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For an Orthodox Christian, I sometimes think I have altogether too much sympathy for other religious expressions, especially Taoism or Sufi’ism and others of that stripe which concentrate on the immanence of God. Pantheism is a continual temptation for me, so you can see where I would find neo-paganism attractive in the abstract; first, neo-paganism purports to be eco-friendly, venerating the biosphere, that Web of Exchange which is the living, breathing skein of our planet. Then, neo-paganism purports to honor Tradition and Ancestors, and I have always believed that anything built up by increments over millenia as a result of mostly unconscious impulses has to contain something of value, and anyway is always to be preferred to a system created by a group of Really Smart People using their brains to Figure Things Out. As an aside, Arturo Vasquez deftly captures something of what I want to say in a post of his, The Modern War Against Folk Religion. Take what he has to say to heart, all you people with the highly developed frontal lobes, the next time someone passes you on the highway with the Virgin of Guadalupe garishly splashed all over his back window, and remember the Wahabi.
However, on the ground, I am finding that “neo-paganism” is becoming a favorite feint of the “spiritual-but-not-religious” crowd, a means to continue their undiluted worship of their own reflections while avoiding the inevitable demands a god would make on them.
Now, Neil Gaiman strikes as close as any living writer I have read to the mythopoetic spirit of the Inklings (I haven’t yet read Tim Powers or Gene Scott). OK, so he’s a horror writer. To anybody who isn’t sufficiently anesthetized, our age must seem an unending horror. Indeed, I don’t think you could possibly write mythopoetic literature, have it accurately describe our present spiritual circumstances, and not descend into horror.
Nevertheless, Mr. Gaiman deftly dispenses with modern American Wicca/neo-paganism in this scene from American Gods. Please forgive the format. My daughter borrowed my copy and there obviously isn’t a soft-copy version of a best-selling current novel available for cutting and pasting. But thank God for books.google and FastStone Capture.
Mr. Gaiman, if you stumble across this insignificant blog, I invoke the Fair Use clause, and want to thank you for a fascinating and thought-provoking read.
Also, if you are a neo-pagan who has wandered in here and are offended, leave a message and let’s try to be friends.