Monday, September 10, 2007

Peter Leithart on the Paganism of Modernity

In a recent article at the online version of First Things, Peter Leithart looks at the west and suggests that the enlightenment and after-modernity have never really undone the pagan impulses of scape-goating, the bacchanal, etc. He proposes that the Church reinterpret contemporary life in the west in pagan terms.

Part of the trick, too, is recognizing 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?

According to Leithart, this might help us rightly preach Christ into the current stream of western culture.

Read it here.

4 comments:

Samuel Lago said...

It's funny how you can say a alot of things about Peter Leithart, but he is never boring, and practically always on to something! Very stimulating.

I'm really desperate to buy "The Baptized Body".

Josh Cashion said...

interesting idea how christianity fit right into african culture. might be something we could ask the archbishop in a couple weeks.

Alice C. Linsley said...

"If the rock star elicits frenzy, why not call him a shaman?"
Because frenzy isn't limited to shamanic practice. Neverhteless, Leithart has a good point. It is good to call people's attention to the nature of their actions and attitudes by drawing comparisons with patterns in history and culture.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Josh, it would be helpful to qualify your statement. Semitic religions share an Afro-Asiatic cultural context. There is substantial evidence that Abraham's ancestors came out of west central Africa, but south Africa is a different story. Africa is a very big place!