Stages of Neopagan reactions to Christians

That’s a klunky title, but I hoped to get the attention of more than just the pagans :-).

A while back, someone wrote in a comment that:

…up till now most of my face to face interactions with Wiccans has always involved people with an enormous chip on their shoulder about the “Burning Times”, those stupid Satanists giving them a bad name, and complaining about oppression because mummy took their dagger off them…

I set it aside to respond to in more detail than as a comment, then forgot about it for a while.

So, here’s some of my observations on Pagans and Christians.

First, I feel I should point out that I’m using the term Pagans broadly, to include wiccans, Wiccans, Druids, Asatru, and anyone else following a not dissimilar non-Abrahamic path. Also, we are as diverse as any other group, maybe more so. The feelings of someone who finds a pagan path later in life are going to be different from those of the teen who started on the path mainly to freak out the ‘rents.

That said, I’ve seen a fairly common pattern of what I call “Christian Backlash.” A new pagan will start learning more about the past actions of various Christian groups against those perceived as “evil” (the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, etc.) and develop an attitude towards modern Christians. This can be an even stronger swing in a person who was previously very Christian, either by choice or from being raised one. Especially in the case of those doing the rebellious thing, this attitude will often manifest as the above-mentioned “chip.” IMO, this is the equivalent of the newly “saved” Christian who feels a burning need to try to save everyone they know, who takes to wearing a prominent cross, posting Bible verses, etc. etc. In both cases, the person can get very defensive of their “rights” if challenged, whether by having ritual tools taken away, asked not to proselytize in the office, questioned on the numbers killed in the Burning Times, questioned on the truth of Scripture, etc.

Over time, people mellow and mature, and the pendulum swings back to the center. From a Pagan PoV, we realize that today’s Christians are not responsible for the excesses of their forbearers, any more than a modern devotee of the Greco-Roman gods is responsible for Christians having been thrown to the lions. People begin to recognize that no “church” is monolithic (though some groups try hard to be ^_^), that not all Christians believe in not suffering a witch to live, that not all witches are anti-Christian…basically, that there are plenty of good and decent people on all sides of the religious divides. Finding communities like Street Prophets reinforces this :-).

The thing is, folk at this stage don’t call as much attention to themselves :-). Just as most Christians wouldn’t want to be judged based on Pat Robertson and his hate-mongering ilk, or on a smaller scale by the young person with the big cross who goes to the mall to try to convert everyone they can get their hands on, neither should all Neopagans be judged by the teen with the big pentagram who rails against the evils perpetrated by the Christian church.

BTW and IMO, it’s not so much that the Satanists have given us a bad name, since a) we don’t worship either side of the Biblical duality, and b) Satanists don’t equate themselves with neopagans, being more of a philosophy than a religion in many cases. Our main problem is with outsiders (usually Christians) assuming that everyone who’s Not Them is evil and worships the devil, so therefore witch = satanist.

Foo, I got distracted and lost my train of thought, but I think I covered everything I wanted to. I can always edit later if an important point comes up in the comments :-).

45 comments

Cookie jar (4.00 / 17)

“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”
–John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President, letter to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, 10 October 1960

by Morgan on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 11:42:35 PDT

Werewolf Cookie ! (4.00 / 3)

Chomp !

by Propheticus Lycanthroponica on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 14:12:36 PDT

Thanks, Morgan! (4.00 / 5)

I was in a “seeking” phase a while back and was actually part of the Wiccan community for a while.  Where I encountered the “Christian Backlash” was people who got in my face about my husband remaining Catholic.  That’s one of the reasons I eventually left (well, that and I found the Catholic path was right for me).  OTOH, there were plenty of people in the community who had no problem with it at all and thought it was rather cool we had worked out a “mixed marriage.”  

Good topic, good diary–thanks again!

