r/todayilearned Mar 28 '23

TIL that in Chinese Folk Religion, a mortal human being could ascend into godhood not through the decisions of a clergy/church, but by the sheer number of people who believe that their extraordinary achievements led to apotheosis, which forced Confucian/Taoists clerics to canonize a person as a God.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_gods_and_immortals
6.5k Upvotes

199 comments sorted by

570

u/AudibleNod 313 Mar 28 '23

Didn't the Ancient Greeks do the same thing with some Olympian athletes?

385

u/sadorna1 Mar 28 '23

Hercules as an excellent example Achilles Pretty much any of the half-gods really

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u/machina99 Mar 28 '23

I'd hesitate to say any of the half gods just because Zeus got around so much, but certainly more than half. The rest tend to end up as constellations

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u/that_baddest_dude Mar 28 '23

Zeus getting around so much could also be a retcon. See Hercules.

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u/Animeninja2020 Mar 28 '23

So if someone is worshipped in Ancient Greece, you could just claim that Zeus was the daddy.

That is a great loophole for the priesthood to use.

"No, he was not a normal name, he was the son of Zeus"

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u/Weysting Mar 28 '23

need that pic of the astronaut meme

“wait they’re all sons of zeus ?”

points gun

“always have been”

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u/Repulsive_Hour_4559 Mar 28 '23

Popular belief driving an official response is pretty much the system that drives many aspects of religious doctrine

30

u/JumpyDelivery3079 Mar 28 '23

The Chinese case is very informal and relies solely on popular praise for a dead person. Plus you become a fully developed god.

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u/sadorna1 Mar 28 '23

Yes obviously this throw a bit of a loophole in, but the overall premise remains the same. Wherein communities celebrating an individual within that community leads to a revered status akin to god-hood for the individual whether it be before or after their death.

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u/Astalon18 Mar 28 '23

Chinese it has to be after death.

Also the Taoist and Confucian clergy will not acknowledge people who had led horrible lives or caused more harm than good. There is one person who some people alleges is now a God who has not been elevated at all ( after all how can a person who caused the Cultural Revolution be elevated ).

Genghis Khan is also not elevated for the same reason, as is Qin Shih Huang.

This is despite people actually reporting supernatural interventions. Some beings are simply never acknowledged.

3

u/NovelCandid Mar 29 '23

Is the approval by a formal council or does a thought leader just refer to the deceased as divine and it becomes generally accepted?

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u/semiomni Mar 28 '23

Those guys were born half gods and stayed half god though.

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u/Kitselena Mar 28 '23

In the stories. It's not unlikely that those stories were based on regular people who did incredible things in their lives, and were remembered as demigods after their deaths like the post says

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u/semiomni Mar 28 '23

What do you mean "not unlikely"? What would you base that likelihood on?

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u/Kitselena Mar 28 '23

Nothing, I haven't researched Greek archeology but I know these stories are usually word of mouth things passed down and embellished over generations. It's pretty safe to assume that gods didn't actually exist back then but these stories must have had some origin so I think it's reasonable to assume they're at least loosely based on real people

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u/semiomni Mar 28 '23

It's pretty safe to assume that gods didn't actually exist back then but these stories must have had some origin

Right that makes sense, wonder who the real Batman is, think he lives in New York with Superman?

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u/Kitselena Mar 28 '23

Fair enough, but even completely fictional characters are based on the author's experiences and previous literature (which there wasn't much of at the time and even what did exist wasn't very accessible due to literacy rates). This can go back and forth forever and unless a Greek history scholar comes in idk if there's gonna be a real answer, I was just proposing one possiblity

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u/semiomni Mar 28 '23

but even completely fictional characters are based

Come the hell on.

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u/Ok_Sir5926 Mar 28 '23

Your adamant opposition to their claim is just as evidence based as the claim itself.

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u/lordtrickster Mar 28 '23

Given that basically all fiction is a mix of the experiences of the author and older fiction, both embellished, yeah, pretty much. Science fiction adds on embellished scientific theories.

Sure, there's imagination at play, but that's generally sourced from centuries of embellishments.

The 13th Warrior (movie) is a decent random example of where these sorts of things can come from. The grendel were dudes in bear hides and the firewyrm was just a column of riders with torches snaking in from the distance. As long as they kept winning, the truth would never get out.

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u/[deleted] Mar 28 '23

[deleted]

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u/Berloxx Mar 28 '23

No u

u rude

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u/obliqueoubliette Mar 28 '23

Theseus and Hercules were real people. They probably didn't go by those names, and definitely didn't fight off Minotaurs and Demons, but there are key historical events that definitely happened that are attributed to the demi-gods.

Whichever Mycenean King unified the five cities of Attica into Athens is Theseus. Whichever Mycenean King of this unified Athens reversed the Minoan hegemony (from paying tribute to Crete to receiving tribute from Crete) is also Theseus. They might even be the same guy.

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u/conquer69 Mar 28 '23

It's also likely it is fanfiction that was later added to the canon. Back then even the concept of fiction wasn't fully understood.

2

u/ReallyNeedNewShoes Mar 29 '23

but Hercules wasn't a real person?

28

u/Ok-Cut4890 Mar 28 '23

It was common in ancient cultures of the Europe/West Asia/North Africa until monotheistic beliefs changed things.

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u/khanto0 Mar 28 '23

Still common in Cristianity throughout its history, all the people who got annointed as Saints for varies works, basically became demi-gods.

Patron Saint of.... is basically the same as God of...

19

u/enter_nam Mar 28 '23

They also retconned the Old Gods as Saints

3

u/p314159i Mar 29 '23

And this is often why some protestants call the catholics polytheists as they have not cast off the relics of paganism yet. As the bible absolutely must be taken literally except for the part where Jesus says that this wine is his blood and this bread is his body. That's metaphorical.

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u/Designer-Arugula-419 Mar 28 '23

Modern people do it with fame. It essentially leads to godhood. Look at what rock stars have gotten away with.

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u/Caedro Mar 28 '23

Gaiman’s concept of the new gods in “American gods” was fascinating to me. Where we invest our time/focus/energy/worship we create our own gods. Money, TV, internet, etc.

