Prepare for the rise of neo-paganism

Summary: There is a vacuum in the heart of the West after the death of Christianity. A Roman Catholic priest warns of what comes next to fill that vacuum. Whatever it is, it will shape the course of America throughout the 21st century.

Nature abhors a vacuum.
— Ancient wisdom, going back to Galileo and Aristotle.

Neo-pagan priestess in red robes.
ID 16535018 © Mark Hayes | Dreamstime.

Introducing the New Threat: Global Neo-Paganism.

By Father Longenecker at his website, 15 November 2019.
Posted with his generous permission.

One of the takeaways from the Amazonian Synod was the materialization of a new religious identity in the world. When I say this is a “new religious identity” I do not mean to suggest that it is a new invention. It is, in fact, a religion that is as old and wide and powerful as the Amazon itself.

I name it “Global Neo-Paganism” and this new manifestation of the old paganism is unique in certain ways and yet as predictable as a seance. Let me explain what I mean by “Global Neo-Paganism.”

First of all it is pagan. Now to really understand the basic, bottom line, lowest common denominator of all paganism you have to get out of your mind all your preconceived notions about paganism. If you think paganism is all about shamans jumping around a campfire in a hallucinogenic trance put that to one side. If you think paganism is all about sacrificing a chicken to the voodoo doll or reading the stars or tea leaves or the intestines of goats to determine the future think again. If you think paganism is all about muttering incantations to the earth goddess or the sky papa, well put that on one side as well.

All of those things could be part of paganism, and no doubt are, but they are all simply the externals. They are the devotions of devotees, the disciplines of disciples and the hocus pocus of the haruspices, the soothsayers, shamans, mediums and magicians.

They are the outward forms of a very simple creed which is always, “Do what you will”. The pagan not only does what he wills, but his religion is an attempt to get the gods to do what he wills. All the mumbo jumbo, magic and all the sacrifices and chicanery are all an attempt to somehow or other get the gods to do what you want. What do you want? You want the five “Ps”- Peace, Protection, Prosperity, Pleasure and Power. You want good crops, fair weather and healthy animals in your flock. You also want protection from your enemy and from all harm. If that includes cursing and putting a hex on your enemy that’s ok. That’s part of the deal. You want good luck. You want good sex. You want most of all—Power.

Paganism is simply the attempt of mankind to get the gods to do their will. It is the old, old temptation. “You can be like God!”

The second thing to consider is what paganism looks like. Once again, put aside all the external concepts of paganism that are in your mind and look at the basic attributes of paganism.

The precepts of global neo-paganism.

First, paganism is not a dogmatic religion. There have been pagan philosophers who have drawn up ideas of good behavior and right thinking, but paganism as a religion is not dogmatic. There are no catechisms or theology classes. Paganism has no Thomas Aquinas. Instead of any kind of dogma, paganism is purely practical and pastoral. It is practical inasmuch as it is not concerned with explicitly stated truth, in fact it is not concerned with “Truth” at all. It is concerned with getting something for the practitioner. In that sense it is practical.

It is “pastoral” inasmuch as it is concerned with present circumstances and situations–not ideals and values. It does not ask, “What is true?” It asks “What can I do for you?” The pagan teacher or guru wants to help people and he will call on the gods to intervene and do what he asks to make things better for people. You may protest, “But isn’t that what we do in Christian prayer? Don’t we ask God to do stuff for us?” Yes, but that is the stuff for another whole blog post. Suffice it to say that here we always end our prayer with “Not my will, but thine be done.”

The second attribute of paganism is that it is values free. Just as it is not dogmatic, neither is it absolute when it comes to morality. In fact, paganism has nothing to do intrinsically with morality. Sure, there are good pagans and noble pagans. There are some pagan teachers who say, “Be kind to others.” However, there is nothing necessary and integral to paganism that has anything to do with morality. The Hebrews linked morality to religion. Nobody else did. The pagan gods don’t give two hoots whether you are “good” or “bad.” They don’t work within those parameters.

The third general attribute of paganism is that it is syncretistic. Without dogmatic or moral boundaries it can adapt to any situation or culture. It can adopt any belief, god or goddess. It can absorb any devotional practice or discipline of meditation or spirituality. It is a pantheon, a World Council of Religions, and universal spirituality that includes all and excludes no one.

The fourth attribute is linked with the third. Paganism is amorphous. It has no hierarchy or central authority. It is free-flowing, individualistic and completely relative. It has no canon law, no Vatican City, no cathedrals or parish churches, no schools or structures of authority.

