Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

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Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Synecdoche on Sat 14 Jul 2012 - 16:50

Hello, all. First off, let me say that this short, stream-of-consciousness piece is more intended as an avenue of self-reflection (for both myself and whoever may wish to read it) than as any kind of persuasive writing or serious theorizing. Hence, I'm posting it on the internet instead of polishing it and sending it into my school newspaper, but that choice is also fueled by the fact that the kind of thinking that's been running through my head as I've been researching, reading, (I love the oxford comma, so if you don't like it keep it to yourself) and writing today is highly relevant to dabblers in military and ethnic history, as are many of us on these forums. First, though, before I ask a series of questions with no real answer, I'll give you a little perspective on myself to set a foundation for my thoughts.
First off, I think my current worldview can be summarized by the words and musings of two wholly separate, but surprisingly compatible, people. Saint Theresa of Avila, the counter-reformation writer, christian mystic, and first female Doctor of the Catholic Church, and Joseph Campbell, the more recently alive American comparative theologist and student of mythology. To keep it short and sweet, I'll quote them on the two sayings of theirs that hold the most meaning for me;

"All things must come to the soul from its roots." - Theresa of Avila
"Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Now, I'm obligated to mention also that I was baptized and raised until the age of around 10 as a Roman Catholic, and I am American, of so many descents I won't tarry here naming them, but just state that around 70% of my blood pool comes from Germano-Nordic sources, mainly around Saxony, Ireland, and Sweden. I have, after skipping around trying various ideologies and religions on for size, including atheism, buddhism, Gardnerian wicca, agnosticism, and pure transcendentalism, settled on a very Campbellian, self-reflective, and skeptical form of Germanic paganism as the right fit for me, and it's treated me damn well. While I don't believe that there is an entity named Wotan or any other name watching humans and interacting with them, there are plenty of things I can see and feel as holding spiritual meaning, like the wind on my cheek and the thunder rippling across the firmament, and which I can name by the old names that my ancestors did. And I do believe that the precious culture and stories of my heritage are worth reciting for comfort and guidance, and that other peoples and cultures should cling tightly to their own as well in this age of excess, parasitical consumerism, and ignorance.

With the part that will perhaps have ostracized some of you taken care of, I'll get down to brass tacks, as the slightly nonsensical saying goes. Lately, as I research the Crusaders and delve more deeply into Baltic folklore and history, I find myself confronted by the horrors of ages past. The mass murder and counter-killings of the Eastern Crusades, the cultural and literal genocide of the Baltic Crusade, and the extinguishing of the festival fires of traditional worship in its last holdouts in Europe by the hands of the Teutonic Knights and militant Christendom. Now, I take them with a substantial pinch of salt, knowing as a student of history that all sides perform such acts of atrocity in war due to religion or simple hatred, but I find myself still holding onto a certain reflexive disgust with civs like the Crusaders, and when I was testing them I couldn't bring myself to ally with the Teutonic Knights simply because I've read too many recent reports of the Teutons putting entire villages to the sword, man, woman, and child, simply to make an example to other pagans. And yet, I not only adore games like Age of Empires, which can be seen as glorifications of the horrific business of warfare, but I'm the member of the team whose modus operandi is to recreate these bloody conquests and conversions with as much attention to historical detail as possible. I'm not considering stopping, of course, as the past is the past, and history is a central passion of mine, but it does get me thinking sometimes that we take the great, glorious mistakes of history and feel a need to repeat them, often putting our own perspectives and ethnic histories "in the right", so to speak, during the process of recreating history through artifice.

Anyone else ever have similar experiences or thought patterns?
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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by The Dude on Sat 14 Jul 2012 - 18:05

This wasn't really a topic that belonged to the Castle Square, the inn suits it better. Moved

It's nice to see someone else finally realize the Tectonic Knights were evil for a change...

The topic intrigues me, I'll right a full response tomorrow.

