Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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The Hounds of Heaven
Well, that's strange. I dreamed last night that my mother (in reality an atheist) was advising my brother to convert to Roman Catholicism, "Because of the music." Then she frisbeed a slice of bread into the stream we were all sitting beside and turned to me, adding, "I see you more as a kind of free-floating pantheist."

What's strange? Only that that's the second night in a row that the subject of religious conversion has come up in a dream. The one the night before was so vivid that I went to the trouble of writing it up, and I've reproduced it below the cut. I flip-flopped (in the way of dreams) between being the protagonist and the person being told the story, and I've tried to convey that here....




“Around that time I was working in a museum, in the gallery devoted to world religions. I spent my days in a big room filled with statues, paintings, fetishes and icons. Right in the centre was a statue of the Babylonian sun god Shamash, but there was also an eight-foot-tall Athene, an Annunciation, a little golden Shiva, you name it. It takes all sorts to make a world.

“One night, as I was about to lock up, I felt someone watching me – you know how you do? I looked back, only to find that all the statues (and even the Virgin in her picture) had turned to look at me, and all wore the same stern expression. A moment later I was standing before the assembled divinities, and knew myself to be on trial.

“Shamash was their spokesman. ‘Why do you walk among us as if we were lifeless objects, when you know better? Choose which one of us to follow. You cannot safely stand for ever in the middle of the Royal Road. You must move to right or left.’

“I looked from one divine, appraising face to another. I knew their vengeance might be terrible. How could I avoid offending someone?

“’How dare I, a mortal, choose from among the gods?’ I began.

“’How dare you not?’

“At once I found myself standing on a broad, straight heathland road at night, looking up to the brow of a hill some hundred paces ahead, visible only as a greater darkness against the starline. The air was cold and clear, with a vertiginous sky above. At first the night was quiet, except for the winter breeze bending the long grasses of the heath. Then powerful headlights pierced the darkness, and a huge juggernaut crested the hill and sped toward me. Instinctively I leapt into the ditch on my right, and felt it thunder past in a daze of horns and lights and jangled music. Somehow I knew that the juggernaut was also Shamash. In his wake came a convoy of others, each a god. Silence rushed in behind them at last like a fluttering banner, and the grasses sagged and sighed. A minute passed; and then I heard one final engine, but this was simply a car much like my own, driving tentatively across the dark heath. A woman drove, and there were children inside. How they had found their way onto this perilous road I didn’t know, but they too passed, then slipped into the tarry darkness further down the hill. Next, as I had known I would, I heard the sound of crashing glass and metal a distance away, and the screams of the dying. For the gods never show themselves without demanding sacrifice.

“I leapt to the right, you see,” said the Attendant, at the end of the tale. “When it came to it, I didn’t think – I just did what my instinct told me. And it told me to leap right.”

The Attendant took a long, meditative drag on a cigarette. “And that’s why, in the end, I became a Roman Catholic.”

The Catholic church practises a kind of pantheism. It has gods for everything- only it calls them saints.

Brilliant post btw!

If anything, I incline to a kind of animism - but "free-floating pantheism" isn't a bad description either.

Thank you - I shall convey your compliments to my id!

Animism and pantheism sort of bleed into one another. I subscribe to both. I think they're different takes on the same thing- with animism being down and dirty and pantheism rather more high-minded. Animists wear woad and pantheists wear togas but both recognise the Great God Pan.

Nice comparison - and it also brings to mind Tolkien's Valar.

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