Posted by: aediculaantinoi | December 19, 2013

Pagans, Prosperity, and the Pope (Or, A Bad Choice of Words…)

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of the so-called “prosperity gospel” movement, amongst Christians most certainly, amongst New Agers and The Secret peddlers as well, and most especially amongst anyone who is within modern paganism…in fact, it’s something I wrote about a few months ago as something that pisses me off. Prosperitas is a goddess, and the way in which her name is being abused by people who speak of “prosperity” in this entitled and privileged fashion is detestable, to say the least.

So, when I heard that the Catholic leader known as Pope Francis–who is, in many respects, a laudable figure–spoke out against the “prosperity gospel,” I was glad of it. Except that the way he spoke out against it sort of missed the point…:

“It is an ugly thing,” he said, according to Vatican Radio, “when you see a Christian who doesn’t want to humble himself, who doesn’t want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it’s ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that’s a pagan!”

Okay…leaving aside the sexism of the statement (as there are women and people of other genders who might also espouse the prosperity gospel), and the total misunderstanding of both modern and historical paganism/polytheism as a kind of “proud” and selfish movement (yes, there are some modern pagans who refuse to “bow their heads,” but the thing the Christians objected to the most about historical polytheists was that they bowed their heads too much to things they did not consider worthy of such honors–you know, gods!), does it really speak well for the man that in all of his social-justice-minded rhetoric, and even some actions to back up such rhetoric, that he thinks this of people who still live and walk upon the earth?

(The comments in the above link are quite misinformed in many cases, and the fact that they’re all trying to excuse his statement and explain it rather than actually deal with what he’s saying is rather appalling.)

This opens a whole can of worms, needless to say, about modern paganism and its connections (if any) to ancient forms of paganism and polytheism; whether or not devotion in modern pagan and polytheist practices is something people embrace of if they are embarrassed about it (for reasons exactly exemplified by such statements as this); and, of course, whether there can be said to be a “prosperity gospel” movement amongst modern pagans at all.

But the main thing about this is, it’s offensive to equate the worst of individuals within one’s own religion to people of another religion.

I was hoping we’d be able to avoid things like this with the current leader of the Catholic movement; alas, it appears not. I hope that he does a sensible thing and apologizes for his remarks, as would befit someone who is the leader of the largest, richest, and most successful child rapist ring that human history has ever known.


  1. “I hope that he does a sensible thing and apologizes for his remarks, as would befit someone who is the leader of the largest, richest, and most successful child rapist ring that human history has ever known.”

    Oh please. As someone who has followed your posts for awhile and is in the process of saving up for a full roster of courses in the Academia, I must express profound disappointment with that snarky and anti-Catholic quip.

    • It’s good to hear from you again!

      On the one hand: did you see the alternate title of this post? “A Bad Choice of Words”? So, yeah…that was on purpose, and was a joke; but because I assume my reading audience is pretty canny, I didn’t think I needed to write “You see what I just did there?” at the end for them to get it.

      Yet, on the other hand: they have not done as much as they should have on this issue, they have not apologized to all of the people whose lives they’ve destroyed as a result of this (especially in some countries, e.g. Ireland), while some of their officials (particularly in the U.S.) often simultaneously spread heinous lies about certain matters (e.g. that gay people raising children is a major cause of youth suicide); and the overall response from the Vatican on these matters has been pretty minimal. So, it is an issue that could use a bit more serious and high-level attention than it has had over the last fifteen-plus years.

      • To quote a favourite book of mine: “Pfaugh, Horatius!” It seems my sarcasm detector is broken or that I am simply not up to snuff on my cannyness :p

        And I don’t seek to make the foolish claim that the Church doesn’t have her failures; she does and you’ve well diagnosed them. Unlike many pagans however my divorce from my birth religion (Catholicism, as you may have guessed😉 was quite amicable and I still get riled by “Catholics = paedo” comments, sometimes without taking the time to assess context.

        In sum: my apologies, good doctor!

      • No worries. 😉

        I actually have nothing against individual Catholics (some of the very best people I know are Catholic, and they’ve been supportive and respectful of my polytheism more so than many modern pagans have been!), and I quite like a lot of Catholicism. I was mostly raised with it, though it never quite “took” (nor did any form of Christianity, obviously!), but I remain fascinated by many aspects of it and figures within it.

        The institutional church, and some of its leaders, however, is another matter entirely.

  2. What I’ve found too is that “pagan” can become shorthand for selfish, vain, the other 7 Deadly Sins, what have you. Or is it the polite way to say “the unsaved”? Because no one had invented morals until Christianity came along.😉 Paganism is a low hanging fruit for anybody in the majority. “Pagans, eh? That crazy lot.”

    What I’m finding very interesting is that ancient Canaanite (via the Ugaritic texts) and Israelite texts (Tanakh) measured kingship by how well a leader took care of their community’s most vulnerable members.

    It’s strange that the institutional church is largely too little, too late with clergy abuse of children, yet is furious about the Catholic nuns of caring too much for the poor and not enough about throwing out the gays…

    • Indeed…

      That notion that there was no such thing as “morality” until there was a Jesus (and the “morality” spoken of is generally not from Jesus, it’s from the Jews who pre-existed him by millennia…and actually wrote some of that stuff down! [but only doing so a few centuries ahead of Jesus’ arrival) is so much Christian privileged hokum it’s not even funny…and is quite sad that so many people have such little knowledge of actual history to think such.

      • I know, right up there with G.W. Bush saying the Bible was originally written in English. *sighs*

      • I could be wrong about G.W. Bush saying that, but the idea that it was first written in English does get floated around.

      • I’ve heard it attributed to various folks of that ilk…including a Texas governor’s wife, who said, when asked whether schools in Texas should be bilingual, “If English is good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for me.”

  3. Hm. While I was a bit taken aback by the phrasing of the comments, I don’t know that the word used by the Pope was the English word “pagan” or if it was translated as such, if the translator was referring to a modern-day neopagan (which I doubt) or using it in a specific ecclessastical sense (which is more likely) or even going with good old Merriam-Webster #2 (

    I chose not to get my panties in a wad over that (admittedly ungracious) phrasing, because this Pope has been making enormous strides in confronting the vicious, hateful, excessively politicial, money-driven Christian hypocrisies running rampant in the world at the moment.

    • It’s unfortunate that you didn’t also choose to not phrase your reaction to other people’s reactions on this matter in a sexist and disrespectful manner, and one that appears entirely ignorant of the context where such reactions were being voiced.

  4. […] Pagans, Prosperity, and the Pope (Or, A Bad Choice of Words…)( […]

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