In the It’s Official: Hindus Did Worship in Fatimathread we find this statement
[quote=GrzeszDeL]The Portugal News (May 22, 2004) story reporting this event quoted one of the Hindu participants explaining that the Virgin of Fatima is a goddess in her particular panoply of deities. In other words, the Hindus praying at Fatima were praying (in their own understanding) not to the Mother of God, but to a goddess. This is blasphemy.
It got me wondering. What does this mean? What does GrzeszDeL mean by contrasting the Blessed Virgin with “goddess”? What is it that distinguishes angels and the Blessed Virgin such that we always refer to heavenly beings of other religions as “gods” and “goddesses” but refrain from using that term with respect to Christian heavenly beings.
Don’t answer “because there is only one God.” The concept of a god is very different from that of “God.” God is not a god. A god like Apollo is a finite, faulty, created being, as any thoughtful ancient Greek would admit. Although perhaps far above mortal humans, Apollo is infinitely removed from the Judeao-Christian concept of God. Some pagan “gods” are even mortal, e.g., the Norse gods perish at Ragnarok.
At first glance it seems that the only characteristics which qualify an entity to be referred to as a god (when discussing any *non-Christian *religion) is that (1) the entity be not bound by spatio-temporal limitations and (2) be capable of hearing “prayers.” (Please let’s not get stuck on trying define prayer also.)
For instance, in Chinese folk religion, under the supreme deity there is a vast heirarchy of beings commonly referred to in English descriptions as “gods.” But these gods in traditional Chinese belief are held to be humans elevated to various “jobs” in the heirarchy. What distinguishes this Chinese concept–rendered in English as “gods”–from our cult of saints?
Is it merely linguistic egotism? Like Christianity has “denominations” while all other religions have “sects”? Or, Christians have “churches” while all other religions have “temples”?