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.We are the prophets of a future not our own.– Oscar Romero

by hedgehog on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 11:58:27 PDT

When I started down the Pagan path (4.00 / 7)

I went through my own “AYP” (Angry Young Pagan”) phase…I wrote pissed-off folk songs about the Burning Times, memorized a litney of crimes against humanity committed by various Christian churches and organizations, even wasted my time watching Pat Robertson and ficking off the TV screen.  After a while, though, I grew tired of this, and moved on to other things.

I realised that a: most of the “crimes” committed were done against other Christians (like in Salem MA).  And b: that stoking up my blood pressure would do nothing about hucksters like Robertson being on the air.  I still studied on how to engage evangelists when I met them, because meet them I do.  However, replying with anger only emboldens them.  I find that if I engage people in a more friendly, open manner (while staying ever vigilant and engaged), then I get a conversation going instead of a fight, and even if they’re intractable, I may still get them to think…if even only fora nanosecond.

Blessed Be

Taliesin Athor Govannon
HP, Coven of Caer Arianrhod
Taliesin’s Witchcraft Page

by Taliesin on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 12:08:15 PDT

I’ve come to this discussion rather late. (none / 0)

I never had the AYP syndrome.

I came to find my path at 13.  It wasn’t out of rebellion, I rebelled by mismatching socks.  No, for me it was about the feeling I got from attending services.  The “church” we used was an old Christian church in my hometown.  The previous congregation had long since left the building.  So, I came to wicca inside of a church.  Seemed a bit odd to me, but many of my sisters and brothers had an interesting mingling of faiths.  I think it was the medium priestess that really made the difference to me.  Having her before us describing auras and speaking of our guides that were present, well, it connected me and moved me for the first time ever.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve not had many good experiences with Christians.  Those I tell of my faith want to discuss issues of faith only to “save” me (current roommate).  Others simply stop talking to me and back off quite extensively.  The worst are the ones who be little me and my faith and attempt in every way possible to kick it out of me (college roommate).

by bendygirl on Mon Mar 13th, 2006 at 04:35:21 PDT

Just about every religion has a skeleton… (4.00 / 6)

…in a closet. People claiming to be Christians have gone after Jews, fellow Christians, Islamists (Crusades, anyone?) as well as Pagans.
When members of my Buddhist organization started focussing on the past crimes of Christians, our teacher dredged up some obscure war between two Buddhist sects. The teaching was that no group is pure and has always done right- and to get back to training, avoiding such distractions

The road to enlightenment is more fun on a motorcycle

by la motocycliste on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 12:17:36 PDT

That (4.00 / 2)

That sounds like the the feud between Enryakuji and Miidera. One at the top of Mount Hiei and one at the bottom.

by kraant on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 10:55:13 PDT

Baby pagans (4.00 / 3)

(to use a phrase I’ve heard a number of my pagan friends use) are an awful lot like baby Christians: loud, pushy, rude, and obnoxious. Fortunately, most of us grow out of that very assertive (and insecure) phase of our faith and into something that’s at least a little less in-your-face.

Michael

by musing85 on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 12:53:35 PDT

new pagans (4.00 / 4)

My mother converted to paganism while my sister and I were away at college.  However, we as a family were already quite aware of the various religious conflicts of the past; and besides, we were an a-religious household growing-up (though I think she was raised loosely Presbyterian?).

Of related interest, she was decended from one Samuel Herrick, jailor of Salem during the witch trials.  You will find him in The Crucible as Marshall Herrick.  Family history relates that he was a rather a-moral fellow (not meant in an accusatory way) who snuck alcohol in for the condemned.  Though he probably charged them for it, too.

by Betty Black on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 13:26:17 PDT

Well, of course he charged them for it. (4.00 / 4)

That was how jail was handled back then.  Anything other than the absolute barest of basics was paid for by the prisoner.

by loggersbrat on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 15:01:23 PDT

That was my thought on it, too (4.00 / 2)

The oral tradition that I remember doesn’t mention the charging as far as I can recall.

