I Reject Jesus Christ

Recently a blogger not worth naming make the statement that Paganism is merely Protestantism playing dress up. Seems patently absurd. Of course Progressive Protestant Christians are indeed taking on the trappings of Paganism: the Wheel of the Year, the Divine Feminine and positive affirmation style magic. However, that’s like saying I have a beard because a bearded guy mugged me. It just doesn’t work that way.

I have developed a stock phrase that some people find charming to answer the “Jesus Question”:

I accepted Jesus into my heart years ago and he hasn’t complained about his roommates yet.

Cute, huh? It’s an answer that puts people at ease and diffuses uncomfortable situations. Of course, all this really means is that I have never formally evicted Yeshua ben Joseph from my life. I have never been formally unbaptized. I know some Pagans have done just that. Oaths are a serious business among us and there is a lot of discussion about the age of consent for making such dread oaths. Those of us who have received a baptism into the Christian faith after the age of 13 can sometimes find that yoke uncomfortable, and so formally extricate themselves from that obligation.

I have sat down with family members to explain my faith and just when I think I’ve made it clear to them comes the “Jesus Question.” But you still believe in Jesus right? And I sigh in exasperation and say No, I don’t. That whole concept that you can do whatever you like as long as you believe in Jesus is irritating. For Christians you have either accepted Jesus or you are struggling against him. There is no third path in their eyes.

I reject Jesus Christ and his teachings. I reject Yahweh/Jehovah/El and his laws. I reject the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost and any other magical instruments of the Christian faith. I reject the angels and the archangels and the cherubim and seraphim. I reject Satan and the concept of demons that tempt me to sin. I reject heaven and hell. I reject the notion of Original Sin. I reject the concept of the creation. I reject the concept of sin entirely. I reject that the Bible is anything more than an anthology of Middle Eastern wisdom texts and mythology. I reject the Christian notion of forgiveness. I reject the idea that the Jewish Messiah has come. I reject Christian eschatology. I reject my baptisms heartily.

I should print the above paragraph on a card to hand to someone for them to glance at as I explain my faith to them. Yes, really, I’m not remotely Christian. I can’t speak for every Pagan, but that is the reason I’m not a Protestant Christian. I reject Jesus.

My faith is not merely a softened stance on scripture. I’m not looking for an easier form of Christianity. I’m not looking for Christianity at all. This isn’t ultra-liberal Methodism I’m practicing. This is something else. I know you have been conditioned to believe there is nothing else, but there is. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

I do not even believe in the big mystic One. A single unifying deity or force that ties all faith and all people together. I believe in multitude. I believe in legion. I believe in a mighty host of the universe working with and against each other. I believe in the holy power of the Many.

Christianity won because it was the Borg. It was organized and ruthless. It bulldozed everything in it’s path. Pagan religions were not organized in such a fashion, and saw the danger only when it was too late. For Pagans, human life is sacred. Doesn’t mean it is too sacred to end. Doesn’t means wars didn’t happen as they have always happened and as they are still happening. Doesn’t mean violence does not occur, particularly to the poor. That is still commonplace today. But you will notice there are few Pagan martyrs. We do not embrace early death as willingly as the Christian faith. We do not seek out death, that is for certain. We do not have a tradition of suicide by centurion.

Only two religious cults were ever banned in ancient Rome. The Bacchanalia and Christianity. Both were banned for public safety. Both incited violence in the streets. But while the Bacchanalia created the kind of violence that only the high-spirited stumbling drunk perpetuate, the violence of the Christians was sober and premeditated. They sought martyrdom. They set themselves against their civic duties (unlike the Jews who had similar concerns over the civic requirements and found a peaceable solution), incited strife, and pestered priests, temples and the army. They attacked temples and priests. They even stole temple furnishings and stones with which to build their churches. And then they wrote the history with self-admitted bias.

One of the most famous pagan martyrs is Hypatia. She did not attack Christianity, did not provoke or incite strife. She taught Christians as well as pagans. She made no great stand for the Gods or for reason. She was simply killed in the market by monks for daring to be a pagan woman who taught men.

Most of the heathen men, women and children Olaf I tortured and slaughtered were no great martyrs. They did not pester priests, or destroy Christian churches, or seek a martyrs death. They did not seek him out, Olaf I came to them. When they refused to give in to his tyrant demands and turn against the faith of their fathers and mothers, he killed them in gruesome ways. Braziers of hot coals on the belly or a snake down the gullet.

Our martyrs were not men and women who made great stands for their faith to put on a public spectacle and gain a seat among the elect in heaven. There is no reward for martyrdom in Paganism, only an afterlife that’s a bit gloomy. No, they were simply murdered in cold blood for refusing to bow to a tyrant in priest’s robes.

It is true that Pagans today are not the same as pagans of old. We have a lot to learn, particularly about our own history. We have to learn how to be separate yet united. We have to learn from the other indigenous religions of the world. We have to learn to survive in a world infested by the Borg. We have to learn that resistance is not futile and assimilation means death. We have to learn to live. We cannot be the same as the pagans who saw their fate sealed with the death of Julian the Faithful, or those who hid and lived for centuries in fear.

We cannot be the same as the ancients. It is not a desirable thing for us to once more be sitting prey for a predatory wolf we underestimate and ignore until it is too late. We must learn from the ancients, we must evolve, we must adapt and we must thrive. We must build alliances and networks. We must be willing to stand together when threatened. We must protect our rights.

I reject Jesus Christ. I reject Jesus Christ. I reject Jesus Christ.

There. I’ve said it three times. We’re officially divorced

(For a good look at what really happened between Christianity and pagan religions in antiquity check out God Against The Gods.)

About Star Foster

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

  • http://twitter.com/APippinger Angela Pippinger

    I am thinking I might be up for doing the same thing.

  • valerie

    Thank you, I think that sums it up nicely.

    • raindove

      I understand that many folks in the “C” community are looking for a way to still worship Jesus and do away with all of the judgement,. intolerance, instillation of fear that “C” brings, BUT .. why do they have to “latch on” to our path? Why can’t they simply create their own religion and/or own path? Ok, so they are “attracted” to our ways and our tenets and our beliefs .. so they want to “steal” what we have AGAIN .. and incorporate it into their belief of Jesus … and for what? To ensure their place in heaven? I can understand that in our country, anyone is free to believe they wish. But Christianity has its own doctrine. And in the U.S. Wicca means much more than simply “to bend or to shape”, it is a *religion*, one that has a specific set of beliefs. In fact, we have approximately 11 beliefs we follow. Shall I name them? 1. belief in a God *and* Goddess. 2. belief in *many* Gods and Goddesses. 3. belief and practice in magic. 4. belief in reincarnation. 5. no belief in a devil. 6. no belief in hell. 7. a belief in the threefold law. 8. a high reverence for Nature 9. adherence to the 161 laws. 10. adherence to the Wiccan Rede 11. adherence to the 13 principles. If a person doesn’t employ these 11 beliefs/tenets, they are not Wiccan. One cannot just say “I believe in a Goddess so I’m Wiccan” .. there is much much more to Wicca than that. And the doctrine of Christianity is completely opposite of Wicca. When you tell someone who is “C” this, they come back with “I don’t follow the C religion, but I believe in Jesus’s teachings” .. ok fine, dandy, good, grand !!! Well, every religion known to man has the very same teachings. Teachings of love, compassion, understanding, kindness, charity, so forth and so on. So does this mean that we can bring Buddhism into Wicca now and have a “Buddhist Wiccan Tradition” ??? I don’t think so. Not any more than we can have a “Christian Wiccan” tradition. If you are going to *mix* beliefs .. call it what it is. ECLECTICISM. Period. End of story. Don’t label yourself a Wiccan. Don’t label yourself a Christian. Once you have torn those doctrine’s apart .. from BOTH religions, they are no long either religion. It is an utter disrespect and disregard to both Christianity and to Wicca for someone to “take what they like” and discard those things they don’t like .. and still CALL IT that religion. Religions are designed to create a change in a person. That is why there are challenges and challenging components within a doctrine. So that a *change* , usually a “spiritual change” and/or “spiritual growth” will occur. If you take those things out,. the religion no longer serves it purpose. Eclecticism is the lazy man’s religion. The bottom line is they want their cake and eat it too. Yes,. you can believe what you want and as you wish.You can believe in a door knob if you want to. But what one should ask themselves is this ; Is that door knob going to help create a change in my life? Is it going to help me to spiritually grow? If you have taken all of the easy things and applied them in your life .. probably not. Irregardless, believe as you wish. Just don’t call it Wicca. And don’t call it Christianity. It is NEITHER. It is ECLECTICISM and that is ALL IT IS. IMMHO,. “C” and Wicca CANNOT be “combined” .. they are totally opposite doctrines. Jesus unfortunately has gotten a bad rap .. due to the “C’s” and their religion. If there are folks out there who wish to “undo” that, then great .. but do it on your own. Create a path, a religion .. and name it. Until you do, what you are doing is nothing but mere eclecticism .. it is NOT WICCA .. and IT IS NOT CHRISTIANITY. I will never , not ever .. teach my students that it is “ok” to mix these two religions. I feel it is riding the fence. It is a ‘safeguard’ for those who want to ensure their place at the pearly gates .. and they’re doing us harm in our own communities because the very thing we do as teachers and Priestesses .. is try to UNDO the harm , the chains that bind … etc. and here they are .. bringing those chains that bind .. RIGHT BACK IN IT. Some of us truly feel its just another ploy to take over. Its just another way for them to get their tentacles into what we have .. and “christianize” it .. another way to “win the battle” .. since they are losing at it so poorly … and IMO, we , as Pagans, as Witches, as Wiccan Witches .. should stand our ground this time. Silence killed us once before. Staying silent about this will do the same. It is going to “kill” everything that so many of our frontiersmen and frontierswomen have fought for all of these years. Let’s not lose it. BB.RainDove/Priestess of The Dragon and The Rose Coven of Georgia

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         Whilst I find it quite easy to agree with your sentiment, I have to wonder just how far you take the ‘eclectic’ label.

