What obligations and responsibilities do we have to our country and our people as Polytheists? "Separation between Church and State" means the government cannot favor one religion over another. It doesn't mean "you must forget your religion entirely when engaging in political activity." (That's the way a lot of people would like to see it defined: they may or may not be blissfully unaware they are favoring Secular Humanism over all other religions... ). Any religion worthy of the name is going to shape and color every aspect of your life, including (especially!) the way you interact with your community.
As a Classics scholar and longtime Heathen, you have a unique perspective on this. A Roman citizen/subject definitely saw his relationship with Rome in spiritual terms: in Northern Europe living honorably and fulfilling one's social responsibilities was a religious obligation. How can we look to those and other examples and find the way we should be engaging with the vaettir of America, Canada, etc.?
GK: I don't think we can ever have freedom without having that separation of church and state in our world because specifically of monotheism. If we were all polytheists, then it wouldn't matter if we had a state cultus. there would be no expectation of exclusivity. we'd participate in state cultus and then get on about honoring our other Gods. That's not the way monotheism works, and it's not a system that embraces liberty at all (quite the opposite really) so that separation of church and state is our only protection politically. Yes, it does favor secular humanism, which is most unfortunate but in America, i don't see a workable alternative. My ideal government and social structure (which would include a polytheistic society) isn't going to happen here any time soon.
Still, we live on this land. We have generations in many cases rooted here and I think our obligations are two fold: firstly, we must uphold the integrity of the place in which we live. that means respecting the land, but also participating in our community. That wasn't a religious thing to the Romans, it was a matter of being a conscious adult. An adult has a voice in the social, communal, and political process. It was one of the markers in both Greece and Rome of an adult. Yes, polytheism will be the lens through which all of that engagement occurs, but regardless of tradition, if you live in a functioning society then I think that there is an obligation to contribute.
For the Romans, Roma was a Goddess. I think we can incorporate this polytheistic awareness by honoring the city spirits and land spirits of place here. Each city has its governing spirit after all, and then America, Turtle Island, is also holy. which brings me to my second point: those of us living here carry a blood debt. This is something no one wants to hear but I lay the chaos of our nation directly at the feet of this debt. Firstly, our ancestors were attacked by monotheism. they were forced (or some became polluted and willingly did this) to abandon their indigenous traditions and to accept the yoke of monotheism. They drank that poison and came across the waters and became the monster in the night, the destroyer of nations. We committed genocide on the Natives here, we engaged in the slave trade and the horrors of the middle passage and that does not just go away.
As any spirit worker worth his or her salt will tell you: there is no magical land 'away.' that is an ancestral debt and it must be dealt with whether we want to acknowledge it or not. I don't put any moral weight to that one way or another. I don't think your ancestors were necessarily bad people. I think they were products of their time and place. Still, there is debt and with debt comes imbalance and with imbalance comes potential devastation. We are getting the nation we deserve.
As a polytheist, and moreover as an ancestor worker i look at what's happening in the world now as a sequence of interlocking causes and effects riddled with powerful and unresolved ancestral debt. For me, the way that I engage is marked by that. What can you do to make your community better and at the same time to shoulder your part of this debt? Find that out and do it and keep doing it. That's where my polytheism leads me there. Community was always part of ancient polytheistic experience, they just didn't have to talk about it so much or reify it so much or self-consciously hammer it out because the world was polytheist. that was a given, so I think the focus naturally could be put on what was different: various tribes and clans and national experience of the Gods. The state was what enabled the safety of the community, was the fulcrum around which community honor and glory and abundance and security revolved. part of the pax deorum was that the Gods would nourish the state which in turn protected and gave pride to its people so long as we maintained right relationship with the Gods. As a polytheist as much as I am against mixing politics and religion (religion always loses), I do think that we can allow our religion to motivate us to get out and get involved and we should be making our voices heard because the ultimate goal should be a new pax deorum -- one that works for us in our world and that pleases the Gods and we're not going to know what we're dealing with or how far we have to go if we're unwilling to educate ourselves with respect to our government large and small and become involved. for many ancient polytheists this was just part of adulthood.
Of course, my community.... i would consider my people to be other pious polytheists. first and foremost. That's the community i want to see strengthened. Everything else comes second.
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I've noticed a distressing tendency among many Leftists to pick and choose between whose voices deserve to be heard. We must listen to People of Color, unless they have bad politics: then we can no-platform them as Reactionaries, Right Wing Radicals or, worst of all, Racists.
For example, I've seen reams of material mocking Ben Carson for his ahistorical views on the Pyramids, evolution, etc. Or references to Clarence Thomas as "Uncle Thomas," pictures of him wearing an Aunt Jemima headwrap, etc. The implication is that they are shuffling, servile darkies who don't know any better. (How many commentators claimed Carson and Thomas only got where they were because the Republicans needed black faces -- and how is that different from "the only reason Obama got into Harvard was Affirmative Action?")
I disagree with Carson and Thomas on just about every political issue. But Dr. Ben Carson is one of the world's leading pediatric neurosurgeons and the first to separate conjoined Siamese twins at the head. Judge Clarence Thomas was a highly regarded Constitutional scholar before being appointed to the Supreme Court. And the disrespect aimed at them by people who brag about being Allies in the Struggle is appalling and, yes, rooted in racism. As are so many of the American Left's "white knight" ideals: they don't know how to relate to minorities as anything but victims.
(As an aside, I'd note the Left's distaste for "white trash" and "rednecks"mirrors the civilized Christian distaste for those superstitious, uneducated backwoods Paganii).
GK: Ah, the illiberal left. I think that there is a desperate need there to prove to themselves that they aren't racist and damn anyone who thinks otherwise and this is at war with their own ingrained sense of superiority (morally, intellectually...they're riddled with it). I think they have a very blind, un-nuanced (and certainly in the case of Marxists a-historical) view of the world, where every different opinion is a violent attack on progress. The level of intellectual close mindedness is appalling.
Ironically in so many things, the only people making many of these issues about race ...are the leftists. Why? Because in some cases it's a useful political tool. In others, i think there's an incredible lack of ability to cope with differing viewpoints. Racist is the worst thing in the world to them, so if you disagree then you are Bad(tm) and of course must be racist. Doesn't matter if you happen to be a person of color. I also think that while there may be a deep empathy with the anguish of the world in many of them, there's also a deeply ingrained desire to be the white knight riding in to fix all of the minorities' problems. You nailed it: they don't know how to relate to minorities as anything other than victims.
I see the same thing with third wave feminists: they don't know how to relate to women as anything but victims and they don't know how to relate to men as anything but victimizers and that is fucked up in the extreme. meanwhile, women are losing their right to physical sovereignty more and more every day and I don't see those who would call themselves feminists doing much more than posting petitions. In all of it there's a remarkable unwillingness to take personal responsibility for oneself.