In the arid secularist times in which we live in the west, it is nearly inevitable that this will happen. René Girard's mimetic theory predicts with a high degree of probability that without the moral infrastructure and authentic transcendence provided by the Christian revelation, persons will slip into what he calls "the primitive sacred." Either by willful rejection of the teachings of the Church's Magisterium, that vouchsafes the deposit of faith in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, or by ignorance of the same, persons will re-enter the world of paganism. (The Old Testament prophets knew this perfectly well.) It is, as Nietzsche said a choice between Christ or Dionysus. There is no middle ground. Not for liberals. Not for conservatives.
In this knowledge, I penned a fictional form of catechesis entitled The Dionysus Mandate to show the multiple ways that people can find themselves sliding into "the primitive sacred." In the excerpt below, I depict two women religious who are well away from the safe-keeping of the Sacraments and well into the influence of the neo-pagan. A third woman riding with them is also a neo-pagan, but more seriously into an effort to re-institute the darker elements of pagan religion:
Mel noticed three women in a late model Swedish car. Two in the front seat seemed to exude attentiveness to their surroundings reminiscent of nuns from a parochial school. Mel flipped the page of his sketchbook and began a drawing of the threesome.
“Isn’t this divine? Did you just hear that man over there? He was saying he thought he saw a shark’s fin!” the younger woman in the front seat asked. She had short-cropped blond hair and a large, open, smiling face. “Ah! It’s so good to get away from the retreat center for awhile! I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than at the ocean.”
“Did you remind Father Edmund to use the Medicine Wheel with his parish group from Saint Gummarus?” the older woman asked.
The younger woman, Susanna Ruggieri, said, “I showed him around. They especially liked all the books we have on Jungian spirituality in the library. They’re big into the collective unconscious in that parish. You should have seen the envy on their faces when I told them we would be spending the eclipse conference with Father Luke Coyote!”
Her companion, Mary Fran Ugolino, a stylish woman of slighter build and silver hair, picked up a brochure. “’An Experience in Pre-Christian Transcendence and Gaia Consciousness,’” she read. “I spoke with Father Luke last Saturday evening. He made a point of saying he was looking forward to seeing me again.”
A copy of the former Catholic priest’s newest book, The Sacrament of Non-commitment: Open Marriages, Freedom and Love for Today, sat between them on the console. His frequent affaires de cœur with admirers of both sexes made for best seller material.
The third woman, in the backseat, seemed quiet and sullen. Her sunglasses and auburn-hair partially hid her expression from the enthusiastic women in the front seat. How did I ever get stuck with these idiots for a ride? she thought.
“Frederika!” Susanna said, turning quickly. “Be sure to register for the ‘Gaia Consciousness Workshop’ as soon as we get there! It will be tomorrow morning after Father Luke’s plenary address. I’ve heard we actually get to dance to songs taped during a voodoo ceremony!”
Frederika shifted and looked out the window, rolling her eyes. Gaia voodoo dancing, my sweet a**.