So that is paganism and there is nothing new about it.

What is new about it?

What is new is the emergence of a global, intentional manifestation. Up until now the neo-paganism has been muddling around and manifesting as the New Age Movement. This has been a mish-mash of kooky occult stuff, sentimental fortune-telling, self-help, Eastern religions, therapy, and other goofy religious practices all tossed together with a hefty dose of the ecology movement and some low-level political movements.

Twenty years ago the Vatican warned about the New Age Movement in the document “Jesus Water of Life”. I read it at the time, and I don’t remember whether it warned of this being a global, organized system with a political dimension.

As this century continues to unfold I predict that we will see these different aspects begin to coalesce more and more into an organized eco-political-economic system which might be called “Eco-communism.”

Every ideology needs a spirituality and the new globalism has clearly adopted neo-paganism as their spirituality. In the Amazonian Synod we saw a new coalition emerging between the ecology movement, Catholicism and other world religions. Helping to fund and organize this on a global basis will be large internationalist foundations and corporations. There will be a political arm in the United Nations and we should expect the World Council of Churches to expand to be a global Council not just of Christian churches, but of all religions, and if the WCC doesn’t evolve into this we should expect to see some other organization of world religions emerge.

When you see this do not be surprised, and do not be deceived. There will be much about the Global Neo-Paganism that will appeal to many Christians of goodwill.

What will it look like?

This religion will be in favor of the underdog, the politically persecuted, the poor and the needy. This religion will be ecologically activist–doing everything possible to save the environment. St Francis will be invoked as the patron of this religion, and who doesn’t like St Francis? This religion will be inclusive, loving and accepting of all. It will be non-judgemental and open-ended in regards to morality. This religion will be non-dogmatic.

The Catholics who promote this religion will not deny the Catholic dogmas. They will simply ignore them in favor of “the pastoral solution”. In that way, they can always maintain that they are “priests in good standing” and that “they never deny any of the teachings of the Catholic Church.” This new religion will be enormously popular for it will stand against the old, patriarchal, hierarchical, divisive, dogmatic, judgemental religion. This religion will offer at its smorgasbord every sort of religion, spirituality, sexuality, and ideology. All will be welcome. Toleration is part of the syncretistic appeal.

However, there are some things you will never hear in this new religion. You will never hear the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If he is mentioned at all he will be “the Christ”-a gnostic being on a par with all other gods or he will be “Jesus” on a par with all other religious teachers and gurus. What you will not hear is that he is “God from God, Light from Light, True God of True God, Begotten Not made, consubstantial with the Father by whom all things were made.” {The Nicene Creed, 325 AD).

You will never hear about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. She will either be quietly ignored or subsumed into the Earth Mother goddess. What you will not hear is that she was Immaculately conceived, the virgin mother of God, a perpetual virgin, assumed into heaven and crowned there as the true Queen of Heaven.

Most especially what you will never hear is the preaching of Christ crucified. The cross and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ will be forgotten and ignored and then eventually it will be denigrated, blasphemed against and spat upon. You will also never hear about his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven where he reigns as Christ the King before whom every authority and heaven and earth and under the earth must bow.

What will the worship of it look like?

It will be whatever anyone wishes it to be. Will it be all voodoo and Santeria and witchcraft and the worship of demons? Of course not. It will continue to be easy going nice New Age practices like crystals and rainbows, fluffy unicorns and Puff the Magic Dragon. It will be meditation on hilltops and traveling to the Himalayas to listen to a guru. It will be trendy chat shows with attractive movie stars who talk about their medium, their conversations with their departed loved ones or the latest self-help course where they channeled their familiar spirits.

It will not be the worship of the Mother Goddess. Not at first anyway. Instead, it will be a benign feminism–women clergy who call themselves “Mother” and prayers in the liturgy calling God “our Mother”. At the same time, the eco-theology will continue to be developed. The old patriarchy will be killed off, and as a values-free paganism seeps in, individual sin will be replaced with corporate crimes. I will not be guilty of anything but “society” will be guilty. Others will be guilty of  “Sins against the environment” while reverence for Nature and “images of fertility and life” well be introduced.

The worship of the Mother Goddess? That will be presented as “a cultural icon” or “a symbol of the ecology movement” or “an image of global unification.” The worship of Kali the Mother Goddess and Moloch her brother – that will come later.

