Bridges & Dams Across the Religious Rubicon


As an Orthodox Reactionary, I have had much interaction during my ‘posting career’ with those of other belief systems. I have dialogued with Catholics and Protestants of course, but also with Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, and even Muslims. At first blush, this may be interpretted by my co-religionists as a softness of conviction reminiscent of the concessionary stance of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, which gives many of the Orthodox faithful much consternation. It is however important to note that I approach such dialogues not as a theologian (I am in no way qualified in this regard), but as a political theorist. In this capacity, dialogue with others who raise very similar political viewpoints to my own is not only fruitful but desirable.

While I have fundamental disagreements with Traditional Catholics on the role of the bishop in Rome, we find ourselves in mutually justified opposition to Modernity and the ruin brought about by the French Revolution from whence the cancer of Modern thought got its first unfortunate foothold. The differences that lie at the heart of the East/West dispute over Christendom are clerical in nature, and could be addressed by far more learned writers than myself.


Instead, I want to address here the critique of our aspirations from three external sources, Pagan, Secular, and Islamic.



Regarding Pagan Critique

Beginning in the late 1800s and rising to a temporary prominence in the 1930s, schools of pre-Christian religious revival have emerged in many different forms. Among the contemporary advocates of such things, there exist three prominent dispositions. Firstly, those pagans of the left, justifying their beliefs based on feminist theory, a rejection of ‘hierarchical’ Christianity, and other such things. I don’t need to address such people in any kind of serious capacity. Secondly, the vanguards of a ‘neo-paganism’ who use a religious garb as a vehicle for racial politics. Few things are quite as ugly to me, and I have scorned them in the past, these movements which are at base nihilistic but use pagan symbolism to attack and demean Christianity, justify their own malformed extra-pagan belief systems, and vent against a world the nature of which they do not understand. Some associate these elements with the radical right because of their racial focus, but I have urged that they are nothing of the sort. These people are as much an insult to paganism as leftist new-agey types are an insult to Buddhism.


Thirdly, there is a small sector of paganism which eschews both leftist interpretation, and crude exoteric appropriation, to instead search for perennial values that imbued pre-Christian traditions across Europe. These are the esotericists, and from them we can enhance our own understanding of metapolitical and spiritual value, coming of course from what I have termed ‘Mild Christian Hermeticism’ which recognizes fundamental truths which can be found to greater or lesser extent in non-Christian faiths. Some of the criticisms leveled at Christianity by the esotericists are perfectly legitimate; the minimization of secrecy and initiatic elements that has been undertaken, the misinterpretations of pacifism in Scripture, among other things. Other criticisms are not legitimate, involving appeals to the ‘semitism’ of Christianity, or the grave error of laying claim to a pan-whitism which has no grounding in history. No Irishman should be lionizing Plato as one of his ancestors, for their real ancestors had no idea who he was prior to the coming of Christianity. Any claims of a cross-national Occident rest upon historical and spiritual factors, and nobody should be claiming ideological ancestry without that foundation. There is a reason for example that Greeks hate when Yugoslav Macedonians refer to themselves as ‘Macedonians’. It should be remembered that Christianity was the force that stopped Europeans calling each other barbarians in a kind of degenerate xenophobic finger-pointing contest, thus allowing us to dialogue even in unease with one another.


As someone in line with the Russian Orthodox tradition, I can lay a very subtle claim to Plato because Greek thought massively impacted the Byzantine Empire, and the Byzantine Empire Christianized my peoples, who were then shot through with Greek thought, though in an altered form, mixed with a whole range of influences, some of them pagan. But in all honesty, a pre-Christian Slav has virtually nothing to do with Plato whatsoever. He has his own heroes he can look up to.


A Reactionary with a profound appreciation of the vitality in all religions, and particularly those strains present in the European era BC, ought to recognize that such vitality can be expressed in a number of ways, and that if Christianity has become lacking in such elements then the cause ought never to be the destruction of Christianity, but the ‘re-awakening’ of its vital principle, that which presumably allowed it to take so effortlessly to an entire continent rather than a few isolated areas.


Unshakable in his faith, the Christian at odds with the Modern World cannot compromise core doctrine, nor bear the mutilation of a Scripture affirmed by the Lord Himself. This would deny the Lord’s authority on the matter, and engage in a dangerous kind of politically motivated relativism, which itself is likely false. However, to incorporate a pagan sensibility to areas of politics in which Christian philosophy allows room is no trial, nor is the understanding of what we share in common with one another, at the esoteric and exoteric levels. That is a discussion worth having, above and beyond the edginess signaling and racial politics.