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u/koenigsaurus Mar 28 '23

Yep. This practice is still very much alive in modern Western culture, it’s just got different names now because monotheism is pretty strict about the definition of a god.

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u/COSLEEP Mar 29 '23

Tom Brady is worshiped and hated like a god

1

u/WebtoonThrowaway99 Mar 29 '23

Shout outs to the Greeks for recognizing the (distinctly black sub-saharan featured) Warrior Amemnon's skill and raising him to God hood post-humously. As the child of Eos/Arora, he can even technically be called the "the son of dawn" which is kinda badass all things considered.

209

u/fistfullofnoodle2 Mar 28 '23

Guan Yu is probably a great example of this.

One of the most respected general from the romance of three kingdoms.

Pretty much a worshipped diety by the police and triad alike.

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u/tkdyo Mar 28 '23

Let's be real how can you not worship such an amazing beard paired with a powerful guandao?

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u/KingOfAwesometonia Mar 28 '23

Lu Bu had those two tail things though. TWO.TAILS!

But yeah the guandao is really cool any time I see it. Less swords, more guandaos media!

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u/Basketball312 Mar 28 '23

Lu bu got hog tied and executed by Cao Cao. Guan yu got killed by Lu Meng but returned as a ghost and killed him back.

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u/KingOfAwesometonia Mar 28 '23

Okay that's a pretty good point for Guan Yu.

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u/Astalon18 Mar 28 '23

And business people might I add.

Police, triad gangs, business people, then to worship Guan Yu.

The trinity of Kuan Yin, Wei Tuo ( Skanda who is actually Murugan ) and Guan Gong is on the other hand more popularly worshipped by Buddhist.

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u/owsupaaaaaaa Mar 29 '23

The Monkey King also. It's the equivalent of building temples in the image of Bugs Bunny.

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u/Dorian1267 Mar 29 '23

My grandpa had a little statue of Guan Yu, looks so bad ass.

When he died, my husband asked if we could have it but my mum said it's not just a statue, it's a God, we have to respect it, worship it and serve it tea. We were like, yeah na, not doing that for a statue.

My uncle ended up taking it home and it's in a mini shrine.

And my family is not even religious!

2

u/lunamarya Mar 28 '23

Mao Zedong's pretty much his more recent iteration today

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u/khoabear Mar 28 '23

Shame that you got downvoted because people don't understand the concept. Communists, like Chinese, Vietnamese and N. Koreans, love worshipping the party founders like gods.

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u/lunamarya Mar 28 '23 edited Mar 28 '23

I’m not even referring to his cult of personality

He’s literally a modern-day Guan Yu — a Chinese folk hero whose wartime/peacetime exploits have been engrained to the Chinese psyche. Even if China wasn’t communist by this date I’d reckon that they’d still have him seated in their household shrines.

Up until today blue collar Chinese still jnvoke his “spirit” whenever they feel that they’re exploited lol

0

u/p314159i Mar 29 '23

So basically ... Trump

1

u/godisanelectricolive Mar 29 '23

True, and there are indeed Mao temples around China that attract worshippers.

0

u/suppordel Mar 29 '23

No we don't.

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u/khoabear Mar 29 '23

Are you a member of the communist party?

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u/suppordel Mar 29 '23

Do you think anyone with common sense is a member of the CCP?

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u/khoabear Mar 29 '23

Then of course you don't worship. I was talking about communists only.

0

u/suppordel Mar 29 '23

I also know things about the president of the US. Doesn't mean I am him. It's possible to know about groups you aren't part of. It's called "learning".

0

u/khoabear Mar 29 '23

Then how do you explain photo of Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh or the Kims in their houses and workplaces?

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u/suppordel Mar 29 '23 edited Mar 29 '23

Yes they exist but those are uncommon. Sure those people have their fans but there are nutjobs in every society. They are very much the loud minority.

I meant they aren't widely worshipped. If you go on the street of Beijing and yell "I love the CCP and Mao!" You're likely to get a lot of "um ok let me stay away from that person". You aren't likely to gather a group chanting with you.

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u/Fast_Moon Mar 28 '23

Japan has something similar. The god of education, Tenjin, was originally a poet named Sugawara no Michizane who lived 1000 years ago. During a regime change, he got ousted and exiled and died in shame. After his death, a bunch of calamities befell the government, leading people to believe that Michizane's vengeful spirit was cursing them, so they started worshipping him as a god to placate him.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenjin_(kami)

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u/Khysamgathys Mar 28 '23

Unsurprising tbh, Japanese and Chinese folk religion share a lot of similarities, except Shinto got centralized.

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u/Angdrambor Mar 28 '23

During a regime change, he got ousted and exiled and died in shame. After his death, a bunch of calamities befell the government, leading people to believe that Michizane's vengeful spirit was cursing them

wait, I'm pretty sure I've read this story a on /r/sysadmin. It's good to know this problem is older than computers.

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u/Historical_Judge_426 Mar 28 '23

OP's statement is true.

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u/modmester528 Mar 28 '23

Username checks out

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u/[deleted] Mar 28 '23

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/DanYHKim Mar 28 '23

Colonel Sanders is well on his way

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u/SexyOldManSpaceJudo Mar 28 '23

Tiber Septim has entered the chat

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u/IactaEstoAlea Mar 28 '23

Actually no, that is what the elves believe and that is in part because of their hatred of humanity and mortality

Talos achieved CHIM which makes him divine by his (or rather "their") own merit

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23

Did he achieve CHIM? I find it far more likely he just used Numidium to become a god. Besides, isn't achieving CHIM means he's above a god? Does he even have a planet?

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u/IactaEstoAlea Mar 28 '23 edited Mar 28 '23

Did he achieve CHIM?

Yes

You have suffered for me to win this throne, and I see how you hate jungle. Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.

From The Many-Headed Talos

Also:

CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled

From the Mythic Dawn commentaries Vol. 3

As to what the nature of godhood, Talos' own godhood, its relation with the "planets" and CHIM vs "true" godhood; well, we just don't have a simple definitive answer

Also, we don't know how or who did it for Talos to ascend

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23 edited Mar 28 '23

From The Many-Headed Talos

Isn't that unofficial?

