Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Kinder, gentler polytheism

Charged with reviewing both it and a new book about the emperor Julian, I have finally begun Jonathan Kirsch's God Against the Gods.

Even as the legacy of the Vietnam War still influences American politics, so the fourth-century C.E. conflict between the ideas of Julian and his uncle Constantine echo down unto our era. Kirsch's thesis, in brief, is that monotheism produces intolerance and violence, such as flying hijacked airplanes into office buildings. "At the heart of polytheism is an open-minded and easygoing approach to religious belief and practice," he writes by contrast--and I am all for that.

(On the other hand, when dealing with any of the "desert monotheisms"and their commands to "kill the polytheists", it's best to keep your eyes open.)

Jason Pitzl-Waters earlier blogged about the same volume, and it furnished the subtitle for The Juggler, the collaborative Pagan blog.

A sidelight: Julian's story was still so annoying to some medieval Christians that Winchester Cathedral contains a set of paintings depicting an entirely fictional version of his death.

UPDATE: If you like that "open-minded and easygoing" polytheism idea, then surf on over to Godchecker.


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