It’s odd that Thomas Paine would write about the *paraphrase* benefit of having a society composed of a multitude of religions and be so anti-Christian. *grins* I think he was correct, though.
I am an anomaly. I am, in some senses, a Universalist…just not as applied to me. What I mean is, I like and seek people with different faiths. I ask them questions and explore their beliefs. I do not believe Wisdom and Faith are limited to the Bible but, my own version of Heretic Christianity is a fit for me…
So, when I find out that someone is not Christian and am surprised by it *editorial, that usually means they’re some form of Pagan*, my first response is usually “cool”. My next thought is “why?” Then I want to start asking questions about what they believe. Not to be critical but, to see what insight I might find into that person and what lessons I might find for me. Yeah, I’m greedy. I want knowledge and wisdom like a miser wants gold. Bearing that in mind and knowing I’m biased towards a couple of faiths that are not Christianity meaning Paganism and Judaism I am lucky to have found, recently, a Rabbi willing to answer questions and more people that are Pagan. *editorial, I suspect, given a recent surprise, that there are more Pagans than I first suspected*
Anyway, not all of Judaism appeals to me and not all of Paganism does. There are parts of both that do not. No biggie because there are parts of Christianity that also do not. *sigh* Having said that, some of Paganism could have been directly taken from the Bible, particularly the parts about God being expressed in the Natural World and the interconnectedness of us all…and some Biblical concepts do not fit, like the entire Sin and Monotheism bits…I digress.
*wonders where I was going with this*
Oh yeah…maybe…I wonder why we get so hung up on the idea that we have a lock on morality and conscience because of our personal beliefs? Just because Paganism doesn’t acknowledge the concept of sin does not mean they lack a moral compass. It means that the burden is placed on the individual to find their own balance. It favors personal responsibility above imposed legalism. It also allows that reasonable people may act reasonably without a sense of guilt about things beyond their control. Paganism does stress the idea that, if a person’s action does no harm to another, it is not immoral. It gives room for variation in lives, loves, and concepts of moral absolutes where Christianity is much more black and white. It, Paganism, is far less judgmental of other humans.
*break for work and now back*
I, again, acknowledge that I am a heretic. In this instance, it means multiple things. It means that I recognize that, as a human, I have the ability to be mistaken. I hope I’m not because, it means that my faith could be not correct.
Paganism, in its original form, predates Christianity by some thousands of years. Monotheism is a new faith. Pagans have traditions, beliefs, and gods that go back to pre-history. That time and distance gives tradition and accumulated wisdom. It validates, through long practice, belief. The fact that there is a commonality in that we and they have non-god supernatural beings and visions of God in Nature gives common ground. It is a rare Christian that does not feel some pull toward the majesty of the untamed or have a belief in ghosts, angels, and demons.We both believe we may find insight through meditation, of course, Christians call it “prayer”. We seek glimpses and influence over the future. There is also a common belief in that all things happen for a reason. These are some of the common bits we share…
*editorial, I’ll write a different post on this theme again but, bringing this one to a close*
This post is part of what wanders in my head a bunch. I ponder on the nature of my faith and my loved ones. Because some of the people I love most are Pagan, I think about it more than most Christians I know. I am not quick to take the easy way out and just think “devil worshippers, witches, sinners, and divination”. Because I know and love them, I do not believe that they are any of the above except “witches”. *grins* Even they freely accept that word. I also realize that Christians do not want to acknowledge what concepts we share and how our beliefs and stories overlay an older view. Pagan beliefs are our ancestors just as Judaism is. The monotheistic faiths were NOT first and, by that standard, WE are the cult, no matter what we would prefer to believe.
I understand that my view is not popular among my coreligionists. I get that giving validity to Paganism might lead to people saying I am not allowed to be Christian. Ok, so what? I believe I am a Christian. I also believe the only way my faith can be threatened is from within my own heart. I am secure enough in my belief system being right for me that I am able to see that other beliefs can be right for other individuals.
If you’re Pagan and happen to read this, someone told me, “ask five Pagans and get five answers.” I did ask and probably will ask more. If the “theology” doesn’t fit your specific views, it does fit someone’s. I have also avoided some parts of both Paganism and Christianity that are specific to the various “sects” for lack of a better word. Yeah, I’ve also avoided Jesus and Messiah concepts and focussed on the basics of common beliefs from a human point of view. I was looking for commonality and not differences…except for in some cases written in.