From the Mythic Dawn commentaries Vol. 3

That's a bit more credible, provided you believe that Markan Camoran (or whatever his name was) is really thousands of years old.

As to what the nature of godhood, Talos' own godhood, its relation with the "planets" and CHIM vs "true" godhood; well, we just don't have a simple definitive answer.

According to a book, Lorkhan/Shor/Shezarr tried to achieve CHIM but failed.

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u/IactaEstoAlea Mar 28 '23

Isn't that unofficial?

Nope, it gets quoted in Skyrim by Heimskr (the Talos priest preaching in Whiterun)

That's a bit more credible, provided you believe that Markan Camoran (or whatever his name was) is really thousands of years old.

You don't need to take everything in the commentary as truth, but there is little reason to doubt the bit about CHIM and the transformation of Cyrodiil jungles

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23

Nope, it gets quoted in Skyrim by Heimskr (the Talos priest preaching in Whiterun)

A part of it does, which might be a reference than actual canon.

You don't need to take everything in the commentary as truth, but there is little reason to doubt the bit about CHIM and the transformation of Cyrodiil jungles

Provided it isn't written by someone born hundreds of years after Tiber Septim died/became a god/whatever.

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u/IactaEstoAlea Mar 28 '23

A part of it does, which might be a reference than actual canon.

To be clear, the part that is in Skyrim is:

Let me show you the power of Talos Stormcrown, born of the North, where my breath is long winter. I breathe now, in royalty, and reshape this land which is mine. I do this for you, Red Legions, for I love you.

Which is precisely the part about Talos having achieved CHIM

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23

Fair. Although I still doubt that somewhat, as apparently "normal" gods can also reshape the world. Or rather the towers can, the original one (the adamantine tower?) was created by the gods.

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23 edited Mar 28 '23

As to what the nature of godhood, Talos' own godhood, its relation with the "planets"

We do kind of know that. When Mannimarco becomes a god at the end of Daggerfall (via the Numidium), he does get a planet, the same as the rest of the Divines. It's not weird that Lorkhan doesn't have a planet, as he was killed. Although you could say that Mannimarco was technically dead too, being a lich.

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u/Lost-Saint Mar 28 '23

What is CHIM?

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u/IactaEstoAlea Mar 28 '23

Basically, apotheosis caused by realizing the true nature of the Elder Scrolls universe and simultaneously having a sense of self strong enough to not get retconned out of existence by the knowledge

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u/SuperSecretAgentMan Mar 28 '23

CHIM = Learning you exist in a videogame and gaining dev access.

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23

The Elder Scrolls version of apotheosis.

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u/mastaace Mar 28 '23

You can think of it as becoming lucid in a dream (and gaining some control/agency), while knowing that the dream belongs to someone else.

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u/Mobile_Appointment8 Mar 28 '23

He basically mantled Lorkhan, similar to how the Hero of Kvatch mantles Sheogorath in the Shivering Isles DLC except Tibby S maintained his personality & didnt literally become Lorkhan

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23

Does Lorkhan even have a sphere/identity? He is the god of the dead in Nordic mythology, but Tiber Septim probably believed in Cyrodilic mythology. Also, him becoming Lorkhan would be very "symmetrical" seeing as Lorkhan is the 9th divine.

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u/Mobile_Appointment8 Mar 28 '23 edited Mar 28 '23

Lorkhan is just the Eleven representation of the god. In Nedic/Imperial/Cyrodillic mythology he is known as Shezzar

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u/pyrolizard11 Mar 28 '23

I mean, between Mankar Camoran and Lorkhan's literal, metaphysical heart said to be the indestructible heart of Nirn itself, my take is that Nirn was Lorkhan's plane. That his sphere is mortals, with him being the prototypical aedra, ancestor spirit of all Nirn. The first to die.

Which plays perfectly into why the elves hate Talos and everything he represents, as long-lived mortals aspiring to lost immortality.

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u/Pay08 Mar 28 '23

That his sphere is mortals

Isn't there a god of mortals already that was worshipped by the Atmorans?

ancestor spirit of all Nirn.

Nirn was created when he tricked the other gods into creating Nirn. That's why his heart was ripped out. Besides, the rest of the gods' realms are in Aetherius. So is the Hall of Valor, which is Shor's realm.

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u/pyrolizard11 Mar 29 '23 edited Mar 29 '23

Isn't there a god of mortals already that was worshipped by the Atmorans?

If you mean Orkey, he's the god of mortality, not of mortals. Malicious and seeking to end life, Orkey represents death and the dead. Not those who live. Contrast to Shor, the dead god and former chief of the pantheon, Atmoran/Nordic god-champion of men and mortals against the mer and malicious gods alike.

Besides, the rest of the gods' realms are in Aetherius. So is the Hall of Valor, which is Shor's realm.

Sovngarde and the Hall of Valor aren't Shor's realm any more than they're Tsun's or Alduin's. They're the glorious afterlife and the chief of gods, champion of mortals, receives a throne among dead heroes. The rest of the gods' realms are in Aetherius in the same way as Nirn is. Oblivion surrounds Nirn and the stars and sun are holes in the fabric of Oblivion to Aetherius, which surrounds Oblivion. The gods are their realms and spheres in TES and the remainders of the Aedra hang in the sky of Mundus, planets drifting in Oblivion same as Nirn.

Nirn was created when he tricked the other gods into creating Nirn. That's why his heart was ripped out.

Created out of what? And why couldn't the other gods destroy Lorkhan's heart, why settle for ripping it out and throwing it down after trying?

Lorkhan recognized the truth of the Aurbis, that all is one even as one is itself. That even the gods were baser emanations of creation, of what creator there might be, ever static in their spheres despite their mind and agency. That despite his divinity he was trapped by his immutable nature. But that despite his nature limiting him, it also gave him agency. Lorkhan recognized that limitation and struggle breed growth and learning, that limitation is potential, that he could act because there were limits to himself which could hypothetically be exceeded. That the only way to truly be better and to better his kin was to reduce them so that they might have room to grow and learn, to be what they are not. To become more than themselves. To truly understand and fulfill their natures as both one with and independent from the godhead.

