Paganism as Slur, Paganism as the Other

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 2, 2013 — 47 Comments

On June 30 Phil Kent, an appointee to Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board, concluded a televised roundtable discussion on same-sex marriage by saying that he hoped “the pagans’ and the left’s values do not prevail because that’s not the Judeo-Christian culture that made this country great.” In uttering those words, Kent has joined several prominent figures who have, in recent months, used the term “pagan” as a slur, or as means of labeling an amorphous “other” in seeming opposition to their interpretation of Christian values.

Christian organizer David Lane, who is doing outreach work on behalf of Senator Rand Paul, recently inveighed against a “pagan onslaught” that includes “pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.” Meanwhile, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput says that “many self-described Christians” are “in fact pagan,” spurring other Catholics to try and spin his comments in a way that won’t offend other Christians. Joining the Archbishop, Irish Catholic clergy believe their countrymen “have, to all intents and purposes, become pagan,”  and so on, and so on, and so on it goes.

David Lane

David Lane

“Where are the champions of Christ to save the nation from the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage, homosexual scouts, 60 million babies done to death by abortion and red ink as far as the eye can see on America? Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”David Lane, 2013

For the most part, these people aren’t explicitly talking about us capital-P modern Pagans (except when they are), they’re invoking an idea, a giant egregore that encapsulates all that is “other” than Christianity, or to be more precise, anything that is outside the boundaries of a very narrow and particular kind of Christianity.  It’s a slur of disgust, one that frames the target in complete opposition to all that Christians hold dear. It doesn’t matter if it’s Earth Day celebrations, or same-sex unions. This dualistic ‘Christians versus the “pagan” Other’ paradigm has done more to erode interfaith relations, and the social standing of Christianity in the West, than many of that faith’s real problems or opponents could have ever done.

“Christians have alienated gays and lesbians and their families, friends, and sympathetic allies, driving many away from the love of Jesus Christ and contributing to the secularization of American culture. They have done a great deal to create hostility to the church and closed ears to the Gospel. The saddest cases are the church’s own rejected gay and lesbian adolescents and twentysomethings. They are legion. Christians have contributed to the fear in society that millions of Americans are unable to tell the difference between the church and the state, or between the demands of their faith on themselves vs. the demands of their faith on those who do not share it. This contributes to secularization and weakens respect for legitimate concerns about protecting a zone of religious liberty for religious dissenters.”

The use of the word “pagan” as a slur, as a tool to label enemies, has a corrosive effect, particularly when it comes to those religious groups that claim Pagan (or Heathen) as a descriptor. Would Christian clergy in Florida have reacted so strongly to the reality of a Pagan festival near them, necessitating some quick outreach to prevent a protest, if the term didn’t immediately summon up images of depravity and evil within their minds? This existential dread, sourced in the Christian narrative of battle against false gods and idols, of persecution that turns to triumph, is pushed like a button by ideologues and conspiracy theorists to get their audience engaged, scared, and ready to do what’s necessary to “win.” The actual human lives of the Pagans (or “pagans”) are rarely considered in these contexts, or if they are, only in terms of pity or imperious judgment. Pagan author and commentator Gus diZerega, who has done a considerable amount of outreach to Christians, once wisely noted that the figure of the “pagan” strikes to the heart of a religious peril that was supposed to have been vanquished long ago.

“We have arisen within a Christian culture, a very self confident one, and we explicitly reject its Abrahamic spiritual tradition as being good for us. Not only that, we look to the pre-Christian past for inspiration and grounding. We represent the rise of something Christian leaders thought they had vanquished long ago, and we should never forget that initial vanquishing involved the sword far more than persuasion. Add religious liberty and the outcome would have been far different. For the most rabid of our attackers, our reappearance also seems evidence that we are in the end times, a time of religious war, at least for the likes of Dispenastionalists.”

