The Conversion of Europe

I have no wish to engage in polemics against Christianity. Nor do I have any interest in converting anyone to paganism. Actually, I am reluctant to write anything at all and am writing here only because my contribution was requested. And as it seems to me to be useless to reiterate points about which there is wide agreement or to join the ever growing chorus denouncing the outrages of the day, I have chosen to write about something that seems to inevitably lead to controversy, Christianity, and from a non-Christian perspective. To Christians what I write may appear antagonistic, or perhaps even scornful, but that is inaccurate. Indeed, compared to the way many Christians have spoken of one another, what I have been written cannot be considered anything other than mild. Let us hope that I will continue to be able to refrain from denouncing anyone as a whore of Babylon, or the anti-Christ, or even simply a heretic. Certainly it is true that subversive forces have criticized Christianity, and at first sight it may appear strange that those on the right likewise criticize it, but this is easily explained by the fact that something may be viewed from different perspectives, including above or below. In all this I am attempting to walk a fine line, and have likely failed, and may continue to do so, but I will keep trying. I only wish that there are at least a few who understand why I am doing this, whether they agree with my conclusions or not.

Why did the peoples of Europe convert to Christianity? Certainly this is a very complex and interesting question. But does the answer tell us anything about the truth or falsehood of Christianity? I don’t think so. And from a Christian perspective, it isn’t even the right question. If Christianity is the one true religion, why did most of the world not accept Christianity? Are the people of Europe superior in some way? Certainly most Christians couldn’t accept such an answer. Or perhaps it was that the pagan religions of Europe were so defective and dissatisfying, that the people gladly gave them up for Christianity, while people elsewhere were much happier with their superior religions. No European, who wasn’t filled with self loathing, could accept that answer. So, either the Europeans took over the role played by the Hebrews in Biblical times (according to the Christian narrative), that is they became the new chosen people by an act of Divine grace, or the validity of Christianity cannot be determined by the fact of conversion. Of course this problem largely disappears if one can see that Christianity is not the one true faith, but one religion among many. Unfortunately that brings up another problem, as it was the belief that Christianity was the one true faith that justified the conversion of Europe.

Are there other ways to prove that Christianity is the one true faith? Perhaps by the greatness of its culture? Its great military campaigns and conquests? The holiness of its saints? Miracles? The fulfillment of prophecies? The wisdom of its scriptures? All of these things and more can be found in all the great civilizations of the world. Theological arguments about the supposed uniqueness of Christ have been unconvincing to the vast majority of the people of the world, including many of the most learned and pious, and such arguments have little influence even on Christians themselves. Christianity seems true, good, or at the very least preferable to other religions to many Europeans because it has been their religion for centuries, and in that time has been deeply infused with European beliefs and values, and not because of its exclusive possession of truth or even its superiority to other religions (a question that the vast majority of adherents do not sincerely investigate anyway). The situation is of course the same for people of other cultures and the followers of other religions with regard to beliefs other than their own, and indeed it should not be otherwise. Generally, sons should follow the religion of their fathers. There is no such thing as the one true religion, rather different religions are appropriate for different people.

What I have been trying to communicate is that Christianity both in the form found in the New Testament and in the form it is taking today is inappropriate for Europe, as it expresses values contrary to European ones, that is pagan values (or traditional values, not those of the enlightenment or modernity). It is true that Europe has left the Church, but more importantly the Church has left Europe. It is Christianity’s responsibility to modify itself sufficiently to European values (to an even greater extent than it did in the Medieval period, when Christianity was at its most pagan and therefore its best), and that if it fails to do so, it should be rejected. It is not Europe’s responsibility to modify itself to Christianity, as that would of course imply that Christianity is the one true faith and that the pagan religions, and their values, were false, as are all the other religions of the world.