        Consider ‘Wicca’. A magical system invented by Gerald Gardner, in the mid 20th century and adapted into a religious tradition shortly after (by Doreen Valiente). Any changes from the original format would make it ‘not Wicca’, by your logic, correct?

        I wouldn’t call eclecticism the ‘lazy man’s religion’ either. That is more a case of someone forging their own path by taking the beliefs and philosophies they agree with, rather than trying to follow something they do not honestly agree with.

        • raindove

           Anything that is a *mixture of beliefs* .. is eclectic. If a religion holds  a doctrine, and that doctrine is taken apart, it is no longer that religion. But “mixing” any beliefs , portions taken from this religion or that religion .. and not adhering to the entire doctrine .. is eclecticism. And would you say taking bits and pieces of Jesus .. and bits and pieces of Christianity .. and mixing it with Witchcraft .. and bits and pieces of Wicca .. mixing it all up in one bowl .. is NOT forging one’s own path??? That’s *exactly* what it is. And normally, that is *exactly* what they do. They take what they “like” .. or what is “easy” .. and discard the rest of it. For instance, Jesus also said “I am the way, the truth and the light and it is only through me that you can get to the Father.” What?? Are they going to leave that “statement” behind? Probably. Because see , that’s a CHRISTIAN philosophy. Someone said to me , “well that’s what the CHRISTIAN’S said Jesus said” .. well, isn’t that the entirety of what Jesus said through the bible? Isn’t it the Christian’s… that are saying “Jesus said” .. throughout the book? Well yes. So , if he said one thing, he said all things .. or he didn’t say any of it. Which is it?
          Now, speaking of Wicca ….
          Yes, it was designed, developed and created .. by Gerald Gardner. I don’t believe anywhere in his writings .. did he declare that anyone could come into Wicca .. and change everything around .. to “fit to their liking”. In fact,. he told Doreen Valiente’ .. “Doreen, I can see only one thing wrong with this religion and it will be its downfall” .. and Doreeen asked “What’s that G” .. and he responded with “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” .. and that is *exactly* what is happening to Wicca today.
          In the United States, we have fought long and hard .. for Wicca to be recognized as a religion. In order to be considered a “legitimate” religion in the U.S. .. it must have a doctrine. In essence, we have a doctrine. I have named the 11 beliefs in the above post. In short, no …. many of us in the U.S. do not recognize anyone as “Wiccan” unless they are following the creation of Gardner’s religion.
          Some will disagree … saying that no matter what, Wicca means “Witch” .. and that’s all it means .. but contrary … to popular belief .. Wicca is much much more than that, particularly to those of us who see it as our religion. It is much more than the practice of Witchcraft. It is not only our religion, it is our faith .. and there are several beliefs that most of us follow and adhere to .. that’s across the board .. in MOST ALL Wiccan Traditions. Eclectic’s may not see it this way, people who are solitary may not see it this way .. but here again, most solitaries are eclectic. Those solitaries who are not eclectic and claim to be Wiccan .. don’t find a teacher/mentor or guide to help them learn what Wicca is when they first begin  … they just wing it .. or “fake it til they make it” .. some of them even claiming that just because they believe in a Goddess .. that’s all they need do … and well, this is just not the case. Wicca again, is a *religion*. A religion that alot of us do take seriously.
          To be quite honest, I don’t believe this country .. or any other country for that matter .. is ever going to take us.. or our community… serious .. if we continue to allow any “tom dick or harry” to come into the community and into the path of Wicca … and do whatever they like , believe whatever they like , act however the like , and call it Wicca. People will perceive this religion as nothing but a Harry Potter kind of religion with a “Potter”pourri of nonsense. That’s exactly how it will be perceived. I believe it is time for those of us who are Wiccan , who take our path seriously , who take our religion seriously ..to stand up and speak up and stop allowing this ridiculous morphing of insanity to continue.
          Wicca has been watered down, distorted contorted .. and eventually will be ABORTED .. if we don’t stop it.
          Training is the number one key … and if people would get some, we might not have so many troubles in our path .. we might not have so much arguing about what it is and what it isn’t.
          Wicca has never been broken .. and it doesn’t need fixing. This religion is a religion that was designed to create a change in the person who follows it. It was not designed for people to change it.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

             Incorrect. Syncretism is not eclecticism. Eclecticism is a specific individualistic practice.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             I thought Syncretism was pretty synonymous with Eclecticism, in religion.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

             No, syncretism is the blending of two, in rare cases three, mature traditions in order to create a new tradition. A syncretic tradition is multigenerational and incorporates a community. Vodou’s blending of Yoruban religion with Catholicism is a good example of syncretism.

            Eclecticism is anything goes. Borrowing is from multiple sources to create a practice which is specific to an individual person, or possibly group, that is not coherent enough to be passed on as a distinct tradition in it’s own right.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Would you not say that, when creating Wicca, Gardner was eclectic, since he took parts from various sources and blended it into one ‘whole’?

            Not stating that this is bad, in any way (I find a lot of people take this stance as negative), merely that I see Wicca as a form of Eclectic Paganism (as opposed to a reconstructionist or ‘visionary’ form.)

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Gardner’s Wicca was a thoughtful blending of mature components that fit well together. It wasn’t what pleased Gardner or worked for him personally. It was an aesthetically and spiritually coherent whole, and Gardner intended his Wicca to be a multi-generational, world religion.

            The solitary who uses a dreamcatcher to invoke Gandalf into a Wiccan circle for the purpose of becoming attuned to the “Cosmic Christ” is eclectic, and though this practice may work for her, it is unlikely to work for anyone else or be coherent enough to pass on.

          • raindove

             I agree with differences in syncretism and eclecticism. But it still boils down to … whether it is syncretism or eclecticism either one …. it is NOT Wicca .. and it is NOT Christianity. That has been my point all along.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

             You’re wrong. Blending Christianity and Wicca together thoughtfully is classic syncretism. Using Wicca, New Age, Native Spirituality, Strega and Celtic Paganism is eclecticism.

          • raindove

             BTW Star, I just wanted you to know .. this piece you wrote was brilliant!!  I 100% agree .. and am “right there with you” .. along with MANY others, I am sure (and which is pretty obvious from the responses.lol). BB.RainDove

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’d pretty much agree with that stance.

          • kenneth

            There’s a few things I agree with in all this, and a few I see serious problems with.

            First, I agree that Christo-paganism/Wicca is deeply problematic. Wicca or really any distinct pagan religion is not just a feel good goddess oriented “it’s all good, dude” philosophy. It has a radically different worldview and assumptions about the deep questions of divinity and humanity than does Christianity. When someone tells me they want to mix the two, it tells me they haven’t done the sort of real discernment that reveals what a person believes and why. They’re usually just looking for something like unitarianism but maybe think our robes are cooler or our women hotter (they are, but I digress). 

            On the other hand, the BTW/Gardnerian hard line model which says “we get the final say on who is Wiccan and who is not” is, ironically, the very essence of the authoritarian Christianity seekers are fleeing from when they knock on paganism’s doors.

             The strict Gardnerian concepts of apostolic succession, tight control over who has “valid” ordination, liturgical purity and the investiture of bishop-like authority to High Priestess figures is an exact genetic match with Catholicism in spirit. Many of its ritual elements are full to the brim with Christian imagery, or at least Judeo-Christian imagery.  When people dedicate or read some books and find themselves essentially performing the Sign of the Cross and invoking archangels and the God of Israel, we can’t get too mad at them for concluding that maybe Wicca is the perfect synthesis of their birth religion and mystic spirituality. 

            Wicca is something much more definitive than “anything witchy” but much more expansive than “what my trad has conveyed in unchanging oathbound form to our hand-picked initiates.” 

          • raindove

             I would like to address Star first ; I agree with you, Star … on the eclecticism and syncretism. But with folks who come into  Wicca who are coming in from Christianity .. the problems I’ve seen *IS* “anything goes” … they’re philosophy has been “all we need to do is harm none, nothing else matters” .. I’ve even seen them SAY this. So with this Christianity and *Wicca* , it is eclecticism .. and whether it is eclecticism or syncretism .. it isn’t Wicca and it isn’t Christianity .. and that has been my point.