Regarding Secular Critique


The criticism from secular grounds that approaches Christianity with a kind of utilitarian suspicion is of course noticeable in contemporary discourse, and has as its framing the thoroughly irreligious and analytical world we currently occupy. Secularists maintain the unfortunate view of religion as a sociopolitical tool, to be implemented if it can yield benefit and locked away if it engenders harm. This method fundamentally misunderstands religion.


The very reason that religion has the sociopolitical power that it does is because people believe in it. Remove that belief, and even the most remarkable churches will become nothing more than bricks and mortar. Other societal institutions are given power by their leaders, by their material assets and capital. Religion is an exception to this, for its power comes from its faithful. Being centered around claims that concern the metaphysical, the invisible world, its power can only ever be supplemented by grand architecture and treasuries. For a religion to have vitality, it needs belief. This is why you cannot ‘engineer’ a religion, unless you are an experienced conman preying upon celebrities with alcohol problems caused by their thetans.


Christianity certainly provides huge sociopolitical value, but the areas pointed out where it supposedly falls short, are really areas in which Christianity just is not relevant. Just to broach the topic of race once more, secular critics often say that Christianity is lacking in its support of necessary ‘in-group/out-group’ dichotomies, failing to realize that religion is rarely if ever given in order to spoon-feed one the very basics of human living. Seculars demand, for example, a religion which explicitly condemns miscegenation. This is of course idiotic because miscegenation is a rare and typically harmless activity. People don’t need religion to tell them what to do in this regard, and that is incredibly clear just by looking at interracial relationship numbers in the contemporary post-Christian world. Interracial relationships are just not important when it comes to demographics, birth rates are.


The challenge for secular critics is to understand more fully why Christians believe what they believe, and why it is the source of this belief, not its practical effects, that brings an order to peoples lives, and thus the wider society.



Regarding Islamic Critique


Islam has become the dominant force ‘pressing’ against Occidental people at large, and because of that it needs to be addressed substantively. Certain advocates of an Occidental embrace of the distinctly Arabic faith fail to understand for how long we have resisted its temptations, both bloody and academic. Even after being converted out of paganism, presumably primed for a strong, monotheistic faith as Islam, there was barely any ground given to the soldiers of Mohamed. The Albanians and the Chechens proved the exception to the rule. Even areas under long and drawn out Islamic rule, like Greece and Serbia, did not abandon the Christian faith when they had every impetus to do so.


Why is this the case? How could Christianity have succeeded where Islam failed? Putting aside legitimate claims of divine protection of an elect, I think it is necessary to underline the chasm that divides the Islamic and Christian conception of the divine interaction with man. European peoples have always had a keen sense of the supernatural in our own lives, of a lived experience so close we could touch it, which bizarrely gives us at least something in common with the Negroid peoples who have a long history of animism etc. Islam sets God up as the ultimate distant dictator, and this is not a criticms of that role, since all divine/human relationships are at base dictatorial, but the distance is alienating to the European soul, which finds a commonality with the mystical conception of the Holy Spirit, that which nourishes our faith and directly links us to God’s intervention in the world. We are not only instruments of God, but we are companions of His.


There are also a wide variety of political issues with Islam, especially pertaining to its cultural leveling process, and its strict prescription of laws which allow no flexibility for the differences among peoples, especially the psychological differences. We can have great appreciation for the hierarchical nature of the Shia, and the esoteric mysteries of the Sufis, but the broad Islamic tradition we do not find connection with, nor do we find its truth claims especially surrounding the crucifiction of Jesus Christ to be compelling. It is with a heavy heart that I say, if Europe fell under any kind of patchwork Islamic yoke, the fate of those caught in its snare would not be conversion, but contempt and eventual extinction in the vein of what was almost endured by the Armenians, and what is still happening to the inheritors of the pre-Islamic Egyptian society, the Copts.


We can admire what Islam does right, and there is nothing to prevent a friendship with Islamic groups, such as has existed in the past in various places (the Imperial Russian experience being the most obvious), but it will not be adopted by us to combat the current malaise.