————- Read more essays at his website. ————-

Editor’s note: Heinlein predicted it

To see what a modern neo-paganist church might look like, see Robert Heinlein’s great novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). It describes the the “Fosterite Church of the New Revelation” and the the “Church of All Worlds.” The former is a pagan religious hedonism marketed with with modern methods. It allows wild sex, gambling, and booze when conducted under church auspices (see a description here). The latter is an initiatory mystery religion blending elements of paganism and revivalism. It is one of Heinlein’s best works.

Dwight Longenecker

About Father Dwight Longenecker

Raised as an evangelical Christian in Pennsylvania, Father Longenecker converted to Anglicanism while at Bob Jones University. He studied theology at Oxford and then was ordained as an Anglican priest. He served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge, and a country parson on the Isle of Wight.

Disagreeing with the evolution of the Anglican Church. In 1995, he, his wife, and four children were received into the Catholic Church. For the next ten years he worked as a freelance writer and charity worker. In 2006 he returned to the USA and was ordained as a Catholic priest under the pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy.

Father Longenecker now serves as Pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. He has written 15 books on Catholic apologetics and spirituality, including The Romance of Religion: Fighting for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. See his books here. A regular contributor to the National Catholic Register (see here and here), he has also published hundreds of articles in Catholic periodicals around the world.

See his website and Twitter feed.

For More Information

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see Chapter One of a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Islam, and especially these …

  1. See Constantine – challenging your ideas about God and good.
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  5. A girl goes wild in Saudi Arabia, pointing to its future.

Books about the 21st century’s clash of religions

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody by Friedrich Nietzsche (1891). How God died in our hearts, and what that means for us.

Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. How we abandoned our values and faith in exchange for shiny new ones. Too bad they do not work well for us.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody
Available at Amazon.
Closing of the American Mind
Available at Amazon.

45 thoughts on “Prepare for the rise of neo-paganism”

  1. This may partly explain the popularity of the film “Midsommar” among the woke, feminist, independent film literati types. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the character who is climactically sacrificed by the pagan cult in the most horrific and gruesome fashion is named “Christian.”

  2. And here I thought it was supposed to be Islam! But then as a Buddhist these things are always mildly incomprehensible.

    I think sometimes that the real “Protestant” element that came across in American culture (and some parts of European culture before it) wasn’t actually directly rooted to Christianity, but to the conviction of the reality of an imminent or at least not-so-far-away apocalypse. This idea has stirred many to great actions, for good or for bad, and of course, it does not require faith in Christianity. It is alive and well indeed.

    1. SF,

      “but to the conviction of the reality of an imminent or at least not-so-far-away apocalypse.”

      That has been a core element of Christianity since the beginning. It was far stronger in the early days, then faded (for the obvious reason) – but has re-emerged in bursts over the past 2 millennia (for mysterious reasons).

    2. Fellow Buddhist here of the westernized, rationalistic variety. I don’t necessarily use the label very often but the Buddha generally struck me as a common sense fellow with many valuable insights that I try my best to apply.

  3. The article seem quite disconnected from reality . This is already happened ” be like a god “,
    It started with the enlightenment which destroyed the fundamental of Christianity. Neo-paganism started to emerge in the late 19 century and peaked in the 60s and 70s , hence why the environmental mov and save the earth ( earth worship being central belief).
    The writer seem quit lacking in the history of the movement . it is not emerging ,it is already there in power around the world . The biggest irony here is that the biggest proponent of neopaganism values “diversity ” , “ignoring the dogma”,”accept everyone” etc are Christian.

    1. safhatafkar,,

      THe author is saying that neo-paganism – which he carefully describes – will have a big future in the West. You that that has “already happened.” I suggest you ask around and see how many people agree with you. It’s not the kind of thing that happens with only you noticing.

      “The article seem quite disconnected from reality.”

      Well, that’s confidence! But perhaps it is not the author who is “disconnected.”

      1. safhatafkar,

        Per the article: “The latest data point to come my way arrived via a Druid friend who visited last weekend”

        I doubt if a “lot of people” have a Druid friend. I think this is in the extremely fringe circles of society.

        In California, there was a fad of pretending to believe dead religions. The Wicca were the best known. It was cosplay for people empty of real spiritualism and seeking to fill it.

        Note that most of the people in these groups are leaders – priests, Druids, etc. Much like people claiming to be reincarnated were once princes, princesses, or other greats from the past. Which makes sense. If I create an imaginary army, I’ll make myself a general.

  4. Larry,

    Regarding the takeaways from the Amazon Synod, are you specifically referring to some of these stories?

    Amazon synod calls for married priests, pope to reopen women deacons commission” – “Final document proposes defining ecological sin, divestment from extractive industries as steps to address region’s environmental crises.”

