Showing posts with label Monotheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monotheism. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ruins Testify To Greek Resistance of Christianization

Many of us may not realize it, but modern history is mostly written by Christians, or historians who, in large number, tend to pander to the Christian idea of events, which as we know are all too common false or exaggerated. For example, for the longest time, the so called "Great Persecution" was regarded as a world event, whereas now, we have discovered that it was blown terribly out of proportion and propagandized by the Christian churches. Christians, by and large, were not targeted for their religion no more than anyone else, but rather because they routinely engaged in breaking laws and showed physical aggression toward the cultures where they resided.

However, the point of this post is an even greater falsehood that is often pushed, that which says that most Pagans and Polytheists willingly accepted Christianity. We have known for years that this is a lie, but we have recently discovered even more evidence to keep proving that it's a lie. What's interesting, however, is that the false history doesn't directly pander to Christianity. Rather, it tries to set up a false narrative about ancient Greek religion and faith that ends up being completely debunked by the stones in the dirt.

During my latest reading adventure, which I always love, I had the privilege of coming into contact with a magnificent work that I am enjoying very much, called The Complete Greek Temples by Tony Spawforth. In a nutshell, this amazing work details all forms of ancient Greek temples that have existed, and gives the wonderful architectural, religious, social and political histories behind them. I have not yet completed it, but at this point, I'd not only recommend it, but even place it in my temple's library. Indeed, the importance of temples to ancient Greek life and society cannot be overemphasized. Walter Burkert even calls the Greeks a "temple culture." The temple is as essential to Greek identity as the stars and stripes are to Americanism.

In the book, page 12 interestingly, the author talks about the fact that modern historians tend to fancy the idea that the ancient Greeks began to lose faith in the Greek Gods around the 4th Century BCE and onward. However, the large scale on which they continued to build their temples during this alleged time frame, tells a far different story. Some were, of course, smaller and bigger than others, and had a range of functions, but they always retained a religious significance among all else. In other words, people who are "losing faith in their Gods," don't continue to build temples to them. Archaeology and the hard evidence left behind continues to shatter these abundant falsehoods around the ancient Greeks, which has always been an attempt by modern society to delegitimize the ancient religions. The modern world, which by and large does not accept the Greek Gods as a real, legitimate religion, cannot possibly acknowledge the brilliance of the people in their culture. They don't want serious thought given to Polytheism, lest Monotheism lose control, and so they can't say in one breath what a genius Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle were and then admit that they believed in the Greek Gods. Therefore, they do everything they can to separate those people from their Gods, even at the expense of telling bold face lies to humanity.

The truth is clear and present. The ancient Greeks, by and large, did not willingly accept Christianity, Monotheism, or lose faith in their Gods. They were forced to give them up and accept Christianity at the hands of a government of massive state pressure, who had allowed itself to become corrupted by Christianity because of its ability to control people. The government fell in love with the very thing that destroys people and nations; greed. As a Hellenist, I think part of our duty is always to the truth, and we should never allow it to be concealed or hidden. We must always dedicate ourselves to that endless pursuit, upon which Apollon Himself sent Sokrates so long ago, that our minds remain free.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why Do So Many Pagans Get Upset With The Word "Worship?"

Talk to some modern Pagans about their Path, and they'll say things like, "I don't worship the Gods, I work with them." It is obvious, to my mind, that their former lives as Christians or monotheists have left a really bad taste in their mouths, and so they associate even terms our Pagan ancestors identified with as being inherent of the Abrahamic traditions. They came to Paganism, in part, because they wanted to get away from the self-loathing and "groveling" that is often associated with the mainstream faiths, and get into a religion or practice where they could have a more direct relationship with Deity. This is understandable, but worship doesn't inherently mean anything Abrahamic. Worship simply means, to pay reverent (respectful) honor and homage to a God. Any time you do this, you are giving worship. So even something as simple as recognizing a God as a God, means you have given worship. Ritual, prayer, hymn, sacrifice, and art, if centered around a particular God or Gods, are all forms of worship and religion, because you have given respectful honor and homage to them.