by Betty Black on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 18:02:47 PDT

satanists (4.00 / 4)

Maybe it’s not so much satanists who give pagans a bad rep as the kids-with-attitudes who loiter outside that store at the mall where they get all the costume jewelry & other stuff with the symbols they don’t understand. I happen to enjoy those palely lit stores, which remind me of Jersey boardwalks,  & for the most part don’t mind the kids, either (it’s the rosy-cheeked smiling born again zombie teens who really annoy me). The typical “new age” shop in Jersey is bright, neat, inclusive, not very different from Christian bookstores in how they are set up.  In my area, there are also small, cramped botanicas, where you need to ask for what you don’t see, so you need to know what you’re asking for, & I certainly don’t.  

I don’t consider Satanists as pagans. Rather, they are ultra-reactionaries who need one “truth” in order to invert it & obtain another. So they end up  with two ridiculous untruths. The worst kind of dualism.

“There ain’t no sanity clause.” Chico Marx

by Asbury Park on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 14:43:09 PDT

Atheists (4.00 / 4)

I don’t consider Satanists as pagans. Rather, they are ultra-reactionaries who need one “truth” in order to invert it & obtain another. So they end upwith two ridiculous untruths. The worst kind of dualism.

I find that a lot of “evangelical atheists” – the kind who rail against all religion as absolutely evil – fall into the same category. Most have had minor or major squabbles with religious authority figures or fundamentalists in their past, and concluded that all religion is Bad.

“To make life easier and to be happy ended up being two different things.” – Arjuna’s Father, Earth Girl Arjuna.

by Egarwaen on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 18:41:42 PDT

I’m not afraid of angry pagans (4.00 / 2)

I just want to relate my experience in college during the 1990s as it is pertinent.  I had a class on religious identity that presented some very strange things.  I remember a movie that asserted that godess worship is the world’s most ancient religion, that Christians had routinely persecuted them (godess worshippers) during the “burning times”, and that Glastonbury Tor is the world’s oldest religious artifact, among other bizarrely untrue things.  And that was just one class.  

Fact is, there has been rather a lot of nonsense put out there, I call it neo-feminist pseudo-history.  And I haven’t a lot of patience with people that are simply making this stuff up out of whole cloth.

I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.Ecclesiastes 1:17

by DanielMN on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 17:07:14 PDT

Know that (4.00 / 4)

many of us don’t either.

It doesn’t serve us well as we attempt to look at history from a viewpoint other than that of the rich white male to lie and distort. We can’t ever entirely escape bias, but we can avoid the out and out lie, I should hope.

The greater the circle, the more the love grows.

by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 22:02:26 PDT

Be careful what you refer to as nonsense (4.00 / 3)

I don’t know exactly what was presented to you in your class, so I can’t make any comments on the validity of the information you were taught. However, there is much historical basis for acknowledging goddess worship as among the earliest religions.

Here is a good overview provided by ReligiousTolerance.org.

To add further historical perspective on goddess religions and the persecution of their adherents, here is an excerpt from the introduction to a scholarly work on the history of goddess worship When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone:

In prehistoric and early historic periods of human development, religions existed in which people revered their supreme creator as female. The Great Goddess – the Divine Ancestress – had been worshipped from the beginnings of the Neolithic periods of 7000 BC until the closing of the last Goddess temples, about AD 500. Some authorities would extend Goddess worship as far into the past as the Upper Paleolithic Age of about 25,000 BC. Yet events of the Bible, which we are generally taught to think of as taking place “in the beginning of time,” actually occurred in historic periods. Abraham, first prophet of the Hebrew-Christian god Yahweh, more familiarly known as Jehovah, is believed by most Bible scholars to have lived no earlier than 1800 BC and possibly as late as 1550 BC.

Most significant is the realization that for thousands of years both religions existed simultaneously – among closely neighboring peoples. Archaeological, mythological and historical evidence all reveal that the female religion, far from naturally fading away, was the victim of centuries of continual persecution and suppression by the advocates of the newer religions which held male deities as supreme.

