Welcome to a more or less Celtic Reconstructionist blog, where love of the Old Gods is still strong

Freitag, 23. März 2012


“When you were young
And your heart was an open book
You used to say, "Live and let live"
(You know you did, you know you did, you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we live in
Makes you give in and cry
Say live and let die“ – Paul McCartney: Live and Let Die

A couple weeks ago, my husband found a cartoon on the internet that discussed being pagan from a fundamentalist Christian perspective (the cartoon can be found here, but make sure to shield yourself before looking at it).

It wasn’t even so much the fact that the account was wrong in more than one instance – first of all, initiations work differently, as far as I’m aware, and I assume that not all members of the PBP regularly indulge in role-playing sessions. Getting some facts wrong can and does happen when you’re not overly familiar with another faith (but if you should use your bits and pieces of knowledge for a cartoon is a different question). My problem here is that you can tell that the writers apparently did not take any time to truly understand what it was they were condemning. 

This brings me to my topic of today: fundamentalist attitudes. People as the writers of the above cartoon believe that their path is the one and only true path leading to salvation. So if you believe that yours is the only way, obviously you want to propagate the good news and save others – so from your point of view, you’re acting out of love for your fellow humans. 

However, what some fail to see is that by proselytising their faith, they are effectively discriminating against adherents of other religions – especially if they don’t try and get to know others’ practices or reasons for choosing their religion.  

This shouldn’t be read as a rant against Christianity, however (or, for that matter, against any other religion of which I am not a member). I know many very open-minded Christians, one of them a priest, who’d be willing to discuss your differing positions with you and who’d be prepared to learn more about your faith or lack thereof.

And anyway, it’s not only strongly religious people who can be fanatic, since non-faith-adherents advertise their position quite aggressively, too, as in this bus ad campaign: 

Here, the fallacy is that all religious people are necessarily fundamentalists. Obviously we know from personal experience that this claim cannot be upheld. And secondly, referring to an act of terrorism to bring this point across IMO will drive more religious people away from atheist ideas than engage them in fruitful dialogue.
So, for now, we can sum up that when we want to share our religious ideas with others, we might want to
a)      learn about their faith first, so that we don’t accidentally oppose them or insult their core beliefs (and also, seeing that you maybe have some common ground already might make for a better discussion),
b)      refrain from openly advertising very controversial topics because this might hinder a loving or respectful discussion between parties of different faiths,
c)      and, most importantly, be respectful. You’ll get no-one to listen to you when you’re being condescending, belittling the other’s faith or when you’re stressing that you know better, anyway. So think twice before forcing your opinion on others.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the exact same problem come up in pagan circles. Just to name some examples, there are some Asatrúar looking down on Wiccans who work with the Northern gods in their paradigm, or there are Celtic Recons essentially making fun of new adherents who are attracted to an idea of Celtic spirituality that they do not share or think correct. Some groups seem to forget that everybody started off as a newbie – even the famous Elder Recon, who now looks down on the newbies’ lack of knowledge – and/or fail to see that reading libraries full of archaeological texts before engaging in worship isn’t the right path for everyone. A – more or less – funny summary of “who looks down on whom” can be seen here:

Obviously you’re allowed your own opinion – I, for once, don’t engage in eclectic witchcraft, but I can understand why this would be the right path for others. Especially in a minority faith like ours, we should be more accepting towards other branches so we can make a stronger impact on the public – not to proselytise, but to make our religious demands known (e.g. concerning our sabbats being recognized as holidays).

In the end, I believe that there is more than one way to find the Gods, and within this way there are multiple smaller paths that one can choose to walk on; and all these different paths are valid for the people walking them. I’m just terribly annoyed by people of any faith claiming that other paths (or for atheists, that all paths) do not actually exist or that theirs is the best one. So I’m hoping for more understanding and getting to know each-other in interfaith dialogue so we can all let each other live our respective (non-)religious lives.

Blessed be,

cartoon: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP
bus ad: http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/419906_362799317082861_205344452828349_1351162_1223978752_n.jpg
pagan hierarchy: http://seapagan.org/pagan-hierarchy/pagan-hierarchy.png  

11 Kommentare:

  1. I went hot and cold when I read the cartoon...and then turned green and was sick! LOL and I think you're absolutely right. Unfortunately fundamentalism rears its ugly head everywhere these days and you don't even have to be religious to be a fundamentalist - politics, education, science....it's everywhere. Unfortunately it is, in my opinion, born out of unhealthy egos both individual and collective. We need to do more listening and understanding. But I think all things happen for a good reason, if only to teach us how NOT to be. Enjoyed reading your post.

