“This gentleman writes about neo–paganism,” gushed the secretary, pointing in my direction. “What’s that?” asked the cute prospective student who that day happened to be visiting the seminary where I work. Her question made me think.
I have thought that the religious tsunami of neo–paganism was perfectly obvious to everyone, but it is not even a blip on many people’s radar screen. To be fair, I only discovered it myself some seventeen years ago.
Where is this “new spirituality” now? This morning, the Los Angeles Times speaks of a “wave of unprecedented yoga mania,” including a program for minority kids, called “Yoga in the Hood,” endorsed by the mayor of LA. If you do not see the significant cultural presence of paganism here, it is because you think yoga is a harmless exercise. That is not what the urbane Times journalist thinks: “…yoga’s key principle [is] union among all living beings.” This oneness idea, the religious commitment to pagan “monism,” is also powerfully expressed in the highly successful cult film, What the Bleep Do We Know? in which an ex–Roman Catholic priest declares that the great heresy is believing that God and the creation are separate.
I need your help! Am I crazy, or can you also see these pagan notions everywhere?
Even farther. Consider the following cultural and “moral” victories and ask yourself–is this not a genuine revolution?
One more example from California. On August 21, 2006, the California State Assembly passed SB 1437, a bill that would alter K–12 public education textbooks, instructional materials, and school–sponsored activities to refer positively to transsexuality, transvestitism, bisexuality, and homosexuality, including homosexual “marriage.” In his opening remarks, the Assembly Speaker, Democrat Fabian Nunez, who proposed the bill, openly said the real purpose of SB 1437 is to outlaw traditional perspectives on marriage and family in the state school system. “The way that you correct a wrong,” Nunez said, not pulling any punches, “is by outlawing it.” The bill passed with a healthy margin, in celebration of the “moral rightness” of the oneness of all these different sexual expressions.
What has this law to do with paganism?
As this oneness ideology advances calmly, under our noses, rising generations of Christians do not see it, are unable to define it, and do not realize its pagan source.
This year I have lectured on a number of university campus, both in the northern and the southern hemispheres. Everywhere, I got the same impression. The mouths of our Christian kids are often closed, for two reasons, 1. fear, 2. ignorance.
- Fear: They are naturally intimidated by the all–powerful politically–correct ideology that dominates the college scene and is demanded and taught by Big Brother Administration. Only one ideology is allowed full–expression, namely, “free–speech,” (cleverly defined as morally–relative, all inclusive, diversity–tolerant “oneness”). Anything that seeks to make moral and theological distinctions is punished as “hate–speech.” One campus Christian worker, with an office in the official “spirituality center” told me: “We do our real work under the radar.” This is a great irony. Evangelical groups are recognized as long as they keep quiet about their true message.
Under the barrage of this ideology, our young people, including many Christians, have been brainwashed by the modern survivalist mantra–”Can’t we all get along?” with its implicit appeal to oneness.
- Ignorance: I got the distinct impression from the campuses I visited that Christians want to be nice by helping students with personal difficulties, but are unable to mount a convincing ideological critique of what is happening on the college campus. The message is “Jesus is my friend” rather than “Jesus is Lord of the cosmos.” While “Jesus, friend of sinners” is an essential part of Christian witness, the Bible does not begin with “Jesus loves me” but with an overarching statement of cosmology–”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” While paganism on the university campus makes huge claims about human life and the monistic nature of the cosmos, our Christian discourse is failing to provide cosmological statements defending the truth of theism. The danger is great, both for non–Christians and even for young Christians, that Christianity will be dismissed as a mindless, sentimental affair that cannot even match the marvelous experiences of spiritual pagans, who are seemingly at peace with themselves and the world.
Christians cannot be united to everything and everyone. Christians have religious/ideological enemies. You cannot take on the enemy of paganism if you ignore the categories that identify it–religious categories by which it must be forced to make a public case. Understanding those categories will allow Christians to find their minds and voices. Only then can we hope for a revival of soul–stirring Christian witness, impassioned evangelism and inspired cultural expression worthy of the name of Christ. It will not be easy, but it must be done.
CHRISTOS KURIOS: CHRIST IS LORD.