If you asked me to sum up the over-riding concern of ancient Pagans in one word, that word would be "fertility." Ancient people lived and died on that year's harvest, so abstract concepts like "faith" and "salvation" were never really at the top of their agenda. Human fertility was always an issue as well, given the high rates of mortality. That and the fact that the size of your tribe in relation to your neighbor's often determined its survival. Over time, agriculture became a more developed science and explicit fertility rites gave way to a more symbolic mode of worship. Well, mostly.
Now don't blush, but the fact is that veneration of a divine phallus has always been part of Pagan fertility religion, from the Maypole of Germanic and Celtic cultures to the obelisks of Egypt to all of the mounds and columns and all the rest we see in pre-Christian civilization. In the 60s, the Ren-Faire crowd revived the Maypole (after an unfortunate revival in Germany a few decades before), which became part of Beltane celebrations with the "NeoPagan" revival that rose in the late 60s, which inspired The Wicker Man, which in turn probably inspired displays like this...
I'm sure they're having fun there, but let's just say I don't really see this kind of Maypole celebration catching on. We do have obelisks scattered around, but generally not too many people openly worshiping them. I mean, seriously- we've left that sort of thing in the Bronze Age, right?
I love the "we believe in the Sun" line.
So I don't want to hear any of you smart alecks out there bringing up the 'See You at the Pole' movement, in which Evangelical high schoolers gather at a flagpole - at sunrise- and around the time of the Autumnal Equinox ( the event is set every year for the fourth Wednesday of September) - and pray against 'threats' like abortion and gay marriage. It's totally different (even if abortion and gay marriage are seen as threats to fertility)! And don't give me any of that Matthew 6:5-8 stuff either!
Read the lyrics to this song here.
I mean, just because these weirdos gather in a circle at Stonehenge on the Autumn Equinox sunrise, doesn't mean those kids praying in circles around giant poles near the Autumn Equinox sunrise are unwittingly aiding in the revival of old pagan rituals (or pagan symbolism) that are creeping into Christian churches. What are you, some kind of communist?
OK, I will admit it's a little odd to hear hyper-sexualized, Britney Spears-type music given a vague lyrical varnish and marketed as "devotional" music, as if the music in its entirety weren't based in the pelvic thrusting of the sex act itself, not to mention the whole praying around a giant phallic symbol at sunrise thing, but they're taking it back for the Lord, OK?
And just because surveys repeatedly suggest that these kids are probably almost totally biblically illiterate, that doesn't mean that shadowy interests are using the "culture war" and the corporate megachurches with their fireworks and stage shows to bring a bunch of old heathen rituals back into practice.
What are you smoking, son?