Of Gods and States

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No
one need think that the world can be ruled without blood.
The civil sword shall and must be red and bloody.
~
Martin Luther, Reformer

"The
syrinx of Pan with its changeable sweet notes tuning up for battle."
~ Dionysiaca
29.284

"The
herdsman Pan sang loudly, pouring out his victorious note,
drawing on the Satryoi to dance drunkenly after their war."
~
Dionysiaca 17.376

We
have a remarkable story by the Greek historian Plutarch (“The Obsolescence
of Oracles” (Moralia, Book 5:17)), concerning, the Greek god Pan,
who was said to have died.

Plutarch
relates that during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14–37), the
news of Pan’s death came to a sailor by the name of Thamus, who
was sailing to Italy by way of the island of Paxi.1
"Thamus was an Egyptian pilot, not known by name even to many
on board." As the ship approached the island of Paxi, twice
a voice was heard calling to Thamus but he gave no reply. However,
the third time Thamus answered and the caller, raising his voice
said, "when you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great
Pan is dead."

On
hearing this news all on board the ship "were astounded and
reasoned among themselves whether it was better to carry out the
order or to refuse to meddle and let the matter go. Under the circumstances
Thamus made up his mind that if there should be a breeze, he would
sail past and keep quiet, but with no wind and a smooth sea about
the place, he would announce what he had heard. So, when he came
opposite Palodes, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thamus from
the stern, looking toward the land, said the words as he had heard
them: u2018Great Pan is dead.' Even before he had finished there was
a great cry of lamentations, not of one person, but many, mingled
with exclamations of amazement."

Plutarch
then goes on to relate how when the story reached the Emperor Tiberius,
he became convinced that it was true and commissioned an investigation
into whether the great god Pan was indeed dead.

Tiberius
should have known better; however, he was renowned for also being
a fool.

The
Greek god Pan (meaning "all") symbolized the debased and
corrupt side of human nature. He was the god, who in the ancient
thinking represented the conflict of humanity: uneducated bestiality
verses culture. Thus, Pan was represented by his two forms and two
natures: a horned, furry, half-man, half-goat who was a robust,
passionate and an able musician, at other times a beast given to
mindless fear or rage and not adverse to tearing people apart. As
humans we live as cultured animals and in homes, the beasts of the
field live in dens and run in packs. Pan, as a herdsman, tried to
bridge the gap between humans and wild beasts by sleeping in a cowshed.
As the god of herdsman, Pan at times was endowed with super strength
as a superior warrior.

Thus,
the god Pan stands as a messenger between the culture of the civilized
and the wildness of the fields or forests.

Plato
saw Pan in the uniquely human use of language; like Pan, language,
both written and spoken, is used for lying and declaring the truth.

Pan
was seen as illustrating all things and he affected all things human,
whether moral or immoral, good or bad, cultured or barbaric.

It
is because of Pan's fits of unreasoning anger and his love of terrifying
those who wandered into his world, that we have the words "pandemonium"
and "panic." The ancients reasoned that the chaos which
results from unexpected or unreasonable terror was due to the increasing
chasm between the gods and men thus destroying the human community
and leading humans back to a state of bestiality or savagery.

William
Foxwell Albright both witnessed and studied primitive societies
and concluded:

"The
savage seldom or never thinks of the individual as having a distinct
personality; all tends to be merged in collective or corporate
personality, or is dissolved in factitious relationships
between men, animals, plants, and cosmic or other inanimate objects
and forces."2 1957 (Emphasis
mine)

Panic,
characterized by overpowering terror creating pandemonium, has long
been the tool of the state since it spreads quickly throughout society
while being impervious to reasoning and logic. It is through the
use of these legacies of Pan, that the transforming of human beings
from individuals to communal animals, controlled by herd instinct,
results in the reorganization of society into an easily restrained
collective.

Perhaps
then, it is not at all coincidental that at the time the ancient
world was being informed of the death of the god Pan, Christianity
was taking root and changing the way people thought. After all,
this new way of thinking was not given to panic nor was it subject
to the primitive delights offered either by the state or the adoration
of the state; at least not for the first two and one half centuries
after Nero. Rather, Christianity, which Pliny called a "contagious
superstition," fostered those adherents who, in the words Étienne
de La Boétie, felt that "…obviously there is no need
of fighting to overcome this single tyrant, for he is automatically
defeated if the country refuses consent to its own enslavement."

I
am fully aware that most people are not use to thinking of the Roman
Empire as a savage or barbaric society. However, one does not have
to spend much time studying Roman history to find the absolute barbarism
inherent in the nature of the empire or the Roman culture. The fact
is that when a people are subjugated to a collective mentality and
function as a herd, they are by definition a group of savages and
this is irrespective of cultural advancements or material wealth.