It's similar to people who have the same bad taste in their mouths and say they are, "Spiritual but not religious." Religion is defined as having a set of beliefs or practices concerning theology. So even if your beliefs and practices are your own entirely, you are practicing religion. It doesn't have to be inherently tied to an organized group of people, denomination, or church to be religious.

Our Pagan ancestors were most certainly religious, and they most certainly worshiped, and yet they were not Abrahamic. The ancient Greeks, for example, loved, revered, and feared their Gods, and they didn't believe they were equal to the Gods, but yet they were still the beacon of light for the intellectual, physical, and societal advancement of the Western world. They saw nothing about religion and worship that demanded they be anything less than what a human could, or that they despise said fact. They simply realized that, even with all that humans could achieve, there were still Higher Powers to be respected, admired, and thanked for making life and the Universe possible in the first place.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Disturbing Trend of Monotheism

The first Monotheist on human record is Akhenaten, an infamous Egyptian pharaoh who ruled the 18th Dynasty. He turned ancient Egyptian religion on its ears when he abolished the Polytheistic system by force, and turned the god Aten into a radical Monotheistic Cult, mostly centered around the adoration of Akhenaten himself. By the force of the state, everyone turned Monotheist during his reign, only being allowed to worship the one god Aten. Once the king died, the traditional religion of Egypt was reinstated. Not only that, but the Egyptians did everything they could to remove him from their history, including destroying his statues and erasing all records of his reign. Clearly, he was hated and considered a shame upon his culture. Interestingly, the religion he founded, called Atenism, is still practiced today by some modern Egyptian worshipers. Of course, modern practitioners of the religion are not of the mind that everyone should believe as they do, or that Polytheism should be abolished. In this way, they immensely differ from their founder. In fact, to my knowledge, Egyptian Polytheistic groups today have no issue being friends with Atenists. This post is not meant to be a stab at modern Atenists at all. It's to examine the history of Monotheistic oppression. Secondly, I simply love writing about religious history.

As Monotheism continued down through the centuries, turning into systems such as Christianity and Islam, this radicalism continued, and still reigns in terror throughout many parts of the human world today. The ancient Greek religion vanished only under the intense pressure of the state government after it was taken over by the Christians. The coming of Monotheism to the Greek lands saw the old religion outlawed, temples closed and followers murdered, tortured and coerced. This line of persecution really got its rabbit start under the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. Modern Christian historians would have you believe that it was the Pagans who persecuted the Christians mostly, and while certainly this happened, it's not the grand scale that is implied. The 313 CE Edict of Milan gave freedom of religion to everyone in the Roman Empire, including Christianity. There would no longer be any laws prohibiting it from existing. The problem was that the Christians didn't want simple religious freedom. They wanted religious superiority. The idea of Jesus being recognized alongside all the other Gods instead of above them, was not something the Christians were willing to accept. They could not stand the fact that they didn't have control of all things. When the Christian emperor Theodosius I later came along from 379 to 395 CE, the genocide of the Pagan cultures was fully implemented.

In our modern time, there are still leaders, elected officials and governments, even in our own country, who try to use legislative power to enforce Christian belief on their entire population. Islam also sees the mass persecution of entire nations in places like the Middle East where it's illegal to be any other religion but Muslim. Dissenters in these countries are routinely jailed, banished or executed. Extremely radical Monotheists like the Islamic State, a terrorist organization, also routinely smash ancient Pagan religious relics, using force to remove them from the human consciousness and awareness. And I don't want to actually put separation between the Islamic State and said Islamic governments, because when you get to the core, they're all terrorist organizations. It's just that one has a UN license to persecute and murder, and the other doesn't.

Of course, this is not to say that every Christian or every Muslim believes in persecution. Indeed, there are many who love freedom just as much as anyone else, and it's always important to judge people as individuals, not groups. Judging people by groups has also led to unspeakable acts against the innocent. I think of good humanitarians like Barack Obama, who is Christian and supports religious freedom for all faiths. But historically speaking, Monotheism itself has been, and is being, used on massive levels of persecution and crimes against humanity. 

