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Author Topic: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines  (Read 9305 times)

Lokabrenna

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Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« on: September 01, 2012, 05:29:27 pm »
I was going to put this in the TISI thread, but then I remembered there was a call for more serious discussions, so I thought I'd drop this here.

Put simply, lately I've noticed that one of my Facebook friends has this habit of treating deities like glorified vending machines. I'm sure you've all seen this, the sort of person who thinks that deities "owe them" something, the kind that decides that "deity X doesn't love me because they aren't around all the time", the kind of attitude that goes beyond reciprocity and straight into hubris (at least, from where I'm standing). Don't get me wrong, I think if a deity shows no signs of responding to you despite your making offerings, maybe you should look to a different deity, it's the 'me me me' attitude that's bugging the crap out of me! And I just want to say: "Look, some of us don't have the luxury of a godphone. Could you please quit whining about how deity X won't call like they're your S.O. and you reeeeeally want to go out on a date with them? Please?"

The thing is, I don't think there's anything I can do about it (myself and several of our mutual friends have tried talking to this person) but I could use some support. Can anyone relate? Maybe it would just be best if I just unfriended this person.

monsnoleedra

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 05:43:27 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;71844
I was going to put this in the TISI thread, but then I remembered there was a call for more serious discussions, so I thought I'd drop this here.

..


Wow.  I've had periods of years where a given god / goddess has not answered my prayers or offerings to them.  Periods where I hear nothing or feel anything only to get a resounding slap against the head when I look elsewhere from them.

I recall one period of many months where I though Hecate had left and I started to look around.  The next thing I knew, whap up beside the head and this intesne sense f "Your a big boy I shouldn't have to hold your hand all the time!"

Please don't take this wrongly but the way it's described almost makes it very Christianish in feel.  I pray to God and he has to listen and answer my prayers and let me know he is present in my life.  If he doesn't answer me then he doesn't love me type thing.

I admit it might be the way I view dieties is why I do not feel let down or left out if they don't acknowledge my offerings.  BUt I think they come and go as they see our need not as we would have them do due to our own reliance upon them.

A really poor analogy but in some ways I see the gods / goddesses and thier relationship to me like a flashlight in the closest.  I may go years and years without having a need to use it but it doesn't mean the flashlight is not there should I find I need it.  Nor does it mean I stop making offerings just as I wouldn't stop changing the batteries on a regular schedule.  To pull it out for any occurance where its not really needed just maks me dependent upon it and lessons my own depencies upon my own capabilites which can see me through day to day life.

Of course those are my views and opinons so may not be applicable to others.

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 07:45:57 pm »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;71851
"Your a big boy I shouldn't have to hold your hand all the time!"

 
THIS.

Although there certainly are people who are "god bothered" I don't think that's the norm, and constant contact isn't necessary for deity worship to be worthwhile. I know what it is I'm supposed to do. I think deity relationships can be like relationships between professor and student, or boss and employee. "Here is your work, now go get it done."

Perhaps this acquaintance of Lokabrenna's has insecurities about what they are supposed to be doing, or a constant need for validation, and so demand regular attention from the gods.

Maps

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 07:58:54 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;71844
I was going to put this in the TISI thread, but then I remembered there was a call for more serious discussions, so I thought I'd drop this here.

Put simply, lately I've noticed that one of my Facebook friends has this habit of treating deities like glorified vending machines. I'm sure you've all seen this, the sort of person who thinks that deities "owe them" something, the kind that decides that "deity X doesn't love me because they aren't around all the time", the kind of attitude that goes beyond reciprocity and straight into hubris (at least, from where I'm standing). Don't get me wrong, I think if a deity shows no signs of responding to you despite your making offerings, maybe you should look to a different deity, it's the 'me me me' attitude that's bugging the crap out of me! And I just want to say: "Look, some of us don't have the luxury of a godphone. Could you please quit whining about how deity X won't call like they're your S.O. and you reeeeeally want to go out on a date with them? Please?"

The thing is, I don't think there's anything I can do about it (myself and several of our mutual friends have tried talking to this person) but I could use some support. Can anyone relate? Maybe it would just be best if I just unfriended this person.

 
I wanna say that the neopagan definition of "patron deity" has really contributed to this. :P

Anyone more historically learned wanna chime in about how this may or may not be totally off-base?

Shine

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 08:04:45 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;71844

The thing is, I don't think there's anything I can do about it (myself and several of our mutual friends have tried talking to this person) but I could use some support. Can anyone relate? Maybe it would just be best if I just unfriended this person.

 
I've been thinking about this a lot because, as someone who (a) is very insecure about her relationship with the divine and (b) grew up in a Christian household where God was treated as a dispenser of goodies, it's very tempting to treat the Netjeru as vending machines. It's insanely disrespectful and in no way appropriate, so I try to curb it, always terrified I'm going to end up like that Facebook person you're talking about.

