Converting to Paganism

Christians like to believe that our age is a frightening one, an age in which everything is allowed, and all the horny powers of hedonism run rampant. The Godless — God bless ‘em — believe the same, but as far as I can tell, they’re happier with the prospect.

We’re all becoming pagans, the Christian frowns, using that wonderful, royal we. We’re becoming pagans, the Godless smile back, shaking off the cruel bonds of organized religion.

Lol, pagans? C.S. Lewis asked. Then:

Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.
Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs…

And I believe he drove his stake through the heart of the Stupid, for both the Christian and the Modern mistake this age for something hard. The Christian sees all the licentiousness, barbarism and relativism as terrifyingly bad, and thus attributes to it — intentionally or not — the hard qualities of Strength, Magnitude, Viciousness and the like. The Godless see it as brave and rebellious and thus attribute to it the same. But this is not a hard age. This is a flaccid age, an age of Viagra, angst and gossip.

The pagans, by which I refer to pre-Christian Western man, may have been unwilling to accept that strange doctrine of the Son of Man, but they willingly accepted that they were sons of men. They may not have known how to be Christian, but they knew how to be human. The post-Christian, having left Christ, is in the busy process of altogether leaving Man. With respect to those delivering our daily mail, one might say we are moving increasingly to the Age of the Post-Man.

Think about it: Christianity is still attacked — one would hardly deny the fact — but the Christian today is rarely summoned up to defend the Holy Family. He is instead forever being called to rise to the defense of that Pagan institution, the human family. The fundamentally human idea that a vow is a thing forever kept is an idea weary and battered by divorce. That natural, human understanding that a child is Good is an understanding contracepted from our hearts. That our elders are a hell of a lot more important than ourselves is a thing that must be defended against the cult of progress, the cult of the youth, euthanasia and all the rest. Many fault Christianity for adopting elements of Paganism. I praise it for the same, for that she adopted was well worth keeping.

As Lewis says, “Christians and Pagans had much more in common with each other than either has with a post-Christian. The gap between those who worship different gods is not so wide as that between those who worship and those who do not…” Indeed, and I would sum it so: The Pagans may have had false Gods, but they had real men. The post-Christian attempts to be God, and loses man in the process.

Now do not misunderstand: Humans are humans are humans — we’ve always been sinners. But the Pagans would have mocked our sin as cowardly stuff.

I needn’t plunge the well of history to show that the Ancients killed each other. Have a particular favorite: In the Battle of Clontarf, The Irishman Wolf the Quarrelsome hunted down the Viking murderer of his older brother, cut open his stomach with a battle-axe, pulled out his entrails and tied him to a tree with them. Whether the story is true or not, it exemplifies a zeitgeist that saw such thing as worthy of praise and storytelling. Their battles may have been wrathful and sinful, but they were certainly heroic.

The post-Christian world kills each other —  more so than the ancients ever could have imagined — but our death is dealt from a distance. Our wars seem cleaner, more intellectual, justified, and reasonable; led by economic self-interest, not by blind blood-wrath, and yet our solders are more likely to kill themselves afterwards then die in them. Why? Why is modern warfare so depressing, where it was once heroic? There’s no statistical evidence of any sort, but I highly doubt that — in the aftermath of any of the great Pagan wars — more warriors killed themselves than died in battle. Our post-Christian world still retains the evil of the Ancients, in this case magnifying it, but that same evil loses its intoxication, its confidence and pride. Somehow I doubt the Pagans would be impressed with our Drone attacks.

Again, allow me to quote the Narnian: “Theology, while saying that a special illumination has been vouchsafed to Christians and (earlier) to Jews, also says that there is some divine illumination vouchsafed to all men. The Divine light, we are told, ‘lighteneth every man.’ We should, therefore, expect to find in the imagination of great Pagan teachers and myth makers some glimpse of that theme which we believe to be the very plot of the whole cosmic story—the theme of incarnation, death, and rebirth.” The Pagan world awaited Christ as a virgin awaits her bridegroom. In her myth and legend she whispered of Christ. The post-Christian world leaves Christ as an adulteress. In her timidity and weariness she slanders His name. They are both without the fullness of Truth, but oh, how much happier the Pagans must have been.

Do I romanticize? Perhaps. But it does seem that the world is in desperate need of conversion, not at first to Christianity, but to Paganism. Not to that Americanized silliness that seems to be under the impression that Paganism largely comprised of the eating of the proper roots at the proper times and idolizing liberal politicians, no: The world — myself included — needs to learn what it means to be human.

  • http://thecatholicsciencegeek.blogspot.com/ The Catholic Science Geek

    “The Pagans may have had false Gods, but they had real men. The post-Christian attempts to be God, and loses man in the process.”—-> My new favorite quote. Great post.

    • Cal-J

      “Know your betters and crouch, dogs…”

      Where is that from? Do want.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        “A Cliche Came Out of Its Cage” – CSL

        • Cal-J

          Thankee.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            Guys, GREAT NEWS! Today I both invented and obliterated the great unicorn invasion. You can thank me later. (no word on death yet.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501021941 Hannah Russell

    I don’t know that killing people hand-to-hand makes men more human. Seems like it might make them worse. Just a thought.

    • Jay

      Killing people hand-to-hand is worse than sending a missile to do it for him? Well, either way, killing is killing, but at least with the former you have to look your opponent in the eye and have the guts to commit to it. Not just nonchalantly pressing a few buttons.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501021941 Hannah Russell

        Some soldiers do kill face to face, though, with guns. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think its possible to kill someone else in person, see them die in front of you, and not be affected negatively. It seems like it would make someone more hard, ruthless, and inhuman than human. Right? I think the idea of killing someone in hand to hand combat is romanticized, but it can’t be all its cracked up to be.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-P-Strandquist/593594107 Matthew P. Strandquist

          Take away the bombs and drones and missiles, and the grenades and even the guns, and make men to fight at arms length… and you will see less war in the world, since it is SUPPOSED to be bad: that’s what is supposed to KEEP US from slaughtering everyone else.

        • lakingscrzy

          We often forget that war was like a sport then, their warriors were romanticized then as we romanticize our athletes. War was a competition, there were winners and losers.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            No, war was survival. War was life. If you won, you got to live until someone else picked a fight. If you lost? Well, you were old enough to fight before, that means you either need to be broken as a slave or put down before you cause trouble again.

          • lakingscrzy

            While I get what you are saying, and do agree, don’t say I am wrong bedside you just proved my point. In a world where war is everything, the strongest warriors were heroes, celebrities, and gods.

    • Andrew Graupmann

      I think the idea is that at least you had to accept that you were killing. You were face to face with another human being. No cognitive dissonance going on there. You could kill or you could not. Of course that does not make it right. Nowadays, we have men who serve 8-5 stateside, and go home to their families after having killed perhaps hundreds of people the other side of the world away. They kill but do not see death. They can almost believe they did not kill. They can de-humanize the victims. However, deep down they have to know that they took a life/lives.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501021941 Hannah Russell

        I agree with this. I totally agree that killing people without seeing them die dehumanizes the victims. But, I think killing people in person dehumanizes the victim and the killer.

  • enness

    “With respect to those delivering our daily mail…the Age of the Post-Man.”

    Did not see that one coming. D’oh. :)

    Anyway…some people think we make progress. Often, I think we just get better at suppressing cognitive dissonance.

    • Jeb

      We make progress, the question is simply “toward what?” As Chesterton said, the progressive does not care, so long as progress is being made.

  • Mjgtmom

    VERY interesting perspective! As the song goes, “Gimme that ol’ time religion…” if it creates men who are truly men and restores some sanity to the world (even at the risk of some eye-gouging and/or lopping-off of limbs ;-) ).

    • Juliano

      It all boils down to this: mind altering vegetation and substances that bring us awareness of the WONDERS of nature. This amazing planet Earth, Mother Earth, that we didn’t just land IN as though from some –I dont know , from some place above, but grow OUT of sharing the same patterns, nature as nature.

      The definition of ‘pagan’ I prefer is ‘countrydweller’ meaning someone close to the land, and understanding the intelligence of nature, and how to live intelligently with nature and others, and other species. NOT warmongering insane patriarchal religionists and pagans who have war gods they stupdily want to emulate. No!!!

  • Laura B B

    Another great riff on “Sin Boldly!” Rock on, Marc. I think you are well on your way to a book.

  • shaun

    THANK YOU. this is what i keep trying to tell people about paganism. ancient pagans may not have been the chosen people and had less truth than the jews but they still had truth. and christ came for all people not just jews. when he fulfilled judaism he also fullfilled the pagan religions. jewish coverts quite often say that when they became catholic they didnt stop being jews but became completed jews…well why dont we say the same about converts from other religions? they dont stop being who they are they become more of who they are.

    • Vision_From_Afar

      And what do you say about those who leave your religion for a Pagan one? Are they suddenly “less people”?

      • kenneth

        The Christian party line on that says that we neo-pagans are just delusional ren-faire rejects playing dress-up since “real paganism” is dead and humanity long ago universally accepted the self-evident superiority of Christianity. Hubris? Yes. But history teaches that if you’re going to do hubris, do it big! Tell a big lie, tell it loud and carry yourself like you own the place. In a world where most people don’t have the tools or cajones to think for themselves, attitude always trumps reason…

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Lol, I’m fully aware, Kenneth.

      • bearing

        I think we would say that pagans who don’t know Christ are like virgins who can be espoused to be married, but someone who leaves Christ for another god, having known Him and been united with Him is sort of like a person leaving his spouse for a new, flashier one.

        There is some scriptural precedent for this in the book of Hosea.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Why does it always come down to virgin/not virgin?

          • Elmtree01

            reflect on that question- there’s an awesome answer there. And the ancient pagans, I think, would know it.

      • Gail Finke

        No, but they are people with a lot less sense.

        • kenneth

          If you really believed that, you’d be glad to be rid of us and not so bitter or threteaned at our departure and obstinance at staying away….

          • c matt

            Well, you’re the one here posting on a Catholic blog, not Catholics posting on a pagan blog.

            Just sayin’.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Lol, Marc started it, calling us out in the blog title and everything. You think we’re not going to stick our heads over and see what’s what?

          • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

            And yet, no small number of Catholics come to pagan blogs–especially on the Patheos.com site–to ‘splain to us why we’re wrong and our opinions on Catholics are incorrect.

            If you don’t like people who aren’t of your own religion posting on your religious blogs, how about focusing your efforts on getting your co-religionists to stop doing that? I think Jesus would probably approve of that “love your neighbor as yourself” approach, but what do I know?

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Please explain.

    • laursaurus

      I converted from a Protestant denomination. I’m not sure if my situation counts. RCIA process leading up to my Confirmation has been my “born-again Christian” experience. But that explanation seems awkward compared to the way you put it.
      Embracing Catholicism has made me a completed Christian.
      That is a better way to describe my faith journey. Mind if I adopt your words?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=702410037 Skyler von Enn

    So true, today’s neo-paganism (Wicca and the likes) is like cream of wheat to the raw shark meat fermented in spoiled milk that the Vikings ate. They’re both bad, but at least the shark meat is bad in an intense, hardcore way that recognizes the badness, while cream of wheat just tries to pretend it’s something that tastes good and is nourishing, but it’s really just cream of wheat.

    • Vision_From_Afar

      Wait, what?

      • xfaahctor

        yeh….this one made me do a double take too.

    • kenneth

      There’s nothing funnier and yet more pathetic than Christians pronouncing judgement on who’s a “real pagan.” While you’re on that soapbox, maybe you can tell modern Native Americans they’re not “real Indians” or that today’s blacks aren’t “keeping it real.”

      • Chiyo

        Unless the commenter is Native American, or of African ancestry. Then it’s okay, right? :P

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Someone missed the point.

          • James H, London

            You missed the point, I’m afraid.

            Modern paganism apparently doesn’t really believe in its deities; they scrupulously avoid any sense of sin, unlike the ancient peoples of Europe; and their beliefs on the afterlife are culled from every religion except Christianity. Such pap can not possibly form the basis of a civilisation, and doesn’t even pretend to.

          • kenneth

            This is an admission that you’ve never spent any time with real practicing modern pagans, nor read any of our primary sources, nor probably even a Wikipedia article about us. Christian apologists “know” that we have no values because it supports what they’d like to believe about it, and besides, there’s a consensus from other Christians who believe the same thing in blog forums, so it must be true.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            I am quite offended sir, that you think I don’t believe in my gods, which were the gods for most of the “ancient peoples of Europe.” My belief in the afterlife is culled from archaeological and sociological finds related to the “ancient peoples of Europe.” People who had a fully developed, thriving belief and religion long before missionaries brought Jesus northward.

            I have no problem with your religion sir, but I take issue when you insult mine so egregiously.

          • msmischief

            Please tell us what rites you deem necessary to avoid offending the gods.

            A feature found in every known form of paganism.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Please tell us what rites you deem necessary to avoid offending the gods.

            My offense was to his inquiry about the veracity of my bliefs. The thought that in order to be faithful to Gods requires a rulebook, or “commandments”, is a heavily influenced Chrisitian/monotheist idea. What offends one god may please another, and vice versa. But since you asked so nicely, there are a few rules of behavior that most of my gods agree on:
            Desecration or insult to sacred spaces.
            Rudeness to guests.
            Rudeness to hosts.
            Breaking faith with the Gods and kindred.
            Dishonesty.

          • msmischief

            Since I asked so nicely you won’t answer my question?

            I said nothing at all about rules. I said rites. How do you propiate the gods?

            That you managed to miss that does not auger well for your actual paganism. The reason the actual pagans fed Christians to the lions was the argument that they offended the gods.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            propiate – I admit, I cannot for the life of me figure out what this word is supposed to be. Help?

            Also, I can’t figure out where you’re going with this.
            Original Post – Pagans aren’t real, b/c no sin and afterlife is fake amalgamation.
            Me – BS, afterlife is based in historical evidence, you’re rude.
            You – So what “rites” do you use to make avoid offending your gods?
            Is my faith suddenly on trial with you? WTF? If you want such a specific answer, how about you give me an example.

            Where did that come from? Also, we don’t do “rites” specifically designed not to offend, we do rites to honor the gods, among others. We have a loose set of “rules” governing our behavior to avoid doing things we know displease them.

            That your questions are so pointed and hostile while also being vague does not auger well for this discussion.

            Also, Christians were fed to lions because that’s what one did with dissidents and revolutionaries who refused to toe the line. There wasn’t a religious component to it, it was just politics.

          • msmischief

            You are no pagan.

            Every single actual pagan religion taught that you must offer the proper rites or sacrifices, or the offended gods would punish you for your impiety.

            And their motive for feeding the Christians to the lions was entirely religious — except that true pagans admitted of no distinction between political and religious, since impiety brought down the gods’ wrath on the state.

            You would know all this if you were a pagan.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…oh wait. You’re serious?

            I don’t need your approval or validation. Thanks for the laugh.

          • Tandava

            There’s less underlying unity in “modern paganism” than there is in Christianity, so your point is…what exactly?

            The “pap” that “can not possibly form the basis of a civilization” as you say, is in fact a rebirth of man’s original religion, the “perennial philosophy” that was violently suppressed by abrahamic monotheism. Now the earth is vomiting up monotheism, the natural consequence of digesting a poisonous, memetic disease. The influx of Eastern mysticism, the growth of Buddhism and Hindu philosophy, as well as other dharmic traditions in the west, the resurgence of self-identified pagans, the merger of environmentalism and green disposition with spirituality….this is all part of what you dismiss as “pap,” and in the end it will overcome the Hebraic derivatives. Hopefully, they will be relegated to the desert of their birth and can enjoy their theocratic, schism-prone paradise without the participation of the wider,saner world.

          • Jevans

            Wait a sec… At the top you dismissed underlying unity being important to the validity of a religion, and then at the bottom you accuse the abrahamic religions as being schism prone, i.e. having less underlying unity, which is apparently a bad thing now. If you’re going to claim the side of reason and rationality, self contradiction like that is really going to hurt your case.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            More likely, he was referring to the fact that there is an amicable understanding between differeing pagan faiths that none of us have the “exact, One True Answer (TM)”. The same cannot be said for the differing sects of Christendom.

