Girard accurately diagnoses the modern attitude toward this ancient nonsense:
Since the Renaissance, paganism has enjoyed among our intellectuals a reputation for transparency, sanity, and health that nothing can shake. Paganism is favorably perceived as always opposed to everything “unhealthy” that Judaism and Christianity impose. …
Everyone goes into ecstasy over the airy, wholesome, athletic character of Greek civilization, as against the supposedly closed, suspicious, dull, and repressive atmosphere of the Jewish and Christian world. …
In Christian history they see nothing but persecutions, acts of oppression, inquisitions. (179-80)
As Judaism represents the moral law, so Christianity is grace that builds on, and fulfills, this nature. Paganism is rather below nature, signifying its corruption in the form of destructive passions and personal wickedness given free reign by it.
In classical art the positive elements are generally in the foreground, but behind them, even in the case of Zeus, there are the “wild pranks” of the god, as they are called with an indulgence that is a little silly. Everyone agrees to “excuse” these escapades with a knowingly complicit smile…
In reality, the “wild pranks” are the traces of crimes similar to those of Oedipus and other divinized scapegoats: parricide, incest, bestial fornication, and other horrible crimes.
All of these are accusations typical of witch-hunts, with which primitive mobs are permanently obsessed, as are modern crowds seeking to find victims. The “wild pranks” are essential to the primitive phenomenon of divinity. (74)
Paganism is not hearty enjoyment of sensual pleasures unencumbered by guilt. It is not “healthy”; it’s brutal and cruel and dark.
Pagans do not care for you as an individual; they’ll blithely rip out your heart as they sacrifice you to their non-existent nature gods and all-too-real savage demon-gods.