There are five gods in the Land of the Blessed. Four of them walk among their people, walk in majesty, might and radiant flesh.
The first god is the Storm-God. He is a king of his people, and the Temple That Moves is his habitation. He is the Judge of His People, the Brother To Warriors, the Husband To Wives, the Father To All, the Passion and the Fury. He lives as his people live; he shares their joys and desires, woes and frustrations; he is the first of them, and they all are the Blood of God.
The second god is the Alien God, that came from beyond earth and sky, beyond mountains’ fire and the fire of the sky; the wise god that came from beyond the moons and stars, for the gods below the moons and stars are gods of the mountains and the sky, and are not wise. The Alien God is the wise god of a higher world, an unseen world, a world not of flesh and clay, but of spirit and understanding. The Alien God is not a god of kingdoms, of palaces and armies; his followers are a poor and gaunt lot, for their eyes are on a greater prize. They feel no fear, no pain, for those are of flesh; their only desire is the wisdom of true kings.
The third god is the Killing God. He is the oldest God; and he is a He; his issue are the High Priests. He names the other gods impostors and betrayers; mere spirits of his service that have rebelled and falsely claimed a part of his dominion. Some day, a wrath-day, a blood-day that will soon come, his faithful will march out and slaughter the champions of those false gods, and bring the truth to those deluded by them; that day the false gods will kneel, and every head shall bow; and then the one true god, the Noble God, will reign in justice and righteousness, forever.
The fourth god is called Eternity; and she is a She, and She’s the One. Her truth is eternal and unchanging, and writ in Her Book of Truth. Her work is endless, for her faithful followers are ever beset by traitors, infiltrators and heretics. There are those that for their own venal gain pervert Her eternal and unchanging teachings; there are those sent by the wicked Other Gods to distort Her eternal and unchanging Truth; and there are people of pride and sinful desire that claim untruths and horrors to be spoken by Her, instead of her eternal and unchanging Truth. The work of her loyal prophets is endless, and hard; but she tires not of expounding to her unworthy servants her eternal and unchanging Truth, for such is the legitimate love of god.
The fifth god is the Enigma-God. Some say he is defined by what he is not: he is not like the other gods. Some say she is a ghost in the Land, and stands behind every mortal, and close to all other gods, though they see her not. Most say it is not as humans are; for even the other gods are as humans, but the Enigma-God is free of all bounds of humanity, location and time. Words cannot bind or describe the Enigma-God, for the Enigma-God is above words, beyond words, and the origin of words. The Enigma-God is not good, nor evil; not wise, nor foolish: for how could the words of unwise human beings binds the true divine?
There are five gods in the Land of the Blessed; five gods, and constant war.
Oft the first god, the Storm-God, leads his people from the desert: and they kill all at their path, and make the bloodied homes of others their own, until their god grows restless of such contamination, and leads them away.
The second god, the ascetic Alien God, is not warlike, but his followers are an infectious throng. Where his word comes, where his steps go, there families are torn apart, and fathers turned against sons, daughters against mothers; for his call to wisdom is to each alone, and those who hear the call cannot abide with those who do not. Markets grow silent where his word comes, and night-meetings loud with the drone of prayers; children grow wild uncared, and the elderly waste away left alone: for their lot is not much compared to the wish to escape the sad Land of corporeal misery, and the faithful know better than to weep for those who are fated to be nothing more than flesh and clay. Theirs is the Small Death, and rebirth, until they too are born with a True Soul, and face the dreadful horns of either the Great Death or the High Ascension. Such is the stark world of the second god. Famine, and disease, and poverty, and the wrath of the jealous other gods, come soon where the second god visits, and the land is left barren and desolate, its inhabitants dead of the Small Death, or of the Great one, or Ascended away.
The third god, the Killing God, is a mighty king and his fortress is strong: as a king he rules, and as a king he makes war. His armies wear iron and bronze, and a stronger armor in the certainty of their faith: and though they may face defeat, their cause knows it not. And those that fall in his wars fall gladly; for to die for their king and god is the sweetest cup, and the highest honor.
The fourth god, the Eternal God, is a ruler as well; but she is not a king, but a magistrate, a judge, an examiner of souls and words. Her holdings are vast, and her warfare is mostly within: for there ever is some heretic with an ancient forgery, certain that such a text is truer than that the words checked to her own lips, and warm with her breath.
The fifth god is seldom seen, if such a crude sense can catch such a god; but there are ever those that come more alive than others, and know things which cannot be known; and their fury and zeal causes much damage and harm. So, at least, it is according to the other gods; for much of that harm is loss to their own numbers, and division within their sects. Much division is attributed to the Enigma-God that is not that god’s work; and doubtless much of the Enigma-God’s work goes unnoticed.
Indeed, there is a depraved and dangerous sect that holds there is no fifth god; and for this reason, being similarly unconvinced of the worth of the other four, their are universally disliked and despised, for it is the highest of divine truths that without gods all would be ruination and madness. So says the Storm-God, the Alien God, the Killing God, the Eternity God, and the Enigma-God; so say they all. What such different and quarrelsome beings all agree on, must be the most obvious and basic of truths.
For indeed, is it not said in the words of the Storm-God: I am the Lord of the Tribe, and into fire walks he, who seeks a different lord; but into twofold and threefold fire goes he, who would be his own lord.
And does not the Alien God say, the man is of flesh, and the woman of clay: flesh and clay together cannot combine to spirit and wisdom. Spirit comes from spirit, and wisdom from wisdom: without god, there is no spirit and no wisdom.
The Killing God, the mighty king, has spoken: Am I not the maker of all, the first of all that was, is, or ever shall be? Am I not the only god, the god whose children are all false gods and mankind alike? Sooner will rivers flow upwards, and mountains fall into the sky, than there be a righteous man who does not honor and worship me.
The god that is called Eternity, she says: Consider, o mortals, the divine wisdom that is in the blooming of flowers and in the clash of war-blades: all has a beginning, and an end. And is not the eternal and unchanging wisdom of that eternal and unchanging saying, that birth is divine, and death also: how then there could be anything that is not of the gods, and in their demesne, magisterium and domain?
The Enigma-God, even, has said — or in the Enigma-God’s name it has been said, by many mouths — that though the divine is complex, it is also simple (for words cannot imprison a true god); and it is a poor and illegitimate religion that assigns shackles and mantles of words to that which is beyond words. And likewise, it is a poor and blind view of the world that insists on words, and will not have that which words cannot capture: for such a world will contain all words, and nothing else: and by rejecting divinity, it will contain nothing at all.
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And in other news, this is what I do when a flu hits me: sleep 12 hours, watch c. 6 hours of Jim Butcher interviews, down liters of tea, hot cocoa, honey and flu medicine, and crank out a crypto-anti-religious rant like this.
It would be really nice (and extremely inflammatory) to write about that “depraved and dangerous sect” that says there is no fifth god, and the other four are rotten scoundrels; but that would likely degenerate into an author tract pretty quickly.
Here’s what I was thinking: the Storm-God = the god of Genesis; the Alien God = the Gnostic god; the Killing God = the good old medieval god; the Eternity God and the Enigma-God = the most irritating aspects of Karen Armstrong and the other New Theists.
Now I’m going to read some Death Masks, and then sleep.