We read of how ancient civilizations would worship many gods, and we call this worship pantheism. We approach these people with a curious sarcasm. On one hand, we marvel at how they seemed to worship so many things yet, on the other hand, we smirk at precisely that seeming desire to deify everything. How foolish and exaggerated they may seem to us! After all, if you make a god out of everything, do you not end up with no god at all? We feel the frustration one feels when asking a friend to choose a favorite Broadway show, only to receive the answer of ten favorite shows. Cannot this person rank, choose, or at least prioritize anything? It almost seems like a cop out, an excuse for not choosing at all, yet having the luxury of pretending to choose at all.
However, I suggest that we have never left the quaint halls of pantheism, that we are no better, and probably at lot worse, than those ancients who made cows, birds, the wind, the sea, and who knows what else into gods. So-called modern faith is suffering from a relentless slide into the slippery slope which employs a sinister ignorance in the service of a deeper evil. It begins by cleverly shifting from a loving God to a merciful God to a compassionate God to a non-judgmental God and, finally, to a happy God no matter what we do.
In fact, in a devilishly fiendish ploy, this modern moral cancer manages to worship such a compassionate and merciful God, to the increasingly subtle exclusion of a tough love God, that we are eventually left with nothing but a God who accepts everything, no matter what, in an unconditional embrace. I suggest that this form of rationalization, of respecting so much that all respect is lost, is a pantheism worse than that practiced by the ancients.
In order to embrace and respect everything, you have to indirectly and subtly view everything as worthy of embracing and respecting to its full. The notion of absolute truths and clear standards and measures of behavior contradicts this relentless drive to avoid judgment, to respect and thus embrace increasingly wide swaths of conduct. In short, when we dilute God in a sea of smiles and winks, and in a pool of subjective notions of what is right, do we not worship all of the divergent paths and principles equally with God, for how else could we rationally justify giving equal weight to all of these different approaches and codes of conduct?
I propose then, that we have not outgrown the pantheism practiced by the ancients. Rather, we have merely morphed it into an infinitely more subtle, subjective, selfish, arrogant, presumptuous, insolent, self-absorbed, and rationalized version of that very same pantheism. While the ancient pantheism we mock worships something beyond oneself, we worship self. While that practice at least bowed to a higher power beyond self, we firmly grasp all power in ourselves. While the ancients at least respected the idea that a higher power could determine and guide them, our higher power is ourselves and we determine that we need no guidance beyond our own vision and insight.
Our present pantheism is the worship of everything we wish, believe, and plan, to the point of total exclusion of Almighty involvement. Nothing is wrong as long as we have a good reason for doing it and, since we make the reasons, our reasons are always good. At the end of the day, and our lives, however, the tragic part is that, in our drive to guide our own destiny through our own means, we may ultimately doom ourselves to an eternal visit, warts and all, with the very self that we worship.
2016 Gabriel Garnica