by guest blogger, BroKen
Last week I made the statement that we are rapidly becoming, if we haven't already become one, a pagan culture. Here is why I said that.
I defined a pagan as one who worships an experience or the object of an experience. I should explain that worship of an experience need not be a formal worship. In ancient times a pagan farmer might have sex with a temple prostitute in order to magically ensure that his crops would grow. He planted seed in the field, so he plants seed in the temple as well. That would be a kind of formal worship arrangement. Yet many pagans are driven by sexual experience without any temple involved. It is the elevation of an experience to a highest value, not a temple, which makes a pagan.
Similarly, a pagan isn't necessarily a primitive, superstitious person who believes in the reality of beings like the Olympian gods. Even today a sailor might be said to worship the sea. The sea gives him his livelihood demonstrating awesome power which paradoxically can even threaten his life. The sailor need not believe in Poseidon or Neptune to be pagan.
A pagan culture worships experience and countless experiences qualify for worship. Pagan gods multiply as experience after experience adds god upon god. One person's god is just as good as any other. “Add to the pantheon,” is the pagan way.
Even religious experience can be worshiped apart from the gods involved. The bumper sticker “COEXIST” formed out of major religious symbols; Islamic crescent for the C and Christian cross for the T, is essentially pagan. Pagans don't care if any of those religions are true. Pagan religion merely seeks an experience which we should all accept and enjoy and let others enjoy. Experience is the thing for a pagan.
The sexual revolution and proliferation of drugs clearly have pagan roots. From Playboy bunnies to professor Timothy Leary's advocating drugs to achieve spiritual enlightenment, the experience is the thing. Traditional warnings about dire consequences of such hedonism are seen as the jealous cries of old folks who are shackled by outmoded moralities. Hugh Hefner is now mainstream and the influence of advocates for drug legalization continues to grow.
There is worship of Mother Earth or Gaia as she is often called nowadays. Certainly an element of worship empowers much of the environmental movement. There may not be a temple to humpback whales or panda bears, but there is an awful lot of money sacrificially given on their behalf.
Then there is money itself, too. How many business leaders are driven to work and sacrifice in pursuit of piles of cash? The experience of wealth is one many people would die or even kill for. You might say they worship green paper!
Yes, we are becoming, if we haven't already become, a pagan culture. “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Philippians 3:19