One of the interesting things about keeping company with pagans is the reaction of non-pagans when they find out. I have heard more Wicker Man jokes, I swear to God, than I have nickels in the bank right now. When I mention that I have pagan friends, others have adopted a frightened, froglike attitude, leaping mid-conversation into the pond of Hollywood and coming up with this gem: “They worship Satan?!”
Know what? Some do. Why not? As far as I’m concerned, he’s just as made-up as the other guy. But most pagans I know take what I think is the healthiest of all possible approaches and worship nature. For example, water. I know people who worship water. Let’s face it: God’s not 70% of your body. Satan isn’t, either! If those guys exist, then they are basically powerful versions of yourself who don’t choose to talk to you. Do you not have enough of that in your life? Water’s there for ya, baby. Have a nice cool glass and thank those wonderful little molecules of H2O. Water water water. Delicious source of life. Mmmmmm-mm.
The best part is that water doesn’t care if you dance around and have a ceremony. It just wants you to be part of the great Water Cycle. Your worship can be as simple as a nice, chill lemonade on the front porch followed by a pleasant and satisfying bathroom run. On the other hand, you can get super intense: the quality of water can be destroyed by thoughtless human actions, including farm runoff and hydrofracking. You could campaign for water. Protect water. Save water! When did you ever get to save God? Never, that’s when. God insists on saving you but can’t take it in return. Red flag much? True: you can try to shout down people who are anti-God or try to convert people who dislike God, but theoretically those actions aren’t going to endanger God’s safety because nothing can do that. God literally doesn’t need anything from you. He wants you to do stuff, but if you don’t, it’s not him who will suffer for it.
Nevertheless, he will magnanimously save you from your own wickedness and idiocy time and time again, though he doesn’t actually do anything to stop you from making bad decisions. In fact, the more bad decisions you make, the more contact with God you get to have. Or have to have. It’s unclear what God gets out of all this. If he had an equal amount of faith in you as you have in him, he might actually talk to you now and then, but the deprivation experience sets you up for an undue amount of anxiety and the very real potential that you’ll be exploited by someone who says they’re talking to God when in fact they just want your money. Furthermore, I don’t trust the savior shtick. My experience suggests that people who continually engineer situations where they get to rescue you from a danger of which you were not aware often have something else going on that involves tapping into your inherent sense of obligation. Why not just come right out and ask for what you want? Unless, of course, what you want is horrifying. If you do successfully make God the center of your entire life, he might (might!) let you spend the rest of eternity praising his name. If you leave God alone and try to live your life on your own terms, he’ll get mad and torture you for the rest of time.
Suffice to say that God is not my cup of tea.
Water, on the other hand, just wants you to be hydrated. And to be nice and clean, of course. Water is my cup of tea in every possible way. I am drinking water in an actual cup of actual tea right now. Water is currently making me feel absolutely great in exchange for my active participation in the ecology. And I even get to steep tasty stuff in it! Hail water!
I realize that not everyone’s concept of God is going to focus on the deranged omnipowerful narcissist model that I outlined above. God loves us, God wants us to be happy, God is a construct that maintains a social structure through personal accountability and large monetary donations to religious institutions, etc. Believe it or not, I grew up with God, so I do understand the draw. It’s an awesome feeling when the guy in charge of your parents says that you’re absolved of all your personal flaws just because you really want to be. It feels great to know that God loves you even though everyone at school calls you a dorkus and your parents are fighting all the time. If you can imagine God watching you all day long, maybe you’ll have an easier time hanging onto sobriety, marital faithfulness, or your diet. If God works for you, matzel tov. God has many fine qualities.
However, I’m sticking with water. It’s tastier and has more interesting chemical properties. It’s more versatile than God and its wisdom is in its very nature. I feel like I can learn a lot about going with the flow from water, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. And I’ll keep my personal flaws, too, thank you very much.