A member of my religious community directed me to this blog post that was featured on the front page of the Kemetic Interfaith Network.
Now, while I’m normally able to read things, leave a comment (if I feel it necessary), and move on, my reaction to this post in particular is so strong that I’m writing a rebuttal of sorts. You see, I truly believe a point was missed by the author that needs to be pointed out “at large”, as it were. The point that was missed has to do with the nature of ma’at and how one lives in it.
For those for whom ma’at is a new concept, I’m going to quote Jan Assmann (his works, in their entirety are invaluable resources):
“…From the end of the Old Kingdom to the end of antiquity, the theme of all these laments was the unholy condition of a world that humankind had rendered uninhabitable by offending against the harmony of a socially conceived reality, by contravening the principle of solidarity. The principle of plenitude that made the world a flourishing paradise was Maat, the “Right”. It’s opposite devastated the world, because the gods renounced their dwelling, not only in the temples in the local dimension but also in the life-giving powers of nature in the cosmic dimension…” – The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, section 3.3.
“…The Egyptian ideal of maat (truth, justice, order) was not only the principle of social but also of temporal connectivity, of permanence, endurance, and remembrance, of the continuity of past and future…” – Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, Chapter 2, section 3.
“…The Judgment of the Dead does not set the judgment of society on its head but rather confirms and seals it. The same maat that guarantees success and continuance in life is also the standard of the Judgment of the Dead and leads to immortality. Those who judge the dead see what is good and what is not good in the same way as our fellow men…” – Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, Afterword.
Ma’at, when not personified as a goddess, is that which gathers things together. It is creation, connection, balance, and Divine Order. Without it, everything falls apart…literally. There is Nothing. In fact, my favorite description of isfet (the opposite of ma’at, uncreation) is one where it is compared to The Nothing from “The Neverending Story”. (If you’ve not seen this movie, by the way, you must go see it. Go on, add it to your Netflix queue. I’ll wait.)
The horribleness of The Nothing would make anyone want to do what they could to prevent it from happening…and that’s the point, really. We live in ma’at and uphold it to prevent the alternative. And, here’s the rub – upholding ma’at does not mean performing HUGE COSMIC DEEDS like those mentioned in myth. There’s a reason that Set is the one who slays
Apep instead of Joe Hotep, Onion Farmer – Joe is HUMAN. WE are HUMAN. This means we do what we can to ensure continuity, to ensure order, to ensure that things keep going.
This is why shopping cart theology makes sense for us as modern Kemetics. We do what we can do to keep the system running. We feed the hungry. We clothe the naked. We emboaten the boatless. We overthrow corrupt regimes. And, we put away the fucking shopping carts. Each of these human-sized acts is important and is more than the sum of its parts. These acts are the upholding of ma’at as much as any GREAT COSMIC DEED performed by the netjeru. They’re not mindless automatic actions. They’re real, and true, and critical and essential to the continuation of Divine Order.
We, as Kemetics, need to stop whinging and whining about not knowing what to do and start doing. We must uphold ma’at because the alternative is just not fucking acceptable.