Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Hole in Monotheism's Fence

We suppose that polytheism and monotheism are seperated by an impenetrable fence, but the human perception of the Divine tends to demonstrate otherwise. Ideally speaking, with the eye on what is discernible to the human eye as absolute truth, I think that polytheism and monotheism are indeed entirely different things. However, I am not the author of history and the fact is that the tendency of the polytheistic spirituality and philosophy is to organize theology as a spectrum. To a polytheist (and today's polytheists are entirely different from yesterday's, although some people like to pretend to be polytheists), the Divine has many forms and emanations and can even be properly understood as manifesting Itself in physical form. Therefore, in this line of thought, a Being whose Nature is entirely One does not contradict the polytheist's own belief that the many forms of divinity are in fact conceptually harmonic with a united Oneness. Therefore, there exist many gods and goddesses and all of them are either a part of G-d or exist alongside Him; the key to understanding polytheistic divinity is ambiguity. Curtly stated, there is no "G-d" to the polytheist, there is only a uniform Divinity that can, and "wills" to be, fragmented in any way that the polytheist's finite standpoint is able to grasp. This allows for some very "colorful" religious practices, such as burning children alive to a god or engaging in sexual acts in order to please the goddess. The "fragmentation" of the Divine permits the performance of what we contemporaries would consider to be egregious acts. In other words, there is such thing as a theological spectrum with polytheism on one end and monotheism on the other.

It seems that polytheism has found a hole in the fence of monotheism. There is a fence because any conceptualization of a divinity which exists in variety is polytheism, while any conceptualization of a Divinity which exists in an indivisible form is monotheism. Of course, the temptation and tendency to cross that line are strong for those who have not pondered what such a fence implies for theology. The argument is apparent from the onset; "Oh c'mon, how does it really violate the unity of monotheism to have an image for myself of what the Divine looks like?" Another question can be, "Oh c'mon, I do believe that there is One G-d, I just believe that He has several parts to Him that are inseperable from the whole, but it is still G-d." Wrong, it's not G-d; if you perceive that G-d has a variety of distinguishable elements and that you can relate with each of them on a seperate basis, you don't really believe in G-d, you believe in your perception, in yourself. The transformation process from polytheism to monotheism took revelation; the transformation the other way around functions on habit and tendency. Crossing that line ever so slightly turns the spiritual and ethical tightly-knit monotheism immediately into loosely-constructed polytheism.

But the hole has always existed. This hole in the fence then only exists in the mind of the monotheist; in the mind of the polytheist it is an arbitrary line designed by the monotheist in order to justify his faith and to set himself apart from other people. He, understandably, is insulted by a theological concept that claims the incompletion of his own and that it is a part of something more holistic - he feels as if he is told that he is living a lie and that the gods with which he has formed a personal bond are being challenged and that he himself is said to be incomplete. This shift in thought from polytheism to monotheism exerts great pressure on the coherence of his belief in several deities and eventually they are (and must be) broken down and replaced by a different view, and we of course can see how this has easily caused bloody revolution between the ancients. The outcome of those wars are of course, the closening to a belief in the One G-d, but none of the historical wars of the ancients have absolutely ended the human tendency to gravitate towards a more comprehensible view of the Divine, which leans away from monotheism. It seems that with every war of this type, and we can surely categorize some of our own, even the unexpected ones, such as World War II as such, we arrive nearer to a comprehensive and unified understanding of the Oneness of G-d. Many times, however, the process seems to be one of destruction and annihilation, leading people to doubt the existence of G-d altogether. For the fortunate survivors whom successfully contemplate the course of events, perhaps by their being in the right places, the doubting of the existence of G-d can allow for a "flawed" understanding of G-d to be replaced with a more pure and holistic understanding. The human tendencies of destruction in the Name of G-d are replaced, and re-affirm (although sometimes unkowingly) the religious dictum that the existence of G-d absolutely bans murder. The result is not only an enlightened view of G-d, but it is synonymous with a return to the most original, essential, and basic of revelations. A revelation shows nothing new, it illuminates the original truth. There are no new revelations.

Skipping around a bit now, how does this have to do with the hole in the fence? Monotheism is strict, as G-d says that He is a jealous G-d, He means that He absolutely does not tolerate the introduction of "others" into the purview on His Oneness. Therefore, nor does He tolerate the "splitting" of His Oneness. Zechariah 14 explains that in the end, at Messianic Redemption, "And it is said, 'G-d will be King over the entire land, and on that day G-d will be One and His Name will be One.'" His quantity will be understood as being One and His quality, His essence, will also be understood as being One. The introduction of a viewpoint that one can have a relationship with G-d and with another divine being simultaneously, explained by the view that the two (or three) are actually one but in different forms, as we see, is exactly the same as every single form of polytheism in the human past (and present). Polytheism is ambiguous and dodgy; there are almost inifinite ways to explain how polytheism is really monotheism, and all of them are false, but there is only one way to explain how G-d is One. The hole in the fence has to be patched up.


Nick said...

This is a fantastic answer to "Messianics." I love your views, and I couldn't say it better myself. I'll probably be quoting you. :)

jjew said...

By all means quote me, hehe, just tell 'em that you found it at jew-is-beautiful. HEY, I recognize you from Myspace, from Y-Love's blog.

Chag same'ach

Peace, Yaniv...

jjew said...

Nick, may you take over the world with your crusade, BH!