My Religion is Just as Fake as Yours

I’m pretty easy going when it comes to other faiths. I’m not a Christian basher, and with a few exceptions I tend to think of everyone’s religious experiences as valid. I think the Christian Church has probably done more good than bad during the last 1600 years, and I didn’t become a Pagan because I had some sort of falling out with Jesus. I’m not a rabid believer in inter-faith work, though I have done some. I don’t think I’m ever going to be buddy/buddy with most Christians, and that’s fine, I just want to be left alone and them to know that none of us are sacrificing babies.

About the only time I really get bothered is when someone tries to “explain” me, and acts as if they have some sort of secret understanding of Paganism that I’m too ignorant to comprehend. When someone from one faith community chooses to belittle another faith community they need to be careful of hypocrisy. Scholars are going to disagree with nearly all of us who are spiritual on a number of levels. You can’t use academia to discredit my faith because I can use it just as easily to discredit yours.

These two large pet-peeves of mine surfaced on Saturday when I came across the following article; My Views on Paganism and Neo-Paganism by Mark Shea over at our sister Catholic Portal. I don’t know Mr. Shea, and all I know about him is that he’s got a really impressive beard. I’m sure he’s usually a pretty agreeable guy when not saying ignorant things about Paganism. I don’t take this stuff all that personally, I just want to clear up some misconceptions and explore the fallacies in some of Mr. Shea’s arguments.

I’m not sure what engaging your article by proxy means. I was not super interested in your article. I was just interested in the (sadly brief and desultory) conversation I had with Earendel on FB, because it occasioned a couple of thoughts and my blog is about, among other things, stuff that occurs to me (recall the blog motto). As I say, I don’t spend much time fighting with neo-pagans. The movement seems to me to be what the Irenist describes: a boutique sect. It seems to me to be a particularly unrealistic species of Protestantism based on an even more fictional history than the fictional Baptist history of the Trail of Blood. It’s massively anachronistic. It is driven (like all revolts) by a perception of some real evils that need righting. In particular, it wants to restore a kind of sacramentality to the world that has been ruthlessly crushed by the materialism and scientism of the 20th century. It protests the violence in Christian history while overlooking the violence of human history. And it makes the fundamental mistake of worshipping the creature instead of the Creator (which truly *is* pagan). It has much that I empathize with. But it is hopelessly confused.

What puzzles me about neo-paganism is why it wastes all this time inventing a fake synthetic paganism based on some suburbanites’ supposings about what esoteric sects did centuries ago, when there are lots of real pagans running around in Asia and the global south they could just go join without all this laborious re-inventing of an almost entirely fictional wheel. The focus of the neo-pagans is on pretend recreations of ancient euro-paganism, based on fictionalized history , coupled with modern notions of relativism and libertinism that would have often baffled and horrifed many ancient pagans (who were by no means a monolith). So when you consult an actual pagan rooted in an actual historic pagan tradition like, say, the Dalai Lama on things like sexual mores, he sounds disappointingly more like Pope Benedict than like some sexually liberated votress of a goddess from a Joss Whedon fantasy universe dressed like a Frank Frazetta heroine.

I’ve never understood why some people refuse to capitalize “Neo-Pagan.” If you are writing about Neo-Pagans you are obviously writing about a particular group of people. No one refuse to capitalize Catholic or even Scientology, it would be nice to see the same courtesy returned to us. There are between one and two million Pagans in the United States, I think we qualify for the capitalization. Those numbers also refute the idea that we are a “boutique” faith. Modern Paganism is a growing faith, and it’s been growing organically for the past fifty years. People convert to Paganism because it calls to them, we certainly aren’t proselytizing to anyone.

