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  • The Bold Pagan Buffoonery of Buffed Bronze Age Boys*
  • The Bold Pagan Buffoonery of Buffed Bronze Age Boys*

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    June 10, 2024

    “Antidotes to Idolatry” – Part 8


    By Dr. Jeffery J. Ventrella

    “Don’t apply [the fruit of the Spirit] . . . without regard to what time it is”[1]

    “I would support measures that would exclude Hindus from holding public office in the United States.  You in?”[2]

    “Now the works of the flesh are evident:  . . . enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, . . . and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.[3]

    The apostle Paul speaks of those who “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.”[4] In other words there exist well-motivated Christians who froth and expend boundless energy seemingly for God but fail to do so intelligently with proper knowledge.  This is increasingly so in the arena of public order, especially politics.

    This is understandable in some respects.  Consider the current cultural moment:  celebrity politicians; ugly irresponsible accusations; ugly irresponsible responses to ugly irresponsible accusations.  We see heat generated with little light.  

    Reasoned discourse, winsomeness, and civility are vanishing and now are being poo-pooed – by Christians.[5]  Decorum declines and is being demeaned – by Christians.  Solutions do not sound in policy, but instead in punishing enemies – advocated by Christians.  And sadly, many in the church, particularly zealous cybersphere click-fueled young men, have been seduced by this call to a supposedly more muscular “take no prisoners” zero sum game approach.  Make no mistake.  These tactics are decidedly not Christian; they are pagan.  The Barbarians are not at the gate; they are being welcomed to join us at our dining tables.[6]

    This pagan ethos and ethic now infect the public square, contending that the very foundation of the US is corrupt and ill-conceived: “Classical Liberalism’s constitutionalism has failed; let’s help burn it down!”  Accordingly, the New Right[7] often mocks the constitutional order,[8] decrying free speech, the virtuous market,[9] and the rule of law. Damn free speech.  Canceling the Left is now the war cry, fighting fire with fire:  seize power and then impose and suppress “the enemy.”  Rage is confused with and deemed to be a godly strategy.  Daily, the New Right increasingly apes the culture and employs cultural Marxist ploys.[10]  State power is seen as salvific.[11]  In fixating on seizing power these Bronze Boys distort the Christian priority of justice.  As Francis Schaeffer explained in 1981, referencing Bracton:

    But because of God’s character, justice came before the use of power alone.  Therefore Christ died that justice, rooted in what God is, would be the solution. . . . Therefore power is not first, but justice is first in society and law.  The prince may have the power to control and rule, but he does not have the right to do so without justice.[12]

    Any proposal that strips away religious liberty, suffrage, and supplants them with partiality, undermines justice.  The Bronze Boys do exactly this as will be shown.  But first, we need to understand the Bronze Boys’ agent for seizing and wielding cultural and political power:  the buffed Bronze Age Man.  

    Self-appointed “influencers” call for a new masculinity to implement this power grab.  True manliness is now defined by bulging-muscle physicality, boorish behavior, and a lust for power: the “Bronze Age” mindset.[13]  These tendencies in reality reflect very little, if any, actual Christianity.  Instead, these influencers have imported and implemented a pre-Christian pagan ethos and ethic.  It is one thing for paganism to seep into the church; it’s quite another for the church to extend the welcome mat to paganism.  

    This Dicta will not delve into the many facets of errors contained in this trend.  The focus here instead will address – with intended brevity – the sheer foolish impracticality of some of these proposals, showing that pagan-inspired strategies deployed in God’s world will not ultimately work and certainly ignore Christian ethical mandates.  Let’s get to the gist.

    Bold & Buffed Buffoonery

    Certainly, since Christianity rejects Gnosticism, believers should valorize and steward their physicality.  Afterall, humans are embodied creatures.  This may involve pursuing physical fitness, healthy diet, rest, etc.  Here’s the problem with the Bronze Age neo-masculinists:  Good goods make bad gods.  

    These folks tend to elevate pursuing strength and body-sculping.  They, like good step-children of Nietzsche, follow the so-called Boniface Option[14].  They idealize the young fit and powerful male body as the paradigm – for everyone man.  Let’s stop and think for a moment.  Whatever one’s preferences, any definition of masculinity – in order to be biblical – must apply to all created men:  the young, the old, the handicapped, the sick, the infirm, the rich, the poor, et al.  Put differently, no Christian can rightly define “being a man” in a way which – at the outset – excludes some category of men.  Being “manly” does not consist of pumping iron, growing beards, tattooing forearms, shutting down women’s groups and calling for women to be disenfranchised,[15] getting drunk, primping one’s appearance, etc.  The Biblical emphasis travels a different direction.

