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Author Topic: Deification of political leaders  (Read 981 times)

Sefiru

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Deification of political leaders
« on: March 15, 2017, 06:23:03 pm »
It being the Ides of March, I have been thinking about Roman Emperors and the deification thereof. Is there any applicability of this concept in modern times? Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society? What criteria would you use to determine if a leader gets to be deified?

ehbowen

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 06:45:41 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;203754
It being the Ides of March, I have been thinking about Roman Emperors and the deification thereof. Is there any applicability of this concept in modern times? Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society? What criteria would you use to determine if a leader gets to be deified?

 
I had best recuse myself from this thread. While political leaders (at least within my nation) are not officially deified, there are several (on both sides) which have been practically deified by their followers going all the way back to George Washington. Discussion of specific political personalities could get ugly, and since I have a tendency to be very passionate about such matters I had better sit this one out.
--------Eric H. Bowen
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Redfaery

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 06:51:09 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;203754
It being the Ides of March, I have been thinking about Roman Emperors and the deification thereof. Is there any applicability of this concept in modern times? Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society? What criteria would you use to determine if a leader gets to be deified?
In Japan, Meiji Tennô was deified and enshrined in Tokyo. This would have been around the turn of the 20th century. When I was at Sophia University in 2014, one of the sponsored activities was a visit to the shrine. I don't know how popular Emperor Meiji is as a kami, but he's certainly *greatly* admired as a national hero PRECISELY because he had such a crucial role in modernizing Japan.
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Tom

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 07:08:33 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;203754
It being the Ides of March, I have been thinking about Roman Emperors and the deification thereof. Is there any applicability of this concept in modern times? Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society? What criteria would you use to determine if a leader gets to be deified?

 
I can't really see it as a thing that could happen in the United States as it is, considering the prevalence of Christianity and the idea that there's only one god. In a theoretical polytheist version of the United States, maybe, but that kinda raises more questions than not for things in general. Like which polytheistic tradition would have most likely settled here. Would it have been the polytheistic version of the Pilgrims who wanted to worship their own gods in their own way settling over here?

I guess the best analogy would be to look at how people react to which saints are canonize by the church, which has chosen figures that other people find controversial because of their actions, such the canonization of Junípero Serra, which was protested by several Native American groups.

ehbowen

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 07:09:04 pm »
Quote from: ehbowen;203755
...I had better sit this one out.


Too late to edit, but....

:pop:
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Beryl

Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 04:07:24 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;203754
It being the Ides of March, I have been thinking about Roman Emperors and the deification thereof. Is there any applicability of this concept in modern times? Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society? What criteria would you use to determine if a leader gets to be deified?

 
I'm not sure it would 'work' in contemporary society - we see our leaders in the media frequently, and (unless the media is being used as propaganda etc) we see most of them fail at least a few times, whether in terms of making disastrous decisions or in less significant ways such as fluffing speeches, getting figures wrong, etc. Of course, deities don't have to be infallible, but at least in 'Western' societies, we tend to expect that.

There's also the fact that, often, the most beloved (who aren't necessarily most successful/voted for) leaders are the ones who are "a person of the people" - those who seem like you could have a good old chinwag with them if you found yourselves stuck in a lift together or something. Again, that's not necessarily a disqualifier for divinity in a lot of pagan or other non-Abrahamic religions (or even necessarily something nobody associates with Jesus, or the Christian and Jewish and Islamic understandings of YHVH) but I think in the popular imagination gods are aloof and a bit intimidating - somewhere between the coolest kid in school and the Big Boss of the company you work for.

I think it'd be much easier for certain musicians and actors to find themselves deified, really (although many of them are just as fallible - stumbling around drunk on stage or whatever - with rock stars etc that's just part of the Mystique.)

sevensons

Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 04:40:28 am »
Quote from: Beryl;203765


I think it'd be much easier for certain musicians and actors to find themselves deified, really (although many of them are just as fallible - stumbling around drunk on stage or whatever - with rock stars etc that's just part of the Mystique.)

 
To put some one on such a pedestal is just egotistical they should come down to earth I think ditch the ego's.

RandallS

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2017, 06:56:41 am »
Quote from: Sefiru;203754
Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society?


It would not make much sense for most offices -- especially those with a term of office less than "the rest of your life" as you'd otherwise have temporary gods who lose their deity status when they lose their office (either by losing an election or by retiring).

