Pagans are very religious, so the very act of religion should frighten (if not dismay) us. The more certain a fellow is of his religion the less likely he is to be faith-filled.
I lost a church member one time because I questioned some of the famous religious "names" of that day. My church member, who idolized some of the fellows I questioned, told me, "I just like to get some people I can believe in and put all my trust in them."
I replied, "I felt like that too, when I was about nine years old. Now, I insist on the right to think for myself."
Believe me, that is no way to build a cult.
Paganism is religious. Paganism is honest religion, until it is not, and one never knows when paganism will infiltrate the culture, adapt part of the culture into its cult and claim religious privileges and rights to protect itself from scrutiny. Then, religion becomes the enemy of the cult and the culture. The religious expect to be forgiven our great sins because of what ever collateral good we might do but someone still ought to get a look at the books.
The favored religion in your culture (here, Christianity; there, Islam; there, Jim Jones; here, Pat Robertson; I can keep going until I offend your prophet) runs the risk of Ultimate Opportunism, which is, I think, the last goal of the Pagan. In Ultimate Opportunism, the Pagan Leader of the Cult stokes any angry feelings he/she may find in the masses, while all the time taking very good care of him/her and his/hers.
The Pagan Leader of the Cult is not looking for ignorance. Some of the most educated people in the world follow the oddest Pagan leaders. The Pagan Leader of the Cult looks for anger. He stokes that fire whenever he finds it.
Do you want to know if you are following a Pagan? Check out the anger level of his/her following.
Yes, there is a place for anger, in the form of righteous indignation. I still insist anger is a bad default setting.
Anger is usually embedded, like post-modern war time reporters, in the ranks of the cliche.
Enter the Meditative Reflective, the Contemplative. Please stop telling me the MR will not work because contemplation will get you eaten up in the shark tank. I am not talking about navel gazing. I am talking about the person who takes care of his soul, rather than the bottom line.
The Pagan Rulers of 4 C.E. were not in Rome or Jesus would have gone there. He never got near the place. The Pagan Rulers of 4 C.E. must have been in Jerusalem, or Jesus was wasting His blood. He directly addressed the Pagan Rulers of the cult, who murdered Him for commercial reasons. In the work-a-day world where He did His work, He never lost sight of His inner mission. The blood-stained wretch can accomplish the mission, if he is true to his calling. The Pagan Leader of the Cult becomes so similar to his opponent one can hardly tell a difference.
The MR must enter to highlight the contrast, or what's a religion for?
So, what does the MR do?
He questions himself. He holds a mirror up to himself to see if he is busily condemning in others what he allows in himself.
She listens to herself when she speaks; slow to speak, she is, because she knows she is responsible for each word.
He looks to see what his followers turn out to be. If, after five years of following him, they are less close to the Source than before, he more carefully inspects his soul.
At some point, he steps away from the whole thing, before he becomes a caricature of his passion. He distills the raw material of his soul to a more noble essence.
If he ceases to practice his religion, he announces his apostasy to his cult and to his culture, rather than use his past religious record for cover.
She pursues the Word of God but knows she is not the word of God, nor the Word of God.
He realizes his actions matter; matter now, matter later. Death imposes urgency on him for nature is in constant flux since the Advent of Sin. He acts out of a sense of urgent need for he thinks the greater bulk of good he does will be done in this lifetime, regardless of what legacy he might leave.
She seeks to do the will of God without coming to act as though she is God.
TOMORROW OR MONDAY, OR WHENEVER I WORK UP THE ENERGY-THE PERILS OF THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE STYLE, TO WIT:
A SLOGAN IS A BATTLE CRY, NOT A JINGLE
SELF-FLAGELLATION IS NOT CONTEMPLATION
CONTEMPLATION IS AN END TO ITSELF, NOT JUST A SOURCE OF ACTIVITY
Opinions expressed here are my own, not those of the church I serve or any other person.