My last post pushed my brain to consider other ways in which we sometimes use our gods or our religion for doing some not-so-nice things. Intolerance and hatred are the obvious and perhaps most extreme of examples, but over the years, I’ve seen a few less insidious instances of folks shifting responsibility for their own actions onto the shoulders of their gods or their religion. Blaming your own mistakes on bad guidance from the gods (“God/Goddess set me up to fail that interview/audition/date/relationship/etc.”), using what God/Goddess supposedly said as a way to manipulate others (“God/Goddess told me that you should do this”), using the gods/religion as an excuse to avoid your own fears (“Goddess told me not to talk to you because you’re mad at me.” ), the list could go on forever. While some of these fall into the category of mostly harmless but highly annoying, some are damaging and potentially dangerous.
Strike that last statement… any time you presume to blame the gods for things that are of your own doing, it can be potentially dangerous. It should be part of the obvious advice to new religious seekers: the gods can sometimes get just a wee bit touchy if you try to justify your own bad behavior by blaming it on them. Even if you truly believe they are to blame… even if you have a big neon sign over your head that says “I did this… Signed, God/Goddess”… it still would be a really good idea to keep your bloody mouth shut about it. Whinging about how the gods screwed you over will win absolutely no sympathy from them. In some cases, it will get you placed squarely at the top of their “Things to be Toyed with before Devouring” list. You’ll rise to the top of that list even faster if the gods are not actually to blame for your problems.
I will never forget the annoyance of my own patron when someone complained that Isis had set them up to fail in a relationship. The person in question was in absolute denial of the role of their own actions and the consequences, but instead decided to rather bitterly denounce the whole thing as the work of Isis. I don’t often hear Her voice loudly and clearly during waking hours, but after several minutes of complaints, She spoke as clearly as I’ve ever heard Her and said “I haven’t interfered in X’s life so far, but that could change very quickly.” If She’d spoke of me in that tone (if a tone can glare, this one did), I would have be seriously afraid of the havoc that was about to enter my life.
Don’t get me wrong… sometimes the deities really do tell us things that we don’t want to hear and sometimes, they ask us to do things that we’d rather not do. Sometimes, though, we make the mistake of attributing things to the gods that are actually the voices of our own denial, fear, manipulation, and/or wishful thinking. Before justifying our actions via deity or religion, it’s always a good idea to step back and examine the source of our actions a little more closely. The gods don’t always tell us what we want to hear and we need to make sure that it’s really their voices that we’re hearing.