I’m not an expert on Paganism.
If you’ve spent any time here on Bishop In The Grove you’ll know that being an expert on Paganism wasn’t why I got into blogging.
I blog in order to be a better student.
I ask a lot of questions. I point out the things that are curious to me or that strike me as interesting, and I invite my readers to become my teachers. I call things into question because I believe that doing so allows me to be more present in my religious and spiritual life. I think it’s a healthy thing for a religious community, as well.
When I was in my early 20’s I was a member of an Episcopal church in Tennessee. Episcopalianism was the tradition I was raised in, and this church was one I came to after a long period of spiritual drought. It wasn’t long before I was an active member of the community, attending Sunday “adult forums,” and weekday prayer services (which I often led and attended alone).
A few years into my involvement with the community I was asked to help teach the Sunday school classes for the upper-grade high school kids. Their teacher had up and left, and they needed a replacement quickly.
I was a little hesitant at first. I hadn’t been raised in a house where the kids memorize bible verses, or that emphasized a strict adherence to some religious code of conduct. My parents were musicians, and my stepdad didn’t care much for God at all. But the dean of the Cathedral thought I’d be a good fit, that the kids would relate to me, and that I could communicate to them, as he might have said, the love of Christ.
On my first day of teaching I came into class, tattoos showing, and began a dialogue with them that would go on every Sunday for weeks, months; a dialogue that was not really concerned with the syllabus, or even with the Bible. I invited them into a dialogue that encouraged them to make inquiries of the most basic tenets of the faith. I asked them to think for themselves, to seek out their own connection with the divine, and to do so in the way that made the most sense to them.
I acknowledged their own authority in matters of the heart, the mind, and the spirit.
This is my ethic here on Bishop In The Grove as well. I have my opinions, my perspectives, and my preferences, as well as a whole host of experiences which inform my writing, but I don’t pretend to be an expert on all-things-Pagan any more than I pretended to be an expert on Christianity. I trust that you have insights, too, and that your insights are valuable.
I bring this story up today because I’ve been invited to be a part of a roundtable discussion about Paganism on HuffPost Live, which is described on their website as,
“A live-streaming network that uses the HuffPost universe — the stories, editors, reporters, bloggers, and community — as its real-time script.”
I’ll be joining Patrick McCollum, Amy Blackthorn and others today, Wednesday the 31st at 6PM EST (UPDATE: LINK TO SHOW ARCHIVE) to share our perspectives on and experiences with being Pagan for the general public. I’m honored to be invited, and — as I was before first stepping in front of that Sunday school class — a little hesitant to be seen as an authority.
I’m but one voice in a crowd of many.
Since this appearance will likely direct a lot of new readers to my blog, I thought it might be valuable to present them with a more rich, diverse explanation of Paganism than what one Pagan (me) might be able to do. I’d like, in classic BITG style, to open up the comment section of this post to you. I’d like for you to share a bit about what Paganism looks like from where you stand.
This is my way of extending the floor to a much larger group of Pagans, and this is your chance to provide someone who knows very little about Paganism with your own, personal testimony about what your religious or spiritual path means to you.
Do you identify as a Pagan? If so, how do you live that out in your life? What do you believe? What do you practice?
If you don’t identify as a Pagan, perhaps choosing to be understood as a polytheist or to be known by your specific tradition, what does your tradition look like? What are the central principles which you live by?
The floor is yours, friends. Tell us a little about yourself.