Those who maintain that Christianity is the one true faith must consider carefully the consequences of that belief if it were to be shared by all the peoples of the world. Is it truly desirable that all the rituals, music, temples, art, sacred texts, and innumerable traditions of all the great religions disappear, or be relegated to museums so that the world can have one great sing along about a man named Zacchaeus climbing a tree? Or that all the great legends and heroes, if they’re remembered at all, become nothing more than what Thor or Hercules have become for Europeans, that is characters in comic books and television shows? Anyone who can answer yes to those questions is, if not being dishonest, clearly mad. The thought of all those traditions disappearing can be nothing short of horrifying to any sane or moral person. Yet in a way it is understandable that Christianity has insisted that it is the one true faith, for if it is not, by destroying the pagan tradition, it is guilty of an incomprehensible and unspeakable crime.

Those are harsh words, and it should be understood that I am not attacking or condemning any individual Christian. I understand how personal and deeply important religion is. I was once a Christian myself. I don’t enjoy arguing or engaging in controversy and again, I am reluctant to talk about these matters. But I think it is essential to offer an alternative perspective. Christianity, by itself, without making the necessary changes, is a false hope. It will not save us.

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Hotherus

The House Pagan

6 thoughts on “The Conversion of Europe

  1. This was written in a very different tone to that of your previous articles. More edged, bleaker, more absolutist. I will say that Truth should be divorced from exoteric religiousity, the latter tending to be an accumulation of traditions and cultural habits as opposed to that which is perfect metaphysically speaking. Is Christianity imperfect? Of course: there is no pure or perfect religiousity due to what was just mentioned regarding exoteric customs and so fourth. Does Christianity clearly expose metaphysics? Well…

    A dichotomy must be made, Hotherus, between the esoteric and exoteric. Your issues with Christianity – as well as mine and many others – lie in the latter. And that is an area which can be worked upon. Just as times have changed historically, so has exotericism; there is a malleable quality to it, you see? Christian custom – its mass-element – can be pushed in a better direction, it’s just a matter of where and how – not if – and that is where I believe you should focus.

  2. A few points:

    1) Christianity did attain global success. At one point, Christianity was the dominant religion everywhere from Ireland to Kiev, Morocco to the Pesian Lands. Genghis Khan’s sons all took Christian wives, and Christianity was the dominant religion amongst the Mongols in the 13th century; they reintroduced Christianity to China after many centuries of its absence. Later, all of the Americas would be Christianized, large parts of Africa, substantial numbers in India, China and Japan, as well as Australia. No Faith is like it – having been the dominant Faith on every continent at one point or another in history, and with only the Far East having failed to be Christianized at some point (though, still with Christianity having made substantial inroads).

    The story of Christianity in Japan is one of tragedy and beauty, from the bravery and wisdom of St. Francis Xavier, to the underground Catholics who remained faithful for over two centuries (until the Meiji Restoration allowed for religious freedom), to the predictable choice of the godless Western powers to detonate the atomic bomb over Japan’s most Christian city, over the site of the first Cathedral the Catholics had built when they came out of hiding. And the story continues, unto the miraculous preservation of many in the Christian community there in Nagasaki from the blast, and finally, the stunning apparition at Akita in confirmation of the Fatima message.

    No religion has had anything like this acceptance amongst so many cultures (overwhelmingly peaceful, at that) – but, even then, the True Faith is not determined by numbers; there are as many converts from as many places as providence has decreed. The True Religion is not the one that wins the numbers game; it fulfills God’s purpose, in His way and time.

    2) I do not think an objective comparison of cultures will show comparable levels of sanctity, or sublimity of culture. I truly do not. We’re talking the Catholic Faith; of course the wise pagans are going to be holier and more cultured than Evangelicals, since Protestantism was phase one of the Western counter-tradition.

    3) We live in the apostasy, the gurgling final moments of the Kali Yuga; the institutions of the Church have been usurped by heretics and apostates. Francis and his ilk – JPII, Paul VI, John XXIII, Cardinals Marx, Kasper, etc. – are not members of the Church. It would be better for them never to have been born. They have profaned the holy places, and have opened the doors of the fane to the revolution of Liberalism – of Protestantism and Secularism, Humanism and Modernism. Their devastation must not be equated to the Church, or we will be blasphemers with them.

    4) With respect, you err with the Protestants, in thinking that you understand the meaning of the New Testament, or the kind of Christianity expressed therein. No Christian culture anywhere, has interpreted the New Testament in the Marxist, Egalitarian manner of modernity. It was not the Apostles’ way, no matter how much we want to read this into the NT so that we can discount it. The Church is in direct continuity with the Apostles, who wrote the NT; those who claim to understand it apart from Catholic Tradition, are wrong to do so.