          • Tandava

            I am afraid that I don’t see any contradiction here. There’s no underlying unity in modern paganism, nor is there an attempt to claim underlying unity; the polytheistic and pantheistic traditions that constitute modern paganism come from diverse sources, only some of which enjoy an Indo European root. By way of contrast, the abrahamics purportedly worship the same god, despite their propensity for schism and internal bloodfeud (i.e., the many conflicts between zionists, crusaders and jihadists). And even apart from the conflicts between the three religions, there’s no shortage of internecine conflict within the traditions. On the other hand, you would be hard pressed to discover a dharmic civil war. What has been dismissed as “pap” is not prone to religious conflict; the disputes are openly about land, resources, etcetera. There’s no contradiction at all in my post, because I am not suggesting that underlying unity or underlying diversity is good or bad, I am just stating that abrahamic monotheism is a poisonous abomination posing as a spiritual path.

    • Deven Kale

      It’s quite obvious that you’ve never taken the time to learn what “neo-paganism” is really about. Take some time to learn something about it, anything at all, and you’ll realize how ridiculous your statement is.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joeclark1977 Joe Clark

      Did the Vikings really eat that? That’s bad-ass.

  • John Doman

    A good post, but I have a bone to pick:
    “Our wars seem cleaner, more intellectual, justified, and reasonable; led by economic self-interest, not by blind blood-wrath… ”
    What war in recent times was started by economic self-interest? You’re not one of those tired types who think we fought in Iraq for oil, are you? If you’re just talking about U.S. wars, they’ve all been started by idealism. You can argue that the idealism was misguided or foolish, of course. But it was idealism, not economic self-interest. That sounds a tad marxist world-view to me.

    • Jill

      I interpreted “wars” in a broader sense. My mind immediately thought of the wars being waged against abortion, euthanasia, ss marriage, the HHS mandate, Obamacare, loss of freedoms, etc. not the military wars. These wars, like all sin, is rooted in self-interest.

  • Brenda Becker

    Some nice Chestertonian riffs in there. Today’s eco-pagans, indeed, would like to see “the Abolition of Man” from the face of the earth. (Which is odd, if they revere Earth as our Mother; what mother wishes to see her children, even improvident or destructive ones, annihilated?) I have pondered on why so many of our warriors today seem to become so lost and broken psychically upon returning to civilian life; my suspicion is that returning to a culture awash in decadence and moral relativism, after enduring and performing unimaginable things in battle by operating within a rigorous code of right and wrong, discipline and hierarchy, is profoundly traumatic. Our WWII vets returned to a world that acknowledged them for having fought The Good Fight, and acknowledged the Fight as good. Starting with Viet Nam, our soldiers returned to a weak, curdled society uneasy with goodness or fighting, except when presented as entertainment. Neither Christian nor pagan, as Marc points out…this weekend is a good reminder to keep our heroes in the Armed Services in our prayers.

    • Oregon Catholic

      WWII vets also returned to a country that had fought the war along with them at home through various sacrifices for the war effort. Not to a society like today that largely forgets about them as they are maimed and killed and whose only financial sacrifice is laid on the backs of future generations.

      God bless our vets.

    • Vision_From_Afar

      Today’s eco-pagans, indeed, would like to see “the Abolition of Man” from the face of the earth. (Which is odd, if they revere Earth as our Mother; what mother wishes to see her children, even improvident or destructive ones, annihilated?)

      —-
      Please show me some evidence of this, and prove you’re not just regurgitating another “Green Dragon” party-line. Most “eco-pagans”, as you so cleverly dub them, want “good stewardship” of the finite resources available to us, which I hardly consider a call to “the Abolition of Man”.
      All I see in this post is a rambling quasi-argument that “no, really, Christians have been right all along, silly pagans just didn’t know it yet”. I must have missed the part where the author actually said something positive about this weekend.

      • finishstrongdoc

        Would John Muir , more of a True Pagan than any in his time or ours, recognize today’s Sierra Club, which he founded? The nobility which Muir expressed in his writings on his true love of nature would never recognize the command-control-and-kill rhetoric of the depressing, anti-human population deficit orderers of today’s Sierra Club. Muir spoke from the Heart of Nature to the human heart of all, calling some to recognize an even Higher Order in all.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Today’s eco-pagans, indeed, would like to see “the Abolition of Stallion” from the face of the earth.*

      *Citation needed.

    • Deven Kale

      I have pondered on why so many of our warriors today seem to become so lost and broken psychically upon returning to civilian life

      My opinion on this is that the world has gotten smaller. It’s much harder these days to get the sense of “other” that was always there in all the previous wars. These days, there is much more focus on understanding the situations of others. We’re taught to try and imagine ourselves in the shoes of the “others,” and to recognize that those others are people, just like ourselves.

      When we* go to war, we’re taught the opposite. We’re taught to ignore those mental faculties which we’ve been cultivating all our lives, the ability to see the “other” as human like us. We’re taught to dehumanize them, to consider them little more than “targets.” We spend months learning to use our weapons of war, and to use them without thought. We pretend to fire on false “targets” in order to make it easier to do so in the real world.

      While in that situation it’s easy to keep up the facade. Once we come back to civilian life though, we need to re-initialize that part of our mind that we shut down while at war. It becomes more and more difficult to convince ourselves that those people we killed were just “targets,” and the full magnitude of what we’ve done slowly becomes clear. This is why so many of us kill ourselves after war, because we cannot live with the fact of how many people we killed while under that spell.

      *Using the royal “we” myself here. I’m asthmatic and unable to serve myself.

  • AttentionDeficitCatholic

    I am really sorry to nitpick, but:

    “yet our solders are more likely to kill themselves afterwards then die in them”

    I think you meant “than” instead of “then”. Sorry, guilty grammar-nazi here.

  • Mary

    “The pagans may have had false Gods, but they had real men. The post Christians attempt to be God, & loses men in the process.”

    The pagans at least showed integrity, honor, & consistency. When the post-Christian isn’t grounded in a particular faith or moral system, he/she tends to be wishy washy & inconsistent. Inconsistency breeds mistrust & disrespect, which are not effective in true, strong, ,virtuous leadership. (I am thinking of the current administration)
    Well, I suppose you could say they do worship humanism, self progess & individualism. Those are their Gods & idols. It really all comes down to the destruction of family, & the sly devil knows that very well. The more our culture mistrusts & rejects the man+woman=babies model for marriage, the more inconsistent we will all be. The more accepted abortion is by “the system” the more they will worship individualism. The deception is the difference, I suppose. In the past, the pagans didn’t maybe have the need to deceive thier true agendas. Now, progressives need to change the language to more neutral & accepting terms, like how the HHS mandate is a “healthcare emergeny” for the “rights of women” & how an abortion is just a “medical procedure” (I am sure you could list many many more)

    • Cal-J

      The Pagans understood the concept of virtue (cf. Aristotle et al.). Post-moderns (Moderns were technically mid-late 19th century) are busy doing their damnedest to pretend there’s no such thing.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        Putting aside your use of the “Pagan” label as any-non-Atheist-or-Abrahamic-person-at-any-point-in-history (the author did it first, so you get a pass), isn’t comparing pre-Christian mores and ethics with post-Modern ones a little bit disingenuous? Beyond romanticizing the past, I don’t see how you’re comparing apples-to-apples here.

        • Lily

          Well, “Pagans”, who I would classify as polytheists in general, did (and do- no romanticizing the past, we’re talking about cultures that still exist) have strong concepts of virtue, morality, and things that should be held sacred. They may not be the same as other pagan or non-pagan cultures, but all of them admit that virtues etc. exist. Many-post modern people deny that there are such things as virtue.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            I still think it’s painting with a rather broad brush, but your argument is disingenuous. Many pagan cultures, past and present, do have strong concepts of virtue, morality, etc. Somehow the fact that these concepts exist allows you to feel an inherent connection where there isn’t one. The beliefs, however strong, didn’t (and don’t) always line up along the same lines.
            By the same token, this mis-alignment has led to the argument that many (let’s call them what they are) Atheists are saying: There is no absolute definition of virtue and/or morality.

          • Deven Kale

            (let’s call them what they are) Atheists

            I hate to be a grammar nazi, but “Atheist,” as a noun, is not a proper noun and should never be capitalized. It’s a common noun in that it doesn’t describe any unique identity, but a class of people who reject religious claims. The term atheist does not imply any certain belief system, moral ideology, or anything else.

            Atheists (capitalized only because it started the sentence) disagree on almost every single issue when you get more than 20 of us together. So please, don’t attribute more to the word than it deserves. It’s not a proper noun, please keep it common.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            I guess I can see your point, but isn’t “Atheism” a philosophical or (anti-)religious school of thought, akin to Stoicism or somesuch, and thus is a proper, distinct noun?

            You’re telling me A(a)theists don’t agree on a lack of divine intervention in the world past and present? How are they called A(a)theists, then?

          • Longinus

            Can I just say that I love the fact that an A(a)theist and a pagan (Pagan?) are facing off on a Catholic blog entry?

          • Vision_From_Afar

            It does have a certain irony.

          • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

            In your first paragraph I think you’re confusing atheism and Anti-theism, which I would say is a proper noun because it describes what a person actually does, not what they don’t do.

            In your second paragraph, you’ve sort of gotten it right. But instead of saying they believe in a lack of divine intervention, it’s that they don’t believe the claims that there was ever even one of them. It’s a small distinction, but an important one.

            In other words, the term atheist only describes what a person isn’t, and what a person does not believe. Therefore it shouldn’t be considered a proper noun in the usual sense.

          • Jeb

            It is one thing to disagree on which deity(ies) to worship, and another on whether there is such a thing. Likewise, it is one thing to disagree on what virtues ought be upheld, and whether there is such a thing as virtue.

            In other words, a person who believes that in general self restraint is a virtue, but that not eating pork is not a virtue may still understand the Jew who keeps Kosher, but the post-Christian who as denied that there is such a thing as virtue cannot truly understand, not in the same way.

            Also, the atheist, if they say what you say they are saying, commits a fallacy be assuming that either all valued virtues must be true, or none of them are, and since the set of all valued virtues contains contradictions, the must be no such thing; or that because not everyone (or not a majority) hold a particular virtue it must not be a real thing (as if truth were a popularity contest).

          • Vision_From_Afar

            I think we’re mis-using “virtue” here. It’s not that the “post-Christian” cannot understand the virtue for what it is – something that ostensibly benefits someone or several someones, but rather cannot understand the basis for said virtue (re: the contradiction mentioned in your last paragraph).

            Also, have you watched broadcast news in the last decade? Truth is a popularity contest. :)

          • Ezbs

            The definition of terms such as virtue and what constitutes a virtue precedes you or I. The Post-Christian understands the definitions, but like a rebellious teenager chooses to re-write not only his own history, but definitions on a topic. Just because you have your own mind, it doesn’t mean that you can liberally and so flippantly redefine terms that have their tradition and following through the ages- thousands and thousands of years! If these terms were wrong or misleading then someone would have picked them up and defunct all religion. And religion would be dead.

            But it most definitely is not.

            History to the present tells us this not so. As much as it may irk you.

            In other words it gives you more credibility to argue against something if your argument was grounded in a logical and coherent explanation. Not some teenage “rebel without a cause” attitude.

            I think the post was saying that at least the Pagans, who the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) lived with after the flight to Egypt, have more credibility in their transparency of belief than the Post-Christian who has chosen to denounce everything but his pretentious little mind, cause he doesn’t want to hear wisdom and tradition carried down through his fellow man, as given to ALL of us by OUR (yours and mine’s) Creator.

            It’s giving yourself more air-time than you really deserve. Sorry, but the Anti-Theism argument is just too pretentious for it’s own good. As an above commenter admitted, they can’t even agree on basic definitions. And as Richard Dawkins admitted he can’t even decide if he is Athiest or Agnostic- and it’s his life-long work to “enlighten” on these matters. That tells me there is a manipulative little game happening here. Something that the Pagan didn’t enter into.

            Deny and redefine all you want, that’s your prerogative, but Truth, as given to us by God is Truth, is Truth is Truth. Full Stop
            (and that’s not MY definition or explanation. It’s one that I accept, as I don’t think I’m smarter than the God who wrote it in my very soul).

          • Vision_From_Afar

            The definition of terms such as virtue and what constitutes a virtue precedes you or I.
            —-
            And has been redefined many times. Early in the Middle East, it was “virtuous” to stone to death women who were adulteresses. Care to explain how following your God’s rules to the letter isn’t “virtue” any more?

            Just because you have your own mind, it doesn’t mean that you can liberally and so flippantly redefine terms that have their tradition and following through the ages- thousands and thousands of years!

            If ideas weren’t allowed to change due to age, we’d still have slaves.

            If these terms were wrong or misleading then someone would have picked them up and defunct all religion. And religion would be dead.

            Organized religion certainly seems to be dying, what with attendance down another 10% in the last census.

            In other words it gives you more credibility to argue against something if your argument was grounded in a logical and coherent explanation.

            But that’s not your argument. Your argument is “it’s old, and it’s always been this way.” Even grounded in old logic doesn’t mean it’s still good. The whole point of growth as a human race is that we continually re-evaluate what is virtuous, good, and logical.

            I think the post was saying that at least the Pagans, who the Holy Family lived with after the flight to Egypt,

            I must’ve missed that part. It looked to me like the whole post was referencing the Indo-European pagan faiths.

            have more credibility in their transparency of belief than the Post-Christian who has chosen to denounce everything but his pretentious little mind, cause he doesn’t want to hear wisdom and tradition carried down through his fellow man, as given to ALL of us by OUR (yours and mine’s) Creator.

            You realize your argument begins to leave logic at this point, don’t you?

            Sorry, but the Anti-Theism argument is just too pretentious for it’s own good. As an above commenter admitted, they can’t even agree on basic definitions. And as Richard Dawkins admitted he can’t even decide if he is Athiest or Agnostic- and it’s his life-long work to “enlighten” on these matters. That tells me there is a manipulative little game happening here. Something that the Pagan didn’t enter into.
            —-
            I find your sweeping generalizations of Pagans amusing, but continue.

            Deny and redefine all you want, that’s your prerogative, but Truth, as given to us by God is Truth, is Truth is Truth. Full Stop
            (and that’s not MY definition or explanation. It’s one that I accept, as I don’t think I’m smarter than the God who wrote it in my very soul).
            —-
            It’s your “Truth”, an if it helps you or makes you happier, all the better for you. It’s not my “Truth”, and he’s not my god. I’ll be on my merry Pagan way now.

          • Ezbs

            Wow, I’m flattered by your dissection of my comment. Thank you.

            Thank you for calling me illogical- do you find yourself full of common sense do you? Is anyone taking notice?

            I’m slightly puzzled how you think “old” is not good, and how all things should be re-addressed and redefined. So, does that mean that the old rule of manners should be redefined- it’s not ok today to say “please” and “thank you”. That’s so old-fashioned, not “cool”, doesn’t apply anymore. In my humble opinion, it does- I teach manners to my children, as my parents taught me, and their parents taught them and so forth.

            Who are you to define virtue off the cuff. “Virtuous” is made up- I’m Lebanese and I speak Arabic and I’ve never heard of an even similar word used in the Middle East. I take the definition of “virtue” and what constitutes it from what has been taught to me, passed down in tradition and divine law. Virtue makes you a better person- hence the phrase “to strive for virtue” or “to the highest of virtue”. My Faith teaches this to me- never changing, solid and True.

            You get headaches redefining EVERYTHING – reinventing the wheel every generation especially when there’s no new wheel to be re-invented. Question what’s important ( oh goodness, I know what you will come back to me with “who are you to define what’s important?” well I’m no one, I’ll use my God-given common sense and my Christian principles and I’m sure I’ll get by).

            Slavery was VERY much part of Pagan practise- the Ancient Egyptians used Jewish slavery to build the pyramids. Moses, instructed by God, put an end to that. I actually challenge you to do your research about the Old and New Testament, as it is historically correct.

            And organized religion is stronger than ever- and I count Islam, Judaism AND Christianity amongst these.

            The problem with your statistics, and you seem to sprout them with such authority- is that you don’t look past the USA. Christianity, and that is the example I’ll use, is stronger than ever in the West AND the East. The world isn’t the United States of America. History isn’t only the United States of America. Just because no one isn’t attending Church/Mosque/Synagogue/temple in your diocese or country doesn’t mean religion is dying.

            And you are right, Truth does make me happier. Makes me less neurotic too. God Bless you on your merry pagan way.

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            Ezbs,

            Like most today, Vision_From_Afar has mindlessly accepted the myth of progress. He’s therefore a shameless chronological snob. Thus “new” is for him a synonym for “better,” “more advanced,” etc.