The reason that you would have been told that “goddess worshippers” were persecuted during the burning times is that the Christians were burning at the stake those people they viewed as a threat to their authority and those whom they believed to be witches. It was usually women practicing the old ways who were believed to be witches and therefore a large proportion of people who were persecuted during the burning times were women.

Traditionally, it was women who were practiced in how to use herbs to cure, how to do be a midwife and many other things that were construed as magic. In fact many people of Wiccan and other pagan faiths view the folk magic traditions practiced by the healers and mystics of early European peoples as the basis for their faith.

As far as Glastonbury Tor is concerned, I don’t know enough about it even to speculate, but just a cursory glance at this website about it suggests that in the context of early pre-Christian religions there is enough evidence to suggest that it certainly is an archeologically important site, whether it is the oldest religious artifact or not.

It is not “neo-feminist pseudo history” to talk about the persecution of women throughout history because there is no disputing that fact. And it seems to me that you missed the point entirely of the discussion of early goddess-worshipping cultures. On a site where we are learning about and celebrating each other’s religions in the contect of coming together as a community of people who care about what’s happening in our world, I find your comments bordering on offensive.

Every thought you think is magick. Christopher Penczak

by Nixie on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 05:59:46 PDT

The pseudo- part is (4.00 / 3)

There is no credible historical evidence that a significant proportion of the people executed as witches in Europe were

women practicing the old ways

Indeed, there is no evidence of the survival of Pagan beliefs and practices into the early modern period, beyond common superstitions and folk traditions.  

So while it is true that people were being executed who were “believed to be witches,” that is a long way from saying that they in fact were witches or that they themselves believed they were witches.  And it is an even bigger stretch to suggest (as Stone does) that these were practitioners of ancient pre-Christian beliefs in some sort of organized fashion.  

There is also very little to link those ancient pre-Christian beliefs to contemporary Wiccans in a historically continuous way.  As some of our SP Wiccans have noted here, as rich and wonderful and compelling as contemporary Wicca is, it was invented (or re-created) fairly recently.

I think the point made by others above is that Wiccans are not well served when this historically inaccurate scenario is held up as the foundational basis for their beliefs.  Meanwhile, there are plenty of really solid reasons for Wiccans to embrace their faith and others to value and respect it.  

by True Blue on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 08:35:57 PDT

Whoa (4.00 / 3)

Please do not underestimate the power of superstitions and folk traditions.  Yes, many were co-opted into syncretic practice by the Church, but folks who sing to Jesus and are careful to honor wights and ancestors are certainly preserving significant portions of old beliefs.

“As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats.”
– horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

by lonespark on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 09:06:59 PDT

I certainly (4.00 / 2)

Do not mean to underestimate their power, or to disrespect those beliefs.  So hope it did not come across that way.  I think what is under discussion here is more the total package that often gets put out there as history.  

by True Blue on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 11:49:50 PDT

Heh (none / 1)

As long as you mean wiccans (and I say this as a wiccan-leaning neopagan) who think they have an unbroken line to 5000 BC (or worse, Atlantis — and again, I say this as someone who believes in a prehistoric civilization like it), and not the notion that we can extrapolate from those folk traditions to try and recapture some of what was lost.

My beloved Morgan has done considerable research on the subject. I’ve come away from this research, which we have discussed at length, with a few basic understandings of the historical nature of our beliefs.

  1. Yes, there was a great deal of goddess worship in the past. It may or may not have been monotheistic (and indeed, that may have varied in different areas).

  2. They may have all been worshipping one Mother, but you have to believe in the Mother to buy into that notion, because it certainly wasn’t one religion as we understand the concept of organized religion today.

