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Author Topic: Holier Than Thou Paganism  (Read 2806 times)

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FairyQueen

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Holier Than Thou Paganism
« on: June 17, 2013, 02:46:20 PM »

Pretty good article from Patheos blog Raise the Horns

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2013/06/holier-than-thou-paganism/
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Man Yellow

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 02:58:46 PM »

Looks like typical "dog in the manger" stuff.  All religions develop heirarchies, or at least have people who WANT to develop heirarchies (with the top of the heirarchy being occupied by the most deserving, ie, them).  The moment you start listening to people who insist on this, you are lost.

If someone says that you can't be a Pagan because YOUR model of Paganism is different than THEIR model of Paganism, just walk away.  Allow them to enjoy their solitude...Or worse, their sycophants.  They'll soon learn that the leader of any cult (using the original meaning of the word) of any kind is its own special rung of hell.

In addition, they'll find, one fine day, that they've withdrawn under a blanket, where they can all smell each other's farts, as no new ideas can be permitted in a situation like that.

But not you and I.  No, we do not need people to tell us what REAL Paganism/whatever is.  We can cheerfully carry on Doin' It Wrong, and the world will continue to turn, and odds are pretty high that we'll have more fun doing it.

And, in the end, the only purpose for existence is fun.
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Crystal Dragon

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 04:35:37 PM »

Thanks for pointing this out FQ.  I think there are a lot of people who need to read this.  I've run into way too many people who either think that their opinion (and when speaking of religion (and a lot of other subjects) it is opinion, not fact that most people toss out) is the only one that matters or they play victim because someone disagrees with them.  Both sorts are difficult to deal with as neither will listen to any rational discourse.  Sadly, many who could learn from essays like this won't recognize that they should take it to heart and reevaluate the manner in which they deal with others.
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 05:16:15 PM »

As pointed out in the comments of the article, Jason (whom I usually dig quite a bit) has waded out into the maelstrom "wondering what that noise is." He even admits to not paying that much attention to all that led up to Krasskova's rant. The problem is that while there is some truth to Jason's argument about some playing the "holier than thou" card, Krasskova is actually lashing out at the end of a string of personal attacks on her posts and various other blogs. Some people just wander the internet with too much time, looking for a fight (I'm not speaking of Jason or Krasskova, but those who instigated the original brouhaha), and the rest of us get to deal with the fallout.
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Moonshine Thistlewish

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 05:23:09 PM »

Good article. I like the two-fold debate, the holier than thou aspect where people try to tell other people whether or not they're 'real' pagans, and the discussion regarding the evolution of the word "Pagan". It's important to be aware of our ever-changing religion and culture. I'm always excited by vibrant discussions of these changes. It can only lead to evolution, by which I mean it can only make us better.
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 05:43:38 PM »


That article reminded me of the old "Witch Wars" on the early forums, and the pomposity rampant at the time. I remember trying to enter a chat room in one such forum, oh, it must have been about 1996... I was told I had to answer a question to see if I was worthy of entry into their presence. "What," I was asked, "is the elemental weapon of Air?" "The Sword," I said, "But she who taught me that bade me ask a question in return." "You may ask." "What is the elemental stuffing of a shirt?"

I didn't get into that chat, but made a couple friends from people who saw the exchange.

peace,
ES
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2013, 05:57:17 PM »

 :rotflmao:

I think I've "heard" you mention that before ES, but it's still funny.

Did I tell you that I pissed of Laurie Cabot when we visited Salem?  Went through her shop laughing, snorting, and making comments about the ridiculous prices she was charging for stuff in her shop.  Comments like "Love nuts?  That's just two acorns for $5 ... I can pick some up in the yard for free!"  She was not amused.  :crazylaugh:

I know, not relevant to the thread.  Not sure what made me think of it but figured I'd share.
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 07:05:04 PM »


 I was told I had to answer a question to see if I was worthy of entry into their presence.


For real?
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2013, 07:26:57 PM »


For real. Never underestimate the human need to be a big shot, and feel like an insider.

peace,
ES
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2013, 07:33:48 PM »

Great article FQ!  Thanks for sharing!   :D
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Man Yellow

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2013, 07:34:36 PM »


For real. Never underestimate the human need to be a big shot, and feel like an insider.

peace,
ES


It just seems so...petty.  I mean, it was a chatroom on the internet, not the grand masonic hall or something.
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Tirya

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 08:42:16 PM »


For real. Never underestimate the human need to be a big shot, and feel like an insider.

peace,
ES


It just seems so...petty.  I mean, it was a chatroom on the internet, not the grand masonic hall or something.

