Male Gods and Massive Media: Religion Runs Free on the Internet

For those on the margins of faith, the internet is exploding notions of what religion can be.


| Spring 2016



Bibles

Men, when you think about it, have run not only the physical life of humans but also the spiritual and ritual life of humans for quite some time.

Photo by Flickr/WhatKnot

“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”       

— Ron Burgundy, San Diego television journalist (in the film Anchorman)

Ah, books. Don’t we love them? Don’t we complain of the piles of books we have all over our houses? Take “shelfies” and “post bookspine poetry” texts: The worst of us make crafts out of elderly, unwanted books or put them out for charity.

Recently I purged my collection (another hot topic) and, going even further than merely weeding out books I no longer wanted or needed, I expunged entire authors’ catalogs from my shelves. Farewell, Joyce Carol Oates. Goodbye, James Ellroy. And I’m taking that shelf back, Don DeLillo. Loading the things into plastic bags and dropping them off at a book depository felt like liberation, like I was ridding myself of death, dust, decay. Other people’s ideas that I didn’t need any more.

What did I do with the Bible? I didn’t own one, anyway. My husband has a few in his Book Annex (the “bonus room”). If, in my life as a digital religion writer, I ever need to make sure I’m remembering something from the Bible mostly right, I Google it. My ideas of some Bible concepts are a bit fuzzy due to (1) Catholic school, and (2) brain glazing over, especially concerning the Old Testament, where God just always seemed like a borderline-personality jerk. I have to choose the New American Translation, the choice of American Catholics, to match it up with the words in my memory, because, not being a Protestant, the King James strikes me as absurd. Also, the only Bible I have personally owned was the Good News Bible, whose Annie Vallotton line drawings still haunt my memory with images of pensive kings, trumpeting angels, and the goat who carried sins away. Maybe I should get another copy of that. I could read it in the tub.

The story of religion, thus far in my American life, has been that men wrote Books about male gods. The said books contain all the knowledge and guidance one needs to get through this thing called life. If one has enough faith and/or does enough good works, one will get to go to a huge after-party called Heaven, where you will get to hang out with the man-God.