    Proposed Amazonian rite centered on Christ, indigenous professor says.

    A crucial connection was missed at Amazon synod” – “The cultural genocide inflicted on the indigenous, the unique suffering of women in the region, and the catastrophic destruction of the Amazon were all rooted in the patriarchal belief in the superiority of men.” (regarding empowered women saving the earth and church)

    1. Der Maiden,

      “are you specifically referring to some of these stories?”

      I’m not referring to anything, as this is all outside my purview. This article is by Father Longenecker, a Roman Catholic priest. As his bio shows, he is familiar with all these things.

      1. Larry,

        I was curious to why you picked his article related to the rise of neo-paganism till I googled up Christianity and neo-paganism regarding popularity with the article above being in the top ten. So I understand why this is an article you would have posted regarding the previous stuff regarding the decay of institutions. In Eastern Orthodox circles in America, the prediction of the rise of neo-paganism has been written in articles since post WW-II.

        I guess I was expecting the author to include some stuff regarding Catholicism ecumenism and some more historical background material in his article but I admit I might be nitpicking. His article is good enough to the average layman that is wondering what is going on related to the statements made involving the Synod though

      2. Der Maiden,

        “I guess I was expecting the author to include some stuff …”

        At 2 thousand words, it was already twice what I consider the max effective length. The average post on the web is, I’ve read, a few hundred words long.

        There are always more interesting things to add in an article. But at some point this becomes talking to oneself, since almost everybody else has tuned out.

        “His article is good enough to the average layman that is wondering what is going on related to the statements made involving the Synod though”

        The article was not about the Synod. The Synod made a useful link to current affairs and example – but this trend is much bigger. Its obvious roots go back to the 1960s (if one wishes to dig enough, one can always go far far back).

      3. Larry,

        One has to go far back for Christianity! A joke there.

        “His article is good enough to the average layman that is wondering what is going on related to the statements made involving the Synod though”

        Apologizes there, was looking at his podcase when I made that comment:
        “Many people in North America were confused by the Amazonian Synod asking “What on earth is going on here? How is this Catholic? What’s happening to our church?”

      4. “The article was not about the Synod. The Synod made a useful link to current affairs and example – but this trend is much bigger. Its obvious roots go back to the 1960s (if one wishes to dig enough, one can always go far far back).”

        Making an obtuse joke where you have to go back to look at the origins of Christianity to study the trends of origins. It wasn’t a good joke alas.

  5. Once he starts with Pagan=do what thou whilt (ala Crowley), he shows that his terms are incorrect. For example, Hinduism is paganism and it is definitely not “do what thou wilt”.

    Individual practicioners may be doing what thou wilt, but that is true of any human group. Bargaining with the divine for stuff in this life also occurs in every human group and religion – see prosperity Gospel. To me, this article appears to be him making points about everyday temptations to every group and trying to be trendy by tying it to the Amazon synod. The Amazon synod appears to be mostly infighting in the Catholic church which may reflect societal trends but is not leading them. Thanks, Drew C

    1. Drew,

      “For example, Hinduism is paganism ….”

      Obviously not, by Father Longenecker’s definition.

      You are applying your definition of paganism to his, and declaring his to be wrong. Paganism, like most terms in religion and philosophy, has had a wide range of meanings over the past few millennia. See Wikipedia entry.

      Why your self-confidence is impressive, boldly declaring an expert of his caliber to be wrong on such a basic matter, I suggest that you read Father Longenecker’s analysis on its own terms. Whether his definitions are yours is not meaningful.

    2. Longnecker seems to classify “Eastern Religions” here as neo-paganism but to be charitable I imagine he is more thinking of Americans who approach them as a buffet line of funsies treats rather than people committed to a sangha or an ashram (even if those people live in America).

      He is probably not very familiar with these faiths in detail and I imagine he has had no real cause to be. He might find the study interesting, but he’s got his congregation and other pursuits to tend.

      1. SF,

        “Longnecker seems to classify “Eastern Religions” here as neo-paganism”

        Did you read the post? He says nothing even remotely like that. The only mention of “eastern religions” is this, which directly contradicts your statement.

        “What is new is the emergence of a global, intentional manifestation. Up until now the neo-paganism has been muddling around and manifesting as the New Age Movement. This has been a mish-mash of kooky occult stuff, sentimental fortune-telling, self-help, Eastern religions, therapy, and other goofy religious practices all tossed together with a hefty dose of the ecology movement and some low-level political movements.”

      2. Larry: I did, yes; I do not think we disagree, although my speculation at the end may have made it sound as such. For that I apologize.

