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Featured Affinity for Polytheism?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Israel Khan, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    When it comes to religion, my main area of expertise is in Biblical based religions. I left the Jehovah's Witnesses about two years ago (I think. Can't remember) who are very devoted to their god and study the bible quite extensively. Having studied the Bible, I was most drawn to the prophetic books which are like creative puzzles, using imagery, metaphor and symbolism to convey a point. I still enjoy reading them.

    After I left I started reading an in depth book about Ancient Egyptian beliefs and am now reading a book on Hindu myth. I am finding that I am way more fascinated by learning about those beliefs than I am by the Judaism and Christianity, which I don't find colourful enough. Even more so with Islam. They seem hollow whereas polytheism seems rich. I think that this is because they are so dogmatic about what is truth, whereas with polytheism, as far as I know, does not care so much about which god is true or not, but rather uses mythology to convey underlying truths about the world in a creative way, using the same tactic as the Biblical prophetic books, which also reveal underlying truths creatively.

    So what I am pondering is, why do I feel such an affinity to polytheism vs monotheism? Is it maybe because I am a creative person, an artist, avid reader and graphic designer, so I like creative descriptions and cryptic puzzles that I must figure out? Or is there some other reason why?

    Do any of you guys feel the same way or am I the only one who has this conundrum?
     
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  2. Ray Warren

    Ray Warren They/Them

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    I feel the same way.
     
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  3. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    That makes sense. :) I am not surprised.
     
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  4. Harel13

    Harel13 Nin-Jew Master
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    Is it real affinity or do you just feel like it's fascinating because it's exotic, foreign and different?
     
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  5. Wild Fox

    Wild Fox Well-Known Member

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    It is real affinity and feel right. Definitely no foreign like the monotheistic religion's and the opposite of exotic. The Polytheism I follow feels natural as nature itself and not emotionally dystonic as when I experienced monotheistic religion.
     
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  6. Harel13

    Harel13 Nin-Jew Master
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    That's fine, but I was asking @Israel Khan. :)
     
  7. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I've had the same experience from a very young age. Abrahamic mythology was just never appealing to me and at the time I wasn't conditioned by my culture to recognize there were any alternatives. Even though I was aware of other mythologies, they weren't presented as living religions or serious options for consideration so I ended up declaring myself an atheist and was pretty anti-theist/anti-religion to boot. It was pathetic and ignorant, but forgivable given the cultural context I grew up with.

    Studying theology and religion is complicated and hard; it doesn't get good coverage in public education (at least in my country). A lot of kids never learn how to approach mythology in particular, taking everything literally instead of understanding it is literature that conveys deeper truths. Part of that is because the dominant monotheisms have, for a few generations now, had a streak of literalism to them that dominates discourse. But in polytheism, such approaches are untenable if you spend time with the fragments of mythos we have. It is transparently mythos, not logos yet modern folks still approach it like logos anyway (see Metaphysical mistake | Karen Armstrong).

    Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess I'll end off by saying that being a polytheist in the West is difficult because of centuries-long oppression and erasure. It makes it far harder than it should be to build a devotional practice because the road map and all the signs were taken down, burnt, and buried. But those who like new religious movements aren't really the types to be dissuaded by the lack of sign posts, so here I am...
     
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  8. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    The range of belief under the title of "Hindu" is very broad and includes advaita, non-dual, beliefs.

    The later goes beyond monotheism to assert that only Brahman is real, the apparent world is an illusion and we are all not different from Brahman.

    Those of us who grew up in the West experienced a lot of "I'm right and those who disagree are going to hell" psychology and find that disagreeable if not revolting.

    The virtue of the East is tolerance for other views (with sadly religious hatred also involved with Muslims vs Hindus).
     
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  9. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    I have been thinking the same. It is kind of like exploring a new area of a profession. I think it might be also because I have been engulfed in the Bible for so long, and I know it as if it is second nature, that it might just be to me like what someone experiences when they have been at the same job for too long.

