Pagan, Christian and Postchristian Civilization

When asked what makes civilization better than barbarism, you are likely, dear reader, to be at a loss for words to answer; but the reason why you are at a loss for words will be one of two opposite reasons, depending on your temper and character.

If you are of the temper and character that is instinctively and unselfconsciously loyal to civilization and to all that it implies, you are likely to be at a loss because the answer is too big for words.

Perhaps you will think of a dozen things in an instant, or see a dozen things in a moment, reminding you how precious civilization in all her aspects shines: civility, peace, order, rule of law, security in possessions and realty,  commerce and travel by land and sea, literacy and philosophy and poetry, domestic comforts and domesticated animals, the fellowship of man, medical and technological advantages, the lengthening of the average lifespan, low infant mortality rate, electric lights, books, music, and, in short, all the beauty and dignity of life inside the city walls and civic institutions.

Again, you are likely to be at a loss to answer because you will think of a dozen things in an instant disagreeable or deadly about the anarchy, savagery and barbarism which spreads once the lamps of civilization are extinguished: dirt and toil and heartbreak of nature, the degradation and starvation, the disease and want, the brevity of life, and the continual violence and fear of violence. If you are philosophically inclined, you will think of the mental environment of the savage, who lives without record of the past or hope for the future in a cosmos dark with ignorance. The arbitrary and capricious dark gods who walk the forest or haunt the clouds may this day send victory in battle or may send defeat; or send a plague or famine to take your loved ones from you; and may indeed wipe out your whole warband, tribe and nation, so that the forest will swallow all traces that you and yours ever existed, except, perhaps, for a few carven totem poles rotting in the glade, or perhaps the painted walls of an unlit cave.

On the other hand, if you are of the opposite temper and character, you are likely to be at a loss because the question is unreasonable if not repellant to you.

Perhaps you have some romanticized idea of the liberty and dignity of the noble savages, their freedom from the cares of owning land, their spiritual insights and consequent elevated levels of kindheartedness and simplicity of life. To prefer civilization to barbarism in effect is to close that great mute book of the life experiences of those who live at oneness with nature, or to burn that book. Book-burning is the crime and pastime of such institutions as the Spanish Inquisition or the National Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany; to burn a book is a confession of intellectual weakness and grave moral evil. Hence, to prefer civilization to barbarism is tantamount to fanaticism or bigotry.

Indeed, the very idea that the different ways of life can or should be ranked into categories of better and worse perhaps strikes you are unscientific, unreasonable, partisan, self-serving, biased and ignorant, perhaps even racist.

To call some people savage and barbarian is unacceptable: if you had a word or concept for blasphemy, you would call it a blasphemy. If you had a word or concept for sin, you would call it a sin.

Unfortunately, if you are of this temper, most likely you have been robbed of these words and their meaning, so the potent emotions behind them must seek inarticulate or irrelevant expression.

A blasphemy is a question or a reproach that strikes at the root of everything you hold sacrosanct and therefore beyond question or reproach. Since you, if you are of this temper, no doubt hold religion to be barbaric and ignorant and contemptible, a disturber of the peace of civilization, and a sign of gross inferiority in mental and moral achievement, you will not admit, even to yourself, that you hold anything to be sacrosanct or to be blasphemous against it. You, of course, will still react with the offended outrage that any man who sacred beliefs are trampled reacts with: you merely will not identify them, even in your own mind, as being sacred.

A sin is not merely a crime, it is an offense against the moral order of the universe, an affront to the fountainhead of moral authority. Neither parliaments nor kings can make a sin sinless, even if they make it legal. Having been robbed of a vocabulary to express yourself, and cannot call a wound against the sacred moral authority of reality a sin. The best you can do with your limited and crippled vocabulary is to call it racism. That is the word you use to describe all sins, from the venal sin of being a tax protestor to the cardinal sin of being an opponent of the religion shared by Cassius Clay and Cat Stevens.

