Modern Gods

moment-of-glory1So, I wasn’t planning on posting today. I mean, hey, it’s almost 11 p.m. Why bother, right? But I feel compelled. And I did have a thought leap to mind.

I’m reading a novel by Neil Gaiman called American Gods and it’s an interesting read. Not finished with it yet but I wanted to share a little something from the novel that made me think about some stuff. What I’ll be saying here really shouldn’t be any kind of spoiler, but if you’re concerned I might ruin anything for you and you’re planning to read the book, take this opportunity to move on and catch up with me again tomorrow.

Anyway, in this novel, we meet a great many gods. Yeah, the kind you read about in mythology stuff in high school or college, and a lot of others that your instructor probably didn’t teach you about. The concept is that these manifestations of ancient gods are here in the United States because people essentially brought them with them in their minds, and caused them to exist, and their faith and worship and sacrifices made them as real as the original gods were. But, as worshippers declined and the religions faded, some of these gods died off. Others maintained existences but as these kind of sorry-ass individuals. They have powers that we don’t, but their lives aren’t anything to covet, and they certainly don’t seem very godlike.

The core conflict of the novel is the fact that these old gods have been targetted by the new gods for destruction. Those new gods are who, you might wonder?

Television. Casinos. Freeways. Internet and so on. These gods have physical manifestations and they walk among us and influence things at times.

What struck me as particularly interesting is that while the old gods scrape for any faith or remembrance or any kind of sacrifice to keep them going, the new gods of America are flush with not just “worshippers” but also sacrifices.

Our time is sacrificed to the television. Our money to the casinos. Things like that.

And what it made me realize is that even though this novel is a work of fiction, there is an essential truth there. Think of the time and money and other valuable resources of our lives that we throw at things that don’t really matter.

How many of us, myself included, are willing to spend hours on the Internet, yet precious few minutes so much as volunteering for a non-profit organization or giving our children the time they want and need, or reading God’s word? How many of us purport to worship God and actually worship everything but Him?

I’m not suggesting we toss away our temporal lives and go into the wilderness like John the Baptist or leave our families to go on missionary treks the rest of our lives, but I do think we should all reassess how much time we are willing to give to the modern gods we have created and how much more we should be giving to the God who created us.


4 Responses to “Modern Gods”

  1. December 15, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Deacon Blue,
    Interesting and thought provoking! Thanks for the kick in the pants. (Don’t you just love Helen & Margaret?)


  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    December 15, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I love them indeed. It’s just a shame that most days, I don’t have nearly enough time to plow through all the comments to their posts.

    (If anyone is wondering, head on over to my blogroll in the sidebar to vist the “Margaret and Helen” blog. Mostly, it’s Helen who does the heavy lifting over there, and she’s a hoot…but Margaret gets in a few zingers, too.)

  3. December 18, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I am a sucker for a good book review. I love to read. Looks like I’ll be at Amazon or the library very soon…

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    December 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Well, while I wouldn’t say that was much of a “review,” I’m always happy to direct people to new books.

    I finished the novel, by the way. I liked it. Still on the fence about whether the ending was somewhat anticlimactic, but I think it was probably the right way to end it. And I loved the characters overall in the thing, plus the interesting little snippets of obscure mythological information it fed me.

    Just started “Anansi Boys.” It’s not a sequel to American Gods, but it could accurately be called a follow-up, as it seems to exist in the same world, but focusing on one god pretty much.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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