            All this is part of the processing. There’s much more to the processing.

            For example, herds of “individuals” believe that by branding themselves with tattoos they express their “individuality.” Imagine it! They believe that by branding themselves like cattle they express individuality rather than bovinity. Incredible!

            The processed are also invariably relativists.

            The processed are also “pro-choice,” for “gay marriage,” and so on. They’re very “tolerant.” Agree with them or die.

            The processed can always be counted on to dogmatically denounce dogma.

            And so on and so on….

          • Ezbs

            A Jnr, I couldn’t have put it better myself. Well done!

          • Vision_From_Afar

            I ignore your sanctimonious crap in another thread and you have to come hijack the other one? Get a life, pal.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Ignoring your personal attacks, I will attempt to respond one more time, for all the good it’ll do me.

            I have no issue with “old” or with “manners” or any other strawman argument you wish to trot out. I have an issue with unquestioning obediance to tradition. One continues manners because they promote good social interactions. One denounces slavery (now it’s own, “old” tradition) because we recognise the equality of the human being, regardless of history, family, or race. I think “virtue” as a concept, not behavior (manners) or institution (slavery), is something that can be easily questioned and revisited. Nice job ignoring my question, by the way. I don’t claim to have the answers to virtue, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to question the person who does.

            Throwing slavery in my face is old hat, and useless. So slavery pre-dated Christianity. Don’t try to tell me Christians have never owned slaves. Also, there’s a ton of evidence now that the pyramids, by and large, were built by paid, volunteer workforce, and most scholars believe Moishe (Moses) to be myth. I’ve done my research, with corroboration by unbiased scholars. Your turn.

            What does it say about Christianity that it can only claim explosive growth, or any growth at all for that matter, in poorly educated, poorly funded 3rd world countries?

          • Ezbs

            For someone with so much bitterness for Christianity, you seem to put a lot of effort into calling Moses Moishe or Mosh or whatever you call him.

            Don’t be a hypocrite, you know there are no personal attacks in my comments- it’s you calling people names and spitting out your argument. Go revisit your MANY previous comments. Maybe you don’t like to listen another point of view, or maybe the other point of view rattles you…

            What question did I ignore- that I was illogical? you never answered me why Richard Dawkins can’t agree on whether he is Agnostic (who believes in God) and Atheist (who doesn’t). Our Cardinal Pell ripped him apart on National TV with complete calmness and bang in his knowledge- leaving him a muttering red-faced fool who resorted to making below the belt insulting remarks about the Eucharist.

            And the Curch is not only growing in poorly educated poorly funded third world countries- is Japan poor? Is England poor? Australia? Russia? Sorry I forgot, the height of intelligence is denouncing God- I forgot the two go hand in hand. I have met more uneducated people in my life with more common sense and humility in their convictions and arguments, than I’ve met so called educated intellectuals.

            And the “unbiased scholars” you talk about, do they happen to be Dan Brown…haha don’t claim to know unbiased information on a topic you obviously want to look at with blinkers. Once again, you are wrong – the pyramids were built by slaves. What history book are you reading from- the Disney version? VFA, you can sprout these things because that’s what you “reckon”, but you need to back up your claims. Otherwise, you just come across as waving your own pretentious intellectual flag. Nothing more.

            I’d rather believe and follow one Mans teaching passed down from 2000 years of tradition, writings and a beautiful institution guided by the Holy Spirit, who changed ManKind as we know it, died for me, before I believe one self-righteous persons point of view who did nothing for mankind, for me, but stout self-satisfying mumbo jumbo, which I question to even be historically correct, or even grounded in common sense.

            I think I’m done commenting- go spend the next hour ripping apart someone else’s comments, rather than presenting a coherent one yourself- one that will actually make someone sit up and take notice and say”oh yeah, VFA is making a good point”God Bless.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            For someone with so much bitterness for Christianity, you seem to put a lot of effort into calling Moses Moishe or Mosh or whatever you call him.

            My issue lies with the Church and a few of it’s followers, not the religion itself. I called his name as it would be spelled in the OT. I meant no disrespect with that.

            Don’t be a hypocrite, you know there are no personal attacks in my comments- it’s you calling people names and spitting out your argument.

            Perhaps I was out of line. Your apparent caustic, sarcastic tone put me on the defensive. I apologize.

            Go revisit your MANY previous comments. Maybe you don’t like to listen another point of view, or maybe the other point of view rattles you…

            It takes a lot more than an internet comment to rattle me, thank you very much.

            What question did I ignore- that I was illogical?

            “Early in the Middle East, it was “virtuous” to stone to death women who were adulteresses. Care to explain how following your God’s rules to the letter isn’t “virtue” any more?”

            [Y]ou never answered me why Richard Dawkins can’t agree on whether he is Agnostic (who believes in God) and Atheist (who doesn’t). Our Cardinal Pell ripped him apart on National TV with complete calmness and bang in his knowledge- leaving him a muttering red-faced fool who resorted to making below the belt insulting remarks about the Eucharist.

            As I’m not an Atheist, I feel no need to defend Dawkins in his hostile crusade. Kudos to your Cardinal for a well-executed debate.

            And the Curch is not only growing in poorly educated poorly funded third world countries- is Japan poor? Is England poor? Australia? Russia? Sorry I forgot, the height of intelligence is denouncing God- I forgot the two go hand in hand. I have met more uneducated people in my life with more common sense and humility in their convictions and arguments, than I’ve met so called educated intellectuals.

            Japan – I was uninformed. I stand corrected.
            England – Growth is largely due to immigrants. Doesn’t really count, but I’ll call it a draw there.
            Australia – Growth is again due to immigration, but the growth of minority and non-believers is expected to soar as well, so it’s a zero sum game for you there.
            Russia – As much hardship as that country endured, it was ripe for Christian growth. Again, I stand corrected.
            I guess you’re right on the technicality that immigration counts.

            And the “unbiased scholars” you talk about, do they happen to be Dan Brown…haha don’t claim to know unbiased information on a topic you obviously want to look at with blinkers. Once again, you are wrong – the pyramids were built by slaves.

            Unbiased? I give you:
            Harvard University: “He has found the city of the pyramid builders. They were not slaves.”
            National Geographic: “Graffiti indicates that at least some of these workers took pride in their work, calling their teams “Friends of Khufu,” “Drunkards of Menkaure,” and so on—names indicating allegiances to pharaohs.”
            BBC News: “The location of the tombs, where workers who built the pyramids of Khufu (Cheops) and Khafre (Chephren) are buried, suggests they were not slaves.”
            Reuters: “New tombs found in Giza support the view that the Great Pyramids were built by free workers and not slaves, as widely believed, Egypt’s chief archaeologist said on Sunday.”
            Sorry, you’re the one who’s wrong.

            What history book are you reading from- the Disney version? VFA, you can sprout these things because that’s what you “reckon”, but you need to back up your claims. Otherwise, you just come across as waving your own pretentious intellectual flag. Nothing more.

            See above…I “reckon”.

            I’d rather believe and follow one Mans teaching passed down from 2000 years of tradition, writings and a beautiful institution guided by the Holy Spirit, who changed ManKind as we know it, died for me, before I believe one self-righteous persons point of view who did nothing for mankind, for me, but stout self-satisfying mumbo jumbo, which I question to even be historically correct, or even grounded in common sense.

            I have no real issue with your beliefs, but your illogical reasoning and incorrect “facts” beg dispute.

            I think I’m done commenting- go spend the next hour ripping apart someone else’s comments, rather than presenting a coherent one yourself- one that will actually make someone sit up and take notice and say”oh yeah, VFA is making a good point”God Bless.

            So…did I make a good point?

          • Ezbs

            Haha, ok some good points. Don’t we all give ourselves more credit for our logic and intelligence than we deserve…

            Some errors too- Immigration is not the major reason for growing Christianity in Australia, if that were so then the religion with the most growth would be Islam. Christian is growing in Australia because of the youth, conversion from other faiths and returning to the faith.
            Japan is conversion, Russia is conversion.
            England, immigration is making Islam grow.

            You know what peeves me VFA I have members of my family educated by Preists and Nuns who went to Europe in the 60′s, got their medical or professional degrees and decided they were too intellectual to retain or even respect their Christian heritage. And, sorry to say this, I don’t know your background, but you come across as they do with this pompous air of self-righteous intelligence thinking they know better than 2000 years of tradition that established the Universities, that made Western Europe and the West as a whole so rich in knowledge and thought. The Post -Christian too busy patting himself on his back for denouncing God, meanwhile the Muslims are coming in causing all sorts of social and economic problems. Wakey wakey Europe. USA is not far behind.

            All I see today is every man for himself spouting whatever he feels right with no disregard for this gift that Christianity gave the world. This comes back to the point that Marc was saying, if you are truly searching for what’s True and right and Good-in my view- this is God, but don’t believe what I believe then I have so much time to hear and listen and debate, and I respect a person with some sort if conviction- including a Pagan- if his Pagan faith guides his life and makes him a better person.

            What I can’t stand is this Post -Christian, as Marc put it, who thumbs his nose with such bitterness knowing the beauty of the Faith just because he has this unrational contempt, for goodness knows what reason.

            Christianity is Love. This us what Christ taught. It’s even evident in the fact that you can insult a Christian and he will continue to argue and put His point across. “turn the other cheek”.

            You can’t do that with a Muslim (I know Im Lebanese as previously mentioned), and you can’t do it with an Athiest cause he hates the Christian ( not religion, read between the lines, Athiests have it in for Chrustians), you sometimes have to be careful with the Jew (I love Judaism don’t get me wrong), because you can come across as anti-Semetic. Well, Buddhism is so placid and closed, they just wanna be left alone.

            So you see that arguing with a Christian is a true blessing because he will keep coming back to explain his point- cause he wants to share it. Which is probably why you love this blog and others.

            Btw I answered your point about Virtuous being a term for stoning in Midde East, in previous comment. I speak Arabic, never heard of it, or even a term similar to it. So I don’t think you are correct there. Also, Egyptians did hold slaves, as did Romans. The extent to HOW much Jews contributed to the construction of the pyramid is unclear, but they did. Look it up.

          • Ezbs

            I re read your comment.
            NO it wasn’t in the past, nor is it in the present “virtuous” by Christian standards or teachings to stone a woman to death in Middle East. It maybe by a Muslim, because of their Islamic law, but never a Christian. Muslims call it Mercy killing. It’s done to girls who loose their virginity before marriage, and practiced by Islamic Arabs even when they immigrate to Western countries.
            It’s abhorrent and definitely not virtuous. It’s wrong.
            A Christian virtue is Patience, Generosity, Humility etc…hopefully these aren’t bad things in your Pagan point of view. They are unchanging since emphasized by Christ- unchanging and good. Hence my initial comment that the definition of virtue and what constitutes it precedes you or me. What is the Pagan definition of virtue?

  • Doug Sirman

    You might want to check this column out. It’s on the same theme: http://www.credenda.org/archive/issues/8-2thema.php

  • Jay E.

    This post made me REALLY happy. You’re dead on: “The post-Christian world leaves Christ as an adulteress.” Our current world is a disgruntled divorcee.

    We don’t know how to be human!! If only we WERE pagans. Lewis is da bomb. Or as Chesterton puts it:

    The Song of the Strange Ascetic:

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have praised the purple vine,
    My slaves should dig the vineyards,
    And I would drink the wine.
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And his slaves grow lean and grey,
    That he may drink some tepid milk
    Exactly twice a day.

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have crowned Neaera’s curls,
    And filled my life with love affairs,
    My house with dancing girls;
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And to lecture rooms is forced,
    Where his aunts, who are not married,
    Demand to be divorced.

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have sent my armies forth,
    And dragged behind my chariots
    The Chieftains of the North.
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And he drives the dreary quill,
    To lend the poor that funny cash
    That makes them poorer still.

    If I had been a Heathen,
    I’d have piled my pyre on high,
    And in a great red whirlwind
    Gone roaring to the sky;
    But Higgins is a Heathen,
    And a richer man than I:
    And they put him in an oven,
    Just as if he were a pie.

    Now who that runs can read it,
    The riddle that I write,
    Of why this poor old sinner,
    Should sin without delight-
    But I, I cannot read it
    (Although I run and run),
    Of them that do not have the faith,
    And will not have the fun.

    • Gail Finke

      Ah! You understand Marc because you have read both Chesterton AND Lewis. Things that the posters of some of the more bizarre comments here might try.

    • Gail Finke

      Oh, and thanks for posting that! I haven’t read it before.

  • Alphonsus_Jr

    Hillaire Belloc, from Survivals and New Arrivals:

    We are approaching [in 1936] unknown forms in the conflict between the Church and the world. We are about to meet—–or our children are—not the assault of rebels, men of our own speech and manner, but the assault of aliens. Hitherto it has been Civil War: it is soon to be Invasion.

    [In the past, even] those who in theory most opposed to the Faith have in practice followed the conventions of Europe. Even when they attacked property or marriage it was in the name of Justice. They maintained the concept of human dignity. They were indignant, in all their vagaries, against evils (such as oppression of the poor) which the Faith itself had taught men to hate. Now something quite other is beginning to show. A strange New Paganism.

    The old pre-Catholic Paganism did evil but admitted it to be evil…But the New Paganism works in an attempted denial of good and evil which degrades all it touches…

    The old Paganism of the classics [was] accompanied by a perpetual attempt to cheat despair by the opiates of beauty or of stoic courage. But the New Paganism lives in despair as an atmosphere to be breathed, lives on it as a food by which to be nourished.

    If all Paganisms end in despair, ours is accepting it as a foundation…Hence the lack of reason which is intellectual despair, the hideous architecture and painting and writing which are aesthetic despair, the dissolution of morals which is ethical despair.

    The thing is as yet unformed and only shocking in isolated instances…appearing so far, as a series of special lapses from the old Christian standards of civilization…Some few deliberately detestable buildings and sculptures in our towns, (especially in our capitals): books, still somewhat eccentric, portraying every vice; the forced and still novel apology in speech for evil of every kind—preferably for the worst: all these are still no more than isolated insults and challenges. The New Paganism is still no more than a New Arrival. But it is rapidly growing; it is also gathering cohesion; and it cannot but appear in full and formidable strength within a comparatively short period as historical time is reckoned.

    The Children

    We elder people may not live to see the thing full blown though I think we shall—–noting as I do the pace at which change is proceeding; but our children will certainly see it. When it is mature we shall have, not the present isolated, self-conscious insults to beauty and right living, but a positive coordination and organized affirmation of the repulsive and the vile.

    When the Catholic Church had succeeded to the Pagan Empire it declared marriage holy and indissoluble…The Neo-Pagan objects to both. He would set up man as an animal. He would, so far, make of marriage nothing but a civil contract…his aim is opposed to the whole scheme, and we may truly say that the facility and frequency of divorce is the test of how far any society once Christian has proceeded towards Paganism.”

    …Neo-Paganism grows prodigiously…. So long as there were definite Protestant creeds, more or less thought out and sustained by logic of a kind, so long as men could say what they thought and acted thus and thus, Paganism was kept out…

    Paganism once erected into a system, once having taken on full shape, and proceeding to positive action, must necessarily become a formidable and increasingly direct opponent of the Catholic Church. The two cannot live together, for the points upon which they would agree are not the points which either thinks essential….

    • Vision_From_Afar

      First off, thanks for a block quote that’s so out of modern context that I get to rip it apart! Without further ado:

      We are approaching [in 1936] unknown forms in the conflict between the Church and the world. We are about to meet—–or our children are—not the assault of rebels, men of our own speech and manner, but the assault of aliens. Hitherto it has been Civil War: it is soon to be Invasion.
      —-
      Nice to know the “us vs. them” rhetorical stand-by has been around for decades.

      [In the past, even] those who in theory most opposed to the Faith have in practice followed the conventions of Europe.

      “No, really. The didn’t want to be different, they just wanted their own clubhouse. We all still get to play in the same sandbox.”

      Even when they attacked property or marriage it was in the name of Justice. They maintained the concept of human dignity. They were indignant, in all their vagaries, against evils (such as oppression of the poor) which the Faith itself had taught men to hate.

      Since you dated this in the 1930s, I can only assume that this fellow is arguing against things like the ability of a woman to divorce a man, or perhaps (GASP) interracial marriage! The horror! Also, you seriously want to argue from the arrogant position of “No One Before the Church Took Care of the Poor”? Seriously? Lastly, randomly capitalizing “Justice” like that? Still looks like mentioning the Goddess rather than the concept. Just sayin, Mr. Anti-Paganism.

