Saturday, September 08, 2007

Leithart on “The Pagan West”

by JHG @

Peter Leithart has a new article published by First Things. The article is an interesting examination of the need to “re-paganize” the West. After noting the success of the Christian faith in the early church and in the modern Southern Hemisphere, Leithart says,

Re-paganizing the West means acting on the premise that, for all our pretense of sophistication, the West has never entirely escaped the impulses and habits of primitive culture, or that, by escaping Christianity, we are reverting to it.

I think this is a profound insight into our culture. Again, Leithart says that we need to recognize “the continuities between pagan and modern habits and learning to call them by their traditional names. If a rock concert looks, smells, and sounds like a bacchanal, why not call it that, with all the religious overtones that go with the name? If the rock star elicits frenzy, why not call him a shaman?”

Part of Leithart’s point is also that the church has given too much to modern culture, especially through the influence of Kant. Since Kant “moralized and modernized sin, atonement, justification, and the Church,” we have given much of our Christian life away to the Enlightenment worldview, all in the quest of relevance.

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