Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Hey, Zeus, Christos
We just finished watching ‘I, Claudius’ on DVD, and now are trying to complete season 4.0 of Battlestar Galactica before the next episodes start on Friday. An interesting narrative thread that runs through both is the division of their respective societies into polytheistic worship of ancient (Greek) gods, and monotheistic worship.
Just in time I read a post on GetReligion, linking to a two year old article in the Guardian:
‘…It was high noon when Doreta Peppa, a woman with long, dark locks and owlish eyes, entered the Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus…To the astonishment of onlookers, Peppa also began babbling Orphic hymns, before thrusting her arms upwards into the Attic skies and proceeding, somewhat deliriously, to warble her love for the gods of Mount Olympus. But, then, for the motley group of modern pagans coalesced around the temple's giant Corinthian columns, this was a special moment. Not since the late fourth century AD, when the newly Christian Roman state outlawed all forms of pagan worship, had a high priestess officiated on the sacred site.
Armed with white doves, Peppa, a former advertising executive, was not going to hold back - even if it meant defying the furious Greek officials and riot police gathered at the second-century temple's gates, unwilling to stop the ceremony for fear of provoking a violent confrontation. "Sixteen and a half centuries is a very long time to wait," she said. "After so many years of Christian persecution we were finally able to call on Zeus, our king-god, to bring peace to the world ahead of the  Olympics. For us, it was a very, very big thing."
So big, that like a thunderbolt from the deity himself, the one-hour ceremony has achieved the near-impossible task of unnerving Greece's powerful Orthodox church. Since Peppa's performance 10 days ago, hierarchs have redirected the venom they usually reserve for homosexuals, Catholics, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, masons and the "barbaric" Turks at the "miserable resuscitators" of the degenerate dead religion. In fire-and-brimstone sermons priests have slammed the "satanic" New Ageists and fulminated against their idols…’
While this sounds like something out of ‘American Gods,’ the YSEE, an umbrella organization that represents groups seeking a ‘restoration of the Polytheistic, Ethnic Hellenic religion,’ is trying to promote religious freedom in Greece, a country overwhelmingly run by Orthodox Christianity:
‘…For years, we the Ethnikoi Hellenes, i.e. contemporary Greeks who still respect and honour the rites and beliefs of our ancestors, the Hellenes, remained stoically patient when faced with the systematic (and not at all coincidental), negligence and degradation of our monumental and living ethnic heritage by a "Greek" State, which is obviously enslaved by an economico-religious giant whose cultural and logical interests promote the open scorn for our real (i.e. pre-Christian) ethnic Tradition…
Under this new and terrifying reality that we all see being formed against real Hellenism, and as none of the State Officials supposedly responsible for its protection seem sensitive enough, personalities from the community of the Ethnikoi Hellenes have decided to found the Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes, which shall aim at the protection and restoration of the real (pre-Christian) Hellenic Tradition. We shall work by all legal means necessary towards awakening the Greek people and securing respect, survival, natural and moral protection, restoration and honour of our monuments, symbols, ideas and living forms of ancient Hellenic Tradition in the forms of cosmoperception, philosophical thought, political perception, ethnic religion, arts, morals and customs, language, mythology, symbols etc…
…Honour and Glory to our Ancestral Gods’
Looks like the Old Gods are fighting back. With the help of a former advertising executive.