As promised last year, the blog is back. I’ll be posting something every Monday. There is a tweak.
I’ve had this idea of expressing a distinctive Pagan perspective on politics – a political theory that reflects and embodies the values inherent in Pagan spirituality. The blog postings of 2017 hit on various aspects of that, but in no special order and arriving at no particular conclusion. I sort of randomly wandered from Greco-Roman historians to retrograde planets to the vagaries of our so-called President. I enjoyed the excursion, but I don’t feel I actually got anywhere.
So, in the coming year, I’m going to be more focused. I’ll resist the temptation to pour scorn on the blunders of our contemporary politicos. Except maybe now and then in passing, I won’t be slamming Trump for his manifold hypocrisies or bemoaning the liberals’ inability to deal with him. Rather, I’ll be meditating on the ethical implications of a Pagan world-view, and on how these ideals can be exemplified in political practices and institutions. I’ll be saying far more about Bel-Marduk and Athena, about Aristotle and Hypatia, and about ancestor worship and city-state democracy than I will about the latest outrageous tweet or crisis in world affairs.
The end result, I hope, will be something philosophically coherent, not merely an unconnected mélange of more or less pointed remarks.
It’s possible to question that choice of emphasis. After all, as I noted at the outset of my blogging, in March, I undertook this project because – like lots of other people – I’m very concerned about the current state of American politics. Trump is an important part of the problem, of course, but our country was coming apart at the seams, and our popular government was on shaky ground, long before the Don decided to promote his brand name by barging into Presidential politics. And, as my last blog postings of 2017 indicated, there’s a looming world environmental disaster that could overwhelm all of our domestic issues in the United States, serious as they are.
You might think I should be commenting on these matters of immediate, tangible significance, and on the misdeeds of persons with real power today, instead of going off on some artsy-fartsy quasi-philosophical tangent which may be fun to speculate about, but doesn’t seem to have much to do with the hard, cold political realities that’ll shape the future we and our children are going to have to live in.
You might think that. However, you’d be wrong.
In fact, political theory is the foundation of everything else in politics – all power, justice, and efficacy. You can be under every political disadvantage, but if you have the right theory – the right ideology, if you prefer – you have a chance. Equally, even if you have all the advantages, a bad theory can sink you, because you won’t know how to use what you have. Theory is the most perilous of political subjects. This is where loyalties are forged (and undermined), premises are justified (and questioned), and legitimacy is bestowed (and withheld). It’s very potent stuff.
Not only that, I’ll be presenting a political theory based on a religious point of view. That maybe sounds more radical than I mean it. There’s no reason a Pagan can’t be a patriotic American, loyal to the Constitution and the flag. Indeed, we’ve our own special reasons for treasuring the First Amendment. Yet while the government must be neutral regarding religion, politically active people – including Pagans – inevitably will be influenced by their spiritual convictions. I’ll be discussing what that means to me. I think I’m well within the bounds of a generic modern Paganism, but I don’t really claim to be speaking for anyone besides myself.
And while I don’t want to exaggerate the transformative potential of a political theory grounded on Pagan premises, neither do I wish to minimize the significance of this possibility. In recent years, in this country, religious values have been injected into politics chiefly by representatives of the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths. No doubt the great majority of Christians, Moslems, and Jews only desire to live peacefully with one another. Yet history – including current history – plainly reveals that these religions all possess an intolerant streak, which periodically prompts them to use force and violence against unbelievers and heretics.
Consequently, many people today have rejected religion, not only as a basis for government, but as a basis for morality and life in general. It’s based on illusion, they say, and it’s been refuted by science, which finds no trace of any Divine Purpose in the universe. Alas, the theory of a meaningless universe hasn’t worked too well in places where it’s been tried – like the officially atheistic Soviet Union – since it puts no moral limits on what rulers may do to achieve an allegedly good result.
Paganism, obviously, is neither Abrahamic nor secular, so criticisms you might make of either of those, don’t necessarily apply to us. Divine diversity is of our very essence, so we’re inherently tolerant. And since we’re inclined to think trees have souls, we’re not liable to treat human beings like things. If you think the world needs a fresh perspective – or if you think the world needs to reconnect with forgotten ancient lore – in either case a Pagan blog may give you something to think about.
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