“Aren’t you going to ask to Lord to watch over us? Is that too much to ask?” So pleads the mother in Wes Craen’s The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Is what too much to ask? Is it asking her family to pray for safety that’s too much to ask? Or is asking a deity for protection in the first place what’s too much to ask?
In other words, who’s she worried about imposing upon: her family? or God?
Isn’t there more than a little difference between the two?
The first interpretation is merely a sarcasm within the family. Clearly this woman has trained her offspring to pray for safety, for food, shelter, sustenance … security, prosperity. The pater familias has led the way with her or toed the line or agreed not to disagree. Never mind, that’s their business. It’s the latter reading of the ambiguity that I wish to contemplate. The traditions that Christians call pagan are at total variance with the traditions of any of the major sects of Christianity. All religions involve humans seeking luck, advantage, benefit. The polytheistic religions ask local favors of local magical entities: Please, can we fare well in tomorrow’s battle; please can we have rain; please can we find game … If you sacrifice a virgin to Moloch, throw unwanted children into the fiery belly of his statue, maybe this Force will allow the bulk of you to live another day, week, year.
Asking anything of the monotheistic deity of Judaism / Christianity (-ies) is another matter entirely. The Jews’ god is the creator god. In the Christian Protestant Capitalist variations, he’s the owner as well as the creator. White’s King Arthur, once he had pulled the sword from the stone, was asked by one and all to get the cork out of the bottle for them, to open the stubborn can. Well, in peace time, it may not be too foolish to drain the king’s energies with domestic trivia, but what about in war? When Washington is crossing the Delaware, should I really ask him to ask my girlfriend to open her legs for me when I come home? Should I ask the IRS to do my taxes for me? Should I interrupt Bill Gates’ day at his desk to ask for a red bicycle for Christmas?
If God made the world, and we didn’t, what are we asking him for anything for? Why don’t we buy our own bicycle? I don’t care how we impose on Moloch, I care nothing about Moloch. But the Jesus worthy of my worship shouldn’t be bothered with pleas to forgive me for living on land stolen by genocide.
The pagan’s took pleasure from what their gods gave them. Homer’s gods didn’t seem to care much one way or another what humans thought or wanted or respected or believed. But I was trained to Christianity. I think we should conceal our petty wants from God. He’ll know about what he wants when he wants without our opening our mouths. And he’s supposed to know what’s right without my advice.