sábado, 15 de enero de 2011

About Christianity and Paganism

About Christianity and Paganism

Odin and all his names: to me, the new Roman religion is little different from the old Roman religion. The names of the gods have changes from, oh, Jove and Rhea to, say, Jesus and Maria With some Judaic aspects tossed in. You have to investigate the ancients as I have and draw your own conclusions. Your noble religion is built upon a foundation that is equal parts Judaic and pagan.

Murgis: Well, yes and no, the pagan elements of Christianity are merely material, say like a means of propagation or a bridge, while the meaning of transcendence is light years ahead from Paganism because of the particular Christian value of the individual soul, among others.

Christian ritual developed when, in the third century, the Church left the Catacombs. Many forms of self-expression must need to be identical, in varying times, places, cults, as long as human nature is the same. Water, oil, light, incense, singing, procession, prostration, decoration of altars, vestments of priests, are naturally at the service of universal religious instinct. Little enough, however, was directly borrowed by the Church — nothing, without being "baptized", as was the Pantheon. In all these things, the spirit is the essential: the Church assimilates to herself what she takes, or, if she cannot adapt, she rejects it. The cult of saints and relics is based on natural instinct and sanctioned by the lives, death, and tombs (in the first instance) of martyrs, and by the dogma of the Communion of Saints; it is not developed from definite instances of hero-worship as a general rule, though often a local martyr-cult was purposely instituted to defeat (e.g.) an oracle tenacious of pagan life.

Odin and all his names: emperor Alexander Severus had icons of Jesus, Moses, Apollonius, Apollo, Jove, etc. in his private sanctum and he was a swarthy emperor (Phoenician). 

Murgis: Yes, but not out of an allegedly natural Pagan tolerance but a marked Christian influence ( in spite of these signs of imperial goodwill, the Christians continued to suffer, even in this mild reign).

His education had been carefully conducted by Mammaea at Antioch, whither she invited, some time between 218 and 228, the great Christian teacher, Origen. Eurebius relates that she was "a very religious woman", and that Origenremained some time with her, instructing her in all that could serve to glorify the Lord and confirm His Divine teachings. It does not, however, follow that she was a Christian. Her son Alexander was certainly very favorable to the Christians. His historian, Lampridius, tells us several interesting details concerning this emperor's respect for the new religion. He placed in his private oratory (lararium) images of Abraham and Christ before those of other renowned persons, like Orpheus and Apollonius of Tyana (Vita Alex., xxix); he tolerated the free exercise of the Christian Faith ("Christianos esse passus est"); he recommended in the appointment of imperial governors the prudence and solicitude of the Christians in the selection of their bishops; he caused to be adjudged to them  a building site at Rome that the tavern-keepers (cauponarii) claimed, on the principle that it was better that: "And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner" to be engraved on the walls of the palace of the Caesars; he even cherished the idea of building a temple to Our Lord, but refrained when it was said to him that very soon all the other divinities would cease to be honored. should be in some way honored there than that the site should revert to such uses; he caused the famous words of Christ in spite of these signs of imperial goodwill, the  Christians continued to suffer, even in this mild reign. Some writers think that it was then that St. Cecilia died for the Christian faith. His principal jurisconsult, Ulpian, is said by Lactantius  to have codified, in his work on the duties of a proconsul (De officio proconsulis), all anti-Christian imperial legislation (rescripta principum), in order that the magistrates might more easily apply the common law (ut doceret quibus oportet eos paenis affici qui se cultores Dei confiterentur). Fragments of this cruel code, from the seventh of the (ten) lost books of Ulpian on the proconsular office may yet be seen in the "Digests" (I, tit. xvi, xvii, tit. II, 3; xvliii, tit. IV, 1, and tit. xiii, 6). The surname "Severus",  no less than the manner in which both he and Mammaea met their death, indicate the temper of his administration. He sought to establish at Rome  good order and moral decency in public and private life, and made some use of his power as censor morum by nominating twelve officials (curatores urbis) for the execution of his wise dispositions. He seems to have been a disciple of the prevailing "religious syncretism" or eclecticism, established at Rome by his predecessor Elagabalus as the peculiar contribution of this remarkable Syro-Roman family to the slow but certain transformation of the great pagan Empire into a mighty instrument of Divine Providence for the healing of the moral ills that were then reaching fullness. All historians agree as to his life, and the moral elevation of his public and private principles; Christian historians are usually of opinion that these elements of virtue were owing to the education he received under the direction of Origen.

Odin and all his names: Apostates Like Julian.  When all Julian wanted to do was bring the Christians back into line; he didn't deny Christ per se, but he was a follower of the paganism. 

