Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pagans v Christians

Awhile ago, I reviewed a book called Thy Kingdom Fall that portrayed Pagans as godless villains out to take over the world and do away with all other religions.  The book made me so angry, I wanted to hurl my Kindle across the room.  It’s bad enough that so many Christians paint Pagans as Devil worshipers, but this man vilified us in a novel, portraying us as the exact opposite of who and what we are.

Yes, I am a Pagan.  I was raised Lutheran, spent eleven years as a Catholic and am now Pagan.  I believe there’s a power greater than myself.  I believe that power has both feminine and masculine energies and I honor both.  My patron Goddesses are Diana and Rhiannon, and my patron God is Dwe (a Celtic God/King whose symbol was the dragon—ironic, eh?).  Wiccans believe in karma and the power of three—what you send out will come back to you threefold.  That adds some punch to the Golden Rule.  You’d better think thrice before you send out negative energy.

As for Jesus, I think he was a great man, and that the Nicene Council edited out a whole lot of his life and message. The Gospels they kept in the New Testament were not written down when he lived—they were written decades, even a century later. Have you ever played Operator? How garbled was the message by the time it got around the table? How garbled do you think Christ's message may have been by the time it was written down a century after he gave it? Or after a power and money-greedy Roman Emperor and his cronies got through with it? There are eighteen years gone. Do you really think the kid who sat in the Temple in Jerusalem discussing theology with the elders of the church for three days and never missed his parents went home and worked as a carpenter with his dad for the next eighteen years? Isn't it possible he traveled with his uncle, Joseph of Arimethea, to the East? Could the Catholic concept of going to "Purgatory" to "work off a few demerits before you get into Heaven" (as my ex explained it to me when I converted) possibly be the same as reincarnating until you work out your issues and go to Nirvana? Only "Purgatory" gives more control to the leaders of the church. After all, one of them sold tickets to get out of Purgatory and into Heaven faster when he wanted to raise money to build St. Peter's Basilica, thus prompting Martin Luther to say, "Hey, that's wrong! We need to reform the Catholic Church." Which, of course, got him ex-communicated, started The Reformation, and the entire "Protestant" movement. I didn't become Pagan because I knew nothing about the Judeo/Christian paradigm. I guess I knew too much about it.

I advocate the separation of church and state.  I think it is inappropriate for the words “In God we Trust” to appear on our currency.  So did President Theodore Roosevelt.  The words “under God” were not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until June, 1954, when everyone was afraid Communists were lurking around each corner.  The country did fine without those words in the Pledge in the decade prior to that when it first became official, and had done since 1892 when it was first composed.

I advocate these actions not because I want to wipe out anyone else’s religion, but because these words fail to honor the freedom of religion upon which our country was based.  That freedom is guaranteed in the First Amendment of our Constitution—a document I took an oath to uphold and protect.  As it stands, including them goes against the principle of separation of church and state our forefathers advocated.

The United States is home to people who practice a plethora of religions, calling their deities by a multitude of names, including God, Yahweh, Allah, Great Spirit, Buddha, and Vishnu to name a few.  Yes, I included Allah in there, even though many people consider Arabs to be our enemies right now.  Most people don’t realize it, but Muslims and Judeo/Christians worship the same God.  That’s why they fight over Jerusalem—they share many sacred religious sites.  Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.  The Israelites descended from Isaac, and the Arabs descended from Ishmael.  They all worship the God of Abraham.  The difference in name comes only from the difference in the development of their languages. For that matter, extremist groups like Isis and Al Qaeda are to Islam what the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity.  They aren't practicing the tenets of their religion any more than the Klan.  The Koran does not tell Arabs to kill non-believers.  It says Allah will punish them. Again, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." It preaches the Golden Rule, just as the Bible does.

I even knew a person in a Twelve Step program once who called her higher power Irving until eventually she said, “Well, maybe there’s a God and maybe I can stop calling him Irving.”  I knew someone else who simply referred to “H.P.”  That was my nickname for the deity during my transition from the Judeo/Christian belief system to paganism, and I still often say, “Thanks H.P.,” when I’m grateful for something.

Pagans won the right to have Pentacles carved on our headstones in National Cemeteries.  It took us a couple of decades to win that right.  We did not request the government remove the crosses, stars of David or any of the other thirty-some symbols allowed.  All we asked for was recognition of our beliefs.  Austin Dragon, author of Thy Kingdom Fall, along with many conservative Facebookers, portrays us as trying to rip the crosses out of that hallowed ground.  We do not do that.

Pagans are accepting people.  We do not judge; at least we try not to.  Nor do we proselytize.  When was the last time a pagan knocked on your door at some ridiculous hour of the morning or in the middle of your supper and tried to convert you?

Thanks for visiting.

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