      Now something quite other is beginning to show. A strange New Paganism.
      —–
      Did Crowley go back in time?

      The old pre-Catholic Paganism did evil but admitted it to be evil…But the New Paganism works in an attempted denial of good and evil which degrades all it touches…
      —–
      Admitted it to be evil? Really? Was that before or after the pillaging, raping, torture, forced conversions, etc.? Also, Paganism: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      The old Paganism of the classics [was] accompanied by a perpetual attempt to cheat despair by the opiates of beauty or of stoic courage. But the New Paganism lives in despair as an atmosphere to be breathed, lives on it as a food by which to be nourished.
      —–
      Evidence? Most Pagans I know are, in fact, quite happy.

      If all Paganisms end in despair, ours is accepting it as a foundation…Hence the lack of reason which is intellectual despair, the hideous architecture and painting and writing which are aesthetic despair, the dissolution of morals which is ethical despair.
      —–
      Ooh! You meant Atheism! Most of them are happy too, except when people drone on repeatedly about how miserable they are being who they are. That tends to upset people.

      The thing is as yet unformed and only shocking in isolated instances…appearing so far, as a series of special lapses from the old Christian standards of civilization…
      —–
      The Middle Ages? Constantinian Empire? Rome? Which overly-romanticized standard are you referring to?! Be specific, there is a test later.

      Some few deliberately detestable buildings and sculptures in our towns, (especially in our capitals)
      —-
      Please elaborate? I wasn’t aware we were being “deliberately detestable” in our current civil architecture. Did I miss the county court house with nude statues or something?

      books, still somewhat eccentric, portraying every vice; the forced and still novel apology in speech for evil of every kind—preferably for the worst
      —-
      If we could just censor every book, people wouldn’t think such dirty thoughts! Hehe, not even going to poke holes in that one.

      all these are still no more than isolated insults and challenges.

      all these are still no more than [unfounded, undocumented] insults and [supposed, but no less "real"] challenges.

      The New Paganism is still no more than a New Arrival. But it is rapidly growing; it is also gathering cohesion; and it cannot but appear in full and formidable strength within a comparatively short period as historical time is reckoned.
      —–
      For those of us not versed in 1930s fear-speak: What is the “New Arrival”? Was he being literal when he meant aliens? I’m confused.

      The Children
      —-
      …WON’T YOU PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!?!?!?

      We elder people may not live to see the thing full blown though I think we shall—–noting as I do the pace at which change is proceeding; but our children will certainly see it. When it is mature we shall have, not the present isolated, self-conscious insults to beauty and right living, but a positive coordination and organized affirmation of the repulsive and the vile.
      —–
      They once said the same thing about colored folks socializin’ with white folks. They, at least, had an example of what they were scared of. You have the neutered Boogyman of “evil in the future”.

      When the Catholic Church had succeeded to the Pagan Empire it declared marriage holy and indissoluble…

      You mean in the sixteenth century, when the Church finally got around to officially recognizing marriages as opposed to “if you just can’t keep it in your pants like Jesus wanted, I suppose you can get married”, which is what it was for the first, oh, millennium or so?

      The Neo-Pagan objects to both. He would set up man as an animal. He would, so far, make of marriage nothing but a civil contract…his aim is opposed to the whole scheme, and we may truly say that the facility and frequency of divorce is the test of how far any society once Christian has proceeded towards Paganism.”
      —-
      Actually, what they object to is government oversight of a religious recognition.

      …Neo-Paganism grows prodigiously…. So long as there were definite Protestant creeds, more or less thought out and sustained by logic of a kind, so long as men could say what they thought and acted thus and thus, Paganism was kept out…
      —-
      So long as they still prayed to Jesus, you mean. We’re not talking Anarchy here, people….

      Paganism once erected into a system, once having taken on full shape, and proceeding to positive action, must necessarily become a formidable and increasingly direct opponent of the Catholic Church. The two cannot live together, for the points upon which they would agree are not the points which either thinks essential….
      —-
      Actually, I don’t think Paganism wants to be a direct opponent of the Catholic Church. Or Atheism, for that matter. I think both want a live-and-let-live rule to govern the behavior of both sides. What I think is that the Catholic Church cannot abide a growing Pagan or Atheist movement, and has been a direct opponent of both for centuries. Too bad they’re growing faster, and in freer societies, than the Church is used to.

      That was a terrible quote. Find a better one to make your pithy argument for you next time. Thanks for playing.

      • Alphonsus_Jr

        If this is your “ripping apart,” I must say that your incisors are rather dull. No, you’re definitely not the brightest bulb in the bunch.

        • Bookhousegal

          Christians keep doing this ‘using personal abuse and insult’ when their posturings are deconstructed. I’m not sure the point, unless it’s to insult the very *idea* of intelligence?

          Given your attempts to sanctify bullying as ‘religious freedom,’ I take it this is some point of Christian ritual or dogma?

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            Yet another dullard. Yes, neopaganism is most definitely producing more nitwits.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            derp

          • Longinus

            “Christians keep doing this ‘using personal abuse and insult’ when their posturings are deconstructed.”

            I have rarely seen an atheist who doesn’t do the same.

          • bookhousegal

            So what does you bringing certain atheists into this have to do with Christians doing it to Pagans?

            Those ‘New Atheists’ call us ‘superstitionists’ too. But they’re mostly reacting to *Christian* power grabs and abuses. There’s no point there. Even if you name yourself after a guy with a spear. :)

          • Longinus

            My point is that both sides call names unnecessarily. And I’m more named after a guy who was named after a guy with a spear.

          • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

            *raises hand, in a mildly offended way*

          • Longinus

            I was including you in the “rarely”. Your comments are usually quite rational and intelligent.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          I must’ve bitten hard enough that you can’t bite back.
          Prove me wrong! Somehow, anyhow! I want a debate here! I want you to make me believe you’re doing more than regurgitating something you think is clever you found trolling the internet one day. Do it without a “Hehe, you’re stupid.”

          I countered every point your block quote made. Perhaps you don’t think I did a very good job? Counter back. Your move, sir.

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            The extent of your processing by this brave new world is such that it’d be a complete waste of my time. I’ve debated the processed many times. At last I finally learned that the processing goes far deeper than I had previously thought. It renders debate futile. This is of course part of the processing. The processed are also unaware that they’re processed. This too is part of the processing.

            Yes, like the rest of the blessed “freethinkers” in today’s roving herds of “individuals,” you’re of course blissfully unaware of your total conformity. As you drown in the shallows, you can only whimper, “Water? WHAT water???” Such is the processing.

            If you like, take all this as a cop-out. No matter.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Oh, please forgive me! I didn’t realize I was speaking to a Higher Order of Individual. One of the Free!

            Come, my fellow automatons! Come, let us learn from the wisdom of that which is Free and Thinking! Perhaps if we grovel enough before his magnificence, we shall be granted a true glimpse of his vast brilliance!

            …or he’ll sulk and throw out some drivel.

          • Alphonsus Jr.

            Vision_From_Afar,

            There’s a certain muliebral, hysterical quality to all of your posts. Explain.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            It’s called sarcasm, you pompous twit.
            And you really had to use a $20 word to call me a girl? Really?

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            Even now you couldn’t avoid that touch of muliebral hysteria. Fascinating.

          • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

            What’s especially fascinating about this discussion between you two is the implied misogyny in each and every one of your accusations of “muliebral hysteria.” It’s even more fascinating that you fail to realize that it’s very, very possible for a man to be just as hysterical (not that I agree VFA is acting so) while still being quite masculine.

            The most entertaining part of your exchange though, is that you fail to recognize the true pomposity of your own statements.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Methinks you mistake my incredulity and amusement at the juvenile nature of your replies for hysterics.

      • Longinus

        “Actually, I don’t think Paganism wants to be a direct opponent of the Catholic Church. Or Atheism, for that matter. I think both want a live-and-let-live rule to govern the behavior of both sides.”

        I see you’ve chosen to disregard the vast numbers of rabid anti-religion atheists that happen to exist

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Vast numbers? As compared to what, the anti-Atheist groups?

          • Longinus

            Yep.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Arguing that the Catholic Church is an Anti-Atheist group (and I Triple Dog Dare you to argue that it isn’t), I’m pretty positive that the Anti-Atheist party has more members than their competitors.

      • Gail Finke

        What passes for paganism these days all dates to the exact same people from the late 1800s, who made it all up — just like The Golden Dawn, Theosophy, and the New Age. It’s very well documented. There is no survival from ancient Egypt, or the Druids, or any other ancient pagan people who hid their beliefs successfully for more than a thousand years. Paganism in Europe was gone by the 800s, sorry to tell you, and that does NOT mean it was going strong until the 800s. It means the very last pagan tribes in the hinterlands of Europe. It is ludicrous to say otherwise.

        • kenneth

          The only people obsessed with ancient pagan survivals and the lack thereof are Christians and those few neopagans who tried to ape Christian obsession with apostolic succession. The vast majority of us don’t claim to be re-capturing or continuing what ancient Celts or Druids were doing. The power and validity of our religions and our relationships with our gods in no way hinges upon unbroken ancient provenance or detailed accurate re-creations of what the ancients did. I don’t claim to be an Iron Age Celt, so why would I want to try to relate to my deities as one?

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Actually, you’re wrong.

          What is paganism these days was brought to the light of modern thought and society via those you’ve mentioned. There is no unbroken line from these early pagans to the myriad collection of those who fall under it’s umbrella term today, however. Being a Heathen, I certainly don’t credit Crowley and Co. with helping found the modern resurrection of my faith. I recognize their work in a similar vein, though.

          Most pagans, except a few fringe elements, have openly and happily accepted that there is no “unbroken line”, no “survival” from ancient Egypt, Ireland, Africa, Norway, or anywhere else! What we are doing is rediscovering our history and finding our faith along the way. Your argument is toothless.

          …and incorrect. There was, in fact, a thriving, national pagan society in Iceland until 1000, when the country was forced to convert due to trade and political pressures. Nice try though.

    • Lintlass

      This is the kind of hate speech against Pagans that comes of the very content of this article.. And the recent renewed fad of blaming ‘Pagan influences’ for what you Christians do yourselves.

      Including spread hatred, fear, and ignorance.

      And just cause you think certain accusations against people you don’t understand constitute ‘your theology,’ …doesn’t mean you aren’t bearing false witness against your Pagan neighbors. A violation of the very commands you seek to impose on everyone, and think any resistance to that imposition makes people fair game to insult, suppress, defame, …and willfully-misrepresent.

      Neighbor.

    • Erin

      I have often thought of modern art along the same lines as this argument. Once art was divorced from the desire to create for the glory of God, the idea of beauty became warped. So no longer do we seek to create majesty to reflect the divine, and our live of Him; instead we squiggle vague images with various materials onto random stuff and demand people declare it beautiful.
      Pathetic, really.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        How, then, does one explain the exquisite perfection of the Acropolis? The delicate frescoes of pagan Rome? The engineering marvel of the Egyptian pyramids?

        • http://www.facebook.com/joeclark1977 Joe Clark

          Those were the pre-Christian pagans Marc wrote about. They may not have known God’s name but they cared about things like beauty. Compare them to the post-Christian “artists” nowaday who get paid exorbitant sums to put jars of urine in art museums and such.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            No, those are the pre-Christian pagans C.S. Lewis was referring to in his poem, the ones who saw the divine in everything, before science “corrupted” their view with understanding, “destroying” the mystery and beauty of the natural world. I’m still not entirely sure who Marc was talking about.
            Still is rediculous to argue that without the Christian God or someone related thereto that art inherently sucks unless it came before Jesus.
            As for the jar of urine, well, I wouldn’t call it art, either. Nice to have the option of doing so and then leaving it at that.

  • Tacroy

    There’s so much wrong in this post I barely even know how to begin, so I’ll just address one of your paragraphs:

    First, yes, veterans suicides are at a record high – but the thing is, our records only go back to 1980. We simply haven’t had military action on the scale of Iraq and Afghanistan in the last thirty years, so we have no idea what a “normal” suicide rate is. Sure, any suicide rate higher than zero is bad, but you have to keep in mind that we’ve sent these people into combat in order to kill other people – it’s pretty much unavoidable that it’ll cause mental injuries as well as physical.

    Second, modern medical and materials sciences have turned fatal head wounds into traumatic brain injury – which can cause severe mental health issues. This wouldn’t have been a problem back in the fabled days of yore, where a knock on the head you couldn’t walk off would probably lead to death. Back when wars were fought with swords these people would have been dead immediately, instead of taking their lives later.

    Third, even then, what the article you linked to is really saying (beneath all the emotional heartstrings-pulling) is that mortality rates in the US Military have gone down tremendously. Look up the actual suicide rate per 100000 – it’s tiny, something like 20 per 100,000 veterans; car accidents probably kill more vets than suicide does.

    Fourth, even if I grant you the first three points, you have absolutely no evidence at all that suicide rates among pre-Christian warriors were lower than they are today, besides the fact that people in epics don’t kill themselves. You’re almost certainly right about the post-battle mortality rate being significantly higher, but that’s due to the fact that back then even minor injuries could kill you.

    Fifth, and finally, you have to keep in mind that the United States Army is a volunteer army. Sure, some people are doing it for their country (or for their God), but for a lot of people the idea of getting shot at and maybe dying sounds a whole lot better than the idea of staying home. Unfortunately, leaving for a couple of years doesn’t necessarily fix the problems back home, and many soldiers come back to them burdened with the additional stresses of combat.

    • Tacroy

      Man, italics close failure :(

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster
    • Marc Barnes

      Oh, wonderful! I’ll make sure to respond ASAP. Thank you!

  • Ben

    Glad to see Song of the Strange Ascetic mentioned. I did an illustrated version of that poem for Gilbert Magazine years ago. It’s the first thing I thought of when I read this post.

    http://www.gilbertmagazine.com/page_29.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=741218460 Syler Womack

    You, Sir, like Lewis, are a dinosaur. God bless you.

    • Longinus

      And those same dinosaurs shall rise up and take back the modern world, preferably to the strains of a John Williams soundtrack. As Ian Malcolm said, “life will find a way”.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        If I recall that story correctly, those dinosaurs were quarantined on thir own island, far from civilization, lest they do irreparable damage to it… At least in the movie. In the book I think they bombed the island down to the bedrock once they got the people to safety.

  • Vision_From_Afar

    I admit, I’ve read this twice, and I cannot figure out what your point is.
    – Are we, modern “Americanized” men, somehow less “manly” than “Pagan” men?
    – Are you somehow making the argument that “Pagan/human” families are more…something?
    – Pagans are better at killing because they don’t care as much (i.e. – sin), but they’re still better people than atheists?
    – Pagans are better than atheists because Christianity borrowed a lot of myth and ideas from them, but they’re still not…as good as Christians…who borrowed…?

    …Yeah, you’ve lost me completely. Next time you want to try and co-opt Paganism to make your point, do everyone a favor: Don’t.

    • Tacroy

      Marc’s posts make most sense if you approach them like one of those magic eye pictures. If cross your eyes and unfocus, you’ll see a beautiful image, but if you focus in, it’s a meaningless mess.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        If by “cross your eyes and unfocus”, you mean:
        – Believe everything at face value.
        – Ignore the context of quotes.
        – Try not to think about what the overall argument is.

        Then yes, I suppose that might work. I just can’t shut my brain down that far, sorry.

    • Marc Barnes

      Fair, fair. The post was awful vague. My point is this: There is a way to be a human. The pagans of yesterday were closer to it than the post-Christians of today.

      • kenneth

        What’s a “post-Christian”? It seems to be your pejorative catch-all term for any “elements” in modern society that you disdain? Who are they? I can infer that perhaps they’re liberals (ie anyone half a nanometer to the left of Rush Limbaugh), atheists, humanists, secular folks, insufficiently strident Catholics, uppity queers, and of course modern pagans, who you presume to be root-eating hippies and liberals. Is there more to it, or does that pretty well cover the spectrum of folks you believe don’t know the way to “be a human.”?