The larger picture here is a continuous trend in Monotheism. Since its inception as far back as Akhenaten, it has had to be implemented by force. When the Egyptians were free to choose their religion again, they returned to Polytheism. When freedom of religion finally found its way back into Greece after centuries of persecution, Polytheism began to regrow. In the Free World itself today, Pagan and Polytheistic religion and spirituality is rapidly growing and thriving. When freedom of religion is allowed to flourish, Polytheism reclaims the land and the people. Monotheism has always been given by force of sword and blood, and in my view, it always will have to be if it is to remain, because the natural structure of the human theological mind is geared toward Polytheism. It is literally our natural state, which is why it has always taken force and fear to silence and change it.

Why, one might ask, has Monotheism been so inherently tyrannical? The answer is simple. When you believe there is only one way to live and believe correctly, and that you yourself have that way, you cannot leave any room for those who disagree or want to live differently, lest you be forced to question the validity of your own notions. If Monotheism had allowed freedom of religion, it would have had no grounds to proclaim itself as the one true way that everyone should follow, and it would therefore lose its power and control over the masses. While on the other hand, Polytheism does not need force to exist.

Here in America, we don't believe in telling anyone that they can't practice the religion they want. Monotheists should always have the same rights as everyone else. But there should never be any mistake that the same rights belong to others as well. If we do not learn from history, and beware of its lessons, we may be doomed to take the classes over again. As James Madison said, the purpose of the separation between church and state is to not repeat Europe's bloody past. I certainly do believe that Monotheists have the right to their religion. Freedom of religion is a human right, it is NOT negotiable. But I also think that the Pagans and Polytheists should have some their rightful things returned to them, and be able to live freely anywhere in the world without fear of being harmed because they choose to believe in the old Gods.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How I Explained Polytheism To A Young Christian

Yesterday, I held a literary signing at the Freeport Public Library in Freeport, IL to promote some of my latest publications in magazines and journals. I also brought some copies of my memoirs In The Presence of the Gods, which outlines my experiences with the Greek Gods throughout my life. It was originally intended to be an event to just promote my latest fiction, but I figured that the more stuff I could sell, the better, so I brought some of my non-fiction material as well, and it sold just as good as the opposite. 

But an encounter happened to me that I will always remember, and that I think is worth noting. A very friendly young man hung around me for a good portion of the day, being interested in my writings and what I was doing. When he picked up my memoirs and learned that I was a Polytheist, it became clear to me that he was a Christian, because he asked me, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" I told him that I did believe Jesus to be a real historical man, but that I didn't believe him to be a god or divine. The boy basically went on to ask me, "Why do you believe in many Gods instead of just one?" Being that he was a young man and more curious than anything else, I came up with what I thought was a good way to explain my theology to him on a level he could comprehend. I never, at any point, tried to tell or convince him that his beliefs were wrong. Instead, I taught him about my own.
I asked him, "Have you ever been outside?" He replied, "Yes." Then I asked, "Do you see one tree or many?" He replied, "Many." I went on to ask, "Are they all the same or different?" He answered, "Different." I continued my line of questioning. What of grass, is there one blade or many? What about clouds? Is there one or many? And what of other worlds? Does our Solar System have one or many? He replied, "Many" to all of my questions. Then in conclusion, I said, the nature of the universe dictates that everything exists in multiples, not singulars, so why should God be any different?

And yes, I know some people might ask, "Can there not be one painter who paints many things?" Of course there can be, but is there just one painter in the world or many? Is there only one who paints all paintings? No, there are countless painters. So once again, all things exist in multiples. 

He didn't have an answer for me. He just shrugged it off, but I would like to think that I encouraged him to think outside the box in his life, to come to his own beliefs and conclusions about things, instead of just blindly accepting what others tell him is truth. It's quite possible that I will never again encounter the lad, but I hope that I created another student of Socrates at least.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Monotheists Created Make-Believe History

We all know the stories of the persecution of Polytheistic cultures at the hands of Monotheism, but what I want to talk about is something rarely noticed, and because it's so easily missed, the campaign against Polytheism continues to gain ground in the academics even of today.

As followers of ancient religions, one thing that puts us at a disadvantage today is the fact that our ancient literature is translated not by people like us, but by Christians or other forms of Abrahamic religion. Not only was there an attempt to wipe the old cultures from the Earth, there was and still is a revision of history by the conquerors.