            The next person I would like to address is Kenneth; Kenneth stated “on the other hand, the BTW/Gardnerian hard line model which says “we get the final say on who is Wicca and who is not”, is, ironically , the very essence of the authoritarian Christianity seekers are fleeing from when they knock on Paganism’s doors. The strict Gardnerian concepts of apostolic succession , tight control over who has “valid” ordination, liturgical purity and the investiture of bishop-like authority to High Priestess figures is an exact genetic match with Catholicism in spirit”.

            Kenneth, let me remind you .. it was Gardner who *created* Wicca. And let me make this clear .. no one is going around saying that “Gardnerian’s or BTW has the final say in who’s Wiccan and who isn’t” .. but my dear, there *are* specific beliefs that are within the FRAMEWORK of Wicca. They are the VERY INGREDIENTS which make up what WICCA IS. If you take any of those OUT, you no longer have Wicca. It is that simple. Now granted, Gardner did not put ALL of those within the framework, but the majority of them .. he did. All the way down to the degree system. So first, let’s give credit where credit is due. Gardner did not write this religion for every tom dick and harry to come tear it apart and turn it into whatever they wish. That was not the purpose of writing it down or saving it. And I beg to differ with you about Christian’s who run from “consistency, structure and curriculum”… three of my students are from the apostolic church. They are from very strict Christian background. They *wanted* structure, they *wanted* curriculum .. they *wanted* consistency. That is what is offered in a religion like Wicca .. if it is practiced as it was INTENDED to be practiced. The next thing I am going to say to you about the High Priestess “figure” … my dear, we have way too many “FIGURES” now .. running around out there who are claiming to *be* High Priestesses .. who have NO BUSINESS claiming it, in the first place .. and who have had NO training whatsoever .. and hence; have no business guiding anyone in this path. We must have some sort of “guidelines” for the High Priest/esshood .. due to this problem ..and this is where TRAINING comes in. Any ordination or initiations ..*SHOULD BE* valid. Our main issues and problems of confusion, mass incorrect information, misunderstandings, all stem from people coming into this path .. and NOT having any training , not having any GUIDANCE!!! Are you kidding me? While solitary Wicca can be done and is done, TRAINING IS IMPORTANT. And it doesn’t matter if one is going to work solitary or NOT. If they are *new* .. they should get some sort of guidance in their first year. They should understand how Traditions work and what the differences are between solitary practitioners and people who are with Covens and Traditions.They should learn that it TAKES a HPS to MAKE a HPS. And yes, that is EXACTLY the way it should be.
             Most Traditions have training, most Tradtiions have guidance, curiculums and consistency … and I think that more and more folks are searching for this in Wicca .. probably alot more than you realize … due to the problems of confusion and INCONSISTENCY.
            And contrary to popular belief, there is a ‘right and wrong’ way to do things in Wicca. These things should be done by someone who has been trained and they should NOT be done by somene who has had NO training. Even Janet Farrar feels that training is important. And I am sick and tired of folks making it sound as if Traditions are not important. TRADITIONS ARE important. We NEED Traditions. And while that is another topic all together .. I will stop right there. I just wanted to respond as you make it sound like someone is trying to be some big kahuna here .. and sorry,. but that is JUST NOT the case. And its pretty obvious that you hold no value on Traditions, no value on training .. and no value on the work that HP’s and HPS’s do. This is YET .. another problem in our community. Those attitudes we can truly do without.

      • raindove

         Let me add, I am only speaking for WICCA here, I am not speaking for any other Occult path. Other Occult paths might see it a bit different. RD

  • Nicole Youngman

    That’s a great book–read it last year–should be required reading for everyone everywhere. I often wonder what the world would be like if the Celts had been able to get their act together and keep the damn Romans in Italy.

  • Nick

    Excellent. That’s really the problem, particularly with Christians in the United States. For many, Christianity is the only religion they’ve ever dealt with. Mormonism might be exotic to them, but it’s still part of the one faith they recognize.

    That blogger whose name you didn’t mention thought it preposterous that we sit here pretending to live in a pre-Christian world, and if we really wanted to be pagans, we should take up Buddhism like the *real* pagans of today. It was a fantastic demonstration of how badly they fail to *get* it, by lumping all non-Abrahamic religions into one clump that can be dismissed with a pejorative term. The gods I acknowledge have been around under some name or other at least as long as Christianity has been a Thing, and I view it as my right to reclaim the beliefs my ancestors had to give up to survive in a Christian Europe. Not to mention the westernization of my Native side in Texas, who by geography missed out on the genocide farther south but suffered all the same under two different conquerors.

  • friend

    fantastic post. i really like the concept of the card to hand people while you explain to them your beliefs. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/thorncoyle T Thorn Coyle

    I love this line: 

    “I believe in the holy power of the Many.” 

    It is a powerful statement, and as a non-dualist polytheist, it speaks to me. 

    reading your anti-creed though, I can’t help wonder how you will do the LBRP without the angels! ;-)

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       I hate the LBRP. Always have. I’ve been researching alternatives. Currently I’m using the Nu-Sphere ritual for daily practice.

      • Hdp1960

         The Nu-Sphere is good, but don’t forget the Star Ruby.

    • http://profiles.google.com/thorncoyle T Thorn Coyle

      You’ve heard all this before, Star, but I also feel compelled to say that while Christianity as a whole does not work for me, the radical Christians I spend a lot of social justice time with are as stellar as they come. I disagree with them on theology all the time, but am also pleasantly surprised when their own take on Christian theology is antithetical to what I thought Christians had to believe. 

      I like to keep learning from all of my religious brothers and sisters who bother to try to live with compassion, openness and a sense of social justice. Those people who bully or who only proclaim what I call “puerile theology”? I don’t spend time with them, and I am willing to go up against them when necessary. That said, I have encountered plenty of non-Christians with puerile theology, too. I’ve learned a lot myself, evolved, and grown, and will hopefully continue to do so. 

      Respecting the people with whom I want to build the world goes a long way. Fighting those who want to set the world on fire, or actively oppress others? I’ll do that, too, but most of my energy will go toward preservation and building up of the good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pagandad Patrick McCleary

    Well said!

  • PhaedraHPS

    “They tell me Jesus loves me, but I fear he loves in vain…”

    I highly recommend The Christians as the Romans Saw Them by Robert Louis Wilkes. It was out of print for a long time, but it’s available again. I learned a lot more about Paganism than Christianity from that book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=735045031 Anastasia Evans

    Rarely have I read anything that is able to compete with the awesome that is this post.  

  • Hdp1960

    “Again She speaks: “Love is the law, love under will.” Keep pure your highest
    ideal; strive ever toward it without allowing aught to stoÿ you or turn you
    aside, even as a star sweeps upon its incalculable and infinite course of glory,
    and all is Love. The Law of your being becomes Light, Life, Love and Liberty.
    All is peace, all is harmony and beauty, all is joy.

    For hear, how gracious is the Goddess; “I give unimaginable joys on earth:
    certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy;
    nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.”

    Is this not better than the death-in-life of the slaves of the Slave- Gods,
    as they go oppressed by consciousness of “sin,” wearily seeking or simulating
    wearisome and tedious “virtues”?

    With such, we who have accepted the Law of Thelema have nothing to do. We have
    heard the Voice of the Star-Goddess: “I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple,
    veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the
    innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour
    within you: come unto me!” And thus She ends:

    “Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels!
    Drink to me, for I love you! I love you! I am the blue- lidded daughter of Sunset;
    I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky. To me! To me!” And with
    these words “The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.’ ”

    Aleister Crowley, “Liber 837: The Law of Liberty.”
     

  • DonnaB

    I hate the “Jesus Question”, but living in the Evangelical-heavy south means it is an inevitability.  It’s very frustrating.  Explaining that being polytheist means that I don’t have to disbelieve in Jesus in order to not worship him, or Yahweh, or practice Christianity in any form is usually an exorcise in futility.  Acknowledging that your gods exist does not mean I have any desire to follow them, and doesn’t make me saved or lost. I don’t practice your religion or worship your gods, but I’m happy that you have something you find so meaningful.  You can quote as many bible verses as you can muster, but since I don’t believe the bible is the end-all-be-all Word of God, I will still respectfully disagree with you that you’re Right and I’m Wrong when you’re done. 

    A close second on the “annoying conversations about religion” scale, is “I don’t have a religion, I have a relationship with God”.  I think this is meant to be a kind of trump card argument in some Evangelical circles. I guess they’re going on the assumption that “non-believers” think religion is bad, and they have to find a way to show us that Jesus loves us while still being cool.  Pointing out that 1) I, too, am in relationship with my Gods, that’s the point of my religion; and 2) that if they go to worship in a specific way, in a specific place, and organize a church around a specific set of beliefs and practices, they most certainly do have a religion by definition.  I have found that this particular conversation tends to go in circles, with the other person unwilling to admit that they practice a religion or accept that I’m also in relationship with my Gods.  I have considered printing out and laminating the definition of  the word “religion” to carry around in my bag, but I’ve found that it’s easier on me to just say “Oh, how nice” when someone pulls this out of their “going visiting” bag-o-tricks.

