Friday, April 13, 2012

On Real and on Supposed Paganising Syncretism

On a thread of Private Messages between myself and a moderator of Narniaweb*, just before I was excluded therefrom, I characterised Psychiatry including Counselling as "Idolatry of Apollo Delphicus, or at best Pharisaism".

Someone may have prayed, may have used magic or may simply have intrigued, though I am at present at loss to see how the intrigue could have worked without any supernatural element at all, that I get confronted with the usual rigmarole of accusations of Syncretism regularly levelled against Catholic Christianity since the 18th. C or at the latest the 19th.

As a result thereof, I came to spend some reflection on the fact that C. S. Lewis before he was a Christian argued his atheism rather - as does now Acharya S - from James George Frazer, the Golden Bough. And I picked up a French translation of the Golden Bough. And I read most of the first chapter in the King of the Wood.

External similarity in rite is everything to Frazer, because he thinks myths were only invented to explain rites.

And he thinks cruel rites must be very ancient.

And he thinks Catholics celebrating in same places as Pagans or on same dates as Pagans or in similar circumstances as Pagans are Pagans. In a certain sense perhaps we are. But in a more salient sense, as opposing Pagan error to Christian truth we are not.

James George Frazer enumerates the facts that:
  • Diana of Nemi and St Leonard are invoked for childbirth and also for livestock;
  • Diana of Nemi is celebrated 13th of August and the Blessed Virgin Mary, her Dormition awaiting Assumption (in the East) or simply Assumption (in the West, up to Pius XII commemorating Dormition the 14th) is celebrated the 15th of August: the difference of two days is not enough to argue against the identity of the feast says Frazer
  • Hippolytus is in Nemi father of Virbius, and St Hippolytus the Martyr was, like his Pagan (or at least Ethnic) namesake, torn to death by his own horses.

Now, we will get back to my arguments for identifying Psychiatry with the cult of Apollo Delphicus, though in connection with Hippolytus I might add it is also in a way an impersonation of POseidon in the context of Theseus and Hippolytus. First I have to clean the honour of the Catholic religion.

James George Frazer was probably an atheist who wanted to explain both Mosaic and Christian religions from "immemorial" cruel or otherwise immoral cults like that of the succession of priests in Nemi. So, he was in himself not as incoherent as a Protestant citing his material against Catholicism. But he was a Protestant before being an atheist, and his material has been cited against Catholicism. So, let us try to imagine the coherence or lack thereof inherent in the Protestant argument against Catholicism from this Chapter I of Book I of the Golden Bough:
  • Cruel rites like dressing up in blankets to burn houses of darker gentlemen accused of drunkenness, rape and racial mixture (some of the KKK might have liked a black man as little if he married a white woman as if he had raped her) is as recent as after the War of Secession. Boot camps like Ravensbrück and Guantanamo, death blocks like Carcel Modelo, some blocks at least in Dachau and Auschwitz, and like Abu Ghraib, not to mention a certain prevalence of similar things in Communist Russia, and for that matter school yard bullying and school compulsion for both bullies and bullied, all those cruelties are pretty recent. Whether one dreamt of them among Cro-Magnons in Dordogne, I know not, but under Alfred and Charlemagne they were unknown. So much for his assumption of "the older the worse".
  • What coherence is it in assuming God to shun Diana of Nemi to the extent of refusing aid to childbirths and livestock?
  • What coherence is it in assuming two days of delay in a feast, when Church feasts are regularly preceded by fasts, and stricter the further you go back in Church History, does not preclude identity of feast? THe first Christians to celebrate 15th of August must have fasted the 13th of August. And thus refused very strictly to participate in the feast of Diana and Virbius.
  • And what coherence is it in assuming a Christian could not be called Hippolytus and if he was and had horses be martyred in literary reference to his older ethnic namesake?
  • No coherence, no coherence, no coherence. This kind of argument is so sham it is a shame anyone could sink to it. Lollards had some kind of principle though a very mistaken one in their opposition to Feasts and Fasts and Special Intercessions: but the people who level that have nothing but prejudice.

Now, in same chapter I learn that Apollo Delphicus did not quite let off Orestes as easily as I had supposed: when he frees his sister, she brings along the Tauric Diana to Italy - and that is supposed to start the line of priests who murder each other to serve Diana.

Apollo Delphicus, better named Apollyon, destroyed the life of Akrisius, Oedipus and Iokaste, and through that also of Eteocles, Polynices, Antigone, Ismene, Kreon, Haemon. He destroyed them by making a prophecy that fulfilled itself by the superstition of those believing it, which is the opposite of the prophecy of God, which saves those believing it. He destroyed the lives of Agamemnon, Klytaimnestra, Aegistus, Orestes, Electra, Iphigenia by the orders of making absolutely odd and impious things which were done and destroyed lives through the superstition of believing one had to obey Apollo of Delphos as God Almighty. And psychiatry and counselling destroy lives precisely by the same means. Therefore they serve the same demon, even if the rites are in detail pretty different.

C. S. Lewis, in The Abolition of Man foresaw a generation (he called it generation X, and there is a generation called in media generation X), more emancipated than any previous from their parents and ancestors, more dictatorial than any over their offspring, remoulding or trying to remold what it means to be human.

He may have exaggerated the similarity between Christians and Pagans. But at least it is true that a certain generation in Christendom has a very special position: they were flattered by psychologists when rebelling against their parents, they are flattered now by psychologists when being strict against their children, the psychologists made them feel good then and make them feel good now. The psychologists hardly made their parents feel good back then, but then those already parents of young adults in 1968 were hardly their customers. The psychologists are not making the teenagers of today feel very well either, after what I have seen. And to me that proves the same demon who plotted the setting out of Oedipus when he was a child, a crime of father against son, and who plotted the murder of Akrisios when Oedipus was adult, a crime of son against father, is indeed at work again.

If anyone thinks I am wrong, take a look at whether psychologists are really predicting predictable things or are making self-fulfilling prophecies, whether they are really demanding reasonable things or demanding impieties.

For me the matter is sufficiently clear after my grandmother was mugged, offered analysis, and told at first - and therefore last - session that the mugging had only taken place in her imagination. That might have been what the shrink had been told, but what guarantee could he reasonably have had to think he had better knowledge than the very person concerned? None, obviously!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Georges Pompidou Library
of Paris
Friday in Easter Week
YooL 2012

*Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere:
PM debate with a moderator

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