Pagan Christianity

Started a new book today. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. It explores how most of what we hold sacred in our Christian practices is actually taken from pagan rituals and customs. After delving into the first chapter, I think it will be good. I wanted to share a poem from the first section. This poem is by Sam Walter Foss and is entitled, “The Calf Path.”

One day, through the primeval wood,

A calf walked home, as good calves should;

But made a trail all bent askew,

A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,

And, I infer, the calf is dead.

But still he left behind his trail,

And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day

By a lone dog that passed that way;

And then a wise bell-wether sheep

Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,

And drew the flock behind him, too,

As good bell-wethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,

Through those old woods a path was made.

And many men wound in and out,

And dodged, and turned, and bent about

And uttered words of righteous wrath

Because ’twas such a crooked path.

But still they followed–do not laugh–

The first migrations of that calf,

And through this winding wood-way stalked,

Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,

That bent, and turned, and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,

Where many a poor horse with his load

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,

And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half

They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,

The road became a village street;

And this, before men were aware,

A city’s crowded thoroughfare;

And soon the central street was this

Of a renowned metropolis;

And men two centuries and a half

Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout

Followed the zigzag calf about;

And o’er his crooked journey went

The traffic of a continent.

A hundred thousand men were led

By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way,

And lost one hundred years a day;

For thus such reverence is lent

To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach,

Were I ordained and called to preach;

For men are prone to go it blind

Along the calf-paths of the mind,

And work away from sun to sun

To do what other men have done.

They follow in the beaten track,

And out and in, and forth and back,

And still their devious course pursue,

To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,

Along which all their lives they move.

But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,

Who saw the first primeaval calf!

Ah! Many things this tale might teach–

But I am not ordained to preach.


15 responses to “Pagan Christianity

  1. I remember that poem, pretty cool. Great book by the way.

  2. Dude,
    you have do something with your font. I got an infection in my eyes last month and can no longer see as well as I once did. Very depressing. It’s a real strain on my eyes to read your blog anymore so hey, if you want me to come around you’re going to have to be MORE INCLUSIVE!!!! :D

  3. That’s quite a sermon for a poet who isn’t called to preach. Does he mean for us to question everything? And if we did, would we get anything else done?

  4. that is one of my fav. poems of all time. keep me posted on that book, sounds interesting!

  5. I don’t think he means for us to question everything. I think he means for us to not do things as blind followers. At a minimum, understand why you are doing the way you are doing it. Own your faith. I also think he is implying that just because someone is not called to preach, this does not mean that they cannot decide on their own whether or not they are following blindly.

  6. I will see what I can do to remedy that for you. Wouldn’t want to lose the input.

  7. What the poem describes isn’t just a religious thing. In all areas people tend to follow beaten paths. There are ethnic, social, family, educational, and all kinds of paths people follow. It’s human nature. We want to walk a path that seems certain, since there are no signposts in life. But I agree, we should think through the meaning of it all.

  8. We want to walk a path that seems certain, since there are no signposts in life(Larry)

    Now thats a truth!

  9. This poem reminds me of a couple things. One is the limits that are imposed over time. We must be on the right way, because that is the trail that was blazed by our leaders. However, that was along time ago. Sometimes you need to explore other more scenic routes.
    The other thought is a simple story on the size of the rocket booster used on the space shuttle. Boosters are built at a separate company then shipped to the shuttle launch site. In order to get the parts there, the size was limited to the opening of the railroad tunnels on the route to the launch site. Based on history, railroad tracks were built a specific width apart that can be traced back to the width of (2) Roman horses. Talk about limitations.

  10. “Does he mean for us to question everything? And if we did, would we get anything else done?”

    i would hope so! know your history, or you’re doomed to repeat it. question everything, test was is good. there are signposts.. i would say. we just choose to ignore them… or largely interpret them as to maximize our comfort.

  11. Scott. Great observations. There are huge limits imposed on us of which we are often completely unaware. And Luke makes the point that only by knowing our history and by questioning everything will we discover those things. 2Reasons may seem to feel that questioning everything then leaves you with nothing. But questioning is different than throwing out, and questioning will sometimes lead to an understanding that the way we are doing it is really the best way. Thanks for the input.

  12. If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
    — Joseph Campbell

  13. My point has clearly been misunderstood. Consider for a moment the scope of “everything.” I did not mean that there is no point in questioning anything, only that one simply must accept some things without much skepticism, if only for the practical reason that there isn’t enough time to seriously question everything people do. Furthermore, I believe this poet has knocked down a straw man: with his metaphor he characterizes (that is, he generalizes) tradition as being based in random, meaningless happenings. I think that is the case only occasionally and not generally.

  14. “tradition as being based in random, meaningless happenings. I think that is the case only occasionally and not generally.”

    i’m not reading that at all! i’m seeing quite the opposite! i’m seeing the poet saying “KNOW YOUR TRADITION!” inside and out. why do we do things this way? some reasons are logical and incredible insightful on human joys and concerns and others are just “cow paths”.

  15. 2Reasons. Sorry you were misunderstood a bit but thanks for clarifying. I am not sure that I agree that he knocks down a small man. I don’t see him as generalizing that all tradition is based in random, meaningless happenings. After all, he is only talking about a single thing, one path that happened to be forged by a dizzy cow. That doesn’t mean that all tradition is meaningless. For me the heart of it is to know why you do what you do. Thanks for contributing and sorry to delay getting a response up for you.

    John. A great point indeed. If you see it laid out before you, you are on someone else’s path. And may or may not be a bad or a good thing because sometimes it is just stupid and inefficient to repeat the same work over again.

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