If you are of this temper, you are instinctively and unselfconsciously disloyal to civilization.

Men of the first temper regard civilization as a patriot regards the royal fortress from whose towers his beautiful queen flies her brave yet beleaguered standard, as something to fight to preserve, or, if called upon, to lay down his life.

Men of the second temper regard civilization not as a fortress but as a motor hotel, a place conveniently situated to park his gear for a time, whose purpose is to provide him with comfort, but to whom he owes perhaps a rental fee.

A smaller and more depraved faction of the men of the second temper regard civilization as the enemy, and their hearts instinctively incline to the raiding parties of barbarians committing acts of savagery against it. Perhaps men of this depraved faction do not cheer when the barbarians rape and loot and leave behind severed heads of civilians, but they certainly do scowl or pout when the guardians of civilization cheer for victories against barbarians.

At this point, we might ask why any civilized man is disloyal to civilization? At first blush, it would seem to be a self-defeating frame of mind, if not self-destructive, or even destructive of everything true and good and noble and beautiful in life. Man is a rational and noble animal (or so it might seem at first blush) and therefore no one in his right mind could actually be loyal to the destroyers of everything true and good and noble and beautiful in life. Or could they be? The accusation that any civilized man is disloyal to civilization is outrageous, an excess of rhetoric or a gross distortion of the facts. Or is it?

To answer, we need to look at what civilization is, and what might cause a man, a philosophy, or indeed a whole civilization to be a turncoat against it.

Speaking broadly, there are only three basic types of civilization: Pagan, Christian, and Post-Christian. Each type has a different soul. If you prefer a less accurate terminology,  we might say each of the three types has a different animating or guiding principle, or a different consensus of philosophy on matters of metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, physics, ethics, politics, aesthetics, and, in short, a consensus view of the world and man’s place in it.

Within each of these three broad categories there are, of course, countless local variations, schools of thought, cults and countercultures, movements and ideologies too numerous to mention. To complicate matters, certain periods of history, such as the reign of Julian the Apostate as Imperator of the Roman Empire, or the current period, are cusps between the influences of two types of civilization, and particular ideas or cannot with certainty be ascribed to one or the other. But the generality of the comments will diminish only their applicability to such variant exceptions as may be, it will not diminish their truth.

It is nearly impossible for the modern reader to enter into the imagination of the pagan worldview. One reason for this is the romanticized and inaccurate picture of paganism which springs from the pens of writers as far apart as historian Edward Gibbon and pulp writer Robert E. Howard, not to mention the presence in the modern age of postchristians of the neopagan strain using (or misusing) the word ‘pagan’ to describe themselves and their beliefs, which are indeed nothing like real paganism.

The most significant landmark of the pagan mental landscape difficult for the modern to imagine is the inequality central to and cherished by the pagan mind. The cosmic order of being, for the pagan, is hierarchical from root to twig. At the bottom is mere matter, lower forms of life as birds and fish, higher forms as dogs and horses, then slaves and eunuchs, outlaws and untouchables, peasants, laborers and tradesmen, and higher orders of warriors and kings, aristocrats, mandarins, royalty, lower and then higher orders of various divine beings whose whims influence and order nature. The idea that all men, from leper to the empress, barbarian to pharaoh, bear the image and likeness of God, and that the village idiot and the squire’s doxy all are endowed by their Creator with an innate worth and dignity, even the criminal on the gallows, is so alien to the pagan mind as to be beyond exaggeration.

