God(s) in a Box?

I’ve been reading UU minister (now retired, I think) Webster Kitchell’s book Coyote Says… In it, in an essay titled Coyote Goes on Retreat, Coyote* and the Reverend have the following exchange:

What do y’all think? Why such an effort to distance ourselves from that sense of the Divine (however it’s defined)? Or is there one?

*[sub]Coyote, of course, is the Rev. Kitchell’s interpretation of the Native American Trickster God, or his subconscious, depending on how you want to look at it.[/sub]

Out of sight, out of mind?

Invisible, insane?

joel, what’s your point? :wink:

does the label on the box say:

Cool! A simplistic analysis of a Western idea from the vantage point of a (putatively superior) non-Western viewpoint made by somebody who really ought to know better.

Maybe they should think about it. They’re gods, maybe they could come up with something.

Perhaps because they look at the world, see how poorly it runs, and say “the gods must not be paying too much attention”. What is Coyote’s explanation for suffering?

Who said they want to be apart? Maybe they have to be. Maybe being near a real god is too much for people to bear all the time.

Gods don’t live in churches. I learned this when I was five.

Because it’s better than no time at all?

Then fix things and quit whining.

Get a hobby?

A metaphor: gods are like the Moon. It’s not far off, but it’s hard to get to, it wouldn’t be too neat if it were really close, and you couldn’t spend a lot of time there anyhow. So people get in small boxes every once in a while and go there. That doesn’t mean the Moon doesn’t like us, or that we don’t like the Moon, or that the Moon lives in the small boxes people use to get there. How could Coyote be so ignorant of what he’s talking about?

I think that interpretation of church is flawed. Of course I can’t speak for well, many people at all, but in the church I attended, the idea was to devote an hour (or however long) to thinking only of God, rather than off and on whenever you weren’t too busy. To spend that hour in church doesn’t mean that’s the only time you’re allowed or encouraged to think about and talk to God. It’s just a space of time set aside in which you’re garaunteed that there will be no distractions to take away from your worship. In my church’s theology, God is everywhere all the time, and it is impossible to be outside of God. The goal is to keep that idea in the forefront of your mind and activities all the time, with church as a supplemental.

Rather than church resulting from an effort to separate us from the divine, I think it’s generally there to bring us closer to it, remind us if its presence in our daily lives, and get us to lift our thinking above everyday pettiness.

(this isn’t specifically about this book, or dogsbody’s reading habits, but I do think it can apply to many religious “fly by night” texts.)


You want to make money with minimal effort.

Various solutions, including:

Become a minister. Preferably, one for a church which doesn’t have any harsh morality, yet one where, for some perplexing reason to the rest of us, people come in once a week and throw their money away for the priviledge of singing and chanting in a group setting.

Better yet, make even more money, by writing a book. Remember, you don’t have to make it the least bit intelligent. You just need to make it so those same people who throw their money away every Sunday will throw a little of it your way. These people will read anything and be amazed at how “smart” and “authorative” it is (remember – you do have that mail order minister degree.)

Bonus points if you can get it turned into a movie, of course.


tsk, Joel, UU ministers have to study a long damn time to get their reverendships. Mail-order indeed. :wink:

This was a small quote from a larger essay; Coyote’s theory on suffering (at least as far as I’ve been able to glean from the three(! hush up, joel ;)) books that have been published is that humans create suffering - but the gods set up a universe that allows suffering to happen, and also that (all) gods (including YHVH) are creations of the human mind who exist only through human imagination except that the human imagination would not exist if the gods had not made man with one!

Confused yet? I know I am.

Actually, I think that a lot of people don’t think about the Divine unless they’re in church/some other religious setting; I know that in some Christian churches there is this idea that Divinity has to be separated from humanity, and I think that many people shy away from the sense that they are manifestations of divinity because that forces them to be responsible for their own actions, rather than blaming the Sky God or someone else.

But that’s just me.



And some of us find it sensible that a putatively loving god would establish a morality that says, be as stringent as you can with yourself, and act with love and charity towards your fellow man. YMMV, of course. All I’ve got for authorities on this is the word of a First Century carpenter-turned-rabbi and a couple of fishermen-turned-preachers.

As opposed to, say, giving it away to the poor?

Y’know, if “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” then not giving them all your resources is probably the kindest thing you can do for them. For “what profits a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”


To the OP:

It’s very true that a lot of people do tend to keep their religion separate from their everyday life. And regrettable. However, there are those who try to live it out.

Beyond that, I’d rather not go. I have a real problem with trickster gods – including the Divine Weasel. So Coyote does not resonate with me, even in a “consider the possibilities” mode.

*Originally posted by Polycarp *

And now I say tsk, Poly. :wink:

You know, not to hijack my own thread, but I find this comment interesting, Poly, for two reasons. First, I had never considered Coyote (or Raven, or Rabbit) in a league with the Divine Weasel, so I’ll have to think about that.

Second because the Trickster does resonate with me, very strongly, largely because most Trickster gods are just like us. They live their lives, try to do things they either can’t or shouldn’t, foul up spectacularly, and yet manage to go on despite it all and accomplish whatever purpose they have in existing. Although Tricksters can certainly foul up well beyond anything an average human can manage, they’re still closer to human than some of the more distant gods of other mythologies. (not just referring to the J/C/I God, here). As such, I find them a reminder that I’m pretty divine in my own right, and a comfort because I don’t have to be perfect.

Just MHO, of course. YMMV.

Perhaps the Gods are so distant to help explain why we don’t see them on adaily basis, and why divine intervention is so rare and unsubstantiable.

Perhaps the Gods are distant for the same reason the cool kids in high school hung out on the other side if the cafeteria: it makes them that much cooler and more impressive, and besides; they’re busy doing cool things. You wouldn’t understand.

Perhaps the Gods are distant to better remove themselves from their lab experiment. “You cannot study refraction from inside the prism.”

Perhaps the Gods are distant so that we are not tempted to cross the narrow gulf between us, and drown in the trying. (Or have to be drowned).

Perhaps the Gods are so distant because we have not lived up to their standards, and they have abandoned us.

Perhaps the Gods are distant because, having created us, they learned that they could not properly care for us, and so left us on someone’s porch to have them care for us, not knowing the house attached to the porch was abandoned. So, we grow up yearning for intimacy, and without parents to provide it.

Perhaps the Gods are distant for the same reason the cyclops is difficult to find.

Perhaps the Gods are distant because their proximity is dangerous or disruptive to our existance.

Perhaps the Gods are distant only in appearance; they are all around us, if only we knew how to look.

Perhaps the Gods are distant so that we don’t ask difficult questions of (or about) them.

Sorry for the hijack (I really have no response to the OP), but was Kitchell’s book the proximate source for the Simpsons episode where Homer went on a bad pepper-inspired trip and met Coyote (voiced by Johnny Cash)? Or was it just a more general ref to the Coyote myth?