    Consider the physical appearance of the theological titan, Paul:  unskilled in speaking,[16] in fact, his critics contend:

    “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”[17]

    They seem to be discounting his “weighty and strong” writings simply because he appears  . . . well, wimpy.

    Paul also endured great physical challenge – his thorn in the flesh[18] – evidently, pain is not always “weakness leaving the body.”[19]  And, Paul would not land on the cover on GQ:  He reportedly was a bald diminutive man, who never “corrected” or “Man-scaped” his unibrow – a brutto[20]:

    He was a bald-headed, bowlegged short man with a big nose, and an unbroken eyebrow that lay across his forehead like a dead caterpillar.[21]    

    Not impressive; no doubt his “man-card” would be challenged today.

    And, what about the Messiah?  Here’s how Isaiah describes the coming savior:

          For he grew up before him like a young plant,

                and like a root out of dry ground;

          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

                and no beauty that we should desire him.

          He was despised and rejected by men,

                a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

          and as one from whom men hide their faces

                he was despised, and we esteemed him not.[22]

    Plainly, He would fail a screen test for a “sword & sandal” film.[23]  How does one impress the Lord?  What is His delight?  Hint:  it’s not bugling muscles, crassness, long beards, and a successful “leg day”:

          His delight is not in the strength of the horse,

                nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,

          but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,

                in those who hope in his steadfast love.[24]

    As Joe Boot puts it:

    “True manhood is about faithfulness, conviction, & kingdom service.”[25]

    Undeterred by such admonitions, a number of Christian boys, who have imbibed the Bronze Age Mindset, are applying it increasingly to the public square, including politics.  

    Back to the Bronze Age?

    These agitators fueled by “keyboard courage,” evidently assert access to some special secret knowledge, claiming they infallibly “know what time it is.”  This essentially Gnostic move permits them to dismiss decorum and civility, even rendering the fruit of the Spirit optional, as if the shelf life of the Spirit’s fruit has expired.  As one Bronze boy chirped:

    “Don’t apply [the fruit of the Spirit] . . . without regard to what time it is”[26]

    That’s a fascinating – and mistaken – claim.  We ought to be pursuing and manifesting the Spirit’s  fruits – come what may – holiness is not optional.  Paul knows no “King’s X” for the Spirit’s fruit; there is no expiration or “pull date” for them.  Indeed, what’s particularly galling is how these folks so easily jettison the manner of the Gospel.  This directly contradicts Paul’s and Peter’s concern regarding cultural engagement:  the means matter.  

    Paul counterculturally confronts – not consumes – the real and extant Bronze Age mindset– commanding conduct flowing from Christ’s, not Commodus’s, ethics.  In particular, Paul tells believers to depart (1) from the passions of youth; (2) from quarrel-breeding foolish and ignorant controversies; and to instead (3) act with the character befitting Christ’s servant:  not being quarrelsome, but instead being kind, patient, and gentle[27] – this is precisely because Paul knew “what time it was;” time for redemption’s message AND manner to be taken to the streets[28]:

    So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.[29]

    The manner of the Gospel rightly rejects the works of the flesh: “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy” et al[30]

    Christians must – and it’s not optional – engage well with outsiders, that is, pagans, walking wisely, properly, resulting in being well thought of by them:

    Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.[31]

    [A]spire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.[32]

    And, pastors in particular must conduct themselves in a manner that causes outsiders to think well of them:

    Moreover, [the pastor or elder] must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.[33]  

    Peter stresses the same point:

    Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.[34]

    Sadly, we are now seeing many pastors precipitating the opposite effect.  Some propose political measures that would in effect instantiate a Muslim – not a Christian – social structure – a new Dhimmitude.[35]  

    Christians for a New Dhimmitude???

    The Christian Faith is a universalizing faith.  Under Christ the King, His law and rule apply equally to all – all are called to “kiss the Son”.[36]  There is to be no partiality under His precepts and rule.[37]  All tongues and tribes will rejoice in Christ.[38]

    Dissolving Religious Liberty

    In stark contrast to these ethical admonitions and eschatological outcomes, a number of Christians are rejecting biblical mandates and instead feting pagan Bronze Age anti-manners.  These folks, often lurking in Reformed cul-de-sacs, can be seen expressing bizarre or evil policies:  opposing women’s suffrage, advocating for Kinist ideology,[39] pursuing State power to “reward friends and punish enemies,”[40] and now, proposing to legally constrict religious freedom.  Note this chirp by one self-avowed Christian Nationalist:

    “I would support measures that would exclude Hindus from holding public office in the United States.  You in?”[41]

    Really?  “Houston, we have a problem.”[42]  Someone seems to have forgotten some basic points.  First, recall that it was the Christian worldview that conceived of and promoted religious liberty.  Tertullian, early on, invented that term.[43]  Then from a legal perspective, it was the Justinian Code of Roman Law that protected Jews and pagans from forced conversions and other deprivations predicated on their non-Christian status – all in the midst of Christianity being the official State religion.  

