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Seven Lessons That Pagans Can Learn from Evangelicalism

Golden Calf Cartoon (Page 1) - Line.17QQ.com

 

In some ways, the new paganisms and Evangelicalism have a lot in common: they're brash, impetuous, young religions, inexperienced, with poor impulse control and a strong Do-It-Yourself ethic.

So in these Latter Days, as Evangelicalism shows its true colors, what lessons can we learn from our successful, but callow, neighbors?

 

Be for, not against.

In the old days, I always say, Christians used to fight about whether the Spirit proceeded from the Father, or from the Father and the Son, or about whether or not the Son was equal to the Father.

Now they fight about gay sex.

Evangelicalism started out in the early “20th” century as a protest movement against modernity. A hundred years on, they're still reacting.

When you let yourself be defined by what you hate, rather than what you love, you become—by definition—a monster.

Q.E.D.

 

Embrace history.

Having largely rejected the historic Christianities, Evangelicalism's time-depth is shallow. For the Evangelical, there are two important times: Bible Times and Now.

A people without a history is a people without a memory, without identity. Lacking the lessons and precedents that history cannot fail to provide, you make the same mistakes again and again and again.

 

Support the arts.

Just look at all the great art, music, and architecture that Evangelicalism has produced.

Um, no, I can't think of any, either.

Art? No, E-ism is an aniconic tradition.

Music? A cartoon shows two Evangelicals talking. “What do you do?” asks one. “I write praise songs. I write praise songs. I write praise songs,” says the other. Listen to your local Kreesh-chun radio station for 10 minutes, if you can bear to. Bach it isn't.

Architecture? Having rejected historic ecclesiastical forms, Evangelicalism builds McChurches instead.

Ugly. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

 

Stay grounded in your own tradition.

If you don't have a deep tradition of your own to remain true to, to return to, and to be renewed by, you will invariably fall prey to every superficial, cultish new fad, every Q-Anonism, of the day.

 

The unexamined religion is not worth observing.

Lake Evangelical: a mile wide, an inch deep.

Say what you will, the Christianities have a long history of scholarship, but Evangelicalism has been characterized by anti-intellectualism from its very beginning.

In 1994, historian Mark A. Noll published a book titled The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. First sentence: “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

 

Eschew personality cults.

Lacking a pantheon, or even a communion of saints, Evangelicalism has all too often become a cult of celebrity evangelists instead. Aimee Semple MacPherson, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Jim and Tammy, Jerry Falwell...a pretty unattractive, not to mention unedifying, line-up.

Now, of course, Evangelical America has largely sold its soul to worship the golden idol of He Who Shall Not Be Named.

 

Don't hitch your wagon to a political movement.

When you have no identity of your own, it's tempting to let others tell you who you are.

When you hitch your wagon to someone else's political movement, it will surely take you to places where you really don't want to go, and where it would certainly be better not to end up.

Q.E.D.

 

Well, there's no example like a negative example. Pagans, take a close look at your Evangelical neighbors, and see what they've become.

If we're not smart, that could be us some day.

Be warned.

 

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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Comments

  • Jamie
    Jamie Friday, 26 March 2021

    Mr. Posch,

    Such good points. All so very true.

    I especially like the one about choosing to defining ourselves positively, in terms of our values and beliefs. I never respect people as much, when it seems like their whole sense of identity comes from a place of grievance and negativity. Let's have a frank discussion about our respective core values, and how you'd like to implement them to make society better (in your eyes, anyway).

    I am a reasonable person. Make your case and I might change my mind.

    We may never agree on a lot of things, but I will still respect the other party a lot more than if they simply label everyone they disagree with as a commie or a racist.

    P.S. The cherry on top for me, so to speak, was the CPAC folks literally having a de facto idol of Trump created for their little shindig so they can all offer cultus. Looks like the cartoon you used was prophetic, if you'll pardon the pun. I'd previously thought that being an unrepentant sexual predator, a convicted swindler, and/or a traitor to America would be some kind of barrier to winning over the Christian Right 'values voters'. Boy was I wrong. What a bunch of total frauds.

    They're going to wear those ugly shoes for the rest of the GOP's sad existence. The ghosts of so many patriotic, principled conservatives must look on in shame from the other side of the veil.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 27 March 2021

    When I image-searched "trump golden idol," I was astounded at how many different images came up, absolutely astounded.

    Evangelicals, of course, aren't know for their ability to savor irony.

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