In my college poetry class I reads a poem that contained the line “What if the go(o)ds refuse to go to market?” I don’t remember the name of the poem, or even Strickland’s first name (I only know that the last name is Strickland because it says so in the second paragraph), but I remember how much this line made me think, so I dug through my “Old Classes” files and dug this up.
I loved these lines in the poem. "What if the go(o)ds refuse to go to market? What then?" I think it is really though provoking because it presents the question, "What is the marketability of a god?" What is it about a god that would make a person want to buy (or for that matter, not buy) them? What are aspects of a god that if we were to see it on a shelf in Meijer we'd be like, "Who would actually buy that thing?" regardless of how much they were charging? Are there specific things we look for in a god that we wouldn't want to buy it if it didn't have them. Is a god like a car? Without the right features we're going to be like, "Nope, not quite what I'm looking for" and move on? Or is a god more like something that you see on QVC or the Home Shopping Network; something that you didn’t know you couldn’t live without? Or is a god like something from a garage sale? Can you barter down the price? Pick it up second hand from someone who doesn’t want their god anymore?
I also think it's interesting the play on gods and goods. By comparing a god to a good it is almost as though Strickland is saying that a god is an inanimate object that is sitting out there for our benefit to fill its purpose when we need it to. But she is at the same time using personification for goods (which are inanimate most of the time regardless of how you view God). Refusing is not a passive verb. It is an active verb, a VERY active verb. It implies a conscious choice and desire and an action that prevents one from doing something. An inanimate object cannot refuse to do anything. An apple cannot look at the farmer and be like, "I'm not going to go to market today, sorry" (and if it did that'd be a little scary).
So... what do you do with a bad good (hehe)? Do you put it in the corner for a time out? Do you spank it? Do you drag it to market despite its refusal? What would the farmer do if the apple wouldn't come out of the tree? If every vegetable or fruit decided it didn't want to be eaten? Then the farmer wouldn't be able to go to the market and he wouldn't be able to sell his food and he'd go broke and lose the farm (literally) and people will starve because they don't have the fruits and veggies they need and eventually civilization as we know it would collapse (but I exaggerate). If these are the possible repercussions from a simple apple uprising, what would happen if the gods were to revolt? What would happen if an entire pantheon was no longer marketable? Would it have the same effects?
So did the Greek pantheon die away into myth because Alexander died without leaving an heir, breaking up his kingdom and causing years and years of civil war and causing Ancient Greek culture to give way to the growing Roman culture? Or did the Ancient Greek culture die away because their gods were no longer needed, there were new gods to worship. But the Ancient Greek pantheon is a poor example because the Romans just assimilated their gods and gave them new names. Did Ancient Pagan Roman culture, a culture of relative enlightenment and great acts of barbarism die away because their gods, and the gods of those they conquered, were no longer necessary with the rise of Christianity and the Christian Roman Empire? Did these gods become no longer marketable, and so they, and the culture they inspired, fall to the wayside to give rise to another culture with a god that people were buying?
Will Christianity eventually become a culture with an unmarketable God? Will it eventually die away? And what god will be marketable after that? Has it already happened?