Monday, October 3, 2011

The Gods Defiled in Ukraine

I have never had personal dealings with Jupiter, nor am I a devotee of the Roman religion. But I recognize the great debt which my culture owes to Rome and the many ways - good and ill - in which our world bears the stamp of the Imperium.  And so I was saddened, disgusted and horrified to hear about the recent mob attack on the Temple of Jupiter Perennus in Poltava, Ukraine.  The attackers damaged property and beat the temple's chief priest, who was subsequently hospitalized for his injuries.

Graffiti reads "Die Heathens"
image courtesy of Cultus de Religion Romanum
Despicable as this crime is, it's not the first such attack in Poltava.  On April 13, 2002, some 50 young men leaving a soccer game attacked a nearby synagogue:  hurling stones and yelling "Kill the Jews," they broke some twenty windows and beat up two people, one the son of Kiev's chief rabbi. In July 2008 a Holocaust memorial was smeared with paint and anti-Semitic graffiti.   And in October 2001 a Roma family's house was set afire: five people died in the conflagration, including a six-year old girl and three-year old boy.  The Poltava police showed little interest in finding the responsible parties, which is unsurprising since a Poltava police officer allegedly led the assailants.

Alas, the Ukrainian pagans have not always been victims of mob violence. Several strains of Ukrainian neopaganism combine a virulent Ukrainian nationalism with an equally virulent hatred of Christianity, Judaism and any other "foreign" religion which has poisoned their Slavic holy land. These movements have become popular among some Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who see them as a way to strengthen and purify the Ukrainian identity and collective soul.  In August 2007 a gang of these ultra-nationalist Pagans (along with some swastika-wearing skinheads) attacked a group of Orthodox worshippers near the ruins of a 13th century church in Desyatynna.
 
May all these insults be avenged, and may this land be blighted until its crimes have been expiated in blood.  May those who have chosen ignorance be forever benighted; may those who have chosen hatred be eternally bound in their fury; may those who have made war against the innocent find that peace ever eludes them.  May those who seek healing find solace;  may those who seek wisdom find truth; may the prayers of those who love and honor their Gods ring eternally through the land and through the temples built atop the ashes of their enemies.