  3. The Burning Times happened after a fashion, but the vast majority of its victims were just those, mostly women, who happened to either have the wrong knowledge (midwifery, herblore, folk remedies) at the wrong time, had property someone else coveted (isn’t that a sin?), or wouldn’t put out for someone local and important. The idea that it was a persecution of paganism is ridiculous, because that really happened about a thousand years before the “Burning Times,” when Christianity exploded out of the Roman Empire, and it’s not like the pagans didn’t fight back. To blame modern Christianity for that is like blaming modern worshippers of the Roman pantheon for the annihilation of Carthage.

by Roland X on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 12:19:49 PDT

I suspect we’ve (none / 0)

Met at least a few of the same Wiccans 🙂

wiccans . . . who think they have an unbroken line to 5000 BC (or worse, Atlantis . . .)

by True Blue on Sun Mar 12th, 2006 at 12:57:00 PDT

Shamanism (4.00 / 2)

is widely considered to be the oldest religion.  There really isn’t any doubt about this at all.  See Mercia Eliade on Religious History.  The notion of Goddess Worship being the oldest is controversial at the very least.

Cave drawings of animals are much older than the Tor and have at least as much credibility as religious artifacts.  Of course, such drawings are more shamanistic than Goddess.  You don’t see Goddess drawings on cave walls.  Usually, you see animals.

And an awful lot of people died during the middle ages over things that would today be thought ridiculous.  The Huguenots for example.  There is, however, little evidence for the existence of something that could be characterized as the “burning times” for goddess worshippers.  Indeed, there is little evidence of any significant number of Goddess worshippers in Europe during this time.

There is an awful lot of evidnece of the persecution of people of both sexes throughout history.  To take the persecution of women as having special significance beyond the persecution experienced by men is just plain sexist.

I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.Ecclesiastes 1:17

by DanielMN on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 09:00:36 PDT

Interestingly (4.00 / 3)

The official church perspective on witchcraft in the Middle Ages was that it was an illusion. Christian authorities between 500 and 1400 would tell you that while people might believe they were witches, they were deluded.   It wasn’t until the late 1400s that authorities began to take the position that witchcraft was real and represented a serious threat.  

by True Blue on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 09:35:07 PDT

Not Anymore… (4.00 / 2)

Cave drawings of animals are much older than the Tor and have at least as much credibility as religious artifacts.

Uh. You’re about half a month out of date, I’m afraid. More recent evidence says they were graffiti. So no, they don’t seem to be “religious artifacts”.

But don’t let me interrupt your hate-on for feminist-pseudo-pagan-fascism or whatever the hell you call other religions with inconvenient facts.

“To make life easier and to be happy ended up being two different things.” – Arjuna’s Father, Earth Girl Arjuna.

by Egarwaen on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 10:14:07 PDT

What facts? (4.00 / 3)

That article or at least the bit we can see is a joke.

But recent research has revealed that Stone Age cave painters were little more than sexually charged, intoxicated teenagers intent on vandalism.

  1. Given the time scale we’re talking here those “intoxicants” are psychadelics not alcohol. Alcohol is at the earliest a neothilic innovation.

  2. The paintings that they’re claiming are vandalism are the same ones used as evidence of stone-age mother goddess worship.

And it’s already well known that large portions of pre-historic art were done under the “influence”. People have been pointing out this and the connections between shamanism as its practiced now and the evidence that people were getting intoxicated back then for years. There’s some amazing artwork from the pre-historic sahara to use as one example. There’s even decent evidence that the use of mind-altering drugs in pre-historic times has had a heavy impact on human evolution and culture.

by kraant on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 10:40:48 PDT

History is written by the winners. (4.00 / 2)

It is very upsetting when guys won’t acknowledged or take responsibility for the wrongs we commit against women not only now but in the past. When you consider the amount of their blood we’ve spilled compared to the amount they’ve spilled of ours, we are in serious debt and in need of repentance.  

We all hear and know that Christ died for our sins but what they don’t bother saying anymore is that our sins were against her.