        How will we define a “post-Christian” culture? You seem to infer that it has something to do with the spineless “war by remote control” instinct of our government, but those folks are, almost to a man, professed (usually very loudly professed) Christians. The armchair chickenhawks may be a lot of things, but they’re not liberals or atheists or so far as I have ever known, neopagans. They’re “God and Country” red-meat Christians, the lot of them. You seem to posit PTSD as proof of post-Christian spiritual weakness, despite presenting zero evidence that it is a modern phenomenon or that it caused by shifts in religiosity, as opposed to the psychological stress of modern war with no visible enemy or front lines.

        For all the weakness and vapidity of our American culture, we report the highest levels of Christian identity and church attendance in the western world. How would you reconcile that fact with the reality of a true “post-Christian” Europe, most especially the Nordic countries? These nations have single digit church attendance rates and yet present the highest standard of living, some of the strongest standards of education, the lowest infant mortality rates, the highest rates of self-reported happiness and a homicide and incarceration rate that is orders of magnitude lower than ours?

        • MF

          I am Nordic. And just to address one thing, Scandinavians do not have the highest rates of self-reported happiness. Wherever you are getting that info, it is incorrect. Scandinavians suffer from the highest rates of depression in the world, despite our high standard of living. Sweden has the highest suicide rate in the entire world. We Norwegians aren’t too far behind.

          • kenneth

            The two things are not mutually exclusive. Self-reported happiness is indeed highest in several Scandanavian countries, and, in general, in places where quality of life indicators are higher and where there is a less grotesque disparity between the best and least well off people. The suicide rate is also higher in such places, for reasons that have not been entirely explained. It may be that people who enjoy a higher quality of life overall are less able to cope with depression or severe disappointment. In the case of the Nordic countries, climate and relative lack of daylight are other possibilities.

          • lakingscrzy

            > It may be that people who enjoy a higher quality of life overall are less able to cope with depression or severe disappointment.

            You mean to tell me that materialism is not holding sufficient to the human condition? Shocker.

          • kenneth

            The “post-Christian” societies to which I refer in Northern Europe are considerably less materialistic than our own. They define a good life in much broader terms than big houses and the gadgets they own.

          • Jesus Christ

            Thank you for that scolding, matron. We can only weep in gratitude for your prophetic ministry.
            Any ideas as to the correlation between having such low rates of church attendance and having state churches?

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Granted, it’s been a while since I cracked open a Bible, but I don’t remember Jesus being quite so caustic.

          • kenneth

            Well, he wasn’t. But when you’re a follower who worries the core message of the faith isn’t all that persuasive on its own, you have to be willing to appoint yourself God’s street enforcer, and you can’t be squeamish about the business. People aren’t the brightest creatures, and most of them need a good insult or crack upside the head to see the beauty of Christ’s love…

          • http://www.facebook.com/david.nilsen David Nilsen

            Um, Jesus was quite caustic, actually. Brood of vipers? White-washed tombs? At least read up a little, before you speak. ;)

          • Gail Finke

            Happy people may kill themselves more than unhappy people do? Is that supposed to be a serious reply?

          • http://www.facebook.com/david.nilsen David Nilsen

            Happy and depressed are not mutually exclusive? Did you read that in that latest psychology journal? I just assume, as only a PhD in some humanity or other could say something so silly.

        • LJSS

          It is simply a statistical and incontrovertible fact that Scandinavian countries are the highest runners for both depression and suicide in the entire world. This, as someone below pointed out, does not mean they are not the “most self-reportedly happy” people in the world. This expression, however, is more or less incoherent and presumes that we all have a sense of happiness commensurable with others. In fact, what constitutes true “happiness?” For the Greeks, for instance, “happiness” also meant “blessedness” (the word is the same) which I am sure is a term that 90% of non-religious Scandinavians would shy away from using when referring to their perceived psychological well-being. Indeed, it seems apparent that their definition of happiness is probably shallow and relatively banal if compared to the profundity of happiness someone from Mexico or Congo would report on a questionnaire. Rather, let me suggest that inculturation, media brain washing, and socialization have made the material goods the building blocks of happiness for many countries of the Western world, whereas the 2/3 world prioritizes human relationality and personalism for a measure of happiness.

          • Bella

            Your stats are old. Scandinavian countries are no longer at the top for either depression or suicide. In fact a recent study found France at #1 for depression and the United States at #2. What is your source?

      • Korou

        I think sometimes, Marc, you do let your writing skills run away with you. Beautiful language and rich metaphors, but sometimes a little unclear.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        But at the same time…you kinda failed to define “human” as well.

    • Lily

      I think he’s saying we aren’t less “manly” than pagans, but less like men, that is, less human. Humans and Christians understood and embraced human truths that post-moderns have somehow lost. Pagan/human families are more cohesive, in that pagans valued (for the most part, though not in every pagan religion) family and family ties (if not in blood ties than certainly in community/clan ties). Modern people often have less focus/respect for the importance of family/community.

      He might be saying pagans are better at killing, but I think the point he’s trying to make is that pagan lived (and consequently fought) with more gusto and passion. They could kill viciously because there were things they cared enough about to kill for. Atheists, but also modern-day people of many religions, have luke-warm feelings about most things in life and can’t get fired up enough to kill to protect/avenge, but also often can’t even care enough to fight for them non-violently.

      No the last point is one you won’t agree with Marc or other Christians on, but to understand it, go with this hypothetical situation: There really is a supreme being that exists as ultimate Truth, Love, Beauty, Goodness, Power, and Being. This being is a thing we we call God (though it is not the same type of thing as pagan gods), and He exists as 3 distinct persons. This God exists beyond time, and created the world, and thus existed “before” humans, and was around long before he made himself known to the Jews. The non-Jewish peoples could still understand some of this being through his creation, and thus their myths contained some truth about Him and his world (after all, being Goodness, He can obliquely be seen in all things). So what Marc is saying is not that Christians borrowed from Pagans, but that Pagans understood God somewhat, God reveled more of himself to the Jews, and then when Christ came and the Holy Spirit came to the Church, that was the fullness of Gods revelation, so that’s why Christians know the most about God (keep in mind that after the first Jewish disciple and converts, all Christian converts were former pagans who also recognized the truth present in Christianity- even when converting to Christianity was a punishable offense). Again, this is taking for granted that Christianity is true, but Marc is Christian, so that’s acceptable.

      I don’t think he’s co-opting paganism. I think he’s honoring his pagan ancestors and admiring their good points. And yes, the whole entrails-tree-thing is a little simplistic, but A) it’s also sort of bad-ass and B) it would take way more than one blog to describe all the hundreds, if not thousands, of pagan religions that existed and exist today. I don’t think Marc is trying to paint all Pagans as killers, but instead is recognizing how deeply the understood the world.

      • Donna

        “Atheists, but also modern-day people of many religions, have luke-warm feelings about most things in life and can’t get fired up enough to kill to protect/avenge, but also often can’t even care enough to fight for them non-violently.”

        My experience and observation, in real life and online, is almost the exact opposite of this. I know more than a few Christians that cannot be bothered about anything that doesn’t affect them directly, and even then only if the risk of rocking the boat is worth the payoff of whatever they could “win”. I’ve seen Christians “passionately” make claims of superiority and rightness when they believe they are among like-minded people, but give lip service to friendships with people who are not like-minded, meanwhile they bad-mouth their “friends” behind their back.

        Meanwhile, I’ve seen non-christians stand up for not only themselves, but the people around them. I’ve seen people face being ostracized by their family and friends for simply believing what they believe, openly not believing what they do not believe, or loving who they love. I’ve seen people defend, over and over, their right to not believe the same things their friends, family, and co-workers believe. That is a kind of quiet heroism, instead of simply taking one grand stand for what they believe, they get up every day and live their lives knowing that they will have to fight the same battle today that they had to fight yesterday.

        This is not to say that I have not known Christians who are truly passionate (and I should note that with only a few exceptions it is these same Christians who are also the most compassionate), or that every non-christian I have known is unusually heroic. Making the kind of statement you made above is not simply painting with a broad brush, it seems to play to the vanity of a certain segment of the Christian population. One brushstroke smooths over the faults within your community, like a photographer airbrushing blemishes from a model’s face, and the next obscures the background, dehumanizing the non-christians, so that no one need encounter the people who do not fit within this pretty picture.

        I think it is the vanity and the hubris of this article that rubs me the wrong way, not that it doesn’t have plenty of company. But while you might find pretty people sitting around telling each other how pretty they are, the truly beautiful people neither want nor need their vanity fed in such a way.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joeclark1977 Joe Clark

          You are defining “heroic” as lukewarm, relativistic, and narcissistic, so it’s no wonder that you know some atheists who are “heroes”. Pre-Christian pagans understood that there was such a thing as the truth. They knew that there was such a thing as natural law, that some behaviors were good and others not. They valued human life. They recognized honor and justice. When we say they took a stand, we mean they fought and died for freedom and the lives of their loved ones. Think Socrates. Think the Romans standing up to Hannibal.

          When you say that your atheist or gay or skanky “take a stand”, you’re referring to shameless narcissists “bravely” whining on facebook that they should be allowed to have their own version of the truth, “courageously” standing up to the “haters” who pose absolutely zero actual physical threat to them. It’s different.

          • Cher

            So ancient tribes who glorified horrific murder and never had any mental duress from witnessing such things, as real history can be learned from the movie 300, share the same truth that you have… And modern day civil rights activists are misguided, godless, sniveling snobs? You terrify me.

          • lakingscrzy

            Funny, most civil rights movements are founded in spirituality.

          • Kyros

            [citation needed]

          • lakingscrzy

            You really need me to dig you out some Dr. King and how much he pounded his faith into his speeches?

          • Jesus Christ

            “Doctor”? Are you seriously comparing a PhD in “Divinity” with an MD? Do you know how much harder it is to get into Yale or Harvard Medical School than to get a “Divinity” school degree? Or even a Bachelors degree in on of the real sciences compared to a Masters of “Divinity” at Yale, which “improved” its incoming classes to the point it no longer takes in one-third but one-fourth of those who apply?
            Or are you just trying to give him a high degree and title hoping that people will be somehow awed into respect and admiration for him? If so, that’s pretty pathetic.

          • lakingscrzy

            Ad hom. I am sorry that you wish to see such a great man in a negative light. I hope that you have a change of heart one day. Do not holster that hatred for long, it is a consuming fire and has ruined many great men.

          • http://www.facebook.com/joeclark1977 Joe Clark

            Imagine my surprise at being replied to by Cher! I can’t make any sense of your comment, so I’ll just let mine stand.

        • Luka Alexandrovich Nevskeyev

          Many more people self-identify as Christians than actually meet the standards of classical Christianity and Christian holy texts for living any attempt at the Christian life.

          There may well be and almost certainly have been pagan aboriginal farmers who has never heard of Christ and were better Christians than I am, through seeing the nature of the Creator in His creation. We know where the Church is. We do not know where the church is not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-A-Carlson/100001401488797 David A. Carlson

      I think he’s saying that modern paganism (which most pagans that I have met left Christianity for paganism) miss the true essence of the ancient pagans by a mile. And that in doing so, lose the humanity that ancient pagans held onto.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        That’s just insulting. I certainly hope that’s not what he (or you) meant.

      • Tom B

        Frankly (hey that’s a pun), I think he made only glancing reference (if at all: “root eating”?) to modern pagans. It not all about you. And yes I just remembered Franks were Arianists not pagan. :-( pun all gone.

  • xfaahctor

    “But the Pagans would have mocked our sin as cowardly stuff.” …….Then you sir, do not understand Pagan tenets.

    • kenneth

      That’s the whole point of diatribe: It holds ignorance as a virtue and exempts itself from the burdens of logic and evidence that constrain debate. For Marc’s purpose, it’s better that he doesn’t understand Pagan tenets or ever bothered meeting a real pagan. Facts, and complexity, would undermine his rant. The whole premise is that “we don’t need to find out anything about these people. C’mmon, we ALL know how these people really are…”

      • Peter

        There are no more real pagans.

        • Deven Kale

          Unless you’re talking about something more specific than this, there most definitely are.

          Well, unless you’re going the “No True Scotsman” route. In which case, “LOL.”

          edit* Fixed HTML goof.

        • Bookhousegal

          Even by your own artificial standards, there are. But I’m not gonna point em out, they really don’t need any more Christian conquistadors. :)

          Seems to me Christians are just whining cause they can’t say ‘Pagan’ and displace whatever fears or social problems they want to onto some ‘evil religion.’

          I can’t help but notice they get *very* indignant when we refuse to act like ‘savages’ or conform to their long-time defamations of anyone they call ‘pagan.’ ;)

        • kenneth

          Like I’ve said before, if we’re just a bunch of self-deluded losers playing re-enactor, it’s curious how VERY much time and anxiety Christians display over our little phenomenon, our growth, and our persistence.

        • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

          If you’re using the standards of 1500-2000 years ago to say that the pagans today aren’t “real,” then the very same thing could be said for the Christians of today.

          Why aren’t there Christians in the U.S. and Europe that aren’t willing to go up to Roman legionaries, say “I’m a Christian!” and then get thrown to the lions to have instant martyr status? Instead, they just sit around and expect the entire world to bend to their will, and assume that they’ve won every argument before they’ve even said a word, much less a word that is logical or fair to any viewpoint but their own.

  • Kyros

    Ok, first off, “contracepted” is not a word, and if it was, it wouldn’t make any sense in that context.

    Second of all, what are you actually trying to say? You seem to be trying to say something along the lines of “We should adopt these traits of being strong and courageous from old pagan men”, but, you don’t actually say why. Yes, men where big and strong – most societies of this time also kept slaves, mistreated women, and life expectancy was pretty low.

    “The Pagan world awaited Christ as a virgin awaits her bridegroom” – Ok, sure, if they were interested in being burned alive and having their religion attacked, then I could accept this. However, there’s no proof, and in fact, there is a hell of a lot of proof to the contrary.

    “The post-Christian world leaves Christ as an adulteress” – When exactly did this occur? Even in the new testament, there are several accounts of Christians having troubles of mostly the same sort they have today. Could you quote a date or something? That’s ok, I’ll quote from your own book here:

    “What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

    “Do I romanticize?” – Well, you’re an amusing fiction writer at least. I’m not sure if I would call your vision romantic at all though. You should focus on having a core point, and then justifying it. Then, slowly move out from the land of fiction, or at the very least, have more interesting characters.

    • Jeanette Marie

      So smug and condescending. You’re not a teacher grading a paper, but you have tried extremely hard to set yourself up as intellectually superior and it just comes across as snarky. It’s the blogosphere, so get off your high horse. Same with “Vision,” below.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        Of course I’m “snarky”, it’s the internet! If someone is going to make an argument this badly worded and on-the-fly, I’m going to comment as best I can, because it’s my right as a citizen of the internet! :)

        In all seriousness, if someone is going to make an argument this “out of the box”, this…unique, there are going to be critiques of it, especially on the internet. I was left confused and mildly offended by the original blog, and by some of these comments, so I’m going to speak up. Setting yourself up as the guard against “teachers” and those who appear think themselves “superior” is just a silly attempt at role reversal, putting yourself above “us.” At least try to add a point germane to the discussion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryliziz Mary Liz Bartell

    So right on! I love the CS Lewis quotes. Very true to our day and times.

  • Baby_Raptor

    “The Pagan world awaited Christ as a virgin awaits her bridegroom. In her myth and legend she whispered of Christ.”

    It seems as though you’re trying to claim that Paganism foretold Christ.

    Christianity is one in a long line of religions that tells the same story: Son born of the God and a virgin sent to save the world. This doesn’t mean that all the older religions were foretelling Christ, it means that early Christians ripped off the story just like they ripped off Pagan holidays.

    You’d be viewed better if you just told the truth instead of trying to pretend everything is about your religion.

    • kenneth

      For Abrahamics, everything IS about their religion! Anyone who doesn’t march to their drummer is ignorant, confused, or evil and must be dealt with accordingly…

      • Ben Carpenter

        Well, yes. We do claim that God has an effect on everything. We also claim that God revealed truth partially through people, then completely as Himself. We also believe that, in order to protect people from error, He guides His Church as it interprets His revelations.

        I see some ambiguity in your terms “religion” and “march to their drummer”, but if I can interpret those as I like, I’d call it a rock-solid comment. I’m not sure where you see a problem with that outlook though.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          I’m not sure where you see a problem with that outlook though.
          —-
          And therein lies the problem. You don’t see why telling us, “No, you’re only half right. Here, let me fix it for you,” on a matter as deeply personal as faith isn’t the hight of arrogance.
          I get that it’s what you believe, and more power to you. We have read, we have studied, and we have come to the conclusion that we are not in error. The problem is that you don’t let it go and leave us alone.

