These days certain factions of the Alt Right see the value in religiosity and tradition but decry Christianity as a foreign religion promoting slave morality. They seek to undo the West’s dissolution in part through a religious revival based on pre-Christian pagan values and rituals.
They will fail, just as Julian did. Despite having all the clout of Roman imperialism at his disposal and a genuine establishment of empire-wide paganism in recent memory, he could not hope to enact his widespread revival. H/T to Vox Day for this finding from the 1911 Cambridge Medieval History series:
This is what makes Julian such an interesting figure in the history of paganism; while it in part accounts for his complete failure to do what he attempted. He tried to unite two things which had utterly separate roots, whose ideals were different, and which could not easily blend. For the religion of the Mysteries was essentially a private cult, into which men and women were received, one by one, by rites of initiation which each had to pass through personally, and, when admitted, they became members of coteries, large or small, of like-minded persons. . . . What had this to do with the courteous recognition due to bright celestial beings which was the central thought of the official religion of Greece, or the punctilious performance of ceremonies which was believed to propitiate the sterner deities of Rome? Mysteries and participation in their rites may exist along with a belief in the necessity and religious value of the public services of a state religion; but whenever the latter can only be justified, even by its own votaries, on the ground of traditional and patriotic propriety, Mystery worship may take its place but can never quicken it. When the whole piety of paganism disappeared in the Mysteries cult, it estranged itself from the national and official religion; and the Mysteries could never be used to recall the gods of Olympus for whose banishment they had been largely responsible. . . .
Yet Julian’s attempt to stay the progress of Christianity and to drive back the tide which was submerging the Empire, was, with all its practical faults, by far the ablest yet conceived. It provided a substitute and presented an alternative. The substitute was pretentious and artificial, but it was probably the best that the times could furnish: Hellenism, Julian called it; but where in that golden past of Hellas into which the Imperial dreamer peered, could be found a puritan strictness of conduct, a prolonged and sustained religious fervour, and a religion independent of the State? The three strongest parts of his scheme had no connexion with Hellenism. Religions may be used, but cannot be created by statesmen, unless they happen to have the prophetic fire and inspiration — and Julian was no prophet. He may be credited with seizing and combining in one whole the strongest anti-Christian forces of his generation — the passion of Oriental religion, the patriotic desire to retain the old religion under which Greece and Rome had grown great, the glory of the ancient literature, the superstition which clung to magic and divinations, and a philosophy which, if it lacked independence of thought, at least represented that eclecticism which was the intellectual atmosphere which all men then breathed. He brought them together to build an edifice which was to be the temple of his Empire. But though the builder had many of the qualities which go to make a religious reformer — pure in heart and life, full of sincere piety, manly and with a strong sense of duty — the edifice he reared was quite artificial, lacked the living principle of growth, and could not last. Athanasius gave its history in four words when he said “It will soon pass.” The world had outgrown paganism.
Read the rest here. There is no salvation for the West to be found in indigenous European paganisms. The traditional Roman cultus could not re-root itself in an empire that had previously cherished it as true and patriotic in the recent past, not even with the fullness of the imperial power backing it for decades. The simplicity and profundity of the Gospel overpowered it.