Timothy Jay Alexander: «Is Hellenismos rigid?»

Timothy Alexander: “Hellenismos is Rigid.” (vom 23. März 2008), in: Hellenismosus (retrieved January 9, 2012).

You may hear the comment when discussing Hellenismos outside Hellenic circles, “Hellenic Reconstruction is rigid and inflexible.” No, Reconstruction is not rigid, but it is also not easy. Hellenismos requires commitment, fortitude, and determination. It is not an effortless or uncomplicated religion, and does not provide instant gratification. Even if a person is not acting as a scholar, or participating in active reconstruction, there is an expectation of one being erudite, reasoned, and virtuous. It requires work, commitment, and perseverance, but the benefits are lasting and tangible.

Hellenismos refers to the character, thought, culture, and ethical system of ancient Greece. Therefore, modern Hellenismos and Hellenic Reconstruction attempt to restore the Hellenic tradition. It is because of this fact, it is said that a practitioner of Hellenismos must be of good disposition, sensible, and not habituated to foolish beliefs. It is not an unreasonable expectation for any religion to mandate knowledge of its ethical code, practices, core values, traditions, rituals, sacred texts or history, or for its practitioners to be able to answer a series of fundamental questions to bring out their knowledge and views on these subjects.

It is said that Hellenismos provides for the reasoned understanding of the Gods and the Cosmos. A practitioner must be capable of contemplation, being able to consider the Gods thoroughly. In our reasoned approach, we perceive that nothing exists outside of nature, nothing need conflict with science, everything can be reasoned, and everything can exist in harmony. Does this mean Hellenismos conforms to a strict doctrine of belief? It does not, that would be impossible. It does mean that our approach to studying of the Cosmos requires contemplating it in its totality, and by extension, humanity’s place in it. Again, for this reason, we must state that those who wish to hear about the Gods should not be subject to foolish beliefs, and should know the common conceptions, which all should agree as soon as they are asked.

Every religion, that is a religion, provides for morality and happiness, and Hellenismos is no different. This is evident to any student of the Hellenic tradition. Ethics and virtue are fundamental and key components to our way of life, though not defined in the same fashion as some other religions. Our code of ethics, summarized in the Sayings of the Seven Sages (otherwise known as the Delphic Maxims), do not focus on condemning or limiting individual personal behavior, but instead provide guidelines so that we may determine the right course of action, at the right time, and for the right reasons. Hellenic Ethics makes use of positive language, personal intent, and active participation in defining moral behavior, and requires a high level of personal responsibility.

Therefore, Hellenismos does not condemn the drinking of alcohol; it condemns the abuse of it. Hellenismos does not condemn sex outside of marriage or any specific sexual activity; it condemns not engaging in sex responsibly, uncontrolled lust, or unrestrained behavior that could bring harm to you or another. Hellenismos does not condemn wealth; it condemns greed, gluttony, and hoarding that could perpetuate disloyalty, theft, violence, or deception. We perceive that happiness is found in contentment, and contentment is provided by living with temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice. Pleasure is not seen as a good in and of itself, but a complement to our activities; only virtue can provide a qualitative value to our actions. Wealth is found by embracing that which is reliable, recognizing simplicity, cherish purity, and controlling desire. Goodness is our salvation, providing true spiritual freedom. Those who are filled with moral enthusiasm, embracing the joy and glory of virtue, are never subject to grief, will have no master, and will always be happy.

No, Hellenismos is not a rigid, dogmatic religion that is inflexible and unyielding. It is quite the contrary, but there is a high level of expectation and complete personal responsibility. There are no harsh or unreasonable judgments, but there is accountability. Hellenismos is a beautiful, stimulating, and freeing religion, but our religion is not easy. It is a practical religion that embraces the individual, provides for reasoned faith, and challenges us to excel in all aspects of our life.