    5) I can see that you have probably been raised by silly Evangelicals, when you comment on a sing-along about Zaccheus. A girl named Helene, raised Lutheran, used to sit behind me at my work; she would sing all these idiotic “Sunday school” songs. She was, of course, an atheist and a degenerate, like most modern gals. I turned around one day and told her: “If my parents had taken me to church as a boy, I don’t doubt that I’d still be an atheist.”

    In real Christianity – the Catholic, Apostolic Faith – the local cultures don’t lose their stories about Hercules and Thor, nor their customs. Have you never celebrated Christmas? It is an eminently Christian holiday, to be sure; but it was permitted to retain so much of the pagan culture and lore from before Christianization! In Christianity, the pagan lore gets reworked in a Christian way, the old deities and sprites become the fay folk, or a saint takes their place; even the old customs survive, and many a Christian home in England keeps the mood of the ancient yule alive, better than any neopagan. Have you not heard Monteverdi? Did he forget about Orpheus? So attached did Europe remain to its Aryan heritage, that even the Pearl Poet and Lydgate traced the founding of England back to the royal houses not only of Israel, but also of Troy and Greece.

    The culture of Europe was able to transition from Paganism to Christianity without eradication; but we presently face the complete annihilation of everything European in the spiritual vacuum. There is no friendly, conciliatory, amenable system waiting to receive us. We will either recover our Christianity – our Catholicism – or our entire spiritual heritage (including paganism) will perish, and soon.

  3. And, by the way: rather than blaming Christianity for reducing pagan lore to comic book and cartoon characters, you would do better to look at the overwhelmingly Jewish leadership of the purveyors of pop culture.

    The Christians wrote operas, plays and symphonies commemorating pagan lore and heroes. Even Walt Disney chose the wisdom literature of Europe’s Medieval Heritage – Gospel allegories like Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc., and produced an eminently European musical meditation drawing on Pagan and Christian themes in Fantasia. But Michael Eisner and his ilk brought us Pocahontas “Paints-With-Wind” and Frat-Boy Hercules. Why would you blame Christianity for such things, when the Christians always honored European antiquity? Is it not clear who the primary architect of modern frivolity may be?

  4. It’s hard to add much to the excellent things others have said here, but my own reaction to your writings about Christianity, Hotherus, has not been irritation that you are writing about Christianity from a non-Christian perspective, but irritation that you are writing about Christianity, from a heretical Christian–i.e., protestant–perspective. Which is quite odd, since it was the protestants that wished to “reform” the Church (that is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic) by eliminating what would-be reformers saw as pagan accretions. Authentic paganism would recognize the importance of the Church’s essence to be holy and irreformable. The Church cannot change it’s nature for simple expediency. It cannot change irreformable doctrine simply because some of the faithful tend to disagree. The truth is not up to a majority vote. And I would hope any self-respecting pagan would instantly recognize that.

  5. “Or perhaps it was that the pagan religions of Europe were so defective and dissatisfying, that the people gladly gave them up for Christianity”

    I think this is what Evola asserts in some ways. This isn’t to say the Pagan religions of Europe were not at one time great and satisfying, but that the form they took just prior to the rise of Christianity, was a highly degenerated form. He speaks of “symbols of the Mother” and the “most spurious forms of the various mystical and pantheistic cults of Southern deities”. As part of a natural spiritual decay, the Paganism which we have historical records of was nothing compared to what had once preceded it, in the Age of Myth, now lost.

    “Theological arguments about the supposed uniqueness of Christ have been unconvincing to the vast majority of the people of the world”

    That may be true, but it would do nothing to diminish that uniqueness, and scholarly opinions to such an extent are out of date. As Dr. Craig of Talbot points out:

    “Back in the hey-day of the so-called History of Religions school, scholars in comparative religion collected parallels to Christian beliefs in other religious movements, and some thought to explain those beliefs (including belief in Jesus’ resurrection) as the result of the influence of such myths. Today, however, scarcely any scholar thinks of myth as an important interpretive category for the Gospels. Scholars came to realize that pagan mythology is simply the wrong interpretive context for understanding Jesus of Nazareth.”