The Spartan practice of throwing unwanted babies into the pit of Apothetae, or the African tribal practice of slaying at birth one of two twins as unlucky, was keeping in the temper of all races of pre-Christian mankind. The tears and misery of a mere slave or castrated eunuch might move a pagan to laughter or to condescending but large-hearted mercy, but it would not, and could not, move him to what we would recognize as sympathy and fellow feeling. Likewise, polygamy or concubinage is keeping in this temper: the universality of this custom is rarely mentioned, but it was practiced by Chinaman and Hindu, ancient Jew and modern Mohammedan, and by aboriginal peoples of all continents. Rarely do modern minds, sickened and delirious as they are with sexual fantasies, dwell on the grossly unromantic and misogynistic nature of the horrid institution of the harem or the hetaerae. It is natural for men to trample their inferiors and to kiss the trampling boot of their superiors. To regard all men as brothers and sisters, or to hold that a slave or a whore might be a saint is not natural, and forms no part of the pagan world view.


The second significant landmark of the pagan mental world is melancholy. Contemplate the despair inherent in Norse dreams of the Twilight of the Gods, where all that is bright and good in life must perish bravely; or contemplate the grinding inhumanity of the Hindu wheel of reincarnation, where none of the travails nor sorrows of life ever perish, but return with eternal return, lifetime after lifetime, without end; or contemplate the utmost despair of the Buddhist solution to the sorrows of the wheel, which is to achieve the self-annihilating egoless nonbeing of Nirvana;  the or contemplate the lament of the shade of Achilles as told by Homer, that even for the most glorious, life is fleeting and death bitter; or contemplate the resignation innate in the writings of Roman Stoics or Confucians or Taoists, who regard human happiness as being nothing more than the preservation of philosophical tranquility in the face of life’s miseries and disasters, for the sake of inner peace or outer social order, or both.

The third is propitiation and sacrifice. The cosmic order is always in need of sacrifice to keep it in balance, and when the elements are out of balance, disasters both personal and civic, natural and supernatural, must appear. The maintenance of the hierarchy that runs from dogs to slaves to peasants to tradesmen, noble, king, demigod, lesser gods and greater, and above them all fate and remorseless destiny, through endless cycles of years and aeons and kalpas and worlds, required the slaughter of animals and more to placate the implacable and occult forces of the spirit world. Ancient cities from the Orient to the Americas, stank of the continual burning of animal flesh and smokes and incense that fled up forever: and however much the sacred fires consumed, it was never enough, because the wars and disasters and miseries of man knew no end, and the Golden Age was gone, and the world was always out of balance.

Dionysus demanded ecstasy and insanity when his devotees ingested the sacred intoxicants; Diana of Nemi demanded her high priest be slain with the sword of the next ex-slave to be high priest; the old Saturn demanded the sacrifice of gladiators in the games. The various grotesqueries of other things sacrificed to idols, the demands made by Moloch or Cybele, the temple prostitution or ritual sodomy or self mutilation, is best passed over in silence. The mute testimony of the corpses hanging head-downward from Wotan’s sacred oak tree, or burned in wicker baskets by druids, or staining with rivers of blood the stepped pyramids of Mexico, or the evidences of widows and slaves buried with their lords in barrows and graves from Asia to the Andes speak for themselves.

Fourth is the absence of a mental and philosophical structure to the pagan view of the universe. There is no one in charge, no one monotheistic creator-god who made the world but is not part of the world.

Indeed, rare is the pagan lore that holds the world was created at all. The Hindu holds the universe to be infinitely old; the Stoic holds the frame of the universe to be an endless series of aeons punctuated by cosmic fires; the grave Confucian, if he bothers to ponder at all, with canny common sense points out that by definition no one was present to witness the birth of the universe, and with no witnesses to report the event, there is no point in speculating on it; the Greek held the ordered world arose out of primal chaos and old night, so that even gods and titans and older beings have an origin, but no designer who set the frame of the cosmos.

The Brahma god of the Hindu is a sublime concept close to the concept of an all-creating Omnipotence, but he is a pantheistic god, the part of the universe that periodically opens his eyes, banishing the universe, which is no more than the vapor of his dreaming, and then sleeps again and exhales once more the sun and stars, land and sea, winds and gods and dragons and titans and men. Brahma makes no promise that the world is rational, governed and created by a Logos, or Word of God—and the word Logos also means reason or rational rule or proportion.