What irritates me the most about Shea’s article is this idea that Paganism is “fake.” He makes two different references to this. In the first one he writes: ” . . . based on an even more fictional history than the fictional Baptist history of the Trail of Blood.” this is followed by “What puzzles me about neo-paganism is why it wastes all this time inventing a fake synthetic paganism based on some suburbanites’ supposings about what esoteric sects did centuries ago.” This is dangerous territory, not for us, but for Mr. Shea. I suppose he would use modern scholarship to discredit certain Pagan Creation Myths; things like the Burning Times* or the unbroken Witchcraft Chain starting in at least the Middle Ages. He’s certainly justified if he wants to go that route, I don’t believe in those things in their more romanticized re-tellings either.

The problem with using scholarship to discredit my faith is that it’s mostly the pot calling the kettle black. No scholar believes that Jesus rose from the dead, or that Paul wrote all of the thirteen letters attributed to him in the New Testament. We also know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John didn’t write the gospels that bear their names. In that sense, most everything about Christianity is just as “fake” as Modern Paganism, though I’d argue that we don’t hold onto those supernatural historical elements as tightly as most Christians do. I don’t believe that the Old Testament is a valid historical document, but I also don’t think it’s “fake.”

While Mr. Shea likes to think he has a firm grasp on the historial origins of Modern Paganism, he shows his lack of knowledge by stating “it (neo-paganism) wants to restore a kind of sacramentality to the world that has been ruthlessly crushed by the materialism and scientism of the 20th century.” The problem there is that much of Modern Paganism began as a reaction to changes that went on during the 19th Century. We know for instance that poets like Leigh Hunt were worshipping the god Pan in the early 1800′s. In the second half of the 19th Century groups like the Golden Dawn began to openly rebuild and refine the Western Magickal Tradition. Modern Paganism might have coalesced in the mid-20th Century, but most religions have a long gestation process. Today’s Christianity is nothing like the Christianity of Jesus or Paul, if someone is going to make the argument that Modern Paganism is simply a 20th Century invention, then I could probably make a similar argument dating Christianity to no earlier than the Second Century CE, with Catholicism emerging long after that.

Modern Paganism is not in a fight against science either. Pagans happily accept doctrines like evolution, and see generally see progress as a good thing. It’s true that we aren’t the most materialistic group in the world, but that puts our values more in line with early Christians. Those anti-materialist values are something that most Christians who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus should be celebrating, not mocking.

I’m always wary about using the “non-Abrahamic faiths” definition of the word “pagan.” Mr. Shea believes that Contemporary Pagans would be wise to explore the “pagan” traditions of the Dali Lama, never mind that the Dali Lama would never think of himself as a “pagan.” The Dali Lama is a Tibetan Buddhist, he has no more in common with me than Pope Benedict does. Ancient paganism was not a monolith, and there were certainly ascetic pagans (like Julian the Apostate Great for instance). I don’t look to the non-Abrahamic faiths of Asia to define my Paganism because those faiths have little in common with the religion of the Celts, Greeks, Etruscans, Romans, Egyptians, and Babylonians. For better or for worse, Contemporary Paganism is a faith mostly rooted in the Western Tradition. Most Pagan Ritual has been heavily influenced by groups like the Golden Dawn and the Freemasons, these are influences we wear knowingly on our sleeves.

More from Mr. Shea:

Neo-pagans also carefully ignore the fact that the last thing *those* pagans did was ask for baptism. That’s because, of course, the *real* motivation of neo-pagans is not to return to past religious traditions but to react against present ones and invent new ones. It is remarkably kindred in spirit to the evangelical Church I joined as a new Christian: a storefront church of college students with Bibles who knew a thing or two and were going to set Western civilization right. Neo-paganism aims to articulate a particularly strong form of Protestantism that rejects not just the Church, not just Jesus, not just monotheism and not just the hardboiled atheism that is a reaction to monotheism, but both the faith and the materialist reaction to it and the civilization that result from it. It wants theism and sacramentalism and a certain Middle Earth/world music/koyaanasqatsi multicultural fantasy aesthetic, as well as some of the trendier aspects of postmodern feminism dressed up in cool robes, all while ignoring the actual lot of women in the overwhelming majority of pre-Christian antiquity and the fact that it was the Christian tradition that, due to the influence of the Blessed Virgin, essentially invented the idea that the love of woman could be ennobling (a concept foreign to, for instance, the pagan Greeks, who saw women as breeder units for male citizens).

