Sunday, April 05, 2009

Can't we all just get along?

God Against the Gods : The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism by Jonathan Kirsch

Words I *thought* I knew the meaning of:

Pagan - a village-dweller, i.e. a "civilian". one not willing to be a "soldier" in the service of the one true god.

Athiest - first used by the pagans to describe Christians because the latter did not recognize the pantheon of gods.

Heresy - derived from Greek for "choice" (integral to polytheism)

Traitor - from Latin for "one who hands over", specifically those that handed over Christian writings and artifacts to Roman soldiers.

Catholic - "universal"

Orthodox - "correct belief"

This is how history should be told! I actually read the last few chapters in eager anticipation, as if reading the climax of a juicy novel. At one point I had to laugh...we *know* how it turns out and paganism *didn't* win. but boy was I rooting for them!

I likely found this book more fascinating than, say, someone fully steeped in the Bible and committed to Christianity would because, let's face it, he doesn't make the Christians look so hot. At least when it came to religion, paganism was all about tolerance, and that's the way it had been since time began. It seems odd to think about Christianity as it must have been then, something unheard of, strange and downright opposite of all that religion had ever been.

Of course, history is written by the victor, which Christianity ultimately was. Its state-(read: power) driven propaganda machine was so effective that the word "pagan" likely conjures up *much* more and viler things than "civilian" in the average person's mind, and that's unfortunate.

I found this book so compelling that I'm considering keeping (rather than swapping) it. that is the highest of praise in my world, to join harry and frodo on the shelf.


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