It is often remarked by those who read Greek and Roman writers how odd it is to read of religious beliefs disconnected from moral and philosophical beliefs. The philosophers speculated about the gods in much the same way that they speculated about the stars or animals. Meanwhile the common people celebrated public festivals, or consulted fortune-tellers or visited shrines maintained by families and clans devoted to the particular god or genus loci or local spirit or ghost of a hero the pagan imagination managed to capture in a particular spot of sacred ground.

The pagans did not and do not, strictly speaking, have a Church, that is, have a Creed. Pagans have rites and practices, to be sure, and rules of ritual purity, and they have myths and stories they tell, or that their rites reflect; and pagans like Confucius make a creed of the rule of reason and submission to the will of heaven in much the same way as pagans like Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius make a creed of reason and submission to the will of heaven; and pagans like Buddha speak mystically of escaping the illusion of the material universe in much the same way as pagans like Socrates speak mystically of returning to the Ideal or Pure Concept of the Good once the soul is unchained from the deceptions and passion of the material body. And Maenads dance on the mountains in madness much the same way the dervishes in the desert do.

But none of these sages, mystics, philosophers or practitioners of various rites and rituals ever met, for example, at a General Council at Nicaea or Ephesus, to determine which of two feasible but contrary interpretations of sacred creed was correct and authoritative. They have rites and cults both public and private, but pagans have no Church.

The four landmarks most striking and most alien to the modern mind of the Pagan worldview are hierarchy, melancholy, the ubiquity of sacrifice and the absence of doctrine. The basic difference between Pagan and Christian worldviews, is that, for the pagan, man is not sacred, and the world was not made for him.

Now, it cannot be helped but noticed that much, if not most, of the Pagan world was brought into the Christian world view, and given what can be called an intellectual baptism. Pagan gods from Apollyon to Moloch were incorporated as demons (which, considering their behavior in myth, is hardly unfair) certain rites, such as the exchange of rings at marriage, or certain Holy Days, such as Passover, were called by local pagan names: and maybe even one or two demigods or demons snuck into the Church by pretending to be saints, as Saint Brigit.

I, for one, have never been scandalized, or even particularly interested, to discover the similarities between Roman culture before and after the Christianization of the Empire, only because I never ascribed to the theory that Christian invaders burned Rome to the ground, killing all the native inhabitants, razed the buildings and torched the libraries, and sowing the smoldering landscape with salt to make it the uninhabited desert it is to this day.

Quite to the contrary, it looks to me as if the Holy Church in the First Century of the Christian Era was placed as a seed in a cultural ground particularly prepared to receive it,  hungry for the good news of her message, and as her roots drove deep and shady branches spread wide, everything good in pagan culture, philosophers like Aristotle and poets like Virgil, were honored as pre-Christian saints or precursors of Aquinas and Dante, and everything evil in pagan culture, like pederasty and sodomy, gladiatorial games and infanticide, divorce and slavery, human sacrifice and superstition and astrology, were either slowly condemned and abolished or immediately.

Indeed, I know no one who actually ascribes to the theory that the Christian calamity, like the Dinosaur-killing Asteroid, wiped out all previous remnants of the language and ideas of the pagan culture of their fathers, albeit all the giggling Christ-bashers who appear each Easter and Christmas to make airy claims that these holidays are pagan holdovers, would logically have to assume it for their barbs to be expected to hold.

Christianity is itself a pagan holdover: it is what you get when the Jewish Messiah commands the Jewish Scripture and the Good News passed to His apostles and disciples to be preached to the Hellenic gentiles across Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, and the Near East. You get a Greco-Jewish or Judeo-Hellenic culture known as Christendom.

