Home/Rod Dreher/A Pagan Against The God Of ‘Progress’

A Pagan Against The God Of ‘Progress’

An Orthodox staretz from the film ‘1612’. Pagan reader is drawn to shared love of mystery and awe she sees in Christians
I really do have the most interesting readers. This came in my e-mailbox. The reader gives me permission to publish it:

For a little while I’ve been meaning to email you to express some thoughts and thanks. First for the thanks: I really enjoy reading your blog! In particular, I enjoy how thoughtful, erudite, and
broadminded your writing is. While we have different religions, values, and politics nonetheless I find myself respecting your position even when I disagree with it. I sometimes post under the name ‘potentilla’ on your blog.

Okay, now on to the thoughts! I’m in my early 30s and for a long time I was stuck in the woke culture you criticize. My involvement in it was while the social justice dogma was only spoken about by folks
on the margins. By this, I mean literally political wonks living in squats and rural queer communities. Around 2013 I noticed that the discourse around identity took on the tone that it has to this day. I
correlate the shift very precisely as the failure of the prophecy of 2012. The New Age narrative shattered on Dec. 21st 2012 and in a few months the identity politic discourse was on everyone’s lip.

From that point on, the discourse only got more and more mainstream. The New Age movement crashed and burned and people desperately looked to fill the God-shaped hole in their soul with something to stave off the emptiness.

After living in a queer community I got a job on an organic farm near a college town. I noticed that my friends who most slavishly parroted the identity politics were those who were from poor families,
often those who used Facebook to make a living.These people often expressed, very secretly mind you, that they had some disagreements with the woke-narrative. Still, they always loudly repeated the
catch-phrases in public, and would loudly bully others who threatened to think heterodox thoughts.

After leaving that community and cutting nearly every tie, I’ve come to understand that those poor souls were trapped. If folks wrote nasty things on their Facebook wall then they would be out of business. Their income was tied to woke communities and if they got dog-piled they would be in deep trouble. Not hurt feelings, but looking at serious homelessness.

Part of the social control the Left exerts, then, is purely economic. And the most vulnerable members of the community are kept in line by the reality that they are already under constant surveillance for
crimethought. That is to say, the Woke Left operates more in the same manner as a cult.

While I am in an extreme minority religion — specifically I’m a Hellenic Polytheist with Neoplatonic and mystical leanings — that said, something that I think is important to note is that the folks
who hate Christianity also tend to hate my religion. In every sense, I have infinitely more in common with sincere theists than the devotees of Progress. Indeed, in my personal life I’ve stood up for
the power and validity, worth and reality of Christ quite a few times and, when it comes up, I encourage my Christians friend to pray and engage in religious ritual. Clearly Christ is a God and deserves the
respect and reverence He is due. From my own faith, to deny that is an act of obvious hubris.

Most of the Social Justice left are actually religious — they worship their version of Progress. To be sincerely theistic is to go against Progress. What do I care more about — social justice dogma or doing
right by my Gods? Obviously I care more about doing right by my Gods. For this reason, I am no fan of Progress, the False Idol that fills the God-shaped hole in people’s souls.

What does the Social Justice orthodoxy adhere to but the ideal of Progress? The idea that we *must* be better than our forebears? That we are smarter and more moral than our forebears? This is part of why
the Woke seek to destroy the legacy of the past, they must bulldoze it and replace it with the Chromium-plated, antiseptic, and bland idol of Progress they worship.

Tradition, legacy, awe, and terror of Divine Mystery all stand starkly opposed to the Myth of Progress. That is to say, theistic religion and Progress are utterly incompatible. Indeed, looking over the
spiritual, ecological and ideological waste left by the Works of Progress I would posit that Progress is likely demonic in the literal sense. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Part of what informs my
strong opinion on this matter is that I’ve noticed a trend of ‘atheistic’ leftists actively engaging in demonolatory. To my mind, this is the last word in the idiocy of evil, but nonetheless I can’t help but be reminded of CS Lewis having Screwtape say that type of human demons prefer the most is “the materialist magician.”

And to my mind, having communities of Christians band together to continue their veneration of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saints is a very good thing indeed. In my own work situations I tend
to have much more in common with sincere Christians than the Woke since we both come from a place of accepting the reality of Divine Mystery. And so I sincerely wish you the best in the work you’re
doing and will continue to read your blog with interest.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.