Our very existence brings this often-uttered metaphor to life, and touches something ugly in the process. It is imperative that Christians and modern Pagans collectively move beyond what Paul Louis Metzger calls “lampoon tract propaganda” if we are to share a civil society together. An important first step in this process is to realize that words have power, and that constantly invoking the “pagan” as symbol for that which you oppose has real-world consequences.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Jason, the second boxed quote needs a cite.
    I think the increasing frequency of this kind of “pagan” vocabulary reflects the depth we are under their skin, not the depth of any serious thought about us.
    Baruch Dreamstalker (still having problems with Disqus)

  • Hettie

    There more these people talk the more it proves that christianity=ignorance

    • Hettie

      The not there

  • Stephanie

    That is so sad. I don’t understand why this ignorance is allowed to go on. Or perhaps for some of the people speaking, it isn’t their own ignorance, but simply the hope that the uninformed will take their words at face value and perpetuate the spread of this ignorant view.

    • Charles Cosimano

      It is allowed because they have the power to attack anyone who would try to stop it. You can’t disallow it without getting into one hell of a fight.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I imagine it is partly because ‘they’ have been using the term as a slur longer than ‘we’ have been using it as a self descriptor.

      If anything, ‘we’ appropriated the term.

      Can also see similar arguments about the word ‘gay’. It used to be commonly understood as ‘happy’, even to be used as a feminine name. Then it was appropriated by the homosexual community and now it increasingly get used to mean ‘bad’. (Got to feel sorry for those women still called Gay, really.)

      That is how languages evolve, though. Simply because a word was used in one way years ago and is now used in a different way, does it make the new way invalid? Does it make the old way invalid? Or do we use context to see what the meaning is?

  • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com/ Bryon Bragason von Ringer

    I can’t believe there are “pagans” of any stripe who think people like Rand Paul (or any of his Conservative ilk) are in any way concerned with things like “Liberty”, “Freedom”, or the rights of Non-Christians in this country. I’m just happy to see the Christian Taliban being OPEN about their contempt for Individual Liberty and Freedom. Maybe if more people paid attention, we’d have less ignorant morons voting for scumbags like this because they like their “fiscal policies”.

    • Eric Hill

      The ‘pagan’ community is no less immune to the political rhetoric of freedom and liberty than any other group I think….in fact, we might be more prone towards it because of our spiritual orientation. For that reason, we have to be extra critical about what politicians say and do. Rand Paul is clearly a champion of Christian freedom, not freedom for all citizens.

    • kenofken

      There really is no decent place among conservatism for pagans, at least those with any sense of self-respect or self preservation. The GOP is owned outright by Christian Dominionist nutjobs. The Libertarian movement, which on paper seems to be all about “live and let live” is basically a front for the Christian Taliban. They’re not about freedom, they just want to repress people through a states rights approach while achieving completely unrestrained social Darwinism.

      Trouble is, there’s no progressive party left anymore either. The Democrats are the party of corporate oligarchy and authoritarianism. Obama is about as “progressive” as Putin or Assad.

      I truly am at a loss to find any halfway viable political party that embodies my values as a pagan, or at least is not utterly repugnant to them. What would such a party or movement look like? It would be completely secular and operate by separation of church and state. It would display respect for the Constitution and the whole Bill of Rights (or even ANY of the above!). Its military posture would be one of true defense, not imperialism, and its budget would be about a third of what it is now.

      Its policies would be shaped by the concepts of “sustainability” in all things, whether environmental, economic, energy policy. It would concern itself with fixing the grotesque economic disparities in this country. Toward that end, it would invest heavily in its people, through education, strategic subsidies of key industries and research. The size of the safety net would not be such a key concern if we actually focused on growing the pie rather than locking in our respective shares of stagnancy and regression.

      I see nothing on the horizon that looks like this, but who better to birth such a movement than pagans?

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        The problem is democracy. How many people hold the same views as you? Enough to enact change? Probably not, otherwise the change would be enacted.

