Just Like The Christians: An Interview with the Emperor Julian

[In the midst of a large Pagan convention a time machine appears and within it stands Julian the Philosopher, the last pagan emperor of the Roman Empire. Equipped with a babelfish he begins conversing with with the convention organizers, who are a bit miffed he landed in the midst of the reiki workshop. Quickly they realize they have a unique opportunity, install him in front of a podium in an auditorium for modern Pagans to ask him questions.]

So what was paganism like back in your time?

In decline. The Gallileans have seized a great deal of power. Temples have been torn down and desecrated, in some places churches have been built in their place. There is a lot of factional violence, Christian VS pagan, Christian vs Christian, along with the usual political spats. Right now I’m attempting to end the violence and rebuild the temples.

Build temples? Why would you need to do that? Isn’t that just copying the Christians?

Copying? We had public religious buildings and institutions for thousands of years before the Gallileans. They are copying us. Literally. The altars, incense and imagery of their churches all comes from paganism. Even the stones they build their churches with often come from pagan temples!

Paranoid much? Just like the Christians.

But we’ve learned a lot from this attack on paganism. We’ve learned to band together and help each other. In fact I’ve pledged to rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. And we’ve learned to better express the deep connection between our values and faith by having priests preach and exhort rather than leaving that to the philosophers.

Supporting Israel is such a Christian thing. And only Christians preach homilies and go on about virtue in faith. Basically you’re just copying the Christians.

Excuse me? The Jews may be strange but supporting them as our fellow persecuted is the virtuous thing to do. Their temples are no less holy and sacred than our own. Preaching is a form of religious education because as temples fall so does the community and household practice among pagans. It is a way to revive and bolster what has been left in ignorance, and to state our values plainly. Someone must write and speak about these things, or all that will survive is what our enemies said about us. It is not a need to conform to the Gallileans that prompts this, but our very desire to survive, and thrive, that spurs us to better express and explain our beliefs.

Sounds like theology and orthodoxy. Just like the Christians.

If we cannot intelligently and reasonably discuss our faith, our Mystery cults and our virtues we will perish. We must be accessible and supportive of each other, both philosophers and common men, if we wish to see our children and grandchildren raised with pagan virtues. Otherwise they will be seduced by the Gallileans, neglecting to honor the ancestors and our gods.

Raising your kids in your religion? Just like the Christians.

I’ve made steps to ensure pagan culture thrives. For instance I have banned Christian teachers from educating their pupils using the work of pagan philosophers, so that their meaning is not twisted and they see how poorly their scriptures educate. This ensures pagan schools for pagan students, without Gallilean influence seeping in.

Religious school? Just like the Christians.

Also, I’ve organized the old cults under a new hierarchy, so that they are better organized and connected, less vulnerable than they were, and better able to withstand the pressures of the Gallileans together, rather than falling one by one.

Yeah, pretty much sounds like you’re just interested in copying the Christians. You don’t sound very Pagan at all. I don’t have any interest in being just like the Christians. I don’t want to have any part of your Paganism and think everything you are doing is completely wrong. We don’t want what you’ve got and you certainly don’t represent us.

[Julian the Philosopher returned to his own time disheartened. In his despair he left behind his religious reforms to invade Persia, where he rode into battle without proper armor. He died of a spear wound to the side, and Christianity grew in influence and power as ancient paganism fell.]
About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.


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