That said, I'm pretty sure many politicians think they are at least minor deities. :)
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Beryl

Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 08:21:49 am »
Quote from: sevensons;203766
To put some one on such a pedestal is just egotistical they should come down to earth I think ditch the ego's.

 
Never said it was a good thing...

ehbowen

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2017, 01:32:05 pm »
Quote from: Beryl;203765
...but I think in the popular imagination gods are aloof and a bit intimidating - somewhere between the coolest kid in school and the Big Boss of the company you work for.

 
"In the popular imagination" I'm sure you're correct, but at least in my own expectations these days I would think them much more likely to be the guy who stops to help you change a flat tire or the girl who invites you to share her table in a crowded cafeteria.

The deities I'm closest to, at least, seem to take a quiet delight at setting up those situations where, five or fifty years later, you realize, "I was talking to whom?"
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Sefiru

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2017, 06:31:26 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;203768
It would not make much sense for most offices -- especially those with a term of office less than "the rest of your life" as you'd otherwise have temporary gods who lose their deity status when they lose their office (either by losing an election or by retiring).


You make a good point, though I was thinking more of the practice of posthumously deifying people. Though the modern examples of that I can think of (Stalin, Kim Il-Sung) are not very positive.
 

Quote
That said, I'm pretty sure many politicians think they are at least minor deities. :)


It's like the reverse of that old saying, "but will they come, when you call them?"

Sefiru

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2017, 06:32:28 pm »
Quote from: Tom;203758
In a theoretical polytheist version of the United States, maybe, but that kinda raises more questions than not for things in general. Like which polytheistic tradition would have most likely settled here. Would it have been the polytheistic version of the Pilgrims who wanted to worship their own gods in their own way settling over here?


Now there is a thought experiment, and possibly a future thread.

Jack

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2017, 11:15:57 pm »
Quote from: Tom;203758
I can't really see it as a thing that could happen in the United States as it is, considering the prevalence of Christianity and the idea that there's only one god. In a theoretical polytheist version of the United States, maybe, but that kinda raises more questions than not for things in general.

 
Well there's always the Apotheosis of Washington and the pantheon of accompanying deities that is enshrined in the capitol building. ;) I've thought about attempting to work with them for political/social work to see what came of it.

I would say that Washington, Lincoln and JFK definitely have been apotheosized in the popular imagination. You could make a case for others, like Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.

In non-presidents, MLK, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B Anthony... I've honored folks like Harvey Milk and Emma Goldman. I think apotheosis or even just sainthood work best as folk practice, not as a state choice, but I know that's not how Religio Romana tends to work. ;)
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Tom

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2017, 02:00:41 pm »
Quote from: Jack;203807
Well there's always the Apotheosis of Washington and the pantheon of accompanying deities that is enshrined in the capitol building. ;) I've thought about attempting to work with them for political/social work to see what came of it.

I would say that Washington, Lincoln and JFK definitely have been apotheosized in the popular imagination. You could make a case for others, like Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.

In non-presidents, MLK, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B Anthony... I've honored folks like Harvey Milk and Emma Goldman. I think apotheosis or even just sainthood work best as folk practice, not as a state choice, but I know that's not how Religio Romana tends to work. ;)

 
Yeah, I was mostly thinking about how it wouldn't work as a state sanctioned practice, but having them as at the very least, being powerful spirits to call on to help people makes sense. Especially considering I've may have hoped for the ghosts of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Winston Churchill to haunt certain people.

hraefngar

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Re: Deification of political leaders
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2017, 10:01:02 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;203754
It being the Ides of March, I have been thinking about Roman Emperors and the deification thereof. Is there any applicability of this concept in modern times? Does such a practice have any place in a democratic society? What criteria would you use to determine if a leader gets to be deified?

 
From what I understand, the original concept was that one honored the genius of the emperors, the genius being the shadowy spiritual double / higher self that was responsible for procreation and inspiration.   A Roman family honored the genius of its leading male figure - the paterfamilias.   When Augustus took over, he found it politically expedient to say he was the paterfamilias of the Roman state, and that his genius was worthy of honors from all Romans.

This was different from the later outright deification of increasingly insane and autocratic Roman emperors.  

In any case, the former concept holds no validity to anyone who isn't a Roman pagan, and the latter concept is completely unacceptable in a democratic society.

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