          • kenneth

            They’re free to claim whatever monopoly on divine truth they’d like, but they’re going to find that many of us want to be “fixed” by them about as much as they want to be fixed by Muslims.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Whoops, mistype

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            I know, I know guys, the problem is, my God is just so MASSIVE. he’s eternal, and all-loving and all-powerful, and it’s weird because no matter what I’m doing, I find that I’m happiest when I do it for him.

            And that crucifixion image! HOLY SHIT THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. WOW. A man covered in wounds and suffering on a cross to save the world? his freaking mother kneeling there and looking up at him with that yearning gaze? they just don’t make art that comes close to the beauty of that image, in fact, they never will.

            sometimes though, i just think about the universe–it’s so unfathomably large, it’s frightening, and then i think about the idea that my God is far grander in scale–and that just floors me.

            suffice to say, this dude is legitimately powerful from what i can tell, and so your feelings really seem inconsequential to me as i implore you to humble yourself before the throne of absolute Being.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            …I can’t tell which way your sarcasm is leaning… Are you being verbosely ironic, or just a Jesusfreak (and I mean no disrespect)?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            What I’m trying to demonstrate is that I love my religion more than anything in this world and I would die for it. There is nothing like Christianity, even if you don’t believe in it.

            What’s I’m trying to say is that there’s no shame in being a Jesus freak.

            I think that all religion should be fanatical, as long as its not violent. And so talking about God and Christ with you is both the most and the least that I can do.

            Try to understand that my religion is my EVERYTHING. If that disturbs you, I understand I suppose, but in light of that, understand that it’s far harder for me to not speak Christ’s name than it is for you to simply put up with it whenever it comes up–or to simply walk away, if that’s what you so choose.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            What I’m trying to say is that there’s no shame in being a Jesus freak.

            And I tried to indicate that I don’t really find much issue with it.

            I think that all religion should be fanatical, as long as its not violent. And so talking about Christ with you is both the most and the least that I can do.

            So long as you understand when I say, “No thanks, I’ve got my own answers that have given me moments quite similar to your own, but from a different source,” you don’t try to press the issue.

            Try to understand that my religion is my EVERYTHING. If that disturbs you, I understand I suppose, but in light of that, understand that it’s far harder for me to not speak Christ’s name than it is for you to simply put up with it whenever it comes up–or to simply walk away, if that’s what you so choose.

            Again, as long as you let me walk away, we’re cool. Go in peace. :)

          • kenneth

            Respect is a two-way deal. I have no problem with accepting that Christians are dedicated to what they believe in. I’ll respect the sincerity of their belief if they do the same for me. I don’t expect them to think my religion is “as good” as theirs theologically, but if all they got is derision and contempt for me, they’re going to get it back in full measure. We have no obligations to turn the other cheek.

    • anonymous

      Wait, how do you know your version is correct? Surely, and at the very least, there are two options? Either Christianity ripped off the Pagan religions, or Christianity is the fulfillment of those Pagan religions. Both options would lead us to the situation we are in today: How are you confident yours is correct?

    • Nathaniel

      “You’d be viewed better if you just told the truth instead of trying to pretend everything is about your religion.”

      Everything is about the triune God; praise and exalt Him above all forever! And very little is about being “viewed better.”
      Christum Regnat.

    • James H, London

      “Christianity is one in a long line of religions that tells the same story: Son born of the God and a virgin sent to save the world. This doesn’t mean that all the older religions were foretelling Christ, it means that early Christians ripped off the story just like they ripped off Pagan holidays. ”

      Utter twaddle. Other religions had virgins impregnated by gods, not virgin births.

      The Christ Myth Myth is dead, but that doesn’t stop the usual suspects from rolling it out like Brezhnev. For those of you who want the opinions of an actual historian (instead of internet hacks) go have a look at:
      http://agentintellect.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/he-is-risen.html

  • finishstrongdoc

    As a Protestant-turned-Pagan and now a self-described “Recovering Anti-Catholic,” I have to agree with everything the Bad Catholic says, because I have been saying much the same for many years. Would that there were more true Pagans in the world today; we make great Catholic converts.

  • Johnbob

    This post may make more sense if you’ve read Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.

  • Robyn

    I agree with the overall point, but I’m not sure if I buy your point about Pagans not suffering from the psychological effects of war. Fewer people die in today’s wars, usually, but experts think PTSD has been around since, well, war.

    • kenneth

      The ancient Greek historian Herodotus and the playwright Sophocles, both who were around about 450 B.C., wrote very clearly about conditions we recognize as PTSD today. There is nothing new at all about this problem, nor nothing about the supposedly heroic nature of ancient war that mitigated against it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KDQFQTMD56CJAKMLXRFYUDNCPQ Montague

    Funny How so many Pagans thought Christianity was bad because “it made men weak”. How inconsistent is the world… But, do please read the Ballad of the White Horse by Chesterton, if you haven’t because it is Awesome when it comes to the bad and good of the Pagan and the Better of the Christian.

  • Bookhousegal

    You know, author, when you demonize and dehumanize ancient people, then start claiming you want the ‘macho’ caricature… While while displaying further ignorance about the *modern* people you simultaneously want to blame for your own claims of ‘ancient evils’ …and mock as not conforming to them… You’re not actually getting either our spirituality *or* the warrior spirit. Never mind either honor or scholarship.

    And just cause you like to fantasize about ‘willing virgins’ and then call the same people ‘adultresses’ for not-submitting, in fact, getting the Hel away from you… Doesn’t seem to be consonant with the other ‘points’ you think you’re making.

    It’s your contradictions, your caricatures, your projections, and indeed, your aggression. Seems from where *this* Pagan is sitting, it’s you guys who do the same things to all *manner* of different peoples everywhere you go, including America… Then wonder why people aren’t ‘like virgin brides’ to you.

    You wish, right?

  • Catherine

    The keyword in this post being “Ancients”.

  • Pagan Priest

    Sad Christian, Jesus promised eternal life
    Odin promised the end of the the Ice Giants
    See any Ice Giants around?

    • Toni Snark

      Actually, just did the other day. He was getting trounced by a big green dude. Called him “puny.”

    • Jake E

      Certainly not, but I see eternal life everywhere anyways.

    • mayhaps

      What about Ragnarok?

      • Vision_From_Afar

        What about Judgement Day?
        What about 2012?
        What about…?

        Shall I continue?

    • Brambonius

      We have 2 ice giants in the solar system, Neptune and Uranus. Just get a telescope…

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    I do wish Christians like you would not make the same mistake with other religions (and the “Pagans” you’re referring to comprised a very large number of different cultures and religions–more than you can probably name off the top of your head) that they have made with yet-another-religion, i.e. Judaism: selective reading of its religious artifacts (particularly literary ones) to support its own truth-claims. If your religion is so far superior to these others, why then must you look to the others to justify yourselves? If your religion is so self-evidently correct, then why this complex mental gymnastics to say there are bits of truth in other religions that support your (supposedly) self-evident position, when really you just like those bits of other religions and cultures, but can’t admit that you do like them because doing so would contradict the rightness of your own religion?

    If you must insist on circular arguments for why you’re right and everyone else is wrong, can’t you at least have the decency and lack of insecurity to stand on your own two theological feet rather than using other religions entirely out of context to superficially bolster your own claims?

    • guest

      I’m sorry, but I’m afraid the Catholic understanding of Paganism is going over your head. Perhaps a little reading of Peter Kreeft, and an understanding of Tolkien will help. But that’s entirely up to you. You could just continue to label a deeper understanding of the world and Logos as “mental gymnastics.” I suppose it’s all one could say in response to it.

      • http://twitter.com/whitestagforest Aine Llewellyn

        I’m sorry, but why should a Pagan care about a Catholic’s ‘understanding’

        • BrutalPoodle

          Obviously you do or you wouldn’t be here.

        • kenneth

          We should care only for the same reason that Jews learned to “care” about what was being circulated about them in mainstream Christian culture around them. I don’t care about a Catholic’s understanding as personal validation or the lack thereof. Their religion and especially culture have nothing to teach me. However, letting ludicrous slanders go unchallenged is dangerous, and history shows its dangerous. If someone repeats something often enough and unchallenged, it seeps its way into “conventional wisdom”

        • T. B.

          Odds are your “paganism” is like that of the people who dress up in bedsheets put leaves in their hair, and parade around Stonehenge on mid-summer day calling themselves druids. That is to say you’re every bit as pagan (except maybe in the broad sense of being unbaptized) as the nerds with plastic ears at a star trek convention are vulcans. So I’ll take my cues from anthropologists who’ll tell you that so little is known about the actual pre-Christian religions of the Celts and Nordic peoples., that it is impossible to piece together a religion that people can meaningfully practice. What little is known contradicts the claims of most of you clowns, they did not have anything akin to Christmas trees (an invention of Christians around the13th C.), but they did practice human sacrifice. So I’ll tell you some group no one should take as anything but amusing and ridiculous when speaking on the subject og “paganism”: anyone who calls themselves a Pagan. Which isn’t a religion but a term that refers to anyone of any of the incredibly divers and mutually exclusive non-Christian religion

          • kenneth

            If you truly believed there is nothing to modern paganism, you’d be completely at ease about the whole thing, as relaxed as “The Dude” in the Big Lebowski, knowing that he will Abide at the end of it all. The deep, obsessive shaking-with-rage contempt reveals your dismissal of us to be a lie that you don’t even believe yourselves. People who truly believe something is a silly passing fad don’t invest that sort of energy hating it…

          • James H, London

            “deep, obsessive shaking-with-rage contempt ”

            - bizarre. Utterly bizarre.

            I suppose you must be reading into things a little too much.

          • kenneth

            I’ve been dealing with folks like “T.B.” for years. I’m not reading too much into them because there isn’t much there to read. They say there’s nothing to modern paganism at all, but their visceral hatred of it and clear panic reaction response says otherwise.

            The validity of their own faith rests upon the idea that their religion is the only valid one and that it is so self-evident than any person of any sense and good will can see that. Atheists they can shout down as fools or evil. The re-appearance of paganism poses a far more serious problem to them.

            The fact that this “long-dead” pantheon came back and that even some people may find a path to happiness and wisdom on it, is deeply threatening to their paradigm. They loudly heap contempt and dismissal upon us, and yet they’re clearly nervous that we’re still here. This supposed gang of sci-fi convention rejects playing dress-up in the woods is now into its second and third generations.

            We have a sizable community of serious scholars, a formally recognized presence in law enforcement and military communities, delegates to worldwide interfaith bodies, seminaries and clergy, chaplains, events that draw up to 50,000 people. We also draw lots and lots of converts from Catholicism and evangelical protestant traditions, despite our never having fielded a single missionary.

            In other words, we seem to be dedicating an awful lot of energy to a “game of dress up”, and more galling you all, we’re getting results. The anger of folks like T.B. lets us know we’re where we should be. Gandhi was dead on: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win.” In other words, we’re three-quarters of the way there.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            k. go find 2 billion converts, produce the largest collection of fine art and architecture the world has ever known, discover several continents, amass and sustain the longest lasting and most fruitful intellectual traditions in human history, found the modern legal system, revive philosophy, and introduce the concept of liberty in political society. after you have done these things, come talk to me in 2,000 years.

            there’s another quote about ridicule, you know. “sometimes they’re not laughing with you, they’re laughing at you.”

            you see, I’m glad you’re so confident that you will topple the great, evil Christian Empire with its oh-so destructive mandates of asceticism and unconditional love, but i’m at a loss as to how you can expect that such a toppling will usher in more progress in a hundred thousand years than christianity has created in just 2,000–and to be fair, the last 500 have been spent in a decline precipitated by in-fighting. that said, your task, at this point, is looking like its gonna be more a battle to wrest the world out of the hands of materialists and atheists, maybe theosophists and new age gnostics as well. first you’ll probably half to figure out a way to deradiate water in nuclear fallout though.

            to be honest, these days, i’m half-tempted (not really though) to hand you over the world. i kind of just want to see what you’d do with it–without christians picking up the slack (however poorly they do at times).

            do you really think the men of power on this Earth (the ones with the nuclear launch codes and million man armies) are going to take your religion seriously? i dont particularly see Vladimir Putin as the kind of person who goes out to the woods to do anything besides kill shit hard.

            you do understand that mormonism is a very popular and rapidly growing religion, is extremely well-organized? however, mormonism ultimately is going nowhere because there’s simply a limit to how much non-sense you can peddle to the foolish–and believe me, mormonism is not the only religion to have benefited from the large-scale and wide-spread surplus of foolishness that been bred by modernity.

            i will take mormonism seriously the day that they can prove that israelites discovered america. similarly, i will take paganism seriously the day that you can demonstrate the viability of a book of spells or incantations.

            (you see the problem here is that you’re not really a pagan, you’re actually probably just a gnostic, and that would, if it’s true, mean that you just lurb the entity that christians refer to as, “satan”)

            we mock you because we know that no matter how many followers your pagan revival draws, you guys lose in the end. don’t believe me? i don’t particularly care, i’m even pretty chill with the prospect of dying if i have to in order to demonstrate that. we christians, we don’t particularly long for this world, in fact, we only long for it insofar as it functions as a segue into the next. so please, by all means, dominate the pissing contest/ponzi scheme that is the state of the modern “interfaith” movement.

            P.S. WHAT IS THE PAGAN THEOLOGICAL EXPLANATION FOR HEAT DEATH VIA ENTROPY? HOW CAN ONE WORSHIP GAIA IF SHE’S BEEN DRAWN INTO THE VORTEX OF A SUPER-MASSIVE BLACK HOLE? THESE ARE QUESTIONS THAT I LOL HARD ABOUT ALL THE TIME, IN SPITE OF QUAINT, EVASIVE GHANDI-ISMS.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Wow, Mark. You have a 2,000-year head of steam built up there. I hope your health doesn’t suffer for it.

            Believe it or not, that was meant sincerely, not sarcastically. Every religion comes with a set of blinders — offering some self-honesty with this criticism — and each religion can have a very distinct set of angles-of-sight it cuts off. Christianity and the various paganisms do have a strong distinction, and it comes down not to honoring the divinity of humanity, but in the source of that divinity to which we look.

            Christian humanity was tried and convicted of an unforgiveable, “wholesale” crime. It took a human sacrifice to atone for it. Pagan humanity finds our divine sources under our feet, in the air we breathe and the water we drink, and we see crime from a “retail” perspective where each of us finds atonement and accountability personally.

            I don’t reject the words of Jesus Christ. I reject the notion that the rest of you get a clean slate for his sacrifice, and that you seem to enjoy an unlimited set of “do overs” from it.

            The rest of your polemic is rife with circular logic. It’s not Pagans who deny the validity of Christian theology. It’s Christians who over the centuries have played the role of God and brought judgment upon the rest of us, too often violently, and it is Christians who have lost our trust and respect, not the beliefs with which they have broken their own trust.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            I’m not worried about my health. Like I said, we are not meant for this world, so if my health is hampered while I proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, it is no worry to me. But thanks for the suggestion anyway–that’s sincere too.

            I would never condone what any evil person does. Personally, I think that Christian pacifism is the calling of all true Christians, and I am disgusted by the crimes of other Christians that are so often committed in Christ’s name. However, you say that you don’t reject the words of Christ. Are you not aware of how often he directed his critiques toward hypocrites? And yet he still made clear the establishment of a Church, still talked about it on numerous occasions.

            Are you also not aware of Luke 22:19, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’”

            The night before the resurrection, it seems as if he is referencing SOMETHING. What is the crucifixion? Is it simply a flattering gesture. Thank you for the crucifixion, Jesus, so much better than the greeting card you sent last year? If it is a sacrifice would it not be eternal? Christ is God and God is Eternal, therefore if Christ suffers, he makes an eternal sacrifice.

            Furthermore, please don’t accuse me of polemics. I find that somewhat deceitful. You see, I’m the one supported the claim of Christian truth, articulated it, AND THEN appealed to the character of Christian civilization. You’re the one who skipped any appeal, did not articulate the theological principles, and then proceeded to an ad hominem assessment of wayward Christians, whom according to our account of Truth, were not even behaving as Christians.

            So…what happens when we die in paganism? (curious to the max)

            Do we simply not know?

            If we don’t, to what indicators do you point to posit that one should live a moral life?

