The following is an exchange about the topic of European religion which took place on the 19th of October, 2016, in the West Coast Reactionaries Skype group. Due to the nature of the topic, the discussion is still ongoing, but I sought to archive some of it here for posterity, and for referral purposes, due to its important and interesting nature.
Paul: I am reluctant to comment here as I have no wish to be drawn into arguments or debates. But I will say that I share some of Octavian’s perceptions with regard to Mr. Wallace’s current point of view. Adam, although I’m sure this is not unknown to you, just to be clear, at present our viewpoints are diverging, and quite considerably at this point. You seem to be confusing Traditionalism and Totalitarianism. Superficially they may appear to be the same but they are not even similar. I would recommend taking a look at the work of Alain Danielou, particularly his book on the caste system. You will not agree with much of what he says, but as he is the extreme opposite end of Traditionalism it might provide some balance.
Adam: I’m surprised you’d say that, as I myself quite distinguish between the two on the regular. Don’t mistake my absolutist language with social dehumanisation; it’s just my strong emotions being applied to ideas as hammer-blows. What makes you think I’m confusing the two?
Paul: Perhaps it is merely a matter of mode of expression. However, your comment about people holding different opinions tends toward a Totalitarian direction. If anything I believe that people in medieval times had a far greater range of differing opinions than they do today. I think it is questionable, at best, to suggest that violence is justified merely because people hold different opinions. The situation with regard to Catholicism/Protestantism is very complicated, partly due to the confusion of the issue of authority. Because the Pope and King are not the same person, it’s not clear who ultimately has authority. If violence is justified against the Protestants, then surely it is also justified against the Orthodox and other forms of non-Catholic Christianity, who likewise do not recognize the Pope. Of course that matter is further complicated by the fact that Christianity and the Occident/West are not synonymous.
Ædan: To equate Protestantism with other forms of non-Catholicism is ridiculous, honestly, especially in relation to Orthodoxy. I’m amazed that you can’t see the difference, frankly.
Adam: My reaction to that — just for the record — was semi-tongue-in-cheek, hence the “tbh.” I don’t genuinely believe we should genocide Protestants.
Paul: I’m not defending Protestantism, but I will say that at least some of the Anabaptists recognized that Christianity is not a religion that you can be born into, but that only a few can provide the necessary total commitment. Catholicism made a distinction between levels of commitment, but within the religion, rather than between religions. And there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that even remotely justifies forcibly converting someone to a religion. As I’ve said before, Christianity isn’t an appropriate religion to apply at a societal level. And to attempt to apply it at that level inevitably will result in some form of Totalitarianism. Dehumanization may not be the intent, but that will be the result as it cannot properly distinguish the appropriate differences between people. I’ve heard it said and I think it’s true that Christianity should be compared to Sufism, rather than to Islam. It is a sect, a cult for a small, committed group, not a mass religion.
Adam: I agree, though I think the work of the Church necessarily extends the reach of Christ beyond the brahmin caste (hence the problem with the Reformation).
Paul: Yes, but does the work of the church include prohibiting the practice of other religions, or even variant understandings of their own?
Adam: There is obviously a political element to such endeavours, and the Christian response hasn’t been consistent throughout time. Mostly because the Church hasn’t micromanaged every instance. Every people, no matter their religion, works to prefer the in-group — pagans, obviously were a part of that, so we cannot frame this as a “Christians being mean to everyone” sort of thing. Doctrinally, the Gospels say to spread the Word. The interpretation of that is important. Do we mean convert the entire globe to Catholicism? Or to introduce the brahminical centre of Christian monotheism to polytheistic groups? Or what? I’m not baptised, a scholar, nor an “official” Christian, so I cannot answer.
Ædan: In my opinion, it should if that understanding is blatantly incorrect, like Protestantism pretty much entirely is, regardless of where you look. Look at Catholicism, for instance. It utterly wiped out the Cathars for their heresy. Job well done. Now look at Protestantism. It dropped the ball and now almost a billion people are subscribed to a terrible heresy. This is made worse by the tremendous effect this particular heresy had on the world, allowing people to twist God into whatever worldview they had, and influence others into their cult. Any religion that resigns itself to being “moral” in regards to letting people worship however they wish is a weak religion and will effectively die with time. Catholicism has done this and now, despite having over a billion people that call themselves “Catholic,” it has some of the least influence over people it’s ever had.
Adam: A religion isn’t successful because it’s “influential,” it’s either true or it isn’t. I, as an Englishman, am Christian. That’s an irrevocable part of my being.
Ædan: I know. But as true as Christianity is, it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t have any influence over people.
Paul: You’re right Adam that it is ambiguous, however the way it has been interpreted tends toward Totalitarianism, and unless there are major reforms I don’t see how it could be any other way.
