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23 November 2015

A Return to Ancient Religion as an Elite Practice

When we think about the ancient religions of places like Greece and Roman, what we're actually remembering is the religion of the elites. More accurately, all of the temples, festivals, and sacrifices of these ancient religions were the elites doing religion for the society. The common people had a more practical religion that consisted mostly of superstitious magic. While the elites were slaughtering bulls to keep the city alive, the plebs where casting curses against their romantic rivals and business competitors. Lay participation in religio didn't regularly happen and was often actively suppressed. It occurs to me that secularization may have primed us today for a return to this kind of religiosity. As the number of religious nonaffiliates grows, we aren't actually becoming less religious at the macro level. Often, this is referred to as "cultural Christianity" or "civil religion." Beyond just the cultural, however, we are retaining the institutional. Churches keep doing what they do; it's just that fewer people are showing up and few people are showing up with any regularity. The priests keep slaughtering bulls, though.

This is my 666th post. Coincidence?

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