At 03:55 PM 5/1/97 -0300, you wrote:
>On Thu, 1 May 1997, Sharon Smith Hurlburt wrote:
> I was, in fact, judging you on the basis of what you *say*. I've
>noticed two common threads among pagans I've met online: one is a dislike
>of Christianity; the other is a tendency to search far afield, either
>temporally or culturally, for something in which to base their identity.
>The first thread leads me to see contemporary neo-paganism as being
>essentially complementary to Christianity in a society (i.e. they react
>on each other to an extent)
Well, let's see. Here in the States rather a lot of us Pagans have suffered
a certain amount of discrimination at the hands of the Christian majority,
which would make the fact the a number of us don't really like it not at all
surprising. (It's less to do with religion & more to do with a lack of
and the second would seem to indicate a
>dissatisfaction so great that the adherent feels compelled to look to the
>distant past or to foreign peoples for "roots". I'm not pretending to
>have an intimate knowledge of your ceremonies, but nothing I've been
>saying stands or falls on such knowledge. Your objection, really, is
>irrelevant; if I were to say, for example, that scientific culture is
>suffering from such-and-such a problem, say male domination or
>professional fraud or whatever, would a scientist be entitled to turn
>around and say to me, "Explain the basis of particle physics, then, smart
>guy! No? Then shut up!" Clearly not.
I'm not talking about intimate knowledge of our ceremonies, I'm talking
about basic knowledge of our philosophies, which is *very* relevant & if you
had it, you would understand our relationship to Christianity (or lack
thereof) much better. Contrary to what you seem to think, what you've been
saying most certainly *does* stand or fall on such knowledge.
>> Second, I never said anything at all about whether or not spiritual
>> phenomena can also be discussed in social terms. It most certainly can & it
>> can also be discussed in Psychological terms, cultural terms, physical
>> terms, even scientific terms in some cases. So what?
> ... So then why does it piss you off when I discuss it in those
Because you're doing it half-assed.
>> Your exact words were:
>> > Modern Druidism is actually just a
>> >reaction against Christianity (and against the alienation many people
>> >feel in their everyday lives), and is never going to be as important to
>> >our society as the real Druidism was to the Celts
>> That's a bit more than pointing out that folks in the States are more likely
>> to be Christian.
> It is a *bit* more, but it's the same idea. Religions don't arise
>from nothing, but absorb the characteristics of their society; and the
>religious believer doesn't choose a religion randomly either, but selects
>one (if he's not born into it) that reflects his own circumstances.
You're O.K. up until this point.
>It's my opinion that neo-paganism in the U.S. is inexplicable without
>Christianity (just as much of fundamentalist Christianity is
>inexplicable without the fear of secular humanists and New Age religions).
>Obviously, this is going to carry over into the adherents.
If you understood what our philosophies are & what our recent history &
current situation is like, you'd understand why that sounds so ridiculous to us.
>> (And most of us don't care if Modern Paganism isn't as
>> important to society- it's important to us as individuals, which is far more
>> important, something you completely overlooked.)
> I didn't overlook it. It was irrelevant to what I was saying,
>that's all. When I'm discussing a religion I'm not obliged to flatter
>the members of that religion by telling them how wonderful it is for
>them -- that would be beside the point.
I'm not asking you to flatter us. You seemed to be dismissing the entirety
of Modern Pagan Spirituality simply because it would not be as important to
our society as the original Druids were to Celtic society, where it was the
only option. I merely pointed out that we ourselves find that concept to be
completely irrelevant to our beliefs, which is *not* beside the point.
> I've heard *you* criticizing
>fundamentalist Christianity in the past without adding all sorts of
>disclaimers like, "But of course that kind of faith is beautiful to
>those who have it, etc." You don't need to. You observe the social
>effects, and to a lesser extent the social causes, of fundamentalism;
>then you express your opinion, and that's that.
Actually, I *have* used such disclaimers, most recently after someone
declared me a Fundamentalist Pagan because I *hadn't* used them previously.
So much for not needing to use them...
>> And of course my religion is affected by my background & upbringing. It's
>> also affected by my level of education, intelligence & personality. If that
>> had been all you said, there wouldn't have been a problem. Things like what
>> I quoted above are what I had the problem with, as they tend to come across
>> as trivializing the strength & the importance of my beliefs.
> Of course any dispassionate look at something from the outside is
>going to "come across" that way to someone who is on the inside, but
>this is not a reason to keep yourself or myself from trying to describe
It certainly doesn't have to. In fact, it shouldn't. And in order to really
describe something objectively (and/or academically), you first have to have
an understanding of what it is you're talking about. You can't discuss
*any* religion on an academic level without at least *some* understanding of
the principles behind it.
I'm sure you wouldn't endorse shutting down
>Religious Studies departments, for example, just because a Christian or
>Muslim or Pagan doesn't want their faith to be looked at academically.
Of course I wouldn't, but no one's even suggested that.
>But the "strength and importance" of *anyone's* beliefs will always look
>pretty pale when put beside the myriad of competing faiths and ideologies
>on this planet.
No, they won't. If you find that your beliefs pale in comparison to others,
then maybe you need to rethink what you believe. Personally, I've found
that learning about other belief systems & comparing mine to them to examine
the similarities & differences has only served to strengthen their
importance to me.
who thinks the only religion that could truly be classified as a reaction to
Christianity would be Satanism (and who will also inform you that she will
not be reading her mail for the next couple of days as she's merchanting the
Highland Games in Edindoro this weekend & is behind schedule, as usual)