As an Orthodox monk, I imagine Alain de Benoist (“Monotheism vs, Politheism,” April 1996) performing his daily orisons before an icon by Gauguin, chanting selections from Diderot’s Supplément au voyage de Bougainville as his Psalter, and reading passages from Rousseau as the appointed lessons. He does remind us that pagans include the great philosophers of ancient Greece, etc., but the underlying message seems to be, “Mais, how merveilleux it was when we all lived in the jungle paradise before those horrible monothéistes intolerants ruined the noble savage’s innocent joy!”
M. de Benoist can only reach his conclusion that monotheism is by nature intolerant, while polytheism is not, if he reduces, as do most modern writers, religion merely to questions of cult and belief in a supernatural Being or beings, Polytheists are indeed often quite tolerant in questions of cult, as in India and Japan. But if one operates on a plenary definition of religion as one’s total way of life based on an individual’s or a group’s highest values, then we find that all religions (i.e., cultures and ways of life that are actually lived) are quite intolerant of that which in their worldview is not tolerable. Such intolerance includes, of course, that of French secularists, whose highest values seem to be language, food, and sex (in that order), and who correspondingly are not noted for their generous tolerance of mispronounced French, poorK’ prepared repasts, or unattractive women (or in the case of female French secularistes, men)!
—Br. Isaac Melton
St. Michael’s Skete