        Probably a better way to render my thought would be, “Longnecker is not considering Eastern religions at all, except in brief passing, in relation to Western New Age syncretism.” The rest is commentary… posting from the hip, so to speak.

      3. SF,

        “Longnecker is not considering Eastern religions at all, except in brief passing, in relation to Western New Age syncretism.”

        I agree with that. He’s looking at Western culture, and discussing paganism in its context. That’s how I write about America (as indicated in the masthead). It is almost impossible to adopt a neutral global or “homo sapien” perspective, and attempts to do so are (in my experience) either clunky (too many qualifiers, too many guesses) or bogus (beyond the author’s expertise and experience). Or both.

        Also, from reading his other work, I doubt he would call Eastern religions “pagan”.

  6. The Man Who Laughs

    “The pagan not only does what he wills, but his religion is an attempt to get the gods to do what he wills. All the mumbo jumbo, magic and all the sacrifices and chicanery are all an attempt to somehow or other get the gods to do what you want. What do you want? You want the five “Ps”- Peace, Protection, Prosperity, Pleasure and Power. You want good crops, fair weather and healthy animals in your flock. You also want protection from your enemy and from all harm. If that includes cursing and putting a hex on your enemy that’s ok. That’s part of the deal. You want good luck. You want good sex. You want most of all—Power.”

    Many years ago I read a book called Why Nothing Works: The Anthropology Of Daily Life by Marvin Harris (1987). He had a chapter called Why The Cults Are Coming in which he saw the rise of cults (Including evangelical Christianity, which was a coming thing back then) as an attempt by Americans to solve their material problems by supernatural means in a society with worsening material prospects. Harris passed away in 2001, but I suspect he would have strongly agreed with what Longenecker is saying here. Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. But in the end, evangelical Christianity didn’t deliver all that much. For all for the political influence once ascribed to it, it couldn’t even deliver victory on a single issue in the political/cultural wars with the Left, which it lost decisively.

    Paganism was eventually displaced in the ancient world because the Christians had a superior product, and paganism couldn’t paper over the fact that everything in Antiquity was collapsing all around its adherents. Christianity eventually delivered military victory to Constantine (Or so Constantine decided). Paganism is an agreeable belief to modern college educated Westerners. How much it can actually deliver remains to be seen, especially since those same college educated Westerners aren’t all that good at making things work.

    Christianity collapsed in part because it became associated with failure, specifically World War One when Christian nations made catastrophic war on one another. (Peter Hitchens recently wrote in a column that the word “Christendom” fell out of use after World War One). I think Longenecker is right, but I also think paganism will prove to be transitional, and will be again displaced by a religion that appears to “work” and is associated with success in making things work. What that will be I have no clue.

    1. The Man,

      Thank you for the book cites, and (as usual) an interesting comment!

      “I also think paganism will prove to be transitional”

      This is often said, and I never understand it. What is the utility in that statement? Everything that lives, dies. Everything is transitional. The religions of the ancient world, called “paganism” by Christians, lasted for millennia. Christianity lasted for millennia. If neo-paganism rises and dominates the West for millennia, that it is transitional won’t be considered meaningful.

      If you mean that neo-paganism will rise but rule only briefly – why? In what sense won’t it work as well as “paganism” and Christianity (or, more broadly, the religions of the books) worked in their time?

      1. The Man Who Laughs

        “This is often said, and I never understand it. What is the utility in that statement? Everything that lives, dies. Everything is transitional. The religions of the ancient world, called “paganism” by Christians, lasted for millennia. Christianity lasted for millennia. If neo-paganism rises and dominates the West for millennia, that it is transitional won’t be considered meaningful.”

        All true, so maybe I put this the wrong way.

        The pagan societies of old did great things in art, science, literature, and philosophy. They could be great soldiers and mighty warriors.. They built empires. (And discovered democracy) Now, I know some neopagans personally. And some of them are smart people, but honestly, I don’t see most of them as people likely to do great things. (Although John Michael Greer, whom I do not know personally, predicted that Trump would be our next President, and he called it months before it happened.) Paganism was a religion of successful societies and successful people. It saw Greece and Rome through some hard times and was only displaced when Rome was in its death agonies.

        And the pagans of old were prepared to face fearful odds for the ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods. Paganism was religion of warriors, and we’re still going to need those, although I would cheerfully get shut of our current crop of wars. I don’t see neopagan chaplains in the Army, and don’t expect to any time soon.

