Am I the only one really bothered by this modern-day witch hunt?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
and that is what made it to the big news. all over the net, wiccans and pagans have ben accused of awaful things that just arent true, mostly by over zelous christians. there has even ben site urgeing people to hunt down witches, and its not fair, i know all christians arent like this, but how can these people knowing that christianity is love and peace, and spred hate?
-- Rose Magick (email@example.com), May 13, 2003
sorry forgot to close my tags
-- Rose Magick (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 13, 2003.
The same thing has been said about Catholicism.
-- rod (email@example.com), May 13, 2003.
First, although I believe that the official "neutral" status the school takes is the best way to take the 1st Amendment seriously, most of the actions described by the article are reprehensible. The lack of discipline and the inaction towards those students who harrassed her is embarrassing. No one should ever feel unsafe or alienated in a school, especially a Christian school.
Second, since I'm pretty positive this discussion would end up in this direction anyway, I would like to do a little investigation: I would like to see if a remark by the article can be corroborated- "Paganism is an ancient religious tradition that embraces kinship with nature, positive morality and the idea that there is both a female and male side of Deity."
Paganism: an ancient religious tradition?:
One immediate problem is that Paganism is not a single tradition, but rather a loose category of quasi-tribal, polytheistic nature religions. The concept is so broad that it eludes strict codification. One Website incorrectly identifies Hinduism as a form of Paganism (at its root, it is basically monotheistic), but that site was incorrect about many other things, so I won't cite it. Neo-Paganism, it seems, is a modern reconstruction; it is rooted in 60's environmentalism, and draws upon an ecclectic assortment of pre-Christian or pre-Abrahamic traditions.
One thing I often notice is that, when we try to reconstruct something out of ancient history, the result is something that looks remarkably like themselves. We see this phenomena in modern attempts to reconstruct the 'historical Jesus', to reconstruct the solemn Christian Eucharistic rite from the 1st-4th centuries, and in this case, pre-Christian religions.
For example, examine this quote from "PEN: Contemporary Paganism" (http://www.bloomington.in.us/~pen/mpagan.html) -
This emphasis on personal exploration and development creates a highly dynamic culture of diverse people who share values of intellectual and spiritual freedom. Rather than conform to a specific set of beliefs or practices, Pagans participate in a vibrant marketplace of ideas, where people contribute and take away what resonates most deeply with them. Community is created through regular gatherings and festivals, numerous publications, and an extensive Internet presence. While specific ethics are discussed at length within the Pagan community, the most common summation is "If it harms none, do what you will." This combines personal freedom with responsibility to the community.
Pagan religions are dynamic, changing systems based on timeless values of faith, freedom, justice, honesty, responsibility, creativity, caring, courage, and respect. Specific beliefs and practices vary as people adapt concepts to their particular needs. Pagans celebrate rituals to mark the Wheel of the Year (see below), as well as life transitions such as marriage, moving, birth, or death. Some traditions celebrate rituals to commemorate specific historic events, while others celebrate natural transitions such as lunar phases or the first snowfall of the year. Pagan religions are a way of life, affecting choices from how we pray to where we shop. Pagans believe religions must change to meet the needs of people on an everyday basis, while connecting them to their most deeply held spiritual beliefs. While some Pagan religions can be quite esoteric, most Pagan beliefs and practices are rooted in everyday, natural experience.
Now, I am not 3,000 or 300 or even 30 years old, but for some reason, I am profoundly struck by how the above description more closely resembles a mishmash of Enlightenment ideals with 60's materialistic optimism, the sexual revolution, and post-modern thought.
Stunningly, after writing that, I came across an interesting essay written by a self-described neo-Pagan, which states, "Many NeoPagans realize that they can never re-create the ancient 'paganism' of their choice -- the mere fact that we are post-Enlightenment, post-modern, post-feminist, post-Jungian, etc. precludes being able to 'perceive' the same way as the ancients. . ."
So, in as much fairness as I can muster as a Catholic Christian, I would find it quite a stretch to call Paganism, as practised today, either properly "religious" or "ancient". I suppose no Neo-Pagan will be satisfied with that statement, but at least the good news is that I nor others should consider Neo-Pagans to be much closer to the Devil than materialistic Englightenment thinkers or 60's revolutionaries.
Paganism: a positive morality?: I'm skipping the bit about kinship with nature, because (anthromorphization aside) I find it to be an admirable quality. However, I will raise a question about positive morality. "If it harms none, do what you will" is not a positive morality; it is not morality at all. It is not even human. In fact, I question whether it is even consistent with the (admirable) kinship to nature. What of family, then, which is natural? What of natural sexuality, natural family planning, and natural law? I don't doubt that Neo-Pagans would reject these concepts out of hand, which confuses me a little. One might argue that we should imitate beasts, which behave more 'naturally' (in terms of sexuality) than humans. But if that were true, when is it not also 'natural' that humans act differently than beasts; and indeed, highly unnatural for humans to imitate them?
If Neo-Paganism were truly concerned with kinship with nature, then I might re-evaluate the claim by the article about its 'positive morality.' I happen to be quite keen on nature religions, though I also happen to celebrate Catholicism as a qonderful nature religion in its own right. Neo-Paganism seems to simply repeat the Enlightenment doctrines, which (more than anything that preceded it) seek to manipulate nature, sometimes towards its very destruction. "If it harms none..."
Paganism: a bi-gender deity?:
A terribly misleading description, especially if meant to be understood in contrast to the Judeo-Christian tradition, whose God is simply not contained by gender. It would be inappropriate to say that God is without gender, or that he has both genders/all genders/is gender, etc. By definition, God's gender eludes definition. God-as-Father is merely an important expression of the religious experience of the Abrahamic tradition; that Jesus was male is simply historical fact, though it carries with it substantial meaning in our religious economy of signs.
In any case, it isn't difficult to understand why the phrase "both a female and male side of Deity" found its way into the article. The author is taking a real conflict -- the intolerance and abuse by Christian students of a girl from a Neo-Pagan family -- and turning it into a false "grand narrative" of the struggle of tolerant, peaceful, minority faiths against intolerant, violent, male-dominated Christianity.
BTW, Rose, I am sorry for turning your post into an occasion for a long-winded essay, but I'm just trying to help lay the cards on the table. Please correct any misinformation you find.
Sources: PEN: Pagan Educational Network http://www.bloomington.in.us/~pen/mpagan.html
Modern vs. Ancient "paganism," etc. http://www.ku.edu/~medieval/melcher/matthias/old/log.started950212/mai l-54.html
The Goddess Myth http://tftb.com/deify/goddessmyth.htm
NOTE: None of the above sources were written by Christians or should be assumed to reflect any part of Catholic teaching.
-- Skoobouy (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 13, 2003.