Thus,
Christianity demoted the god Pan to the status of chief among demons;
and took the battle over the Roman Emperor's right to the unnatural,
pretentious, and slavish love of being honored as both god and man,
to the very halls of power. In return the Roman Empire marshaled
it barbaric attitude, armed, and brutally fought to maintain its
long-standing supremacy as the sole representative, and the highest
expression, of either god or man.

It
should have been no contest. Rome logically should have been able
to fully and completely suppress the enemy roaming the empire. Rome
certainly would have but for the zeal and tenacious ethic that the
Christians brought with them.

I
believe William Marina in his June 1, 1975 article, Surviving
in the Interstices
, properly states the successful tactic
of the early Christians as being "a superior ethic based upon
natural law and a superior voluntary social organization which,
in true interstices fashion, simply bypassed the inefficient State.
The viability of that institutional structure was a reflection of
the legitimacy with which its value system came to be regarded."

Mr.
Marina continues:

Christianity
…"rejected suicide as unnatural, and refused to accept the
status quo. One did not try to escape, but to build an interstices
community. As Peter Brown observes:"

"By
200 the Christian communities were not recruited from among
the u2018humble and oppressed': they were groupings of the lower
middle classes and of the respectable artisans of the cities.
Far from being deprived, these people had found fresh opportunities
and prosperity in the Roman Empire: but they also had to devise
ways of dealing with the anxieties and uncertainties of their
new position."

"Christian
intersticism dealt with the affairs of this world. In a period
of inflation it invested capital in people. In plagues and rioting
it was the only group capable of providing burial for the dead
and organizing food supplies for the living. Christian philanthropy
was supporting 1500 poor and widows in Rome by the year 250 and
large sums were contributed to ransom captives from the barbarians.
Several generations earlier the State had already confessed its
inability to cope with such problems. u2018Plainly, to be a Christian
in 250 brought more protection from one’s fellows than to be a
civis romanus.'"

Thus,
when Constantine sought, in 316 AD, to co-opt Christianity into
the power structure of the state, the Roman state had lost the battle
but not the war. The only way Constantine could possibly begin to
unify the western empire was by elevating the status of the Christians
within the empire.

So,
Constantine worked to change the face of western history by converting
the old Roman Empire to Christianity. This one ruler and his lust
for power had made it possible for imperial Rome to survive and
rule for another 1000 plus years and in so doing forced Christianity
into loosing the war.

Christianity
had been seduced by the gentle melody of the syrinx, as the god
Pan played his song of unfulfilled and unrequited love. The lure
and lust of power, with the trapping of state, had turned the heads
of those whose obstinate love for the ethos of natural law had helped
bring one of the most brutal empires of the ancient world to it
knees. Now the church had taken to itself the role of the preponderate
power behind the thrones of all the western nations.

Displaced
and discarded, to the catacombs and decaying walls of antiquity,
were the early symbols of Christianity; the fish, representing the
early church's desire to feed and comfort the needy; the olive branch,
the symbol of Christianity's good will towards all men; and the
dove, that long sought desire of the ancients to breach the chasm
of unreasonable terror due to the increasing abyss between God and
men.

The
modern Messianic state, supported and bolstered by the legitimacy
of the Christian church, had arrived. Unfurled were the ensigns
of the savagery which were ultimately to be the continuing legacy
of the western "Christian" state: the cross, the instrument
of torture and terror; the sword, the terrible crushing force of
state; and the Chi-Rho, the ensign of conquest and wars.

The
new mantra of the great Messianic state became peace through war.
Thus, state sponsored terror spread panic and pandemonium throughout
the world until every land was soaked with the blood of the unfaithful.
So it continues today, death, destruction, wars and rumors of war
and to what avail?

If
war is the health of the state then it cannot be denied that peace
through war is the gospel of the Messianic state.

As
we approach the day set aside to honor a risen savior, I will leave
it to the reader to decide which god is most venerated for having
come back from the dead.

Notes

  1. Paxi –
    "A symphony in green and blue," is how one might describe
    PAXI. PAXI is 32 miles south of Corfu's port and 12 miles from
    the mainland. The smallest of the Ionian Islands, less than 25
    sq km it is a bare ten kilometers long by four wide. The locals
    make a living from olive picking, fishing and in recent years,
    tourism.
  2. William
    Foxwell Albright, From
    the Stone Age to Christianity
    , page 169, 1957.

March
24, 2005

Tim
Case [send him mail]
is a 30-year student of the ancient histories who agrees with the
first century stoic Epictetus on this one point: “Only the educated
are free.”

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