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God, who?
 
 
‘If there is no God, everything is permitted.’ Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky once wrote. We have been wondering, watching our favourite show, where God has been. Castiel has looked all over for Him and we know that He doesn’t speak to everyone, well…

 
Michelangelo, Fresco at the Sistine’s Chapel

 
We have already encountered Lucifer, the lord of Hell. He was introduced in an amazing manner, working on subjugating the world – he claimed, though, not to have any intention to destroy the planet, the ‘last great handiwork of God’, because he has always loved God and was eventually condemned to live downstairs.
 
But how is the situation upstairs? Where is God? Who is He? Will He still have a say in this cosmic battle, even after Sam pulled Lucifer and, well, another archangel into the pit, or will He drink expensive cocktails elsewhere and spend time founding a flatbread-cult instead?
 
There is an element of megalomaniacal delusion to the task of trying to answer any of those questions. There are opinions regarding the subject as many as there are religions, philosophies or mythologies. Well, as a psychologist I should not be afraid of such fancy, but even approaching that topic seems ridiculously delusional as so many great brains have tackled it, theories have been formed by scholars and battles have been fought in His name piling up body counts of unparalleled numbers.
 
During my research for this article I stumbled on so many fascinating interpretations and opinions that, would I describe them all, you were to read an article of probably more than two hundred pages. So, I will illuminate just a part of all theories, hoping to still create an interesting picture, while staying mostly within Western mythology and the so-called Abrahamic Religions. I apologize in advance to the fans of other beliefs for neglecting their mythologies or religions for practical purposes which by no means should be perceived as disrespect.
 
A devout believer will live differently than a person who does not believe in God. The most appealing in a person has always been to me authenticity and honesty, and I consider sloppy atheism just as problematic as false piety, as neither is entirely truthful.
 
But the question of belief is unequivocally linked to another: what happens to us when we die? ‘To be or not to be…. ‘Are we nothing but fleeting beings on a path to ravening death, ‘wormsmeat’ as Shakespeare calls it? Is living all we can do, however cynical, brave or flippant we might proceed, as nothing awaits us in the end? ‘To die…. To sleep… nothing more’? Or is there anything to expect after we cross the final threshold? People have for many ages wondered what happens after death and sought comfort in the idea of an afterlife. Religion, developing in part from mythological backgrounds, in part from historical events, gave answers to the believer. And, of course, rules that one had to follow to be worthy of paradise – a place almost every religion established, be it the Antique’s Elysium or the notion of paradise as e.g. Christianity or Islam offer.
 
‘…the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of. Thus conscience makes cowards of us all…’ Ah, Hamlet, so full of appropriate lines…
 
The ancient question, whether the beginning of all religion and the idea of gods or God was the great mystery of death, the observation of the sky and its countless stars or simply a story someone thought of will in all likelihood never be answered.
 
Probably the various religions came into being because man suffers a basic dilemma as a creature that faces fear, worry, sorrow. There is the bitter experience of mortality, but also the yearning to grasp the deeper meaning of the universe and the world. From the beginning of time, or shall we say from the age man began to develop some consciousness about his these things, other spheres also came into existence – the divine ones, theism, being taken quite seriously, sometimes with a flavour of the bizarre…
 
Theism, deriving from the ancient Greek word theos meaning God, means simply and in its broadest sense the belief in at least one deity that acts personally in the organization of the universe, governing it. 

Comments  

Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-06-13 20:03
Interesting article, Jas, and so much work. Thanks for all the time you invested in it. Really good reading.

For season six, the boys will be back to fighting things that go bump in the night, and any and all of them will have come from a religion somewhere. All religions were built on top of each other and so are all monster myths.

If SPN continues with the religious mythology, God will be involved. That is not supposed to be the focal point anymore, but only time will tell.

Thanks for sharing.
Julie
# Julie 2010-06-14 08:39
Jas
What an amazing amount of research you have put into this article and time you have invested in writing it ,Thank you .
Honestly my mind is totally blown by the vast amount of information you have included here , and I understand now why it took so long to complete .
This is a tour de forcre which needs to be re read to digest all those facts.
Myself I still have many
Julie
# Julie 2010-06-14 08:51
Jas
What an amazing amount of research you have put into this article and time you have invested in writing it ,Thank you .
Honestly my mind is totally blown by the vast amount of information you have included here , and I understand now why it took so long to complete .
This is a tour de force which needs to be re read to digest all those facts.
Myself I still have many questions about Gods` involvement in the `SPN world and hope that in Season six we get these in the fallout from from Swan Song.
I feel belief to be a very individual thing and I am reminded of a famous british , catholic comnedian who was both praised and criticsed for the religious content in his performance, he ended every show with the words `Thank you , and may your God go with you`.
I think you summed everything up perfectly in your conclusion and it does not matter nor is it anyones concern if a person is a believer or not , what matters is how you chose to live your life Ju
Sorry for the double Post !!
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-06-15 10:49
Great article Jas! Really great. I can’t even imagine the amount of research, time and work that went into this. Not to mention the eye rolling, frustration and perhaps hilarity that occurred as you weeded out the more fanatical/odd views.

This is the first time I saw polytheism broken down into its various parts, and for that I thank you. Education’s fun! Gives history a new flavor.

What really impressed me was the level of respect and (seeming) distance with which you were able to write this. Each religion was treated with respect, honesty and care. It would take a hard core, fanatic to find offense.

I keep going back and looking for things to critique or add to make this comment sound vaguely intelligent but nope. You rocked it! And it made my day when you mentioned both Lewis and Tolkien. Fan of both. Found it interesting your question of being able to combine mythology and religion since both those authors did so beautifully. Lewis especially was interested in old myths and pagan lore. And, in a way, do you think that allegories could be a combination of the two?

Just out of curiosity, did you look at the Goetia at all? I’ve wondered if the writers have gone there for inspiration of some of the conjuring symbols and such. Never visited it myself since it sounds to be a dense and bizarre read, but I’ve wondered.

Once again, nicely written piece. And thanks for all the work you put into it.
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2010-06-15 23:32
Awesome article, Jas!!
I'd been wanting to do a bit of study of some of the religious concepts & figures that Supernatural had touched upon these last few seasons, but hadn't had time to do the research, & now you've done it for us. Thanks!!! I've enjoyed mythology since childhood & am a huge Tolkien fan, so this was a treat. Kingdom of Heaven is one of my favorites too (especially the extended version) & that quote has always rung so true to me.
Dawn
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-16 12:41
Sablegreen, Julie, Dany, AnthonyC., Yvonne and Dawn, I am honoured by your generous comments, thank you.

Sablegreen, I am happy that you found something for you here. I would certainly be interested if the show re-visited the religious arc once in a while, which it probably will, as Castiel is still around... Ah, September, where are you...

Ju, you're right, it took a while to get it all done, and I thought I might overtax you all... on the other hand it's such a huge subject that you can hardly sort the most important details out.
I love that line of the comedian. How true. People might have different Gods, and their own should be with them... LIked that a lot.

Dany, So happy that you liked this, as you were the one who inspired me to do it with your comment to my Lucifer article :-), and thanks for your patience. Keep inspiring me, if you like, I don't mind at all being asked about this or that.... :lol:

Anthony C., I'm also curious what we might still here of God. Thank you for mentioning that novel, I don't know it yet, but I will check it out. I am always grateful for such a recommendation.

Yvonne, hey, I'm so glad I could spice up some parts of history for you. I love it, too, or else I would have never taken on such a task or that amount of research. I love research though (yes, I think more and more Sam and I share some DNA... :lol)

Actually, I do believe that allegories combine mythological and religious aspects. There are so many elements both have in common, and I think the telling of those had to draw in part at least from known stories or archetypes to make it graspable for people...

