I started last week a series of posts on the difference between the Pagan and the Meditatively Reflective(Christian is my preference) person. Paganism is misinterpreted, since it is a historical loser, and history is always written by the winners. Detached intellectuals can sometimes be relied upon to excise the truth from the winner's hands, thence to "revise" the accepted imaging but this is only after layers of untruth are sliced up and carted off.
My friend David Montoya (a better thinker than he gives himself credit for or is credited for by others) will take me to task here, as he will undoubtedly once again point out that history favors religion and most particularly favors monotheistic religion. He is right, but the triumph of religion, like its defeats, is as tied to commerce, secular politics and military power as it is to history's record.
So, paganism, which is always historically a matter of social conservatism (if one reads conservative as reactionary, to be specific), is sadly locked in tandem with other deprecatory terms, like "infidel." Pagans first built idols, altars and temples in order to circumscribe the powerful forces they could describe, but not explain. Christians do the same thing with doctrine (more precisely, with dogma), locking God in a narrow circular structure, but one that does not allow much rotation within the arc of the circle, no change of orbit or strange attractors, just a rigid, fixed theism, mostly pandering to local prejudices, and as devoid of kindness and grace as the Southern Pole is lacking in warm breezes.
The Pagan finally wishes to hold the world in place. He seeks to hold persons in their birth station. He incentivizes mediocrity, if, by accident of birth (at times annotated historically as "the divine right of kings") a fellow is a peasant, he is to remain a peasant, know his place and simply work to be the best peasant be can be. If, however, he is to the manor born, well, good for him, and the rules apply to him differently, if at all.
Paganism breeds revolt, usually at the point where education reaches a critical mass and the fellow at the wrong end of the spear suddenly questions how he got there and why, if it is necessary at all, he must remain there.
So, I listened to the State of the Union Speech and its aftermath last week, wanting to hear what we would do that was pagan and what we would risk that was (is) Meditatively Reflective.
The Meditatively Reflective (Christian) fellow is not a Navel Gazer. He is that fellow who wishes to risk in order to rise. He is aware his rising cannot be separate from the rise of others. If his brother is not as free as his brother dares to be, he knows, he cannot consider himself free or prosperous.
The MR portions of the SOU speech were many in theory. The responses to the SOU speech were less MR but only slightly more pagan (socially reactionary). The MR portions of the SOU speech included some key points (health care and campaign finance reform) and other, less vital MR points, like the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" option for military service.
There is not much more important than having affordable access to medical attention when one is ill. To deny medical attention to the poor, the young, or the poor, freezes the sick or injured into a permanent underclass, which is a pagan reflex. To open the sluices so wealthy entities can influence political campaigns is the potential end of representative democracy, giving the rich another hole card to play and empowering a permanent upper class. These are important agenda items and the persons who can afford more "free speech" seem better positioned to maintain their place.
Of lesser importance, but more incendiary attention getting, is the end of "don't ask, don't tell." Social conservatives fear this is another slide down the slippery slope away from traditional values. This, undoubtedly, it is and social conservatives (like me) will be forced to present and defend our values on a more level playing field in the future. Left unanswered is how to prevent others from serving in the military, with all its risks and resultant benefits. The greater immediate question may not be if we can afford to have homosexuals in the military but whether or not we can allow persons whose religion takes precedence over their oath of service. If not, where do we build the wall? And then, who mans the wall we build?
Finally, while we can applaud our president's call for civility in political debate over the kind of immediate rejection offered in the form of debate recently, this is not just a matter of making nice. Thoughtful, serious persons will have to decide what is pagan and what is meditatively reflective; there is good to holding some things in place and there is good to lifting up others when and where we can. We will break a few eggs in the preparation of this omelet but there is no other option if we want to eat right.