Wait, wait let's go back and read that headline again. Does it really say; "Pagan Pride Day"? Reading the article, surely enough down at Young Park the event will be an all day "celebration of paganism" this Saturday!
I think it was C.S. Lewis writing somewhere amid his essays to the effect; "Paganism cannot ever make a true revival". Now, not being quite certain that he did indeed so say, I would yet like in this C.P.E. to wax eloquent upon what I deem to have been his intention.
In Mike-speak then; Once upon a time, in the vast forests of central Europe, dwelt clans, tribes and families of "barbarians". Their world was a dangerous one, clearly inhabited by spirits. Spirits of the dead, mingled with nymphs, ogres, trolls and such, were held at bay by the local expert, a shaman or sorcerer or a healer of some kind. The norm was that by ritual, or omen, or elixir; with due caution (plus some helpful magic and circumspection), life was made manageable. Really, it was just common sense to deal with the spooky threats of this sort by employing professional expertise!
The later (and alien to those forests), concept of a single "super-God", who by His power, made and sustained all, and then arrived upon earth as a man (?), would have appeared to those pagans as not only incomphrehensible nonsense, but blasphemous! The Christian faith as it swept Europe, drove off (mainly at least) the gods, ogres, and phantoms which had made life previously so risky. And so, for those lands to revert to pre-Christian status, so to "revive paganism", can't actually happen, we know too much for that.
It might be a bit like when you were very young. If perhaps you believed that airplanes went aloft via magic, that might be fine for a three year old mind. But the later information about airfoils, lift, drag and whatnot; have permanently altered your view of flight. You, at this stage, cannot return to the young view of magic. Well, you can, but not in good faith.
I think it was along these lines that Lewis wrote, and we can appreciate his tidyness and brevity of expression, compared to mine. But I am fairly certain that the newspaper in the 1950's never posted in England a "pride day" of this sort. So, we are in a different position than he. I decided to investigate. After all; the event was free to get in!
By my one day exposure to the phenomenon, the "revival" of paganism reminds me of our public image of pirates and Vikings. Have you noted in movies or in literature how adorable, witty and cute these people are portrayed to have been? They appear to be a very musical folk and are quite the dancers too? Pirates and Vikings are a bit like the pagans I met.
Flash forward in time a few centuries, do we look forward to handsome clever depictions of our modern day Crips and Bloods? Will there be musicals featuring Muslim suicide bombers dancing their way toward destiny?
The brutal and psychotic, the murderous and treacherous, the vile and repugnant nature of these ancient gangsters is forgotten, and their image rebuilt. So too, the pagans.
The dread of crossing paths with the dead, or an evil spiriit, the appeasing of the gods with blood, the servile obediance to the shaman, all this is forgotten. It is all sunshine and daisies we view in the mod pagan. If ancient pirates are akin to thug drug lords of today, then ancient pagans are like our diagnosed paranoid schizophrenics. Every avenue must be guarded, "they" are out to get me! On one hand, the rape, murder and pillaging of old are forgotten, and likewise the short lives always lived in fear that "the powers" might be angry conveniently disappears!
By my sampling then, the revived modern pagan is an almighty eclectic chap. Dipping in here, taking a snippet there, adding a dab atop from about four or five ancient cultures as fancy dictates, they imagine the cleaned-up, fun, and sassy thing they sell is the real deal.
Now I did say "chap"? Actually, the majority of the pagans I encounterd were young women. All of that magnet-for-girls stuff was clearly in evidence. Face it, most modern marketing is directed toward a feminine customer base, and this same selling technique was quite evident at pride day.
Are you in need of jewelry, incense, wall hangings or perhaps herbal formulas? I know just the place for you to shop. Powders, potions and cremes are all linked (at least, in the mind) back to a "goddess" type of theology, and inevitably to witchcraft. But, the main thing to note is that all of these products and services are not designed to ward-off, or to protect from rogue spirits. They are intended to draw . . . humans! It is mainly about gaining power over other people via these earthly tinctures, these incantations and crystals. So, when these gals are talking; and mention the word "spiritual" they have a soul thing in mind, and ordinarily to cause mine to shine brighter than yours; for a price. So to "draw".
