Saturday, November 07, 2015

My problem with paganism

My remarks here are not about Wicca, which is just a form of post-Christian ecofeminism in NewAge drag, but about both ancient European paganism as I understand it and especially about modern rightwing Europaganism, mostly the Nordic variety and especially the folkish non-inclusive form of that. As far as religion goes, anything that's multiculturally inclusive is of no interest to me.

Number one. Although I have found the idea of a providentially guided purpose both in creation and in history no easy sell to myself, I resist the assumption that all forms of paganism share: Impersonal Fate rules all, including the Gods. (Dharmic religions share much of this, but karma makes this impersonal fate obsessed with isomorphic justice via reincarnation.) Here is where the Christian part of my post-Christian self rears its baptized head. For me, a world ruled finally by impersonal fate is no different from the world of Richard Dawkins.

Ironically, the ancient Romans considered the Christians atheists because they rejected the Gods; I consider modern pagans atheists because they subject their Gods to an overarching and ultimate...Nothing. Although I sympathize with the cultural crises that drives or brings some men to a recreated form of ancestral paganism --be it Norse, Slavic, Celtic or GrecoRoman-- in the end I really wonder if men whose souls, like it or not, have been shaped by a thousand years of Christ can worship what amount to Godlings without finally falling into nihilism.

Second, despite the usually rightwing attitudes of Norse neo-pagans, the sacred history they tell is infected with a bitter sense of victimhood against the Church. Sore losers in the leftist mode.

And as I point out, all the ills which these Alt-Right guys hate in contemporary Western civilization are post-Christian. While Whites were Christian and in power, none of the plagues of liberalism had a toehold. Which is why Liberals hate Christianity, the religion of patriarchy and the alliance of throne and altar, of imperialism and the Crusades, etc. etc. All stuff that Alt-Right pagans love.

But really, my issue is that this rage against Christianity effectively cuts them off from the blood-ties of many generation of baptized Europeans and forces them to see all their Christian ancestors and most of Western civilization in the last 1500 years either as the realm of deluded slaves who worshipped "a kike on a stick" or traitorous collaborators with "the alien Semitic bronze age desert god." How can there be a Western tradition when a millennium and a half of it is consigned to Hell?

I have recently and dolefully come to the conclusion that western Christianity can no longer safely serve the souls of White men and so I am musing on a future alternative. It's fascinating to run up against my own assumptions and to face new ways of thinking in doing this. But the religion of the Christ once did serve us: Christendom was a great and powerful civilization full of warriors and explorers and thinkers and builders and artists, etc. So my goal, for whatever micron it's worth, is to connect rather than to amputate and to promote realistic dignity rather than disguised despair.

Modern paganism, running on the white-hot fires of resentment, gives a jolt to some of our men who need it and there is much about these guys to admire. But I don't see how in the long run it can suffice.



Anonymous said...

From what I've gathered, the right-wing pagans see Christianity as the root cause of our current problems. They may be on to something: nobody in the West before Paul ever espoused that men and women, freemen and slaves, and members of different ethnic groups could share any level of parity, nor did the idea that everybody had to be held to the same standard of behavior ever really crop up. Some pretty basic assumptions of modern Western thinking originated with Christianity.

I too have problems with the idea of inexorable fate. If our reactions to situations are simply the result of chemical reactions that we have no control over, and we are just passengers in our bodies that cannot truly take action against the events of life, what is the point? Nihilism is the inevitable end result. But I have a different conception of fate. To me, fate is the stimuli that we are forced to react to and which we have no control over, the equivalent of billiard balls rolling around the table and bouncing off of each other. We may not be able to affect any change over a volcano, or even another human being, but we are able to decide how to react to these events.

If there is any hope, it lies in some cultural and religious offspring of right-paganism and traditional Catholicism/Orthodoxy. What such a culture and religion would look like is beyond me, but I hope that it is not an impossible marriage.


Anonymous said...

Another view of the pagan.

Paganism is not a particular set of dieties (Greek, Norse, etc.). It is the claim that the universe is natural. It is the claim that while there are beings in the natural universe more powerful than humans they are subject to natural laws (and human failures). It is the claim that nature provides models for beauty, truth, strength, morals, law and similar human needs / drives.

In contrast is the transcendent. The transcendent is the view that there is a natural universe but there is also an outside / above the natural universe. Heaven and hell, spirit realms, that sort of thing. And in that outside / above are beings that are not subject to natural laws, not subject to human failures, and that our models of beauty, truth, strength and the rest come from these beings and not the natural universe.

The Abrahamic deity, particularly in earlier days, played both pagan and transcendent roles. In modern times that deity is mostly considered transcendent. Protestant Christianity is especially thick with transcendence.

Deriving truth from the natural workings of the universe is pagan, and this is also a description of science. This is the cause of some of the tension between religion and science. Religion is mostly transcendent, so wants to find answers outside the natural universe. Science looks only at the natural universe, and sometimes gets good answers. Religion can't ignore those good answer. The success of science pushed religion more into the transcendent - if the reason for rainbows wasn't God's promise but the refraction of light, then God made the refraction of light. The transcendent God gets pushed further away.

The transcendent doesn't make sense to me, either in a rational / fact / evidence way or in an aesthetic / tradition way. And while the natural universe informs my sense of truth, beauty and strength, it does not determine it. I don't think the 'ought' can be derived from the 'is.'

- The Very Bishop of Portland

-A said...

Nihilism: The disbelief in greater meaning to aspects of life (HUMAN LIFE IS SACREEEEED)

Fate: Predetermined courses of Nature

Destiny: Personal course of the body and soul

Nihilism has its place. Some things just are not greater in meaning than what they are. Fate and Destiny are two different things that are a lot like Dharma and Karma and only events are set in stone, rarely outcomes. However, these three things are incomplete. The Pagans were grim people who had to live in a grim world. Their higher truths and higher planes were not about nature at all but, a part of it at a refined scale. The Gods were ancestors who created the cultures of their People, who themselves came from others before them. This is where the term Goth comes from: the Children of the Gods. They did indeed believe in a sentient balance and a God above all things. They were just more pantheistic about it. The act of calling it God is much more a Celtic trend than a Semitic one, all Semites having many names for the one true and almighty God in their faith.

Catholicism was so much more the completion of European Paganism than it was the completion of Judaism. That is why, at the end of the day, the Claudites converted. One question, though: Was Christ, in fact, a Jew? There is so much circular back talk about Christ being a Galilean. Nuns and Priests on the internet saying: "Yes, he was a Galilean but....that doesn't matter because Mary was Jewish so he was Jewish." Well, wasn't Nazarene a Galilean city, then? Would that not lend the likelihood that Christ was Greek? Whether he was or he wasn't, modern Christianity has lost what the Pagans knew for certain and so, its foundation has crumbled. Being a Jew, however, calls for another Savior. There are too many frictions that come with a Savior who is foreign to His worshipers, even if His story and His right to judge us makes so much sense.


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