the people who make them.

When studying culture and civilization in my Humanities class we often discuss Zora Neal Hurston’s quote “Gods always behave like the people who make them.” The Greeks, obsessed with the human form made human Gods, complete with man-made foibles: jealousy, rage, passion.
Sumerians, perhaps terrified of a world they did not understand planted wide-eyed prayer figurines in their temples. Ensuring a constant source of prayer to the mysterious and unintelligible heavens. Different worlds, different customs, but always complete with a matching set of Gods.
I don’t care much for the Old Testament God, who alternately destroys and saves at whim. Kill your son, Abraham! Or not. I will take everything away from you Job, but give it back once I win this bet with Satan. Locusts for some children and manna for others.

Then, somewhere along the line, the Judeo-Christian God became a single-parent. What were we thinking, when we gave up our right to the Divine Feminine?

When I start to wonder what redeeming qualities can exist in a species that creates horrific Gods, I remember that amongst all our violent and vengeful Gods, we create kind and loving ones. Patron Goddesses of childbirth, Gods that lead us to enlightenment, Shiva does not just destroy, but transforms. A God who sends his son to save us all. Gods who I must believe still speak to us, in some form or another. If you believe Hurston, believe that people create Gods that behave like their creators, then we humans cannot be all bad.

However, Hurston also warns us that “Anybody depending on somebody else's gods is depending on a fox not to eat chickens.”

 For years, I relied on somebody else’s God. A patriarchal one, who denied blessing to some, changed his mind regarding others, and tells me that one family is better, or more real, than another. He was a scary God. At times, this God seemed less concerned about my soul and more concerned about the number of holes in my ears. Someone else’s God, but I depended on him until my yard was filled with bloody chicken carcasses.  People told me God wanted it this way. We knew this because it has always been this way. Would the God we created ever lead us astray?

But Gods always behave like the people who make them.

We are patriarchal, we change our mind on who receives blessings, and when. We define our families by what is familiar, clinging to stability in an uncertain time. We deify tradition, and culture, and we care a lot about earrings. We make Gods to match our values and shirk change, afraid of insulting our creation.

So when there was nothing left, I remade my Gods. I threw out the carcasses, and I went back for the mother I didn’t know I left behind. I reacquainted myself with the Father who sent his son. I felt peace.

I worry though, often, that my Gods can be no more or less real than the others we create. How do I know the God who created me, the one who made me in their image?

Through raising new hatchling beliefs, I’ve learned that I know I’ve found God by the way I treat others. When I am kind, I recognize some part of God in me. When I forgive, I remember that a divine God forgives, and a man-made God seeks revenge. I am God-like when I love my enemy, transcendent when I choose peace. When I seek out other travelers, sometimes hurt on the side of the road, I am too busy to create a false God.

After all, God was here all along, waiting to be found.


please excuse Stephanie

When my students are late for class, they have the office make them an official-looking note explaining why they are late. It looks all legit, but I know the office ladies are kind, and my students wiley, and that the label "personal" can mean "at a very important appointment" just as easily as "I used my mom's phone to call and say I was sick."

I guess I'm confessing that if blogger made notes excusing neglectfulness, mine would probably include a stupid fake reason. Mostly that I have been feeling grumpy and ragey, and not in a productive way. Waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to teach Hawthorne will do that to you.

Also? I logged on and blogger was all changed and re-formatted. The hell? I hate change in my technology and social media. Remember when you needed a college email account to join facebook? Grumble, grumble.

Clearly, I'm a little rusty in my blogging. A list of random and incoherent thoughts to jump-start the process.

Things that make me judgey because I am a grumpy and sleep-deprived buzz-kill these days:

1. I maintain very complex feelings about the Dance Company portraits hanging up by the Gym at my school. Most of the individual portraits are girls exhibiting their favorite dance move, which I'm sure looks stunning for the split second it exists on stage. Captured on film? Well... there are a lot of in-your-face crotch shots and a lot of heads titled back so you can't see their faces.

Part of me says the photos over-sexualize 16 year old girls. Can't you take a nice picture in a less dramatic pose? One that shows your face, maybe?

The other part of me worries that I am body-policing and slut-shaming girls who are simply celebrating their body and it's capacity for self-expression. Gross boys be damned, they have a right to do whatever they want. The problem is with me, not the photos.

I don't even know. Thoughts?

2. Sometimes, a funny thing happens when you and your child-bride spouses and peers start to grow out of adorable child-bride-and-groomness and into real adulthood. When we were all barely off missions and still in college, most of us were desperate enough to realize we didn't know what in the Sam Hill we were doing, and were therefore content to hang out in our crappy apartments and go to free concerts.

Now that most said peers are nearing their thirties, I'm noticing a disturbing trend I call "Sudden Desire to Be My Parentsitis." It is a silent social killer. You know your friends have it when they start combing over their hair, even when not balding, and start bemoaning the "youth of today." Suddenly everything is a sign of the damn times, and they are purging their R-rated movies, and wanting to discuss modesty*, as well as their recently acquired 401K.  When did hanging out turn into a Righteousness Fest? I don't like it. Also, I don't think people who were dry humping their now wife and mother to three-children a mere 4-5 years ago have any business criticizing the "youth of today."

However, I get to criticize my peers because I am sometimes guilty of SDTBMPitis. I find the cure is self-awareness, occasional bouts of immaturity (like spending unreasonable amounts of money on sour candy at Winco,) and swearing profusely. There is a cure, dammit!

Anyway. This is getting embarrassing. Kids these days.

*Discussing Modesty as in "Girls who dress like that make it difficult for my son to focus in sacrament meeting" not "What's the deal with Church and shaming girls into being accountable for men's behavior?" I will participate in one discussion of modesty, not the other.


waiting with their light

If there is ever a day to post a poem...

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Hoping that each of us can take a moment to rest in the grace of the world, and be free.