  • http://www.myownashram.com/ Niki

    Wow. Powerful stuff. I hope I never feel compelled to write something like this, but….. you never know.

  • Brian Rush

    Actually, you cannot say the paragraph in bold in its entirety with knowledgeable honesty because many of the statements rejected in it are also rejected Jesus’ teachings. If you understand his clever verbal tricks correctly, that includes the concept of sin (I realize he used the word a lot, but in making it something of which everyone was equally guilty, and thus for which no one was in any position to impose judgment or punishment, he deprived the concept of all reality). In rejecting these things, you are therefore implicitly accepting/agreeing with Jesus’ teachings. I would also have a problem with the second sentence, as the Holy Spirit (in practice) is identical to any magical or spiritual sources called upon in any other path, including Paganism; insisting on the diversity of the gods without recognizing the underlying unity — a reality apparent with only a little mystical perception — is simply being stubborn and curmudgeonly.

    I understand the frustration, but it is simply absurd to define ourselves by what we are not. And I also have a problem with using the word “mugged” to describe the adoption of Pagan ideas by progressive Christians; one cannot own a universal truth, and so its adoption by someone else is not theft. In simplest terms, I haven’t noticed that I’ve lost anything here. If I haven’t lost anything, then I haven’t been mugged.

    In general, I have a problem with the whole idea here, except perhaps as a way to vent.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       This is the old chestnut that what I’ve encountered isn’t “real” Christianity.

      Obviously I’m ignorant. Thank you for enlightening me.

      • Folcwald

         This seems to be one of the favorite rhetorical tricks of Jesus apologists in paganism. The “real” Jesus, who bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the Jesus people have actually worshiped for the last couple of millennia, is really a good guy. If there really is a “real” Jesus who is so fundamentally different from what has been done in his name by millions and millions of people for 2000 years, then his teaching was clearly perfectly useless and pretty much worth ignoring. I find it telling that this “real” Jesus seems in most instances to be a reflection of the beliefs of the person making the claim.

        Even if it is true that the real Jesus was completely different from what he has been made out to be, it is pretty well irrelevant to anyone. There were lots of people in Palestine 2000 years ago who had ideas that never caught on. No one has to reject them because they are irrelevant. The Jesus who matters is the one who shaped our culture, whether that Jesus was real or is just a mythic construct. This Jesus is worth rejecting, given the numerous cultural pathologies that arise from the teachings associated with him, while the other Jesus, if he existed, is nothing but a bit of trivia.

    • DonnaB

      I accidentally click “like” while aiming for “reply”, so subtract one “like” to your statement.

      1)  The Christianity that is practiced by the majority of Christians I know do not recognize a Jesus that nullified the concept of sin, they exclusively recognize a Jesus that literally came down to Earth to wash away sin from the hearts of people who worship Him, so they wont go to hell like everyone else.  The concept of a Jesus that didn’t even believe sin is a valid reality would be as foreign as the idea that other Gods are worthy of worship and accessible to form relationships with. 

      2)  Agreeing with some things that Jesus reportedly said does not mean a person cannot reject the Jesus of Christianity.  This is the “either/or” assumption that makes these conversations make banging one’s head against a brick wall look like  fun by comparison.  Agreeing with something Jesus is supposed to have said doesn’t make him my personal savior by default.  Period.

      3)  The Holy Spirit is the name of one part of the Christian Triple Godhead, and is usually understood as one aspect of the Christian God.  It may be the way Christians understand the divinity of the Universe, but that doesn’t mean that if I also have a way of understanding the divinity of the Universe that we are talking about the same thing.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I believe that the Universe *is* divine, and the concept of the Holy Spirit I was taught growing up in an Evangelical church does not even begin to encompass that.  This is just another example of the “either/or” fallacy.  I can encounter the Divine without going through the clearinghouse of the Christian Holy Spirit, even if I accept that the Christian Holy Spirit is one way that some people encounter the Divine. 

      4)  Again, not speaking for anyone else, but while I do not define who I am or what I believe by who I am *not* and what I *don’t* believe, I have found myself in more than one conversation with someone who does not have any frame of reference other than their own brand of Christianity and other Christianities closely related to it.  You have to start somewhere, and sometimes the other person in the conversation refuses to budge from their starting point until you bluntly tell them that you are not talking about the same thing they’re talking about, not even in code.

  • http://threeshoutsonahilltop.blogspot.com/ gorm_sionnach

    I think this is a well thought out, and probably mildly theraputic post. If nothing else, it certainly shows where you stand in regard to Christendom and the theology therin.

    My quibble, and even then given the context your turn of phrase makes complete sense, is that it still empowers your former world view; the discussion remains one of the binary Christian posistion of 1 or 0. This aspect of interfith discussion, is something Gus DiZerega touched on while he was still blogging for Beliefnet. Even in the case of a Christian talking to a non-Christian, they maintain the metphoric high ground; the discussion, such as it is, remains firmly on their terms, couched in their language and with their precepts.

    When I saw the link, my first thought was of this tendency. Now I realize that the vast majority of your readership is going to be other Pagans, and so this is generally written more for that type of audience than say Christians. With that in mind, even among a wide swath of Pagans, there is this essentially default position in which we must exist as an inverse/in opposition/ in reaction or rejection of Christianity. When one thinks of how ludicrous the actual concept is, but how prevelant the worldview is, its almost maddening at how such a disfunctional argument is held up to be irrefutable.

    Look at it this way, a guy comes up to me and says, “Either you play on my football team, or you play on the other guy’s football team. The choice is yours.” My response would be, “Okay, but I’m not playing football, I’m playing water polo…” So water polo isn’t a real sport, or water polo doesn’t exist, or water polo is just a rejection of football, or is watered down football. The argument makes no sense, so why is it understood in this context, but not when discussing religion?

    It has gotten better, a lot better than even ten years ago, but still think to the types of conversations Pagans will have with, well predominently Christians, and it remains tacitly (if not overtly) adversarial. “We don’t worship Satan”, “We don’t sacrifice babies”, “We don’t sacrifice people”, “We’re not evil”. Everything we are seems to be the opposite of everything people expect, and this is a terrible way of legitimizing or explaining what we actually believe and do.

    I consider myself fortunate, in that I was not raised in a religious household, and so have never had to reject Christianity or the Christian world view in favour of another. I never “accepted Jesus into my heart”, never prayed to YHWH, never swore oaths to strange gods I had to go back on. So when I am confronted with this binary proposition, that one either accepts or rejects Christ, I am quick to point out a third option: Christ was never even a choice.

  • sunfell

    32 years ago last Easter, I broomed Christianity to the curb- walked away, and never came back. Nor will I. I’ve lost friends over my refusal to ever put a toe into a church again- even though they keep telling me that their church is ‘different’. No, it isn’t. It just has softer gloves around the iron fist.

    My soul and its fate are my own. I will not pawn it off for a saved seat in an iffy alternate universe. I will live my life NOW, not to build up ‘treasure’ in some hypothetical heaven.

    I have a large selection of pithy, witty, and sometimes explosive comebacks for the Jesus-peddlars who come to tug my sleeve. I’ve opened the door to canvassers wearing my Heathen shirt (a gift from some Heathen friends) and drinking coffee out of my “Erik Bloodaxe Rules OK” mug purchased from York, England. They don’t stick around long. I’ve deflected nosy parkers asking in that hostile way about my very small Ankh pendant with a witty comeback that tends to leave them speechless. I’ve had people tell me they’d ‘pray’ for me, and I always counter, “May the blessings you send my way fall upon you tenfold.” I deflect invitations to churches with. “No, thanks- I’m allergic.”

    Today, I am a happily agnostic, free-range Magus, because I have pitched ALL religion to the curb. I practice a catch-and-release method of securing short-duration personal saviors. I live in the NOW, and the Multiverse teaches me as I need to be taught. It also uses me in the form of the Teacher Who Appears- and Disappears. That last bit is vital- I do not permit hangers-on. Down that road is the guru-trap, which is as bad as organized faiths are.

    • Vision_From_Afar

       “May the blessings you send my way fall upon you tenfold.”
      Totally stealing that for the next time Mother-in-Law reads us the Jesus Riot Act. Thank you! :hat tip:

  • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

    Hey, Jesus can show up to my cocktail parties if he wants, but he’s not my savior or anything.

  • sunfell

    This essay definitely helped me stay well away from the churches: http://www.gorevidalpages.com/1992/04/gore-vidal-monotheism-and-its-discontents.html

  • http://twitter.com/Fae_EM Fae EdwardsMiller

    Star – I really respect you, and I also am a Pagan who is not in any way a Christian – but I really think you are not giving this massive and ancient religion a fair shake here.  Yes, Christianity has done many bad things and is currently being used as a bludgeoning instrument by many people – but it’s also done great and glorious things that have benefited many, many people. 

