Monday, November 5, 2007

A goddess by any other name ...






















... is still a goddess, and feeds our collective hunger for divinity. Here's an email exchange I had with Dave today--

Dave wrote: Here's a headline I saw on Yahoo: "Oprah wept at learning of school assault." That woman is fetishized in the weirdest way. This is like some sort of archetype or mythological figure. She exists through a narrative of gestures strung together.

I wrote: No, not some sort of archetype--a very specific one: "Jesus wept."

Dave wrote: That was my first thought, and then I started to think of other possibilities, like some myth you haven't heard but would sound familiar when you were told about it -- when Great Mother saw what had happened to her children, she wept, and where each tear fell it grew and formed a kettle pond...



Very perceptive, that Dave. I knew he was a keeper. He's got Oprah right, of course. She is our mother goddess. She is absolutely an icon of maternal wisdom, strength and generosity. The fact that she has no children of her own only perfects her status as a goddess. She couldn't be the mother of us all if she had actual bratty offspring running around making her look too human.

I'm sure this observation has been made before; in fact, it wouldn't shock me if Oprah herself makes it on a regular basis. The important question is whether we think Oprah as Great Mother is a bad, good or indifferent thing. My own inclination is to think it's a good thing, or at least an inevitable thing. People will have their gods and goddesses, and they want to keep them close by--like, say, inside their televisions. The church and the mosque offer grand manifestations of holiness, but they don't provide the intimacy with divinity that humans crave. You can't count on the Virgin Mary showing up in your living room Monday through Friday at 4.

This is why Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. should stop wasting their time and ours preaching against religion. Humans are hardwired to seek a god, and trying to talk that away is about as likely to succeed as the endless clerical campaigns against fornication. True, some people do seem to be completely free of the need for gods. Some are completely free of lust, too, but it's not currently fashionable to run around bragging about it. The spiritually frigid person is as freakish in his way as the relentless prude, just as the god-obsessed fanatic is as abnormal as the sex addict.

Sex and religion are both potentially dangerous. Pretty much every pleasure is, here on planet Earth. I don't know why that's so, but if you don't like it, emigrate or take it up with Oprah. Meanwhile, indulge responsibly.


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

4 comments:

heather said...

I've been trying to convince my atheist husband that Oprah actually IS god, but he still won't buy it. (For the record, I'm an atheist too but I am fairly sure that Oprah exists, which puts at least one important chalk mark in her favor.) Thank you for the additional ammo in my arsenal.

chayaruchama said...

I DON'T have to support her in every realm-

Notwithstanding, I agree.
She shares what she has, and desperately tries to do the right thing, for the right reasons.

She has learned from hard experience, and she has evolved...
The classic , irresistible Aquarian female par excellence...

[BTW- I call the sign- one of my karmic favorites- the sign of the 'benign despot'...

'Home Despot"]

helg said...

There IS a difference between religiousness and spirituality of course. Whether that is at the root of people worshipping Oprah in droves even if they have some other beliefs or not is interesting to ponder. Very apt comment you made about her not having children of her own making her prime material for being a mother for all. She has used this to her advantage I guess.
Still, it's so much better to see that role-models like Oprah exist instead of role-models like...say, Manson. The world is a better place for it and I for one can't hold it against her. Good work, O!

BitterGrace said...

Exactly, Heather--think of all the atheists who believe in the existence of Oprah. She's got it all over Yahweh.

Chaya and Helg--I hope you didn't think I was dissing Oprah. Not at all. She doesn't really figure in my personal pantheon--which runs more to Eno, The Flying Monkeys and my cat Binx--but I totally respect the divinity she represents. Her annoying qualities only make her more a goddess in the ancient sense. It's only the monotheists who insist on an omnipotent and infallible deity.