    But, then again, I do think that a root of the problem is that I have been involved or introduced to different groups in those religions that are too real world in their viewpoints and are strict when it comes to belief. For instance, I do not like fundamentalist Christianity besides Seventh Day Adventists because they go deep into types and anti-types, which I enjoy. I love the speculation. I think that I would be more interested in looking into Catholicism and its traditions than the rest because they have some mystery and philisophy I suspect to their doctrine and historical theology. With regards to Islam, only the Sufi's interest me, as I find Sunni Islam (at least the muslims in Cape Town) to only care about practice and not think about the why of it, and who practice but do not read their book or understand it.

    So I think that there is a pattern here. I like religions that allow exploration and there mythology is very fluid and philosophical or very speculative, rather than religions who say that they have the definite truth and shun the mystery and wider exploration.
     
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  10. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I would say that it feels natural. Not from a religious perspective but from a creative perspective with regards to me. To me monotheism seems forced, whereas polytheism allows for quite a bit of exploration.

    And here is another thing, I think that the stuff I am reading now engages my mind on an intellectual level much like the affect the prophetic books of the Bible have on me. For instance Revelations is my favourite book of the Bible and it is very symbolic. I have fun decrypting the possibilities with Christians.
     
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  11. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    I don't do God's but it i did they would probably be the best gods... and it would be plural.
     
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  12. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    It seems like Christianity and Islam are the religions causing this religious illiteracy in the education system. We still live in a predominantly monotheistic world where people are ignorant of alien religions and fear them. I have always been aware of other mythologies as I grew up with them, but I never knew their philosophical depth until recently.

    Studying theology and religion is indeed very difficult. But if you love it, you come to grips with it. What is sad is that many Monotheists tend to try and read other religious texts like they read thei own, which is, as you say, in the literal sense.

    I can imagine being a polytheist in the west is difficult. When I was a JW, preaching to others, I came across a lady who practiced paganism and she was very aggressive towards us. I guess it is because she was aware of how destructive monotheism has been (unless we speak of the Jews who keep to themselves and actively discourage people to convert) and that legacy still carries a sore spot.
     
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  13. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    I just recently learnt that Hinduism is very broad. I have had Hindu friends but we never spoke about the religion at all. I have come across a creation myth which made it seem that everything was made out of Brahman. (Are Brahma and Brahman the same?)

    I have noticed that polytheism is very tolerant of other polytheist religions, but historically I have noticed that there have always been tension between monotheism and polytheism. We all know the monotheist contention, but what is also interesting is that polytheists didn't like that monotheists only worshipped their one God and were not open to worshipping others. To them monotheists were atheists.
     
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  14. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    Neither do I. I see religion as mankind's attempt to understand the world, not that the gods are actually real. Mythology to me seems to be the precursor to science, and philosophy was the foundation of the mythos. They were stories meant to teach people deeper truths about what they perceived reality was.
     
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  15. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    With a quick change i can go with that.

    Perceived truths about reality.
     
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  16. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Before I found science fiction I read fairy tales, epics (in a children friendly retelling) (Niebelungen, Arthur, Illiad) and discovery stories (Da Gama, Cook, Magellan). The gods in the poly theistic epics are relatable characters, unlike the ******* of the monotheists. They have their flaws but they are understandable in their actions.

    (Btw.: Batman is the real superhero, not Superman.)
     
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  17. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    I was exposed to mythology, science fiction and fantasy all at once. One of my favourite shows was Hercules starring Kevin Sorbo. I also find the polytheistic gods relatable too.

    I agree with your last statement. Batman is awesome. That is why HE is in charge of the Justice League and not Superman. I have the Tower of Babel graphic novel in which Batmans plans beat the whole Justice League. Superman had the strength but Batman has the best mind.
     
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  18. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    i had a Kevin Sorbo as Herculese tee shirt and was wearing it on a visit to Herculaneum. The vendors went crazy for it. We visited again 3 days later to complete our look around. Every single vendors stall had Kevin Sorbo tee shirts.
     
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  19. Israel Khan

    Israel Khan Well-Known Member

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    I never had one but would buy one now. The guy was the best Hercules. I loved that show. It would be interesting to watch again 20 years later.
     
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  20. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    I used to watch it, it has recently been on one of the obscure channels as afternoon viewing. Very dated...
     
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