Podcast: Liel Leibovitz on the Return of Paganism https://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/politics-current-affairs/2023/04/podcast-liel-leibovitz-on-the-return-of-paganism/

Is America becoming less religious or merely less Christian?

April 27, 2023 | Liel Leibovitz, Tikvah Podcast at Mosaic
About the author: Liel Leibovitz, a journalist, media critic, and video-game scholar, is a senior writer for the online magazine Tablet. A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.
Halloween revelers at the Salem Witches’ Magic Circle in Salem, Massachusetts on October 31, 2022. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images.

Podcast: Liel Leibovitz
It’s sometimes argued that, as material, political, and economic conditions improve in a society, that society tends to grow less religious. Polls have seemed to demonstrate for years the validity of this argument in America. Gallup, for instance, recently found that fewer than half of all Americans belong to a house of worship or religious congregation, down from about 70 percent at the turn of this century.

But perhaps such polls show do not show that Americans are becoming less religious at all. Perhaps they suggest instead that Americans are simply less devoted to traditional forms of biblical faith. That’s the background for the argument advanced in the cover story of the May 2023 issue of Commentary, called “The Return of Paganism.” Written by Liel Leibovitz, the editor at large of Tablet, the essay argues that the diminution of traditional forms of Christian worship has not made Americans less religious but has instead opened up space for inescapable religious impulses to find expression in beliefs that are awfully similar to ancient forms of paganism. To talk about these ideas, their manifestations in American culture and politics, and their implications, Leibovitz joins Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.