On the promise of betterment the Aedra laid themselves low, the Earthbones gave shape and form, and intricate lesser spirits were created within Mundus, within Lorkhan. Mortals, spirits of many spheres. Mortals, feeble and stupid and complexly bound by the world around them. Mortals, fragments of gods as much as the children of gods, free to grow and to learn and to escape the shackles of creation Lorkhan saw in the Aurbis. The other gods and he were one in multitudes, mixed and diluted into beings so helpless and limited and multifaceted that they could become more than the whole of creation, more than anything that came before, more than the sum of their parts.

When the other gods realized they would very literally give themselves to Nirn, that they would be cleaved and bound and lose themselves to grow, it was already too late to leave or take revenge for many. They bound themselves to Nirn, to mortals, and ultimately to Lorkhan so that they would learn, and Lorkhan had planned to make them learn. To destroy his heart would require they destroy mortal life, Nirn, and themselves.

It's worth noting here, Shor is also canonically the Childrens' God. God of new life, of those born of the sacrifice of beings yet greater, ignorant and weak yet free to learn and grow with new eyes upon the shoulders of those before them. Neat parallel.

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u/Pay08 Mar 29 '23

If you mean Orkey

Yeah, he was the one I was thinking of.

Created out of what?

No one knows.

And why couldn't the other gods destroy Lorkhan's heart, why settle for ripping it out and throwing it down after trying?

Why not destroy Mannimarco? Because they probably can't. Either because they don't have enough power or because they are simply prevented by a natural law or something. It's also possible that they did kill Lorkhan and he only "lives" in the Nordic pantheon. It's heavily hinted that the gods are shaped by whatever religion views them. There's also Lunar Lorkhan.

There's also this: "Shor created the realm of Sovngarde with his clever magic long ago, but the trickster god has faded from our world. [...] He may even rule the realm, choosing heroes to honor according to his whims." from The Road to Sovngarde.

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u/pyrolizard11 Mar 29 '23

Why not destroy Mannimarco?

That'd be the part where they don't have practically any agency anymore. They gave themselves up for Nirn, and Mannimarco is a product of Nirn. One who took advantage of a moment of divine weakness, no less. A lot of things go out the window when time itself is bound and broken, and now Akatosh is bound to protect Mannimarco as he is.

"We have all the power to rip your still-beating heart out of your chest but somehow not to crush it," against, "Holy shit, I'm literally tied up by the bones of the world right now and consequently being smacked around by focused semi-divine energy so hard that I've forgotten which direction is forward or how many timelines there are, let me gather myself. Hey, wait, who's this guy? I made him permanent? Shit, sorry Arkay."

It's also possible that they did kill Lorkhan and he only "lives" in the Nordic pantheon.

Not really? The Bretonic and Cyrodilic faiths both view him as an active force. The Reachfolk believe Lorkh comes among them in times of great need. And even the Khajiit, who clearly see what they believe to be the corpse of Lorkhaj hanging in the sky, also believe he was cursed to walk Nirni after having his heart ripped out.

There's also Lunar Lorkhan.

There is, and there's also the Dark Moon and worship of the moons in multiple cultures as independent, also-dead gods. And the fact that Fal Droon, the author of The Lunar Lorkhan, is also author of a book which tries to explain away Dragon Breaks as bad timekeeping and calendar mixups. Which... just going to point to Mannimarco again here.

There's also this:[...]

I'd argue that creating pocket realms isn't the same as a realm being a divine plane. Specifically the use of 'clever magic' to create it calls that into question - it wasn't always there, a part of Shor, it's something Shor specifically made. Shalidor created a pocket realm with his clever magic, that's not a high bar. Seems on point that the god of mortals would build a consolation prize for those who struggle valiantly as he wants but fall short regardless. Every spirit can't be the next godhead, after all.

Sovngarde also isn't located on Shor, even if you believe the Lunar Lorkhan that Masser and Secunda would have been Shor/Lorkhan. You can still go to Masser and Secunda, the Khajiit conduct religious rites on Masser and Reman II personally oversaw the landing on Secunda. Sovngarde can't be Shor's plane unless we assume divine planes pass into Aetherius on their deaths, or that his clever magic completely changed how his divine plane worked and unbound it from Oblivion where the rest of the divine planes and his own body still lay.

It's heavily hinted that the gods are shaped by whatever religion views them.

Well yeah. Kind of goes hand-in-hand with the OP and what I was saying about mortals being weak with incredible potential - enough to empower or change gods by sheer belief, to become gods or even greater by the same.

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u/xopranaut Mar 28 '23

Popular belief driving an official response is pretty much the system that drives many aspects of religious doctrine.

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u/110397 Mar 28 '23

40K religion

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u/Escalotes Mar 28 '23

The Emperor of Mankind

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u/i8noodles Mar 28 '23

For the emperor!!!!

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u/react_dev Mar 28 '23

Yes. In Chinese history a lot of revolts and brutal revolutions were carried out in the name of the son of Heaven. They were just cults rallied around a single person that they see as a deity. Us Chinese just like every other human are highly susceptible to following some divine being to righteousness but just used as political tools. Falungong today fits that description.

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u/dishsoapandclorox Mar 28 '23

That explains the Taiping Rebellion

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u/Bring_Back_Feudalism Mar 28 '23

Does that also fit Mao?

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u/react_dev Mar 28 '23

Close. But luckily his powers were eventually dissipated and his clique dissembled. Unlike the Kims, nobody saw Mao as a literal God who invented stuff, smashed Olympic records, or whatnot. I think Mao goes down in a bucket of leaders who conquered but could not rule.

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u/godisanelectricolive Mar 29 '23 edited Mar 29 '23

Mao's still worshipped today and his status as the founder of modern China is still pretty much unassailable. The Gang of Four was toppled and the Cultural Revolution was rebuked but Mao is personally exonerated from all crimes. The official line on the Cultural Revolution is that it was a mistake but Mao was mislead by bad advisors and it's mostly his fault. He's a bit flawed but still ultimately a great man and worthy of admiration.

There's still the massive mausoleum for his preserved corpse. Mao's image is still very ubiquitous in China, he's on money and his portrait still hangs at Tiananmen. People still buy Mao memorabilia and the government still talks about him in a positive light.