Ancient pagans asked for baptism? Really? Where is the footnote to this important piece of religious history that’s been kept hidden from me all these years? I’m a pretty voracious reader. especially on paganism during the formative years of Christianity. Oh Academy how you’ve failed me!

Of course Modern Paganism is a re-creation of ancient paganisms, exactly for many of the reasons sighted by Mr. Shea. The Ancient World had problems. There was slavery, patriarchy, war, and a whole host of other horrible things that didn’t go away when the Roman Empire became officially Christian in 381 CE (if anything, they became worse). I’m well aware of the failings of the Greeks and the Romans. Since worship of Isis and the Magna Mater was especially far-reaching during the early Christian period (and before) it’s hard to imagine that the Virgin Mary “invented the idea that love of woman could be ennobling” (though lacking in physical expression of that love). I’m going to ignore most of the Protestant/Middle Earth gobble dee gook that Mr. Shea included there in the middle. I’m willing to bet that Mr. Shea would be disappointed if he ever met a large group of Pagans since most of us don’t dress like SCA refugees.

I suspect this may be due to the fact that dilletante suburban Europeans and Americans don’t *really* want to adopt the lifestyle of a 15th century Maori cannibal, or eschew western science (a fruit of Christianity*) in favor of shaking mistel branches at statues when they have a toothache, or live the hardscrabble hand to mouth existence of a hunter/gatherer on the Veldt. That’s getting in touch with a lot more Nature than dilettante suburbanites want. So while I have a very high regard for real paganism, it’s hard to take neo-paganism seriously. It is, painfully obviously, the product not of ancients, but of suburban moderns, playing at fantasy.

I don’t understand why I would want to adopt the lifestyle of a Maori cannibal. What’s wrong with letting the fruits of Western Pagandom and the Western Magical Tradition grow and ripen in the Modern Era? I don’t see most Christians awaiting Judgement Day and selling off all of their possessions. Faiths tend to grow, even the Catholic Church doesn’t just use Latin at Mass anymore. By Shea’s reasoning any sort of progress is a negative thing. Religion should react to the challenges and circumstances of the Modern World. Modern Paganism does that, which is why it’s growing faster than Catholicism in the United States. You bet your butt that my faith is not the product of “ancients,” that’s why it speaks to me.

The real heirs to all that was best in paganism are, in fact, Catholics. If you want actual contact with cultural currents and thoughtforms that take you back to remote antiquity and connect you, not only with pre-Christian pagans, but with ancient Jews as well, then look there.

If you want to connect with currents and thought-forms that take you back to antiquity, why not worship the deities that shaped antiquity? I’m sorry, but I’m always going to feel closer to my ancient pagan ancestors while doing ritual outdoors with the gods they worshipped. You can keep your air conditioning, and your lack of understanding concerning my religion. I don’t care whether or not people agree with my faith, but it’s certainly just as real as anything else.

*It wasn’t eight million, but 80,000 souls is nothing to look at lightly

**Islam, but you can have your myths. In fairness the Catholic Church has been very supportive of scientific progress in the 20th Century.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=747916997 Alex Meyer

    Hail! Reading books trumps shooting your ignorant mouth off once again.

  • Wytchfawn

    So, by your definition where would Satanists fall? Are they not Pagan as well?

    • Nicole Youngman

      You’d have to ask them if they define themselves that way. I think a lot of Pagans don’t consider Satanists to be Pagan (and I assume you mean LaVey-type Satanists, Temple of Set, etc), and I think they have a point, but if an individual Satanist identifies as Pagan then in my mind they are.

      • Aine

         Unless a Satanist doesn’t want to ID as Pagan, I consider them Pagan. Partially because most of my Satanist and Luciferian friends consider themselves such and I’ve gotten tired of them getting snarked at by other Pagans who love telling them, ‘You’re /really/ just [backwards] Christians’.

