Regeneration or Degeneration:
Terrorism is indeed the fruit of paganism, the concept that innocent human beings, including women and children, can be taken hostage, maimed and massacred. By definition terrorism lives in a moral void. And immorality is also the fruit of paganism, the concept that human life exists only for selfish, sensual, depravity, with the result that the victims of immorality see their lives destroyed by drugs and AIDS and that tens of millions of children are aborted or abandoned. By definition, immorality lives in a moral void. The result is both physical and spiritual sterility. According to the October 1st edition of the British journal The Economist, the population of Russia is now in steep decline. On paper, the Russians as a race could almost disappear within a hundred years, if there is no change, if, quite literally, there is no rebirth, no regeneration.
The problem is a spiritual one. The fact is that Russia has only ever known two systems. One is Orthodoxy, the other is paganism. Whenever Russia rejects Orthodoxy, it falls back into paganism, be it primitive, pre-Orthodox materialistic animism, or post-Orthodox materialistic Communism, or Western consumerism. However, the problem is also worldwide, for the whole globalized world is going through a process of the rebirth of paganism. Both terrorism and immorality are worldwide phenomena, evidence of the rebirth of paganism, of Neo-Paganism.
By Neo-Paganism we do not mean primitive pagan religions, such as one can find in parts of Asia, Africa and elsewhere, with their fetishism and animism. Here there is ignorance of Christ. But here there are also moralities, albeit primitive, manmade ones. By Neo-Paganism neither do we do mean various manmade philosophies such as Buddhism. Here there is ignorance of Christ. But here there are also moralities, albeit sophisticated, manmade ones.
By Neo-Paganism we do not mean falling back into the Jewish Old Testament moral law of vengeance, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This is the foundation of two Old Testament religions, Judaism and Islam, which both rejected the New Testament Revelation of Christ, the Unique Revelation of Love and Forgiveness. Their Old Testament moral law is not pagan, it is still a morality, although it does explain why the problems of the Middle East are intractable. Until both sides forgive one another, they are doomed to an everlasting vicious circle of bloody struggle, as has been witnessed for well over fifty years, as is witnessed daily in Gaza and elsewhere.
By Neo-Paganism we mean the rejection of all moral values, the apostasy from Christ by people once converted to Him and their rejection even of pagan religions, manmade philosophies and Old Testament moral law. How else, for example, can the brutal beheading of hostages in Iraq be explained? The human sacrifices there are pure evil. Neo-Paganism is worse even than the original paganism, which was a paganism of ignorance. Christ has come into the world. Those who have not heard of him have an excuse. Apostates have no excuse.
Christians cannot pride themselves either that they have accepted Christ's Teaching. The whole history of Christianity has been a constant falling back into the Old Testament. It can be seen especially in Protestantism, which even systematically refuses the Christian Old Testament in favour of the Jewish one. But Catholicism and even historic Orthodoxy have at times fallen back into Old Testament ways. Christians can indeed accuse themselves that Neo-Paganism has come into the world, because we were unable to show Christ by example to the Non-Christian world.
These tendencies can be seen in the Orthodox world. Two great trends can be seen eating into our Orthodox world. The first is the lapse into the Old Testament, the other the lapse into secularism.
On the one hand, there are those who would make our Orthodox Christianity into a mere shell of a religion, just another nationalist ghetto. They would, for example, try to canonize Ivan the Terrible or Rasputin, simply because they are of a certain nationality and are well-known to history. This is the religion of the Jews, who rejected the New Testament in favour of a national cult, refusing Christ, because He did not justify them and instead preached to the whole world. And His Church followed Him, preaching in the languages of the world. Beware, their Jewish values are the values of apostasy, they are the values which give birth to Neo-Paganism, where anything goes.
On the other hand, there are those who would make our Orthodox Christianity into a mere shell of a religion, just another form of secularist humanism. They would swim with the tide, merge with secular Western values, simply because that is the easy way out. This is the religion of the Greeks, who rejected the New Testament in favour of an easy way of life, refusing Christ, because He did not justify their world and instead preached the other world. And His Church followed Him, preaching in the language of Christ, not that of Neo-Puritan political correctness. Beware, their secular values are the values of apostasy, they are the values which give birth to Neo-Paganism, where anything goes.
Between the racist Jews and the humanist Greeks stands the Cross. The Cross of Christ stands between extremes. The Cross thus becomes the place of creativity, because creativity is born out of the creative tension its place between extremes. As the Apostle preached: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness (1 Cor 1,23). A stumbling-block and foolishness, because the place of the Cross is not only the place of the Crucifixion, but also the place of New Life, of the Resurrection. And the Resurrection is what, with its kiss of death, life-hating Neo-Paganism rejects as a stumbling-block and foolishness.
The choice is clear:
The Risen Christ and Personal, Social, National and International Regeneration.
Neo-Paganism and Personal, Social, National and International Degeneration.
Let the world decide.
September/ 8 October 2004