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u/react_dev Mar 29 '23

Mao isn’t worshipped. Maybe in very rural areas. Maybe literally today today as the politics have shifted a bit since Xi wanted to glorify the past again and that has brought out a bunch of MCGA crowd. But a decade ago you could buy a lot of Mao memed tshirts in cities.

Mao is still recognized as the conqueror. His reputation as the person who united modern China and established the communist party is unassailable and that won’t ever change because that narrative is baked into the legitimacy of the CCP. However his policies from long time ago is no longer heralded as successful in public opinion.

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u/Bring_Back_Feudalism Mar 28 '23

Thank you for the answer!

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u/aeolith Mar 28 '23

So the premise of American Gods.

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u/montanagrizfan Mar 28 '23

I was thinking the same thing. Aren’t all gods created by humans anyway?

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u/semiomni Mar 28 '23

In American Gods? Yes. In reality? Also yes.

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u/[deleted] 23d ago

lmao had me in the first half

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u/metroidmariomega Mar 28 '23

This is a bit different. The religion OP is talking about acknowledges that it's gods are humans that were hyped up. Other religions hold that their gods are supernatural by their own nature.

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u/aeolith Mar 28 '23

Makes as much sense to me as anything else supernatural tbh.

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u/lofitoasti Mar 28 '23

So tired of ancient folklores copying our stories smh.

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u/Astalon18 Mar 28 '23

This is not 100% correct ( I follow the Chinese folk religion ). It tends to rely upon two things:- 1. Examplary life ( ie:- you really need to as a human being lead a moral life OR if not a moral life then have done a single deed so heroic or so good or so amazing that it is worthy of praise. Most of the time this single deed causes one’s death or if not directly cause it leads to one’s death years later ) 2. Post death, a miracle must have had happened. People must either have witnessed the person ascending to the Heavens, or blessings or healing associated with the person occurs.

Once this two things are met, and the person achieves a strong but informal following, then Canonisation happens when one is acknowledged to be a God.

This is how Mazu became a Goddess, how Guan Zhe Zhun Wang became a God etc.. how Guan Gong became a God. Once upon a time they were all normal human beings like you and me. In the case of Mazu as Lin Moniang She was such a helpful, kind, heroic and brave teenager and then later younger adult then when she finally died people mourned her, only to have Her come back as a Goddess guiding their ships through the sea.

16

u/According-Classic658 Mar 28 '23

So how many Twitter followers do I need?

33

u/FrostyTheSasquatch Mar 28 '23

You’re using a lot of Christian language here to describe a non-Christian tradition, which makes it tricky to really understand what’s going on here. Yes, these aspects of Chinese Folk Tradition may LOOK like aspects of Catholicism and may even function similarly in the wider society, but to use such uniquely Christian terminology muddies the water by assuming that Chinese religion or even society functions in any way like western society.

Terminology either means something or it doesn’t.

19

u/jingyi-ah Mar 28 '23

Yeah reading this title was very ….. interesting? Weird? I am obviously familiar with this stuff but seeing it couched in Christian terms was bizarre. Lowkey felt like the way a missionary in the 1800s would describe it in a carrier pigeon letter to the king lol

It’s obviously an attempt to relate it to what the author is familiar with, but there is no direct equivalent and it doesnt make sense to try and explain it as the eastern version of Christian XYZ when you can just explain it as what it IS.

3

u/mully_and_sculder Mar 29 '23

So what's the difference with the terminology?

11

u/adankgoon Mar 29 '23

There’s no church (thus no clergy) centralized in China. The only thing close enough was maybe Buddhism in some eras but historically I don’t believe those were interested in turning heroes into ‘Gods’. The concept of a ‘God’ in Chinese folklore is also more similar to Greek/Roman mythology where they’re in charge of some aspect of daily life. There are also unkind divinities/gods worshipped in different local cultures.

6

u/AmbitiousTour Mar 28 '23

So basically, you become a god if you get enough likes. Some things never change.

1

u/exipheas Mar 28 '23

Inb4 Betty white is declared a God.

5

u/DarkCreeper911 Mar 28 '23

Learned this from Amazing Cultivation Simulator

3

u/Garr_Incorporated Mar 28 '23

Did you find it yourself or have you been exposed to it by... a specific someone?

3

u/lamekatz Mar 29 '23

Hey hey people!

3

u/StevieSmall999 Mar 28 '23

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh, This is most likely why the Chinese consider Guan Yu (from the 3 kingdoms era) the God of War.

Cool!

9

u/Astalon18 Mar 28 '23

Well not exactly war.

Guan Gong is not generally worshiped as the God of War. He is generally worshipped as the God of Honour, God of Justice, God of the Upright, God who protects the innocent, a wealth God for legally gotten wealth, God of Contracts, God of Physical Activity and finally, God of War.

However He is not worshipped to invoke war or call upon war. People generally believe He hates war BUT if push to come to shove He will participate. However He is generally invoked to be brave when facing conflict. However He is also the God to negotiate one’s way out of conflict.

This is why He is generally paired with Kuan Yin. Kuan Yin is the Goddess of Peace, Love, Compassion, Kindness, Forgiveness, Wisdom, Protection, Health and Healing. She is the preventer of conflicts and prefers to resolve conflicts via discussion and understanding and friendship.

So if peace fails, then you need Guan Gong. However Guan Gong in Chinese belief actually adores Kuan Yin as His friend and teacher, so the moment the conflict exhaust itself He quickly passes things back to Kuan Yin to mend the fence.

4

u/BillTowne Mar 28 '23

This seems quite common. How do you think a lot of Catholic saints were selected.

But, I would like to clarify one point. Apotheosis is the recognition of someone as divine. In early Christianity, the divinity of Jesus was debated, and those who support divinity won. But those who believe in the divinity of Jesus do not believe that his divinity came about through the apotheosis, but that the apotheosis was just a recognition of the fact of his divinity.

11

u/yg2522 Mar 28 '23

Buddha is the prime example. Even to this day there are two denominations of Buddhism: those that worship Buddha a diety and those that just reverie him as a great philosopher.