        I think that whatever fills the void of the West’s hollowed out soul will have to see it through hard times coming. It will have to be Gandalf to a lot of Frodos who wish they had not lived to see such times, and tell them that sorry, Mr Baggins, but we have to get on with the program, and Mount Doom is thataway. For now, neopaganism is what we’ve got for the educated Hobbits of the West, but it has yet to be tested under fire, so to speak. I’m doubtful of its long term prospects because, well, I’m doubtful of ours. When we’re up to our eyeballs in the nasty and the awful, we’ll see how it holds up,

      2. The Man,

        “I don’t see most of them as people likely to do great things.”

        That’s not how societies do great things. I doubt if you would be impressed with the average olive farmer in classical Athens. Societies do great things by their ability to take collective action – harnessing their resources, working together (shared goals, strong followers and leaders), focus on results.

        “And the pagans of old were prepared to face fearful odds for the ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods.”

        Not so. The strength of the paganism of the ancient world was its inclusiveness and low energy level. They fought very few religious wars, and seldom fought for their gods. That was the gig of Israel in the ancient world – as in its doomed rebellions against Rome. They were considered fascinating people. Josephus, survivor of the First Jewish-Roman War (66-70), because a celebrity in Rome with his stories about his weird people. Christianity took this trait, multiplied it 100x, and took Europe.

        “will have to see it through hard times coming.”

        I am always amazed at people who see the certainty of hard times coming. How many successful predictions of such large-scale events have you made?

    2. Evangelical Christianity is not a cult actually. That description even when compared to the chief characteristics of destructive cults doesn’t fit.

      The Author thinks as if Roman Catholicism is the original faith. But that’s a wronghead conception despite the claim of RC as such.

  7. “The pagan not only does what he wills, but his religion is an attempt to get the gods to do what he wills.” – says the guy whose church claims to know what god wills and to use these claims of knowledge of “the Truth” to try to control people and to promote a patriarchal order.

    Humanity has always made God in its image. The approach used by agnostics, Buddhists and Socrates of having a clear handle on we don’t know is the best way to avoid running afoul of “the Truth.” Those who claim to know better than the rest of us whether God exists and what “His” will might be are those most likely to delude themselves into using God for their own ends. This article is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    1. Margaret,

      “Humanity has always made God in its image.”

      What does that have to do with the quote you give, or anything in this post?

      “The approach used by agnostics, Buddhists and Socrates of having a clear handle on we don’t know is the best way to avoid running afoul of “the Truth.””

      Well, the California Commission on Self-Confidence can declare its work a success. Four thousand years of philosophy has been solved, and we have a winner. I hope you publish your news.

      “Those who claim to know better than the rest of us whether God exists and what “His” will might be are those most likely to delude themselves …”

      I was thinking much the same when reading your comment. Also, got to love how you have tossed out all the world’s revealed religions. Can’t fault your self-confidence. Do you have other eternal truths to lay out for humanity?

      “This article is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.”

      Can you make a bit more rational rebuttal to the post? That is, state what he says and explain your objections to it. While we rejoice at your solutions to the problems of both religion and philosophy, some details about the post would be nice.

      1. It is bizarre that you see intellectual arrogance in what is a clearly stated philosophy of intellectual humility – literally “I do not know.” And in contrast, you don’t view claims to know the will of God as arrogant. You’re in topsy-turvy land, Larry!

        You sarcastically ask me if I have any other eternal truths to lay out for humanity. Did you not read my comment? I DO NOT KNOW. But you’re right, I’m the arrogant one.

        By the way, blog comment threads are by their very nature fora in which average people can express their opinions. Do you think having a belief or opinion in itself arrogant or do you only view it as arrogant when I have an opinion? While revealed religion has a long and venerable history, so do skepticism, doubt, and agnosticism. Why does revealed religion somehow deserve more deference, and does that deference apply to all revealed religions?

        You take issue with my comment that “Humanity has always made God in its image.” You ask what that has to do with the original post. My comment in fact explains the connection. But let me elucidate again.. The author of the piece accuses pagans of trying to get the gods to do what they will; yet the author is a priest of the Catholic church which itself is a human institution using an evidence-free claim to know the will of God to accomplish the will of human beings.

      2. Margaret,

        ” literally “I do not know.” ”

        I suggest you re-read what you wrote. That’s easy, since I gave replies to your exact words. There was no uncertainty in your pronouncements. They read like statements from the Pope about heretics.

        ” I DO NOT KNOW. ”

        Statements that others are wrong show your belief that you do know something: that they are wrong. Statements of uncertainty – not knowing – are agnostic, unable to give verdicts on the beliefs of others.