    • http://twitter.com/Panmankey Jason Mankey

      That’s an interesting question, and probably worthy of a blog post in its own right.  I guess it would depend on how you define “Satanism.”  I’ve always thought of LaVey-Inspired Satanism as more of a life philosophy than an actual religion (Satan exists in the abstract).  Those that worship “Satan” as defined in the Christian Bible are certainly not Pagan, they are the other side of the Christian equation.  

      I’ve run across people who call themselves Satanists, not because of a belief in Lucifer, but because of relationships with what they sometimes might call “dark gods” like Hecate or Kali.  These folks mostly look and act like Modern Pagans, so they might fall under the definition of Pagan.

      I would also argue that there’s a philosophical difference between most Modern Pagans and a lot of people who use the Satanist moniker.  I’ve always believed that “we are a part of nature, and not apart from it.”  To me this means not seeking dominion or power over the Earth or other people.  This is probably where I most disagree with Satanism as defined by the Temple of Set.  

      A lot of Satanists also have a deep antagonism towards Modern Paganism, and would be horrified to be called “Pagan,” and I’m always hesitant to call anyone a a Pagan who doesn’t like the title.  

      So where does this leave us as to your question?  Maybe some Satanists are Pagans, and many more are probably not.  

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       Complex question.

      La Veyan Satanists are, technically, atheists (there is no god but you).
      Theistic Satanists are, technically heretical Christians (they believe in YHWH & Son, but prefer the competition). If they actually exist.

      I guess the easy answer, is ‘which type?’ with a somewhat simple answer of ‘if that is how they self identify.’

    • kenneth

      Far and away the best description I’ve ever heard about Satanism, and the most accurate, came from Isaac Bonewits.  “…..most people who practice Satanism are Christian fundamentalists in drag.”

    • Caroline

      I think its important to remember that “Pagan”, is just a term for non Christian, yet many religions get swept under the same umbrella. Satanism developed as a direct rebel response (I feel) to Chritianity, hence the worship of the anti-Christ. Wiccans for instance do not recognise the excistance of the Devil, as it is a concept born from Christianity, and its consequential distortion of The horned God, a benign fertility figure. I think also, that the confusion is caused by a lack of research on the part of many Christians who presume that anything non Christian by definitionis evil.

    • Juneberry

      I always understood Satanism is a branch of Christianity, just as Mariology is a branch of Catholicism.  The underlying belief is placate the bad deity because when you come down to it, he seems to have a lot more power and authority than the good one.  That’s just something I picked up reading Sibyl Leek or someone from that era.  Satanism believes in the anti-Christ…and Christ is a the Christian deity.  Pagans are not anti-Christ, some even accept him as a divine avatar whose message (like his ethnic identity) has been mangled (do we really believe that auburn haired blue eyed pale skin is what he looked like?  Or that he REALLY had that simpy expression?)  We are not anti-Christ, because we worship Others.  We are not Satanists, because they worship a deity we don’t believe in.  Our Gods are mostly Chthonic…not Chuthulu.   In short, not all ‘good’ and not all ‘bad’, but possessing of a larger and longer view than mortals can see.  
      Most Satanists reject the ascetism factor that Christianity has long valued…denial of self, pleasure, ect in hopes of a happier after life…and also the attitude of  ‘you should know your place and be happy in it’.   They focus on eat, drink and be merry in the here an now…be hedonistic if you will.  They tend to do the opposite of the Christians in a lot of things.  But basically, they mimic Christian ritual and use Christian theology and lean towards an equally patriarchial dominator deity.

  • Nicole Youngman

    Nailed it, Jason, thanks. :) You have much more patience than I do to take the time to rebut that bit of garbled nonsense so thoroughly. I think the problem here that Pagans (and other non-Christians and more progressive Christians) are always going to have to deal with is that people like Shea will never cede us the right to actually define ourselves on our own terms. Not that we need their permission, of course, but anything we say along the lines of “but you’re mistaken about that…” is just countered with “yes but I know the TRUTH about you and you don’t because you’ve been blinded by Satan.” 

