What should Catholics think about Pagan culture and art?
#1
I'm not asking about the obviously demonic worship of, for instance, Moloch, but for example the glorious civilisations of Egypt, Rome, Greece, China, Japan.

I know there's been a widespread belief that Pagan gods are demons. However, does it refer to virtually all such gods or those only that were worshipped by nations who were enemies of Israel? Is Zeus a name of a demon who deceived Greeks? Jupiter? Apollo? Aphrodite? Or were they only the creation of people who were intuitively searching for the true God? Can a Catholic admire a fine statue of Mars, so different from what is now called 'modern' art?

I know we're not going (it's too late in the first place) to destroy ancient sites. But merely because it would be vandalism only or for other reasons as well? Is it okay to appreciate the Classical roots of the European (you know what I mean) civilisation?

And what of such currents in our times?
Consider, for example, this video

There are sculptures of Arno Breker. I've recognised Wagner, Pound, and... Hitler. Yup. But the general impression I have is very positive. Again, I prefer this neoclassical art to virtually all 'performances' and 'experimental works' (though some are interesting but that's a different story). Nevertheless, you may subconsciously feel the Pagan, 'Olympian' message of this video and these sculptures.

So, what to make of it? Okay as long as you admire all these things as heritage and no ideology?
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#2
The Greek had their myth to understand virtue, the world, the cosmology, and themselves. No we should not worship Zeus obviously, but we can still look at the ancient world and learn from their myth. The philosophy also is termed " semina verbi " the seeds of the world grown forth by the gospels. The problem in our world today is there is no "mythos" we understand ourselves through, we only have a lifeless "logos." The Greek knew that mythos logos and pneuma all belonged together, at least to some extent.
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#3
Jupiter (Deus-pater) is cognate with Zeus and Sanskrit Dispater, along with Germanic Tiwaz and Baltic Dyeus.  They are various forms for the same original Indo-European sky god, whom people looked upon as a loving but often oblivious father.  I'd go so far as to say that most lukewarm Christians and any theists in Anglo culture, when they think of God, their idea is closer to the IE sky god concept than the Midianite war god Yahweh.  The common Christian understanding of God today is a mish-mash of the two.

No, these aren't demons. They're archaic remnants of lost ways to know and understand God.
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#4
Psalm 95:5 "all the gods of the gentiles are demons"  To my knowledge all modern Bibles say "idols" instead of demons or devils, but just whether it's more accurate or simply "politically correct" is hard to say. I do know that in some exorcism talks i heard a reputable priest mentioned that in his experience that "all the gods of the gentiles are devils" has been absolutely true. No doubt these various gods and goddesses don't exist other than as demons masquerading as them. No doubt also there were sincere pagans before the time of Christ worshipped, say,Zeus or Odin sincerely. As for pagan art, I'm not so much.a fan. There are nice (from an artistic standpoint) statutes, pottery etc. from pagan culture though. In general I think the only reason the Western Church accepted statutes and pagan realism and naturalism in art is because it (the Western Church) wanted to "baptize" what was already ubiquitous in the Roman empire.
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#5
(07-22-2014, 08:11 AM)Melkite Wrote: No, these aren't demons. They're archaic remnants of lost ways to know and understand God.

That's what I think too.
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#6
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is adorned with Sibyls.

Case closed.  :)
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#7
Aren't there churches in the British Isles with the "green man" in bas relief in the walls, not to mention other pagan symbols on some celtic style crosses?
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#8
(07-22-2014, 09:34 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Aren't there churches in the British Isles with the "green man" in bas relief in the walls, not to mention other pagan symbols on some celtic style crosses?

The only "pagan" symbol I've seen on a Celtic cross is the triskelion, which is the Celtic form of the swastika, a symbol of both the sun and eternity. This makes perfect sense to me as a Christian symbol, as it has three arms (the trinity), the sun is a fine material allegory for God, and God is eternal. Otherwise, they tend to covered in either Christian symbols, or knotwork decoration, which is theologically neutral.
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#9
Read the first few books of The City of God.
No offence, but I don't believe anyone here could give a better treatment to this subject than the one S. Augustine gives.  :grin:

I think its possible to appreciate classical civilization, and that's precisely what the Fathers did – they just took the old spolia Aegyptiorum.

As to the gods and their relation to demons, I believe its a fairly old assessment that they were (at least some of them) indeed demons (if I'm not mistaken this is found even in the Apostolic Fathers), and I believe its simply wrong to say that the gods were loving (this is very much just reading 18-19th century deism into the classics).
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#10
To clarify, i do not mean that the various gods were loving; they weren't.  Yahweh is a good example of the capriciousness and fickleness of the various gods.  The various gods are the ones pagans supplicated when they began to perceive the sky god as distant and unattentive.  He is the only attributed with a loving nature, to my knowledge.
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