Insecurity leads people like me to always seek confirmation that, yes, n-deity cares about me. Even worse, that insecurity pushes us to seek for a particular confirmation and thus narrows our view. So, for example, say you're looking for ABC confirmation but deity sends XYZ confirmation. Someone insecure isn't going to see that the deity sent XYZ, just that ABC didn't happen.

There's also, yes, an aspect of hubris. I think for some pagans worshipping a deity is more of an intellectual exercise. So, it's like, "well, I worship this deity because I share x-amount of traits/interests with him/her and s/he should show up because I'm a hotshot." On and off over the course of three years, I pulled this shit with Odin. And no, it didn't end well. Could have been worse, but there were other things at play that I'm not free to talk about.

What's helped me is expanding my thinking. For example, thinking about, say, Bast's place in the cosmos really puts things in perspective. Yes, I'm important to her in a way, but in the big picture I'm a very small detail and so should feel blessed that she pays me any mind at all.

Also, I think there's a tendency of thinking things like: "I'm in an equal relationship with the divine." So there's a feeling you deserve a kind of mutual respect. Shifting to an attitude of service even a little helps.

One example that still sticks with me is when I was trying to establish regular daily rites to Bast and the other Netjeru I worship. I remember thinking, some days, things like: "I'm really not feeling it today, so I'm not going to do it." But then I did some reading and thinking and realized that it's not about me. These daily rites are a service to the gods I worship and are a sign of respect. It's me saying, "I'm interested in having you in my life. And even though sometimes I really don't want to be here, I'm here because it's the proper thing to do."

Would Bast like me to enjoy my time at shrine? Probably. But the fact of the matter is I'm secondary. So, nowadays I'm a lot better at doing daily rites, even if I'm not "getting" anything out of them.

Even body movements are helpful. When I bow in front of Bast's shrine image, I'm reminded that I'm in the presence of someone bigger (and meaner, when she has to be ;)) than myself.

Bast has kind of stepped back a little bit. It's less a "Your a big [girl] I shouldn't have to hold your hand all the time!" and more a "You know what you have to do. I can help you stay on your feet, but you've got to do everything else yourself. So stop hanging on me." I'm getting better at it, though I have a ways to go.

I feel like I kind of only peripherally touched on your post, but I hope you don't find it necessary to hit me over the head with a frozen trout.

If it won't cause a fuss, maybe you should unfriend that person.
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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 08:10:46 pm »
Quote from: Maps;71866
I wanna say that the neopagan definition of "patron deity" has really contributed to this. :P

Anyone more historically learned wanna chime in about how this may or may not be totally off-base?

 
I'm not as familiar with the modern concept of "patron deity", but from what I understand a patron deity is one who "works" with you more than others. If that's true, I can totally see the contribution.

What's weird is, in ancient times, where there was a concept of patronage, it was less "this deity works with me" and more "I work for this deity and in exchange I get blessings and favors that others might not".
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

monsnoleedra

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 08:17:33 pm »
Quote from: Maps;71866
I wanna say that the neopagan definition of "patron deity" has really contributed to this.  ..


I'd agree with that statement and conclusion.  About the only thing i'd add is my opinion and belief that the lifting of selected aspects of a god / goddesses versus the full good and bad of a god / goddesses has impacted upon it as well.

To use Artemis as an example a great many see her as this loving and caring patron of women yet avoid the absolute vengence she extracts.   Additionally ignoring the fact she pretty much drops all females upon them reaching the age of marriage to the worship of Hera or Demeter by her cult histories.

Nachtigall

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2012, 09:06:37 pm »
Quote from: Maps;71866
I wanna say that the neopagan definition of "patron deity" has really contributed to this. :P

 
Yes, I haven't encountered this kind of attitude in any recon faith. There are those with very... pragmatical attitudes towards the gods (more of the "I give you offerings, you help me in my life" form), but even if you had a particular deity as a patron, you weren't expected to have two-sided communication with them on a daily basis. The whole "Artemis is my best friend, and we often chat over a cup of coffee"... this is, I suspect, mostly a (Neo)-Wiccan influence.

Also, I think in certain circles the current trend on "godspousery" contributed to that, where the treatment of certain deities as imaginary boyfriends was encouraged.

Lokabrenna

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2012, 09:16:18 pm »
Quote from: Maps;71866
I wanna say that the neopagan definition of "patron deity" has really contributed to this. :P

Anyone more historically learned wanna chime in about how this may or may not be totally off-base?


Nah, I see this as a related but separate issue. I know lots of people who have patrons (or, at least, who have deities they are close to) who don't act like this person (and more often than not, it's the deity who chooses the person, not the other way around).

