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Invisible Gods for Invisible Men

June 5, 2017

I have been watching the show American Gods, which takes place in a world in which gods are created through people’s beliefs in them, and thus, “old” gods can struggle in modernity as people forget them in favor of new gods (such as the media, technology, and conspiratorial or corporate thinking). The show has gone through lengths to show how the old gods have coped with their current status in America, with some gods living very modestly in their less popular state, while other gods reinvent themselves to maintain relevance.

This can work because each god is described as having a sort of domain, but while those domains may have been expressed a certain way in the past (through explicit prayers or sacrifices or wars or things like this), those domains can be expressed in other ways (for example, sheer attention.)

Anyway, that is just exposition. Recently, I was thinking about being an invisible man. I have written about this a couple of times on this blog, because I find myself sometimes lamenting my own invisibility while other times enjoying it. As I wrote previously:

The impression that most sticks out in my mind is that the protagonist seemed to have some success…some visibility from the powers that be. At least, at the beginning. And things weren’t not as good as they seemed. In actuality, he was being used for others’ enjoyment, and when he became less amusing, he was cut off.

His invisibility, however, was not his death. Rather, he was still able to do quite a bit as an invisible man. Invisible people can cause trouble and not get caught. Invisible people can sidestep rules and no one will be watching them for long enough to punish them.

Invisible people don’t get too famous, but they also don’t get into that much drama, either.

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about American Gods was because I was thinking about the prevalence of God in the world. For so many people, God seems obvious or a given. So much evidence abounds to them (if not all things count as evidence.)

And yet, for me, I got nothing.

But when I thought about Invisible Man, and then I thought about the concept of gods tailored to whatever a person needs or has or whatever, I then thought, wouldn’t an invisible man have an invisible god?

Wouldn’t it be possible that instead of trying to become visible (and famous, and obvious, but also exposed, a target), the invisible man should be grateful every day for his invisibility, and, in turn, the invisibility of his god?

Another thing I wrote before:

The janitor, too, is invisible. Or when he is seen, he is not regarded well. People are above the janitor. Yet, the janitor is an integral part of an organization, and he is extremely helpful to know. For you see…the janitor can cause a lot of trouble if he doesn’t do his job. Furthermore, he can cause a lot of trouble in a way that will not draw others’ ire to him. Invisibility is invulnerability. As such, the janitor position is an exercise in humility, discretion, and charity. The janitor serves; the janitor listens; the janitor remains silent.

Perhaps the challenge, instead of looking for visible signs, is to recognize how much the entire system works invisibly, and to learn to tap into those invisible workings as well.

I dunno. Maybe this is really just something that sounds OK when I write it, but which actually turns out to be really DUMB.

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One Comment
  1. Agellius permalink

    “Perhaps the challenge, instead of looking for visible signs, is to recognize how much the entire system works invisibly, and to learn to tap into those invisible workings as well.”

    That’s an interesting thought. I guess that’s one way of describing what faith is like. We sort of live within a framework of reality and take the framework for granted. This is why philosophy is often helpful in bringing people to faith, because it questions the nature of the framework itself; unlike the physical sciences, which can only detect things within the framework.

    Faith is accepting one explanation of the framework as having been revealed by the being who is its source and sustenance. This explanation can also be shown to be consistent with philosophical explanations of the framework and therefore not repugnant to reason.

    (BTW, this is an important way in which traditional Christianity differs from Mormonism: The Mormon explanation of gods existing within the framework could never be arrived at through philosophy, independent of revelation, IMHO. Such gods can only be analogous to rumored but as yet undiscovered and unverified species of animals or alien beings — they may or may not exist, and we won’t know which until we make contact with them. There is no philosophical reason why they must exist.)

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