Pagans don’t want to accept the possibility that the Christian god is real. Doing so might open us up to a diatribe about salvation, our inherent sinfulness, or our “need for conversion”. We’ve had that talk a time or two, and – thank you – we’ll pass.
Christians are of the “One and Only God” camp. Not two. Not many. Not Columbia (probably not a god) or Thor (totally a god) or any of the other “false” gods. They aren’t having the conversation about how their god relates to other gods. It’s just God. Just the One.
This may not be a problem, except we’re all sharing space; physical and virtual. We’re walking the same streets, paying the same taxes, trolling the same Internet.
We just don’t know how to talk to each other.
A Math Problem
If Pagans or polytheists could concede that God, the Christian god, did in fact exist, but that this god was a part of a much more diverse and populated pantheon than what the Christians imagine, think how that would that affect the conversation. It would be disarming on one hand, and completely challenging on the other. The “One God” could have a place in the conversation — perhaps not at the head of the table, but certainly in the room — but there would be a new context; a new forum for telling our stories.
The problem here is that the emphasis on the “One” is so central to the Christian faith. Well, except when it’s 3-in-1, or One with a side of Mary. (No hate, Catholics. I think Mary’s pretty swell.) Christians can’t engage with Pagans in a dialogue about deity without first denying the primary tenet of their faith, the first line of their creed — “We believe in One God.”
I may be wrong, though.
My post, The Christo-Pagan Conflict, continues to stir up comments from Pagans and Christians alike, the most recent of which was from an anonymous writer who said simply,
I’m a progressive, emergent Christian with many pagan friends whom I enjoy and respect.
So, there are some Christians who have found a balance; who have discovered a way to respect their Pagan friends, and presumably their expressions of faith and practice, while still preserve their own Christian identity.
Of course, a self-identified “progressive, emergent Christian” is a far cry from a Dominionist.
Oh Bloody ‘ell.
There is value in drawing a distinction between the progressives and the crazies. I’d imagine the friendly Christians would appreciate if. There are Christians out there who aren’t chucking Bibles or Jesus Blood from behind the bushes, and who really don’t feel the need to thrust their god onto you, me, or the local High Priestess. Their understanding of their god may inform the way they talk about the mysteries of life (i.e., the soul or the spirit, where we come from, where we’re going to, how we are all connected), but they’ve got a grip on the basics of civility. And isn’t that enough for us? Do we need them to believe in many gods, or just to respect and make space for our inclination to do so?
Perhaps there are concessions to be made. Maybe Pagans could accept the Christian god, but recontextualize him (either just to ourselves or in dialogue with others). Maybe we could be open to the mystical, mythological person of Jesus — deity or human — who unlike the blood font that’s presented by the Dominionists actually serves as an example of compassion, kindness and restoration from brokenness. The question is, can we do that without feeling that our own cosmologies and belief systems are being threatened?
If you’ve got an answer to any of these questions, please share it in the comments. I’d love to get some feedback on this subject. And, if you think your Facebook or Twitter friends might have something to say, I’d be grateful if you shared the post with them, too.