    It’s been used to exclude – but it’s also been so successful because it was inclusive at times when other faiths were not.   As just one example Mithraism was in a very similar time and place as Christianity – but it failed and Christianity thrived largely because the latter accepted women. 

    It is now being anti-science – but for thousands of years it’s monasteries  and abbeys were the haven of intellectuals – people who kept science, art and history alive.  Take a look at the life and work of Hildegard Von Bingham as a case study of the church as an avenue for a talent that didn’t have any other outlet in the day.  The restrictions on women (and priestly marriage) are actually a reasonably late evolution in church history.

    Christianity also deserves a great deal of the credit for a world view that emphasizes charity and concern for one’s fellow man.  Don’t forget that abolitionism, the campaign to end child labor, the American civil rights movement, and numerous other social welfare causes started out as Christian causes – started by people who took Biblical calls to care for one’s neighbor seriously.   The bigots who are using it to condemn people are spitting on the good work of thousands of profoundly compassionate, and essentially Christian, people.

    Christian stories and emotions have been the inspiration for some of the most beautiful art and music in the world.   Schubert’s Ave Maria is sacred art – and the Pieta is one of the most poinent physical descriptions of the emotion of ‘sorrow’ that has ever been created.  I love Pagan art and music – but we’ve got a ways to go before we produce the like of the Magnificat.

    We also need to acknowlege the very Christian roots of some of what we think of as ‘Pagan’ practice – especially anything drawn from ceremonial magic.  I’m often struck by how similar things like Catholic excommunication formuli are to our rituals.

    I think that many, many things that we think of as Christian are actually a lot more common to the general human condition – or maybe just what happens when a religion gets big enough.  As proof for that theory I’d refer you to Buddhist history – pretty much  anything good or bad that has happened in Christian history (crusades, social welfare efforts, inclusive, exclusive, oppressing other faiths, being oppressed, etc.) has some sort of an analogy in Buddhist history.

    I’m not saying you should ‘have a relationship with Jesus’.  I don’t.  But I’d encourage you to not selectively pull the bad stuff out of Christian history and modern practice to condemn a religion of that size and diversity.  It’s unworthy.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       Right, I’m such a bully. Because the grain dole wasn’t an example of pagan social welfare. Because without Christianity art and science would have died. Because without Christianity the concepts of virtue and charity would have disappeared.

      Christianity didn’t keep anything good alive. People did. And they would have done so without Christianity.

      Thank goodness for Southern plantation culture or banjos might be lost to history.

      F$%# the Magnificat. Give me Lysistrata.

      • http://twitter.com/Fae_EM Fae EdwardsMiller

        I certainly don’t think you’re a bully.  I think you’ve been bullied and you’re reacting to that, and I understand and share your frustration at the behavior of many Christians.  I’m from the South too – I graduated public high school in a ceremony that took place in a church with a neon cross on the back wall.   I get the frustration and the constant pressure.

        But what I really object to is the kind of black or white characterization of Christianity that I see here, and in other Pagan discussions of the subject.  It rankles the historian in me – because almost nothing in history is ever that clean cut. 

        I really don’t think it has to be a one or the other thing.  Can’t Lysistrata and the Magnificat both be beautiful and spiritual?

        • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

          They are beautiful pieces of music.  I love Gregorian chant, but that is not enough for me to just up and forgive Christianity or forget its ongoing atrocities because there’s a few good people in it.  

          Christianity has encouraged the death of people who are not its adherents since its foundation.  It has wiped countless indigenous cultures not only from the Earth, but history.  Nothing in history may be clean cut, but the triumphalist narrative, the colonialism, the destruction of anyone or anything Other continues.

          My parents are Christian, and good people who, after several years of interface with them, are comfortable talking openly about our differences between our religions.  Just as I can be a good person and not have to be a Pagan, so too with my folks and Christianity. 

        • William Hood

          She didn’t make any claims about Christian history as a whole, really. She pointed out some specific historical points about Christianity that Christians tend to tell revisionist stories about. But the main point was Star simply explaining why she rejects Christian beliefs and practices. It has nothing to do with what Christians themselves have done, it has to do with a disagreement with the fundamental teachings of Christianity as explicated in the so-called “New Testament.” I could meet a Christian who has given up everything they have to devote 100% of their time to helping people and I still wouldn’t be convinced that Christian beliefs are of any use to me. I STILL wouldn’t be interested in Jesus. Heck, it wouldn’t change my mind if ALL Christians did so for the next 1500+ years.

          I’ve never understood the Pagan inability to grasp the concept that people just fundamentally disagree with Christianity and have no interest in it. Or the idea that we are NOT “many paths up the same mountain” but that we are climbing completely different mountains, AND THAT’S OK! I don’t need to be climbing the same metaphorical mountain to wish someone else well on their journey.

          “Can’t Lysistrata and the Magnificat both be beautiful and spiritual?”

          And this illustrates my point. Star isn’t saying that the Magnificat can’t be beautiful and spiritual, she’s saying that it isn’t beautiful and spiritual TO HER. Hence her sentence being “Give ME Lysistrata” rather than “Give EVERYONE Lysistrata.”

          NOTE: I don’t mean to speak for you Star, I know you’re perfectly capable. I just couldn’t help but weigh in on what MY reading of your post was since so many seemed to misunderstand it as, “Christianity is terrible and I am rejecting FOR other people.”

          • http://twitter.com/Fae_EM Fae EdwardsMiller

            William, I think I agree with some of you substance, but I still find this thread rather alarming.  And in stating so I fully admit that I’m bringing some concerns to the table that go beyond the point Star was trying to make.

            Star – with regards to your personal journey – I fully understand your need to expunge the Christian elements from your philosophy and practice – I just really wish you had done so without slipping into language that sounds so much like the kind of Christian bashing that’s too common in our community.”Christianity won because it was the Borg.”
            This is not helpful.  It strips out all the nuance of WHY Christianity could become so popular during it’s founding and remained so throughout history and replaces it with images of brainless drones.  And as members of a minority religion living within a majority-Christian culture we need to understand the Why.  Why is it that people keep coming back to that religion?  Why does it still have meaning for people today?  If we don’t understand that then we’re going to find ourselves in conflict time and time again with Christians – because we’ll continue to speak past each other.   

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

             They were the Borg. They were organized and ruthless. That is why they “won.” Paganism then was disorganized, not networked, and very tolerant other other cults. When a temple to Isis was attacked, the devotees of Mithras didn’t see that it had anything to do with them. They are the Borg in the sense that they are the overculture that everything is expected to assimilate to.

            That Christianity can be a positive force in the world when it chooses is irrelevant. An elephant can be a positive force in the world, and it can also step on you.

            If you will notice my previous post is expressing compassion for an Evangelical blogger. You need to stop looking at soundbites.

          • http://twitter.com/Fae_EM Fae EdwardsMiller

            I saw your previous post – which is why the your tone in this one startled me.  I do really appreciate and enjoy your writing and am grateful for what you do for the community – your voice matters a tremendous deal, which is why when I found myself so alarmed by your tone I felt the need to say something.  Again – let me state that I have no quarrel with the main thrust of your essay – which was regarding your spiritual relationship with all things Christian.  

            What I am disappointed  by is what sounds to me like your selective reading of history – and how that feeds into a more general trend in our community that is both hostile to and dismissive of Christianity.  I think that attitude is unhelpful at best and actively harmful at times. 
            That said, I do think that nothing you’ve said about what Christianity has done is untrue – I just take issue with your interpretation that these  problems are caused by Christianity.  Almost of the dominent religions of the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam come to mind) behaved in the same way once they got a critical mass of believers   What you’re talking about isn’t a problem with the Christian religion – it’s a problem with human behavior in big enough groups.  

            I also think it’s not terribly useful to talk about wrongs that were committed by a group of people over 1,500 years ago.  The names of the religions may be the same, but circumstances have changed so much in those time that any parallels to modern situations seem to me to be more about general human behavior with regards to power.  

          • William Hood


            general trend in our community that is both hostile to and dismissive of Christianity.”

            She isn’t hostile or dismissive of Christianity, in my reading of it, she seems more hostile and dismissive of Christian POWER. I think the context of this post needs to be considered. This isn’t just Star coming out of the blue saying this stuff. She’s saying it specifically in response to a continuous attitude from Christian Patheos bloggers that actively denigrate Paganism and refuse to recognize Pagans’ autonomy and identities. Her historical points are responding specifically to historical revisionism being used by those same bloggers, so she’s not the one selectively bringing up history. She’s saying these things within a culture where it is. NOT. possible to ignore Christianity and just go about our own business.

            We live in a society where failing to stand up for ourselves and assert our own distinctiveness and identities as various religions will result in various parts of Paganism being subsumed within Oprah pop-religion, interfaith platitudes, or Christian cultural assumptions. That might be A-ok for some, and that’s great for them. But others have a right to opt-out and say “No, I’m not interested in assimilating in any way, shape, or form.” That isn’t being hostile or dismissive, it’s asserting our right to decide for ourselves what we involve ourselves in and what we choose to identify with.

