When you compare Christianity to the Pagan religions, you’re not comparing apples to apples, or even apples to oranges. You’re comparing apples to toasters.
-The pagan religions are not religions “of the book”, like the Abrahamic religions (which are relative newcomers to the historical scene). In the modern pagan religions, personal experience equals or trumps any authoritative texts.
-There are no necessary statements of belief in the pagan religions. Hel, you don’t have to believe in anything to be pagan (just like it was for our ancestors).
-This world is sacred to pagans, and not something to necessarily transcended. Many pagans believe they’re coming back here to live again!
-Since the Greek pagan philosophers, pagan ethics has been an exploration of how to best act in different situations, and not the creation of absolute laws of ethical behavior.
To my well-meaning Pagan brothers and sisters who reach out to Christians by citing commonalities, I say this: Paganism won’t ever, ever measure up to Christian standards, no matter how hard you try. Most importantly, Christianity isn’t the supreme religion of world, by which all other religions should be measured. Don’t fall into that trap. Christianity doesn’t corner the market on legitimacy, or morality, or anything. And it sure doesn’t measure up to Pagan standards. Should we strive for peaceful dialogue and coexistence with those of other religions? Of course! It doesn’t mean licking the boots of every fundamentalist who screams devil because we don’t bow down to their god.
We should be too busy figuring out what this current iteration of Paganism is; we should be creating our own culture. We don’t have time to pick on Christians, but we also don’t have time to stand around and hope they notice us in the hallway.
5 thoughts on “Apples and Toasters”
I came over and thought there would be some recipe for doing something with an apple and a toaster!… 🙂 The hardest part is when the bible thumpers are your family members (aka “the mom” who is an 88 year old bible thumper. YIKES! *btw this is Lisa :)*
I have bible thumpers in my family too, including my mom. It's hard. But why does it have to be hard for just ME? I think my mom should have it hard too.
What I mean is, if my mom wants to be a part of my life, she is going to have to accept I'm pagan. Accept, but she doesn't have to like it or agree with it, just accept. She has to accept that she can't preach at me or my son. Just as I accept she's xtian and I don't preach at her.
I'm also not going to waste time trying to find commonalities, like he says, paganism will never measure up in the mind of a xtian. If my mom starts looking for common ground between us, then I'll meet her halfway. I'd rather she look at what I am for how we are different as well, and celebrate that, but she's not there yet.
Nice post Chris (Frebur? what does that mean? I googled but only got geneology type stuff back).
Post more on pagan culture! I like reading what you write. 🙂
I'm don't really consider myself either of the religions you describe here but this made me chuckle. Thanks! 🙂
Michele, what is really bad with my mom is that I wonder how many people she has sent to hell(if there is one) with her holier than thou ways. I love her to pieces but she is one of the most judgmental people you will ever meet and would be a big turn off to anybody that was considering christianity. We are having some issues at home here and of course she says..”well if you would have stayed in the church with Jesus”! (she gave me a good laugh with that one)
Indeed, Frebur– I heartily agree with and thanks for saying the priorities, attitude, contrasts, and clarifications.
I like your 1st and 3rd paragraph’s descriptions of pagan religions and pagans.
I think it too easy to fall into a dipole and have “pagan religions” be the “all else” vs creedal, monotheistic, Abrahamic, etc. E.g. betcha there are people who call themselves “pagan” and yet have creeds and other statements of necessary belief, even absolute ethics of behavior, and there are even some who isolate themselves somehow from pagus/country/heath/nature/Nature to pursue their practices.
Maybe the label “pagan” covers a too diverse group to say who pagans are and what they do, and it only describes a unity in some sociopolitical circumstances and action spheres. I suspect that statements about pagan religions may at best be statements about how we would like it to be, and/or statements about some majority trend.
While it seems admirable to me that there are “no necessary statements of belief” in pagan religions, I think there are, in functional actuality, some necessary beliefs. Here’s two areas of such:
1) Some schools? styles? forms? subsets? of pagan religions, some named pagan religions, some groups’ practice of pagan religions, do indeed have necessary statements of belief. I suspect even the majority do by members’ headcount. I desire and admire when they don’t insist their necessity is the necessity for all of us. I have encountered instances where my desire is denied and I am tempted to detest instead.
2) And speaking of perceived majority trend (and how I would like it to be), I, thus far, see some working assumptions commonly being used. They are necessary beliefs. They are necessary in that a system is built on them. They are beliefs in that they can’t be directly proven, only the functionality of the system built on them supports the beliefs. Admittedly that functionality/support makes them reasoned beliefs– it is reasonable to believe in them– and not blind faith. Assumptions are tried out (systems attempted to be built on them) because they “seem right” via instinct, experience, etc. The assumptions I commonly come across in my experience (NB poor sample size and subjective) with pagan religions include the following three. (It’s my first time writing these out, so please excuse the “draft version” quality.)
a) Diversity is worthy of support and things that inhibit or kill diversity are probably not worthy. Think of how many systems (religions, governance, etc) have the opposite assumption. In order to handle the resulting system of practices that builds on this diversity assumption, tools/abilities like creativity, compassion, boundaries, focus, commitment, and communication get needed. Think of how those opposite-assumption systems modify that list of tools/abilities.
b) All things are connected. Applications include the worth of wholism (e.g. something may be lost in dividing in order to analyze, e.g. body-”heart”-mind-spirit are connected, e.g. Ecology, e.g. “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”). Another application is suspicion about hierarchies (e.g. they sever connections, ends of the hierarchy excessively consider themselves different; e.g. “as above, so below, as below, so above”). Again, there are systems that have the opposite assumption (even in parts of some pagan groups).
c) What we sense and experience (e.g. the pagus, the heath– the country, nature/Nature– around us; some claim also within us) is the reality to focus on. It is not something that is transient or illusion or otherwise to be demeaned as less than some other thing we should focus on (e.g. a building, clergy, texts, creed that isolate us; e.g. a “greater reality” of a heaven and hell). Again, there are systems that have the opposite assumption.
I’d like to claim that the pagan religions I often encounter, based on those assumptions, are more functional and healthy than systems built on opposite assumptions… and I often do so pridefully claim… but, gulp, ummm, diversity.