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Guest Post: It is time for Pagans to stop being Pagan

Guest Post: It is time for Pagans to stop being Pagan April 24, 2011

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I’ve been involved in MANY discussions trying to define what Pagans share.

Nanaimo Pagan Pride Day 2009. By Kam's World via FlickrCC

Are we all:

  • Earth Centered?  Nope
  • Polytheists?  Nope
  • Sex Positive?  Nope
  • Goddess Based?  Nope
  • Peaceful?  Definitely Not

After LOTS of discussion, the end result is clear.  The ONE defining universal trait among Pagans is that WE ARE NOT CHRISTIANS. Even the Dictionary agrees!

pa·gan

n.

  • An adherent of a polytheistic religion in antiquity, especially when viewed in contrast to an adherent of a monotheistic religion.
  • A Neopagan.
  • Offensive

o    One who has no religion.

o    An adherent of a religion other than Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.

  • A hedonist.

If you think about it, the major reason that “Pagans” hang together is because it’s so nice to interact with people who don’t assume that we should act a certain way to be the right flavor of Jewish, Christian or Islamic.

But think carefully; how civil would Fundamentalist Asatru Culture be with Fundamentalist Ifa culture if they weren’t standing together against the 800lb Gorilla of Christianity?

Fundamentalism is a strict adherence to principles above other things.  It means that your principles are more important than even life itself. And, if you would die for your principles, nothing really stops you from being willing to kill or harm for them too.

Fundamentalism = Dangerous vs Bigger “Enemy”
Here is where the modern Pagan movement finds itself. We all know that in a Pagan-Christian war, the Pagans would die.   Even the dumbest of us know to be VERY careful to avoid flavors of Fundamentalism that would pit the Pagan Movement against the Christians.  If some Pagan starts making loud anti-Christian noise we disown them, and help shut them up.

This has ensured that most Pagans adopt and advocate a VERY good principle: Tolerance. We focus on being tolerant to everyone and their beliefs… well… except the Christians.

The very term Pagan functionally means “not Christian.”  Our situation has resulted in us displaying so many wonderful values, but our very title pushes us toward fear and separation.  Christians verses Pagans.  Us verses Them.

Adopting Universal Values
It is time to change this.  It is time to intentionally adopt values that are universal, re-title ourselves and grow past identifying ourselves as Pagan.

Of course then we would have to agree on Values and most of us can’t even agree on whether to walk the circle clockwise or counterclockwise… or even if there should BE a circle.  Thus…

Tolerance
I advocate that the most beautiful thing that the race, Pagan and GLBT movements have pushed into the public light be what we intentionally adopt and define as our shared guiding value.

Now I’m not pushing for universalism. I don’t want my prayers to start with “To whom it may concern” (joking).  However, rather than trying to figure out what we all share, I advocate that in tolerance, we agree to celebrate NOT SHARING. Let’s make the conscious decision to defend everyone’s right to practice our own weird faith… this time including the Christians.

So what name would we choose for this movement?  Tolerants?  Nah, too many syllables (we’ll say it a lot, it should have two or less syllables).

Aw heck… let’s make up a word.

1. Tolerance means Pagans and non-Pagans together.

2. Pagans AND Non-Pagans could become “Pagan and”

3. Remove another syllable and mash them together and you get “Pagand”

So that’s my thought.  Let’s keep it simple.   Let’s have pagans grow from being merely Pagan and start being PagAND.  It would be easy for to remember, easy to explain and we’re all used to saying pagan anyway.

Sure it seems silly, but it’s a little exciting that one letter could be the difference between focusing on excluding others and declaring that we are a part of a group with an intentional focus on living the wonderful principle of tolerance…

Of course, maybe not; I’m tolerant that way.

Scott Reimers
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