I’m finishing up Gena Showalter’s second book of the Lords of the Underworld series, The Darkest Kiss. And I’m excited because my friend who recommended the series assured me that the books get better as the series progresses, which is always a treat! Anyway, I’ve been intrigued by a sub-plot of the series wherein the pantheon of Greek gods, led by Zeus, has been overturned by the Titans, whom the Greeks had previously conquered to take over Olympus. Payback’s a bitch, dontcha know? So, now we have a situation where a group of grouchy gods are newly returned to power, running the show and pulling the strings, taking an interest in people and circumstances that the Greek gods had been inclined to ignore for millennia. Note to self: try to avoid becoming the object of attention of all-powerful gods intent on demonstrating their power and getting their revenge on. Not a good situation. But underlying that storyline is the extraordinary idea that our gods, or the idea of our God, can change over time and how that can truly rock our worlds.
In The Darkest Kiss, the Titans, led by Cronus, are handing out assignments—which are not at all optional—to the Lords of the Underworld who have been mostly left alone by the Greek gods for millennia. This is not a welcome development for our favorite alpha hunks. Our boys have learned to live with the demons they host and have even come to some accommodation of the death curse suffered by Violence, Pain and Death. Until true love frees them all from this vile curse in book one, The Darkest Night. I do love my HEAs. But now, Cronus has commanded Wrath to kill Pain’s beloved, and Death to take the soul of the only woman he’s loved in thousands of years. Talk about a buzzkill. Needless to say, the Lords of the Underworld are not big fans of these gods-in-charge and are hoping for another change in management, which does not appear to be forthcoming at this point.
Which got me thinking about the ways we each conceive of our own personal gods or God. I’m a big believer in the God of many faces—the Divine that exists and that isn’t me. I’m happy and comforted to believe there is something bigger than me out there managing the chaos and creating purpose. But I haven’t always believed as I do, and in fact, my concept of the Divine has evolved right along with the rest of me, allowing me to experience a change in Universal management whenever I feel the need. If only our friends, the Lords of the Underworld, could see things my way.
Now I understand that many people feel that God is a fixed entity or idea. Maybe He is that old man with a white beard who sits up on his clouds in heaven weighing our every move and judging the quality of our characters. Or perhaps your God is a more benevolent Jesus, trailing love and mercy in His wake for all who follow him and maybe even those who don’t, depending on your particular understanding of Christianity. Or maybe your God is closer to the Jewish and Muslim construct, a non-personal energy that cannot and should not be depicted in any sort or concrete form, to avoid idolatry. I believe that the God of many faces is all of these embodiments and more.
I think God is so much bigger than our limited imaginations can conceive that it is the height of hubris to presume that any one of us, or any group of us can define the Divine in any sort of categorical way. And my apologies if I’m offending anyone, but that just seems silly to me. The Divine, by definition, is infinite. We, and our thinking, also by definition, are finite. Do the math.
If you buy into my logic, we can be like Cronus and his cronies and oust the current leadership in favor of a more proactive deity or deities. Or, we can discern that our needs are best served by a more distantly benevolent supreme being who is well disposed toward us, but perhaps a bit too busy to attend to our more mundane concerns. Which is OK, as long as the Big Guy shows up when we’re in the foxhole, forgetting that we were functional atheists prior to our current consternation.
Or perhaps you prefer a more activist universal life force. No problem. Being infinite, the God of many faces can help us with any problem under the sun, including what to wear and what to eat and who to date and which job to take. Infinity can accommodate anything we can throw at it. That’s what it means to be infinite. Pretty cool. In fact, we can write the most perfect job description we can conceive, and the infinite will always have the exact quals we desire. Because that’s also what it means to be infinite.
We can change our conception of the Divine and therefore our relationship to our God or gods as often as we feel the urge. If we’re burdened by a concept of a frightening, judgmental God as a souvenir from our unhappy childhood, we can ditch that construct and build a more loving, compassionate, merciful God. If we’re wracked with guilt and convinced we’re going to Hell, we can work through these malevolent ideas and move toward integration and peace through confession, restitution and authentic remorse. All is possible with that which is infinite. Infinite possibilities is the name of the game. We are only limited by our finite thinking.
I love the world building in this series and I love the thought experiment inspired by the idea that gods can be conquered and ousted from power. I can’t say I like either of these sets of thugs-in-gods’-clothing, but perhaps we’ll see a third set of deities as the series progresses, or maybe the Greeks will be chastened by defeat and more benevolently disposed toward our heroes. In any case, it is all infinitely interesting and infinitely entertaining in my finite world.