Adam: It depends upon the character of the people who’re enacting laws. Ælfred converted the Danish king Guðrum to Christianity, baptised him Æthelstan I, and that was after a century of Danish aggression against the Anglo-Saxons; the Danes then, via politics and other measures, left Danelaw and the pagan Danes had gone from England by the eleventh century. Compare that to Charles the Great’s famous slaughter of the pagan martyrs and the Northern Crusades — even back in England, Cædwalla purged the pagan Britons from the Isle of Wight, claiming it for the Saxon Christians. Regional disputes with political undertones (such as the Northern Crusades) cannot be compared to Bolshevik Totalitarianism where human life is dependent upon the material-ideological lust of the mass. Even to the Christians who cut their way through heathen kingdoms, human life had value and, although the heathens were damned, they still had souls.
Ædan: Precisely, Adam. Thank you.
Mark: To me, the wars of the Northern Crusades were more about German hegemony than religion. Throughout history it seems, Germany has been very keen to dominate the traditionally Polish regions, and all the way up to the Baltics. Conversion was a good pretense for religious approval (which, back then, had a hell of a lot of political clout).
Adam: What’s more, the Christians did — despite war and violence — preserve pagan Europe. Aquinas’ devotion to Aristotle, Dante’s admiration for the old Romans, etc., all speak of great respect — nay, love — for the base of the European mountain. Rome was not obliterated; Stonehenge was not pulled asunder. Compare that to Islamic destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem or to their rending of the Zoroastrian temples and the pagan temples — the list goes on, and thousands of years of history and peoples have been lost to the sands of the Middle East. No such thing happened to Europe. We still know of the practices of the pagans, despite wars and bloodshed.
Duncan: Mirrored in the Protestant reformation.
Mark: We can’t discount geopolitics in such an analysis it seems.
Paul: If anything I would say the Christian position is worse, as according to Bolshevism men don’t have souls, and therefore cannot be damned. But perhaps the issue here is only one of terminology.
Adam: I respect Paul’s desire to view this from metaphysics, and indeed I think we must tackle that angle without retreating to the plane of politics and history.
Paul: Arguments could be made about what aspects of paganism that Islam preserved, perhaps in some ways better than Christianity, however I don’t think that’s the best way to approach the issue. Christianity should not be held to the standard of Islam, but, rather, to something like Hinduism, the primary representative of pagan religion today.
Duncan: Christianity gives free choice to those who would join, whereas Bolshevism and Islam do not. Even Protestants were rather more forceful than Catholics I would wager. Your soul may be damned, but the Christian will give you a choice to repent. Even if you do not you won’t be subject to extreme violence (see the real treatment of the Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land after its capture by the Christians compared with the Islamic rule before, after and now). Charlemagne’s violence towards the Saxons was a justifiable political move to secure his growing empire in the north, they were rebels and traitors to his authority.
Mark: I’d make some distinction between the Islam of the Arabians and the Islam of the Turks. The Turks were demonstrably worse.
Adam: I don’t think it’s wise to draw such wide parallels due to the differences in character of the Europeans and Easterns; different histories show the divergence. I don’t think we even need to “compare” traditions; it’s divisive and wholly quantitative to view this on the matter of competing paths, rather, we should look from the plane of quality and examine the metaphysical differences between European polytheism and monotheism, and see exactly how this change occurred at the esoteric level. What were the justifications and reasons given two millennia ago by those souls in Rome, all the way up to the theologians of the high Mediæval period? If paganism and Christianity were noncompatible, this simply would not have happened to Europe; paganism would’ve been wiped out and never sought to be included in the works of Church fathers — and yet it was, hence I must mention Aquinas again. Paganism and Christianity are not two opposing mountains, but the same European mountain. The task is to define which layers of the mountain are pagan, and which are Christian, and how they fit together; where are the crumbly bits, and why are they weaker, etc.. Our approach should be constructive and positive, not critical and confrontational — hard-headed persons like me aside.
Paul: And what I have asked for, repeatedly, is for the Church to prove that. What must the canon include the Jewish scriptures, but not a single pagan work? Why were the Jews tolerated, but the pagan religions completely forbidden? And if Christianity is part of the European “mountain” then why is it trying to convert the rest of the world?
Adam: I don’t have that answer, and I don’t disagree with your frustration.
Mark: It seems this is rather high theology, as such my own speculation as to the answers would be limited to speculation, and may not reflect the true reasons. The exoteric must be distinguished from the esoteric. I see both to some extent of pre-Christian esoteric and exoteric practices incorporated into Western and Eastern Christianity to different extents. This may be due to the differences of Eastern and Western traditions; France vs. Russia, etc..
Duncan: The Bible being compiled at a time when there was still a large Judaic influence must have had something to do with the sources, after all it was Paul who had to convince Peter that the Gospel should be spread to the gentiles. At the same time we have to make the distinction between the Aramaic and Hebrew peoples and modern Jews, a sad historical revision that I believe first occurred around the time of the King James Version Bible, and was due to a mistranslation or adoption of “Jew” for a person of Hebrew descent.