    Later, the Puritans protected the liberty of conscience by “codifying” it in their confessional standards.[44]  Yet Christians did not always respect these liberties consistently.  Example:  in Britain, Catholics could neither vote nor hold public office until later in the empire.[45]

    Now we see leading public intellectuals “on board” with using the State’s power to constrict public involvement based on religious conviction – note – this measure does not seek to restrict Hindu politicians from enacting Hindu particulars like the caste system or Sati[46] (widow burning) – what we might call religious exercise – which should, like Molech child sacrifice, be proscribed.  This proposal rests political disqualification upon one’s status of being a Hindu.  This click-baiting tweet is littered with defects. 

    Deprecating Humanity

    First, what does this claim say about the author’s view of humanity?  Does the image Dei exist in pagans?  If so, on what basis should they be disabled from holding public office?  Put differently, should political disability be based on the status or the prior conduct of the individual?

    Second, if this scheme were to be implemented, why should a Christian support what amounts to a political caste system, a new apartheid?  It was the Christians and their theology that worked publicly to undo pagan Kinist and tribalist notions by valorizing the individual.[47]  Why should Christians “buy in” to “go back to Egypt?”

    Third, although Scripture commands Christians to generally “be subject. . . to every human institution”[48] implementing this proposal would at the very least require reconfiguring vast swathes of American constitutionalism.  As to holding federal office, the Constitution expressly rejects religious tests:  

    [N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.[49]

    And, of course, the 1st Amendment protects religion and religious exercise.  And, a myriad of federal statutes proscribe religious discrimination in employment.[50]  Moreover, many States also protect religion in this way.  The extant legal barriers – let alone the proponents’ tone-deaf public messaging – erect a high bar.  Hurdling it in today’s culture simply cannot occur.

    The Transition Tribulation

    OK.  Let’s assume these measures do not flout biblical precepts, human dignity, religious liberty, and the extant legal order, and instead comprise a good idea.  Query:  How do the Christian Nationalists act so that these anti-Hindu prohibitions can be installed?  How can they “get there from here”?  Like in the case of peddling most fundamentally utopian notions, these advocates rarely produce a strategic plan; instead, they just assume it’s “just so.”  That’s fanciful and utterly unrealistic.  Here’s why: great transition problems exist for implementing Christian Nationalism’s particulars and the Bronze Age Boys thus far lack any cogent plan for achieving anything other than clicks and conference fees.[51]

    Think about it; what these folks are actually proposing is a regime change via soft coercion.  Ardent advocates for this sort of transition frequently simply chirp that Classical Liberalism’s constitutionalism “has failed” and “will collapse.”  Ok, and then what?  HOW precisely does society transition to the “new and improved” post-liberal polis?  

    The evangelical Bronze Boys may want to consider some history because the Catholic Integralists have tried – and failed – with a very similar and much better funded program.  And, a tiny, but vocal Catholic minority are now back pushing to again initiate and impose their view on the public square.  This vision substantively sounds, yet is wrapped in a more nuanced and sophisticated non-MAGA message, like a Catholic Bronze Ager program.  The outcome they seek includes reduced religious liberty, the Catholic Church possessing jurisdiction over all baptized citizens, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant; and the State enforcing the Catholic Magisterium’s dictates publicly “for the common good.”  Now to be clear:  the Catholic gathering known as Vatican II rejected Integralism’s tenets.[52]

    Vallier outlines the irresolvable transition problems facing the new Integralists.  And, the same problems exist for the evangelical Bronze Age Boys.  They include: (1) Leadership Failures; (2) Internal Resistance; and (3) External Opposition.[53]

    Vallier notes that Leadership failures stem from either corruption or incompetence.  One needs to assess whether the Bronze Boys have actually led anything beyond their own cul-de-sacs.  What are their demonstrable competencies?  Second, internally, there will be dissent – factions are endemic to these sorts of efforts – just consider how many denominations exist or the splintering of the so-called Christian Reconstruction movement.  

    Evangelical Christians can’t agree on the institute church and her sacraments; do we really believe there will be unity as to the public square, its policies, and its politics?  Do these Boys really think all Christians will be “on board” with State-enforced political discrimination based solely on a person’s religious conviction?  Maybe in addition to Hindus, Arminians should not hold office.  Or Catholics and Baptists, or Pentecostals, or ????  

