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.
Yesterday, Melanie and I responded to this post on “The Pagan Household”. Our response did not show up on the blog. If it was removed, we completely respect that decision. However, we think this issue is very important, and so we have decided to post our response here on our blog.
Pagans are famous for their internet “flame wars”. This is actually a product of monotheist thinking. We can disagree with each other, we can debate ideas, we can criticize each other without becoming enemies. It’s not an “all or nothing” dynamic. Also, our polytheistic heritage teaches us that there are always more than one, or even two, ways of thinking about things. With that in mind, please comment if you have any thoughts about this subject. We have to start having these difficult conversations if we’re ever going to learn from each other!
I’m am so sorry that your life situation is difficult. However, I do
not agree with your advice. In fact I think it is bad advice. Our
Goddess is not the same as the Christian god, and I think it is
important to teach our children that. Can you imagine a Mormon or a
Jew telling their children to keep their religion a secret? Is it
mentally healthy to lie to your children about God? And where does
that end? Heaven? Sin? Baptism? How do you answer important questions
like “Where do people go when they die?”
If Pagans want to be treated like a “real religion”, they should
start acting like they practice a real religion. My children have
never come home professing to be Christians. I cannot even fathom it!
A child who comes home professing to be Christian has been given no
roots in Paganism. Paganism needs to be a culture that a family lives,
from the day the child is born. Celebrate the holidays, go to
festivals, find people of like mind. Your child would never want to
be Christian if they enjoyed being Pagan!
What would Paganism look like if it were completely unfettered by
society-at-large? What if no one were afraid to call themselves
Pagan? What would that look like? Only when we can hold that vision
clearly in our minds, will we have the courage to fight for it.
I’m going to be blunt: pagan parents, start rearing your children as pagans. Stop hiding, stop treating our religions as dirty secrets so as not to upset the in-laws. It’s one thing to hide your paganism from your parents when it’s just you; it’s inexcusable to make your kid an accomplice.
Stop hiding behind the excuse that you want to “expose your child to many paths” or “to let them choose their own paths”. You can expose them to many paths, and still raise them as pagans. Don’t be fooled; no one grows up in a spiritual vacuum. If you do not provide a pagan worldview, another worldview will be provided for them by the culture-at-large, and you may not like it. They may move on when they’re older, but at least they have pagan roots. Give them a spiritual context to start from, so that they CAN evaluate other paths, instead of leaving them to drift along aimlessly.
We are just beginning, as pagan people, to rebuild what we have lost. Together, we can create the songs, the customs, the art, the poetry, the dances, the philosophy we need to make our many traditions into a thriving religious culture.
So, go on, just tell them.