At 12:53 AM 12/22/98 -0500, Sharon Smith Hurlburt wrote:
>At 11:49 PM 12/21/98 -0400, Neil McEwan wrote:
>> I think all of us at some time or other permit ourselves to be dismissive
>>of the honestly-held beliefs of others -- if they are bound up with white
>>supremacy, for example, or belief in a UFO suicide cult, or whatever else is
>>ridiculous and far-fetched. Honesty and sincerity are no guarantee that
>>what you are doing is in any way sensible or beneficial.
>And if we were advocating the genocide of anyone who didn't fit our idea of
>just what a Celt should be or killing ourselves to save us from cognitive
>dissonance when we read actual academic histories of the Celts after reading
>the fluffy-potato crap published by certain publishers & passed off as
>Celtic, then you'd be right in being dismissive. But we're not.
The principle is the same: we don't judge the strength of beliefs by
how beneficial or harmful their effects may be, but on the basis of how well
they correspond with reality. If I honestly thought that white supremacism
had a solid basis in fact, for instance, I would have no choice but to assent
to that belief whatever its effects would be. Similarly if a man is convinced
he is being protected by a ten-foot invisible hedgehog I would not say that
his belief is justifiable on a pragmatic basis just because it makes him feel
happy and safe -- I would assume that his grasp on reality was slipping just
>Quite a number of us are very dedicated to the idea of studying the actual
>history & learning about the real practices of the pre-Christian Celts &
>then trying to reconstruct them into a workable system of belief, all the
>while admitting that it was something reconstructed, as opposed claiming it
>as the "The One True Celtic Path To Spiritual Enlightenment" (TM).
I've never objected to Celtic Reconstructionism as such; I have my
doubts about how well it works in practice as an organic belief-system, but
represent a genuine attempt to recapture what has been lost, and that
strikes me as respectable enough as an academic endeavour. I'd have to
point out tho' that it remains very, very far outside the traditions of
the living Celtic communities. I think that Celtic Reconstructionism bears
the same relationship to the living Celtic cultures as the study of Old
English bears to actually speaking modern English. If a Gaelic- or Irish-
or Welsh-speaker follows the Reconstructionist path, then good luck to
them, but it's not much more "Celtic" than being a Gaelic- or Irish- or
Welsh-speaking Bahai or Jehovah's Witness in my opinion.
>But one thing I am finding very interesting is that when the subject of
>Celtic Spirituality came up, you immediately started jumping all over the
>Pagans- while claiming that *we* were the ones trying to define what
>actually classified as Celtic Spirituality.
You may be a little confused here. I believe that the vast majority,
if not entirety, of bogus Celtic spirituality is Pagan, but not that the
vast majority or entirety of Paganism ("Celtic" or otherwise) is bogus.
There's an important distinction to be made there. There are still people
living in remote areas of the "Celtic fringe" who are only superficially
Christianized, and who retain a generally pagan sensibility in their
beliefs; they are also real Celts.
>What happened to Celtic Christianity? Not just the Church in Ireland as it
>was before Rome ordered it to follow the Roman standards it had blissfully
>ignored for so long but the Churches today? Would not a Church in a
Celtic >Country follow a Celtic Spirituality? Particularly if they spoke
Gaelic or >Welsh?
Well no, because Christians who speak a Celtic language don't claim to
belong to a faith based exclusively on their ethnicity and culture. There
are institutions peculiar to the form of Christianity among Celtic peoples
-- old-style psalm-singing, for instance, or the use of the Celtic cross
-- but this is fully grafted onto the organic tradition of the people and
so there's no particular reason to regard it as fraudulent.