Conclusion


I hope this essay has cleared up some gray areas. I’ll admit, my thoughts on these issues prior to formulating them as succinctly as I could here, were too vague, didn’t get across exactly what I wanted to say on the subject, and might not have been fully formed in my own mind. I have learned much just in the past year, about my own religious convictions, and about others. I have encountered elements that have produced an abundance of truly worthy ideas-exchanges, while also having to sift my way through some interactions I’d scarcely wish to repeat. At least for me, this gives a good lay of the land, so to speak, in terms of religion.


“What I see around me would drive me insane, if I
did not know that no matter what happens, God will have the last word.”

– Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain

————————————————————————————————————————–

And so again, the time comes for some links to appearances. First, I want to thank David Parry and Paul Obertelli of THA Talks who hosted me for an interview which can be found at the link below. We touched on a lot of different issues, and since it’s only an hour, I won’t go into a full summary. Take a listen, and see what you think:


http://thatalks.com/edition115/


Next up, Adam Wallace has me on his first episode of the ‘Plebian Podcast (S3)’, along with David Parry, Auld Wat, and Imperial Aspirations, Very relevant, as the discussion is entirely about Islam, both in relation to Europe, and considered in its fundamental aspects.



Last but certainly not least, a very important dialogue between myself, Teleolojic Folkways, and the ineffible Nick B. Steves addressing what rightism really means, and why it should not be appropriated simply by anybody who is in rebellion against the current Liberal power structure. This will be of interest to those who have been following controversies within the dissident right over the last few weeks.
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5 thoughts on “Bridges & Dams Across the Religious Rubicon

  1. Great survey of the issues. I think this is often what is lacking. We get a lot of broad strokes about how any one approach must fail because it fails in a single way. EG. Christianity will always let us down because it is universalist.

    NOw that you have nailed some of these main points down, it would (will) be nice ot see you flesh these out over time.

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  2. There was once an essay on the Internet by a great Russian Orthodox thinker. Not as a defense but an exposition. You essay reminds me of the clarity of thought I saw there.

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  3. “It should be remembered that Christianity was the force that stopped Europeans calling each other barbarians in a kind of degenerate xenophobic finger-pointing contest, thus allowing us to dialogue even in unease with one another.”

    Eh, sort of. At the point of a sword, in most cases. And we need not forget the Templar crusades in the Balkans, which helped foster the 'heathen east' mentality that has only gone away (somewhat) in just the last decade or two. Or the post-reformation bloodletting and the 30 years war, where Germany's proportional death toll matched, and greedy so-called “Christian” European monarchs allying with the Ottoman Empire against one other for worldly gain.

    A more comprehensive, and necessarily ambivalent account of Christianity's role in Europe's civilizational integrity and lack-there-of is necessary. One side of the argument reflexively points to Jan Sobieski and Charles Martel, Monasticism as preserving the learning of antiquity, Gothic cathedrals and all the arts and literatures of the Renaissance, etc., and the other side points to the protestant/catholic bloodletting, cromwell's genocide in Ireland, Monasticism DESTROYING the learning of antiquity, all the arts and literatures of the Renaissance (insofar as these represented a reclaimation of Pagan antiquity) etc. All of these things happened and have to be accounted for if we're to make informed judgments about the past. A blanket unqualified statement to the tune of 'Christianity allowed us to stop treating each other as barbarians' is easily falsifiable .

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  4. I am of course referring to the Ancient Greek and Roman practice of essentially seeing all those apart from themselves as being less-developed barbarians. We cannot really know what the Northern tribes thought of those around them, but judging by their actions, we can assume it did not resemble any kind of even partial pan-European brotherhood.

    What we have seen is blocs emerge, 'east/west', or common utterances about 'Balkan monkeys' but in large part such things were theopolitical in nature, rather than representative of a cultural isolationism. We only need look at the WWI alliance that saw the eastern most nation allied with the western-most nation (the two having little culturally in common) to see at least the theoretical groundwork for brotherhood beyond mere 'buying off', as the Romans tried to do with the Germanics, a grave mistake on their part.

    Rome could have brought the entire continent around to its way of thinking, but it would have had to go through the Germanic tribesmen who refused to lay down their arms., exerting imperial control over them. Christianity used the sword against certain groups, (Lithuanians for example), but the lasting victory was one of hearts and minds. It's best not to lionize the Renaissance either, since Guenon dates the beginning of the European decline to that exact period. One would have to engage seriously with Guenon to reclaim the era as positive.

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