Ædan: Well, the Isrælites called themselves Jews as they returned from Babylon, having now adopted pagan shite into their religion, despite God having told the stupid bastards time and time and time again not to do that. However, by the time of Jesus, it was not the Isrælites who constituted most Jews, I don’t think (or certainly not the powerful ones), but rather the Edomites, who had previously been conquered and brought into their fold, eventually taking up powerful positions within the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Thus, I believe, was the meaning behind, “Those who say that they are Jews, but are not,” as the original term of Jew described the Isrælites.
Paul: Hmm, now I feel that I’ve created more confusion that clarity and indeed it may have been merely a matter of terminology, perhaps “universalism” would have been a better term than “totalitarianism,” though that also has several meanings. Basically what I was trying to say originally is that it is not necessary or desirable to force people to do things or micro-manage their lives, it is really more a matter of forming the correct hierarchy and understanding proper spheres of influence, and what rules apply in each of those spheres.
Mark: For the question concerning Scripture, the job of the original compilers was to sift through a lot of texts to distinguish forgery from the true article. Jesus affirms as true the Old Testament, immediately granting it an unquestionable amount of authority, although this is of course mostly historic and not applicable to contemporary life, since the Old Law was fulfilled. The New Testament is essentially a compilation of witness accounts deemed to be the accurate ones, and advisements to the sometimes confused new batch of believers. The Bible thus, as a holy document, isn’t really a compilation of “wisdom literature” which would of course include a variety of subjects and sources, but instead a text focused on a specific Man, the God Man. Other documents might relate to Jesus, but it’s difficult to be sure of their applicability or their completeness, at least it would have been even in the eyes of the most perennially minded early Christians, so they are viewed with caution.
Ædan: Indeed. I think the Bible as it was compiled is not to really be questioned much, purely because I have no doubt as to God’s oversight to ensure that His word would be correct. No doubt, to a non-Christian, that’s not a particularly satisfactory answer, but truth tends to not satisfy all.
Duncan: Thank you for that clarification Mark, I believe your explication is correct. This really is a fascinating subject and one we can have in good spirits too.
Mark: Consider also, the Bible was not really an esoteric document in Eastern Christianity as it became in the West with Latin. In the East, the Bible has always existed in native languages, so anyone could read it if they were literate. the earliest Russian Bibles were in Old Slavonic. Obviously there are esoteric interpretations, and multi-layered ways of reading certain parts of the Bible, but it was not a “hidden text” in the East. A good example of a hidden text would be the Qur’an for most Shi’ites, because it must be kept in the original Arabic, but the Shi’ites are mainly Persian and speak Farsi.
Paul: Yes I understand the Christian justification for the scripture, but that is based on the understanding that the Jews/Hebrews/Isrælites were the chosen people, and that Yahweh is the one God, one response could easily be that Jesus was speaking to Jews when he affirmed the Old Testament, not to people in general
Duncan: “Chosen” might be translated as “cursed.”
Mark: He was speaking to Jews. In affirming the Old Testament, he was ensuring they could not misapprehend him as rejecting His Father’s Law. Of course, in his own way he turned this back on the Jews and told them that it was them who had revolted against the Father. The point is, he gave his seal of approval to a particular narrative in its entirety. Obviously, this narrative is not all-encompassing, and in fact, despite its size, is rather limited because so much of it is history and genealogy. Still, there are key theological points in the Old Testament, and Jesus gives these His blessing. You can of course be a Christian without reading the Old Testament, but it deepens your understanding of the New Testament to understand its background, especially as it relates to prophecy and recurring themes. Chosen became cursed, but this was not God’s will. It was the will of the Jews.
Paul: Yes, but what would that mean to a pagan? To him Yahweh is not God, perhaps a god, one of many, but no more. Again, Jesus gave His blessing when speaking to the Jews — what would He have said if He had been speaking to non-Jews about their religious texts and traditions?
Mark: I associate God with Wyrd or Fate, rather than the pantheon. That has been my interpretation. Such questions as “What would Jesus have said if…” are inherently difficult because we do not know, and being bad practice to put words in the mouth of God, we are left with cautiousness. This is why nothing non-Biblical, even the works of great Christian Saints, is ever put on the same level as Scripture, textually. That does not mean however that it does not have intrinsic value. This value is to be determined by sages. Evidently throughout the ages, various “pagan” texts were deemed as such and carefully preserved.
Paul: But ultimately judged to be inferior to the Hebrews, which I of course cannot accept. The thing is that they in fact do put words in His mouth, if only by default, he may have given the Old Testament validity, but not to the New Testament, and He also did not deny the validity of any pagan texts
Mark: The Church’s position on the veracity of the New Testament would stem from the infallibility of the Ecumenical Councils which affirmed essentially one set of Scriptures throughout their deliberations, excluding things such as the Gospel of Judas.
Paul: Yes, but as far as I’m aware the validity of any pagan texts were never considered, though perhaps I’m mistaken
Mark: By the Councils? No. They were concerned with the original apostles, and of course Paul who had his own rather unique experience with the Risen God. The compilation and subsequent ratification was an exercise in investigative work around those who had known Jesus personally, and what they relayed to their immediate confidants.