Unfortunately being pagan is not proof against being petty - we are only human, after all, just like anyone else. And anywhere you get more than three people in a group for any period of time, you're likely to get "You're doing it wrong" arguments starting up.

To me, the goal is to be secure enough in my own beliefs that I don't need the validation or approval or permission of anyone else, so it doesn't matter if they think I'm "doing it wrong" or not, or that I'm "not pagan enough" for their definition. I'm doing it right for me, and my beliefs bring me comfort and solace and help me understand the world around me. That's all that matters.
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Man Yellow

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2013, 08:49:21 PM »


For real. Never underestimate the human need to be a big shot, and feel like an insider.

peace,
ES


It just seems so...petty.  I mean, it was a chatroom on the internet, not the grand masonic hall or something.

Unfortunately being pagan is not proof against being petty - we are only human, after all, just like anyone else. And anywhere you get more than three people in a group for any period of time, you're likely to get "You're doing it wrong" arguments starting up.

To me, the goal is to be secure enough in my own beliefs that I don't need the validation or approval or permission of anyone else, so it doesn't matter if they think I'm "doing it wrong" or not, or that I'm "not pagan enough" for their definition. I'm doing it right for me, and my beliefs bring me comfort and solace and help me understand the world around me. That's all that matters.

That would be "doing it right", Tirya.

As for myself, I've made a life out of Doin' It Wrong.  You shove your head in, just to see what's in there.  One day you might pull back a stump, but you had fun in the meantime.

And fun is the secret of life.
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Tirya

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2013, 08:58:53 PM »

Unfortunately being pagan is not proof against being petty - we are only human, after all, just like anyone else. And anywhere you get more than three people in a group for any period of time, you're likely to get "You're doing it wrong" arguments starting up.

To me, the goal is to be secure enough in my own beliefs that I don't need the validation or approval or permission of anyone else, so it doesn't matter if they think I'm "doing it wrong" or not, or that I'm "not pagan enough" for their definition. I'm doing it right for me, and my beliefs bring me comfort and solace and help me understand the world around me. That's all that matters.

That would be "doing it right", Tirya.

As for myself, I've made a life out of Doin' It Wrong.  You shove your head in, just to see what's in there.  One day you might pull back a stump, but you had fun in the meantime.

And fun is the secret of life.

Coyote is my Totem. Believe me, I know a lot about having fun (or as I have learned, "Not taking life too seriously"). Pretty much the "I wonder what this button does?" approach to life. :)

But to me, there's a difference between the curiosity aspect of "What's that button do?" and the antagonistic aspect of "Who can I piss off by pushing this button?" Unfortunately I see a lot of the latter in forums and on Facebook, because it seems people take the anonymity of the internet as an excuse to abandon common courtesy because they don't have to actually face the other person. It's a trap I find myself falling into on occasion, because - let's be honest - sometimes there are people who you just want to rattle their cage to watch the monkey dance. And there's a momentary sense of satisfaction and amusement at doing so, but personally I've found that if I do it too often, I end up not liking myself afterwards.

I'm not quite sure why this devolved into this sort of commentary. Hmmm. But it's one of those "it popped into my head as 'needed to be said' " and another thing I've learned is to try and trust that when it happens. I dunno, maybe it will make sense to someone else.

Anyway... where were we?
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StarlingFire

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2013, 10:18:29 PM »

I've been told several times that I'm "not a real Pagan".  :groovin:

I like Man Yellow's point about it being like being in a blanket fort sniffing each others farts. Anybody coming in from the outside is going to be like "WHEW, this stinks!" but the people already in there can't smell anything anymore. They're desensitized to their own stuff. They're the functional equivalent of the President's cabinet deciding on the Bay of Pigs invasion; so mired in groupthink that they were unable to recognize a blatantly terrible idea.

