Contemporary Contemplations (1)
It is so easy to presume that Imperisl Rome was a primitive place that is unrelated to our advanced contemporary state. But is this true? On the one hand, we err seriously by underestimating the level of political, military and organizational sophistication necessary to acquire and then rule a vast empire for centuries. On the other hand we tend to vastly overestimate changes to human nature over millennia. Thus, if we look with open minds, the differences between Imperial Rome of A.D. 56 and imperial Washington D.C. of 2018 are less than might be initially assumed.
I will here, perhaps surprisingly, focus on the topic of paganism. How, you might ask, can I presume to compare what truly was a pagan civilization with what is now a civilization founded on Christianity? I am not arguing that the United States was not founded upon and continues to be strongly influenced by Christianity. However, I do contend that the elite governmental, business, educational, legal, media and other institutions in the United States have become “paganized” to the point that it must be considered to be their dominant spiritual position. Perhaps a definition will help. Following is the first response when “define paganism” is searched in Google.
a religion other than one of the main world religions, specifically a non-Christian or pre-Christian religion. “converts from paganism to Christianity”
a modern religious movement incorporating beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions, especially nature worship. “modern paganism includes a respect for mother earth”
Can there truly be any doubt that our progressive elite institutions and the people who inhabit them have come to view orthodox Christianity as a reactionary, if not wholly evil force (see also here)? By “orthodox” I mean any Christian organization that intentionally remains connected to the Bible as the unique authoritative source for belief and practice. Yes, there are many practicing Christians in the United States, but they are few and far in-between (and generally very quiet) among our ruling elite.
But you might say, where are the pagan gods? Certainly no-one in contemporary America believes in entities like those of ancient Greek and Roman religion.
On that narrow point we can agree. However, I contend that there are entities in the contemporary United States that fill the role of pagan gods, but in an updated form. The following summary of ancient Roman religion will assist this discussion.
The Romans, according to the orator and politician Cicero, excelled all other peoples in the unique wisdom that made them realize that everything is subordinate to the rule and direction of the gods. Yet Roman religion was based not on divine grace but instead on mutual trust (fides) between god and man. The object of Roman religion was to secure the cooperation, benevolence, and “peace” of the gods (pax deorum). The Romans believed that this divine help would make it possible for them to master the unknown forces around them that inspired awe and anxiety (religio), and thus they would be able to live successfully. Consequently, there arose a body of rules, the jus divinum (“divine law”), ordaining what had to be done or avoided.
These modern “godly” entities are the progressive institutions that have come to dominate our political, commercial, educational and media lives.
Although these institutions are not personified they are made up by people who consider themselves to be elite. The institutions appear to have a permanence that transcends the scope of individual human lives. They also have the power to smite those who have earned their displeasure with a power that can rarely be resisted. They operate as arbitrary and capricious sources of what is true (jus divinum) and therefore must be carefully appeased. Only by so doing can there be peace in our society (pax deorum). This network of progressive institutions operates within a common social and ideological framework that creates the mutual trust (fides) necessary for godly action.
The people who inhabit these institutions fill the role of priests who communicate the god’s wishes to the unwashed multitudes and who are able to influence the gods so as to ensure their cooperation and benevolence. Thus their inclusion in these god-like institutions places them in an exalted cultural position. And, they jealously guard their supposed superior status.
Look at what has happened when the citizens of the United States dared to elect an individual outside of the elite Progressive pagan priestly class to the Presidency. Their religious fervor has verged on hysteria and sometimes has become overtly violent. The pagan gods of contemporary America have been insulted! Only by returning to fealty can peace be restored, so Resist or be outcast to eternal darkness!