Pagans hate generalizations made about Pagans (he writes with a smirk).
That’s one generalization I feel confident in making.
In my last post I made some bold statements about the unwillingness of Pagans to accept the existence of the Christian god, knowing full well that those statements were not completely accurate (or, perhaps even close to accurate). I did so in order to get the conversation started, and I recognize that there are better ways to initiate dialogue. Many of my readers let me know as much. I’m grateful to those of you who spoke up, and I thank you for your willingness to call “bullshit.”
What I also failed to mention was that my post was informed by the current controversy around Dominionism, and its corresponding backlash from the Pagan community. If you aren’t already familiar with what’s got the Witches, Druids, and Asatru abuzz throughout the blogosphere, click here, here or here for some backstory.
All of my literary shortcomings aside, there were some interesting ideas written in response to my post, and I’d like to unpack a few of them now and gauge whether you are in agreement with them or not. Let’s see if if we can keep the dialogue going, shall we?
“It is impossible for an unreasonable person to be a reasonable person.”
Themon, an OBOD Bard and regular contributor to the comments at Bishop In The Grove, made this statement, saying that there is no way to have interfaith dialogue with an unreasonable person.
I asked my 16 year old step-kid if this was a true statement during a mind-breaking batch of geometry homework.
“Um… if it’s a given that the person is unreasonable, then yes — that’s true,” the wunderkind said with one lifted eyebrow and a shrug. Silly stepdads and their philosophical questions.
I wonder what we might consider to be “reasonable” when it comes to theology and religion. Some would argue that the whole subject is a bunch of hooey. Others, like the Dominionists, might argue that only their particular viewpoint is reasonable, and if you don’t believe them just ask their god… he’ll totally back them up.
Themon goes on to write,
“I think the only real prerequisite to interfaith dialogue is mutual respect. It’s reasonable to ask to be treated with respect. It’s reasonable for them to want to be treated with respect.”
This seems fair to me.
Mrs. B. Confesses
Mrs. B., the beloved blogger at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom chimed in with a statement about the way that she perceives Deity:
“I work under the idea that all Gods are one God and that s/he comes to everyone in the guise that is best for that person at any given moment. I can say that my Catholic husband feels much the same way.”
Fascinating idea, really. So relational. I find the though of divinity this fluid and accommodating, this concerned with where I am at the moment of contact, to be very comforting.
Mrs. B. isn’t the only one who’s struck a theological balance in an interfaith marriage.
Literata writes about her Catholic husband,
“My spouse’s way of understanding polytheism is to think of different deities as different metaphors for what is fundamentally the same thing. It’s rather like the idea of aspects – “All goddesses are one goddess,” in Dion Fortune’s words.”
I know that many Pagans hold a different view; that each God or Goddess possesses his or her own individual consciousness. To some, the idea of “aspects” betrays something true about the individuality of the Gods. Personally, I lean more in this direction, but I also am attracted to the idea of one god with many faces.
Perhaps somewhere in between these two polarities exists some common ground between Pagans and Christians.
“There is no midway point in beliefs between paganism and Christianity.”
Perhaps the strongest tone found in any of the comments came from Kenneth, an active contributor to the conversations at various Patheos blogs. If what he says is true, I’m not sure where that leaves me – a person who feels compelled to find a thread of continuity between the tradition of my youth (Episcopal Christianity) and the tradition that resonates with me now (Neo-Pagan Druidry).
“We will not create a good space for dialogue by looking for commonality of beliefs. What we can do is to try to respect the depth and authenticity of each other’s beliefs.”
I appreciate this statement. Ultimately, I think that’s what I’m striving for in the dialogue created on this blog. I would like to see more Christians voicing in about the way that their perspective of Deity informs the conversations they have with Pagans. I’d like to hear how a polytheist conceives of “spiritual unity,” or if that phrase is too ambiguous or not resonant in any way. I’d like to hear from folks outside of these two categories, too. I’m interested — fascinated, really — by the spiritual experiences of human beings, and I’m seeking to synthesize what I learn from you with what I feel in my heart, in my head, in my body.
The intention I’ve set for Bishop In The Grove, a blog initially started to chart my course through the ADF Dedicant Path, is to create a space for dialogue. We each bring our unique voice to the conversation, and we are all both teacher and student for one another.
If any of these ideas have inspired you, or if you’d like to weigh in on what I’ve written here, please do so in the comment section. If you’d like to help me broaden the discussion even further, you can share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or by e-mailing it to a friend.