Murgis: False! The suspicious Emperor Constantius sent Julian later to the castle of Macellum in Cappadocia. Julian received a Christian training, but the recollection of the murder of his relatives sowed in him a bitter resentment against the authors of that massacre, and he extended this hatred to the Christian in general. 

Odin and all his names: Christians ran amok in Julian's empire. When the grand empire was already dying, Julian didn't want to supress Christians. He just wanted to give pagans back their rights that were taken away by Constantine and the sons of Constantine (i.e. freedom of religion).  

Murgis: False again! The neo-Platonist, Maximus of Ephesus, dazzled him by his fantastic teachings and prophesied his destined task, the restoration of paganism. When, at the close of 354, Constantius recalled Gallus Caesar to Italy, and had him beheaded for his manifold cruelties, Julian was taken a state prisoner to Milan, but, gaining the sympathy of the Empress Eusebia, secured permission to visit in 355 the schools of Athens, where Greek philosophy and rhetoric were enjoying their last period of prosperity. Julian now went over completely to the so-called Hellenism, and was initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries. With Julian the dynasty of Constantine came to an end. He was rather a philosophical littérateur of a somewhat visionary character, than a great ruler whose actions were the dictates of strong will and principles. The good beginnings of a just government which he showed in Gaul were not maintained when he was sole ruler. 

Odin and all his names: read his own words.

Murgis: Although his personal life was unostentatious, he was passionate, arbitrary, vain, and prejudiced, blindly submissive to the rhetoricians and magicians. Some of Julian's many controversial writings, orations, and letters have been preserved, showing his discordant, subjective character.

Odin and all his names: not all pagans are igorant shits.

Murgis: we only need turn to the great works of pagan antiquity to see that the best among the pagans were sincere lovers of truth and that their contributions are remarkable even though they were inevitably incomplete. They did not benefit from Christian revelation, but their works prove that there is a natural law inscribed in man\\'s heart, and that men of good will can easily read its dictates. Plato was such a man.
Plato devoted most of his writings to education. His two major works, The Republic and The Laws, are dedicated to this all-important topic. This article aims partly at etching the accomplishments of this great pagan. But the best among the pagans were open to the light, and made contributions that keep their full value. But there is an abyss between not knowing the light and rejecting it. The latter case applies to many in our society: Having received the plenitude of revealed truth, they do not find it palatable. This is why the world in which we live is threatened by dissolution. It has betrayed the unique heritage that it has received. Being an apostate is much worse than being a pagan. The pagans were ante lucem (before the light). Today, some leading educators try to extinguish what is left of the light of the Gospel.

The elaborate schemes of Aristotle and Plato are subordinated to state interest. Though based upon "sacred" books, education in ancient times, when organized, found these highly mythological, as in Greece or Rome, or rationalized, as in Confucian spheres of influence. Both Greeks and Romans attached great importance to a complete education, supported it with state patronage (the Ptolemies) state initiative and direction (the Antonines), and conceived for it high ideals (the "turning of the soul's eye towards the light", Plato, "Republic", 515 b); yet, failing to appreciate the value of the individual soul, they made education in fact merely utilitarian, the formation of a citizen being barely more complete than under the narrow and rigid systems of Sparta and Crete. The restriction, in classical Greece, of education among women to the Hetairai is a fact significant of false ideal and disastrous in results (J. B. Mahaffy, "Old Gk. Educ.", London, 1881; S. S. Laurie, "Historical Survey of Pre-Christian Educ.", London, 1900; L. Grasberger, "Erziehung u. Unterricht im klass. Alterum", , , "L'instruct. publique dans l'empire romain." in "Rev. de Deux Mondes", March, 1884; 3. P. Rossignol, "De l'educ. des hommes et des femmes chez les anciens", Paris, 1888). Rome deifies herself and her governors, and the emperor-cult dominates army and province, and welds together aristocracy and the masses. It is hard to judge of the practical effects; obviously autocracy profited, the development of obedience, loyalty, courage in the governed (Rome; Japan) being undoubted. Yet the system reposed upon a lie. The scandals of the court, the familiarities of the camp, the inevitable accidents of human life, dulled the halo of the god-king. Far more stable were the organizations resulting from the subtle polities devised by Greek experiment and speculation, and embodied in Roman law. Aristotle's political philosophy, almost designed — as Plato's frankly was — for the city state, was carried on through the Stoic vision of the City of Zeus, of world-empire, into the concrete majesty of Rome, which was itself to pass, when confronted in Christianity with that individual conscience it would not recognize, into the Civitas Dei of an Augustine.

(To be continued)

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