  • http://stoneofdestiny.wordpress.com/ Shaun Paul

     “…or eschew western science (a fruit of Christianity*)”  Can’t stop laughing at this part.  From Galileo to Darwin to stem cell research, Christianity has been fighting western science from the beginning.  Mr. Shea has a far more romantic vision of history than any Neo-Pagan I’ve ever known.  Thank you for the fine rebuttal to his failed arguments.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1700342856 Li Li Jinsei

      And did he really claim “more-Feminist-than-thou”???  SERIOUSLY? LMAO

  • LogicGuru

    I have no problem with Pagainism, or Neo-Paganism. If Julian had lived longer and established the Neoplatonic religious cocktail he liked, if it had become our culture-religion and generated all the art, architecture, music and myth that Christianity has, I would of course have been a (Neo-)Pagan. But as it happened Christianity became our culture-religion, and that is why I’m a Christian. I’m in it for the buildings and ceremonies.

    That’s the problem with Neo-Paganism, at least at this point. No fancy architecture, no tradition of great music, no public buildings as sacred space or frequent public ceremonies. I repeat: if Neo-Paganism had that it would be fine with me.

    The problem with Neo-Paganism, from my point of view, is it’s competition. When people leave the church, for Neo-Paganism or anything else, there are that many fewer people to support the infrastruture.

    So what I don’t understand is why Neo-Pagans don’t just go to churches that provide all the art, music, and dim religious light, the spooky and woo-woo, and believe whatever they want and behave whatever they please. That is, why be a Pagan, or Neo-Pagan, when you can be an Episcopalian? Believe any damn thing you want, and enjoy the show.

    • Nick

       That’s such a load of nonsense, it was actually painful to read. Why don’t Pagans just go the church, worship Jesus, sing hymns from the bible, and keep their boring traditions to themselves? Because we’re not Christians. We’re not Christian-wannabes. We don’t worship your god. He’s not in any pantheon we acknowledge. Asatru has its gatherings and theatrics, but our faith is more than a series of shows put on for entertainment value.

      • LogicGuru

         Au contraire–I’m not asking you to keep your traditions to yourselves, nor do I think they’re boring. I’d be delighted to participate in Asatru gatherings and any other ceremonies Pagans and Neo-Pagans put on. I like all religion. I have a nice Buddha statue on my lawn and offer him fruit and flowers occasionally. I have an icon corner. I’ve been to Glastonbury and Stonehenge to enjoy the fun. I’m just a syncretic Anglo-Catholic Neo-Pagan.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           For some, it is more than just ‘fun’.

          For some of ‘us’, it is about a deep conviction of belief.

          Why venerate the bastard son of a minor Mesopotamian desert spirit when you don’t believe the bullshit that little djinn made up?

          Sure, I believe in YHWH. Just not in the whole ‘one true god’ bollocks attached to him.

          • LogicGuru

             

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            –Getting serious…look, the best we can have any reason to
            believe is that there’s some supernatural being or state of some sort. And that’s
            highly speculative. The rest of any religion is cultural packaging, myth, logic
            puzzles and speculation. We can be serious about that unknowable, ineffable supernatural
            whatever—while recognizing that the packaging is for our enjoyment.

             

            I don’t know if all or most Neo-Pagans take the specifics of
            their religions literally—if, e.g., they believe that there are literally many
            gods. Most educated Hellenistic pagans didn’t. And I don’t take the Bible
            seriously, or venerate Jesus as such: all the Christian myth and churchy
            ceremony and paraphernalia is just packaging. It just happens to be the
            packaging embedded in my culture, which produces the art, music and
            architecture that I like, and which happens to be my way to the supernatural—whatever
            that it, if there is such a thing.

             

            Christianity embodies the
            myths and the art of my culture, and it maintains the infrastructure that’s
            available to me—church buildings, ceremonies, religious art and music. And I
            suppose if I have any serious religious commitment it’s the belief that the way
            to the Transcendent, if there is such a thing, is through aesthetic experience. In another place and time, I'd be a devotee of whatever religion produced the most and best art, architecture and music and the most elaborate, flashy ceremonies.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Then you better stay away from Neoplatonism, too.  