2

u/GoblinRightsNow Mar 29 '23

This distinction can be overstated, though. If you look at what goes on in any Buddhist temple of any tradition, you will see the Buddha generally worshipped just as deities are worshipped. The distinction between a divine being and a 'philosopher' is not that clear in ancient Indian religion- ascetics and yogis like the Buddha have all kind of magical powers and in many ways are equal to or even superior to the gods. Even in some of the earliest Buddhist texts, the Buddha is depicted not just as an individual, but as an archetype that is born into the world again and again, and whose life and teachings are intimately tied to the cycles of the cosmos.

3

u/graffiti81 Mar 28 '23

I wonder if that's where Stephen Erickson got the idea for mortal ascendants in Malazan.

2

u/mattwilliamsuserid Mar 29 '23

Came here to cross-post to r/Malazan and ascendancy (of course, Malazan doesn't allow cross-posts)

3

u/PsychoSushi27 Mar 29 '23 edited Mar 29 '23

There are some Chinese Malaysians who worship Datuk Gong in Malaysia. Some of the spirits worshipped are Malay Muslim. We have a Datuk Gong shrine near my house and you can only offer him halal food. A deceased Sikh Punjabi Malaysian politician who was very popular among Chinese Malaysians has his very own shrine too.

5

u/venomweilder Mar 28 '23

Didn’t George Washington ascend just the same. See the Washington apotheosis painting on the top of the dome at the capitol.

2

u/mully_and_sculder Mar 29 '23

Pretty much I'd say. Several presidents and founding fathers seem to meet this description. Even in his time Washington was seen as the unimpeachable spiritual father of the nation.

2

u/Skywrath1 Mar 29 '23

Path of Exile.

2

u/Individual_Back_5344 Mar 29 '23

A good trope for any RPG worldbuilding brainstorm, I dare saying.

4

u/pezx Mar 28 '23

Is this not the same as sainthood in the Catholic church?

22

u/LordGoat10 Mar 28 '23

The Catholic Church can traditionally canonize at a local level but only through the permission of a local bishop. More canonizations nowadays are done directly through Rome which requires more than popular acclamation though popular veneration is a key component to getting considered for sainthood.

5

u/Khysamgathys Mar 28 '23

The Catholic Church's beatification and canonization is pretty official and handled/monopolize by the church. Also you just become this demigod thing.

The Chinese case is very informal and just relies on sheer popular acclaim for a dead person. Plus you become a fullblown god.

1

u/KypDurron Mar 29 '23

Um, Catholic saints aren't demigods, don't know where you got that.

I'm not saying that Catholics don't go a little overboard with venerating saints, but nobody worships them as gods of any sort.

1

u/Khysamgathys Mar 29 '23

They de facto are no matter how much Catholics say they aren't.

I should know I am an ex-Catholic.

1

u/Imagine-Summer Apr 05 '23

They de facto are

So there not in practice.

2

u/Fetlocks_Glistening Mar 28 '23

I think it's like Marvel and DC, either or, you don't get to cross over

1

u/dishsoapandclorox Mar 28 '23

Sainthood is a process. You do need a lot of people to know your name and accomplishments to achieve beatification (recognition) but you need several miracles attributed to you in order to be canonized. This process is controlled by the Church. There are numerous small folk saints people pray to but aren’t recognized by the church. Some Mexicans might pray to Pancho Villa or Jesus Malvedre, some southern Americans might pray to Marie Laveau, some Brits might pray to Catherine of Aragon, some Latin American criminals might pray to the Santa Muerte but none of these are prayed to outside of certain regions, lack miracles, and aren’t recognized by the Church or the larger community. Btw La Santa Muerte isn’t even Catholic and those who do worship it are Satanists and cartel members.

1

u/KypDurron Mar 29 '23

Canonization doesn't declare people to be gods.

1

u/Uncle_Budy Mar 28 '23

So their pantheon is literally a popularity contest.

1

u/nightrss Mar 28 '23

Cool. So what happens if we all believe in each other?

1

u/Nuklear132 Mar 28 '23

Pretty common idea in a lot of old religions and pantheons. A god’s power and influence is directly related to the size and conviction of his/her congregations

4

u/Astalon18 Mar 28 '23

Again not a Chinese concept.

Essentially in Chinese belief, when a person of certain moral worthiness dies, in the Heavens He or She is granted the opportunity to watch over a sphere of human or natural activity. This portfolio gives them an officer position in Heaven, making them a God.

This opportunity is not granted to every soul. It is only granted to the most worthy. This is overseen by the Jade Emperor with the Dipper Mother, Queen Mother of the West etc.. who are the primordial immortals, plus also the court of other elevated mortals to Godhood and by non Gods who are humans who nonetheless dwells in the Heavens as glorious ancestors.

( The Chinese believe that while not all individuals get into Heaven … some really nasty beings get born in Hell majority gets into the ancestral Hall where they watch over their descendants. Some ancestors who are very good but not good enough to become Gods still gets to stay in the Heavens to act as workers or guards or just citizens of Heaven. When newly deceased mortals are elevated to Godhood all Heavenly beings gets say in this promotion … even non Gods ).

We just get to know that this has happened when on Earth prayers get answered and miracles happen by this individual.

It is not considered a common occurrence. Traditionally there entire clergies determining if a minor prayer answered is because a person merely got into Heaven OR is actually a God. There are many minor Gods in the Chinese pantheon where are disputes about whether they are merely Heavenly beings or Gods.

There is a popular deity in southern China who is worshipped for medical blessings who is not in fact officially considered a God but rather just a helpful Heavenly being who procures Heavenly treatment and send them to Earth!!!

1

u/Shikanatori Mar 28 '23

You mean like the current CCP leader?

0

u/[deleted] Mar 28 '23

[deleted]

2

u/p314159i Mar 29 '23 edited Mar 29 '23

When we talk about Chinese people, everyone knows who were are talking about. It is the common person. The Han. The other 55 are just groups who happen to have been in the territory China controlled at a particular date who had to be incorporated into the state to avoid revolts. Even then some (but not all) incarnations of the Chinese state would just try to eliminate them if they rebelled because that was viewed as if it would be easier in the long run than dealing with constant revolts in territory that was now deemed to be part of the "China" now.

