What should Catholics think about Pagan culture and art?
#11
(07-22-2014, 09:22 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

This is ridiculous. The gods of the Greeks were not "god" as we would convieve it. You can't deny pre Christian culture as demonic because it didnt know Christ or Yahweh. There not dietys their beings of myth, the Greek gods are stories of us.
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#12
(07-22-2014, 09:22 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Psalm 95:5 "all the gods of the gentiles are demons: but the Lord made the heavens"  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 added the rest of Psalm 95:5 to your cite above to make my point below)

Both "idols" or "devils" are fine and neither are perfect.  The DRV actually uses both.  It uses "devils" for Psalm 95:5, but it uses "idols" for 1 Paralipomenon/Chronicles 16:26, which is the same:  "For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens."

According to the Haydock commentary it seems the intent is to say that the gods of the Gentiles are vain things or less than nothing compared to God, not that they are all necessarily fallen angels (some may be, some may not be).

It also should be pointed out that it refers to all their "gods" (lower case "g"), but does not rule out that they may also worship God, or Scripture would contradict itself.  Paul met Gentiles who did both:

Bible Wrote:Acts: 21:[22] But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. [23] For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you: [24] God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is he served with men' s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: [26] And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation. [27] That they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us: [28] For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring. [29] Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.

Anyway, from the earliest times, the Church esteemed what was good among the pagan civilizations as seeds of the Gospel. St. Justin Martyr's first and second Apologies are good reads on this.  Such cultures were seen by St. Justin as the result of the seeds of the Word sprinkled among all people and their attempts to grasp the truth from them, but they saw things darkly without the light of the Gospel and therefore had errors mixed in.  Where they acted unreasonably contrary to the Logos they were wicked, but in those things where they acted reasonably, they were Christians, and Christians rightly claimed the good things of theirs as their own.

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#13
(07-22-2014, 10:49 AM)Melkite Wrote: 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.

You're certainly smart enough to know that what you just said is merely polemics.

Also, how can offence against God Himself pass by as nothing but offences against the Pope are prohibited?
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#14
Certainly there were seeds of the Logos in pagan culture but in as much as the gods and goddesses were worshipped, offered sacrifices etc. it was offered to demons disguised as angels of light. No doubt there were righteous pagans before the time of Christ who, in doing the best they could, would have explicitly worshipped the true God had they been born in another time and place. As I said,exorcists will tell you there is nothing benign ultimately in worshipping or paying homage to false gods although the degree of culpability of the individual is not for me to judge. I know that todays neopagans, many of who explicitly reject Christ to worship pagan gods and goddesses are far more culpable than the ancient Romans before the time of our Lord.
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#15
(07-22-2014, 10:29 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: 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).

The pagan "gods" may or may not have been demons.  I'm not qualified to judge that.  But there's a difference between those gods and the statues, paintings, carvings, etc. that are used to *depict* them.  In exactly the same manner, there is a difference between Christ, the Theotokos, etc., etc. and the paintings, statues, carvings, icons, etc. used to depict them.  A pious, devout, serious Christian can admire and appreciate pagan art for what it *is*, without falling into a worship of what it is not.  By the same token, a convinced and serious atheist or pagan can appreciate Christian art for what it is, i.e. art, and remain firm in his atheism or pagan religion.
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#16
(07-22-2014, 12:29 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 10:29 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: 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).

The pagan "gods" may or may not have been demons.  I'm not qualified to judge that.  But there's a difference between those gods and the statues, paintings, carvings, etc. that are used to *depict* them.  In exactly the same manner, there is a difference between Christ, the Theotokos, etc., etc. and the paintings, statues, carvings, icons, etc. used to depict them.  A pious, devout, serious Christian can admire and appreciate pagan art for what it *is*, without falling into a worship of what it is not.  By the same token, a convinced and serious atheist or pagan can appreciate Christian art for what it is, i.e. art, and remain firm in his atheism or pagan religion.

