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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 77 - 9/15/2002
Pot-Kettle: Do We Have Our Own Fundamentalists?
Does religious fundamentalism exist in some Pagan and/or Heathen communities? Can a closed group or tradition be considered as fundamentalist? Are there some Pagans and/or Heathens who 'preach' one true Pagan or Heathen way? Is resistance to the 'mainstreaming' of Paganism/Heathenism a form of fundamentalism? How can we approach the preservation of Pagan and/or Heathen spiritual and/or cultural integrity and identity without falling into fundamentalism? Is fundamentalism even necessarily a 'bad' thing?
You can also check out Isaac Bonewitt's essay on fundamentalism at: A Call to Arms for definitions and other background material.
| Reponses: There are 91 responses posted to this question.
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| Yes, And Yes ||Sep 15th. at 4:33:14 pm UTC|
|Lunae (rural, STL area) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Yes, I see it in the aforementioned "exclusivity" troubles.
Where I see it more and actually feel frightened is of the converts to Paganism (converts are traditionally the more hmmm, diligent of the species) who act from tragic emotional and psychic scarring.
These are the people who flare up or lash out at others, particularly Christians. I've been physically beaten by Xtians and legally attacked. I among all my sisters and brothers can understand what bad histories and frames of reference we can have.
I just wanted to add that ANYONE who yells, throws around their arms, makes threats toward, etc another group of people may be seen as Fundamentalist. You may not call yourself such but to a neutral observer you either have a mental condition or you are following a Fundamental path if you are acting in the name of your religion.
Keep in mind what was done to you and don't pass it on. Isn't that the key to ending abuse?
| Preach Tolerance ||Sep 15th. at 3:34:04 pm UTC|
|Diama White (Wayne, MI USA) ||Age: 46 - Email |
It took me a few minutes to understand what kind/type of fundies we were talking about. My partner and I practice together because we can not find others that aren't already 'established'. Established seems to mean the same as 'it's this way or look elsewhere.' One coven close to us believe in this (practice) and the other that. So as confusing as it was and still is, maybe we are making more solitary practicioners than being a welcoming people. We would like to be with a group, but 100% we preach tolerance. I guess in our own way the two of us are fundies if we insist on tolerence. :)
| Yes, Oh Yes! ||Sep 15th. at 1:10:39 pm UTC|
|Greenvie (Tucson, AZ) ||Age: 47 - Email |
When my family and I started looking into Earth-based religions to further the expression of our spirituality, my son soon came to me and said, "Mom, no matter where I look - Druid, Wicca, whatever, all I see is more of what we're trying to get away from in the Church - inflexibility, exclusivity, and a new kind of intolerance. Many respect all paths (unless it's Christian), but if you're going to be a part of their path, you have to do it their way."
Of course we realize that's "tradition," but tradition is a great part of what is strangling the Church and why many are turning to earth-based religions in the first place. We in no way disdain tradition; those are the reverberations and connections we feel to the ancient. Many people feel more comfortable having everything laid out for them, but many prefer a creative approach to the traditional. The energies can be brought to bear in infinite ways.
| Mystical Christianity ||Sep 15th. at 1:06:32 pm UTC|
|LaGaeLa (Nashville) ||Age: 43 - Email |
As a practicing Golden Dawn Ceremonial, part of the historical core of my practice is Rosicrucion & Hermetic Qabalah. The mysteries choose to reveal themselves through the "Mysteries of the Crucifixation" in a pure practice. I have to chuckle at how many Pagans are unaware that there are those Pagans "who walk in the body of Christ". Keep in mind that Jesus was not Christian. That he was of a mystical Jewish sect called the Essenes. The "Unwritten Kosher Kaballah" comprised a major portion of his practice. The message of the "Cosmic Christ Incarnate" we hear in church's today, bears very little semblance to the many layers of hidden meaning beneath that that was given 2000 yeas ago. And yes......... much of the symbolism that one uses in the practice of Wicca comes from High Magick of christian origins.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had disparaging remarks about Christians or Jesus directed toward me from those Pagans who have no idea of what my path is. I have to say that often it came from someone I deemed new to the path. I think those of us who have suffered "bible abuse" & are starting out on our path swing to the opposite Pillar until we find the middle ground. I can tell a truly enlightened individual by how they regard "what is sacred in someone else's eyes".
Fundalmentalism is rooted in an unwillingness to expand & broaden one's horizons, to confine one's self to a narrow viewpoint. There are many who are equally guilty of what they accuse their Christian counterparts of. While Pagans are definitely the better educated segment of the public, we still have a ways to go in overcoming & transcending our scars & pain of past religious abuses. I find that many of my friends will educate themselves to a certain point of practice & then that's it.
It is my hope that Pagans will overcome the fear of losing autonomity, within our traditions, by moving to a point of conscensous, where we might experience the renaissaance of a national movement. In my opinion, the lack of power for pagans in our society relates to the fact that we have no identifiable leadership. No national presence to put forth what core values we truly represent. When we have no real visible movement of pagan current, we tend to stagnate. We become comfortable within our viewpoints as we stand & defend our beliefs but do we truly progress in our status quo? Defending is not progressing.
Fundamentalism takes root in many unseen ways. Sometimes we are very adept at hiding it from ourselves. Disquising it in tradition, education, close knit communities or covens. Paganism is innovative, exciting, a rediscovery of lost abilities. A discovery of the divine within all.
Paganism is about pushing the envelope. Paganism is about expanding awareness not stagnating in a narrow viewpoint.
| Boy Howdy ||Sep 15th. at 12:48:22 pm UTC|
|cetacia (northwest) ||Age: 41 - Email |
I live in an area where they are precious few practicing heathen/pagans. If the fundie ratio to practioners here are any indication of the stats out there, I am indeed very worried. It didn't take me long to cut bait and swim out on my own. From the get go here the Witch Wars were on. Who was the biggest baddest longest traditional(which I personally don't go with)Witch of them all. I believe I did my part as far as the Issac Bonewits article is concerned by not tolerating their behavior. I no longer patrionized their circle or establishment. If anyone here asked me where they could find a circle, I respectfully answered, not one I would recommend. Personally I have found like the organised christian religions, you get a group of people together and there alway has to be the few bad apples that spoil it for the rest. Although I really miss the energy created by a group circle, not having to put up with the Only True Tradition has been worth it.
| Absolutely YES ||Sep 15th. at 11:35:34 am UTC|
|Lauryl Stone (Durham, NC) ||Age: 34 - Email - Web|
Yes, Paganism has its share of fundies. For example, as a mainly self-taught, self-initiated Witch, I can't tell you how many times I've heard the view that "only a Witch can make a Witch." I can tell you, the Lord and Lady called me, and if They don't have the authority to make me a Witch, I don't know who does.
Close-mindedness only serves to divide us when we should be united -- or at least polite and tolerant of each other.
Whatever happened to respecting each other's different paths to the Divine? I may not be a Gardnerian going back three generations, but that doesn't make my path (or theirs!) less valid. I have no gripe with people who want to preserve their traditions. I just want respect for me and mine.
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