|4 years ago :: Mar 24, 2009 - 8:30PM #51|
"Religion, on the other hand, is always a direct and personal relationship to the divine within us, to the spirit that whispers in our heart."
I hope you won't mind if I keep that in my file of quotes, properly attributed of course.
I can appreciate that the two groupings are diverse but I would not hold them to be so equally. Regardless of the diverse and oppositive groups that exist within Christianity and the diversity that is found, Christian faiths still hold to the same non-negotiable core of that faith. First the belief in the monolithic Abrahamic deity that they share with the other two Abrahamic faiths. Second, which sets them apart from the other two faiths, that through a divine act, this deity had a son Jesus who was the promised Messiah and who died to save mankind from their sins.
Paganism does not have a non-negotiable core that relates to or defines the divine but rather that each individual must self-identify and self-define such as his or her faith including how he or she defines the divine.
Perhaps it comes down to how one recognises what is a religion. I obviously consider the non-negotiable core definition of the divine to be what ear-marks and makes unique/recognisable each religion. I also believe that it is from, around and about that core that the structure of faith practised by its members evolves. This usually includes a celebratory annual calendar, relevant rituals, rites of passage marking birth, marriage, death as well as moral tenets and spiritual guidelines. It often includes a mythology (theology, doctrine) that explains that religion's beliefs about the relationship between the universe and humankind. I also recognise that a shared religion can be passed down (teacher to student, parent to child) as a coherent, recognisable and unique belief system. To be established as a religion, I would consider at least a second or third generation of transmission and practice to be present. Enough deviation from the original set of shared structure may produce sects or traditions that embody unique and definable practices from other examples of the parent faith. Christianity despite many different traditions meets this definition. The Religion of Wicca (at least the more established Traditions) also meets this definition.
NeoPaganism does not meet this definition (as yet) but I would agree that when thoughtfully and reverently embraced, such does align to this definition sufficiently for established consensual-groups and individuals to be recognisable in saying that Neo-/Paganism is their/his/her religion. Each (group consensus/individual) can define the divine though rarely is it unique to them. From that core, their/his/her structure of practice evolves though in some cases, there are intermediary sources that may seem to dictate what this involves. This structure may contain some of the same elements as religions though often cobbled together as individually needed. Yet this is so diverse and when shared, often so adapted and changed, that to say that all NeoPagans have the same celebratory calendar or that all have the same rites of passage rites would be inaccurate.
I would agree that the most basic of apologetic issues is "why do you believe in deity when no such entity is at all obvious or necessary in this universe?" I agree that we must each answer that question. I would however add the caveat that since UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis) is one of the few universal commonalties amongst self-identifying NeoPagans, answering that question and being able to respond may simply not be possible for everyone. At the most profound levels of experiential validation that we call the mysteries, articulating this to others fails. One can only point them in directions (your example of I believe in the Mother Earth...) that may allow them to experience such mysteries first hand and come away with his or her own UPG.
I would also agree that self-identified NeoPagans can engage in this more universalistic issue through apologetics. The challenge still remains that when engaged in apologetics with Christians, one is rarely engaged in the universal but rather one is arguing from within the framework of Christian apologetics. That returns one back to the validity of the non-negotiable core of that faith being equally applicable to all participants, which is where NeoPagans tend to bow out of the resulting misalignment.
I would put forth the perception that NeoPagans are getting their act together and studying what we do and what it makes it valid. Not all certainly, there are dabblers and faith-junkies within NeoPaganism. I agree that sharing our quest for understanding is important although what we do and how we do it will always be easier to share than our UPG and the underlying questions of faith.
The questions I would ask at this point are, to whom do 'we' grant the authority to decide that we are authentic? That our deities are valid? To whom do we have to explain ourselves and why? Or to put it another way using your words, why have we granted others the power to tell us that we are doing nothing more than pretending to religion in our new age fantasy world?
(Gorm....NeoPagandom...??? did you just create a new word?)
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
|4 years ago :: Mar 24, 2009 - 8:48PM #52|
Paganismm, neoPaganism, the Pagan community, Pagandom and neoPagandom, i sort of use them interchangably, so I have had to take the liberty of creating synonyms to avoid being repetitious... An adaptatio of the dom suffix denoting a grouping (i.e. Geekdom, Fandom, etc).
Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.