The New Paganism

The mutability of human nature broadly, and of gender in particular, is the Trojan Horse by which paganism has achieved its modern renaissance.

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One may be tempted to believe that paganism is dead and buried in the ruins of Rome and the forests of Germany. However, paganism is, in fact, alive and well in the world today. It has been adapted to modernity, and it has disguised itself under new names and ideas. The mutability of human nature broadly, and of gender in particular, is the Trojan Horse by which paganism has achieved its modern renaissance. It is crucial that we, as the Faithful, understand this phenomenon so as to help bring others to Christ and to make headway against the collapse of Christian civilization.

A common, if not essential, characteristic of paganism is that it fixates upon some natural aspect of creation and then expands and inflates it with mysticism and power (a power that may be harnessed or influenced by its practitioners). Hence, many pagan deities are closely associated with their signs which are found in nature: Zeus with the lightning; Quetzalcoatl with the wind; the sun cult of Mithras; the fertility cult of Baal. Druids, fairies, and nature spirits are further examples of paganism rooted in the divinization of natural phenomena. 

The modern paganism cannot appeal to the exterior natural world; this has been too far explained and demystified by the natural sciences. The celestial bodies no longer inspire awe in the average person as they once did. Only small and scattered groups (mostly comprised of edgy schoolchildren) believe in the power of crystals, or the astrological signs. Rather, the “final frontier” of paganism is human nature. Human nature itself is construed as something that may be harnessed and influenced for the benefit of man, to achieve power or escape pain.

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Transgenderism and transhumanism are prominent examples. And human beings, ironically, have become the deities of their own paganism. What constitutes one’s human nature is now dependent upon one’s own whims. Of course, those in a more advanced stage of paganism still understand the relationship between gain and sacrifice. There is, perhaps, a sick correlation between the bloody sacrifices of the old paganism and the bloody surgeries of the new.

This modern paganism is far worse than the one of old. The ancient pagans were required to be humble; to submit to a force larger than themselves. The modern pagans say in chorus with Lucifer: “I will not serve.” They will not serve God, men, the laws of nature, or the dictates of reason. Gender ideology especially is imbued with a mystical and amorphous character, such that rational attempts to combat its rhetoric quickly reach a dead end. Its advocates operate on the premise that they are sovereign gods over themselves; to what higher power, then, can we appeal to show them the truth?  This modern paganism is far worse than the one of old. The ancient pagans were required to be humble; to submit to a force larger than themselves. The modern pagans say in chorus with Lucifer: “I will not serve.”Tweet This

If the old paganism holds certain underlying threads in common with the new, then it stands to reason that we may learn from those who combated paganism in the past. A good example to learn from is St. Boniface, who evangelized the Germanic pagans in the Middle Ages. St. Boniface is famous for cutting down an oak tree that the local pagans held to be sacred to Thor. They anticipated the lightning bolt that Thor would hurl at the offender in punishment for destroying the tree. When this deadly bolt never arrived, many of them abandoned their paganism and converted to Christianity. St. Boniface did two things here: first, he demonstrated the powerlessness of paganism over the human condition; second, he demonstrated that creation exists under the dominion of God and not any pagan deities. We must adopt a similar strategy.

In the new paganism, the metaphorical “sacred tree” is the idea that man may act as a god over his own nature. We must chop down this underlying principle and thereby demonstrate the powerlessness of paganism. This can be done by imitating Mary’s words, “Be it done unto me according to thy word” in Luke 1:38, which is the antithesis of Satan’s “I will not serve.” Our lives must bear witness to the fact that there is a real and benevolent God that is higher than ourselves. And it is in serving God over self that lasting happiness is to be found. Humility and joy, then, are the remedy to the plague of the new paganism. 

Furthermore, these virtues must be exhibited at all times—not only when it is comfortable and convenient for us. After all, St. Boniface did not chop down the tree of Thor at night when no one was watching. We must live for Christ in broad daylight. Do not be afraid to hold a rosary in public, or to make the sign of the cross at a restaurant. We must smile in the midst of suffering or antagonism and make it no secret that Christ alone is the source of our peace. 

Furthermore, we must restore human nature to its properly conceived dignity in the order of creation under God. Do not be afraid to risk eliciting a negative reaction to your words for the sake of the truth; such a reaction does not reflect an offense against charity. One may act charitably while still treating another person in accordance with their nature, in spite of any fantasy that they maintain about themselves. Truth belongs ultimately to God, not to man.

The new paganism is far more complex and subtly dangerous than the old. However, while the devil is clever, he is not infinitely creative. The Church has always emerged victorious against paganism. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; it is simply up to us to consider and apply those principles of evangelization that have proved effective against paganism in the past. Above all, we must seek to embody humility and joy in the public square. We live in an age of pride and spiritual malaise; let us be a light on a hill, a shining beacon that reflects not our own significance, but the glory of God.

Author

  • Nathaniel Lamansky

    Nathaniel Lamansky graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a B.A. in Humanities and Catholic Culture. He currently resides in Montana.

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