Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quote o' the Moment - Devils and Blunders

"It's perfectly true, of course, that the worship of the old pagan gods survived long after Europe was presumably Christianized. Jupiter, Minerva, Venus, Diana, Pan, and the others were old, old friends, particularly to the peasants, who saw no conflict between them and Christ. After all, it was just as the priests said: the old gods were gods of this world, while Christ was the god of the other world.

"But the church had no intention of allowing this to go on. The old gods had to go. The psychologically smart move would have been to Christianize them as angels. Instead, in a terrible blunder, the church Christianized them as devils, hoping to blacken them in the peasants' imagination. But instead of blackening the old gods what they did was whiten the devils.

"You see, the peasants had known these gods as benevolent protectors for thousands of years. These were gods who looked after the fertility of their fields and their herds--things that were obviously beneath the notice of the austere and remote Christ. So, if the old gods were devils, then devils really couldn't be all that bad, could they? In other words, instead of making pagan worship abhorrent, the church simply made devil worship an ordinary, almost respectable, part of life."

-Daniel Quinn

11 comments:

Sutter said...

Great quote.

Which Quinn book is that from if I may ask? Story of B? I keep meaning to reread some of his work.

Thanks,

S

Evn said...

That's from The Holy, which I read a couple of weeks ago. Good story, ambiguous ending, possible sequel?

Pom said...

Hope you don't mind, Evn, I've added you to my blogroll. Let me know if that's a problem.

Evn said...

It's a huge problem! Rahr!

(Just kidding, I'm actually flattered. Thanks!)

Pom said...

And thank you for entertaining me through countless nights of insomnia!

Yvonne said...

I thought the Church christianized the deities that were similar enough to its values and demonized the rest. For example, St Clement (patron saint of blacksmiths - Thor? Vulcan? Hephaestos?) St Hippolyte, torn apart by chariots = very thinly disguised Pagan hero Hippolytus. I even came across a San Gemini in Italy, clearly a thinly disguised Castor and Pollux (there was a temple to them in a nearby Roman town).

Add to the mix the fact that the word "demon" comes from the Greek word for spirit of place (daimon) and it all gets very messy.

Who is Daniel Quinn?

Yvonne said...

Ah, just found him on Wikipedia. Interesting...

Evn said...

My favorite thinly-disguised saints are St. Cyprian (patron of occultists and revenge) and St. Expedite (totally Hermes).

Quinn's an interesting writer, with some truly illuminating theories on where and how our society officially Went Wrong. For more information, check out the following site:

http://www.ishmael.org

Ishmael is the first of Quinn's books and the most logical starting point, although you have to suspend disbelief a lil' bit when the telepathic gorilla shows up. I really enjoyed The Holy, but I think The Story of B gets his ideas across best.

Yvonne said...

Thanks!

Anne Johnson said...

The Christians took all the holy springs and made them shrines too.

One of my favorite bored gods is Mannanan MacLir. When he offered to fix a broken Christian chalice, the priest said the craftsmanship was so perfect it could only have been done by a devil. Insulted to the core, Mannanan took himself off to the Isle of Man. One can almost see him thumbing his nose at the priests and saying, "Devil, indeed! Fix your own damned cups."

I want to go to the Isle of Man some day and build a humongous fire in his honor.

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