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If you missed yesterday’s HuffPost Live Paganism roundtable with me, Amy Blackthorn, Gus DiZerega, Morgan Copeland and Patrick McCollum, you can watch it here:

We covered a fair bit of ground in the brief time we had allotted, and it was an honor to be seated beside (digitally speaking) so many interesting thought-leaders and organizers from the Pagan community.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the experience for me was what happened after the Google Hangout ended. The panelists stayed on the call and talked for a good 30 minutes more, sharing perspectives about a whole variety of topics. We re-addressed some of what happened while we were on the air, and there are a few things that stuck out that I’d like to get your take on.

First, Gus DiZerega says in the conversation:

“If Christians emphasize salvation, and Buddhists emphasize enlightenment, we emphasize harmony…That means harmony with one another, and harmony with the earth.”

Does that ring true to you?

 

It came up that Amy Blackthorn has been a Pagan since she was a kid. This led to an interesting conversation about whether or not children are self-aware enough to choose a religion. I suggested that Paganism might have something uniquely valuable to offer young people, mainly the emphasis on self-awareness and self-direction. To me, it seems that these qualities are very healthy for a kid, and one might add to that list the emphasis on family and community.

Do you see other ways that Paganism is inherently good for kids?

 

Lastly, are we “earth-based” anymore? It came up in response to Gus’s later statements about the political landscape that there are a wide-variety of Pagans, many of whom no longer identify as “earth-based.” This struck a chord with some people, and I’ve already received some feedback on Facebook which voiced appreciation for pointing out that some Pagans are more centered around deity.

I think this one is worthy of a little unpacking. Do a little research, and you’ll see that the roots of the Neopagan movement were very much in the dirt, if you will. Earth-centered, or at the very least earth-aware spirituality has, up until fairly recently, been synonymous with Paganism. How exactly did we get to a place where someone could consider themselves a Pagan and not be “earth-based?”

I think about Isaac Bonewits, the founder of ADF, who said that he believes that all Neopagans, especially those who identify as Druids in some way, should be environmentalists first and foremost. He believed that we should be on the forefront of the environmental movement.

Not all Pagans think that now, and I’m not exactly sure why.

As I said yesterday I’m not an expert on Paganism, I just play one on the internet. I believe that there are many voices that deserve to be heard, and now’s your chance to pick up where we left off on HuffPost Live.

The floor is yours!

I’m not an expert on Paganism.

Photo by Matt Grimm, Flickr

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.

So…

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.