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Paul Catalanotto: Gods, Gaiman, and Wright

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Even some well-intentioned Christians can realise they have been worshipping other gods. PHOTO: Pixabay

To worship anything other than God makes us less human

The Anglican Bishop and biblical scholar, NT Wright, wrote in Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, that “You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.” 

Famed British author Neil Gaiman sheds insight on the Bishop’s statement for modern man in his highly acclaimed and award-winning novel American Gods.

Gaiman based the premise for the story on a thought experiment that wonders what comes of the old gods of myth when their followers migrate to foreign nations and what would happen when those old gods encounter the new gods of today in an epic battle to settle who will be America’s gods. Understanding that in Gamin’s book, all gods are real, and the new gods are made real by humanity’s worship of them.

The worship of gods makes man less because they are of man’s invention, and what is less than man cannot elevate man to a higher state or place.

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Like the gods of old, Gaiman’s new gods are personifications of the things people find worthy to gaze in awe and admiration, and he points out what many in our society know to be true but refuses to admit. People, even some well-meaning Christians, worship gods, even accidentally. For Gaiman, these new gods manifest as Technology, Media, Government, and the Market, but the new gods are not limited to these alone.


Moreover, to worship the gods is to not only become like the thing worshipped, as NT Wright suggests, but is also an allowance for us to be duped and consumed by the thing we worship. For instance, in one of the book’s early scenes, a goddess consumes an unnamed character after he worships her.


That is as if to say that Gaiman suggests that from the start of the text that worshipping gods, even unknowingly, not only makes the worshipper more like the god worshipped but also leads to the god’s eventual devouring of the worshipper. In other words, Gaiman confirms what NT Wright stated and extends it one step further.

The result is that the gods of old and these new gods do not make worshippers into better versions of themselves because they are not better than humanity. The worship of gods makes man less because they are of man’s invention, and what is less than man cannot elevate man to a higher state or place. It only keeps humanity oppressed.

For instance, when we worship health and youth, it makes us cruel to anything that is not youthful and healthy and paves the way for such practices as physician aid in dying. When we worship an idea we become more ideological and less truthful; we trade doctrine and reality for conspiracy and fantasy. When we worship social media, we become less social. When we worship sex, we become less sexual and more confused about sex.


Therefore, to worship anything other than God Himself, the great I AM, is to become less human and bear less a resemblance to God.


What gods do Australians worship today? Email me your thoughts at [email protected]


Paul Catalanotto: Sheep in shepherd’s clothing

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