Saturday, January 9, 2021

Gods in Context

The history of religion might be
Better served by better context.
Each temporary winner emerged

From a backdrop more camouflaged
Then later ages could recognize—
Yahweh’s bloodlust and weird requests

Would have been the common aspect
Of his worship in his early context.
Plenty of sacrifice going around,

Plenty of wholesale exterminations
At least fantasized. When he asks
Abraham to cough up Isaac, ask not

Why—all those gods those days asked
For grief like that, see Agamemnon—
It’s that he’s only testing, that’s the twist.

His only real novelty at the time was this—
You’ll be my only people forever, so long
As you keep me your only god. Novel.

And like all novels, it goes on, one turn
At a time. Later gods get their contexts
From earlier gods, and the plot thickens

Or thins, depending on which tricks win.
Leviticus strikes even evangelicals, those
Monobiblioists, as uncomfortably strange,

As apocalyptic conflict bothers others,
And what’s startling in Vedantic hymns
Or Confucian ancestral obligations

To newcomers now may well have been
Their most unexceptional aspects then.
A word to the wise, and to prophets—

The little spin you place on an old faith
May be what lifts your creed to replace it,
But the last faith standing, like the sole

Remaining hominin, author of all faiths,
Fantasies, and unrequited lusts for magic,
The last of the bipeds, will feel alien, tragic.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.