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21st century Paganism

Found this story via the DMN Religion Blog, about a Presbyterian theology professor who’s been suspended because his liberal interpretation of the Bible may violate a mandatory oath not to teach anything not in agreement with the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith. My response on the DMN blog is shown below:

Does anyone expect doctors to practice according to the standards of 1646? Is our view of law the same as it was in 1646 (think: slavery, witch trials)? How about engineering – do you want buildings and bridges designed to 1646 standards?

Then why in the world would anyone expect a theologian to unquestioningly support the religious standards of 1646?

New facts and knowledge must be incorporated into our religious beliefs and practices or our religions will become irrelevant.

The same thing could be said for Paganism. While we honor our ancestors, and we are inspired by their beliefs and practices, in the end we aren’t ancient Greeks, pre-Roman Celts or pre-Christian Norse. We live in the 21st century – our Paganism needs to be a 21st century Paganism. That is, our beliefs and practices have to be tailored to our lives as we live them here and now.

A 21st century Paganism may keep the Earth-centered sky-watching and four-fold elements of our ancestors, but it must be informed by Galileo, Hubble, Einstein, and Hawking. We may keep our creation myths, but we must incorporate the Big Bang and evolution. And perhaps most importantly, while we continue to honor the ancestors and gods of our tribes (whether those are tribes of blood or of spirit), we must understand that humanity is all one tribe, and ultimately, we will succeed or fail together.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.


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