Modern day Pagans have to deal with all sorts of stupidity (so too, obviously, do atheists and progressive Christians and those of other belief systems but I can only speak as the Heathen I am). Some of it comes from our own ranks, such as the belief in a prehistoric matriarchy (completely unsupported by the facts) in which life was perfect, or the idea that there was some sort of polytheistic Golden Age (completely unsupported by the facts) in which life was perfect. But most of the stupidity comes from outside – from Christianity in point of fact.
Christianity isn’t entirely to blame, of course. Judaism started it the ball rolling with its invention of the true/false distinction in religion (Jan Assmann’s Mosaic Distinction). But Christianity sure picked up the ball and ran with it – a BOHICA moment of catastrophic proportions. And with all due apologies to progressive Christians, oh what a mess it has made. Nor is it a F-up from which the world will ever recover.
Fundamentalist Christians from the very get-go, starting with Paul of Tarsus (and yes, he was a fundamentalist if there ever was one), targeted Paganism as the enemy and as Christianity matured it saw things Pagan as opposed to Christianity even while stealing its symbols, stories, gods, holy days, and even beliefs, hand over fist to fit into the growing Christian framework. They are still doing this, still labeling everything they disapprove of as “pagan” and televangelist Pat Robertson, who once blamed Pagans for 9/11, is more than happy to participate in this parade of ignorance and deceit. Secular symbols can likewise be targeted for destruction.
Take the peace symbol, Robertson’s latest target. This is an issue he addressed on his 700 Club on November 28. Now, Christianity of course asserts sole possession of the capital-T Truth, which means of course that nobody else and nothing else can participate in that truth. Which means if Christianity is the religion of peace (excuse me, I think I threw up a little in mouth there) then no sign but the cross can symbolize that peace – including, especially, the peace sign. The peace sign, it may surprise you to learn, is a broken cross.
I’ve had my Thor’s hammer also called a broken cross by the way, I suppose, Christians who can’t imagine anybody wearing anything that would not be a cross (though I suspect they actually thought a part of my hammer had physically broken off).
The peace symbol is of course an entirely secular symbol. But posed a question by a concerned grandparent (should she be concerned that her grandchildren are wearing peace signs, egads!?) Pat Robertson went into a predictable tailspin, dredging up the usual and already refuted arguments made by past conservatives, in this case the John Birch Society in 1970:
Watch the video from Media Matters:
“Well I think the peace sign is a broken cross, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that what it is? It’s a broken cross, that’s what it is: an upside-down broken cross.”
“I don’t think they ought to be wearing that kind of thing.”
But the peace sign is no more a broken cross than is my Thor’s hammer despite fundamentalist assertions (see the absolutely silly claims made here). My hammer is the symbol of Mjollnir and therefore of Thor, defender of the gods and friend of man. The only possible connection you might draw is that my god carries a hammer and that Jesus was nailed to a piece of wood. But I don’t think that’s in Robertson’s thinking.
Look at it:
And a cross?
Then compare a peace sign:
To an upside-down cross:
Honestly, I don’t see it. This is how Gerald Holtom described the peace sign’s creation – and he ought to know – he invented it:
“I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalized the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.”
Well there you go. What it ends up symbolizing is semaphore flags held out to signal an “N” and a “D” for nuclear disarmament. There is no Jesus and no cross and certainly no intent to turn a cross upside down. Pat Robertson’s fixation with the cross, his insistent in seeing a cross in every little symbol is rather laughable since Christians didn’t even invent the damn thing.
Crosses, you see, are far older than Christianity, just as are sacrifices and resurrected gods. Cross symbols go all the way back to the Stone Age, for crying out loud. Polytheists, Celts, Scandinavians and others, including Egyptians, were employing the cross long before anybody gave any thought to a guy named Jesus.
I mean, is this a cross?
No, that’s an ancient Egyptian ankh. It was in use a long before the Christian use of a cross. Is Robertson going to go back and retroactively turn the ankh into some sort of perverted cross?
How about this? Is this a cross?
No, that’s a sun wheel, dating back to Neolithic times and used by my own Heathen ancestors before they ever heard of Christianity and the White Christ.
Is Pat going to call that a Christian symbol too, or some perversion of it?
Fundamentalist Christians need to understand that the world does not revolve around them, their beliefs, or the stolen and repurposed symbols of far older religions. Christianity has no symbols that did not belong to somebody else first, including the fish symbol, the so-called “Jesus fish” you see on the backs of so many cars:
This is actually an ancient polytheistic fertility symbol – ironic since fundamentalist Christians hate women so much More amusing still, to Pagans, is that the ichthus symbol is also representative of a vulva.
The problem is, as I said, that in fundamentalist thinking what isn’t of Christianity must be opposed to Christianity, thus Paganism is Satanic and anything secular is anti-Christian (and therefore Satanic). It’s a bizarre thought-bubble these people occupy, almost incomprehensible to the well-balanced mind, where reality has no bearing and no relevance. They don’t see the world as we do; they never have and they never will. The unfortunate thing is that they like to spread ignorance through contagious negative emotion rather than rational thought (which admittedly takes more effort) and they breed like bunnies.
We can laugh at Pat Robertson, and probably should, but we can’t discount him or those to whom he speaks, because they care no more for the facts or for reality than does he. And remember: they breed like bunnies. There isn’t a substance that can be used like the Conservastapo’s crowd-clearing Pepper Spray to clear a mind. The only thing that can free the mind is education. We’re about to the point now where we each need to carry a satchel of pamphlets to address each and every lie being told, but that’s impractical and people don’t like having their beliefs challenged. Their megachurch pastors have already filled up their minds with emotive fact-immunized sound bites.
Good luck going down that road, if you choose to take it. Pagan philosopher Porphyry realized the futility of reason way back in the third century C.E., writing that “it is easier to write words on water than try to use argument on a Christian.”
We’re facing an uphill battle not only because Porphyry was right, but because we can’t outbreed them. I don’t mean to be defeatist: as long as we have institutes of higher learning we have a chance against the Pat Robertson’s of the world. The stench of bullshit can be eroded through prolonged exposure to reality, which is why they hate academia and academics so much; why they view universities as temples to Satan and why they have their own colleges to program rather than educate.
But it’s a battle we must fight – and win – unless you want Jesus in your vulva:
Image from MyFriendDebbie.com in honor of the site’s fantastical claims about the peace sign. I am in awe of anyone who can cram so much BS into such a small area. You have to wonder why the 9/11 terrorists weren’t festooned with peace signs! Who knew?