    This isn’t to say Pagan symbolism isn’t relevant (it certainly is!) but to use it as a lens through which to understand Jesus of Nazareth and His story, is misguided. As far as symbolism goes, it may indeed be the case that a symbolic truth is weaved throughout at least the Traditional religions of the world (as per Schuon), however to dismiss Jesus in his historical context based upon this would be incorrect. Historically, what occurred was unique. Had it been run-of-the-mill, I doubt it would have succeeded.

    “There is no such thing as the one true religion, rather different religions are appropriate for different people.”

    This would seem to be an atheistic, purely sociopolitical view of religion. Certainly, people of different spiritual races in particular, express religion in different ways and are predisposed to certain aspects of a religion that they find they connect with the most. However, this has no claim on a religion’s truthfulness. Since the world religions are mutually exclusive in their claims about the supernatural, it follows that either one is true, or all are false, leaving fully open the possibility that there are those who occupy some uncertain terrain of having ‘incomplete’ or ‘distorted’ divine knowledge.

    “It is Christianity’s responsibility to modify itself sufficiently to European values”

    And if it did, would Europeans accept it? No amount of modification to any church would save Europeans from their fate, because they are in such a state of spiritual decay that they have absolutely no need of the supernatural influence. There is an inevitability to all of this. The Age must pass before a new one emerges, and in that age, the Church and the people will come into alignment, if not out of spiritual alterations, then out of necessity. Don’t try to stop the tidal wave, merely survive it.
    I agree that Christianity should be adapted for best effect with the people whom believe it, but I don’t think there is need to compromise core doctrine here. We are talking about exoteric dimensions, which have always been informed by a Pagan sensibility (at least until the Protestant Reformation). Esoterically, a correct interpretation of the gospels is a Traditional interpretation.

    “Those who maintain that Christianity is the one true faith must consider carefully the consequences of that belief if it were to be shared by all the peoples of the world. Is it truly desirable that all the rituals, music, temples, art, sacred texts, and innumerable traditions of all the great religions disappear, or be relegated to museums so that the world can have one great sing along about a man named Zacchaeus climbing a tree? Or that all the great legends and heroes, if they’re remembered at all, become nothing more than what Thor or Hercules have become for Europeans, that is characters in comic books and television shows? Anyone who can answer yes to those questions is, if not being dishonest, clearly mad.”

    That would be mad, but it is mad because the inference is unfounded. As we have seen around the world, from Russia to Spain, to China, to Egypt, to the Congo, Christianity is practiced in extremely diverse ways! Just because it is the one true faith does not mean that it must be practiced in some kind of gray uniformity. In fact, I would say this is a much more accurate description of Islam than Christianity. Because Christianity lacks a civil law in particular, it is incredibly malleable and can be implemented in a variety of interesting ways. For what you say to be true, it would mean that one could take a plane from Christian-dominated Belarus to Christian-dominated Armenia, and not realize they had left, because Christianity had destroyed all that was unique about those cultures. Quite to the contrary!

    “Christianity, by itself, without making the necessary changes, is a false hope. It will not save us.”

    There is an air of pessimism here, and it is depressing, because I am very optimistic that necessary changes will be made, we just might have a different idea about what that looks like. Evola himself, a stern critic of Christianity, had said “It is worth repeating that the principal thing is not the rejection of Christianity”, because he must have felt the pagan syncretic dimensions of it that had degenerated were doctrinally inconsequential and could be restored.

    I think Christians should take your criticisms and those of others seriously, Hotherus. For too long they have been ignored, just as the Greek-style philosophical arguments were for too long ignored and this had a disastrous effect on Christian academia. Christianity for Occidental peoples is necessarily fused partly with a Pagan sensibility, and there is nothing contradictory about this (despite what some purists will say). If it is the loss of that element (and I think partly it is) that has led to the spiritual weakness in the West, and the rise of its new Cult of Progress, then surely it must be restored. Christians should not fear this, because in my view, there are no (correct) esoteric contradictions on this issue, only exoteric ones and those we most certainly can work on.

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