            I agree that blind Christian-bashing does us no good and isn’t worth doing. But it seems that the Pagans who are so quick to defend Christianity are always lumping legitimate criticisms of Christian power and our relationship to it in with “Christian-bashing,” which equally does us no good. While there are Pagans who need to get over some bitterness with Christianity and stop Christian-bashing, there are also Pagans who need to quit giving knee-jerk defenses of Christianity and ignoring the very real problem of Christian power and privilege and how they affect us.

            “Almost of the dominent religions of the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam come to mind) behaved in the same way once they got a critical mass of believers”

            *Citation needed.

            Seriously though, last time I checked the native folk religions in Buddhism and Hinduism’s neck of the woods were alive and well, so it’s patently false that they acted the same way the early Christian church did toward “pagan” religions. Do large groups of Buddhists and Hindus do bad things? Yes. But doing bad things isn’t what we’re talking about, we’re specifically talking about religions that actively sought to extirpate all other viewpoints (including within their own community) for ideological reasons. Those religions are few in number, and I’ll only give you 2 guesses which ones they are.

            “I also think it’s not terribly useful to talk about wrongs that were committed by a group of people over 1,500 years ago.”

            I generally tend to agree with you, particularly when it comes to specific, individual events. But we’re talking about the power differential between Christians and Pagans in the West, which is DIRECTLY and CLEARLY related to the actions of Christians 1500+ years ago. There isn’t any nuance or wiggle room to the fact that if Christians hadn’t torn down pagan temples and built churches over them, modern Pagans would still have those holy sites. There isn’t any nuance or wiggle room in the fact that modern Christian wealth and incredible privilege would not have come about without aggressive action against ancient paganisms. The day modern Pagans stop having to deal with the repercussions of those 1500+ year old actions will be the day modern Pagans won’t need to bring them up anymore.

          • kenneth

              Star’s read of history where Christianity is concerned is, if anything, a generous one. Many of the wrongs committed in the name of Christianity are not anomalies or personal excesses of followers. They arise directly from the doctrine and culture of the religion.

                 Official historic forms of Christianity offer no possibility of tolerance of other religions or of a person’s personal autonomy in this matter. It absolutely bars respect for other choices in this matter. In their eyes, a non-Christian has either not been properly evangelized, is “invincibly ignorant” (too confused to “get it”, or if they are obstinate in their refusal to see the light, evil. There is no room at all for the notion of “you go your way and I’ll go mine” in their worldview. 

               That instinct has not changed nor been tempered in any substantial way since the first Christian emperors tore down the first pagan temples. Individual Christians may be tolerant, but it’s doctrine and authorities who control untold billions of dollars are not. 

                They don’t have the unchecked control of state power to crush us as in the past, but they make the utmost of their influence to try to deny us equal treatment before the law, access of our clergy to public institutions. We had to fight for a decade to secure basic honors for our military dead. Christianity’s toxic influence in society is not by far ancient and bygone history. The dominant elements in Christianity are, as we speak, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to marginalize homosexuals and to erase all of their basic civil rights. Its message of unrelenting hate toward gays is rooted directly in its religion and it is directly responsible for the deaths of every gay killed for who they are, and the much larger number who have been tormented into suicide or turned into the streets by their own families. 

            Christianity has not been a positive force in the world, on balance. Unless and until it undergoes radical internal reformation, it will remain incompatible with the values of pluralism and tolerance needed for a diverse people to co-exist peacefully in a democracy. 

            We can deal with individual Christians as they are, but we must also draw hard boundaries for those who don’t respect us. We are not wayward Christians or libertine Christians playing with crystals and goddess theology. We will not ask for baptism or return to the fold or bow before their god or tolerate their belittling of us. 

          • William Hood

            “And in stating so I fully admit that I’m bringing some concerns to the table that go beyond the point Star was trying to make.”

            I understand, I tend to do the same thing.

        • raindove

           Why is it that every time I see a Pagan or a Witch or a Wiccan Witch  express their dislike … or show some resistance of Christianity and Jesus being integrated into the Occult …. being accused of “being bullied” by someone in the church .. or being “hurt” by the church .. or being hurt by another Christian , so forth and so on? I am angry, too .. and really rather fed up with this nonsense … BUT, I was not hurt by the church, I wasn’t hurt by any other Christian , in fact “being hurt” by anything or anyone even remotely associated with Christianity .. is NOT why I’m angry !!!  I will say however, that it makes me angry to see so many X Christian’s coming into our path .. who have so many chains that bind, and we have Priestesses out here .. who are working our fannies off trying to get these Novices UNCHAINED … only to find more Christian’s coming and bringing the chains RIGHT BACK. That does peeve me. I will also have to ask …. how do we know .. that their attitudes aren’t “well, if we can’t beat ‘em , let’s join ‘em” ? How do we know its not another ploy to take control again? How do we know that its not just a back door way .. to get their tentacles into the path so they can “christianize” it? Well, I can almost bet that at least ONE of those apply.
          Nonetheless, allow me to express the fact , if you will .. that not all folks who are angry about this .. have been “hurt” by the church ..or by a Christian. Just so everyone is clear on that. :)

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      1. On “charity and concern for one’s fellow man.”
      The idea that Christians somehow invented charity and concern for others is probably the most evil and pernicious lie in the history of historical distortions. There is no basis for it. None. Do some research. Think. Here’s a place to start:
      Pagans, Christians, and “Charity”

      2. On “ceremonial magic”.
      Ceremonial Magic is Pagan. Even Ronald Hutton acknowledges this. In fact, Hutton has said from the beginning that when it comes to magic, as opposed to religion, modern Paganism definitely represents a continuous tradition going back to ancient pre-Christian beliefs and practices.

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

      Even if we were to concede any truth to what you have said, it seems ultimately inconsequential to the place from which Star’s post is coming.

    • Folcwald

       Funny that you mention Hildegard von Bingen (I assume that’s who you mean by “Hildegard von Bingham”), who wrote horrible things encouraging the terrible treatment of heretics during the Albigensian Crusade. If, as you say, the church was an outlet for her creativity, it was also a kind of mental poison that twisted that creativity into hate. I am quite certain that without the church the outlets available for her creativity would have been far more healthy.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

        Actually, I think she meant Hildegard Vaughn Binghamton, Captain Binghamton’s wife on McHale’s Navy (as played by Ruth Buzzy). I believe she only appeared in two episodes.

    • raindove

       <<<<>>> 
      Wow … ok, so what you are saying .. is that because they’ve done some “good” .. that we should just allow them to come in with their One God .. their Jesus .. and claim to be one of US .. claim to be PAGANS .. Pagans .. who no less, believe in Jesus .. come in our paths .. claiming to be Witches .. the very people they murdered .. and .. let’s not forget … an estimated (over) 50,000 people mind you … and its all ok because of “some good” they’ve done???? PLEASE. Give me a break.
      What about all of the good our Witches did … our Village women did … our healers did … BEFORE THAT TIME? Did you take THEM into consideration? So I guess then, we should just let them in … with no questions, nothing to answer to … all because of some good they’ve done .. and oh, let’s not forget .. that wonderful man called Jesus .. which btw, was more than likely not even his real name … who was such a great spiritual teacher … yadda yadda yadda .GODS .. I am so sickened by all of this. I really am. I have tried to remain tolerant .. but I really do see alot of passiveness with this subject. Oh let’s let it role off of our backs like water on a duck’s back. ha !!! NOT THIS WITCH. And let me be the first to tell you .. NO, I have *not* been hurt by the church so that’s why I have this angry attitude. In fact, I was not brought up in a Christian household. My parents were party animals. They did not force a thing onto me when it came to religion. I just feel there’s been way too much work done .. by Priestesses and Priests … to UNBIND the chains .. for so many folks .. just to sit back and allow those freaking chains BACK IN … this is NOT the path chains belong in.
      And, I must add ….
      This isn’t about just the ‘bad stuff’ Christian’s did. Most Pagans ,Witches and Wiccan Witches are very aware of the “good” the Christian’s have done. Or rather .. *some* Christians have done. This is not the problem  … the problem is .. “C” doesn’t belong in the Occult. It doesn’t belong with Wicca .. it doesn’t belong in Witchcraft .. due to its DOCTRINE. I realize many folks want to *change* the reputation of their Jesus and they “like” what we have .. they “like” or are “attracted to” our beliefs. Great. Incorporate away !! MIX AWAY !!!! Just don’t label it Witchcraft. Don’t label it Wicca. Don’t label it Christianity .. and CERTAINLY don’t label it “Christian Wicca” .. or “Christian Witchcraft” … call it what it is … which is ECLECTICISM. And for Goddess sake.. don’t go around calling yourself a freaking Wiccan Witch .. or a Witch at all !!! Frankly, I would be embarrassed FOR you.
      I have no problems in anyone believing what they want .. any way they want. Just don’t tear doctrines apart .. and then still claim that title of the religion. As soon as one tears a doctrine apart, it is no longer that religion. Period. It is mere eclecticism. Let me just say something here as a Wiccan High Priestess … I have had alot of work .. ALOT OF WORK .. at undoing what the Christian church has done to some of my students. Getting them to UNTIE themselves .. UNCHAIN themselves … from the “chains that bind” .. and for what? Is all of MY WORK .. and all of MANY OTHER’S work .. been done in vain? Just so they can bring those damn chains that bind right back into our path? I don’t think so. And I am about to stand up and start screaming and yelling about it. It is IMMHO  .. or rather .. it could be .. IMMHO .. another ploy to take over .. to gain power .. to get what WE HAVE .. but in a more subtle way .. “Oh let’s see just how tolerant they are, lets just see how much they are not in judgement of us .. we’ll take Christianity to them” … another way to gain control of the masses .. as the masses are leaving the church.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    For the most part it is completely unnecessary for Pagans to reject “other” religions or their leaders/teachers/founders/what-have-you. But there are, sadly, exceptions, and Star had certainly hit upon The Exception That Proves The Rule.