      3. Yeah, I do have an opinion that the Catholic does not have a basis for its beliefs. Sue me. Do I know for sure that God doesn’t exist and that there is no divine mandate for patriarchy? I don’t know and since I have no way of knowing, I don’t care. Again, I don’t see how that is any more arrogant than claiming to know the will of God AND to impose it on other people. I am just a random person on a blog. I didn’t create an extremely powerful institution that has (among other things) spent hundreds of years telling half the human race to subordinate itself to the other half. But yes, again, I’m the arrogant!

  8. This is one of the most outstanding offerings I have seen here, and stuff like this is why I keep coming back. The only thing Rev. Longenecker did not address (and that perhaps his essay was written earlier) was the recent controversy over pagan idols displayed at the Vatican and the energetic response of devout Catholics. I am not Catholic, but if I were I would want Pope Francis “impeached” (if that’s what they do) for such sacrilege.

    But the larger issue, and one which I had identified over 30 years ago (and I remember reading an article about it in the NY Times as far back as 1986), is that there are really only two possible ways in which society can be organized. The first is, as Rev. Longenecker identifies, “do what thou wilt”, in which there are absolutely no restraints on individual behavior. Such a “society” is limited only by the natural laws of physics and biology, insofar as one must stay warm and dry, eat, defecate, and have one’s sexual needs fulfilled (and under those conditions by any means necessary). The other form is governed by the principle of The Golden Rule: we refrain from stealing, killing, raping, etc. because we wouldn’t want those things done to us. The basis for such conscience is formalized in ALL religions, even including Islam. Unfortunately, we are headed in the wrong direction.

    1. A bee ee,

      “Unfortunately, we are headed in the wrong direction.”

      I understand why you say that. Because that’s what we’re told is happening. I’m a skeptic, and believe we are building an authoritarian society. The regulation of behavior will be beyond anything seen before. That includes the regulation of relations between men and women. See my posts about the regulation of sex. Allan Bloom saw this coming and described it in his great 1987 book, Closing of the American Mind.

      “Male sexual passion has become sinful again because it culminates in sexism. Women are made into objects, they are raped by their husbands as well as by strangers, they are sexually harassed by professors and employers at school and at work, and their children, whom they leave in day-care centers in order to pursue their careers, are sexually abused by teachers. All these crimes must be legislated against and punished. What sensitive male can avoid realizing how dangerous his sexual passion is? Is there perhaps really original sin? Men had failed to read the fine print in the Emancipation Proclamation.

      “The new interference with sexual desire is more comprehensive, more intense, more difficult to escape than the older conventions, the grip of which was so recently relaxed. The July 14 of the sexual revolution was really only a day between the overthrow of the Ancien Regime and the onset of the Terror. The new reign of virtue is accompanied by relentless propaganda on radio and television and in the press …with inquisitional tribunals.”

  9. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, if Allan Bloom identified this as a problem back in 1987, then we have been suffering the consequences for over forty years. I was keenly aware of regulation of male sexual desire myself back then as a single late-30s man myself. I didn’t get married until my mid 40s, and we were able to produce only one very learning disabled child (who is still the greatest blessing in my life).

    There was once a time when a young guy would approach a girl with great trepidation, but if he was rebuffed, he could simply shrug (or if he were affected with oneitis, take it a lot harder), but that would be it and sooner or later he would move on. Today if he’s not a top 1% alpha, he runs a significant risk of getting expelled from school (if she’s a fellow student–or maybe even a townie!), losing his job if she works in the same place, or much worse. That is a risk many are unwilling to take, and sooner or later some of those who gamble and lose are going to exact violent retribution. We have so far seen this in the pernicious actions of the likes of Elliot Rodger, Adam Lanza, and George Sodini, but these have been against random innocent individuals. When we start seeing a Paul Nunngessner doing the same to his Emma Sulkowicz, then perhaps society will take notice.

    1. 370H55V,

      Bloom saw early on that we had taken a turn on the path. It has become obvious to more (not most, I suspect) of us as we have traveled down that path for 32 years. It’s a new world, despite those that cry “nothing important has changed.” So it ever is.

      A friend in Europe told me about a young woman engaged to a very rich man. But she had her “career” as her first focus. Then he dumped her, feeling neglected. This is the exact plot of “The Prince and Me” – but with a more realistic ending (I wrote about this here).

      Young women are living the scripts their parents’ generation gave them, just as most children have done across history. I plan to write about this – the giant (perhaps biggest ever) social engineering project in history, changing gender relations. I’ll look at the supporting propaganda produced by Hollywood.

