Tuesday, June 14, 2016

One Method for Discerning Today's Most Popular Yet Least Recognized Religion

Here in the West, we live in a dechristianized society. For the last 50 years, this has been wrongly understood—especially by Christian intellectuals—to mean that we live in a secular society. That incorrect assumption has been further misunderstood to mean that we modern humans now set our own standards as the autonomous, rational, good, and mature creatures we are.
While it is true that only a dwindling number of people in the West continue to affirm their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, the one odd god/man of truth, freedom, love, and vitality, that doesn’t mean the majority of Westerners believe in no god at all. While even a dwindling number of Christians affirm the Bible as their standard for understanding the truth, that doesn’t stop most Westerners from affirming other myths to live by. While increasingly fewer Christians participate in the weekly celebration of their god through word and action, that doesn’t stop them or others from being meaningful participants in the world’s oldest, most popular, yet least recognized religion.

That religion is Olympianity. Olympianity is the religion of power. It is our worship of six conventional yet destructive gods of Olympus: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption.
To enable ourselves to develop a shared understanding of this religion, we will use the method outlined by Jacques Ellul in The New Demons (trans. by C. Edward Hopkin, 1975). By using Ellul’s method, we will be able to discern and acknowledge the Olympian gods and Olympianity.
To begin with, Jacques takes a functional approach to religion. “Any religion, of whatever kind, fulfills a certain function…Likewise the sacred and myth have had a function in human society and on behalf of man…Therefore the important thing is to discern what that function was…It will then be [46] possible to assert that whatever fulfills the same function belongs to the same category of phenomena” (46-47). Hence if “I discover phenomena not expressly called religion or myth but fulfilling exactly the same function, I would be entitled to say that, while the vocabulary has been changed, the substantial reality is identical, and I find that I am really in the presence of a religion or of a myth” (47).
Jacques then tests the results of this functional approach by studying forms. “If the phenomenon, whose function has led me to classify them as religion or as sacred have, in addition, the same forms and structures, I am fully confirmed, even though the fact under consideration is not at first sight a myth or sacred” (47).
It is by closely following this analysis of function and form by Jacques that we will be able to discern clearly, and acknowledge jointly, the reality of Olympianity in terms of its gods, myths, and religious practices.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.