Hot Best Seller

Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine

Availability: Ready to download

A provocative history of men who were worshipped as gods that illuminates the connection between power and religion and the role of divinity in a secular age Ever since 1492, when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the New World and was hailed as a heavenly being, the accidental god has haunted the modern age. From Haile Selassie, acclaimed as the Living God in Jamaica, A provocative history of men who were worshipped as gods that illuminates the connection between power and religion and the role of divinity in a secular age Ever since 1492, when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the New World and was hailed as a heavenly being, the accidental god has haunted the modern age. From Haile Selassie, acclaimed as the Living God in Jamaica, to Britain’s Prince Philip, who became the unlikely center of a new religion on a South Pacific island, men made divine—always men—have appeared on every continent. And because these deifications always emerge at moments of turbulence—civil wars, imperial conquest, revolutions—they have much to teach us. In a revelatory history spanning five centuries, a cast of surprising deities helps to shed light on the thorny questions of how our modern concept of “religion” was invented; why religion and politics are perpetually entangled in our supposedly secular age; and how the power to call someone divine has been used and abused by both oppressors and the oppressed. From nationalist uprisings in India to Nigerien spirit possession cults, Anna Della Subin explores how deification has been a means of defiance for colonized peoples. Conversely, we see how Columbus, Cortés, and other white explorers amplified stories of their godhood to justify their dominion over native peoples, setting into motion the currents of racism and exclusion that have plagued the New World ever since they touched its shores. At once deeply learned and delightfully antic, Accidental Gods offers an unusual keyhole through which to observe the creation of our modern world. It is that rare thing: a lyrical, entertaining work of ideas, one that marks the debut of a remarkable literary career.


Compare

A provocative history of men who were worshipped as gods that illuminates the connection between power and religion and the role of divinity in a secular age Ever since 1492, when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the New World and was hailed as a heavenly being, the accidental god has haunted the modern age. From Haile Selassie, acclaimed as the Living God in Jamaica, A provocative history of men who were worshipped as gods that illuminates the connection between power and religion and the role of divinity in a secular age Ever since 1492, when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the New World and was hailed as a heavenly being, the accidental god has haunted the modern age. From Haile Selassie, acclaimed as the Living God in Jamaica, to Britain’s Prince Philip, who became the unlikely center of a new religion on a South Pacific island, men made divine—always men—have appeared on every continent. And because these deifications always emerge at moments of turbulence—civil wars, imperial conquest, revolutions—they have much to teach us. In a revelatory history spanning five centuries, a cast of surprising deities helps to shed light on the thorny questions of how our modern concept of “religion” was invented; why religion and politics are perpetually entangled in our supposedly secular age; and how the power to call someone divine has been used and abused by both oppressors and the oppressed. From nationalist uprisings in India to Nigerien spirit possession cults, Anna Della Subin explores how deification has been a means of defiance for colonized peoples. Conversely, we see how Columbus, Cortés, and other white explorers amplified stories of their godhood to justify their dominion over native peoples, setting into motion the currents of racism and exclusion that have plagued the New World ever since they touched its shores. At once deeply learned and delightfully antic, Accidental Gods offers an unusual keyhole through which to observe the creation of our modern world. It is that rare thing: a lyrical, entertaining work of ideas, one that marks the debut of a remarkable literary career.

