by C.S. Thompson
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This book explores the aesthetic, ethical,and metaphysical principles of Mythorealism. Part I, "On the Nature of Gods", examines Mythorealist Monotheism, Mythorealist Gnosticism, Mythorealist Polytheism, and Mythorealist Henotheism. Part II, "On the Questions of Religious Philosophy", includes the following essays: God is Not Within Time, God Is Transcendence and Immanence, God is Not a Hypothesis, The Word "God" Cannot Be Spoken, God Is Where We Come From, God Is the True Self, God Is the Only Fact, God Is Always Becoming, Got Is Not..., God Has Many Masks, God Is Uncanny, God Is Joy, God Is Man, God Is Woman, God Is the Extra Note, God Is In the World, God Has a Thirteenth Face, and God is Where We Are Going.
Perspectives On The Divine...and excerpt from Mythotheophany
Despite its lack of affiliation with any particular organized religion, Mythorealism does offer a perspective on the philosophy of religion, or rather a variety of perspectives. In Mythotheophany I will be exploring these issues, examining the questions of religious philosophy from a Mythorealist viewpoint. In the course of this examination I will discuss several perspectives, which I have denominated as Mythorealist Monotheism, Mythorealist Gnosticism, Mythorealist Polytheism and Mythorealist Henotheism.
My own perspective is that of the henotheist, but I will examine all four perspectives as thoroughly as I can. Having done so, I will then move on, to examine a range of questions in Mythorealist religious philosophy, concentrating on the henotheist perspective.
In the philosophy of Mythorealism, reality is seen as being defined by relationships, by whatever is actually experienced and interacted with. There can be no doubt that people do experience religious phenomena; the question is only about the meaning of those experiences. The perspective of the skeptical materialist is to question the absolute validity of religious phenomena- to ask whether or not the things that are experienced by religious people correspond to the facts of objective reality. The answer of the skeptical materialist is either that there is no such correspondence or that none can be proven. Our answer is that the question is meaningless; we have no access to "objective reality" in the first place, and our reality is simply what we experience and interact with. That is all that the word "reality" can coherently mean. The perspective of the agnostic is therefore a valid one, as the agnostic has had no experiences of this type and makes no claims about them. The perspective of the mystic is equally valid, as the mystic speaks of what he personally knows- the meaning and character of his particular gnosis. The perspective of either the atheist or the fundamentalist, however, is irrational prejudice, and for exactly the same reason- both of them make unsupportable claims about objective reality.
If the gods, demons and angels of religious mythology are therefore real (in the sense that they are experienced by human beings as perceptions, and that human beings interact with those perceptions) then what exactly are they? Every religion makes different claims when it comes to these entities, and the claims in question contradict each other. According to many sects of Buddhism, for example, the gods exist in a perfect realm of sensual pleasure, yet cannot achieve enlightenment from within that realm, so that an incarnation as a human being is more fortunate than the life of a god. The gods of Taoism exist within the human body (which seems like a strikingly Jungian view), yet many of them are former humans who became Immortals and were promoted to the Celestial Hierarchy. The gods of Hinduism are the many faces of the underlying Brahman or Absolute. The gods (or "loa") of Vodoun are intermediary spirits, standing at the midpoint between humanity and an unapproachably transcendent God. The gods of all religions are seen by Wiccans as being different names for two deities, the Goddess and Her consort. To another type of neopagan (those who call themselves "Heathens,") the gods are powerful entities, with as much independent existence as any human being, and with the ability to bestow their favor or their enmity on humans at will. To a Christian, a Jew or a Moslem, there is only one true God, and all others are either delusions or demons, evil rebels against the Supreme Being. Many Christians, however, have a relationship with angels or saints that is indistinguishable in practice from a polytheist's relationship to his many gods. (Claims to the contrary usually rely on strawman arguments, redefining polytheist practices inaccurately in order to make them seem more distinct from their Christian equivalents than they really are.)
How can these widely divergent understandings be reconciled, or must one be preferred to another? Let us now examine some of the options.
About the Author: CS Thompson is a poet, writer and historical fencing instructor. He is the author of the Noctiviganti series of dark fantasy novels, and his collections of poetry include Ghost Shadows from Wildside Press and City at the Edge of Night. CS Thompson lives with his wife Cicely in Portland, Maine.