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             I do.

    • Lyradora

      What …? Was that satire, because that is the only way your post makes any sense ….

      Modern Pagans do, after all, have everything in list of requirements: we have architecture, music, and sacred spaces to gather. Heck, we even have academic programs. Off the top of my head, I can think of: the entire National Mall (inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome), the New Alexandria Library (currently under construction), the Open Hearth Foundation in Washington DC, the Partheon in Nashville (where ceremonies have been held), Clonegal Castle (the headquarters of the Fellowship of Isis), and the Sekhmet Temple in Nevada. As for music, I have everyone from Wagner to SJ Tucker to Faun to Corvus Corum to Eartha Kitt on my Pagan playlist.

      Asking why Pagans can’t simply “play along” and pass as Episcopalian — or any other tradition — is incredibly ignorant. The theology, cosmology and so forth of Episcopalianism is not the same as that of Taoism or Druidry or Greek Orthodoxy or any other tradition. Religions are not interchangeable. I as a Pagan cannot “pass” or “play along” as a Christian any more than I, as a heterosexual woman, could “pretend” to be lesbian; that would be to deny an inherent part of my identity, of my sense of self. What you are asking is painful and, in many cases, impossible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

       For a change, I’ll set aside the snarky comments and just say what I always say when the topic turns to following the religion of your culture/ancestors/location: In the end, you have to go with the gods who call to you.   To do anything else is to dishonor both your gods and yourself.

      • LogicGuru

         I agree.

    • CrystalK

      I can’t feel spiritually uplifted or religiously bound if I disagree completely with the theology and the deities being worshipped.  If I want “spooky woo-woo” as you put it I can always go catch a horror flick.   And if you want great art and music if we’re being western specific, may I direct you to the Pagan inspired works of the Renaissance?

  • Simon Jadis

    This is so spot-on.

    It’s important for people who make arguments like these to realize that just because, at some point or another, my ancestors abandoned the Gods to adopt Christianity (likely under various circumstances, but I certainly don’t know the specifics), it remains my birthright — and every human’s birthright — to worship as Pagans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marie.strang Marie Strang

    Well said and well-written. You may be interested in this site: http://www.pocm.info/  It think it goes well with your article.

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Shea’s article (and linked “views” on paganism) sent me into what the wife calls, “full blown pagan rage.” You were much nicer at taking apart his hubris and condecention than I could possibly have been. Hail and well said, sir!

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    From the (conservative) Christian point of view, ‘pagan’ (not capitalised, you will note) really does mean ‘non-Abrahamic’.
    In fact, for some, it means ‘non-Judeo-Christian’, so includes Islam (and Yezidi) as ‘pagan’.

    Of course, since ‘we’ have embraced the term, it has become somewhat more complicated to describe (whilst everyone has a definition, they seldom match.)

    It seems to me that mister Shea has completely ignored the concept of Reconstructionist Paganism, with his little rant. There are those who not only seek to recreate the pre-Christian religions of Europe, but also to live the lifestyle.

    • CrystalK

      When Mr. Shea starts living in the catacombs then I’ll consider that he may perhaps not be a hypocrite.  Until then, it seems a moot point if there are Pagans who are living the ancient lifestyle since it’s obvious he is not living the early Christian lifestyle.  Absolutely pot and kettle.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         The ‘olde’ pagans used to feed Christians to lions…

        I don’t suppose you know any hard-core reconstructionists, do you?

  • http://about.me/paganwebmaster Peter Beckley

    Mr. Shae certainly has all the characteristic taken-for-granted Christian privilege-based ignorance of a Catholic, even down to the lack of acknowledging the reason why Neo-Paganism has to recreate and “reinvent” so many things is because of the cultural and religious rape of our ancestors not under the “influence of the Blessed Virgin”. Choosing the be baptized isn’t really a tough choice if the alternative is the death of your family and your local temple just got destroyed to make way for all-knowing, all-loving, turn-the-other-cheek guy. Since so much of Christianity is taken from religions which came before it, I definitely agree with the pot and kettle comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RevCrystal.Blanton Crystal Blanton

    Jason, incredible response and I am so glad to read it.  Good responses to this type of ignorance is exactly what we need.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

    Great read, compassion based, yet direct!

