Old gods, almost dead
In a Guardian Unlimited piece, Helena Smith ("in Athens", as if there were a more appropriate place, one surmises) tells us that in the benighted land of Hellas, worship of the ancient deities is once more to be allowed.
Think about this, American yupster. First off, you mean to tell me that the government allows or doesn't allow what you can worship? And, that 98% of all Greeks are, well, Greek Orthodox? You mean, no Mormons, no Jehovahs Witnesses, no Assemblies of God, no-anything- but Greek Orthodox?
Greek gods prepare for comeback
Helena Smith in Athens
Friday May 5, 2006
It has taken almost 2,000 years, but those who worship the 12 gods of ancient Greece have finally triumphed. An Athens court has ordered that the adulation of Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Athena and co is to be unbanned, paving the way for a comeback of pagans on Mount Olympus.
The followers, who say they "defend the genuine traditions, religion and ethos" of the ancients by adhering to a pre-Christian polytheistic culture, are poised to take their battle to the temples of Greece.
"What we want, now, is for the government to fully recognise our religion," Vasillis Tsantilas told the Guardian. "We will petition the Greek parliament, and the EU if that fails, for access to worship in places like the Acropolis, for permission to have our own cemeteries and, where necessary, to re-bury the [ancient] bones of the dead.
About 98% of Greeks are Orthodox Christian, and all other religions except Judaism and Islam had been banned.
Yet the pagans say as many as 2,000 Greeks have signed up to their movement. Mr Tsantilas, 42, a computer scientist who came to paganism after toying with Buddhism, Taoism and Islam, said worshippers perceived the ancient gods as the "personification of the divine".
But Greece's powerful Orthodox Church takes a less charitable view, accusing the worshippers of idolatry and "poisonous New Age practices".
Father Eustathios Kollas, who presides over the community of Greek priests, said: "They are a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past."
Yes. And what's more, Greeks by and large like it that way.