Christendom removed or reverse these four mental landmarks, and preached and promoted a philosophy either mostly or radically different from the pagan:

First, the idea that all men, queen and farmwife alike, are made in the image and likeness of God, who is no respecter of persons and will judge the naked souls of all, from beggarman to bishop, on Doomsday, supports both the Medieval notion of a folklaw and canon law which even the King could not set aside, and the modern notion of democracy. Even barons went to confession and served penance for their sins in the so called Dark Ages, and there is no parallel for such humility among the great and powerful of the Earth to be found in any pagan or postchristian institution.

Second, Christian joy at the promise of the life to come is so thoroughly a part of the modern mental landscape that it is attributed retroactively through time even to cults and cultures that did not or do not possess it. You will hear versions of the Norse myths, for example, where Ragnarok is followed by the creation of a new heaven and a new earth under the guidance of Baldir the Bright, resurrected from the grave: this is an imposition of Christian elements into late period Norse folk tales. You will hear Nirvana spoken of as a  type of paradise or heaven, when it is something more like the mystical version of the ataraxia of the Stoics, the tranquility that comes of total detachment from life and all its illusions, including the illusion that existence exists. You will hear Pythagorean and Theosophical and Oriental ideas of reincarnation explained not an inescapable wheel or endless return of suffering, but as the rungs of a ladder leading every upward to some higher point of glory, to be reincarnated as spirit beings or gods, when the ancient concept was that your next life, while you may be higher in rank due to Karmic merit, was no more free of pain than the life of, let us say, kingly Agamemnon or godlike Adonis or Hyperion, whose tragedies are recalled in the constellations of the stars of the colors of flowers.

Third and fourth, the idea that a “religion” consists of a set of doctrinal beliefs of universal application rather than a series of yearly ritual sacrifices and purifications to purely local or regional or national deities is so ingrained that – merely to take an example yours truly as a science fiction writer am wont to come across in my line of work — books and games and stories written by moderns set in pagan days, real or make believe, almost never portray cults and shrines as being like the practices of Shinto or ancient Egyptian rites, with purely local spirits being propitiated for purely local fortunes by the important families, landowners or nobles, in the community. Modern fantasy stories assume the snake-god (or whatever)  has its own priesthood, and if the writer gives it any background, he assumes it has a doctrine and evangelists to spread it, and that the cult will welcome any new novices who adhere to the doctrine.

If there is a modern fantasy story where the emperor is worshipped with divine honors, or the god-king thinks he is a god, and this is not portrayed as overweening pride akin to madness, I am unaware of it. And yet nothing is more common among Empires from Rome to China to Egypt than to called the ruling dynasty of the Pharaoh or Tennyo sacred, and call the Emperor the Son of Heaven, and the source of the blessing bestowed on the land.  It is the Christian notion that devotion means doctrine, that God has a priesthood and priestly hierarchy, and that religions seek new members, which make the idea that the Emperor is both human and divine seem comical or blasphemous; but most of all it is Christian humility.

But, enough. The mental landscape of Christendom needs no further explanation from me you are aware of it, or not, like a fish is aware or not of the water in which it swims, and so much so that the main body of Christian ethics is held over in the Post-Christian worldview, albeit without any root or reason, merely as a habit of mind of ever diminishing inertia.

This indeed is why the modern mind must be called Post-Christian rather than Nonchristian or Atheist or Antichristian: the Christian conclusions are still present, at least to a degree, even thought the Christian axioms are absent.

The Post-Christian mind differs from the Pagan and the Christian in three obvious respects: first, it has little or no concern for reason as such, neither logical reasoning in the abstract nor right reason as it applies to virtue or purity. For this cause, Postchristians can rightly be called postrational.