  10. Paganism or neo Paganism could go either way, leftie new age Mother earth or Fascist revision of Paganism and Patriotism.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Faith_Movement

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

    My father worked with a German guy in Britain after the war, he was taken prisoner in 1943 and sent to Kent, UK, after he was released stayed in the UK. My Father an ex RAF pilot and this guy became quite good friends, he told my Father that in the Hilter Youth they were taught to pray to a God of War ( don’t recall the God) before battles, and they built a tower of wood they burnt to the war Gods at the end of the Hitler Youth summer camps.

    1. Just a guy,

      We can’t say “it’s impossible” very often in ClownWorld. In the US conservatism is pretty tight with Christianity. But who knows what might happen?

      A good comment, helping us break free of our pre-conceptions.

  11. Agreed with your endorsement of Bloom, its a very interesting and prescient book. There is also a book of essays in response to it which is worth reading. Mostly critical and often quite wrong but worth reading : “Essays on the Closing of the American Mind.

    But Nietzsche? Incoherent pseudo poetic rants. At a level with or below ‘the Prophet’. When you find archaisms, poeticisms, rhetorical questions, vague generalities and the inflated self important style, always ask why the author needed to resort to that. Why is he not just saying clearly and succinctly what he means?

    There are usually two reasons, one being what he means is a mixture of the banal and the obviously false, the other that he has only a vague idea what he means, is refusing to figure it out, but desperately wants to be taken seriously as a prophet, and that last trumps everything.

    One of the defects of Bloom’s book is that he seems to be taking Nietzsche seriously as a philosopher.

    1. Henrik,

      “But Nietzsche? Incoherent pseudo poetic rants.”

      God has spoken. Much of philosophy and social sciences have adopted elements of his philosophy. One of the greatest philosophers of the 20thC – Heidegger – adopted much of Nietzsche’s perspective. In a different sense, Freud also did so. The took the two sides of N’s work and ran with it.

      Heidegger’s membership in the Nazi Party points to a significant political movement heavily influenced by Nietzsche’s work (in ways that probably would have horrified him).

      I doubt the history books about our era will agree with you.

  12. America has had many waves of “new” religious ideas gaining small groups on devotees, followed by new Christian sects that absorb some of the ideas, and/or react to them:

    -Spiritualism the 1800s, Pentecostalism arising in the early 1900s

    –the LDS church arising in the 1800s amongst all sorts of experiments with social order and religion

    –experimentation with fragments of eastern religion and psychedelic drugs led to the “Jesus People,” the Vineyard Fellowship, and eventually, Praise and Worship megachurches.

    New ideas incubate outside Christianity, but they always seem to need to be branded “Christian” to take hold in the mainstream.

    The reaction to a Christianity preoccupied with “domesticating” men is going to be interesting.

    Islam?

    1. I’ve actually been kind of surprised that there doesn’t seem to be a strand of conservative thinker who advocates conversion to Islam on a pragmatic basis of “they seem more robust/energetic and decidedly patriarchal than the traditional churches.” A fair number seem to see religion in purely operational terms, so surely Islam would be just as good as Christianity. (Of course if you are convinced of the truth of the Christian religion you would not make this argument.)

  13. The Man Who Laughs

    “That’s not how societies do great things. I doubt if you would be impressed with the average olive farmer in classical Athens. Societies do great things by their ability to take collective action – harnessing their resources, working together (shared goals, strong followers and leaders), focus on results.”

    I don’t see the neopagans I’ve personally known as being able to take effective action either individually or collectively. I haven’t known every neopagan there is, so the ones I knew may have been exceptions and not the rule. I see neopaganism as a something for a white college educated woman at the yoga studio, and not really as a religion of men, certainly not the kind of men who farm olives or stand in the front rank of a phalanx. If that ever changes, then neopaganism has a longer term future than I give it credit for now. We’ll see what we see. As for hard times comin… Neopaganism will be tested under the fire of real world events, and I fear Americans will end up as as lab rats for the Left, which is likely to make for some fairly hard times for most of us. (Not necessarily for the Leftists in charge.) Venezuela and Zimbabwe are not very nice places, and I think they are closer to our actual future than say, the first two or three American Republics. That’s my prediction, and we’ll see how it pans out.

    Anyway, good post.

  14. I would not be surprised if even orthodox catholic dogma on Mary would be the doctrine of the Mother Goddess par exellence.

    A queen of heaven like the queen of heaven the prophet jeremiah decried. Her ever-virginity a proof of her absolute purity and deity.

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