Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Jardine and Paganism

Written by: on April 18, 2013




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The ability to shape and remake our society and ourselves is the crux of Murray Jardine’s book, The Making and Unmaking of Technological Society.  A summary of many of the semester’s readings, he deals with consumerist culture, protestant work ethic, worldviews (social imaginaries), bad religion and even a little rebel self and faithful presence toward the end.

He contrasts Greek thought and the static nature or prescribed stations in life assigned to each of us, to the Judeo-Christian view of life in which God spoke in creation and as image bearers of God, we too have the potential as creative beings, the ability to change our environment rather than subscribe to a predetermined course set for us within the cosmos.

He reminds us of the inscrutable way that culture and religion are intertwined and that we can’t escape a biased worldview, even when we say we are looking at our religious experiences neutrally.  Like language, which also causes biases, culture intersects with religion and belief and modifies our faith in a very strong manner.  So visible within the political arena of the United States, it’s not necessarily wrong as long as it’s acknowledged and understood.

As he painted a picture of paganism before Christianity, I began feeling slightly uneasy as his definition reminded me greatly of those I worship with each week.  Pagans are:

  • ·         Polytheistic – like we are, worshiping God, Money and Country
  • ·         Not separate from nature – many in the US have preached sermons on how the Joplin tornado was God’s wrath on sinners.
  • ·         Part of the cosmic order – how many times do we hear “it must be God’s plan, it’s for a purpose.” Fate. 
  • ·         Believers that preach “God’s in control” – That’s an answer spoken whenever anything bad happens – “remember, God is in control.”  We have no control over our destiny

A major difference does exist however; we today are literalists instead of perceiving the world through an oral cultural lens.  This can attribute to the strong decline of Christianity in recent years.  A literalist looks at the world materially, rather than in stories which ask “what does this mean to us?”  This failure to understand God and His word orally causes friction and schisms between science and faith, setting the church up for failure and the inability to see that we were created to affect our surroundings and ourselves.

Further similarities to the pagans can be noted in our virtues – our ability to achieve goals.  Early virtues in the pagan societies were courage, obedience and wisdom.  For the Christian, virtues would include faith, hope and love.  But though those stated virtues are from the holy book we follow, Jardine stresses that any society can be measured by their actions and behaviors.  With that in mind, and our love for patriotism (the blind obedience to government), courage (military might and individualism is a prime marketable characteristic in America) and wisdom, we seem more pagan as a society than Christian.

We need a return to the understanding of creativity and modification as “God given.”  As our culture seems to self-destruct, change can occur if we concentrate on building local communities which will in turn help bring new order to society and to one’s self.

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