I don't know how much more I should say, but I do think this has to do with the fact that this person takes every opportunity to mock deity Y (because said deity sleeps around) and then doesn't understand why deity X (who is RELATED TO deity Y) won't pay any attention to her, and she feels that because she's making offerings that they *owe her* attention.

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2012, 09:35:14 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;71878

I don't know how much more I should say, but I do think this has to do with the fact that this person takes every opportunity to mock deity Y (because said deity sleeps around) and then doesn't understand why deity X (who is RELATED TO deity Y) won't pay any attention to her, and she feels that because she's making offerings that they *owe her* attention.

 
WAT.

Wow. . . just, wow.
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Lokabrenna

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2012, 09:46:14 pm »
Quote from: Shine;71881
WAT.

Wow. . . just, wow.

 
I wish I was making it up, I really do, but, no, I've seen what she's written about either deity, it's not pretty.

Sharysa

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2012, 10:24:26 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;71844
The thing is, I don't think there's anything I can do about it (myself and several of our mutual friends have tried talking to this person) but I could use some support. Can anyone relate? Maybe it would just be best if I just unfriended this person.


Fortunately, I can't relate. I've never gone as far as treating the gods like vending machines, nor do I know any serious pagan who's done so.

I was actually holding off on contacting the gods for a while, and then Ogma showed up in the "room" I go to when I meditate. He told me that I really need a teacher to sort out all the abilities I have no idea how to consciously use, especially since I don't have cultural context for most of them. And now he comes around whenever I have questions that I can't find answers to. Or whenever I'm not asking the right questions.

But that's hardly treating Ogma like a vending machine, especially since I always thank him for it. He just seems to have a good sense for "You are really confused/bothered about X, but you don't want to ask about it because you don't know where to start."

Quote from: Lokabrenna;71878
Nah, I see this as a related but separate issue. I know lots of people who have patrons (or, at least, who have deities they are close to) who don't act like this person (and more often than not, it's the deity who chooses the person, not the other way around).


My relationship with the Morrigan is probably the LEAST problematic of all the Tuatha De. However, I've noticed that the rest of the Tuatha De will outright refuse to work with me if they don't want to risk interfering with her plans (whatever they are). She's also one of two gods who can stand being in the same room with a bear-spirit, because she feels responsible for me.

Quote
I don't know how much more I should say, but I do think this has to do with the fact that this person takes every opportunity to mock deity Y (because said deity sleeps around) and then doesn't understand why deity X (who is RELATED TO deity Y) won't pay any attention to her, and she feels that because she's making offerings that they *owe her* attention.


...Well.

I sometimes (very infrequently) make light of the Morrigan's long list of flings, but never, ever, EVER in serious discussion. I don't think I'd have the ovaries to genuinely mock her for it, especially since the Morrigan helped me through boatloads of genuine relationship issues.

And one thing your friend seems to have missed: Just because she's leaving offerings doesn't mean that the deity has to ACCEPT them. I would trash anything given by someone who talked about my family like that. Unless it's valuable, and then I'd send it back to them. Or if they insist I keep it, then I'd sell it. Because hey, they told me it was mine--that means I can do whatever I want with it.

Why don't you ask your friend, "Hey, you keep trash-talking Y's relative, but still expect Y to be nice to you because you keep giving them gifts (that Y probably throws away because they're from someone trashing their family). Is it any wonder that Y doesn't talk to you?"
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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2012, 10:35:40 pm »
Quote from: Maps;71866
I wanna say that the neopagan definition of "patron deity" has really contributed to this. :P

Anyone more historically learned wanna chime in about how this may or may not be totally off-base?

 
The idea of a personal patron seems to be pretty modern.  Older concepts are of patrons of your profession or your city, not of you as a unique and special snowflake in your own right.

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Lokabrenna

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 11:26:30 pm »
Quote from: Sharysa;71892

Why don't you ask your friend, "Hey, you keep trash-talking Y's relative, but still expect Y to be nice to you because you keep giving them gifts (that Y probably throws away because they're from someone trashing their family). Is it any wonder that Y doesn't talk to you?"


Trust me, I and several mutual friends (who have more experience with talking to deities than I do) have done this, more than a few times. She just doesn't seem to get it (or she does....for about two seconds....and then she's right back to doing the same old thing again. There's no getting through to her.

Shine

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Re: Treating Deities Like Vending Machines
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2012, 11:40:03 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;71885
I wish I was making it up, I really do, but, no, I've seen what she's written about either deity, it's not pretty.

 
It's not pretty, but it is sad.

It's one thing to poke a little fun at deities' doings, but every opportunity? Yuck.

She should probably feel lucky that the worst she's gotten is ignored.
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

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