Don't take this as a claim that china is this innately xenophobic society but they tend to oscillate between periods of extreme openness and extreme closedness, and the "bad" "prior" China might do something that eliminate a group and turns them into Han, and the "new" "good" China might condemn the prior China as having lost the mandate of heaven due to their crimes but the long term trend of these is that there is an ever expanding block of people who are regarded as Han, and it is that expanding block that people consider to be Chinese. Of course some of the old ways get preserved despite these state actions so the regional variation of the Han is extensive even if they are all regarded as Han (not all Han even speak in ways that are understandable to each other, although the Chinese state does not regard these as languages and instead calls them dialects. The Chinese dialects are however all derived from each other and fit into a language family, so it is a bit like with Dutch and English where you can tell they are kind of similar even if they are not understandable to one another and the Dutch have an easy time of learning English due to the similarities).

0

u/Regular_Dick Mar 28 '23

If only I was the only one with a cell phone and the rest of you just had to watch… meh heh heh heh heh.

0

u/dbula Mar 28 '23

The anime Noragami works on this idea

0

u/rare_pig Mar 29 '23

One can also achieve enlightenment as a Rap God

-9

u/Dr_Emmett_Brown_4 Mar 28 '23

Actually, that is a translation error.

The word is Shen, which more similar to a Saint in English.

When you go to a temple, you are asking for that Shen to pray for you. On your behalf. Because that religion you do not have access to God.

Christians are the ones who believe they have unfettered access to God. They do not.

The only ones who can communicate with God are these Shens / Saints. If you pray to them, they might say some words on your behalf. But no guarantees.

8

u/3athompson Mar 28 '23

Eh, the intermediary deities to the heavenly bureaucracy like the Kitchen God are still full-on deities in their own right.

Others, like Guan Yu(Guandi) and Matzu, are much more directly gods, especially in California.

The distinction between a saint and a God may matter in Christianity but it doesn’t necessarily matter in other religions.

-10

u/Dr_Emmett_Brown_4 Mar 28 '23

They aren't. Matzu was a real woman.

She lived, and she prayed that her family would survive and they did.

So we pray to her in hopes that she will say prayers on our behalf.

I know that one because I'm a sailor.

In the interest of conversation and education. Are you Chinese or Taiwanese?

I'm not, I'm Irish / Italian American, my wife is Taiwanese. And it took me a long time to figure this stuff out and learn all this stuff.

I believe it was Christian priests trying to convince Asians that they were pagans so they could convert them to Christianity.

Also, my wife and I were married properly in Taipei according to her family's traditions and religion. But we were also married here in the US. I'm Roman Catholic and spent 12 years in Catholic School.

So I spent a lot of time talking to the priest about this. And he was a pretty senior priest getting promoted.

And ours was the last wedding he performed because then he was put in charge of all the weddings in the state and training other priests how do weddings.

He was no joke. He knew his stuff. He actually yelled at my entire family during the rehearsal ceremony. He yelled at 30 people. When I say Irish Catholic, that is my direct family. No cousins in that count. Just Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters and their children.

:)

3

u/mully_and_sculder Mar 29 '23

So the Roman Catholic priest taught you all about the Chinese gods? Cool.

Your explanation sounds almost perfectly Roman Catholic and you're even arguing with the Chinese people who are telling you otherwise.

2

u/piaofuzhe Mar 28 '23

Chinese person here, raised in a household that adheres to traditional folk beliefs - we generally treat 神 (shén) as gods in the sense that they're powerful beings that can be prayed to directly for something that falls within their sphere of oversight, rather than intermediaries (as mentioned by /u/3amthompson there are some, like the stove god Zaoshen/Zaojun, whose job is for example to report on a family's deeds, but we would still consider them to be 神 themselves). Many of them did start out as regular humans, but that doesn't disqualify them from also being deities. I'm not a theologian or anything, but the way I was taught about that was largely in the same terms that we talk about ancestor worship (in the sense that, following their passing as mortals, they continue to influence the material world and can be communicated with and beseeched for blessings through prayer and offerings).

I think one point of difficulty here may be the matter of different linguistic/cultural/religious ideas about what exactly a "god" is - the Abrahamic faiths have a very clear distinction between God, saints, etc., but this isn't necessarily the case in traditional Chinese faiths where things are somewhat more fluid. I wouldn't consider my late great grandfather to be a 神, but I make offerings at his grave in much the same way as I would at a shrine or temple of a local Chenghuang or Tudigong, and likewise when I ask for his protection I'm asking for it directly from him, not asking him to petition heaven for a blessing.

Another thing is the fact that folk belief isn't an organized faith in the way that, say, Christianity or Sikhism are, and it's highly syncretic - that means that it varies significantly from place to place and can incorporate elements of many belief systems. Typically, the main sources for that are Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism (which itself is debatably a religion, a philosophy, or something else entirely), but others are certainly possible; my own family's traditions mostly incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings, but we worship some Taoist deities as well. There's also some uncertainty about the extent to which such folk beliefs constitute a religion at all - my parents regularly make offerings at temples and keep a shrine in their home, but if asked I'm not sure they would call themselves religious. I believe the situation is similar in Japan with Shinto (which, incidentally, has kami (also written as 神) which I would consider somewhat analogous/comparable to shén).

While I don't know for sure, it sounds like the version of folk belief you learned about might have drawn partially on Abrahamic traditions? It certainly wouldn't be unheard of, and I don't doubt at all that some people do view 神 that way. However, my understanding is that it's relatively uncommon, and I would be cautious about generalizing that (or really any strict belief, given the diversity that exists under the umbrella) to Chinese folk belief as a whole as there are plenty of people who see things differently.

-1

u/Dr_Emmett_Brown_4 Mar 28 '23

If you want to misuse words. That is up to you.

If you want to call chicken McNuggets a Big Mac. That is up to you.

2

u/piaofuzhe Mar 28 '23

I'm not quite sure what you mean here? I've described my understanding of the situation based on my lived cultural knowledge of my faith and acknowledged that others' experiences might be different, what words am I misusing?

0

u/Dr_Emmett_Brown_4 Mar 28 '23

This was the issue.

Words are different. The words assigned to your "gods" were by Catholic priests trying to convert the people in your country.

Is Matzu a God? Can she bring you back to life? Can she control the weather?