  • http://www.themonthebard.org/ Themon the Bard

    I like to take the long (evolutionary) view. Religions change over time; some thrive, some die.

    The reason (IMO) that Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, are starting to spout such ignorant and slightly desperate-sounding twaddle about neo-Paganism is that neo-Paganism is a growing religious outlook, while Catholicism has grown rigid with its own sense of divine privilege and is in the early stages of dying.

    It’s hard to say what religious outlook will take root in the coming social changes as the climate warms, oil becomes too expensive to burn, and governments and economies collapse and re-form. But if I had to make a guess, I’d say that modern Catholicism isn’t going to make the cut.

  • valerie

    Ugh, I just read his comments. He’s quite full of himself and clearly knows nothing about Pagans, he’s just tossing scraps to his followers and they’re eating it up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699001315 Brandon Arkell

    What an awfully condescending, presumptuous, inaccurate, and misleading attack on paganism from Mr Shea. I don’t think he really knows what he’s saying–I think he’s just talking. Thank you for responding to his criticism with your own insights.

  • http://randomcardrolodex.wordpress.com/ Anne Welch

    You know, if I ever got to meet you in person, I’d buy you a beer. KUDOS!

  • Horapollo Aesymnetes

    What is irritating about Neo-Pagans is that they lie to themselves and others about being authentic Paganism rooted in ancient traditions. No one (or at least, most people) don’t care if you make up some arbitrary religion. What’s idiotic is these Neo-Pagans and Wicca nuts who run around pretending to have this deep connexion to ancient religions which only exist in their head. Yes, Jews and Christians and Muslims do the same thing (see: Biblical Minimalism, Christ Myth Theory, The Myth of Muhammad) but I think it’s cowardly, inane and fraudulent when they do it, too.

    Not to mention that most “Neo-Pagans” are just liberal Christian sissies in dumb outfits, much like Western “Buddhists”. If you take some neutered, feminist version of 19th century Deism and tell me it’s Druidism or Wotanism I’m going to call you a liar and a fool.

    I also can’t take any of this ‘magic is real’ garbage seriously, it makes no logical sense and we can clearly explain it as a category mistake and neurological phenomena that makes people mistake mechanical causation for teleology; we know (for evolutionary reasons) why this happens. Now I know some of the Neo-Pagan/Wicca types will say, “well, it’s mental and ritual” just as the LaVeyan Satanists often do. Which is fine: there is some truth to the power of symbol and ritual (especially if you’re not a hardcore Aspie like me, who HAS to take everything literally), but lots of NeoPagans waffle on this and it’s clear that MANY of them take this bullshite seriously. Sorry, dude, the laws of physics are all there is. It’s one thing to speak metaphorically, but to treat metaphors as science is just a critical failure and it makes you look ridiculous. By the way, I am just as willing to laugh at Christians when they do this. Miracles and magic are the same thing, and neither of them ‘work’ except as a subjective emotional shaping technique.

    I don’t care who you worship or don’t, I’m all for starting a Church of Superman. But the moment I say, “Superman was a historical person, and his powers are real” you have permission to slap me in the fucking face.

    • Skye B Hanson

      Didn’t I just read a few days ago the author write a blog on not discussing Christianity lets keep to Paganism. Why then do I find this, which may not be Christian bashing but yet a very real defensive mode.
      I also read the link which brought me to the Covert Messiah, this seems to me a fact finding basis, not a Christian bash. All historical information found is subject to study regardless who found it, at least I should think so.
      Horapollo makes many good points on the NeoPagan movement, picking and choosing while European folklore is bastardized by whomever feels the need to have a different hairstyle that day.


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