Yesterday, I came across a copy of Plato's dialogues, a book of "complete works." This copy, however, was quite old, published in 1960. I picked the book up and started looking through the pages because I simply adore old literature, especially if it's from my religion and culture. I thought I would have a nice morning with some light reading of The Apology from this particular publication. For those of you who don't know, this dialogue is the defense of Socrates against the false charges levied against him by his prosecutors. It's certainly one of the most noted of Plato's writings. Any student of Socrates no doubt has this dialogue come to mind when his name is mentioned.

I didn't even get a few pages into it before I noticed clear religious errors in the translations. These were repeated, which means they were not mistakes. Of course, as per usual, it centered around the continued insistence that Socrates was a Monotheist and didn't believe in the Greek Gods, something we now know is a lie but that some continue to propagate even now. When Socrates talked about his mission from Apollo as given to him by the Delphic Oracle, the text kept omitting from Socrates' speech the word "the" before "God." So for example, the text quoted him as saying, "only God is wise." When in actuality, he said, "only the God is wise," meaning Apollo. That simple omission by modern writers and translations is something few people really notice, but it's one of the simple ways that modern mainstream theology sways history into its worldview, thus continuing to hold rule over the religious and theological minds of the people.

Monotheism counts on people being too simple to research what they see at face value. Socrates was a devout Hellenic Polytheist. He declared himself to be on a mission from Apollo to enlighten the Greeks, and that he would NOT give up this mission even at the cost of his own life. That doesn't sound like someone who doesn't believe in the Greek Gods. That sounds like someone who has the utmost devotion and dedication, as well as assurance in his belief. Just because he may have rebelled against some of the social norms of his time, doesn't mean he renounced the Gods of his people and culture. For example, the American colonists completely rebelled against England, but many of them were still Christians just like the British soldiers marching against them. The Americans didn't consider themselves to be fighting against Jesus even though they routinely shot at the flag that displayed his symbol. Theology and social ideal are not necessarily dependent on each other. Needless to say, I placed a post-a-note on the cover that said, "Inaccurate Translations."

History, it is often said, is a craft of the presenter. There's a lot of talk these days about "fake news." I don't know about all that, but I do know there is certainly "fake history."

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dogmatic Dilemmas: Reclaiming Religion

Not so much in the Hellenic community, but far too often in the general Pagan community, I see the words "religion" and "worship" met with sour faces and cold shoulders. I think that far too many of us still have the dogmatic programming in our heads from certain people and places, and we associate these terms with it. We think that, to say we are religious or that we worship, is to say that we beg, plead and cry to a God for forgiveness for being human, that we follow rigid, dogmatic structure, and that we're all grouped together under a church or group authority and nothing more. We think these practices leave no room for personal truth, practice or understanding, and that we are reduced to nothing more than drones. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Certainly, some people in these categories may use the words "religion" or "worship," but if we look to our ancient ancestors, the origin of our spirituality, we find another story. 

Our ancestors were very much religious people and they very much worshiped their Gods. They did not see themselves as being equals to the Gods, but rather as their servants and beings to respect. To be religious is to have a practice, and to worship is to give reverence to your Gods, and I think it's a mistake to dismiss these terms and practices simply because we think we have to be inhuman and grovel. We also do not have to abandon our individuality and force ourselves into a group category just because we use these terms. Religion and worship is literally an umbrella category, holding all the many spiritual beliefs and practices within humanity. I myself have no problem using these terms to describe my practices. I don't even consider myself to have a word for religion or worship because they are part of everything I do in life.

We all practice religion and worship in one form or another. I know there are people out there who like to call themselves, "Spiritual but not Religious," but the two can rarely be separated. If you have any kind of regular practice, that's religion. If you've ever given offerings, prayers, or done a ritual, you are religiously practicing. If you give honor and reverence to your Gods, that is worship. Anytime you have any kind of structure whatsoever to your practice, you are being religious, even if it's your own structure entirely, and anytime you recognize Deity as worthy of your respect, admiration, reverence and service, you are engaging in an act of worship. We seem to have developed the fallacy that religion and worship must = dogma. It's just not the case.

No matter what one's religion is, or what their practices and beliefs are, they can use these terms without falling into dogmatic and personally oppressive categories.

In the Goodness of the Gods,