Pagans and Christians in the City - Three Lectures
Charles E. Test, M.D., Distinguished Lectures Series
Steven D. Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego
Standard depictions of the Culture Wars as a conflict between “secular” and “religious” constituencies resonate with an entrenched historical paradigm interpreting Western history as having advanced in stages from classical paganism to Christendom to modern secularism. But observers find these “secular vs. religious” depictions inadequate in accounting for the manifestly religious attitudes, rhetoric, and actions on both sides of the cultural divide. Taking influential lectures by T. S. Eliot as a point of departure, the present lectures will propose that our cultural struggles are better understood as a modern reenactment of the Fourth Century conflict between enduring religiosities represented by Christianity and paganism. And contemporary movements often described as “progressive” amount to a counterrevolution on behalf of what Eliot called “modern paganism” and seeking to reverse the Christian Revolution of late antiquity.