Theodish Thoughts

Musings on Theodism, religion, mythology, history, and contemporary Heathenry

Month: November 2009

Anti-Muslim Priest Assassinated, Police Blame Pagans

Admittedly, I don’t know much of anything about Rodnovery (Slavic neo-paganism) in Russia, but this article from Interfax has me more than a little perturbed:

Moscow priest Daniil Sysoyev most likely has been killed for his missionary activity among the non-Orthodox Russian population, a source at law enforcement agencies told Interfax.

“He had recently received constant death threats from some extremist organizations. Daniil Sysoyev complained about it several times to the Federal Security Service,” the source said.

Fr. Daniil said he received anonymous phone calls and e-mails promising to “have his guts for garters,” he said.

“Sysoyev received the last threat in early October. Someone called him and said he had been sentenced to a death penalty,” the source said.

Rev. Daniil is known as an experienced theologian who had been in constant dispute with the extremist branches of Islam. He began receiving threats four years ago after holding a public debate with Vyacheslav Polosin, the former Orthodox priest who converted to Islam.

Fr. Daniil might also have been killed by members from the so-called sect of Rodnovers (Slavic Neo-pagans), the source told Interfax.

Investigators are following all lines of inquiry but this theory remains the main one, he said.

This is evidenced by the fact that the perpetrator did not leave the weapon at the crime scene, he said. “Rodnovers are not professional killers, which is why they count every barrel,” he said.

The Rodnovers organization mainly consists of young pagans.

Earlier Rodnovers staged an explosion at one of Moscow’s churches.

Okay, so we have an Orthodox priest, who makes a calling out of aggressively confronting Islam, and whose series of death threats began after his public debate with a Muslim convert, who converted more than 80 Muslims to Christianity and two years ago wrote a book condemning Islam’s treatment of women, who just so happens to turn up dead…

…so the authorities are looking at the local neo-pagan community because the assassin didn’t drop his gun at the crime scene.

Now, granted that this zealot didn’t win any friends amongst the Rodnovers because he was, well, doing what Christians do; i.e., condemning any religion that isn’t their particular brand of Christianity. I’m not sure where that last line in the Interfax article comes from; I can’t find any other reference to the church-destruction incident outside of it (if anyone reading this knows of a corroborating source, please let me know in the comments), but last I looked it was the “religion of peace”(tm) that was so collectively insecure that its members went around beheading infidels and condemning authors because of what they wrote.

I don’t see the Russians as being particularly Politically Correct, though, so this might just be an excuse to deal with a pesky and annoying problem (the Rodnovers). I just hope in their zeal to convict the pagans, the Russian police don’t let the real culprit stay free.

Animal Sacrifice in Nepal

Ah, the perennial topic of animal sacrifice is upon us once more, thanks to the Hindu festival of Gadhima, celebrated in a little village in Nepal every five years. Some folks in Queens tried to make it an issue in the recent election involving Theodsman Dan Halloran, since Theodsmen practice animal sacrifice as part of our faith, and anything that smacks of The Serpent and the Rainbow makes good newspaper copy. But Dan, at least, didn’t get Brigit Bardot protesting against him. Then again, Dan never sacrificed 200,000 animals before.

The usual suspects are out in force, bleating about how “barbaric” the practice is, and how it must be stopped, etc., etc., etc.

But in reality, their protests are really aimed at the entire non-animal-rights community; anyone who doesn’t think that every fuzzy baby isn’t-he-so-cute beastie with big brow eyes deserves full human rights and representation in the World Court. The meat industry is just the tip of the iceberg for these fanatics; given their choice, they would outlaw not only circuses and zoos, leather and KFC restaurants, but even pets and service animals as well.

They are, quite simply, unhinged. Their arguments have nothing to do with animal sacrifice specifically as a religious practice; the meat from the animals is used to produce a communal feast, and the rest of the parts (hooves, hides, etc.) are sold to provide money to support the temples and the district in general. It’s not like they’re just being killed to give someone some jollies at the sight of blood being spilled. It’s quite obvious, too, that the ritual is an old and sacred tradition, and that the people sincerely believe that their efforts will bring them prosperity and the favor of the Goddess Gadhimai. They’re not just a bunch of drunken louts, Ms. Bardot’s snide comments to the contrary; only 250 men took place in the actual sacrifices, and they needed to be licensed by the state.

The parallels between the Hindu ceremony and that of Germanic paganism are obvious. The sacrifices at Uppsala took place on a regular schedule (every 9 years in that case) and consisted of many hundreds of animals sacrificed to Odin. The current practice is under siege not only by hard-core animal rights whackos, but by more “progressive” Pagans and Heathens, who are certain that the Gods have moved beyond the need for such displays and are quite content with offerings of bread and wine, thank you very much. Their precise source for such pronouncements is, as a rule, lacking.

I should also point out that such blood sacrifice in modern Paganism is not limited to Theodism, although it does seem to exist in the reconstructionist wing of the broad faith-umbrella that is modern neo-paganism. Practitioners of Asatru, the Religio Romana, Hellenism, and Celtic Reconstructionism all engage in such practices, although it should be pointed out that, as noted above, support for such is hardly universal. (When I started up a Sacrifice Fund in Nova Roma, to allow private citizens to make donations to pay for priests who chose to do so, to perform the sacrifices, the reaction was, in retrospect, predictable.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is no ritual more moving, more startling, and more powerful than a properly-conducted blood offering. In modern practice, such offerings are invariably done by people trained in the practice, and under the most humane conditions. The animals do not suffer, and the flesh is used to feed the gathered folk. It is, by any standard, a much more humane death than that afforded by modern slaughterhouses, and the only people that, given a few moments’ intellectual honesty, would still object are those kooks who object to the entire concept of animals being used for human comfort and sustenance.

And you know what? I’m okay with that.

The Good Old Days Indeed

Ryan Sayre Patrico, over at First Thoughts, has a typically ham-fisted response to a rather thoughtful piece by Laurie Fendrich at the Chronicle of Higher Education. She imagines a world where monotheism failed to take root, and he snarls back with a typical Christian response; such a world would be a living Hell because of the absence of the beneficent influence of Christianity, even attempting to make the point that the Peloponnesian War had a much higher death-rate than World War II. He fails to mention, of course, that the Peloponnesian War was not fought for religious reasons, but geopolitical ones. Athens wasn’t attempting to impose its version of Hellenic Greek paganism on Sparta.

Ms. Fendrich’s original point remains, however; polytheist societies are, as a rule, much more tolerant on a religious level than monotheist societies are, because implicit within polytheism is a certain tolerance of other beliefs. No one ever claimed pagans were free from war for other reasons, but knocking down that straw-man seems to compose the entirety of Mr. Patrico’s argument.

The example of Pagan Rome’s intermittent (and ultimately futile) repressions of early Christianity, of which commenter Mr. Mendez reminds us, is a special one; Rome was in fact noted for its tolerance of local cults and religious practices, even granting a special dispensation for the Jews from the requirement of Emperor-worship. The Christians ran afoul of them specifically because theirs was a new faith that sought to undermine the Roman faith; had Christianity been capable of co-existence with other religions (as did, for exmple, Mithraism, one of Christianity’s chief rivals at the time), I think the Roman response to it would have been vastly different.

Oh, and his link is incorrect. It should point to the article I linked above.

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