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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 Some Thoughts on a Pagan Catechism by Ezra Pound


“Think what god it may be.”

According to American poet and critic Ezra Pound (1885-1972), this is what you should do when encountering a god.

Published at the very end of the First World War, in 1918, Religio, or the Child's Guide to Knowledge is a curious work, a kind of pagan catechism: variously flippant, obtuse, and profound.

Do we know the number of the gods? he asks, and answers: It would be rash to say that we do. [One] should be content with a reasonable number.

Pagan for more than five decades now myself, I would still be hard put to come up with a better answer.

One phrase from Religio has haunted me for years.

How should one perceive a god, by his name?

It is better to perceive a god by form, or by the sense of knowledge, and after perceiving him thus, to consider his name or to “think what god it may be.”

“Think what god it may be.” For all its sense of playfulness, Pound here touches upon the warm, beating heart of polytheist experience. When encountering the divine, the monotheist has no need to wonder Who; but the pagan—the thinking pagan, at least—always must. Which god, among all the Many, might this one be?

“Think what god it may be.” Pound cites the phrase in quotation marks: is it really a quotation, or just meant to present as one? Certainly, it bears the hallmark of being the words of some venerable Greek or Roman author, wise in the ways of the gods: Cicero, perhaps, or Homer. Certainly it evinces a depth of understanding beyond what we would expect from irascible old Ezra Pound, Fascist sympathizer and anti-Semite that he was.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

We talk about “Christianity,” as if there actually were such a thing.

But of course there isn't.

You'd think that pagans, of all people, would know better.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • David Oliver Kling
    David Oliver Kling says #
    You could say the same with the following scenario: "A Unitarian Universalist, and a Unitarian Universalist, and another Unitaria
  • Patrick
    Patrick says #
    Christian missiologist Andrew Walls once asked if the proverbial Martian came to earth and visited (I forget his exact examples, b

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