The universal and the particular in paganism

Pagan apologists often chide Christians for our “universalizing” tendencies; with our commitment to one God, we would mow down the religious diversity of mankind.  But even the staunchest pagan can’t avoid “universalism” altogether.  Venus either exists or she doesn’t.  If she doesn’t, than not even a Latin should waste time on her.  If she does, than she exists for everyone, so shouldn’t everyone give her divine honors?  It’s just nonsense to say that she exists for some people but not others.

Heathen Professor (HP), a follower of Asatru (who, like me, works in academia and prefers to remain anonymous), has thoughtfully addressed this issue in a private correspondence with me, reproduced below with his permission.

Although I have some experience with Asatru, I do not speak for Asatru or for the Asatruar.  The following views are merely personal observations and reflections.

–Asatru can be for everyone in one sense, but not another.  In spite of a great deal of contradictory information and opinions from Asatruar themselves, Asatru is, in fact, making a truth claim, and that truth claim is that there are many Gods for many peoples, and that other peoples have very real Gods that they should honor.  For the Asatruar, Indians should, in fact, worship Krishna and Shiva, and they shouldn’t worry about Frigga and Thor. 

Although many Asatruar would deny that they are making any kind of objective claims, this cannot be true insofar as they are committed to any objective truth in religion.  Asatru is, in my opinion, objectivist in the sense that it makes a truth claim that is true for everyone, thus making it, in that sense, a “universal” truth: 

Heathen Objectivism (HO):  “There are many Gods, many pantheons, and every people has Gods that it can honor.”

Asatru is particularist in the sense that is makes the following normative claim about one’s allegiances: 

Heathen Particularism (HP):  “You should honor your own pantheon, and not worry about those of others.” 

HP is compatible with respect for other pantheons.  This is the attitude that I call “classical polytheism,” which stands in contrast with what I would call the “polymorphic monotheism” of the Hindus, which (often) says that all of the Gods are faces of the one, universal God (no one view is universal with Hindus).  Asatru does not accept the existence of the classical God, although I think that it could be open to something at least like (the pagan) Plato’s Form of the Good or something in order to serve as some kind of unifier, even if it isn’t the God that would be familiar to the Abrahamic family.  Perhaps Yggdrasil could symbolize that unifier.

HP’s distinction between gods that exist and gods that have some claim on a given people seems reasonable to me.  It relies on the fact, which I have invoked in the past, that truth is universal but duties are particular.  In fact, I can’t think of any other viable position for a pagan.  Claiming instead to follow a religion beause it captures the genius of the Germanic peoples, or whatever, means practically admitting that you don’t really believe in its gods.

An interesting discussion for pagans would be which pantheon has a claim over which people.  HP leans towards the view that Asatru is the right paganism for most Europeans.  Perhaps Jove–the pagan high god I know best–has other ideas.

For Christians, of course, the reconciliation between universal and particular is quite different.  We believe in one God and think it right for all peoples to worship Him, as individuals, as separate peoples, and as humanity spiritually unified in the Church.  The different peoples maintain their separate identities, histories, and customs; these are in a sense relativized, although they should remain important, the one God being present to us through them.  Our own “scandal of particularity” (called such by our theologians, who are so committed to universalism that even a bit of particularity scandalizes them) comes from the fact that God has worked our redemption in history through specific events in time and space.  An individual’s relationship with God is tied to the Incarnation of God two millenia ago, to our ancestors who preached the faith thereafter and continue to intercede for us in Heaven, and to the conversion of his own particular nation.

10 Responses

  1. European and European christian leaders have, following the lead of the jew, supported mass immigration of non-Europeans into European societies. An Anglican church near my home posted a sign in front of their property that read “Jesus was an illegal immigrant.” Your christianity is actively involved in the genocide of the European peoples all over the world. No European should follow a religion which believes that Europeans have no right to their own homeland. No European should believe in a religion which supports genocide by miscegenation. For Europeans to support Christianity is suicidal.

  2. Hi Phil,

    That “Jesus was an illegal immigrant” sign is pretty stupid.

    On the other hand, Christianity also built Western civilization, so that should be added to the other side of the ledger.

  3. Christianity has been the religion of Europe for ever 1500 years. If it is responsible for the West’s present suicidal tendencies, it has taken a very long time indeed to bring them about. It is precisely because Europeans – including the church leaders that you refer to – have abandoned Christianity that the suicide of the West has come about. Liberalism is the vacuum created at the heart of a civilization that has abandoned Christianity – a vacuum that causes that civilization to implode.

  4. Seconded.

  5. Interesting article. Not very interesting, but it caught my eye. Being of the Asatru faith is hard due to propaganda spread by “evil demons”.
    Knowing that the Gods exist in this world, are reborn and live in Midgard helps to understand it all.
    For you, that might have a weak faith, hiding beneath a bogus belief, this might sound daring. So be it.

  6. I’m afraid I don’t understand. Could you elaborate?

  7. “Christianity built Western civilization”—

    You christians continue to repeat that nonsense. European civilization was built by Europeans. The different European tribes had lived in European for thousands of years. They had already created their societies and cultures before christianity was forced upon them by the sword. Christianity was simply a layer of semitic toxin that was laid upon the existing people and their culture. What is important is the ethnicity/DNA of a people, not your semitic toxin that is destroying European societies all over the world.

    Whenever Christianity does something wrong, christians like you say it isn’t the real christianity. Like marxists say with communism. Every destructive jewish frankfurt school(cultural marxist) idea, you christians have accepted.

  8. Hello Phil,

    It seems that we disagree on a matter of definition. I would insist that a distinct civilization is always rooted in a distinct worldview, culture, and cult. Ancestry is a different category, although they are often related. Christendom is a different civilization than the Hellenic civilization it replaced. Similarly, what we call the “West” is a transitional phase between Christendom and a new civilization based on atheist utilitarianism, with the Christian founding myth being replaced by French revolutionary/Holocaust legitimating myths.

  9. bonald,

    Christians cannot defend themselves from destructive jewish ideas, like Boasian race theory, mass immigration, pluralism, proposition nation, and marxist feminism. Jewish activists pushed for 40 plus years for open borders in the USA, resulting in the 1965 Immigration Act.( Now all the Christian churches have adopted this jewish ideology of mass immigration into USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

    You christians are slaves of Jews. You allow your nations to be destroyed, your women raped by blacks and muslims. All because you are afraid of jews calling you names. Disgusting.

  10. Hi Phil,

    Unfortunately, the evidence seems to be on your side regarding Christendom’s ability to defend itself against Leftist subversion. In fact, it’s worse than you say. Many Christians and ex-Christians aren’t just afraid of the Jews–they actually believe the sort of nonsense you mentioned. Just as discouraging for both of us, I see little evidence that any other existing civilization is going to put up more of a fight. I’ve written before that the final show-down will be between feminist liberalism and Islam, but I suspect that Islam will cave pretty quickly.

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