    Finally, there will be external opposition – in this case – from Hindus and other religious minorities and their legal allies.  They will not “go away quietly” cheerfully consenting to their political and civic privileges being curtailed or eliminated. There will be dissensus from the State, the Church, the Military, as well as from those dissenting Christians within and without the movement.   Also, they can expect massive democratic resistance as well as opposition from the elite and educational classes.   Vallier calmly and cogently expands on all this in more detail.  The Bronze Boys have failed to count the cost; one wonders at times whether they can even count.

    Let’s close with this.  Note what the Bronze Boys never say. Remember:  They want to bar – in this case – Hindus from holding public office – as if that’s the most pressing existential problem in today’s culture.[54]  Here’s an idea:  Why don’t they turn their stomach acid-churning social media froth into actual evangelistic efforts targeting Hindus?[55]  The Bronze Boys seem to have forgotten one key way to keep Hindus from holding office: convert them to Christ.  As Chesterton noted:  

    Neo-Pagans have sometimes forgotten; when they set out to do everything that the old pagans did, that the final thing the old pagans did was to get christened.[56]

    Christ; not Caesar, not Commodus.  Let’s take His message AND His manner to the streets!



    [*] This moniker is used to categorize those Christian young men influenced by – whether by design or osmosis – the ideas fueled by an internet persona calling himself the Bronze Age Pervert, the purported author of The Bronze Age Mindset (2018).

    [1] AD Robles, cited by Brian Mattson, The Fruit Stand is on Break, The Square Inch, No. 211, May 17, 2024

    [2] Douglas Wilson, X, June 3, 2024

    [3] Gal. 5:19-21

    [4] Romans 10:2

    [5] One notable exception is this fine work by a former student of mine:  Alexandra Hudson, The Soul of Civility:  Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves (2023)

    [6] World Magazine recently reported the results of study indicating that 6 in 10 Christians hold to at least one “New Age” – that is, pagan – belief. https://influencemagazine.com/practice/6-in-10-u-s-christians-hold-new-age-beliefs

    [7] Some use the toned-down moniker “post-liberal.”   The New Right consists of those who reject Christian-influenced Classical Liberalism, constitutionalism, individual and economic liberty, and traditional conservatism. 

    [8] See, e.g., Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (2019) and Regime Change:  Toward a Postliberal Future (2023)

    [9] Consider for example the Bahnsen-Cass debate:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKwdFZhkgpg

    [10] The rejection of the rule of law appliable equally to all is a product of Neo-Marxist Critical Theory.  See, Hebert Marcuse, Repressive Tolerance:  A Critique of Pure Tolerance (1965) https://www.marcuse.org/herbert/publications/1960s/1965-repressive-tolerance-fulltext.html

    [11] Consider the upcoming National Conservatism 4 Conference (July 8-10) – the presentations portend some version of Statist solutions, as if Caesar, not Christ, is the savior.

    [12] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (1981), 28

    [13] See, e.g., Andrew Isker, The Boniface Option:  A Strategy for Christian Counteroffensive in a Post-Christian Nation (2023).  Here, Isker repeatedly invokes the term “trashworld” to depict the current cultural moment – a term popularized by the Nietzsche-inspired author (likely Romanian Costin Vlad Alamariu) of Bronze  Age Mindset (2018)).  For a mature analysis, see, Jack Butler, Why Conservatives Must Reject the ‘Bronze Age Mindset’ – and Offer something Better,https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/why-conservatives-must-reject-the-bronze-age-mindset-and-offer-something-better/

    [14] See note 14.

    [15] Brian Sauve’ – that’s a real name – calls for eliminating women’s suffrage – and also women’s bible studies. Saying, “Women’s small groups and Bible studies are the root of countless issues in the church.” Posted on X and reposted by David Gonzales on Facebook, June 4, 2024.

    [16] 2 Cor 11:6, 

    [17] 2 Cor. 10:10

    [18] 2 Cor. 12:7

    [19] This quote is attributed to the great Marine, Chesty Puller.