    1. Thanks :-)
      Ego might indeed play a role in fundamentalist ideas; I'll think on this aspect a bit more!

  2. That comic... Face palm worthy and rage inducing. I'll admit D&D did give me a nudge to learn more about Paganism. It was more of a 'Wait, Paganism.. Magic is real? I'm not clinging to childish hopes?' And if that comic was true, I wouldn't be able to any spells, because I don't have an 8th level cleric. (Rogue/fighter here.) Granted, I have met people who really do think they can cast D&D spells. I usually want to send them on their way with 'that's cute' and a pat on the head.

    People like that, fundamentalists in any aspect... I feel like they enjoy being trapped in their ignorance and arrogance. It's not that they can't learn, it's that they refuse to even think there is another possibility.

    Long story short and ending this wall of text... I totally agree with you.

    ~✫♥ )O( ♥✫~

    1. Heh, if that comic was true, I couldn't do any spells, either (6th level druid^^).

      Yes, I agree with you that some fundamentalists refuse to consider other possibilities. I once had a very good friend tell my husband that she felt sorry for him because he thought evolution is true *facepalm* And we weren't even trying to convince her of our beliefs, but just talking about religion and science in general.

  3. Fantastic post! I've seen that cartoon before, but wow. Even beyond them not understanding D&D or paganism, it doesn't make their own faith look very good. I'll never understand why so many Christians are totally comfortable with the fact that their initiations are often based on emotional manipulation of initiates, often immature initiates who are lost and confused and willing to sign up for whatever group claims them. In my child and teen years, I saw that happen over and over again - I was a victim of that sort of initiation. It's another danger of fundamentalism - when you think you're the one right way, you'll also think it's acceptable to take advantage of people in their times of weakness. What does it matter how they come to your path, as long as they do? You're doing them a favor in the long run, right?

    I also like your comment that there are many ways to know the gods, and many paths to follow. I agree with that. I have a lot of respect for recons, and I think it's important those groups exist, but I also don't think they have an exclusive claim on the gods. Looking at the ancient world, the gods were known in such a wide variety of ways based on the different places where they were worshiped, I can't imagine they'd have a problem with different groups worshiping them in different ways today. We could all do with a bit more tolerance and respect for each other.

    1. Reading your post, I was reminded of a friend of mine. She was going through a rough time at uni, but instead of sending her to a properly skilled psychological councellor, her church told her that e.g. her way of eating drove her away from God. So on top of her problems she started starving herself, and wouldn't even consider our concerns about her health. So yes, fundamentalism can be dangerous and exploitative.

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  5. I agree - there is more than one way to find the Gods. And if a person is atheist, I respect that view as well.

    1. I do, too. With some atheists I've had the pleasure to meet, however, it's difficult to accept their view, since they cannot see that believing can be a valid choice for others.

  6. wow, that "comic" was a glorified ad. That aside, I used to be a hater of Christians until I looked around me and saw that majority of the people in my life are Christian...and they accepted me as a Witch. That was an eye-opener, in realizing that I wasn't as open-minded as I preached. I was quite in intolerant and hypocritical, and completely guilty of "All Gods are real, except the Christian God" mindset. Now I can say that I am accepting of most faiths (because there a lot that I don't know about), including Christianity. I'm one of the first people who'll point out a Pagan/Witches intolerance to Christians - those who label all on what few have done.

    In terms of atheists, I haven't had too much of a problem with them. Most of the Atheists in my life are accepting. They're not trolls. We agree to disagree. Though I know that trolls exists, but you'll find in everywhere. Those who are just down right offensive because it's funny to them.

    Most of the fighting I've seen in any faith/or non comes from inner fighting. One group believing that the other group isn't (insert belief here) enough. I'm sure many of us have had our fair share of being ripped to pieces by another Pagan or Witch.

    I think it's human nature to dislike and fear that which you don't understand. But it's sheer laziness to not bother to do the research or to ask the questions to clear it up. Shoot first, ask questions later. But it doesn't mean that one shouldn't try to educate the ignorant masses. Great thought provoking post. ~)O(~

    1. Thank you!

      I have to admit that when I started on my path, I tended to disagree with Christians out of principle. But I've had some very interesting deep discussions with Christian friends since then, and as you said, we should try to point out intolerance wherever it arises.