A Quick Note on Sincerity Vs Competence

I have a house full of Wiccans playing in the dirt and working on the sacred space, so I’m going to keep this short.

A few days ago Phaedra Bonewits tweeted a quote from her late husband, and some people took offense. It was a minor kerfuffle and not worth linking to. But the quote itself I think is worthy of meditation.

“Sincerity does not equal competence.” – Isaac Bonewits

When you value sincerity over competence, community centers go bankrupt and fail.

When you value sincerity over competence, people get hurt in ritual.

When you value sincerity over competence, festivals are held on a flood plain, resulting in loss of equipment and people put in danger.

When you value sincerity over competence, you value the words of flatterers over the people putting in the work.

When you value sincerity over competence, people get turned away from rituals for discriminatory reasons.

When you value sincerity over competence, you spend months studying under bad teachers and leaders.

When you value sincerity over competence, you have the average lifespan of a Pagan organization at just under two years.

When you value sincerity over competence, you makes excuses for not reporting abuse.

When you value sincerity over competence, you hold Pagan leaders and organizations as being above critique.

 

Hephaestus was valued for his competence, not his sincerity.

There are people who will joyously, sincerely lead you over the edge of a cliff. Don’t be a lemming.

Value people who can get the job done. Don’t search their heart to see if they are Pagan enough or environmental enough or spiritual enough. Don’t play the more-Pagan-than-thou game. Trust me, if they are willing to put in the work to competently put on a festival for Pagans or lead a weekly ritual in a safe and effective manner, their sincerity is evident by their actions.

For some people, emotional expressions of spirituality aren’t their thing. They meditate while chopping wood or balancing the books. For some people, they don’t have to believe everything you do to provide a meaningful ritual experience for their community.

Sincerity is overrated and subjective. It’s time we finally honored competence.

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.


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