    [20] Italian slur for being ugly, unsightly, foul, unpleasant

    [21] Christian History, “Bald, Blind, & Single?” No. 47, https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/bald-blind-and-single

    [22] Is. 53:2, 3

    [23] “Sword and Sandal” refers to a continuing and popular genre of epic battle films featuring Bronze Age buffed men doing “manly” things and violently vanquishing  enemies:  Hercules, Quo Vadis, Spartacus, Ben Hur, Gladiator, 300, et al – seehttps://www.rollingstone.com/tv-movies/tv-movie-lists/toga-party-10-sword-and-sandal-films-to-see-13963/gladiator-2000-220320/

    [24] Ps. 147:10,11

    [25] Joe Boot on X, accessed June 5, 2024

    [26] AD Robles, cited by Brian Mattson, The Fruit Stand is on Break, The Square Inch, No. 211, May 17, 2024

    [27] There exists an online cottage industry either commending or condemning Tim Keller’s winsome manner.  See, e.g., Ben C. Dunson, The Winsomeness Warshttps://americanreformer.org/2023/01/the-winsomeness-wars/

    [28] Consider attending TruthxChange’s 2024 Symposium:  Every Square Inch:  Taking Chrit’s Lordship to the Streets, August 30, 31 in Pasadena.

    [29] 2 Tim. 2:22-26

    [30] Gal. 5:20

    [31] Col. 4:5, 6

    [32] 1 Thess 4:11, 12

    [33] 1 Tim. 3:7

    [34] 1 Peter 2:12

    [35] Islam describes non-Muslims as “dhimmis” – a “Dhimmitude” is a social and legal structure predicated on Islamic law which curtails the religious freedom of Jews and Christians.  See, Bat Yeor, Islam and Dhimmitude:  Where Civilizations Collide, (2001); and also Andrew Dorn, Liberated from Dhimmitudehttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2024/02/liberated-from-dhimmitude

    [36] Ps 2:12

    [37] See, e.g., Lev. 19:15, Deut. 1:17, Ps. 82:2, Prov. 24:23, Prov. 28:21, James, 2:1, 9

    [38] Rev. 7:9, 14:6

    [39] See https://www.theamericanconservative.com/thomas-achord-confesses/ detailing the racist rhetoric of Thomas Achord, the podcast partner of Christian Nationalist Stephen Wolfe.  Achord also edited a Kinist anthology – his stated goal intended to use Classical Christian schools to introduce and normalize racist and Kinist notions with the next generation – until he was exposed and deposed.  Thomas Achord and Darrel Dow, Who is My Neighbor:  An Anthology of Natural Relations (2019) 

    [40] Josh Hammer calls conservatives to “wield political power to reward friends and punish enemies,” https://x.com/josh_hammer/status/1556798218754736128?lang=en

    But at least he calls for this to be done “within the confines of the rule of law.” Id.  Others want to bend or ignore it.  Allie Beth Stuckey puts it directly:  it’s all about seizing and using greater amounts of State power: “The way forward is going to require the people we elect to exercise a lot more power than conservatives have been traditionally comfortable with.”  Id.

    [41] Douglas Wilson, X, June 3, 2024

    [42] The actual quote by astronaut “Jack” Swigert from Apollo 13 was “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” https://www.nasa.gov/history/50-years-ago-houston-weve-had-a-problem/

    [43] Robert Louis Wilken, Liberty in the Things of God:  The Christian Origin of Religious Freedom, (2019)

    [44] See, e.g., Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), Ch. 20 – Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience

    [45] See the Catholic Emancipation Act, 1829

    [46] This long-standing Indian practice – extant since the 4th Century BC – was only banned by Christian England’s Raj in 1829 – cultures matter.

    [47] See generally, Larry Sidentop, Inventing the Individual:  Origins of Western Liberalism (2014) and Tom Holland, Dominion:  How the Christian Revolution Remade the World (2019)

    [48] 1 Peter 2:13

    [49] U.S. Const. Article VI

    [50] Notably, what’s commonly referenced at Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e – 2000e17 (as amended)

    [51] Some more cynical than I may conclude these are the schemes of grifters:  instead of promising a Christian amusement park like Jim and Tammy Bakker, they are promising a Christian State.  Don’t laugh.  Some of these folks already reportedly plan to develop a Christian enclave – for an investment – for similarly-minded Protestants as a precursor to developing political dominance in a region.  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/20/kentucky-far-right-community-real-estate-development

    [52] See Kevin Vallier, All The Kingdoms of the World – On Radical Religious Alternative to [Classical] Liberalism, (2023) for a reasoned, fair, and devasting history and critique of Integralism.

    [53] See note 53, at 143-155

    [54] .07% of the US population identifies as Hindu.  See, e.g., https://www.pewresearch.org/religious-landscape-study/database/religious-tradition/hindu/

    [55] I suspect the reason some don’t do this is because they hold shameful ethno-nationalist and Kinist – if not racist – convictions.

    [56] https://x.com/GKCdaily/status/1201489352590798848