I have encountered that in feminism recently as well, and in fact wrote a short essay about it for my social psych class.
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Man Yellow

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2013, 10:22:41 PM »

I've been told several times that I'm "not a real Pagan".  :groovin:

I like Man Yellow's point about it being like being in a blanket fort sniffing each others farts. Anybody coming in from the outside is going to be like "WHEW, this stinks!" but the people already in there can't smell anything anymore. They're desensitized to their own stuff. They're the functional equivalent of the President's cabinet deciding on the Bay of Pigs invasion; so mired in groupthink that they were unable to recognize a blatantly terrible idea.

I have encountered that in feminism recently as well, and in fact wrote a short essay about it for my social psych class.

As Tirya says, eventually any group is going to start playing primate games.
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StarlingFire

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2013, 11:07:45 PM »

I've been told several times that I'm "not a real Pagan".  :groovin:

I like Man Yellow's point about it being like being in a blanket fort sniffing each others farts. Anybody coming in from the outside is going to be like "WHEW, this stinks!" but the people already in there can't smell anything anymore. They're desensitized to their own stuff. They're the functional equivalent of the President's cabinet deciding on the Bay of Pigs invasion; so mired in groupthink that they were unable to recognize a blatantly terrible idea.

I have encountered that in feminism recently as well, and in fact wrote a short essay about it for my social psych class.

As Tirya says, eventually any group is going to start playing primate games.

Yep. Totally true!
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FairyQueen

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2013, 09:15:18 AM »

I wanted to share a FB friend's response to the article:

"Some disagreement here. I think there are "better" and "worse" ethical paths. In some 20 years as a pagan for instance I've come across people outing pagans who don't want to be outed, manipulative spells, people who use "teaching" roles as power trips over other people, the worst being a creepy "teacher" who offered to teach sex magic to young girls.

And I think pagans should be mindful of cultural appropriation. It sucks that much of pagan European practice was destroyed, but that doesn't mean you get to borrow at whim from other cultures without really caring if you get it right or not, or what it means to the people of that culture. I was arguing this recently with someone online who said in such borrowings, "accuracy didn't matter."

The problem I had with this was that statement was that 5 minutes earlier were talking up how paganism is following the "old ways."
If you want to invent a new religion, fine, that hurts me none at all. I don't know if it should get the title "paganism" but that's at least debatable. Neo-paganism is certainly an evolved form of paganism. But you can't have it both ways. You can't claim to follow the "old religion" and show no interest in historical paganism."


What do you think of this?
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Man Yellow

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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2013, 09:20:44 AM »

And I think pagans should be mindful of cultural appropriation. It sucks that much of pagan European practice was destroyed, but that doesn't mean you get to borrow at whim from other cultures without really caring if you get it right or not, or what it means to the people of that culture. I was arguing this recently with someone online who said in such borrowings, "accuracy didn't matter."

1.  Accuracy is in many cases impossible.  I am not sure the Gods care.

2.  Cultural appropriation applying to religion?  That's an interesting view.  By that standard, an American cannot convert to Hinduism unless he can afford a trip to India, so he can break through the crust of the Ganges river and then cleanse himself.
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2013, 10:05:04 AM »

2.  Cultural appropriation applying to religion?  That's an interesting view.  By that standard, an American cannot convert to Hinduism unless he can afford a trip to India, so he can break through the crust of the Ganges river and then cleanse himself.

That's an interesting assumption. By that basis, is there an "American" religion that I'm not aware of?

I think you've taken the argument in the wrong direction. A Christian could not convert to Hinduism and still demand to follow the 1st Commandment, and still call it Hinduism. What's happening is an amalgamation of modern philosophy and ancient beliefs, creating something that is both, yet neither, but many insist it remain within the lexiconical paradigm of the ancient beliefs. Fire and water together make steam, but you cannot package steam and still call it fire.
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2013, 10:42:26 AM »

I am really of mixed feelings, and not sure that any one answer really works.

I do think that some religions are more open-source than others.

For instance, Native American ancestor-based religions... for some white guy to start trying to contact my NA ancestors is just... confusing. Whereas Taoism is pretty much open-source. On the other hand, many religions are very much place-based, and perhaps the white guy is simply trying to live well with the ancestors who lived on the land, and trying to attune himself with the land. Then, it makes sense in parts of America, but wouldn't make any sense at all in Australia or Europe.