        • Northern_Light_27

          Disagree with this. It’s not simply a matter of whether people hold the same views as you, it’s a matter of how willing they are to create something new out of whole cloth and then put in the work to make it initially and long-term viable.

          *That’s* the problem with a “I really wish there was another party option that (x)” in the US. IMO the most entrenched political emotion in America is apathy and powerlessness. People don’t feel like change is a possible, tangible thing; they particularly don’t feel like it’s something *they* could do– and even if someone did the work and made it happen, there’s still that “it’ll never get enough votes, it’d be throwing my vote away” mentality to overcome (and really, I can’t wholly criticize that considering that so many attempts at third parties often pick painfully unvetted, inexperienced, fringe candidates and their internal organization is riddled with issues). Also, a viable third party has to have members with some name recognition and a decent amount of donor support, yet cannot be co-opted by donor interests as happened with the Tea Party.

          So I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say that because change hasn’t happened it means that there isn’t attitudinal support for it. I think if a few major names swung their support behind a progressive third party, attracted donor attention, had good strategic organization with serious national-level political experience (and chose candidates accordingly), and had a coherent message (and I’ve never seen a progressive group that doesn’t fall into ruin here– seriously, the Occupy movement could have really had something if it had just stuck hard to economic inequality and corporate political meddling as the focus issue, gravitated away from the camping, and kept all of the other pet issues aside for a while), there would be no shortage of interested people. But without all of those elements– unless we’re talking something very, very regional– it won’t happen even if a ton of people sit in their living rooms grumbling along the exact same lines.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            As you said, the major issue is apathy. Most people really don’t care who’s in charge, so long as their lives are not disrupted.

            Let’s face it, for most people, does it really make a difference?

          • Deborah Bender

            I agree about Occupy and most of what you wrote.

            A word in your last sentence–regional–might be the key. The obstacles to new parties arising at the national level in the US seem to be insurmountable. The last one to have any success was the Republican party itself, which replaced the Whigs more than 150 years ago. Third parties like the Farmer-Labor party and the Socialist party have had regional, state and local electoral success in the twentieth century.

            Barriers to entry are lower; less money is required to campaign. Variations in election laws mean that there are local and state offices for which a voter can support a third party candidate without worrying about splitting the progressive (or conservative) vote and electing the candidate of the major party the voter likes the least.

            For example, in California, voters passed an initiative ending the rule by which the general election for state offices had been between the winning candidates of each party’s primary. Now the election is between the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of their party affiliations. Since registered Dems greatly outnumber registered GOPs, most statewide races are between two Democrats. But there is no reason why a third party candidate couldn’t be the second highest vote-getter in the primary, because the California Republican party is going the way of the Whigs. The Democrats don’t have a lock on statewide offices; quite recently a mediocre Democratic governor was recalled and replaced by a moderate Republican, who ran as an independent against the nominees of both major parties. Arnold Schwartzenegger was rich and famous, but it shows it can be done.

            A lot of important decisions about policy and tax expenditures get made locally and regionally. Redistricting for Congress is handled by the states. A third party that elected some credible candidates in one region would attract attention and support from politically active people in other parts of the country, and would have a base from which to organize nationally.

      • Crystal Hope Kendrick

        There’s the Green Party. They have always been for these things. Environment, social justice and social equity are some of their top priorities. Many Pagans are Green Party members as well.

      • Art P

        Maybe not ‘halfway viable’ but there is the Green party… seeming like the only choice these days… if only they had a chance to win an election.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      The problem with this “logic” is that Rand Paul, and his father Ron as well, have been far more consistent in their defense of civil liberties, and in their opposition to military adventurism, than the vast majority of so-called “liberals”.

      Although my personal political leanings are mostly well to the left, I understand why many modern Pagans are deeply distrustful of the left and see “small government” libertarian style conservatism as the lesser of two evils.

      I think that Pagans should be good citizens and should engage in the political process actively, both to defend our own rights and interests and to promote whatever we see as in the best interests of society as a whole. But at the end of the day the sad truth is that American politics is just the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex (as Frank Zappa once observed).

      • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com/ Bryon Bragason von Ringer

        Ron Paul has been more consistently “Libertarian” than Rand, but even then…a lot is left to be desired. Rand Paul is concerned with only defending a FEW civil liberties, and does in fact oppose the aforementioned “military adventurism”…but otherwise he’s not much better than the average Christo-Fascist on many issues…and his current “outreach” to the Evangelical Christian Taliban shows that he really doesn’t give a flying @$%! about religious liberty.

        Of course, there aren’t many “perfect” politicians on the Left in the USA…but that doesn’t mean that any sane “pagan” should be supporting those who actively hate and oppose us. Some of these “Conservative pagans” sound like African-Americans during the 1960s saying, “Well…JFK isn’t 100% on board with Civil Rights…so I think we’ll just support the Ku Klux Klan!”

        While I certainly have my issues with the Democratic Party, I don’t think I’ve seen any Democratic politicians in the media lately talking about “Christian Nationalism” or anything. All of our enemies are on the Right (in the USA). That doesn’t mean that all of the Left are our “friends”, but the Right is, by definition, opposed to us on a visceral level.

        Also, there is no such thing as “Libertarian Conservatism”. That’s like saying “Liberal Conservatism”. (In other countries, those words don’t have the same meanings…I’m talking about the USA…) “Libertarianism” is the political position of being “Left-Wing” on social issues, and “Right-Wing” on economic ones. (This definition is accepted by the Cato Institute, Boaz, Gary Johnson, et. al.) When someone calls him/herself a “Libertarian Conservative”, it’s just a “cop-out”, because he/she has a pathological obsession with being “accepted” by the Conservatives…but it is a meaningless term.

  • cernowain greenman

    I can’t believe that Pagans would be surprised to hear “pagan” as a pejorative slur. Catholics sources use it all the time. Many Bible translator render “ethnh” as “pagans” to add a negative connotation, but ordinarily it is rendered “nations”. And of course, the now-deceased Moral Majority king Jerry Falwell listed “Pagans” first in his list of those he accused being the reason for 9/11. Personally, I don’t see any “increasing frequency” of the pejorative usage in public or private.

    • Genexs

      Heh! I just wish we had half the magical powers these loons invest us with. Even that much would put Voldemort or Dumbldoor to shame.

      • Tiffany

        Hell yeah! I would soooo love to ride a broom and use my wand to shoot lightning at the butts of those people and laugh at them while doing it! lol! Could you imagine?!

    • Tiffany

      Exactly….same “burn the Witch” witch hunt, different method being used now. Witches and Pagans have always been blamed for anything that goes wrong…always…and as long as this world turns we probably always will be…maybe soon, though, all the “Christians” (and I use that term loosely because I know MANY true Christians who are our allies and who live according to the way Jesus taught, and they’re nothing like their “Christian” counterparts) will be fighting their battle of Armageddon and will leave this Earth to us Heathens/Pagans because as it says in their Bible, “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” One can only hope.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I wouldn’t describe the average Heathen as ‘meek’.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    It is at times like this that we are reminded of just how small a minority the Pagan umbrella is.

    People using (small p) pagan as a term to equate to ‘non Christian’ really is not news. Especially since that is how it has been used for quite a long time now.

    Pagan, like ‘witch’ still holds a powerful stigma in the minds of the (ignorant) majority. All we can hope to do is educate as many as possible.

  • Deborah Bender

    I think Jason’s analysis of the motivations and effects of this habit of framing is useful for contesting it.

  • Genexs

    The quote from Gus diZerega is spot on.

  • Chirotus Infinitum

    Is this kind of usage of the term “pagan” really increasing in usage? If anything, I’ve seen it decline in that usage outside of a small group of evangelical churches.

    Isn’t this the original usage? Doesn’t the term essentially refer to anything non-Abrahamic? Isn’t that why there’s been so much hand-wringing in the pagan community about re-defining the term into something positive?