For this article I didn't look at the Goetia in depth, though I have both keys of Solomon at home (I am a history and mythology buff, apart from a few other things, :geek:-), but those didn't feel fitting for this.

Thank you for recommending the respect I held towards different beliefs. I do. I grew up with various religions around me. My mother was a Christian, my dad was not. Early on I learned through their example, how easy it can be to live tolerance, respect and equality. I will be eternally grateful for that.

Dawn, it was my pleasure entirely to have summed it up for you to the best of my abilities. Thank you so much for your kind words, and yeah - Tolkien rocks!!

Thanks, all, again and ever, Jas
Suze
# Suze 2010-06-16 15:37
Blimey, Jas, that was an article and a half! Well done!

I was impressed by your fairness and bredth of vision, also by Freud's carpet which is quite lovely and totally free from bits of Lego and squished Cheerios, unlike some I could mention.

Kingdom Of Heaven is one of my all-time favorite films ( and not just 'cos one gets to stare at Orlando Bloom for hours and hours, either, you dirty-minded lot ... ) My favorite Thewlis-ism out of many is where Balin unhelpfully points out he's riding to certain death and he comes back with ...

All death is certain.

Heh! Top monk ... ;-)
Jaspala
# Jaspala 2010-06-17 10:18
Suze, so happy you liked and appreciated what I had to offer here. Actually, Freud's couch is a quite cosy one, I've seen it in Vienna once in his house (I guess every psycho has to go there on a kind of pligrimage, as he is the father of early psychology).
oh, and yes, that 'All death is certain' is also one of my favourite lines. One I actually borrowed occasionally.
Thank you so much! Jas (P.S. had to use another alias, imagined by Karen, as I couldn't log in)
Karen
# Karen 2010-06-18 09:19
Wow Jaspala, this is amazing, the research alone, I’m in awe right now. I had to read it a couple of times to grasp everything. I wasn’t raised in any formable religion, so this was quite the learning experience for me. I have to agree aswel that it is how you chose to live your life that really matters. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-18 14:02
Karen, thank you for your kind words here - it's really wonderful to see the work I put into this article acknowledged by my dear fellow writer...
You emphasize again the importance of choice of how to live your life. I've met Christians who didn't live a life anyone would call Christian. And some of my friends are agnostics or atheists and live a better and kinder life than I have seen some so-called Christians do. Religion, indeed, does not make us better people or worse ones. We do it ourselves, and if any religion might inspire us to try to be kinder, more compassionate, so be it. If reading poetry does it, it's okay, too.
Love, Jas
Randal
# Randal 2010-06-19 11:36
Sloppy atheism? We don't believe in any of this crap (except Cthulhu.) Concise, nothing sloppy about that. Plus, this wasn't long enough. Slacker. ;-)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who dug Kingdom of Heaven; that's a great quote.

Swanky stuff here, Jas.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-19 15:50
okay, okay, Randal, I'll try to write more next time :geek:... Thank you, dearest Cthulhu devotee.... :lol:, Jas
Yirabah
# Yirabah 2010-06-21 05:16
Wow Jas, just wow.

I am sorry that I haven't posted anything earlier her but as you know I was quit busy otherwise when and since you posted this article and I just got around to it today

I did know the basics of the various religions. Starting from the egyptians to religions today. But you gave me a deeper insight into some of them then I had before.

Your article just made my wish that schools all over the world would teach their pupils about various religions even great than before. Because if they did there might be a bigger understanding and tolerance towards each other and might make our world one day much more peaceful than it is today.

Having met you and seen how you always on the look out for research material I just know with how much fun and enthusiasm you go about your articles and you got my deep respect for that.

May I just add I am looking forward to your article about angels.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-21 13:07
Thank you, Yirabah, I am glad I was able to offer something here you didn't know yet. I also wish that people would learn more about various religions, as a lot of pain is produced by simple ignorance.

