Hegemony, missionary Miley Cyrus, and the survival of village life
Sorry to be picky, but there is no "Book of the Revelations" plural. It is simply "The Revelation." Or "The Apocalypse" . . . the first word of the book.
Thanks for the mention. I'd like to talk to you about this 'wild Christianity' one day. Still a very germinal notion - and of course not a new one, only a clearing away of the leaves and moss from a very old one. But I think it's becoming clearer, and it is exciting, to me at least.
Another Orthodox writer following the same scent, if you've not come across him, is Graham Pardun, one of your countrymen:
Terrific essay. I don’t have much to add, but I agree that we’re breaking links to the past at an alarming rate.
This is very topical; thanks for suspending the paywall, although I agree your work is worth paying for, and will eventually subscribe.
Just last night my half-American child and I were talking about how the culture of Catholicism has changed more in my lifetime than in ten of my grandmothers put together. She was lamenting how many young American priests have their heads buried in the internet to the degree that they’re alienating the young, who want the old cultural touchstones (fire, crypts, Mozart, feasts) oriented around “love others as I have loved you,” and not sermons that sound like Reddit threads interspersed with horrible anodyne worship leader music.
More than ever, American youth are looking backward; they don’t seem to have much hope in the future, but can we really blame them? Hopefully as they grow up some of them will keep on looking past the vintage clothing and the old films for their inspiration, and into the big wild world.
My favorite part of the essay is the news that your sister and family will become your neighbors. This is the kind of intention/action that will bring the world turning. Thank you
A very interesting article!
I think we're currently in a golden age for "new" folklore, traditions and events.
This is an interesting essay. It really threw me into thinking about a phenomenon which I both somewhat admire and ruthlessly mock: the way in which black metal artists often restrict the number of copies of their music and/ or use outdated and terrible production techniques to drive away the casual listener. As much as I love to mock such kvlt idiots who participate in excessive kvlt-ness for kvlt points, I find something deeply beautiful in the rejection of commercialism and expansionist notions popularity and worth. There is no one song to rule them all, but there is and there should be always new bands, new songs, and new ways of seeing and describing the world. What is valuable is not capturing the attention of millions for a three minute song, but reaching out to the 1, 5 or 500 other people in the world who find your 10,000th description of the joys of freezing to death in the forest compelling. It’s finding the people who want to hear your fifteen minute wind-howling-through-the-forest-and-piano intro. And it’s those people going on to create their own songs. Because that is what I was thinking of as I read about American hegemony- that while popular culture spreads from America to the world, other cultural expressions are far more reciprocal. I’m American and my favorite bands are Canadian, Finnish, Australian, Indian (both kinds), Belarusian, Greek, and Portuguese. I’m finding more and more bands singing in their native languages rather than English.
As far as wild Christianity: I’m not convinced. On the one hand, I love the idea. On the other hand, I find the reality to be less than impressive. I do a lot of homesteading and farming and those communities are full of Christians. And often Christians who are not concerned with converting the world or forcing their ideas on anyone. Which I think is fine in a European context where the church and Christianity no longer are a credible political threat. But here in the US, unfortunately , the situation is not there. I find Satanism to be a wonderful litmus test. Make a casual reference to it or jokingly hail Satan and you’ll find out real quick whether you are dealing with a Christian who has put fear and hate on the back burner. Experience as a metalhead says: maybe one in a hundred Christians have really moved on from identifying with the Christofascist project. And that’s in America. Most of my favorite musicians have been jailed on charges of Satanism in some godforsaken Eastern European country. Seriously, before you throw in too hard with Christians who talk a tolerant game, look up some of the shit that has happened to those who talk too much Satanism (real or just trolling Christians). And that’s just what makes the news. There’s plenty of Christian terrorism left in the US and in the more Christian parts of Europe, so let the Christians take care of their own. They seem to be good at that. And I won’t get too far into the damage done to young women growing up in Christian families. Suffice it to say that gay men have nothing on Baptist women when it comes to self-hatred rooted in their sexuality. Maybe there are some things we should be intolerant of.
If we're dropping coins in the wishing well, why not wish for some form of animism or neoaganism or so to spread in Europe far and wide? Of course, not very likely, but anyway if we're wishing for Europe's spiritual development why not go for it?
Thanks for popping out from the paywall, much appreciated as a former subscriber (I simply had too many subscriptions and it was distracting for me)
As an Anglican Priest I think you, and Paul are on the right track, indeed my sermons on Sunday were broadly within the same frame.
What really resonated as it gave clearer form to something I’ve been watching on my own patch, was the section on villages and why they’re dying. My own church was dominated by the boomer generation- and it was village like. They grew up on a shared life of church dances, church plays, church fairs. It was fabric. But the younger ones who followed were formed by something different and rapidly at present we’re becoming an aggregate of individuals from being a village.
As it happens I’m trying to write a ‘where we’re at’ letter just now - so ‘timely’ :)
Oh, and my Church is dedicated to the Patmos guy ;-)
I trust you are well
I am more European today than ever before. The very old have not been immersed in American culture and I will soon miss them forever, along with the times they represented. In some regions, it was an offshoot of the Middle Ages. The old Europe is disappearing and the rare resuscitation attempts are no more than a romantic story, a last cry. The machine will consume everything and recycle it into a product. What remains are memories, until they are no more. Even for Americans.
One of the things I love about reading your essays is feeling how the young-ish joy at "finding a tribe" is maturing into a more resilient sense of community, however distant. For what it's worth, this wild Christian will defend your village rituals - devout pagan or otherwise - with her life, and there's always a place for you in the forest prayer garden we're slowly bringing to life at the edge of our old Pennine churchyard.
Something that keeps coming up for me at the moment - in resonance with what you wrote - is that Christianity is at its most spiritually potent when its institutions have the least geopolitical power. A thread I think I'd like to keep pulling on, to see where it leads and what it might unravel...
About the American culture colonising other parts of the world, I can only add how annoyed I am that, after resisting Americanisms my whole life, my British/German teenage kids say "gotten" instead of "got". Bloody YouTube! Sigh. But it is an integral sign of what you are talking about, isn't it?
Thank you Rhyd for sharing this freely. A really good read. Thank you
It's an honor to be working with you too, Rhyd!
Another fantastic entry in this series. I would be over the moon to see you and Kingsnorth do further work together on this Wild Christianity.
hey, thank you so much for the shoutout, and for publishing our essay!
i'm absolutely here for re-wilding Christianity. maybe something "gnostish," to use GW's term?
Well written essay, touched a number of things in me. One I covered in my response to a comment made by Ann Barton. Thanks for the word sostalgia, there is word like that in another language, which I can’t recall. I am old enough to be your father and when I hear music from the Sixties, Motown, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys and others I am saddened, remembering another, more vital America. I also grew up in a Wisconsin village, now so different with its own special traditions and personal connections fading.
I have been involved in Paul’s Wild Christianity discussion on his website and couple of other sites, sharing my take on it. A piece of that washed up as a comment on a recent post of yours. Hope it didn’t try your patience excessively. I appreciate your kind heart.