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Our Pagan Souls

pagan souls John donnally smallRead my blog long enough and you will find that I frequently bring up the frustration I feel as a right brained individual being often under the biblical studies thumb of the left brained. I read brilliant analyses of biblical era language issues by people whose final categories of Ancient Near Eastern life and literature defy what I deem common sense. So much understanding is lost of a culture saturated in analogical patterning (the power of similarity) by those whose penchant for disparate categories prevents them from being able to get things together in their minds that biblical writers deemed intimately connected.

In my blog, “I Have No Political Finesse” I disgorge my irritation with those who seek to isolate themselves from association with the greatest acts of human evil ever committed by splitting their mental categories up in such a way as to suggest that their socialist leanings are a completely different animal than the Marxists, fascists and communists of the dark days of the 19th & 20th centuries.

For Christians, it’s even worse to be in the same religious stream with pagans—Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites, Philistines—those whom biblical authors seem to distained on every page. Armed with a categorical mind and a chart we can easily see that we in the modern world have long since escaped the entrapments of those superstitious, fools. They had idols made of wood or stone. They sacrificed animals, and sometimes children, on altars and in temples. What have we to do with them? We are in a completely different category.

So, while left brained categorists sit comfortably in their disassociation, we right brained artist types have trouble sleeping; we see past the externals and lie awake staring into darkness asking, “What really makes a pagan a pagan?” The answer is unsettling. Well, sometimes I stare into the darkness wondering if Reese Peanut Butter Cups really were invented by two snacking strangers bumping into each other, but you get the idea.

The heart of paganism is found in the conviction that ritual acts and ritual words turn the power of the divine to service the will of man….. ummmmm… can anyone say, “Word Faith?”

The pagan, filled with visions of a cosmos on the verge of chaos, caught in the midst of dangerous forces, reaches to rituals to sate primal fears, committing indecent acts to gain a sense of control. Sounds a lot like an anxiety disorder. What would you do to sooth your deepest worry?

The pagans murdered children to secure prosperity, stuffing them into jars to spiritually prop up their homes, burning them alive on altars to gods that promised to reward them with the good life. We? We have a president that says, “God bless you,” to Planned Parenthood for helping to keep our daughters able to pursue their dreams, working so diligently to protect their freedom and ability to murder their children quietly and away from prying eyes. Why the work is so rewarding, I bet they hardly care about the billions they’ve made doing it.

The pagans were so convinced that these indecencies were vital for the good of the collective that they viewed their neighbor’s resistance as betrayal and threat. They passed laws to bring them into the fold, and brought the weight of community strength to bear. After all, their neighbor’s failure to comply endangered their safety, their health, and their hope for prosperity. Dare we whisper Obamacare, lest our new found capacity to eaves drop on every citizen almost every moment of the day, bring our criticisms to the attention of the powers that be. We might become the next Fool of the Day in the media or be added to a list of people to be watched and audited. And let’s hope we don’t consider homosexuality a sin, or carry around a few extra pounds when they plaster us up in the newly renovated public stocks, or the pitch fork wielding gallery will call for our job dismissal and find people to file lawsuits against us.

The pagan did not trust the gods… indeed, according to their myths, they were unworthy of trust. He feared their power, but relished what he could manipulate them into doing for him. Our spreading secularism does not nullify the correlation between us and them, it merely adjusts a few externals. We may look to the state as our new god, may look to scientism as our new religion, and to our many atheist professors as our new priests; we may sit around electric lit cafe’s listening to passing cars as we text, and take dainty sips of our Espresso Grande  praising ourselves as nice people, but we are the pagans of old, recast in denim and buttoned up tops, immoral, self-serving, murderers of our children, sacrificing everything valuable and real to sate our primal fears and gain control of our destinies.

Biblical religion is a religion of faith and obedience, self-sacrifice and love for one’s neighbor in the worship of a God who is worthy of our trust, who loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives, no matter how difficult that plan proves to be.  Anything less, isn’t Christian.

[1] media pic by John Donnelly from a Delhi Temple

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