One of the interesting shifts I've seen over time is that the Native American objection to having our rituals, relics, and bodies repackaged and sold as a profitable curiosity or good-luck charm has become retranslated from "misappropriation = please don't sell important parts of our culture for a profit" to "misappropriation = please don't adapt any part of our culture into yours".

Maybe that's because dominant culture can't refrain from monetizing everything it touches, so it literally cannot distinguish between "using" and "selling".
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2013, 11:06:11 AM »

What StarlingFire said. It's not the same across the board.

Buddhists, from what I've seen, also seem happy that "the Wheel of the Dharma is turning in the West". Natives, OTOH, are more and more sick to death of cultural appropriation and for-profit Native American "spirituality", which is actually FAKE. I'm reminded of those old Robert Bly "men's weekends" - fat lawyers with sock tans hopping around in the sacred Paha Sapa, banging drums and making a mockery "playing Indian".




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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2013, 11:40:48 AM »

That's an interesting assumption. By that basis, is there an "American" religion that I'm not aware of?

Other than "exceptionalism", no.

But are you suggesting that there are no cultural differences between Americans - of Indian descent or not - and citizens of India, where Hinduism is most common (and is in fact tied to the land)?
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2013, 12:25:04 PM »

Regarding this discussion, and discussions in general, don't assume that a particular association of concepts represents the whole. It's like a Venn diagram. American religion may or may not represent some concept. If it happens to agree or diverge, that does not mean that the whole 'complex' is implicated. This is logically fallacious. It might be true that a 'system' as a whole might be 'affected' by a certain association of one aspect of the system, but the assumption is that it is some tight system, like a machine for example, that breaks down if one part of the machine breaks. When it comes to comparing American religion and Hinduism, though, one cannot conclude absolute distinction and divergence based on the fact that some aspects seem to be the case.
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Re: Holier Than Thou Paganism
« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2013, 12:38:52 PM »

"Some disagreement here. I think there are "better" and "worse" ethical paths. In some 20 years as a pagan for instance I've come across people outing pagans who don't want to be outed, manipulative spells, people who use "teaching" roles as power trips over other people, the worst being a creepy "teacher" who offered to teach sex magic to young girls.

No disagreement with this in spirit, but it is disingenuous to equate manipulative acts with an "ethical path".  A pedophile claiming to be a teacher is not on any path other than one to manipulate youngsters ... he doesn't give a damn about any practices.  They are just a means to an end.

And people with childish or nasty streaks willing to wrong others for their own entertainment are found everywhere, not just on pagan paths.


And I think pagans should be mindful of cultural appropriation. It sucks that much of pagan European practice was destroyed, but that doesn't mean you get to borrow at whim from other cultures without really caring if you get it right or not, or what it means to the people of that culture. I was arguing this recently with someone online who said in such borrowings, "accuracy didn't matter."

Why should one care if accuracy matters or not?  Hell, so much information has been lost (ex. the Druids didn't write down a lot ... much of the information passed on was oral) it would be a stretch in many cases to say accuracy exists.

Regardless, if one is in serious practice, they will soon be checked.  IME the gods are quite adamant about how they want things done and if one has a connection to them (and pays attention) they will be honored in the way they want or the practitioner won't end up being a 'happy camper". ;)


"The problem I had with this was that statement was that 5 minutes earlier were talking up how paganism is following the "old ways."
If you want to invent a new religion, fine, that hurts me none at all. I don't know if it should get the title "paganism" but that's at least debatable. Neo-paganism is certainly an evolved form of paganism. But you can't have it both ways. You can't claim to follow the "old religion" and show no interest in historical paganism."


Again, why does it matter what another does?  How am I harmed if someone wants to latch onto a buzz word and make a particular claim?.  Whether I agree or not, I am not on their path and they are not on mine.  To each his own as long as they aren't affecting me.

Then again, this sort of garbage is why I don't get into discussion regarding practice with many Pagans.  I don't even get into these sorts of discussions with many who do energy work for the same reason ... just because someone was taught to use a particular method doesn't mean I have to follow it to the letter. 

Hell, I don't even follow what I was taught to the letter because I know what works for me and don't really care, once the training is over, how anyone else does things.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2013, 12:40:33 PM by Crystal Dragon »
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