The examples of this contempt for reasoning are almost too numerous to mention: the Marxist who says that all human ideas are merely ideological superstructures created by the material circumstances of the methods of production and therefore not true does not see that Marxism is a human idea. The materialist who says there are no thoughts, only physical brain elements that produce human ideas by a mechanical action as purposeless as the action of a machine or an organ and are therefore not true does not see that materialism is not true. The Logical Positivists who hold as their prime metaphysical principle that there are no metaphysical principles; the radical empiricist or student of Hume who states as a universal and a priori truth that any statement not deduced from particular sense impressions must universally and always be false or meaningless; the Behaviorist who has the idea that all ideas are merely programs in the brain programmed by inputs in the environment; the Postmodernist who says that human ideas are always merely parts of an invented and fictional ‘narrative’ meant only to project or impose a world view on one’s helpless victims; the Determinists who determines that humans never determine their own ideas; the Nazi who says that different races use different forms of logic, so that there is no communication across such a barrier, or the Communist who says the same thing of economic classes, or the postcolonial theorist who says the same thing of men of different cultures or races, or the feminist who says the same thing of differences between the sexes; and the list goes on and on and on with maddening monotony.

The Postchristians disagree about every other point, but agree on this one point: that when the logical errors or paradoxes of their incoherent lists of things they say they believe is pointed out to them, the valid response is to say that reason cannot be trusted and that logic lies and that all ideas are false. The Postchristian can be best pictured as the foolish gardener who sits on the high branch he is busily sawing off.

Second, the Postchristian philosophy is the only philosophy in the history of the world, or its prehistory, that is utterly void of any metaphysics.

Metaphysics is the study of those universal propositions which must be true in order for any particular proposition to be true. The Metaphysics of the Postchristian consists of nothing. Among the more philosophically inclined of the Postchristians (if such a chimera can be imagined) you will from time to time hear nihilism, or a conclusion that can only logically spring from nihilism, uttered as their metaphysical position: the notion that life has no meaning aside from whatever the omnipotent and utterly arbitrary willpower of man should see it to impose.

This metaphysical nihilism is usually defended on two grounds: it is said to be practical, since metaphysical questions are not open to being settled by empirical observation or experiment; and it is said to be peaceful, since a man lacking any convictions whatsoever will allegedly never have any motive to impose his conviction by violence on his fellow man.

This second ground implies three notions, any one of which must evoke either a gush of laughter from anyone with a passing familiarity with the conditions of life on Earth, or a whimper of terror from anyone contemplating that one’s fellow man, including men in positions of power and influence, might believe such utter rubbish.

First, it the conviction that avoiding convictions avoids violence is itself a conviction. In theory, it is a self-impeaching statement; a paradox. In practice, anyone who has heard the screaming, shrieking, ranting, filled with bile and mindless hate, which comes from the mouths or drips from the pens of those zealots firmly convinced that avoiding convictions avoids violence, knows full well that this is a not a peaceful idea suggested in soft and diffident tones by peace-loving pacifists seeking nothing but harmony and goodwill. Anyone who has heard the screaming zealots knows full well that this conviction is a sacred doctrine of a militant and evangelizing cult, who will use any means, fair or foul, legal or not, to spread their doctrine and destroy any rivals. The meaning behind such movements as anti-bullying laws, anti-homophobia movements, anti-hate-speech laws, anti-hate-crime laws is mere hypocrisy: it is to crush dissent as thoughtcrime in the name of toleration and broadmindedness.

But it is not all dissent the zealots of nihilism wish to crush, it is only Christianity. Convictions such as the Mohammedan notion that one is right kill one’s sister if she dishonors the clan, or to saw the heads from Jews, are exempt from the condemnation of convictions.

The second absurd notion implied by this conviction that lacking all conviction is peaceful is the implication that all convictions are coercive. Merely to believe or to preach, no matter how peacefully or nonviolently, the Christian Gospel, is in effect an attempt to “impose” your convictions on another, and is rude, if not sinister and unlawful. To believe, for example, that homosexual acts involve grave moral sin or an objective disorder of the passions, is tantamount to advocating violence against homosexuals, and therefore, for the sake of peace and order, such convictions not only ought not be spoken, they ought not be thought.