Thus, there is a cut and paste effort. The Egyptian, Norse and Celtic, are woven loosely in with the ancient Native American as an amalgamated world. The Druids of old show up disguised as modern Wicca, and this hodge-podge is all bundled up as a "new and fresh" marketing angle.
The other main item I noted from the event was "the invisible 100 pound rule book". I engaged in conversation with three or four gals at seperate booths during the afternoon. As each made their pitch for what they sold, there was a surprisingly uniform rationale as to "why" this revival was so very important, timely and necessary. Each woman had apparently read the rule book, for they all sounded much similar in their reasoning.
Don't you see? We are all about simplicity and getting back to nature! We cast off the hypocrisy and bigoted mean-ness of the past. And although not one of them mentioned the church, we need not be psychic to gather which "institutions of the past" ought be overthrown. We are all about freedom and expressing our unique individuality (in remarkably uniform ways). I think the 100 pound rulebook in reality, only contains one rule. It reads something like; "Be yourself", or perhaps "Get free of the past". They didn't show me their copies, but there must be one humongously long footnote to the rule!
If in similar fashion, we read the U.S. tax code as; "Render tax to whom tax is due", then the remaining 70,000 pages of the code would be a comparable footnote.
Likewise then of neo-paganism, I heard mention (at length!) of the fabulously complex nature of their footnote to the simple rule of "Be free". The add-ons, the qualifications and provisos, the delimitations, exceptions and clarifications the ladies recited were astounding.
My final assessment, after thinking it over for a few days, is that these folks are too cute, by half. The suggestive and sexy, the "strong girl" theme is apparently oblivious to what ancient idol worship was. The saleswomen were very clear on distancing themselves from any ancient religion. Zero mention of those monstrous demands for blood and slavery. There was no notice taken at all of the three legs of all idolatry. And whether old or new, the three are remarkably uniform across the age.
In modern speak, we would say; "Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll", but only if we recall the wealth and power of musicians. The three are the sensual (normally linked to an "ideal" feminine youthful appearance), the money plus power (of "greatness"), entwined with an alcoholic or narcotic (unmediated) link to the realm of spirits. The apostle calls it "The flesh, the world, and the devil", and who am I to disagree? My point is that ancient pagans were in servitude to local gods, which we would name demons. Furthermore, the modus operandi was uniform. Break the lawful marriage bond, be dazzled with gold and power, and link directly to the spirit realm. It was a very bad idea. But the revival of paganism has forgotten this crucial matter.
To build a sexually loose and "free" culture celebrating the ideal feminine, to market with hopes of riches and greatness, and to suggest that herbs or amulets or channeling can get you directly in touch with "powers" has all been tried before. It collapsed under the weight of the truth of Jesus Christ. Those freed from their ancient chains would surely scorn this modern folly to rebuild that prison of ignorance and fear. In brief then, what is revived is the hate associated with the word "primitive"
We used to view those sunk in the old darkness as primitive, but now it is applied to "Bible thumping" you and I! It was into that old pattern our brave Captain stepped.
So come with me to Calvary to view the rage and spite which some would revive. This you would rebuild? Whipped, disfigured, spit-upon is He. Naked, alone and friendless He Be. This travesty of all that is decent and right is precisely how the "enlightened" treated the Mighty Maker when He came to call. See Him, and know yourself, your true self, and despair of your rule keeping and damnable cleverness! He alone is free, and thank God Almighty; He calls for me!
You see? All our lives we tried to straighten up, to make ourselves "presentable". All our efforts are to cover up our smell, and to appear strong. The rendezvous point, the agreed meeting place of the supper, is where we are found. I ask is there anything lower than a cannibal? And just here we are found, we eating His flesh, the Lamb of God! Do you see? The meeting place is at our lowest, our worst; not where we would like, those moments we imagine ourselves to be young, smart and strong. The intersection with Him is our failure, not our mastery!
And this unstoppable love shall roll over, and collapse (once again) all the man made (woman selling) superstitions of the day.
His-story reads: "Messiah wins, bigtime!".