  • kenneth

    This is, quite simply, the finest and most direct piece of writing I have ever seen here, and it captures beautifully what I have been fumbling about to say in pieces on some of these blogs which started this whole recent dust up.  

  • http://wp.wiccanweb.ca/ Makarios

    Someone whom I know, when asked if she believes in Jesus, replies, “I believe in all the Gods. I worship a select few, and Jesus isn’t one of them.”

    • Isabel

       I like that one! I hope I’ll reach that point one day. For now, I am at the stage where I am just so ANGRY at Christianity and its colleagues, the patriarchal faiths (not just the monotheistic ones). I very much like the idea of formally rejecting my baptism and confirmation, but I also feel troubled.

      On the one hand, I still feel kind of guilty for breaking away from my entire family on this issue. And on the other hand, being so ANGRY validates Christianity, confirms its power over me, in a way.

      So rejecting Jesus would feel very satisfying in an adolescent way, but also leave Christianity having the last laugh, in my view. And there’s the issue, as discussed above by so many people, that the two aren’t identical. For starters, even our adulterated gospels make it pretty clear that Jesus had a great respect for women. So I don’t really dislike the guy. He was a fellow human and a prophet.

      So yeah, I would be so pleased to include Jesus in my pantheon, without there being any issue between us except mutual respect. Any ideas on how to get there…?

  • TheSeaHag

    While I understand why some do, I’ve never felt the need to “reject” Jesus.  For one thing, I always liked him and a lot of what he had to say.  For another, although I was baptized (as a baby, in the Catholic church), I don’t consider him my “lord and savior” because I don’t believe in the concept of original sin–that was actually one of the main things that made me walk away from the church when I was in my late teens–so I don’t think anyone needs saving.

    I view Jesus and all other figures of the Christian pantheon, such as Yahweh and Mary and the Holy Spirit and Satan, the way I do figures of any other pantheon that’s not my own–I don’t deny their existence any more than that of, say, Hathor or Herne.  I simply don’t worship them, so they have nothing to do with me.  And I like (but don’t worship) some deities not of my own pantheon.  Jesus is one of those.  I’m fond of him, as I am of Odin and Isis and some others.  And then there is the much shorter list of those I dislike.  Yahweh tops that one.

    • raindove

       The problem is .. Christian’s don’t have a “pantheon”. Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are *one*. Most Christian’s don’t acknowledge Mary. Catholics do, yes. But, didn’t the Catholics take this entire idea from the old ancient myths in the first place? But now, they want to bring their patriarchal God into our matriarchal path. They are dragging their ONE GOD CONCEPT .. into a MANY GODS path .. and placing a skirt on him. Basically, attempting at putting our GODDESS .. in a PATRIARCHAL BOX. Please. This is the very same thing they did hundreds of years ago. I say .. get off the fence. Either accept the old ways as they were, as they are , as they were practiced then and now …..  stop trying to change them… or move on down the road .. to create your own religion. Ours wasn’t broken .. and it doesn’t need fixing.

      • TheSeaHag

        Other than responding to my use of the word pantheon–and I stand by that, because whether or not that’s how Christians view it (generally, not), that’s really the best word for it–I really don’t understand why you posted this in reply to me.

        I also can’t make out what you’re trying to say about putting “our GODDESS” (which one?) in a patriarchal box.  Could you explain?  Especially, whom are you accusing of making this attempt?

  • PhaedraHPS

    In a lot of old writing, you’ll see references to requiring potential Witches (or witches, who knows) to commit acts of sacrilege such as sex on a grave or altar or reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards. On one level, it sounds like “oh, it’s another Christian canard feeding into the idea we’re all Satanists.”

    On a deeper level, it’s releasing the initiate from the prison of the popular culture. It’s releasing the initiate from a whole class of activities that the Christian religion believe to be abhorrent. It is making a break with the past in order to release power for the future.

    Is it disrespectful? Well, it’s not saying, “Hey you guys, go do this!” It’s saying, this is what I do. Oberon Zell wrote a great piece many years ago about Pagans being the Other People. Christian (or Jewish) rules and taboos don’t apply to us *because we’re not Christians.* Your rules and taboos apply to your group; we are the Other people.

  • Wyrdraven

    Star…this is a very well written article. Heathens and Asatruar who feel a need to formally Profess as Asatru have been doing this for years; a common form of the rite, popularized by Edred,  includes a reversal of the Saxon 
    Abrenuntiatio of 743 CE. It was the one of the best decisions I made.

    • Vision_From_Afar

       You have piqued my curiosity. Not being entirely sure where to look, could you give me a pointer? Much obliged. :)

  • Mark Horr

    Thank you for writing this. I can’t imagine taking Christianity back into my life and this will help me frame my thoughts when people ask me why I don’t.

  • Emma Allen

    Thank you for posting this! I know you go further in the post, but I love this line “I accepted Jesus into my heart years ago and he hasn’t complained about his roommates yet.”.

    I’m also glad you mentioned Hypatia. She’s so important and I’ve been trying to honor her memory. I wish early Christians could have just lived along side others instead of resorting to tactics that have left deep, psychic wounds in the land and her peoples.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

     Bravo.

    Seriously.

    It is one thing to stand up and declare yourself Pagan, but it is quite another thing to declare yourself Anti-Christianity.

    Something I hear a fair bit is the concept of ‘spiritual war’. This concept is particularly valued by Christians, it must be noted.

    Now, a lot of Pagans are also humanist in that they, as you said, believe “human life is sacred”. This tends to breed quite a lot of tolerance for others (a much ignored tenet of Christianity) and an aversion to participation in the ‘spiritual war’.

    It is nice to see you have, essentially, chosen a side. War is upon us whether we want it or not. We either fight or we die.

    • DonnaB

      I didn’t get the impression that Star is Anti-Christianity, or that she’s gearing up to engage in spiritual warfare with the Christians.  

      My impression of what Star means when she said “I reject Jesus Christ” was one of her saying “I’m not Christian in any way.  I used to be Christian, but now I’m not.  The Gods I worship are not the Christian Gods in costume, and the religion I practice is not a form of Christianity or wannabe Christianity”.  I don’t know how that could be twisted into “I’m against Christians and everything they stand for” unless you believe that Christianity is the only “real” religion, and if you’re not following Jesus you’re fighting against him by default (and there are plenty of people who do believe that).

      What I hear Star talking about fighting is being forcibly assimilated by a culture that requires everyone to profess the same belief.  We don’t have to say “Yes, I still believe in Jesus/God/whatever”, even when we’re sitting in a room full of concerned friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers who are only willing to understand us insofar as we resemble something they already know.  We can choose to soften that blow by saying something like “I believe he’s your God, but I don’t worship him myself”, or we can choose to say, “Ya know what, no, what I believe isn’t the same as what you believe, and that’s ok.  We can still talk, but if that’s what you want you have to be civil to me just as I have to be civil to you.”  

      Sometimes people are aggressive about insisting that everything boils down to Christianity In Disguise or Not Real At All, and when that happens it’s reasonable to be equally aggressive and saying that what we believe is both real and different than what they believe.  Simply saying otherwise or adopting our practices and calling it part of their own religion will not change or diminish the validity of our religions.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         There is a difference between being Anti-Christian and Anti-Christian.

        In my reading of Star’s blog, she came across very much as Anti-Christianity. That is – she rejects (is against) the tenets of Christianity. That in no way suggests that she is against Christians.

        “I don’t know how that could be twisted into “I’m against Christians and
        everything they stand for” unless you believe that Christianity is the
        only “real” religion, and if you’re not following Jesus you’re fighting
        against him by default (and there are plenty of people who do believe
        that).”
        We call those people Christian. The Christ is (according to established dogma) the son of the One True God (TM) made flesh, and the only way for a person to reach Heaven.

        To suggest otherwise is to put yourself at odds with Christianity which, since they have declared a spiritual war, means to be fighting against them.

        Sure, I am not talking about waving flaming brands and wielding pitchforks, but there is still a very definite conflict.

        I maintain that it is impossible for Christianity to be properly included in interfaith work, simply because it is a central tent of Christianity to convert the world.

        Personally, I just do not see what a minor Mesopotamian djinn has to offer me (living in Wessex.)