And it is common sense that “step one” of worship was goddess/sexual in nature.  You know why?  Because we (straight guys) still worship her now.

by Elijah on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 12:23:30 PDT

Some of this may be true (4.00 / 3)

But it has very little to do with the discussion at hand.  The insistence on falsifying the history of female persecution does not advance women’s cause or remediate real persecution.

The European witch hunts were not monolithic; they were nearly as likely to target men as women; women were active participants, not just as victims, but as accusers and witnesses — and even in some instances as local officials, jailers and examiners.   Finally, without diminishing the suffering of people who were persecuted for witchcraft in past centuries, the European witchhunts were a small blip on the geographically massive, centuries-long radar screen of female oppression.

I really think it is not fair to asem – Arjunak that people swallow major historical inaccuracies, and we must not imagine that doing so will somehow make up for the fact that women have been historically oppressed.    

by True Blue on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 12:39:38 PDT

Actually (4.00 / 2)

And it is common sense that “step one” of worship was goddess/sexual in nature.  You know why?  Because we (straight guys) still worship her now.

That’s an artifact of the medieval concept of romantic love. Anima and animus.

Trying to put interpret the pre-historic psyche from the perspective of the modern “western” psyche is anachronistic at best. Even something as familiar to us as the Classic Greek psyche the concepts such as fate, tragedy, and the tension between the Apollonian vs Dionysian is something that we can understand at most as through a glass darkly. Trying to understand the pre-axial age psyche is even harder.

Although there have been thousands of years for cultural development the closest we can get to understanding the pre-historic psyche is from modern hunter gatherer societies. In their case there is a wide divergance of belief the one constant tends to be a belief in a “spirit” world that affects and is affected by the “real” world. Cultural artefacts from pre-history support a continuity to these beliefs.

Belief that the pre-historic belief focussed on a Universal Matriarchal Goddess is a dualist Eurocentric “shadow” of the belief in a Universal Patriarchal God. The evidence just doesn’t support it.

by kraant on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 12:51:21 PDT

Not talking about Courtly Love (4.00 / 2)

Talking about the real worship.  The primal stuff.  When we were still grunting.

The evidence “may” not support the worship of women but the experiment does.    Open your eyes.  Everything a man does he does for women.

The whole Jung projection crap is just that crap.  Not projecting anything just noticing that something isn’t where is should be… and that something is women’s place in our society.

by Elijah on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 15:44:48 PDT

Deconstructionist Hulk Smash! (none / 1)

In the “primal” state, the evidence does suggest that women were worshipped. It also suggests that mushrooms, snakes, phalluses, bears, bees (no kidding!), wolfs, prey animals, stars, pretty much everything, in all honesty, was worshipped.

My pet theory is that the ground state for human belief is shock and awe at almost everything encountered.

The problem with claiming matrifocal monotheism as a ground-state of belief is all the evidence that’s already built up debunking the previously popular theory that patrifocal monotheism is the ground-state of belief and that things like polytheism are degenerate forms.

The funny thing about Jung is that his theories are probably the best support your thesis is likely to get. Me? I’d rather not throw off the yoke of one system of oppression only to replace it with another.

by kraant on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 22:17:51 PDT

Puny Humans! (none / 0)

How a man worships women is completely different then how he worships anything else in nature.  Completely and utterly different.  Way way (stretching arms as wide as I can) way way way different.

Shock and awe?  Are you talking about seeing an eclipse and ancient man falling on their knees because it just blows their primitive little minds?  If so I tend to go the other way.  I think our ancestors probably were more squared away/jaded then we give them credit for and modern man is more lame brained then we realize.  

I don’t claim to know what kind of gods ancient man worshiped or to what degree. I’m sure they were varied, but at the earliest stages of our development I think it was man developing a needing/desiring/worshiping relationship with women that prepared him to worship the unknown.  The necklace we gave a pretty girl evolved into the tokens we gave to gods later on… when the girl was gone.  

