generic term for deity. Because I was raised in the Christian tradition I would of course become acquainted with Baal through stories in the Bible. Baal was the God that was proven wrong time and time again in the Old Testament. Baal in Christianity is seen often as a demon God and not as someone elses genuine belief. Baal is also derivative in the name Beelzebub which is also noted in the Bible to be the Devil himself. Well, you can't have the good without the bad, after all, who is Flash Gordon without Ming the Merciless?

This one appeared to be kind of weak, but at least it got here. It was particularly hard to put together because I really don't like to offend people and yet I felt compelled to write it. Another shout out to my regular readers that I forgot in the last post. Namely Sassy, my distant cousin Joseph, and Cami who is my only actual official follower. Thanks all and I'll see you in a fortnight.


Anonymous said...

This was a great one! You have to stop being so humble about your writing. Your opinions are great and the pictures always add intelligent comedy.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I agree with Steph. I can see your humility is intact, but your opinions are not only entertaining but informative. And, yes, the pictures add the final touch. Great work!!!! Really great work!!

DIO said...

Mark, I agree with Steph. I can see your humility is intact, but your opinions are not only entertaining but informative. And, yes, the pictures add the final touch. Great work!!!! Really great work!!

Tiffany said...

I laughed at your Allah~ You are my creative one! I enjoy you. No worries on offending anyone ever we all know that you gots da BIG heart!!! Keep writing we loves it!