        • DonnaB

          I guess I’ll just have to disagree with you, then.  I know that, for myself, I can evaluate something and come to the conclusion that it is not right for me without taking it further and saying that I’m against it altogether.  

          I dislike fish, and I choose not to eat it.  I’ve given an honest try, but I pretty much categorically reject seafood, even though many people find it to be very satisfying.  I would not say that I’m  anti-seafood, or that there is something inherently wrong with the practice of eating fish in general, even though I find some aspects of it quite distasteful (sushi makes me shudder).  You may catch me making a face or two when my kids go fishing with their dad, or if someone offers me a tuna fish sandwich, but you wont see me getting belligerent with the guy behind the seafood counter at the grocery store or petitioning my favorite restaurant to take salmon off the menu.   

          There’s a big difference between rejecting something you find is not right for you and taking a position against something.  And while it’s true that there are Christians who would take her rejection as an affront, or even an attack, Star has made it very clear that she’s not Christian.  I hope that you’ll excuse me while I give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she holds herself to a higher standard than the established lowest common denominator.
           

    • http://twitter.com/Fae_EM Fae EdwardsMiller

      I find this to be profoundly disturbing.

      No – first of all, the VAST majority of Christians don’t buy into the ‘spiritual war’ nonsense.  It’s a disturbing fringe but it’s still a fringe, and I’d like to see it stay that way.  There’s nothing like a mutual enemy to consolidate fractious allies – so the LAST thing we need is to get a warlike mentality going.  Please, put away your sword, because the person you cut with it might be one of us.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         My religion is not passive. In fact, it has a strong regard for the sword.

      • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

        I’m sorry, but you are flat wrong in stating that Christians do not buy into spiritual warfare.  

        Unless they are near atheist, Christians are, by their own defining scriptures and writers, in eternal war with “Satan and His followers”.  The Great Commission is spiritual warfare.  The conversion of the world, by whatever means they deem necessary in the moment, is spiritual warfare.  The ongoing murders of indigenous people, the genocide of whole peoples, is spiritual warfare.  When the Catholics point at us and say ‘demon worshipper’ that is spiritual warfare; we are their Evil One, their Other.  They do not need to all be in prayer circles throwing their equivalence of curses at us; their work, their activism, their missionary work all are forms of spiritual warfare.So I will not put away my sword.  I will keep it and my spear close at hand, and sharp.  

  • Simon Jadis

    Star, this is SO perfect. I was not raised within Christianity and have never been a Christian, so I do not have vows to revoke, but this is an important message. And it’s PERFECT to read after that . . . other blog. The notion that Pagans are just confused people who don’t want to be Catholic but really, in their hearts, want to be Catholic is really offensive. Thank you so much for making this post.

  • http://kallisti.writingkaye.com/ Kaye

    Thank you for posting this. I actually renounced my childhood baptism years ago (although I didn’t find my baptismal cross at the time and still have that somewhere) through a sunset-to-sunset fast followed by a formal renunciation. Renouncing it had a fairly pronounced and liberating psychological effect.

  • Thedomesticpagan

    I can’t reject Jesus, much less the Christian pantheon entirely. As a pagan, I acknowledge all pantheons whether they are Egyptian, Celtic, Norse, Greek, and so on. How can any pagan say they are fine with Odin, Thor, or Athena but draw the line at Jesus. It’s hypocritical and disrespectful.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       I also reject Glykon, Eris, Goibniu and white chocolate if it makes you feel better. Being a polytheist doesn’t mean you worship every god. That’s like insisting a person who likes pizza must also like anchovies and pineapple or they are a hypocrite.

      • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

         That’s okay.  Eris rejects just about everything and everyone.  Eventually, at least.  Well, she’ll get around to it, I’m sure ;)

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

       Rejection and disbelief are very different things.

      That said, just because a person is polytheistic, does that mean they have to believe in EVERY deity ever labelled? If so, do you suggest that people start taking the FSM seriously?

      As for disrespect… Why is that bad?

  • Sean MacDhai

    Great post, Star. Love this… “Only two religious cults were ever banned in ancient Rome. The Bacchanalia and Christianity. Both were banned for public safety. Both incited violence in the streets.” Hear, hear! I reject Jesus Christ. I reject Jesus Christ. I reject Jesus Christ. There. I’m divorced from it too ;)

  • Raksha

    I’m finally delurking because I really wanted to tell you how much I like and admire your writing.  I feel the same way you do about so many thing (like this here Jesus issue), but I really lack the ability to put my thoughts and feelings into words as eloquently as you do.  So thank you!

  • Jennifer Ramon

    I’m fairly cool with the J-Man – don’t agree with everything he said, but he had some interesting ideas, fairly progressive for his time.  His daddy, though – no.  I won’t leave a ritual if someone invokes Jesus as a deity, though I’d never do it myself.  I will not worship YHVH any more, though.  He has had entirely too much of my attention for too much of my life, and he does not deserve it, much less more.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Can you name three (or two, or one) of these “interesting”, “progressive” ideas?

  • http://multifacetedexperience.blogspot.com/ Kourtney

    Excellent post. Thankfully, I was never baptized and was not raised in any sort of organized religion. However, constantly being barraged with the ‘What do you mean you don’t believe in Jesus?’ gets really old really fast. I like your line up there, about him having roommates. Think I’ll keep that one handy! 

  • Kilmrnock

    i formaly renounced Christianity and all that entails over thirty yrs ago , never made a formal anouncement. Then i was agnostic/athiest for 10 yrs after that b/f coming to paganism , a CR faith eventualy, by way of a near death experience and some lenthy soul searhing .Have been pagan for over twenty yrs now .CR for about the last ten , altho my pagan ways have always been celtic centered.Has been along strange sometimes painfull journey , but here i am .

  • http://www.witchesandpagans.com/ Anne Newkirk Niven

    I was born and raised Christian, but found the Goddess while training for a career in Christian ministry and never looked back.

    I no longer call myself a Christo-Pagan because I realized a few years ago that my relationship with him was in no way “Christian.” But he’s still the only male godform who has ever spoken to me, and for that reason, I still honor him in a thoroughly polytheist way. He’s not my “Lord” or “Savior” but he *is* one of the deities I work with on a regular basis.

     So far, he hasn’t complained about the rather large number of goddesses he has to share my devotion with.

  • Auspicious Kitten

    I was raised atheist and came to Paganism in my thirties after feeling a calling to spirituality. I will always be grateful for being raised as such because it enabled me to freely explore religion with a completely blank slate (my mother forbid the subject in our home) religion was for “idiots”). I don’t really have any conflicts with “rejecting” or “embracing” Jesus… I just don’t care that much, and it seems to me that making big gestures about my stand to be giving away power. I suppose you *could* say I rejected Jesus since I found Christianity to be the least interesting of the religions I looked into while also having the darkest history and nuttiest adherents.   I do find it interesting that many ex-Christians need to make an official  declaration of rejection/separation from it and this speaks to me of the damage this religion can do to people.

    As for what my mother thinks of my Paganism… while she doesn’t want to hear anything about the religious aspects (because that would mean her daughter is an “idiot”)  she has always liked ancient mythology (especially Greek) quite a bit and so grooves on the things about Paganism she can relate to like… you know:  like fairies, gargoyles, “Jason and the Argonauts.”  Oh, and she looooves amber. :)

  • Melanie Moore

    Star: This post is fantastic.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  There, I’ve said it three times. Hooray, Star!!

  • Smith

    First, I am a Christian and I also hate the Jesus question from Protestants. As an Orthodox Christian, I don’t think some Protestants have a very good understanding of the Christian faith. Also, any Pagans who think they can be both Pagans and Christians are in error in the traditional view of Christianity. If they want to create their own religion which does this, then fine, but they would then be re-defining Christianity. Christians believe their religion was not created by humans, but by God and revealed to humans.

    Paganism, like Christianity and other religions, comes and has come in many forms, too numerous to mention here. But one defining feature of Paganism is the belief in many gods. It’s polytheistic, whereas Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are monotheistic. These two things are not reconcilable. Either one is a monotheist or a polytheist. You cannot be an Orthodox (or an orthodox–small o) Christian and believe in more than one God.

    I have no problem with people decided what religion, if any, they want to follow. I do not judge anyone. In Orthodox Christian belief, only God can judge people in the matter of their faith. We as humans can only make judgments in our worldly life. The eternal life is the province of God for Orthodox Christian believers. We say we know where God is, but we do not know where He isn’t.

    Although I do not reject Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I feel Ms. Lopez did a good job of expressing herself in the article. I would, however, have to disagree with the selective use of history to label all Christians as “the Borg.” In fact, Christianity flourished in countries where its people were enslaved and oppressed by Turks, Arabs, Communists, etc. There are Christian churches which do not have any history of brutal force. Christianity exists outside of the world and in the hearts and minds of its true believers. Many of the so-called Christians who committed wars and atrocities were by their own admission not Christians, but politicians who used Christianity for their worldly gain. Indeed, these were truly not Christians. 99.9% of Christians will not be in the history books. They live and have lived quiet lives of faith and service and do not deserved to be judged by the evil actions of others. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       Who is Ms. Lopez?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X