    And didn’t we take the term because it implied that other-ness? Paganism defines itself according to that outsider status, and many pagan groups actively resist any movement toward “mainstreaming.” Our religion is a counterculture, and as such embraces its opposition to the mainstream culture and its dominant religion.
    In short, as has already been said, we took a pejorative label for ourselves and our religion. We’re supposed to be shocked an astonished that it is still being used as a pejorative? Especially given the strong opposition many pagans have to Christianity?

    I just don’t understand why this is a big issue. A conservative Christian sees an assertion of values that go against his religious doctrine. His religion asserts anything not of it is pagan. He calls those values pagan.

    And in response, we do what good pagans do. We spit “Christian” as a slur, because they don’t support our values. We rave about the Christian Taliban and the GOP nutjobs, and hand-wring about their ignorance and intolerance, and complain about how they should be more like us.

    Which is just what they’re doing.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      “Isn’t that why there’s been so much hand-wringing in the pagan community about re-defining the term into something positive?”

      The original sense of the term Pagan, as used by early Christians, is extremely positive. It simply means anyone who rejects Christianity in favor of the continued worship of the old Gods. Paganism cannot be redefined to mean something else. Language doesn’t work that way.

      Also, if one takes a closer and deeper look into the nature of monotheism, one finds that its “theology”, such as it is, is mostly a “normative inversion” of the traditional polytheistic religious traditions that it seeks to wipe off the face of the earth. And since Christianity (and other forms of monotheism) are, in essence, systematic and self-conscious “inversions” of ancient Paganism (that is, the religious traditions that form the basis for modern Paganism), then a simple inversion of Christianity (even something as simple and straightforward as good old Satanism) is actually an excellent starting point.

      • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

        Its original meaning was more akin to “hick” or “rube.” I don’t know how positive that is.

        I also disagree with your analysis of monotheism as the “inversion” of paganism. Especially given the assimilation of so many “pagan” traditions into monotheistic religions. Most of the Christian Virtues are taken whole cloth from ancient Greek philosophy. I’m not sure inverting those is a good start.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          The “original” meaning of “Pagan”, before it was used as a religious designation, is actually quite unclear (which anyone knows who has ever bothered to look into it). Among other things, the Latin “paganus” is known to have been used with the meaning “civilian”, and also with the meaning of “plain dweller” (as opposed to mountain dwellers).

          But as soon as it became a religious designation it was applied equally to philosophers, poets, aristocrats, etc, as well as to slaves, peasants, and anyone else who worshipped the old Gods. In particular, the word “Pagan” is now (and has been for almost 2000 years now) synonymous with the great civilizations that invented cities in the first place (and which also, of course, invented agriculture, which is necessary precondition for cities), as well as with all the great advancements in art, literature, engineering, etc, associated with those civilizations.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            None of this changes the fact that its use was pejorative, even in the case of figures christian thinkers respected.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            In the mouth of an antisemite the word “Jew” is pejorative. But the word itself is not intrinsically pejorative.

            The original meaning of the word “Pagan” as a religious designation is quite clear: someone who rejects Christianity in favor of the ancient religious traditions that preceded Christianity. There is absolutely nothing intrinsically negative about this.

          • Deborah Bender

            I agree. Regarding what Chirotus wrote above, I have always seen “witch” as a word I embrace partly because of its otherness. People who don’t want to be othered prefer wiccan or other labels. (Wiccan also the term that has been adopted for interfaith work, but that’s an inside-baseball matter like Quakers versus Friends).

            Pagan to me is a value neutral descriptor for a class of religions that are neither Abrahamic nor Dharmic. Maybe that’s because I’m Jewish and for Jews, it’s normal for most of the rest of the world to be not-Jewish.The majority of religions in the ancient world were pagan. The word has a long established scholarly meaning separate from how it’s used in some Christian rhetoric.