In the Looking Glass world of the Postchristian, the only thing which is forbidden is coercion, therefore any non-coercive thing which the Postchristian philosophy condemns as heretical or blasphemous, such as “being judgmental” or “listening to logic” must first be likened, and then equated, to coercion in order for the Postchristian to be justified in bringing the force of law to bear to deter and persecute it.

The third absurd notion is that all convictions are utterly subjective and arbitrary, merely an imposition of the willpower onto a neutral void or pregnant vacuum, which will then give birth to “meanings” meaningful to you and to you alone. You have absolute sovereignty in finding the truth in reality and the meaning in life provided only that you admit such truth is “your truth” and such reality is “your reality” and such meanings have no meaning for any other person.

As above, in theory this is a self-impeaching statement: mere nonsense. If “my reality” says that objectivism is true and “your reality” says that subjectivism is true, then your reality and mine both agree that your reality is the false one.

And as above, in practice the promised peace to issue from this womb of nonsense is stillborn, and something more monstrous appears.  If my willpower is sufficient to bring forth an entire world of truth and reality and meaning just by its own unaided effort from the dark void of nonbeing that surrounds the human condition, why, praytell, why is my willpower insufficient to bring forth something that I may not rightly and rightfully impose on others? If the other members of my nation, my economic class, my cult and my race all likely concur in the powerful new idea our combined willpower spawns out of the void of nonbeing, why, praytell, why should be defer to the opinion of the weak and nonconformist minority found among us whose lifestyles ignore, nay, mock that powerful new idea?

No one familiar with life on Earth, or, if not familiar, having heard a remote rumor of conditions concerning life on Earth, can possibly opine that a major source of violence, much less the only one, is due to differences of conviction, rather than, let us say, fear of others, love of gain either material or imponderable, or the desire to inspire fear in others.

No one familiar with the grotesquely tragic events on the Twentieth Century, during which the Postchristians of both the National Socialist and International Socialist bent killed human beings in numbers only an astronomer can grasp will grant the idea that the convictions brought forth by the willpower in the metaphysical nihilism of the modern world view were peaceful. The technological and scientific methods used to organize the killings, wars, famines, pogroms, and genocides are insufficient, by themselves to explain the severity and depth and cruelty and sheer mind-numbing numbers of the homicides.  Hitler, Mao, and Stalin sought to wipe out entire branches of the human race, entire economic categories of human behavior, entire strata of society. The Spanish Inquisition, even if given all the materials and men of a modern police state with informants in every family and microphones on every street corner, would not shed so much blood. The Inquisitors sought to wipe out heretics and relapsed converts: not even in theory, did it have as an intent to wipe out the Jewish or Moorish races, or destroy the upper, middle, or lower classes and remake mankind into a superhuman or posthuman creature never before seen or imagined.

For modern Postchristians to boast of the toleration, peace and goodwill that flows from their doctrines, while dishonoring or scorning the peace and goodwill brought by Christendom into the world, is beyond misinformed or ironic and well into the depths of grotesquerie.

The desire for peace and goodwill is of course a civilized desire, perhaps even the most civilized desire and the mother of civilization. The Postchristian cannot be faulted for having such a desire, and, on that level, he is not a turncoat against civilization.

The fault lies in the Postchristian abandonment of logic and religion. The perfectly laudable desire to be free from arbitrary coercion at the hands of others, when exposed to a nihilist philosophy and an empty metaphysical worldview, mutates into the bizarre, impossible and self-destructive desire to be free from all restrictions and restraint placed on any desire or appetite, sacred or perverted, coercive or peaceful, express or implied. It is a desire to snap all bonds of obligation of any kind whatsoever, whether voluntary or natural, running to loved ones or to strangers. The idea of being free to enjoy one’s own property in peace somehow mutates into the idea of being free from all inhibition, all restraint, all virtue, all decency, all scruples, all honesty, all maturity. It mutates into the demand that one be respected for one’s most disrespectable and disgusting behavior: to be praised for one’s vices instead of one’s virtues.