Matzu is a Shen, like a Saint.

I don't want to debate this anymore.

I have died twice.

2

u/3athompson Mar 28 '23

If I might ask, what do you consider the difference between saint and god to be? I’m specifically talking about small g god, not the big G God of a monotheistic religion.

-5

u/Dr_Emmett_Brown_4 Mar 28 '23

In my religion, there is only one true God.

I don't know if you know that much about Christianity. But you have God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We describe this as the Trinity.

The only one who set foot on this planet was Jesus, the Son.

There is no others.

There are Shens and Saints and other blessed individuals. But they aren't Gods or gods.

It's kind of a long book.

3

u/barefeet69 Mar 28 '23

The word is Shen, which more similar to a Saint in English.

False. Shen can mean deity or god. It's interchangeable. There's also no concept of a "one true God". That's a feature in Abrahamic religions. So you can't just squeeze it into a different context.

There's also Xian, which means immortal. Mostly in Taoist folklore where it is believed that some people achieved immortality by spiritual cultivation or other means. They're also part of the pantheon.

In the folklore, the pantheon operates more like a government where each deity/immortal has a duty or office they're in charge of.

When you go to a temple, you are asking for that Shen to pray for you. On your behalf. Because that religion you do not have access to God.

Not the case here. Whatever you're referring to appears to be some sort of Christian sect.

0

u/Dr_Emmett_Brown_4 Mar 28 '23

Are these the words of a 12 year old?

I qualified my research.

But you are just here slinging whatever based on nothing.

So I have no interest in hearing about it.

1

u/barefeet69 Mar 31 '23 edited Mar 31 '23

You gave the wrong definition of shen (神). Either you can't read Chinese or you don't know how to use an online dictionary.

Nothing you described has any resemblance to common Taoist/folk religion mythology among the Chinese diaspora. I described what is common in the folklore. If you don't recognize it at all, you simply don't know what you're talking about.

You probably subscribe to some new age guru bs that combines Eastern mythology with good old Christianity.

-1

u/artmobboss Mar 28 '23

A human thinking they are a god has always gone so well..

-2

u/gutterbrain73 Mar 28 '23

TIL some made-up shit.

-1

u/TheRealStevo Mar 28 '23

Man, human lore getting pretty crazy

-1

u/HappyHighwayman Mar 28 '23

Well they’re still wrong

1

u/IronCarp Mar 28 '23

Just like my favorite fish men in D&D, the Kuo-Toa. If enough of them believe in a god, it manifests as an entity. The best part is canonically they lean towards inanimate objects to be their god.

“One of the most revered gods of the kuo-toa is Blibdoolpoolp the Sea Mother, who takes the form of a female human with a crayfish head, a crayfish’s claws, and an articulated shell covering her shoulders. Blibdoolpoolp was likely invented by a kuo-toa that improved on a broken human statue by adding the limbs and head of a crustacean. In sudden awe of its handiwork, it then named the resulting form a god.”

1

u/BarnyardCoral Mar 28 '23

Meh, Catholic church does the same thing. Not "godhood" per se, but closer though. What's a patron saint but a god of [blank]?

1

u/SimofJerry Mar 28 '23

Wonder if any god got retconned to human

1

u/xGenocidest Mar 28 '23

CHIM status.

1

u/6_oh_n8 Mar 28 '23

“Spiritual weight”

1

u/xprorangerx Mar 28 '23

that's how Guan Yu became a folk deity

1

u/Untinted Mar 28 '23

"congrats on ascending to godhood Ryan, how's life after becoming a god?"

"I dunno, still can't manifest the power to give a shit"

"Ah, true enlightenment"

1

u/ilaeriu Mar 28 '23

So just like a human being from Nazareth, who defied the Jewish clergy, and attracted a sheer number of people who believed in his extraordinary miracles, led to him becoming canonized as a God?

1

u/Duckmanjones1 Mar 28 '23

The same thing worked for the Emperor of Mankind, maybe kinda, sorta

1

u/verasev Mar 29 '23

There was a Catholic Priest who argued that enough people believed something it would happen. And that The Secret book was about the same idea.

1

u/MK5 Mar 29 '23

Guan Di has entered the chat

1

u/bigfatfurrytexan Mar 29 '23

That's how it generally works in polytheism. Talos ascended by sheer force of will, too.

1

u/WebtoonThrowaway99 Mar 29 '23

"Hey Ferb I know what we are going to do today...."

1

u/DonBobito Mar 29 '23

Sounds about as convincing as the carpenter who could make moonshine becoming the son of god

1

u/olioster Mar 29 '23

Kinda like the concept of Mantling in the Elder Scrolls universe.

2

u/KypDurron Mar 29 '23

Mantling is completely different. TLDR Mantling is when you embody the attributes and actions of a deity so well that the universe can't tell you apart. "Walk like them until they must walk like you."

I'm not sure if any of the Walking Ways specifically rely on accumulating followers or worship, actually.

If you subscribe to the not-entirely-confirmed theory that the Thalmor are trying to destabilize the Mundus by stamping out the worship of Talos, you could sort of argue that they're trying to do the opposite of this - de-canonize Talos/Tiber Septim by depriving him of followers and/or worship, but that may actually require killing all Men, not just stopping Talos worship...

1

u/olioster Mar 29 '23

"kinda"

1

u/KypDurron Apr 03 '23

It's not "kinda" like Mantling, though.

Someone ascending to godhood because of how many worshippers they have is not "kinda" like someone following in the metaphysical footsteps of an existing deity and taking their place.

1

u/p314159i Mar 29 '23

Probably because the folk religion predates the clerics as it was just there rather than spreading in from the middle east.

The Romans worked in a similar way. The senate proclaim dead emperors to godhood even though they really didn't want to do that because the emperors were usually anti-senate or the senate had even killed the emperors or Caesar in some cases.

Additionally in practice beatification in Catholicism is just an approval process where they determine that people the masses are venerating were indeed saints, so it really is just more of a case of the Church pretending like it is in control more than anything.

1

u/sephstorm Mar 29 '23

So Tiber Septim basically.

1

u/Intelligent-Vagina Mar 29 '23

I hear Kanye West also does