Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Pagans invented the wheel

Well, yes, of course, if you think about it--presuming that you equate pre-Big Name Religion (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, etc.) with "Pagan." But first, let me acknowledge publication of Pagan Pride, a book of short readings (in unusual square format) "honoring the Craft and Culture of Earth and Goddess." Its premise is that we self-defined contemporary Pagans can be proud (and celebrate Pagan Pride Day) because our religious predecessors, if not literal ancestors, gave the world so much: democracy, pottery, the Sphinx of Egypt, spinning and textiles, calendars, the Parthenon, etc.

Item 40, "Rhetoric," strikes a note similar to my first-day-of-class remarks in my "advanced composition and rhetoric" course, in fact.

At the same time, playing with the rhetorical notion of kairos, I have note the unspoken claims that such a book makes by its very existence. (And I have made them too.) In other words, this book--its title, subtitle, and content--make a statement in an ongoing conversation about these claims:

1. There is a religious mode called paganism/Paganism that underlies all religion and yet stands apart from "revealed" religion. (That is one of the claims made by Michael York in Pagan Theology.

2. This mode can be defined to include almost all ancient, Classical, animistic, "native" religions as well as the self-consciously revived or created "new" Paganisms of today.

3. Paganism is--or will become--the de facto civil religion of the entire globe as environmental crisis worsens. That is the argument York is developing in a book chapter that will be excerpted in the next Pomegranate. I would argue that contemporary Pagans started making this argument right about the time of the first Earth Day and continued emphasizing it from the 1970s onward. (The "ownership" of Earth Day is somewhat "contested," as we academics say, but that is another story.)


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