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Neo-paganism & The Human Person | The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

I’ve noticed a revival of pagan ideas and rituals that have caught on in numerous movements. The climate movement, racial movements (on both the right and the left), and other ostensibly secular movements have neo-pagan elements. In order to discuss this, I want to offer a definition for neo-paganism.

I’d define neo-paganism is an explicit or implicit belief that misattributes spiritual significance. These beliefs, coupled with a set of rituals, are what I call neo-pagan movements, even if the practitioners may think they’re merely secular.

According to Wikipedia, “Metaphysical realism┬ámaintains that ‘whatever exists does so, and has the properties and relations it does, independently of deriving its existence or nature from being thought of or experienced.'”

Merits of Neo-paganism

While I do not find these new pagan ideas convincing, I do understand where they’re coming from. So, I want to be fair and offer my thoughts about what they get right.

  • Neo-pagans recognize the spiritual and moral.
  • Often, they speak and frame the world in moral terms.
  • They incorporate metaphysical realism into their worldview, even if implicitly.
  • And, they often include rituals.

Errors of Neo-paganism

Although I understand the motivations and think they’re a step in the right direction, I think many have missed the truth that they seek. With that in mind, here are some of the errors I find the neo-pagans of today falling into.

  • Neo-pagans misattribute spiritual significance
  • Often, they reject theism, or at least have mistaken understandings of God.
  • Like pagans of the past, they have different moralities for their group and outsiders.

Correcting Neo-paganism

Now that I’ve discussed where neo-pagans go wrong, and where they get things right, I want to discuss how to fix their ideas to comport with reality. If we want to channel this neo-paganism and move it toward the truth, here are a few things we could do.

  • First, we should acknowledge the religious impulse in those who partake in these things.
  • Theism should be the end goal, but we have to approach that differently with different groups.
    • In order to reach those who think they’re secular, we should point out their religiosity.
    • For those who acknowledge the spiritual, we should understand what they believe and direct them toward truth.
  • We should channel their passion for a cause by opening up the beauty and incredible truth of theism.

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