            What do you have to say about Aristotle’s account of substance? Isn’t it true that a Creator must be One, and not composed of composites?

            How do gods exist in and of themselves?

          • http://bareatheism.blogspot.com/ Deven Kale

            I invoke Poe’s law.

          • Lance

            Asking what happens when a pagan dies is a really hard question to answer, because paganism is an umbrella term for many religions, and thus many people will have different answers.

            I believe that when you die, what you think will happen, will happen. So if you’re convinced you’re going to heaven then you will. If you’re convinced you’re going to be reincarnated than you will. If you’re convinced you’re going to be judged in Duat, you will. I also believe all gods exist. Personally speaking, I’d like to be guided into a higher plane when I die and help the living. But it’s different for everyone.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674332165 Mark Toffler

            2 more things:

            1. it’s not circular–it’s quantum. there is a difference.

            2. what is justice? does it exist? does it matter? do you care?

          • kenneth

            If your criteria for being taken seriously or being a “real religion” is to subjugate the world for 2,000 years (and build a massive art collection), than I’m afraid you’ll have to remain un-impressed by us.

            We don’t define success as world domination. We consider ourselves to be succeeding because we’re finding true happiness and peace with our own gods and religions. Our simple continued existence defies your insistence that we can’t be real and that no meaning exists outside of your religion.

            That’s the true power of our movement, and it reveals the weakness in your own. Here you stand in a movement with 2,000 years of dominance (and a phat art collection), and claims of absolute sole ownership of divine truth, and yet the mere existence of this “bunch of hippies and gnostics” is absolutely eating you alive with rage, fear, and perhaps even a bit of envy.

            I don’t know where to begin with the “theology” of entropy and black holes. I simply don’t have enough psilocybin around to figure out what direction you’re heading with that.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Replying here due to ever decreasing width on the thread. It’s getting close to unreadable.

            I did not mean to use “polemic” in a pejorative sense: a : an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another. I suggest that your ending use of all-caps rather validates the usage.

            I will come back with a longer response to your latest two posts as I can, but will start for now by pointing out that an argument based on faith — however well “supported” in intellectualizations (as in citations of philosophers) — which ends with a rational challenge is an example of what I mean by circular logic. “I believe this, therefore it must be true” is not subject to rational rebuttal. I do thank you for the courtesy of inquiring after my beliefs. I will be back to answer that, at least.

          • Franklin_Evans

            In reply to “So…what happens when we die in paganism? (curious to the max)” and the following questions.

            Mark, here’s the thing. It is a basic fallacy in logical argument to define the premise in terms of solely one side and then challenge the other side to answer the question. It is neither pejorative nor ad hominem to point out that saying you are right and citing your belief system as the proof is just circular logic. There has to be some objective comparison point.

            So, what modern Pagans believe about what happens after death is difficult to summarize and impossible to generalize. One can start by citing similarities to Hindu reincarnation, the Celtic concept of “wyrd” (the actual literary background of Shakespeare’s witches in MacBeth) and a notion even the ancients held close: we are held accountable in this life for this life, not by some abstract court to which we can “escape” a living punishment and be subject to some hypothetical punishment that can have no proof other than blind faith.

            So, in the spirit of my initial criticism: what you see here is an answer to your question, not a rebuttal to your argument. Knowledge can lead to understanding. Understanding is not the same as agreement.

          • Alastor

            Christmas Trees invented by Christians?! Wow you’re stupid. They are Yule trees. The reason why the trees are set up indoors is because Christians outlawed their use. So they just brought the trees indoors to continue the practice and eventually most people forgot why they even did it at all. (Yule trees were decorated with pastries (including doughnuts) hanging from the branches as offerings to the Elves and Land-Spirits. They were decorated with bright ornaments to attract the spirits.) People really need to do their research better? And Modern Pagans are a joke, you say? In Hellenism and Asatru there is MORE than enough evidence left to piece together an effective working religion. You are referring to the New Age wishy-washy people in your critique, not serious reconstructionists. You need to conduct your research more effectively pal. Look up Heathenry and Asatru, that is what I’m part of. Paganism is ALIVE AND WELL in the 21st century.

          • Lance

            That’s offensive. Calling people with legitimate beliefs and practices ‘clowns’ is insulting. Yes, paganism is an umbrella term that encompasses many religions, but choosing to self-identify as pagan, especially if you have a mixture of different faiths, is not bad.

            I sacrifice to my gods, I adore them, and I am committed to them. By telling me I am just dressing up and playing pretend is downright terrible. I respect the fact that your religion makes you happy and fulfills you, and I have the utmost respect for the Christian God. I hope that you can have the same attitude towards me.

        • Tom B

          eh, because you’re reading a Catholic, if you care to understand what you’re apparently taking the time to read. You do have to try and understand waht the writer means by the words he’s using. No?

      • kenneth

        The Catholic position on Paganism is clear enough. The Church thinks the old heatens in their own way had some laudable virtues and that deep down, in every human soul is a Christian screaming to get out. The pagans therefore were just all really proto-Christians who were doing their best to fly blind toward Christ. Since they didn’t have the benefit of Christ’s appearance in the world, they were “invincibly ignorant.” (Ie they just couldn’t help themselves and can’t be blamed for not trying to be complete Christians). But since there were just ignorant Christians deep down anyway, if they did their best to do good within their “incomplete” non-Christian framework, they could still be saved.

        Conceited, but simple.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dnaaden Douglas J. Naaden

      In the first paragraph, you say we are saying others are right. In the second you say that we’re saying everyone else is wrong. I think you’re confused.

  • Iota

    Uninvited thoughts:

    „Do I romanticize?” – oh yes. I think you are also, partly, excused by your age and gender (sorry, couldn’t resist). :-)

    As Kenneth pointed out (Or so I understand the point) it’s not that the ancients (for example) didn’t suffer from PTSD. It’s that they didn’t write ballads about it.

    This is, after all, the whole point of ballads and heroic accounts – that they are not life. Because life is, and always was, lots of normal or hard, or boring, or seemingly inconsequential stuff with some extreme heroics and villainy mixed in.

    In other words, before there ever was a “Wolf the Quarrelsome” someone had to change a lot of dirty diapers. Someone had to sow, plough, harvest and make food for many years. But when you read about that Irishman, you are not invited to look at the diapers and the bread. You also, I assume, do not see the results of the death of his foe on the foe’s family (and do not ask the awkward question whether in fifty years time Wolf’s son won’t be tied, by his entrails, to another tree). You just see, and are meant to see, the bits that fit into a grand account.

    The problem is that when we take a ballad or an account of a battle and read it alongside a bunch of newspaper articles we are rigging the contest. What you should be doing, if you wanted to be fair to your age, is reading the ballad alongside the bits of mythologised history that will be told about your times and culture in 1000 years by people living on another continent.

    Humanity, besides those moments when you actually do heroic things (or, alternatively, tie your enemy’s entrails into a knot on a tree…) is a lot of diapers and a lot of bread. History is made by kings and warriors. It s also made by doctors, babysitters, lawyers, farmers, scholars, bakers and people who work in garbage disposal. A world populated exclusively by kings and warriors *with an occasional woman heroically returning to a burning house), and only “noble” ones at that… is High Fantasy, not history. :-)

  • Corita

    LOL Pagans, indeed.

    I was wondering why so many comments on this post (which I like most for its quote by Lewis.) Of course it is sneering so-called modern “pagans” come to play!

    I like it when they talk in the “Pitiful Mortals!” voice. It’s like instead of pagan *people* they think they are actually pagan *gods*.

  • Inannapriest

    I would like to thank the author of this blog for a timely reminder of why I left Christianity behind. I could no longer stand the essential misogyny that was so evident in its writings – from Genesis onward. A very possible exception to this could be seen in the person of Jesus, but his deviations from the party line were soon corrected by Paul and the “Fathers” of the church.

  • Nicephoros

    Please look up Rene Girard and read at least one of his books. I think you would find it compelling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Martin-G-Snigg/613538402 Martin G. Snigg

    DB Hart on the reversion to paganism hypothesis http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/12/christ-and-nothing-28

  • http://www.facebook.com/jpdbrodeur John Paul Dominic Brodeur

    Interesting thought, Marc. Btdubs, this post was in my New Advent feed!

  • Smilekams

    yeah is this poetry or opinion? either way you speak good engfish. just say what you’re have to say and quit all this messing around. this whole post made absolutely no f-ing sense at all.

  • http://twitter.com/CMysliwiec Christian

    Such a good post! “The world is in desperate need of conversion, not at first to Christianity, but to Paganism.” Lewis would drink to that!

  • Gail Finke

    Great post. I understand it completely, strange that so many people write in who have no idea what you actually said.

  • Elizabeth

    There are a few points which I think need to be clarified regarding paganism, and whilst I recognize the rhetorical nature of “Do I romanticize?”, I think this post raises some really interesting misinterpretations of Medieval society, specifically, as seems to be the case here, regarding Vikings/Scandinavians.
    First and foremost, it is very easy to fall into the trap of imagining all people to have been the ‘heroes’ (at least as heroic poetry classifies them…) of Volundarkvitha or indeed the characters found in Sturulunga Saga, which retells the establishment of the Icelandic Commonwealth (interesting that Christianity was more or less voted into practice in Iceland). Einar Sveinsson’s “The Age of the Sturlungs” is an excellent source in this regard, as he points out that the reason “Sturlunga Saga” has survived and indeed, was written in the first place, is because these were exceptional stories of individuals. Would this poetry deemed as “heroic” have become so popular had it not offered something new to the reader, or if not new, at least exceptional? And while “Njal’s saga” etc. gives us a glimpse into the idea of the extent to which one was willing to go to exact proper revenge (as there were stipulations regarding what was deemed honourable and what was not), somebody such as Gudrun, who supposedly killed her children and fed them unknowingly to her husband as revenge for the death of her family is both someone to wonder/gawk at in her resolution, but also shudder away from in her ferociousness, a trait which I would be surprised to see anyone openly condone.
    That being said, I enjoyed the comparison itself, but found it slightly ironic in the sense that Christianity actually destroyed so much of this “heroic” society which seems to be glorified here. Again, I take Iceland as an example (pardon my continued obsession). The Christianization of Iceland led to the rise of literacy, as is often the case. However, as Sveinsson again so shrewdly points out, this sense of individualism and heroism which was so incensed in Icelandic culture as something to be emulated was weeded out. Pushes towards Iceland’s obedience to the universal Church (they had more or less existed as a National Church until the 13th century, before characters such as Gudmundr Arason, etc.) and Norway brought with it more than the end of the Icelandic Commonwealth, but also a national sense of identity which, as I implied above, is being emulated in this post. I find it overall ironic that such stories would very likely not be remembered had the Church not stepped in and established sees at Holar etc., but that the same institution which gave wave to the spread and recording of these stories ultimately culminated in the obliteration of a culture and national identity which is now being emulated by its destroyers. Please understand, I do not mean “destroyers” in a purely negative sort of way, simply in a realistic one. The idea that people value life and are not desensitized towards death is not a trait I an condemning by any means. I suppose I just feel that if we’re going to be looking at pagans, their society, and most of all idealize their moral resolution and that which made them so individual, it needs some historical context.

  • Kinana

    Thank you for this essay. It resonates with me. As does this piece from Beowulf:
    ‘Wise sir, do not grieve.
    It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
    For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end.
    Let whoever can, win glory before death.
    When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark…
    Endure your troubles today.
    Bear up and be the man I expect you to be.’

    Beowulf

  • James H, London

    Hail, Mark!

    A delightful corollary to Chesterton’s ‘ancient paganism was a virgin; modern paganism is a divorcee’: the post-Christian world leaves Christ as an adulteress. YES!

    • kenneth

      Except for those who converted to Christianity in their own lifetime as adults, none of us are or ever were “married” to Christ. None of us ever made a fully informed conscious choice to be Christ’s “bride” or anything else. If we want to stand by that misogynistic model, we were, if anything, child brides whose “marriage” was arranged by others on our behalf. We owe nothing to your god/groom or to the “marriage brokers” who had hoped to get fat off our our deference and donations to them.

  • Sadfacememe

    What? No Poke’mon memes? No Marvel comics references? No rage comics? I am disappoint. For a while there I had a mental image of you sitting in your room, surrounded by piles of trading cards and comic books, typing away, too afraid of having lustful thoughts to hang out with your girlfriend. You sir, have just ruined my day…..

  • David

    Very good post. Insightful and human.

    All right men, put your neck on the line and finish that letter to the local newspaper editor. Pick a subject. HHS, gay marriage, abortion.
    Stand. Don’t be a coward.

  • Linus

    That was enlightening.

  • Linus

    Not a’propos but a coincidence, I happen to be reading the Father Brown Omnibus. Such fun.

  • http://piercedhands.com/ Meg

    Very Chestertonian. Well played.

  • EP

    True. When I became Catholic and found concrete theology which also corresponded to what I found to be true in my own actual existence, I felt more human than ever. This was coming from a nondenom/and then later reformed protestant background. I felt like I was breathing for the first time. I still have so much to learn about being fully human, but I know it is definitely what God had in mind when he created me and all other people. Thanks for this.

  • Franklin_Evans

    Via link from TAC/dreher: Mr. Barnes, you write brilliantly. Even your infusion of humor is well thought and cogent. You also capture an undercurrent of modern Paganism that at once corroborates your point and underscores your criticisms.

    By and large, modern Pagans came to their belief systems by way of reaction, not by original discovery. Gerald Gardner (putative founder of Wicca) — however one views the chronology against his claims — did not enter the public eye until the British parliament expunged the last remnants of witchcraft laws from its books. The vast majority of my Pagan siblings-in-faith — this being accurately caveated as anecdotal, but supported by others — are quite openly ex-Christians, and a sadly large proportion of them carry emotional scars and a strong remnant of hostility towards the faith of their parents. Druidism is less reactionary, though (from my personal POV) stuck in a wide-eyed syncretic approach (to be fair, the ancient Celts to whom they look had what little existed of a written tradition destroyed long ago). There is a small but very strong reconstructionist movement, primarily from the Egyptian, Greco-Roman and Norse traditions. They remain the exceptions to the rule, however.

    I offer this from my personal focus: We have long taken for granted the Latin “paganus” morphed from “country dweller” to the post-Empire “non-believer, outsider”. Some now believe that it harkens to an earlier, possibly Etruscan usage meaning (speculatively) “divinity of place”. The early gods were rooted in a forest, a crossroads, a water or hot spring; they later were the protectors of a village, town and eventually a city (e.g. Athens – Athena).

    That is a description of a themetic element, not a definition of belief. Modern Pagans do not have a monopoly on the truths of our pagan heritages — contrary to that which many of them of my acquaintance might like to believe. As more and more monotheists (sorry, our term) seek on the same ground we’ve considered our own, all we ask is that you be good neighbors and try to leave it in a little better condition than when you found it. :D

    • Vision_From_Afar

      By and large, modern Pagans came to their belief systems by way of reaction, not by original discovery.
      —-
      Yes and no. There is a desire to “re-discover” the original discovery. I can’t understand if you’re trying to pass judgement with this statement though. Does that somehow make modern Paganism less valid than Christianity, which did it’s best to wipe out any competing faiths over the millenia? You could also argue that most modern Chrisitans came to their belief systems (i.e. – denomination) by way of inheritance, not by original discovery. I doubt the majority of modern Christians were raised in a non-religious environment and found their way “into the fold” on their own… I’m not passing judgement here, either. It’s a valid way to enter into belief, but no less valid than what modern Pagans are doing.

      That is a description of a themetic element, not a definition of belief.

      That’s, if you’ll pardon the nerd term, ret-conning. Modern Pagans, and most non-scholarly non-Pagans (including Lewis) have/had accepted the “non-Christian, polytheist believer” definition, and attempting to take the argument from one of belief to one of syntax and historical lexicon is a bit counter to the discussion.

      Modern Pagans do not have a monopoly on the truths of our pagan heritages — contrary to that which many of them of my acquaintance might like to believe.
      —–
      Granted, but again, given the efforts of Christianity in the past to wipe out pagan heritages, either by absorbtion or by destruction, makes modern Pagans a bit wary. As they say, “History is written by the victors.”

