Re-Hellenization — Ethnic-Religious Identity Reconsidered (

The contemporary Pagan faces numerous challenges in society. One challenge, a challenge shared among alternative religious movements, is legitimacy. Accusers claim that Pagans do not hold sincere beliefs. Instead of possessing true piety, Pagans are accused of “live-action role-playing” (Larping), a term referring to role-playing games in which individuals dress up in costumes and act out their characters. Pagans are seen by some as role-playing, reliving, or acting out their fantasies about ancient civilizations. Greeks identifying as religiously ‘ethnic’ (polytheism) also face this same hurdle from onlookers who disregard their sincerity as reenactments at one end or harmful conspiracy of some sort on the other.

It is my goal here, to evaluate the phenomena of re-Hellenization, in the Greek diaspora of the New York metro area. Why are Greeks collectively and individually structuring their lives and identity around Hellenism? The answer to this question will, in the end, refute the lay skeptic and provide a unique case study of ethnic-religious self-determination. Combining participant observation and informal interviews with ethnic Greeks; experiences were evaluated and compared with the literature of Pagan Studies and Religious Studies.

Ethnic Greeks are understood to be a subsect of a larger Greek community comprised of an Orthodox Christian majority. Because of this context, one minor objective throughout the participant observation and informal interviews was to evaluate the sincerity of those who identify as ethnics. Meaning, do these individuals display observable changes to their identity and behavior that would set them apart from the Orthodox majority.

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