Obviously civilization cannot survive without law and order, no more than law and order can survive in the hands of a people without virtue or self-control. You cannot have self government without self control. Even government imposed from above by a small and disciplined elite upon and large and unruly mobs of slavish proles cannot endure unless the elite is actually disciplined and the proles have (or can be domesticated to) the habit of respecting their superiors and obeying them.

The Postchristians can affirm, with all the sneering and yodeling and scathing pomposity their souls can muster, that they believe in the sacredness of human life and in the equality of man and in the rights of the poor and oppressed, but since none of these ideas can exist where the axioms on which they are based exist, that affirmation is hollow.

No Postchristian actually believes in his heart that a baby born with Down’s Syndrome is equal to him, or that a helpless wife in a coma or a vegetative state has a right to live. No Postchristian actually believes that the vow of man to wife is sacred and unbreakable, and very few can be found even to say that such a vow is desirable, or serves any purpose at all. No Postchristian opposes contraception. The idea of “virtue” is one for which they have no vocabulary, and likewise ideas like “honor” and “dignity”. Few enough believe in the idea of private property or the superiority of man over beast.

You see, the huge secret is that when Christianity took over Western Civilization, Paganism and its virtues were wedded and melded into the result, and the pagan vices, pederasty, sodomy, slavery and so on, were expunged. The Postchristians, in the name of science or the name of progress or the name of peace and toleration, or the name of evolution, or in the name of whatever idol catches their distracted and errant fancy that decade, need and want to abolish Christianity in order to have their sins not merely made legal, but wrapped in praise and applause by all the social institutions of civilization; and they cannot get rid of Christianity without also getting rid of Pagan ideas and virtues.

Therefore the Postchristian, being post-rational, abolishes not just Aquinas but also Aristotle. Prudence is not for him.

Being post-virtuous, he must abolish not only chastity, but Confucianism. Temperance is not for him.

Being utopian and post-military, he must abolish not only the knightly virtues and chivalry of Saint George and King Arthur, but also the warrior virtues of Achilles or Ashoka or Tokugawa. Courage and fortitude are not for him.

And so Christianity ebbs. The tide is flowing out. Slavery, which had been successfully abolished worldwide during the Christian Era, now is returning in the dark corners of the world. Why slavery should be illegal if man is nothing but an ape with an accidental overgrowth of a brain lope, or if man is nothing but a machine made of meat spun by selfish genes for no purpose aside from mindless self replication, is a question Postchristians both fear and mock and leave unanswered. Pederasty has at least some advocates, albeit it is still for a season taboo; Peter Singer public advocates the return of infanticide of born children; the infanticide of the unborn is so widespread, that the population of women worldwide and of blacks in America has suffered a decline so sharp that it matches what a successful program of genocide or gynocide might have accomplished. The public acceptance of sodomy is so great that the word can no longer be used in polite circles: homosexuality is not merely tolerated, but celebrated, promoted by social institutions, protected by special laws, affirmed by custom and peer pressure. To speak against it even in allegedly Conservative circles violate the unwritten social norm.  Gladiatorial games, I am happy to say, have yet made no return, but the existence of a subgenre of films called torture porn convince me that the games have not returned only because the bloodshed and gore seen from belchers in real life, without close-up or soundtrack, would be far too mild to amuse a modern audience.

Civilization rests on self-control. Postchristianity denounces self control as impossible, unhealthy, sinister, repressive, and the convictions of self control, like all convictions, are a type of coercion unacceptable in civilization. For the Postchristian, civilization is itself uncivilized.

Whether the Postchristians know or care what it is they are so busily destroying, and whether they foretell the wreckage and the void that will be left when civilization implodes, I leave as an exercise for the reader to speculate. Those who believe the Postchristians mean well but are uninformed or deceived can believe they do not know what they do; those who believe they mean ill are not so sanguine.