      As more and more monotheists (sorry, our term) seek on the same ground we’ve considered our own, all we ask is that you be good neighbors and try to leave it in a little better condition than when you found it. :D
      —-
      After you all burned it to the ground, you mean? :D

      • Franklin_Evans

        1) No judgments intended or offered… indeed, I’d be seeing my own image in an infinite series of mirrors if I tried to go that route. I was never even a nominal Christian, my religious upbringing was a liberal for the time as it gets (UU), and one of my personal griefs is a limited sympathy for the many fellow Pagans who have in some cases egregious scars from their Christian families.

        With much respect offered: The “destroyed previous pagan faiths” hyperbole has little to support it in the scholarship. My corroborating source is “A History of Pagan Europe”, Jones & Pennick. Paraphrasing: the common pattern as the Holy Roman Empire expanded was a simple economic (backed by military) threat to the Pagan leaders, who sooner or later acceeded to the pressure and proceeded to force their own people to convert to Christianity. This was certainly a form of conquest, but violent conversion was more often at the hands of their leaders, not from newly-imported priests. [end paraphrase] Christians absorbed and assimilated, no arguments there. You’ll have a difficult time getting them to admit it, though. ;)

        2) Citing recent speculation about the etymology of “pagan” was not intended as rebuttal, but as information that may be of value to the discussion. I regret that it came across as argument.

        Also, by way of clarification, I also agree in principle with Isaac Bonewits’ scholarship and conclusions thereof. I tend to think of his ideas while writing, but not to cite them.

        On the whole, since we are getting acquainted here for the first time, you may safely assume that I am not questioning validity of beliefs… unless I come right out and do so. My favorite citation there is Oberon Zell’s brilliant “We Are the Other People”. Gods, that man could write!

        • Vision_From_Afar

          1) I’m afraid I delved into typical pagan hyperbole. Yes, it was, 90% of the time, an economic and/or political pressure to assimilate (Iceland being a perfect example). I’m afraid I view that as cultural destruction, a social “scorched earth”, as it were. Not very nice of me, I admit.

          2. Yes, he could. I occasionally use his argument myself.

          *hat tip*

          • Franklin_Evans

            I definitely sympathize with the “scorched earth” view, whether social or unqualified. For the record, I shed my “typical pagan hyperbole” only after some kicking and screaming, as it were.

            Thanks for the mini-tangent. I enjoyed it.

    • kenneth

      Most of us don’t claim to have a monopoly on the truths of our pagan heritages. I certainly don’t. I’m happy to have even a fair approximation of those heritages. I’m not a professional anthropologist or re-enactor. I follow some of the same gods they did. I find some inspiration and wisdom in what we know of those ancient cultures and their practice of religion. I also find much worthy of revision and rejection in the light of centuries of science and human progress. I try to honor them and understand them, but I’m not trying to be them. I interact with the gods as I am: a 21st Century man dealing with some things unique to his age and some timeless mysteries of existence.

      Recon folk find a deep value in following the old ways as accurately as possible. That said, very few modern pagans lose any sleep because we can’t find the original parchment of exactly how the Druids did this or that ritual. The power and beauty of our faiths is not something bound up in a “Harry Potter” like spell where we have to reproduce the exact incantation and the right arc of a wand.

      The power lies in the intimacy of direct and personal interaction with our deities, our ancestors and the natural world of which we are a part. It’s as natural and immediate as a mother’s relation with her child. We don’t need an owner’s manual with some sort of canonical provenance going back to the first mother who had the first child. Nor do we need to know exactly how our maternal ancestors say, 2,000 years ago, interacted with their own children. It would be cool to somehow learn that, but the current mother-child interaction is not dependent upon recreation of it. I truly believe that humans best find their way to the divine when they finally get out of their own way and each other’s way. Accordingly, I think modern paganism’s relative lack of written templates is a blessing in disguise.

      We all come to our religions out of both reaction and original discovery. All reaction can do is set us upon the search. Leaving aside for the moment those who cynically just “go through the motions,” every person with sincere religious beliefs, including atheism, comes to that out of reaction. Reaction to a previous understanding that was not satisfying their deepest questions. Nobody stays in any religion or set of beliefs unless they make an original discovery for themselves. Either that system interacts powerfully with your spirit and/or your mind, or it does not.

  • imightbewrong

    Ulf the Quarrelsome, or Ulf Hreda, Irish High King Brian Boru’s (likely fictional) brother from Njal’s Saga, would have been a Catholic Celt like his brother. It seems unlikely to me that a Gael at the Battle of Clontarf– long centuries after St. Patrick evangelized Ireland and laid the groundwork for the island’s becoming a center of monastic scholarship–would have been as pagan as his Viking foe.

    • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

      Not so much “Catholic Celt” as “Christian Irishman” (and for various reasons, the distinction is an important one); but otherwise, the thrust of your comment is completely correct. The author of the present blog post does not recognize the actions of someone of his own ostensible faith as being of his own faith, because–like many Christians of past centuries–the Irishness of the people involved was what made them lesser, more barbaric, and entirely foreign, not the particularities of their faith (which was the same in almost every respect by the time of Clontarf).

      But, as the author of the present blog post doesn’t seem to be very clear on a great many things other than some of the philosophers of his own religion, this is not surprising that a major oversight like this has been included in his reflections.

  • Franklin_Evans

    Marc, I respectfully suggest a more informative example of the passion for clan and place: The archetypal (in the Joseph Campbell sense) stories of Myrddin and Suibhne. If nothing else, they offer a more balanced picture of the cultural and spiritual sensibilities of pre-Christian northern Europe, and lack the visceral distraction of the berserker traditions cinematically maintained more prominently in our image of the times. My favorite scholarly resource is “The Quest for Merlin” by Nikolai Tolstoy.

  • Joey McGoebbels

    1920, G.K. Chesterton wrote:

    “It is often said by the critics of Christian origins that certain ritual feasts, processions, or dances are really of pagan origin. They might as well say that our legs are of pagan origin. Nobody ever disputed that humanity was human before it was Christian; and no Church manufactured the legs with which men walked or danced, either in a pilgrimage or a ballet. What can really be maintained, so as to carry not a little conviction, is this: that where such a Church has existed it has preserved not only the processions but the dance; not only the cathedral but the carnival. One of the chief claims of Christian civilization is to have preserved such things of pagan origin. In short, in the old religious countries men continue to dance; while in the new scientific vities they are often content to drudge.”

    • Franklin_Evans

      Chesterton was, of course, correct. I gently point out that where he is not quite accurate is in the connotations of that “preservation”, to wit: The literature shows clearly that where predecessor rituals and customs survived, they did so due to a grudging tolerance of them by the (new) Christian overseers. It’s the other side of the coin whose face we most often see, a Christian-prompted morphing of an anthropormorphic (or other) symbol that at least superficially made it more pallatable to the Christian doctrine. Most notable of these were the appearance of certain saints, Brigid amongst the Celts for one.

      The motivation behind that was mostly very simple: One simply cannot police the thoughts and feelings of masses of people. Giving them some leeway during assimilation can be and usually was a constructive effort.

      In a modern context, an approach I use with my fellow Pagans, it can be validly viewed as a survival of a rich, past heritage, not evidence of theft.

  • Alphonsus_Jr

    So much conformed blather from so many obedient subjects of today’s dictatorship of relativism. Being typically processed, they mindlessly hold that there are no eternal truths, that truth is the correspondence of the mind with one’s lifestyle (adaequatio intellectus et vitae), and that, therefore, old dogmas must be abandoned and new beliefs must arise that meet ‘the needs of modern man’. This is a shameless denial of the traditional and common sense notion of truth: the correspondence of the mind with reality (adaequatio intellectus et rei), which is the basis of the immutability of Catholic dogma.

    Today, the true individual, the true rebel, the true revolutionary must be a traditionalist (note that I didn’t say “conservative”). A reactionary. But not just any traditionalist reactionary. He must be a traditional Catholic.

    Read Plinio Correa de Oliveira’s Revolution and Counter-Revolution. See where you stand. Are you processed or not?

    http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Counter-Revolution-Edition-Plinio-Oliveira/dp/1877905178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338394065&sr=8-1

    Or for free here:

    http://www.pliniocorreadeoliveira.info/UK_RCR.pdf

    • Franklin_Evans

      The immutability of Catholic dogma is certainly its own best proof that it is the one, eternal Truth of the Universe. Certainly the vast literature written by Catholic theologians sweeps away any opposition. I had hoped for something a bit less of a retread, based on your other posts here. Your circumlocution is quite familiar.

      You might find this rebuttal amusing: http://www.paganlibrary.com/fundies/other_people.php

    • Vision_From_Afar

      So much conformed blather from so many obedient subjects of today’s dictatorship of relativism. Being typically processed

      Are you talking about lil’ ol’ me?

      • kenneth

        He’s talking to all of us who have had the temerity to think for ourselves in spiritual matters. Because, you see, we can only be our own people if we think what they tell us to think. And he’s thrown in an assertion that his belief is incontrovertible self-evident truth, so to NOT believe what we’re told to think would make us delusional. I don’t know, Vision, I think they cornered us! We’d better just turn in our minds and go along quietly. But look on the bright side. By conforming, we won’t be sheep. We’ll be rebels.

        • Franklin_Evans

          Will you two stop stealing my thunder? I really was hoping to get a nice number of likes on my thinly veiled circular logic criticism. :p

          • Vision_From_Afar

            …I liked it… :P

          • Franklin_Evans

            Not knowing if you and Kenneth are already perusing it: you might enjoy, in general, the blogging of Rod Dreher at The American Conservative online magazine. His link to this blog is why I “invaded”.

            http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            Please. Rod Dreher is hopelessly watered down. Genuine traditionalists and reactionaries know that Dreher is a counterfeit. For one thing, he’s not even Catholic. He went apostate and joined the “Orthodox.”

            P.S. It’s interesting to see the neopagans here take it for granted that slavery is wrong, a view which depends on the concept of human rights, a concept which is in turn inseparable from Christianity – like many other concepts they embrace (such as that of personhood).

            P.P.S. Today’s atheists and neopagans would do well to read Atheist Delusions by David B. Hart, and The Last Superstition by Ed Feser. Devastating.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            You mean, inseperable from modern Christianity, right? Don’t tell me you’re ignorant enough to claim that Christianity was anti-slavery out of the box, so to speak.
            If you can at least concede that much, how can you not grant that modern pagans can have the same viewpoint?
            Why does it always come back to slavery with the anti-pagan rants? Is this the theologicial equivalent of “white guilt”?

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            The following will be very hard for today’s processed to grasp, but I’ll trudge on anyway.

            Indeed, Christianity explicitly rejected slavery from the very beginning. Christianity is all about freedom from slavery – slavery to sin, whether its source be the world, the flesh, or the devil.

            From the very beginning, this opposition to slavery implicitly extended also to what worldlings – with their dim, limited, fleshly horizons – think of as slavery.

            Yet prudential considerations demanded that Christians temporize in making explicit this implicit rejection. These prudential considerations included the very considerable risk that they’d be murdered for entertainment by filthy pagans.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Wait, wait, wait, wait.

            What?

            Christianity only pretended to agree that slavery was a good idea?
            You, sir, are a laugh a minute, your blatant bigotry notwithstanding.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          True, but he’s hounding me on this post, superiorly (is that even a word?) chasing me from thread to thread to express his disdain for my comments. I just wanted to poke the angry bear with a stick, he’s such a windbag I couldn’t help it. Sorry Franklin.

  • Mary

    That was excellent!

  • Franklin_Evans

    I’m quite certain that Rod would not welcome your contributions, and should I see your name on his posts I’ll be sure to suggest he browse your posts here.

    As for the rest: Everyone who has yet to encounter the creature, allow me to introduce you to a bona fide internet troll.

  • Crossbuck

    My father used to comment, after two of my sisters married Muslim men, that “Well, they may not be Christians, but at least they believe in SOMETHING…”

    Back then, out of respect, I said nothing, but now and after reading this piece, I want to ask if folks really want to make the argument that Christians and pagan practitioners of human sacrifice really have so much in common? “Dad, would you really prefer that your daughters married bloody handed murderers than conscientious atheists? Hard to understand such a commentary….

    • Franklin_Evans

      I find your chronological mixtures ridiculous. Please find a citation of “pagan practitioners of human sacrifice” of the last 100 years in a country where such practices are illegal… actually, in any country… that were not also prosecuted as murderers (let alone invited to dinner) and I’ll take your incredulity at face value.

      You remind me of an historian, devout Christian, who adamantly denied that any modern Pagan could use that label unless he practiced blood sacrifice. Do, please, take your best shot at telling me what my beliefs and practices should be.

  • Parsontodd

    Gee, this post made perfect sense to me. But then again I get to deal with bringing Jesus to real people and I get to see just how few “real” people are actually around. The ancients valued family and commuity and truth for their own sakes and willingly sacrificed for them. This is why Christian martyrdom had the positive effect it had among the persecutors. A good death for your belief brought respect and a desire to know why it was a worthwhile belief. The people I see around me daily live only for themselves and even if they value other things it is only in relationship to their own needs or sense of value. The difference between a Christian and an ancient pagan is truly only in the fact that the pagan valued good things for their own sake while a Christian values them for Christ’s sake.

    • Franklin_Evans

      Parsontodd: “The difference between a Christian and an ancient pagan is truly only in the fact that the pagan valued good things for their own sake while a Christian values them for Christ’s sake.”

      Would you care to expand on that? I know some will (rather knee-jerk, I’m afraid) reject your assertion out of hand. I’d like to better understand your thoughts behind it before offering rebuttal (or agreement!).

  • Bdoran10

    For years I’ve held that if we’re going to have the Pagan Vices, we should embrace the rough Pagan Virtues.

    Our soldiers are killing themselves for many reasons…prolonged combat does that. One may be that this never, ever, ever ends and they won’t let us win. They do not lack for values, courage, Virtue Christian or pagan. I’m one and I’ll attest to their valor and virtue.

    We may have to get a bit Pagan, be careful what you wish for…

    • kenneth

      Actually any Roman Emperor would feel quite at home with our foreign and military policies these days. The only difference is that we have much more lethal technologies and so far we have not openly taken conquered people as slaves or seen family-on-family assassinations among our ruling elite. Yet.

  • Bdoran10

    Post-Christian: that we are Post-Christian in the West now to include America wouldn’t be debated by any fair minded [and most foul minded] anthropologists, Historians, observers of the current scene…regardless of their Creed. Yes many in America hold out, but the elites, media, academe, politicians…they’re very post Christian. Also post-Marxist, post-Freudian, post-feminist, and soon enough post-Green…live long enough and you’ll see them chuck Civil Rights as well. Among the intellectuals the last has already begun.

  • Alexander Jackson

    Thank you, Marc, for this illuminating post. I did not notice any vagueness, but that may be due to my reading history; Tolkien and Lewis are marvelous writers. Your article was an enjoyable reminder of a useful distinction between past and present heathens.

  • Lordslove5love

    how true! when we get subjected to evil catholic barbarism, in some bel and the dragon want to be faith healer, ralph di orio, since when does our free will get taken without GOD”S permission!!!!!!!!! I refuse to be forced to deny CHRIST. I cannot for for Christ, I am Orthodox and know that GOG died foe me, not a one man side show.

    t, and no catholic faith healer that my dead mother prayed tp has any right tp set itself above GOD> Mary A Bongiorno

  • 1101, Odin’s Girl

    YES!!!!! EXACTLY!!!!! SCORE ONE!!!!!

  • Benjamin

    Sooo…
    better to believe in some unverifiable falsehood than to take the world
    at face value, even if it’s the unverifiable falsehood that we
    ourselves declare as such, aaaaand it’s a really bad sign that we don’t
    enjoy war as much as we used to? Am I reading this right?

  • S.D.

    I definitely feel as if I have more in common with a crazed neo-pagan in Varg Vikerness than with anything the post-Christian puts out.

  • Alvin

    Dude I love Age of Mythology!

  • BIGhedge19

    wow…..that’s disappointing. The “cluster” of beliefs that are generally defined as
    paganism can range from a clan of Viking warriors that worship Thor, protector
    of human kind, to Japanese Shintoism which was centered around Spirits of Place.
    what I’m getting at is the people most people think of as pagans (European natives),
    revered nature, were peaceful (the everyday civilians, not the village militia), and
    respected human life enough to have a motto “an harm it none, do what ye will”.
    Don’t go lumping warriors in with the poor old wisewomen and medicinemen who
    treated those nasty battleaxe wounds you talked about.
    also, do research before you post on a religious debate site, it helps you keep from
    making a fool of yourself to people who are versed in the subject you’re defaming.


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