Friday, 30 November 2012

Provisional Paganism?

CS Lewis, creator of Narnia, Ransom and Screwtape, wrote that conversion to Christianity was easier from Paganism than from secularism. Sangharakshita, founder of the Western Buddhist Order, said that post-Christian secularists might approach Buddhism more easily by first returning to their Pagan roots. Thus, both placed a positive albeit provisional value on Paganism.

I suggest that mankind benefits from celebration, meditation and secularisation but not from indoctrination about a unique revelation of sacrificial salvation from eternal damnation. Post-Christian secularists can perform seasonal rituals, practise Buddhist meditation and promote scientific understanding, thus preserving beneficial traditions without perpetuating monotheist beliefs.

Having been indoctrinated in Catholicism, I initially welcomed Lewis' Christian propaganda and accepted his philosophical rationalisations and am far from alone in still appreciating his imaginative fiction - which grants a surprising degree of autonomy to the Pagan gods under the sovereignty of Aslan/Maleldil/Christ - and also valuing many of his moral insights - in The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce and That Hideous Strength.

However, after study and reflection, I now reject the ideas both of only one god and of blood sacrifice. The Buddha taught that the best sacrifice was an offering not of blood to the gods but of fruit to the poor. But I prefer Zen to Sangharakshita's eclecticism.