33 review for Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey

    (Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley) Anna Della Subin's first published work is centered around a topic that I personally have never seen explored in such focus and detail before - unintentionally deified men. A few of these were figures that I was broadly familiar with beforehand, like Halie Selassie and his central role in the Rasta faith and early European explorers like Columbus and Cortés. There were many more whose unplanned divinity was news to me, (Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley) Anna Della Subin's first published work is centered around a topic that I personally have never seen explored in such focus and detail before - unintentionally deified men. A few of these were figures that I was broadly familiar with beforehand, like Halie Selassie and his central role in the Rasta faith and early European explorers like Columbus and Cortés. There were many more whose unplanned divinity was news to me, such as Prince Philip’s godhood in what is today the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu the several different incarnations that General Douglas has taken, and the myriad of assorted figures that have received some degree of divinity in India. To say the least, shortly after I started reading Accidental Gods I quickly found myself very absorbed. What really makes this book shine is how Subin goes above and beyond. A lesser author and scholar may have been perfectly content to have the book just be a collection of interesting instances of bestowed godhood. And an even lesser author may have done the same while reducing many of the adherents of several of the mentioned cults and religious movements into curious spectacles for readers to gawk at, even unintentionally so. Such was not the case whatsoever here. First of all, Subin takes care to detail the full contexts of where the various deifications originated. By telling these stories as completely as she can in the confines of her own work, the author both treats different believer groups with respect and understanding, but also ends up with more complex narratives that are genuinely more fascinating than the lesser descriptions that could have been. On top of that, Subin uses the subject matter as an opportunity to tackle an assortment of different matters of religion. The dynamics of religion and power receive quite a lot of attention in particular, and a good deal of the book is spent shining a light both on instances where godhood was used intentionally as a tool in an arsenal of exploitation and justification of oppression and also in cases where a colonized or oppressed group flipped the script and found a means of resistance through a subversive faith. All in all, it’s extremely impressive how Subin elevates her subject material from merely interesting to an eye-opening work that leaves much to mentally chew on for a long while afterward. It’s my hope that Subin’s first publication is just the first of many. This was one of the most intriguing nonfiction reads I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying so far this year, and I can hardly wait to see what subject will receive the author’s thoughtful coverage and analysis next.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shareca

    Accidental Gods by Anna Della Subin is a fascinating and wonderful read about history. Accidental Gods is a highly readable and highly thought-provoking book. It centers on the stories of various historical figures (for example, Haile Selassie, Prince Philip, Douglas MacArthur, etc.) who have been unwittingly worshiped worldwide over time. It is a fantastic novel with fantastic stories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    agata

    Accidental Gods is a collection of stories of men (and women, but the book focuses mostly on men) who became gods. Their deification was sometimes accidental, sometimes unintentional, but what I loved about this book is how Subin focuses a lot on how the divinity gave the new "gods" powers to exploit and oppress, and how happily they used that power. The men Subin tells us about are not only the most famous cases like Halie Selassie, but also the lesser-known ones, like a 19th-century British ar Accidental Gods is a collection of stories of men (and women, but the book focuses mostly on men) who became gods. Their deification was sometimes accidental, sometimes unintentional, but what I loved about this book is how Subin focuses a lot on how the divinity gave the new "gods" powers to exploit and oppress, and how happily they used that power. The men Subin tells us about are not only the most famous cases like Halie Selassie, but also the lesser-known ones, like a 19th-century British army officer, John Nicholson. Subin writes about the strong connection between deification and colonialism, and how big of a role race played in those relationships. While full of historical facts and dates, this book is so intriguing and fascinating that I couldn't put it down. I loved how complex and detailed it was, and how everything ties to modern times. I also loved that Subin doesn't treat the people believing in those "gods" with a lack of respect - making fun of people who worship Prince Philip sounds like a pretty easy thing to do - but instead, she explains how those people ended up there with a lot of understanding and care.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pooja

    Accidental Gods discusses a variety of men and women - though mostly men - who unwillingly or unintentionally underwent deification, from Haile Selassie of Rastafarianism to a multitude of colonial demigods. The author uses a wide variety of sources and writes in lovely evocative language to relate information. She relates apotheosis to oppression and colonialism, showing clearly the origins of the homemade religions and their causes and aftereffects. She does a good job at distilling complex ide Accidental Gods discusses a variety of men and women - though mostly men - who unwillingly or unintentionally underwent deification, from Haile Selassie of Rastafarianism to a multitude of colonial demigods. The author uses a wide variety of sources and writes in lovely evocative language to relate information. She relates apotheosis to oppression and colonialism, showing clearly the origins of the homemade religions and their causes and aftereffects. She does a good job at distilling complex ideas to understandable parts without simplifying them. She writes about often outlanish ideas without exoticizing them, which I applaud her for. The subject is a fascinating one, and I greatly enjoyed my read, even if I did feel that some parts of latter chapters got repetitive on occasion. Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerrod

  7. 5 out of 5

    James Harrison

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jake Krakovsky

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristi Jones

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marinda

  12. 4 out of 5

    K G

  13. 5 out of 5

    Krynn Hanold

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrea King

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Bull Chafin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Tragasz

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Henry Holt

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eloise

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie McGarrah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Randomproxy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hans Klis

  28. 4 out of 5

    J.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ehren Meditz

  30. 5 out of 5

    A

  31. 4 out of 5

    M.K. Williams

  32. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Zsigmond

  33. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...