All very and highly relevant points for discussion. Without quoting all these, what I take from this is that both paganism and Christianity imposed transcendental thinking. Both came from the heart of hierarchical governed civilization. Both tried to transcend this meaningfully but failed. I will go into more of this in a post but this does very much explain where we are today. Appreciated. Thank you.

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This is interesting (more so than I thought it would be). Fascinated by the sound of your books - might even have to read them - and the P&Cs in the City. Here are some thoughts that spring to mind.

First - your comment "if one scrutinises James Lovelock’s historic Gaia Hypothesis..." is a bit a red rag to me, much like saying Cnut tried to command the waves - in that Lovelock never intended people to think he was saying the earth was some sort of sentient goddess. He used it as a metaphor - and later regretted it - blaming William Golding for giving him the idea of the name over a pint in his local pub.

That said, you are right that many 'neo pagan's took it literally to mean some immanent deity. And Lovelock knowingly continued to play the theme because it helped sell the books to people who might otherwise not engage with the real science behind the headline. Lovelock was interesting not just for his inventions but also his willingness to admit his mistakes and when he was being cynical.

Second - it's interesting that you are surprised so many readers appeared to like authoritarianism, eugenics, medical experiments on POWs, torture. Have you not seen and heard the love for all of this in the mouths of many on the far right of the Tory party and GOP (waterboarding was not an aberration)? Love of authoritarianism is also evident in many hard left communities - with some also being particularly fond of the military - hence why old red labour voters did not like Corbyn in the UK.

Third - I know some think 'woke' is weird - (and at times I struggle with the more radical aspects of its modern manifestation) but the source of the term 'woke' goes back to the early 1900s when it was used to refer to being "woken up or sensitised to issues of justice”. At its heart is the Christian philosophy of doing good to your neighbours, being the good Samaritan, treating others as you would want to be treated - treating all people as equal before 'god'.

So while religiosity might be on the decline in many countries (although countered by immigrant populations - which is why London is the most religious city in the UK) - the underlying Christian empathy persists for many liberals (whether classical or not).


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Years ago a friend and I were philsophizing and he said something that stuck:

"Humans work best under a benevolant dictator"

He's not wrong!

All monotheistic relgions are basically that (I mean heck, all religion)

But even the atheists love it. In fact, it's rooted in our pscyhology. As a father, I'm a benevolant dictator though my goal is to grow us into an anarchistic relationship.

Helicopter parents are these benevolant dictators. But with these we can see the damage it creates. So maybe not that benevolant per se. But humans actually don't really like a lot of choice. Freedom isn't easy.

I'm still torn becasue we really do like our beneolant dictators. Many people actually need them. So I'm not suprised they liked your Rome.

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Feb 12·edited Feb 12Liked by Helen Dale

Great article. I'm definitely going to give Kingdom of the Wicked a read. But as far as the theme of the article, I agree with what was written broadly. I think it's a little difficult to map the old dichotomy of pagan vs Christian from antiquity onto our modern context. Because it doesn't map out neatly at all. Both sides today (meaning vaguely left vs right) inherited characteristics from both the old Pagans and old Christians. I would also agree that Christianity is far more present in both then Paganism is in either.

I'll add, I don't even think the environmentalism of the modern left is 1 to 1 with the nature worship of the pagans. Nature was a much more broad concept then it is today. Nature isn't just the trees, mountains, oceans, various landscapes. It's not even the atmosphere. It's everything. We are nature in the pagan view. In contrast to today, where people draw this arbitrary line between Man and nature. I think this has some different implications then the modern leftist view of nature in regards to environmentalism.

This may be just my interpretation of it. But I think the authentic pagan view of environmentalism is more like "You can take from nature, but you must give back to nature in the same breathe, and never forget where you came from". Rather than "we have to eat bugs and make ourselves slaves to Gaia". Though we may never know, because the various Pagans never had to deal with the issues of environmentalism.

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Feb 13Liked by Helen Dale

Thanks for re-publishing this review/article, Ms. Dale. I bought this book on the strength of your July 2019 piece, and on its strength bought it and both volumes of Kingdom of the Wicked. Enjoyed all three. Might you eventually write a similar book using modern society and the Code of Hamurabi as contrasting systems? That might be fun. I enjoy reading your cool-at-a-distance commentaries. Thank you.

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