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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Nero on Sat 14 Jul 2012 - 23:53

Excuse my French but shit happens. Human beings as a race are extremely violent and self destructive. All cultures (I truly mean all) have performed at least 1 act of depravity and unspeakable horror to other human beings. Yes the Teutonic Knights did some horrible, horrible acts (I know many more, than the ones you listed here), Christianity has lead to (if not caused) many wars and atrocities in history. However, so did many pagan civilizations, I mean the aztecs believed that human sacrifice was necessary to keep the world turning (literally). The Spanish destroyed many native empires just for the quest for riches, the English empire invaded countries and completely changed most of their original cultures (gross summary) I would go on, but it is unnecessary. Age of Empires is above all a source of entertainment and for them to go around saying the Christianity was horrible as it caused such and such, that wouldn't be entertaining. He instead gives a balanced side to it (or tries to anyway) in the story of Saladin (AOE2). You want to talk about hypocrisy? It is all around you, again it all comes down to human a=nature, we are on the whole selfish creatures, we do things to benefit ourselves, this includes saying one thing while meaning something else or even doing the say thing you spoke out not to do, but calling it something else. It is the cruel nature of the world unfortunately. Your last point about repeating history, you can't be more spot on. I personally belive that time is cyclical that cycles repeat, though it different forms. The horrors of the past are there, written and recorded, but sometimes it is ignored and repeated anyway. Horrors are still going on (look at Syria). As I said before, it all comes down to human nature, I will reiterate myself a bit. People do things because they believe it is the right thing to do. They feel that it is because they believe it will benefit them, but even if they are clearly wrong, they will justify it to themselves and to others so they can continue on. I know I jumped around a lot here, so sorry, but basically I agree with you that these horrors are repeated.


Last edited by Nero on Sun 15 Jul 2012 - 0:19; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Synecdoche on Sun 15 Jul 2012 - 0:06

Oh, I could easily agree with you there. The title, after all, does recognize the hypocrisy of what I was feeling there.

I feel the need to clarify that I'm not blaming Christianity for the Crusades, and I am in fact quite fond of the teachings of Jesus. The intent was to edge more toward exploring our modern interpretation of ancient warfare and such, and to spark a discussion on that.
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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Nero on Sun 15 Jul 2012 - 0:20

Edited, take a look at what I edited please

I am not blaming Christianity, I am blaming the people who carried out the tasks, I am blaming the people who interpreted the scriptures to suit their needs and wants.
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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Synecdoche on Sun 15 Jul 2012 - 0:55

Well, I think that's a pretty good section to blame.

So, how do you feel about taking the virtual helm of one of the great powers who watched idly by or avidly devoted resources to those men? Do you feel a pang of guilt deep in your subconscious when you slaughter a group of your enemy's hunting peasants in order to get a leg up on your economic game when you pop in AoE3? I don't, because it's a part of the game that doesn't have direct precedent in reality, it's a manner of competing with friends using a historically intriguing situation and the pull of intellectual strategy. I view killing in AoE3, and do believe it's quite the same, as capturing a pawn in chess. However, if there was a Homecity shipment named the Worms Massacre or Emicho's Crusade, and it allowed me to gain a unique advantage over my foe, I still would not be able to bring myself to comfortably send it, just as I can't bring myself to take control of the Teutonic Knights with any sense of comfort. That's where my personal line is, for one reason or another, but I wouldn't expect everyone to abide by the same compass since none of us can be completely in the right.
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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by peugeot407 on Sun 15 Jul 2012 - 9:28

It's odd you should mention AoE2's "balanced" view on the Crusades, as it reflects exactly how the Crusades are commonly viewed these days: "Oh, we Christians have been so wretched for invading Islamic lands and slaughtering everybody...". In fact, there was very little slaughtering, religion played only a minor role and the Crusaders and Saracens were more often at peace or allied than they were at war...


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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Nero on Sun 15 Jul 2012 - 10:07

Of course it wasn't all slaughtering and warring, but that is what stands out and is impossible to make up for. Okay, 'balanced' view was a bit of a stretch, just that it isn't really a glorification of it. It was more one sided against the crusades, but still it offered a different perspective than righteous holy knights liberating the promise land. Synecdoche, I understand your point of view, but I don't agree up to a point. It isn't wrong that in a game that doesn't try to glorify the horrors of the past, you commit some acts when you control a faction, it is purely designed for enjoyment and should be treated as a game rather than a portrayal of history. Though, to each his own.
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Re: Ethics, Glorifications, and the Inner Hypocrisies of a Campbellian Pagan.

Post by Hoop Thrower on Wed 18 Jul 2012 - 13:43

To avoid the representation of a certain faction just out of principles is to do nothing but negate their memory, and that's bad, why?
Because we all must learn from past actions, to bury past horrors is worse than just over comming them, since their disappearance may mean that we are in perfect grounds to repeat them, out of sheer ignorance. You must overcome your fears, realize that no organization, no culture is without sins. (Really, I'm pretty sure none of your ancestors were more noble, even proper USA has commited it's fair share of horrors). Because, in the end of things, you must realize it's just a game. Wink

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