            IMO the appropriate English translation for “ethnh” in at least some of its Biblical settings would be “gentiles”. That is the word ordinarily used to translate the Hebrew word “goyim”, whose literal meaning is also “nations”. I don’t know how the Septuagint translates “goyim” but my money’s on “ethnh”.

          • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

            The Septuagint does use ἔθνη (sing. ἔθνος) for the Hebrew גוים. (for example Exodus 34:24 ὅταν γὰρ ἐκβάλω τὰ ἔθνη… “For when I have cast the nations…”). Even the word gentile is just a Latin translation for the Hebrew and Greek terms which found its way into English.

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

          Inverting Christianity obviously has nothing to do with rejecting whatever survives of ancient Paganism.

          The Christians have consistently failed to wipe out Paganism. This is obvious to everyone. However, whatever survives of Paganism does not thereby become part of Christianity. It remains Pagan. If one studies actual Christian theology you will see that this is the case. In the particular case of ancient Pagan philosophy this is especially true. Pagan philosophy is completely incompatible with Christian theology, and all attempts to combine the two result in sterile monstrosities.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            i question what christian theology you have studied. the gospel of john is virtually indistinguishable from a greek philosophical text. christianity itself is the result of paul combining greek thought with judaism.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            There is not one sentence in the Gospel of John that in any way remotely resembles any of Pagan Greek philosophy, except in the way that a corpse might be said to resemble the person who once inhabited it.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            contemporary scholarship disagrees with you.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            In the first place, contemporary scholars disagree with each other. Duh.

            In the second place, many of the modern scholars you are probably thinking of are themselves Christians who are simply carrying on the apologetic tradition of misrepresenting Greek philosophy as part of Yahweh’s Master Plan for “preparing the way for the Gospel”. Among the more prominent representatives of this modern apologetic movement in academia are: A.E. Taylor, Gregory Vlastos, and Stephen Mitchell.

            In the third place, many contemporary scholars have been highly critical of attempts to impose Christianizing interpretations on Plato (in particular, as well as on Greek philosophy generally) in order to thereby make Christian “theology” appear to be somehow grounded in classical philosophy. Among these scholars are Francis Cornford, Pierre Hadot, Niketas Sinniossoglou and Anthony Kaldellis.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            Arguing that Greek philosophy “paved the way” for Christianity is far different from arguing that Christianity borrowed heavily from Greek philosophy. The very fact that the apologists had to make that argument is because they were borrowing pagan philosophy.

            Your agenda-driven scholarship and name-dropping does not impress me, and your condescension does not intimidate me. Christianity has borrowed heavily from pagan philosophy from its very inception, and any serious study of Christianity and its history shows this. The fact that you wish to prove that the evil, vile Xtians couldn’t have possibly had a common source as the pagans you revere won’t change any of that.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            There is a serious issue here, and one that serious scholars have addressed and have disagreed sharply over. The issue is whether or not there is (1) an inherent compatibility between Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics & Co., on the one hand, and Christian theology on the other hand, or (2) an inherent incompatibility between the two.

            That some scholars take one position and others another is an established fact (many scholars also try to skirt the issue, but it really cannot be avoided in practice). It can also be shown that those scholars who insist on the compatibility between Christianity and Pagan philosophy are clearly (and in many cases explicitly) following an apologetic agenda.

            Since the days of the first Apologists, Christians have tried to smarten up the childish fantasies that they try to pass off as “theology” by claiming to incorporate some bits and pieces of philosophy. But there is absolutely no reason to automatically accept this claim just because the Christians make it. In fact, the obviously self-serving nature of the claim by itself should give any objective observer pause.

            One final note: Chirotus, you were the one who brought up “contemporary scholars,” in a very vague way to support what you are saying. But then when I actually named several contemporary scholars, and showed how their work actually goes against what you are saying, you call this “name dropping”. Actually, this is called citing one’s sources, and unless you wish to cite your sources, then I would suggest that you refrain from making sweeping claims about “contemporary scholarship”.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            Naming names is not citing a source.

