The Pagan and the Prophet

    In the aftermath of the State of the Union, we are left to apply a bit of discernment on the Pagan aspects of our leadership and on the Prophetic aspects of that same leadership. These concerns apply in all other arenas; business, education and religion. In fact, the corporate (commercial, regulated, image conscious) human undertakings are either Pagan or Prophetic intrinsically. 

   Let us first define terms. Paganism, for this discussion, is active spiritually, affecting the philosophical underpinnings of a culture and so altering the way persons in that culture interact, within and without the confines of their peer group.

   Paganism is active spirituality, touching mind and emotions, but extremely effective in the viscera. Paganism works because it touches the stomach. Paganism does not require (nor will it stand) intense intellectual inspection as a value system. Since paganism cannot bear up under scrutiny, its perpetuation requires some kind of legislative-coercive power. 

    Prophetic functions, again, for this argument, have to do with Meditative Religion. I choose Christianity, with its self-sacrificing, human-elevating God-Man, as the Meditative Religion of the Prophet. Prophetic Christianity took a long time to even begin removing the Pagan practices its early converts brought into the Household of Faith. Prophetic Christianity often skids wildly back to its Pagan antecedents, in each case seeking some fiatic authority to coerce converts and hold its spot in the culture. Meditative Religion is actually more dependent (truly and as truth givers) on persuasion to incite cooperation/consensual communal activity. The Prophetic Christian is the Reformer, the up-lifter and powerful pagan forces array against such a one.

   Abraham Lincoln, from a baptist Christian family In Pigeon Creek, Kentucky, never joined a church, though he prayed, read his Bible (not as much as he read Shakespeare) and attended worship regularly. Lincoln was obviously a Reformer, an up-lifter, a Prophetic, Mediative Religionist. Lincoln's greatness contrasts sharply with another effective American Reformer, Richard Nixon. The difference between the two great Reformers was the tragedy of their personal responses to opposition. When Lincoln, the Meditative Religionist, was attacked, he only grew sad. When Nixon was opposed, he responded in great anger, far out of proportion to the slightest offense. Lincoln responded as the Prophet. Mr. Nixon, sadly, responded as the Pagan.

   For ancient times, the intrusion of Christianity into the Pagan world was considered atheistic, because Christians insisted on one God, rather than the panoply of regional sub-gods. This was a Revolutionary Interruption, bent of Reform. Meditative Christians, like most Meditative Religionists, are as uncomfortable with Revolution as they are effective at it. Pagan religionists of old saw themselves as social conservatives serving as a cultural Red Guard against the onrushing New Faith. 

   In short, the Pagans argued for the "Old Time Religion." If it was good enough for Tacitus, it's good enough for me.

   And thee.

   Paganism emphasizes, correctly, the danger of uncontrolled emotions, so confining emotional outbursts to specific times and places, i.e., in the Temple or at the Idol, in adoration of the Cult-Object.. Paganism, as Social Conservatism advances the limited knowledge of one person or group, insists that one accept the social position into which one is born and spiritually threatens those who do not accept their assigned limitations.

   Uh, yes, Christianity, Meditative and Otherwise, has the hardest time letting go of its Pagan leanings.

   We do spend a lot of time asking the world to hold still so we can catch our breath. The world keeps saying, "Catch me if you can."

   We mostly cannot.

   Our greatest sin is asking the world to go back a little way with us to the place in time and space where we were once powerful, and, so, comfortable. Our sin is Pagan. We do not ask our fellows to go back far enough. 

   We are Pagans; social conservatives fighting hard to keep things the way they never were in fact. We would be better served to ask people to go back with us, meditatively, to the Edenic Society. In Eden, there are no gender issues; just man and woman in companionship. In Eden, there is no interruption between God and Man, or between Man and Creation (if one takes the Serpent and the Garden as Creative acts of God). In Eden, death is temporary and life is durable.

   The Hebrew word Jesus would have learned for "repentance" was the word "Teshuva," with my immense apologies to the Masoretic Redactors in the audience. The word means "to return." Repentance is not a course change in direction. It is an actual search for return to the Source, the One, True, Living God. Pagans have little problem with a naked man and woman safely constrained in an apocryphal Garden somewhere. Pagans do have a hard time tolerating the tale of the same man and woman as God's Ideal, suggesting there must be an Ideal God, with purposeful intent.

   This is the course of Meditative Religion. In Meditative Religion, the Lion lies down the Lamb and neither rises up as dinner or dined. For the Meditative Religionist human progress is set in human unity. To return to our Source requires we dismantle the consciousness that argued for the Tower of Babel, and we all return to the Source together.

   Or, at least, as many as the Prophetic Reformer can influence to go.

   To do less, or other, would be the act of a Pagan.

Opinions expressed here are mine, not those of the church I serve or any other person.

7 thoughts on “The Pagan and the Prophet”

  1. And what would happen if we went ALL the way back to Genesis 1 where we read that humans — male and female — are created in the very image of God, who names himself Love? What if we started our theology THERE instead of in Genesis 3 with the fall? What if we really knew that we were created in the image of God and lived out of that center? and what if every time we looked into the eyes of another human being, we acknowledged that that person, too, is made in the very image of God? Would it change the way we treat each other? I wonder.

  2. I appreciate your definition of paganism as reflexive rather than contemplative…a feeling I have had for some time but had never quite been able to put into words.
    Thank you again.
    The other thought that challenges me here a bit concerns repentence. I had wondered about but never uncovered the Hebrew term. On the other hand a former pastor (pre Doctor) D L Lowrie helped me understand something about the Greco/Latin meaning, which seemed to be rather than retreat, a degreed correction in direction for the purpose of encountering the enemy with the greatest advantage. Do you have a Strong’s number for ‘teshuva’? Some of the close spellings and phonetically similar words I can find seem to imply changing focus or looking away or crying for help.
    Excellent posts of late! I thank God continually for every remembrance of you! (Phil 3 & Phil 1:3)

  3. Now Rick, do you have to go upsetting apple carts when the SBC has spent so much time trying to get us back to Gen 3, especially with regard to the ‘place’ of women?
    Seriously, this is good stuff. I am so tired of our fellow ministers buying into the jingoistic sermonizing of talk radio. It is getting hard for me to go to any ministers’ fellowships, because I know the menu will include a large serving of roasted Obama. I guess these ministers have decided to write off people in their congregations and communities who might be looking in non-conservative (non-tea party) directions for hope. After all, if we trumpet our politics loudly, we can’t expect people to sift through all of that to find the Gospel.

  4. Jay one thing is sure, for the most part we have a church these days that is so worried about being theologically and politically correct we could actually find it possible to nail God’s son to a cross…oh wait we did that already.
    We have become what we were put on the path of, a couple of generations ago, and it will take a real effort to break free from that mold, if we even want to.

  5. Yeah, I really don’t like that 3rd verse of chapter one where God sees that the light is good and so implies that darkness is bad and separates the darkness off by itself, alone, away from the light…….

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