Friday the 13th: The Fusions of Christianity and Paganism

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th.

I should post this reflection tomorrow, but Fridays are reserved for the The Lord of the Ring series. So posting today will have to do.

I'm wrapping up my next book, which now has a title: Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age.

You'll have to wait for the book to figure out what "hunting magic eels" is all about.

Anyway, yesterday I was editing a chapter at the end of the book entitled "Enchantment Shifting." In that chapter I lean upon Stephen Smith's argument in his book Pagans and Christians in the City: Culture Wars from the Tiber to the Potomac.

When we look at the history of the West we often tell a story about the triumph of Christianity over paganism. And it's true that Christianity came to dominate the West. We don't see temples devoted to Zeus in our towns anymore.

But as Smith points out, paganism never really was defeated. Paganism has continued to thrive alongside Christianity for over 2,000 years. Christianity might have won the official, political battle in the West, but on the streets the common folk continued to believe in superstitions and occult, magical forces. And today, in our post-Christian era, paganism is experiencing a renaissance. This is what I mean by "enchantment shifting" in my book, the resurgence of pagan enchantments in the face of Christian decline in the West. This is an issue we have to suss out if we want to "re-enchant" our faith. What sort of enchantment are we talking about?

But to the point of this post, Christianity and paganism never really stayed in their own lanes over the last 2,000 years. Christianity and paganism have merged and fused in all sorts of curious ways.

For example, people in the Christian West believe in ghosts, and they have also worried about things like Friday the 13th.

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply