Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice in Neo-paganism and Irrational Re-mystification of The Physical Universe

I note with interest that 20,000 people, many of them neo-pagans, descended on Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice.    Young people in America usually can't make it to Stonehenge, but there are also a small number of people in this country who claim to be pagans, and attempt to re-mystify the Solstice into some kind of spiritual experience as a part of that.

This was all so predictable, and predicted by such men as C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer long ago.   The radical secularism imposed on the West by our elites via education, the media, and over-reaching courts, was never going to fulfill the highest needs of man.  Man is a spiritual being who longs for something to worship.   Radical secularism, aka modernism, does not answer the inner desire of man to worship something.  When a culture rejects God, something else will fill that void, it will not stay empty.

Modernism was always destined to be a short phase in the West, for it saws off the philosophical branch on which it rests, and results in the post-modernism we now see about us.    An age in which the very existence of truth is scoffed at and reason itself is suspect.

In this post modern age, some have filled the spiritual void of man with state-worship, some with self-worship.  For those among us who are skeptical of state power, and whose self-esteem falls short of the level of narcissism required for self-worship, there is neo-paganism.  Often this is connected to some sort of vague environmentalist religion.   In other words, the neo-pagans resort to the physical universe and nature to meet their spiritual needs.  

We only thought that the debate between Monotheism and polytheism was settled thousands of years ago.  Actually it was settled, intellectually speaking, but remember post-modernism is skeptical even of reason and the intellect.  Instead, it exalts desire and will as the highest knowable truth.    Once our culture took reason and intellect off of the throne, monotheism lost the foundation on which it won the cultural battle in previous generations.

So now we have people trying to re-mystify the Solstice as part of neo-pagan worship.  It makes no sense intellectually.   Today there is nothing mystical about the Solstice.   It is the result of well-understood gyrations in the earth's orbit around the sun.    It is a physical phenomenon completely predictable by astronomers.  We not only know when it will happen, but also completely understand why.  

But adherents of neo-paganism are trying to wind-back the state of mankind's knowledge in the mystical sense.  They desire to go back to a time when these things were not well-understood, and thus awe-inspiring on a mystical level.   It is a longing for the awe of the natural world humanity held in ages gone by, before the men in lab coats took all that from mankind with their antiseptic answers for everything.   One need not be a neo-pagan to have some sympathy with that position.

While I am sympathetic to the desire of man to worship, no matter my feelings on the matter I cannot indulge an intellectually unsupportable position in an effort to meet this deep emotional need.    Rather, I want my mysticism not only to be comforting, but also truly mystical.   I am just not cut out to shoe-horn it in where it does not belong just to draw emotional comfort from something that I know intellectually is false.  

I want my mystical faith to be real, in a way that is really beyond the men in the lab coats, even if it means believing in a God who has inconveniently specific rules for my personal behavior.  Rules which I frequently run afoul of, necessitating a continual reliance on the substitutionary atonement of Christ for my failings.    In Christ, this event can be placed in its proper perspective.  It is a testimony to the orderliness of the cosmos, and the regulation and order established by the Creator and Lawgiver.   I worship not the clock, but the clock maker.

As an end note, the God of the Bible explained all of this to His believers long ago.  At a time when the physical cosmos did indeed appear to be mystical, and was basically universally believed to be so by the children of men across the whole earth, there was in one small band of humans an exception.   Among the Hebrews was a Prophet named Jeremiah who related this message from God above...10 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.








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