The Return of Paganism

The spiritual crisis afflicting contemporary America has ancient and enduring roots—and so does the cure

Liel Leibovitz: The Return of Paganism

To the pagans, change is the only real constant. Just consider the heathens of old: Believing, as they did, in the radical duality of body and spirit, they enjoyed watching their gods breathe the latter into a wide array of incarnations. To please himself or trick his followers, a god could become a swan or a stone, manifest himself as a river or adopt whatever shape suited his schemes. Ovid, the greatest of Pagan poets, captured this logic perfectly when he began his Metamorphoses with a simple declaration of his intentions: In nova fert animus mutates dicere formas corpora, or, “I am about to speak of forms changing into new entities.” This was not understood as fickle behavior by the gods’ cheerful followers. To the contrary. With no dogma to uphold, the sole job of deities was simply to be themselves. And the more solipsistic a deity chose to be, the better. Nothing, after all, radiates inimitable individuality more than marching to the beat of your own drum and no other.

If that’s your understanding of the gods, or whatever you’d like to call the hidden forces that arrange the known universe, how should you behave? Again, lacking a prescribed credo passed down from generation to generation, pagans began answering this question by casting off the tyranny of fixity. The gods are precarious and ever-changing? Let us follow their example! We should sanctify each sharp transformation in our behaviors and beliefs not as collective madness but as a sign of the wisdom of growth.

Sadly, this is happening within some sectors of Protestantism.

Companion Post


The Good Creator Will Not Be Mocked Without Consequence