c_korone (c_korone) wrote in elaion,

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"Pagan Pentacostalism"

For reading enjoyment, discussion, etc...
Posted recently on Hellenic_Recons by Mike, also viewable at: http://www.templeofdemeter.com/pentecostal.html

"Until recently, I've avoided most Hellenic email lists, for the simple matter that I have no stomach for watching the same topics go around on an endless six-monthly carousel. A few weeks ago, I joined one ‘online thiasos', and began grinding my teeth at the barrage of emails on ‘suggestions for developing a relationship with God X'.

"Call me crazy, but I don't remember Odysseus fretting over the state of his ‘relationship' with Athena, or Hercules establishing a regime of devotional activities to build an emotional bridge to Hera. The fact that there is now a book available online on ‘furthering your relationship' with your Greek God of choice makes me consider launching my own monthly magazine (working title: ‘Kosmopolitan') filled with tips on ‘Dating the Divine' and insightful quizzes like ‘Is Apollo dating other Pythia?'.

"Personally, I don't believe that this drivel can be blamed solely on a neopagan hangover. It's time that we started asking some critical questions about exactly where this ahistorical crap is coming from.

"We don't talk very much about the cultural differences that emerge online, but, as an Australian in an online
environment of mostly Americans, I find that these differences can have subtle but significant impacts. The population of America is overwhelmingly and increasingly religious, whilst Australians are largely secular. As an outsider, I've noted the way that this context frames Dodekatheism for many Americans, and I've had a number of discussions on the topic with other Australians and Europeans off-list over the years.

"In short, I find a lot of parallels between this emerging ‘relationship' approach to the Gods, and the American brand of Christian pentecostalism. It is the ‘born again' fervor for mysticism and divine communion. It is the conviction that the Gods reside in their hearts, their minds and their souls. It is the belief that their ‘patron' watches with love over
their every move. It is the sense of an omnipresent daimon permeating their lives, speaking in a silent tongue, guiding them, affirming them, almost one with them.

"In short, just like Jesus. Just like Jehovah.

"New Dodekatheists are taking the religious paradigms of Christian pentacostalism and transplanting them wholesale into their new religion. They are not reflecting analytically about the profound and fundamental differences between the two, and they are not being guided to do so. It is as though they want a pseudo-Christianity (with its attractive promise of universal love and forgiveness) with a pick-your-own-saviour flavour. Ultimately, the differences between ‘finding Jesus' and ‘establishing a relationship' with your patron of choice are lost on me.

"This ‘pagan pentacostalism' strikes me as a sort of Dodekatheon-lite, a religion that conforms to the demands of the seeker, and not the other way around. Why aren't newcomers being encouraged to consider their autonomy in the cosmos? Why aren't they being told to stand on their own two feet before the Gods? Why are they asking pointless, dead-end questions about how ‘close' they are to Asklepios? When did Olympus become ‘Mean Girls'?

"Not only is there a dirth of leadership in this regard, but the staunchest advocates of the pentacostal approach are the longest-standing and most vocal members. If seekers are being sent down this path, they will flounder under the sheer weight of its inanity. Our religion's strength is in our respect for the sacred division between mortal and God, as we both conform to, and buck under, our fate, in our search for a better world. When a seeker comes our way, we
should be illuminating the wonder of our philosophy, poetry and art, the truth and beauty inherent in the Gods, not giving them relationship advice.

"Homer didn't write ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'. He wrote an epic poem that survived for three thousand years, and, if we stay true to his spirit, it will survive for another three millenia. Taking the road of shallow, viral, born-again replication is a sure recipe for spiritual oblivion."
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Ultimately, the differences between ‘finding Jesus' and ‘establishing a relationship' with your patron of choice are lost on me.

Brava! It would be wonderful if there were a way to convey this point to the wider body of neo-pagans, but I don't know what it would be. Me, I just do my duty, and I'd very surprised if my gods decided to fill my heart with their presence. I figure I get the personal satisfaction of doing my job well, and maybe the occasional favor in a pinch. That's enough for me.
In short, I find a lot of parallels between this emerging ‘relationship' approach to the Gods, and the American brand of Christian pentecostalism. It is the ‘born again' fervor for mysticism and divine communion

I know while some Hellenes were nominally Christian, a far larger percentage seem to come from Wicca, ceremonial magick, and general occult backgrounds. I think that's where a lot of the mysticism and divine communion comes from.

I think Mike is subscribing to a bad foreign stereotype that all Americans are fanatic fundie Christians. I guess the recent election enforced the bad stereotype in the eyes of the world.
Yeah, maybe some of it's a stereotype. But on the other hand, where does a lot of this ceremonial magick, occult and even Wicca come from? I was Wiccan for a while, and I can tell you plenty of people just replace 'God' or 'Jesus' with 'the Goddess' and otherwise you can barely tell them apart from their Protestant backgrounds. And ceremonial magick is pretty Judeo-Christian - the earlier, older forms of it use Bible verses and the names of angels and YHVH in magical formulae.

I agree with what you say about the election, and some people having the wrong idea about Americans. But I also think he has a good point at the same time.