I’m a fan of Jung and his ideas about projecting onto others what we oppress in ourselves, but I think your stretching the idea to make it fit here.  This is a real world problem not a problem of the mind.  You can look at the world and tell that a major war has been fought here.  There were victors (us) and prisoners of war (the women) and to downplay it to a figment of imagination does a disservice to those who have and still suffer.

by Elijah on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 12:06:23 PDT

Conflation check (none / 0)

A widespread worship/devotion/honoring of a divine Feminine is not necessarily the same thing as “matrifocal monotheism.” When someone says that the feminine was widely revered, it does not mean they’re saying that there was a monolithic goddess-centered religion.

IMO, the recognition of the feminine as an important part of the Divine started to slide about the same time men realized that they had something to do with the process of having babies ;-). I say that partly in humor, but I also think there’s some validity in the idea.

by Morgan on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 12:29:10 PDT

I’ve never spilled any woman’s blood (4.00 / 2)

and I resent the implication.  I got into some backyard shinanigans with some guys when I was a kid, maybe split somebody’s lip, but never with any girls.

I do not accept that men living today are somehow responsible for supposed bad acts committed against women by other men at all times in the past.  This makes a hash of any sense of personal responsibility.  I can and will be personally responsible for what I do.  I can’t and won’t be personally responsible for things that happened before I was even born.  Yes, I can try to make a just world today.  No, I won’t be verbally beaten up over things that happened ceturies ago on another continent.

Oh, and I’m a straight guy and never a Goddess worshipper.  I have, however, been on a Shaman journey into the earth to meet my spirit guide.

I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.Ecclesiastes 1:17

by DanielMN on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 14:01:24 PDT

I’m sorry I thought you were Christian (none / 1)

Sorry my mistake.  I guess I just assumed you were Christian, sorry.  Shaman huh?  

Please ignore my comments and return to your journey into the earth, sorry again.

Christians believe in taking responsibility for the wrongs of man (our savior actually gave his life for it) I have no idea what Shaman’s believe.  I don’t want to make assumptions based on your comments.

by Elijah on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 15:29:50 PDT

Christian, actually (4.00 / 2)

although I have not always been so.  I took the Shaman journey as a Christian and I see no conflict in that.  I found a spirit guide, a great owl the color of night, with silver streaks, silent, and insisting that I listen.  

When I practiced Tai Chi I was not a Christian but I also see no problem with being a Christian Taoist.

Perhaps I was not entirely fair when I said I’ve not been a Goddess worshipper.  I do have a bit of a thing for Mary, Queen of Heaven.  Every time you hear about her she’s always talking about mercy.  I like that a lot.

My experience of Christ doesn’t include rigid doctrine or dogma.

I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.Ecclesiastes 1:17

by DanielMN on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 16:06:56 PDT

I’m not strict either (4.00 / 2)

But when one Christian talks about Christ and another talks about Shamans then you have to question.  You’re welcome to study what ever spiritual discipline you want but at the end of the day to call yourself Christian (in my mind) you have to take responsibility for the ills of the world, you have to pick up the cross.

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do” and for you to sit there and say my hands are clean, I have done no wrong isn’t the Christian way.  You know what has/is been done to women is wrong in the eyes of God and Christ and we (Christian Men) have to take responsibility for that.  To hear a Christian MAN say female persecution wasn’t/isn’t as bad as made out or that men were persecuted too disgusts me, on a spiritual and physical level, sorry to say it like that but it does.

“Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.”
— Stanislaw J. Lec.

by Elijah on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 16:40:50 PDT

In terms of theology (4.00 / 2)

even in terms of social gospel, this is a twist I have never seen anywhere before:

You know what has/is been done to women is wrong in the eyes of God and Christ and we (Christian Men) have to take responsibility for that.

Sorry you’re disgusted.  Don’t understand your disgust.  Is this idea from Promisekeepers?