I agree with what you say here. But in part. There is indeed a difference – an infinite difference, no less – between the images (including all creation, the angels and the saints) where God's beauty and glory shines through and God Himself (even His own beauty and glory in themselves). But isn't the point that the images are precisely that, the place where one finds God's radiance? That's what makes a depiction of the broken body of a slave (“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”) more beautiful than Venus Rising; or that makes Vladimi's Theotokos more powerful, with her penetrating sorrowful gaze, than any representation of Apollo.
That is, I wouldn't like to separate that firmly form and content. As to atheists appreciating Christian art: I don't think this will last, and in fact I can already see how incapable, if not to appreciate, at least to understand, some are becoming.

But of course, I'm not saying everything in classical paganism is tainted with some perversion, some could say that some of their gods are rather allegorizations of God's gifts, just like the Bible does with lady Wisdom.

Also, I should say I'm a fan of Boethius. So I really don't have that much hostility to the best of classical philosophy.
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#17
There are no "gods" other than the one almighty God. Every other proclaimed "god" like Zeus or Isis or Baal, are creations of man's corrupt understanding of God. They don't exist. Idolatry was influenced by the devil. However, primitive man's belief in old gods and his practice of pagan rituals (sacrifice, which is innate in all humans) was simply his way of trying to figure out who God was, to understand his origins and his purpose in life. As Adam's children scattered throughout the world, they took little seeds of truth and light with them... but their memory and understanding became shadowed, and Satan further corrupted it, and our fallen nature is still prone to self-worship.
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#18
(07-22-2014, 01:45 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 12:29 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 10:29 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: 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).

The pagan "gods" may or may not have been demons.  I'm not qualified to judge that.  But there's a difference between those gods and the statues, paintings, carvings, etc. that are used to *depict* them.  In exactly the same manner, there is a difference between Christ, the Theotokos, etc., etc. and the paintings, statues, carvings, icons, etc. used to depict them.  A pious, devout, serious Christian can admire and appreciate pagan art for what it *is*, without falling into a worship of what it is not.  By the same token, a convinced and serious atheist or pagan can appreciate Christian art for what it is, i.e. art, and remain firm in his atheism or pagan religion.

I agree with what you say here. But in part. There is indeed a difference – an infinite difference, no less – between the images (including all creation, the angels and the saints) where God's beauty and glory shines through and God Himself (even His own beauty and glory in themselves). But isn't the point that the images are precisely that, the place where one finds God's radiance? That's what makes a depiction of the broken body of a slave (“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”) more beautiful than Venus Rising; or that makes Vladimi's Theotokos more powerful, with her penetrating sorrowful gaze, than any representation of Apollo.
That is, I wouldn't like to separate that firmly form and content. As to atheists appreciating Christian art: I don't think this will last, and in fact I can already see how incapable, if not to appreciate, at least to understand, some are becoming.

But of course, I'm not saying everything in classical paganism is tainted with some perversion, some could say that some of their gods are rather allegorizations of God's gifts, just like the Bible does with lady Wisdom.

Also, I should say I'm a fan of Boethius. So I really don't have that much hostility to the best of classical philosophy.

Yeah...okay.  I guess I should've kept it simple just by stating that there's a huge difference between the "gods",  God, and the representations thereof.  That was the ONLY point I meant to make.  Everything else is, well...just commentary. :)
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#19
(07-22-2014, 02:05 PM)SCG Wrote: There are no "gods" other than the one almighty God. Every other proclaimed "god" like Zeus or Isis or Baal, are creations of man's corrupt understanding of God. They don't exist. Idolatry was influenced by the devil. However, primitive man's belief in old gods and his practice of pagan rituals (sacrifice, which is innate in all humans) was simply his way of trying to figure out who God was, to understand his origins and his purpose in life. As Adam's children scattered throughout the world, they took little seeds of truth and light with them... but their memory and understanding became shadowed, and Satan further corrupted it, and our fallen nature is still prone to self-worship.

Sigh.  Yes, there are plenty of "gods", and not just Zeus or Isis or Baal.  All those "little" things we have created and worship and give adulation to in life when we forget the one, true God, our Creator.  I'm pretty sure most of us here know the difference.  But your point is well taken.
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#20
Some of the gods are, in fact, archetypal forces. Others are egregores, or thought forms, created deliberately or otherwise. And many are simply cultural or legendary.
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