“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” -Joel 2:32
People are calling on the name of the gods, always have and ever will. It’s true of all people, all cultures and for all time in some fashion or another, be it sacred or secular.
Pre-moderns, moderns or the postmodernist have their gods and the revival of ancient Germanic paganism is particularly vogue with the popular entertainment infatuated with Norse mythology or culture. A reworked version of rituals and religious imagery, language and communalism rebranded as tribes or tribalism is gaining momentum in certain men’s circles.
The human heart can’t exist without the mystical and numinous and idolatry is often the human attempt to touch the eternal in the present, to connect the material with the immaterial and express the longings and knowings within the human spirit.
What we see more of in these groups is the reimagined religion of the dechristianization of a generation replacing faith in the God of the Testaments with the gods of the pre-christianized pagans
Lesslie Newbigin spoke of this when he noted that Christianity in the West has, for the most part, been domesticated into one religion among many – a private religion a person can “use” if it helps him through life. What’s the outcome of this privatized pluralism?
“The result is not, as we once imagined, a secular society. It is a pagan society, and its paganism, having been born out of the rejection of Christianity, is far more resistant to the gospel than the pre-Christian paganism with which cross-cultural missions have been familiar. Here, surely, is the most challenging missionary frontier of our time.”-Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture by Lesslie Newbigin
The Psalmist speaks the the pagan heart and the battle between allegiances of worship and witness in Psalms 16.
“Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
or even speak the names of their gods.” -Psalm 16:4
Charles H. Spurgeon adds some further insight to what might be going on in some men’s hearts and minds:
“Coming to a false god, a god of your own imagination will do you no good. The god of your opinion does not exist and cannot save you. You must come to the God of the Bible. “The pity of it is that the most of people in these days worship a god of their own invention. They do not make an image of clay, or of gold, but they construct a deity in their minds according to their own thoughts. They proudly judge as to what God ought to be, and they will not receive God as he really is. What is this but a god-making as gross as that which is performed by the heathen? What can be more wicked than to attempt to imagine a better god than the one true and living God? As the deity of your fancy has no existence, I would not recommend you to trust in him.”
One of the voices in this resurgence in ancient gods or the masculine mythic is Jack Donovan, who has been a leading voice in the postmodern manhood conversations in print, podcast and gatherings. His mixing of manhood, power and tribalism is an example of this pagan revival. All the hashtags on these pictures from Donovan’s Instagram reflect the various tags online that lead to occult, pagan, pre-christian, tribalism online.
“Peter Beste captures the chaotic, otherworldly energy of ritual at Ulfheim last weekend. BALDR’S FUNERAL I just returned from an epic & mind bending weekend at Ulfheim. Highlights include: being covered in sacrificed pig blood, drinking whiskey from a human skull, and above all experiencing the most powerful ritual that I have ever witnessed. I’ve been working on a photography book about the Wolves for the past 2 years. Here is a shot of Viga’s initiation. . #heathen #odinist #odinism #germanic #germanicpagan #ritual #oathtaking #oathceremony #runes #asatru #brosatru #wolvesofvinland #wov #wolfcult #cult #wolves”
You could sum up his theology/ideology in this statement:
“You are the god, the priest, the slaughter and the harvest.” -Jack Donovan
For Christians these movements represent real challenges in men’s work. I think most leaders of men’s groups or ministries know that the Christian men’s movement has been riddled with epidemic niceties and in some circles conscious or unconscious feminization or the opposite, campy try-hard machismo that reeks of overcompensating. There’s a deep confusion and collusion going on in popular culture that has left many men feeling displaced from any authentic community that celebrates the historical traits and archetypes of manhood. Many men are reacting to the pious and progressive paternalism that is suffocating the cultural conversations about what version of manhood is ‘allowed today’. The degendering movement is driving some men into extreme reactionary movements that contain far more troublesome aspects in their dna than anything currently being demonized by progressives. Men have become detached from Christ or the Church and are seeking to replace the elements of that life that touched the real needs of the human spirit and experience. Some of these groups or circles coalesce the displaced, disillusioned and sometimes devilish or even, dangerous into radical communities.
“You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” -1 Corinthians 12:2
Christian men’s ministries and men’s groups need to find ways to reclaim the core characteristics of real manhood and the truth available in the various cultural archetypes, stories and myths while showing how Christ complements and completes the masculine journey instead of euthanizing or neutering it.