            The fact that you keep putting theology on scare quotes says enough. You’re arguing a theological point and ignoring the historical one. All the more power to you, and good luck, but you should probably keep in mind that conspiratorially dismissing scholarship as apologia won’t get you much traction outside of your own choir.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            If you wish to defend Christian “theology” Chirotus, then by all means please do so. No one is stopping you.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            You’re the one who’s arguing theology. I’m arguing history.

            I am, however, greatly amused by your insinuation that since I am not viciously attacking Christianity that I am defending it.

            I care not how Christians define or justify their theology. That’s their business. But pretending that it isn’t theology because you don’t agree with it doesn’t seem very helpful. Nor does ignoring Christianity’s historical influences.

          • http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/ Chirotus Infinitum

            Let’s start with the first one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
            was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were
            made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life,
            and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness,
            but the darkness has not understood it.”

            Yeah, that’s really Jewish right there. Nope, no influence from Greek thinkers. At all.

          • Deborah Bender

            Christianity started as a Jewish sect and would have remained so had it not been for two things, the embrace of a completely pagan conception of Jesus as a divinity, and the abandonment of ritual circumcision and Jewish dietary laws.

            In Judaism, the Messiah (literally “anointed one”, which translates into Greek as “Christos”) is a human being. From time to time, some groups of Jews have hailed somebody as Messiah. Bar Kochba, who led a disastrous revolt against the Romans not long after Jesus’ death, was one of these false messiahs. More recently, some Hasidim in New York thought their rebbe Schneerson was the Messiah.

            The theological proposition that Jesus was a Son of God in a different way from ordinary human beings, and that he was either born divine or became divinized after his death, is a perfectly normal idea in Greek religion. Alexander and Hellenistic rulers claimed divine honors, as did Roman emperors. In Judaism, there is a great gulf between the One God and mortal beings; the idea that a human being could become a god is inconceivable. As a child, the first time I learned that the Christians worship a man as God, I thought, “How can they believe something so silly?”

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

            The problem with calling the divinization of Jesus “Pagan” is that in the Pagan paradigm it is true that certain human beings (such as for example, Asclepius) have “become Gods”, but this is always, and very emphatically so, a matter of joining the other Gods that are already Gods. And, as in the case of Asclepius, the “new” God becomes a God only by way of being accepted by and raised up to fully Divine status by the other, already existing Gods.

  • Malyndra Crow

    The fact that it has real world consequences is something that these people are banking on. The Christians who invoke this kind of language have no desire to move past past “lampoon tract propaghanda” as they feel it serves their purposes. Let us NOT kid ourselves to the contrary.

    constantly
    invoking the “pagan” as symbol for that which you oppose has real-world
    consequences – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2013/07/paganism-as-slur-paganism-as-the-other.html#sthash.zk0b2ug1.dpuf
    An
    important first step in this process is to realize that words have
    power, and that constantly invoking the “pagan” as symbol for that which
    you oppose has real-world consequences. – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2013/07/paganism-as-slur-paganism-as-the-other.html#sthash.zk0b2ug1.dpuf
    An
    important first step in this process is to realize that words have
    power, and that constantly invoking the “pagan” as symbol for that which
    you oppose has real-world consequences. – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2013/07/paganism-as-slur-paganism-as-the-other.html#sthash.zk0b2ug1.dpuf
    An
    important first step in this process is to realize that words have
    power, and that constantly invoking the “pagan” as symbol for that which
    you oppose has real-world consequences. – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2013/07/paganism-as-slur-paganism-as-the-other.html#sthash.zk0b2ug1.dpuf
    An
    important first step in this process is to realize that words have
    power, and that constantly invoking the “pagan” as symbol for that which
    you oppose has real-world consequences. – See more at:
    http://wildhunt.org/2013/07/paganism-as-slur-paganism-as-the-other.html#sthash.zk0b2ug1.dpuf