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September 26, 2007

Why the Rum Is Gone

The people of a Guatemalan village are prospering, they believe, thanks to a wooden, rum-drinking, cigarette-smoking god named Maximón.

It was 1:15 p.m., time to worship the statue of Maximón, a squat, roughly carved wooden deity beloved here by those who believe in his power to grant favors and feared for punishing those who do not pay him proper respect. Maximón, pronounced maw-she-MAWN, occupies a space between the polar tugs of Guatemalan spiritual life, Catholicism and evangelism, neither of which approves of him. His origins are a mystery. Some say he is a modern version of a long-forgotten Mayan god. Others say he represents a martyred holy man. Still others merely shrug their shoulders.

This is a strange story (hat tip: Dave the Swede), but perhaps a reminder of humanity's innate need to believe in something. The new-atheist brigade would, of course, attribute such absurd worship to an emotional crutch ready to be purged by evolution. Yet while Maximón is a man-created genie meant to bring material wealth, the God of glory and Lord of love is not so contained.

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Love the title, friend. It's so fitting.

Who knows, maybe the reason why the villiage people are prospering can be directly attributed to their new-found sobriety. :-)

Raymond Takashi Swenson

Sounds like the cargo cults of certain parts of New Guinea that were created when the natives, during World War II, observed landing fields being cleared and planes then arriving from the heavens with all sorts of nifty stuff, which led the natives to try to attract the big birds with the goods by building their own small airports in the bush.


I remember reading somewhere that offerings of grain and fruit to various Old Testament deities would eventually go rotten and attract flies. That, so the story goes, explains why "Baalzebul" ("Lord of the Heavens", maybe) became "Baalzebub" ("Lord of the flies", maybe) in the Jewish insult to people foolish enough to worship Baal. And, I seem to recall that some temples of Baal (and other gods) may have employed people to wave flyswatters over the offerings - and maybe spray perfume, too. (The Colosseum in Rome definitely employed perfume-sprayers to cover the smell of blood and death. The Jewish Temple, in contrast, was scrupulously hygenic most of the time, and would have smelled more like a barbecue grill.)

I have to think that Maximón's temple must smell like a tavern from Pirates of the Caribbean, with the addition of lots of cigarette smoke.



We're designed by our Creator to seek Him. We tend to get confused by our own intellect and naturalism, yet we want something tangeble that we can put a handle on. Little statues, or storys of oozing from slimemolds seem nice to the rationalist. Perhaps the Rum Drinking littlegawd sprang from a need to explain why there was rum missing from the sealed cask.

I remember the Scots tell of "The Angels Share" when aging fine Single Malts. (Not that the Scots ever dia-fied such)

Maw-she-mawn is probably best explained by helping drink some of that Rum first as well.

De Colores

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