May I point you to an article on Angels I have written a while back? It's called 'Angels, Archangels, Michael and the Winchester Connection to Cain and Abel'. I think you might find it under Mystery Spot, not sure, though.

Thanks so much for your kind words! Take care, Jas
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-06-23 01:33
Jas, very interesting article. Thanks for the brain food. It's very interesting to see how all different religions have evolved throughout the centuries. Kudos on the research.

I also appreciated your Kingdom of Heaven reference. I absolutely loved that movie (extended version) and appreciated the hospitaler's quote about how holiness is in right action. I have also seen many people who come to church every week professing God, Christ and it's teaching and then during the week, tend to ignore and live the exact opposite. It's those religious pious hypocrites that really get me, which is what he talks about when he says he has seen the lunacy of fanatics.

I would like to get a clarification from you if I can. Could you please clarify for me what you meant by "Other groups like Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses and several others don’t accept the Trinitarian doctrine at all. " My interpretation of this statement is that Mormons/JW don't believe in the trinity, that is God the Father, God the Son, and The Holy Ghost. Is that what you meant by this?

Thanks again for the article. Always enjoy your thought provoking commentaries.
ElenaM
# ElenaM 2010-06-23 21:15
I'm way behind again (moving, aargh), Jas, but thanks for such a thoughtful and thought-provoki ng article--it was so fascinating to look at our concepts of God and their relation to the perspective of the series mythology-- Bravo, as always
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-24 15:26
Evelyn and ElenaM, thanks for reading and commenting on this quite long article!

Evelyn, I think that Kingdom of Heaven quote really brings across how religion works best - in the right action every person is able to perform, if he or she is willing... Just like you said, I also have trouble tolerating hypocrites who, alas, sometimes turn out to be fundamentalists of one kind or the other.

As to your question - your're right, I meant that, as far as I found out, the 'other groups' don't believe in the Holy Trinity. You got it right,dear.

ElenaM, believe me, I know how much work moving means... so I'm very happy that you found time at all to read this, as it was really long this time.

Best wishes always, Jas
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-06-24 15:55
Jas, thanks for answering my question and that is what I thought you meant about your understanding in the Mormon religion and the Holy Trinity.

I would like, then, to clarify for you about the Mormon belief. I am Mormon and we absolutely believe in the holy trinity. The difference between our belief and other Christian faiths is that we believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost are 3 distinct beings, not one being as many other religions believe. Just wanted to make that clear for you and any others. Thanks.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-24 16:37
Thank you, Evelyn, for making that clear. Then my sources have been a tad confusing, obviously. It's so easy, I guess, to get it wrong and I hope I have not offended you or your faith, dear.
Thank you, jas
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-06-25 00:34
No, you haven't offended me at all. I know your article was written with a lot of respect and would never want to skew your meaning in any way. There has always been a lot of confusion and misconceptions about my faith out there, so I do understand how you could have found things confusing yourself and found incorrect information. So no worries. For this article, I just wanted to make sure that this particular point was clear and understood. Thanks so much.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-06-25 16:46
Evelyn, thank you, this is very generous of you. I can imagine finding incorrect information about your faith 'out there' must be difficult to swallow. So, I won't be worried but grateful that you clarified it for all of us. Thank you indeed, Jas
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2010-07-09 22:34
I'm only almost a month late, but I just finished reading this. And WOW is all I can say. That was amazing. What a vast amount of research you did for this. Excellent writing here. And I definitely learned a lot from this. So thanks very much for writing this, Jas!

As an agnostic myself, I loved it when Dean revealed that he was skeptical about God's existence. It's a position most shows shy away from so as to not alienate their viewers. But the writers respected us as an audience enough to not let that affect our opinion of the show or the character. Dean's skepticism fit him and his life experiences.

At any rate, thanks again for this great article, Jas.