Re: American Gods Interlude: Essie Tregowan
Wouldn’t dominant Eastern religions have done nearly the same things? Religions that require one god seem to take people away from the land and into church to worship. It is as though they lose the ability to worship while the work, to do good works while they play, to grow attached to the land. The further Americans come in society, the less attached to the land that they are. They no longer work the land, for the most part. They no longer know the land as the will of God. Instead, worship is reserved for a set time and place, instead of all the time.
Now, I'm no Bible scholar, but it seems like Americans should have stayed more attached to their lands instead of dashing off to catch industry by the tail. However, perhaps since America was a dumping ground, they quickly lost touch with their roots in the land. Maybe they didn't want to remember.
Thanks Krysondra. Your comment shows how alienation is a key theme in American Gods
. Instead of being part of the land in which they live and move and have their being, the American culture insists that humans are separate from and above nature. This means people consider themselves as aliens whose nature derives from elsewhere, not in the sense of extraterrestrial, but in deriving their sense of meaning and purpose from an imagined higher heavenly source. This alienated worldview is not sustainable.
By separating religion from life and reason, mainstream Christianity produces a perverse and unbiblical theory of salvation as escape. Especially in the insane idea of rapture which is pure magical fantasy and has no empirical possibility, the fundamentalist movement is a deranged and evil distortion of the ideas of the Bible. For example, Jesus says at John 3:17 that he came not to condemn the world but to save it. Such a project of salvation requires forgiveness and understanding of the world, and integration of our lives with nature.
It is possible to maintain an industrial civilization that is in harmony with nature, but as you point out it is difficult. Buddhism, as a representative Eastern religion, presents a more integrated spirituality than mainstream Christianity, but there is also a secret Christianity which has a higher wisdom and explains the nature of time. A key difference between Buddhism and Christianity, in my reading, is over this theme of salvation as escape. Buddhism says the individual can do nothing to reduce suffering except perfecting their own life and escaping from the snares of delusion, while Christianity says that suffering can be ended through the transforming love of the path of the cross, in an identification with the sufferer and a vision of a world free of evil.
My reading of American Gods
is that the pagan imagery of Yggdrasil and the forgotten gods is aimed at a reconciliation between humanity and nature. It opens the question of a hidden Christianity that has this same ambition. An example of this counter-cultural Christianity is Apocalypse
by DH Lawrence, which examines the Biblical text and shows that the alienated mainstream doctrine is false and unbiblical, whereas the actual bible has much stronger real redemptive content than is generally understood.