Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Church Paganism?

I could have paid more attention to the winter solstice this year. The longest night.

Radio programs analyze the many solstice traditions from ancient times. I am struck not so much by what Christianity has appropriated from more ancient churches, but that the pagans had so much of it right!

The traces of our ancestors still remaining within our ken. Music, dance, pictorial art, and artifacts all reflect the essence of being human, which therefore has its roots millions of years ago. They are all testimonies to the miracle that is human creativity. That miracle has been observed far longer than our current spiritual awareness, which has existed only a couple of hundred years. In fact, now that it is 2007, it is exactly 250 years since the last judgment and then beginning of the new age of humankind. In our wisdom, we need to learn from our past.

There are no artifacts of what the Writings for the New Church call “pre-Adamic” times. But surely current religious beliefs and practices are the descendants of those ancestors and then their descendents in the Golden Age before the loss of human’s first perfection. Being the children of our fathers, however distant, the ancient elements of our human spirit can still strike a chord deep within us. And we can hear it if we listen.

Some organized religions proclaim that pre-Christian beliefs and practices are evil, occult or “pagan,” (as if that is a bad word, but go look it up!). These power-hungry people have made their teachings dead dogmas, by cutting them off from their roots in more ancient human understandings and behaviors.

Today society seems adrift. We find it impossible to undo the knots we have tied ourselves into. What are human rights; where do they come from; who has them and who protects them? How do we respect others’ beliefs while defending our own; and should we defend our own? What is the appropriate use of technology; is there an inappropriate use at all? Might it be that we are cut off from the incredibly long roots available to us as human beings?

The ancient peoples, who knew exactly which night was the longest without any sophisticated astrological measuring tools, that night prayed to God, as they understood Him, for rescue. Are we too sophisticated to believe that we need to be rescued and that the Lord can do it? Which of us is so connected to creation-–the theater representative of the Lord’s kingdom–that we could build a Stonehenge? How many of us can move a 30 ton rock, which we have made perfectly square, using ropes and logs? And not enough of us get our hands dirty growing food. And too many of us are awake only to pleasure, remaining passive, merely reacting to the stimuli of modern technology. And the list goes on.

Fearing paganism is ridiculous! Our religion is actually being threatened by a lack of appreciation of the source of our beliefs, and a lack of its influence upon our culture. People are willing to hear about “God,” because that is abstract enough, but not about “the Lord.” For instance, rap music bears strong resemblance to the most ancient percussive, rhythmic music of drums, sticks and grunts. The fact that it is being used not to declare the glory of the Lord and His kingdom is painfully sad. And religion has given the Lord such a bad reputation that He is rejected outright.

So I say, let us rediscover our pagan roots! Worship the sun, the trees, the moon and earth - all as symbols of our Lord God Jesus Christ. Let us reconnect with our roots, and bring much needed nutrients to the growing spirituality we see in the world, that it may be fruitful.