Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meet Steve the Pagan

I will often find myself in agreement with members of the so-called "Alternative-Right," but many of them have some truly nutty ideas.  Craziest of all is the notion that Christianity is too liberal and real conservatives ought to return to their European roots and embrace paganism.  To put it in the most charitable way I can, that is a really stupid idea.

Writing in Alternative Right Magazine, Stephen McNallen explains why he is a pagan:
I am a pagan because it is the only way I can be true to who, and what, I am. I am a pagan because the best things in our civilization come from pre-Christian Europe. I am a pagan because our ancestral religion is needed to help reverse the decline and impending extinction of the European-descended peoples.
Those may well be the worst justifications for religious faith ever proposed.  Pre-Christian Europe produced some cool stuff.  So what?  Christian Europe produced the best art and architecture in human history but flying buttresses are hardly a reason to believe in the Trinity.  As for the population decline among Europeans and European descendents, I don't see what paganism could do prevent it or how a demographic trend constitutes a good reason to become a pagan. 
The paganism I have practiced for some forty years is derived from the beliefs of my (and  your) Germanic ancestors. It is not at all what Alain de Benoist, in his excellent On Being a Pagan, called "primitive" and "puerile." The proper name for my faith is "Asatru," from the Icelandic meaning roughly "those true to the Gods." Some call it Odinist.
There are only two kinds of religions in the world. One kind, like Christianity, Islam, or Scientology, lacks any roots in blood or soil. Consequently, these religions claim the allegiance of all the human race. The very word "catholic" means "universal." You can be Chinese or Nigerian or anything under the sun and be a full-fledged member of any of these faiths.
The other category includes the ones we call pagan, or native, or indigenous religions.  They are innately tied to a specific people and cannot be transferred to another group without losing their truth, power, and integrity. Such religions are the distilled experience of a specific biological and cultural group from its very beginning.
They spring from the soul of that people and from no other. They honor their ancestors, and not the ancestors of any other people. They posit a time-transcending unity of the Gods, the ancestors, the living kin, and the generations yet to come. Every native population has, or had, such a religion that spoke from its blood, its bone, its brain, its soul.    
Contrary to what Steve the pagan thinks, Christianity is very much rooted in blood.  Instead of being bound by the blood of kinship however, Christians are united by the blood of Christ, spilled at Calvary for the redemption of all people, including those Chinese and Nigerian folks of whom McNallen is none too fond.  Xenophobia isn't the only problem with McNallen's blood and soil formula.  Our blood has gotten mixed up and we live on soil far away from our tribal ancestors.  Should someone with Greek and Germanic ancestry worship both Aphrodite and Freya?  Should we still worship oak trees if we don't live in the deep forests of Germany anymore?  I reside in Kansas at the moment, so perhaps I should worship corn.
Obviously, such a folk-based religion has strong advantages for any group trying to preserve its physical and cultural existence. Continuation of the people in question becomes a religious imperative.  It creates a strong in-group, encourages healthy families, elevates a heroic ethic, and teaches the hard virtues of loyalty, courage, and honor.  I don't think anyone reading these words is likely to have a problem with that.  
McNallen is entirely too optimistic about the effect of paganism on the fertility of Europeans.  Most Catholics have no problem using birth control at the risk of their eternal soul and there is no reason to think that pagans would be more scrupulous, especially considering that pagan deities do not condemn contraception.  Christian or pagan, westerners are selfish and want to have sex without the consequence of children.  As for the promotion of a warrior spirit, the United States Marine Corps does that at least as well as pagans ever did, but that is no reason to worship the ghost of Chesty Puller.

McNallen does not suggest any theological reasons to convert to paganism, offering only unconvincing consequentialist and material reasons.  The truth is that the people of pre-Christian Europe were not pagans simply because their religion was a way to tie them to their land and communities but because they actually believed in gods and ancestor worship.  McNallen disrespects the pagans he seeks to emulate by using their false but sincere faith for utilitarian purposes.

2 comments:

  1. Patrick, over all a good comentary on what is wrong with his views. Want to add a little to what you said in reply to his claim that "Christianity. . . . lacks any roots in blood or soil."
    Given that Christianity sprang out of the Jewish faith with the fact that we believe Jesus is the Messiah, that claim has even less to stand on. Without going into much detail, Jesus is the heir to the Davidic throne as a blood line descendant. The Jews had a huge connection to the land as well. I think most people can se where I am going with this.
    Also, following his logic, here in the USA we should go back to the practices of the Native Americans. Sorry, but neither of them trumps Christianlty when it is truly lived out as it should. & for those who argue to the contrary I leave them with this gem from GK Chesterton: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Al: Well put. Judaism is a tribal religion and Christianity was born of it. That Chesterton quote is one of my favorites.

    ReplyDelete