I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.Ecclesiastes 1:17

by DanielMN on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 16:59:09 PDT

I’m not familiar with the Promisekeepers (4.00 / 2)

From the Bible and looking out at the world and asking God what I should do.  

Luke 23:28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

I can’t believe you’ve never heard Christ’s message in relation to the plight of women.

by Elijah on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 17:18:33 PDT

It is an axiom (4.00 / 2)

that Christ’s message is for all.  Certainly it is for and about women, but not women in particular.  Should I be more concerned with the plight of some than others?  How shall I decide who is more and less worthy of Christ?

I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.Ecclesiastes 1:17

by DanielMN on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 17:43:15 PDT

Who ever is in the most need is the most worthy. (4.00 / 2)

by Elijah on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 17:45:53 PDT

To be clear… (4.00 / 7)

I think the place where people get into trouble here is by insisting that there was some kind of universal Goddess religion, where the Goddess reigned supreme.  There simply isn’t enough evidence for that.

What is known, however, is that every polytheistic culture did have Goddesses, some major, some minor.  And when the monotheists came in, many of these Goddesses were transformed into saints, heroines, etc, because the desire for the Divine femminine is unquenchable in many.  

As for the persecution…yes, most, if not all, of the people murdered during the Burning Times were ostensibly Christian.  Many practiced pre-Christian folk beliefs, but were unlikely to have been card-carrying Pagans.  The inquisition was definately misogynistic, however, and part of that was most likely because the Priests feared the power of women.

Between the extremes, we can find truth.

Blessed Be

Taliesin Athor Govannon
HP, Coven of Caer Arianrhod
Taliesin’s Witchcraft Page

by Taliesin on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 11:30:29 PDT

This is kind of late (none / 0)

and I posted on this before, but it is kind of important. The major reason people were killed as “witches” in the past, even before christianity, was because they were accused of cursing or poisoning people. The latin word for sorcery is also its word for poison. So its easy to imagine a group of newly-converted gauls or britons burning as a witch some nice old apothecary lady who just happens to make her tinctures and cures using old-fashioned methods.

by Caliban120 on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 09:57:54 PDT

To a certain extent (4.00 / 3)

part of what makes baby pagans angry is that they feel they are being defined by what they aren’t (Christian) rather than what they are. That can make anyone angry, actually, but with teens who are just learning what they are it’s especially acute. Now add the fact that changing something as basic as your spiritual worldview… eeek! 🙂

I think that one way to counteract the effect is to demonstrate that we are taking back the definition of pagan from whoever it is distorting it. By which I mean, using words and actions to counter the fundy process by which non-Christians are automatically defined as wrong and evil. It’s a start.

by LunarEclipse on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 07:01:37 PDT

I don’t really understand (4.00 / 3)

the backlash thing.  But that is because I was very happy with my Christian upbringing.  The only thing about it I didn’t love was the nuts-and-bolts theology.  I would hold up the church I was raised in as an examplar of people living moral lives and serving others.  I still love the people, the music, the many kinds of service.  I feel at home in UCC churches.  And yet I don’t, quite, because I’m alright with the big, nebulous, God of mystery and love, but I need to honor Frigg and Thor and the rest of the gods and wights.

“As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats.”
– horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

by lonespark on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 09:52:14 PDT

I never became a pagan… (4.00 / 2)

…or a christian for that matter.  Though there was a time in my life where I researched various religions and schools of thought, I never found one that was right for me.  And I’m now okay with that.  I consider myself a diest, all the faith, none of the dogma.

However in my search I came to the conclusion that what you believe doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do with your beliefs.  I’ve knows some honestly wonderful christians, and I’ve known some real christian jerks.  I’ve known some really sweet pagans and I’ve met really judgemental asshole pagans.

There are those who use their faith to build a closer and more intimate relationship with God and to reflect on the divine and I really respect people like that.  And there are people who use faith as a way of justifying their own superiority and I dont respect them as much.

by DawnG on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 19:43:18 PDT

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