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Article ID: 10369
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: January 1st. 2006
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Hypocrites. Closed-minded hypocrites, forever shoving their brand of religion down our throats, imposing their moral structure as absolute truth. Intolerant bigots seeking to force-convert any who might think differently. How long will we tolerate this idiocy? How long will we allow them to rule popular thought, allowing no dissention?
Now that I have your attention, perhaps you might bear with me until the end. You see, I anticipate that the title and opening statement will mostly draw the sort of eye that I seek, those who are forever bashing the apparent enemy of Paganism, the nefarious Christian.
For the record, I am not a Christian. I have, however, spent a significant portion of my life as a sold out (the whole route), convinced apologist for the Christian faith. A Defender of the Faith, as it were. In many years of study I had almost come to the point of realizing the "fact" of Christianity as virtually unassailable. The truth of Christ was all but impregnable. At the very least, Christianity was the most solid choice available in terms of fact and truth. Equally as important, my deductions came not as a result of blind faith, but as what I thought to be (and still think to be) a rational result of investigating the evidence. Of course, I see it differently now.
In my studies I found a great deal of material that served to buttress my faith, but there were always a few nagging questions in the background that were never adequately addressed. I do not seek to address them here, but suffice it to say that I found enough holes in the armor that I could no longer subscribe to the faith as I once had. It was then that I found myself in a position common to many in the Pagan community…having to reassess my religious beliefs, my worldview, and even my politick, amongst many other nagging questions of the existential variety.
Having reviewed and assessed (through apologetics) many of the “alternative” faiths out there, I have, if only for now, made my home in the realm of Pagan thought, and am particularly drawn to the potential of Wicca. Now that I have become more familiar with the schools of teaching and thought commonly available within the community, I have to say that I am still very much impressed with the potential readily evident. I am also saddened by much of what I see, and on occasion even disgusted.
You see, we are everything that we criticize. If one needs to see a hypocrite, they are much more easily served to view the Pagan community than the Christian community. If we seek an example of intolerance, it is more evident in our community than theirs. If we need to identify with persecution and feel ourselves perpetual victims, which is now nearly a modern custom, then the Christian Church holds the rightful title for being under never ending attack in this day and age…perhaps we should be Christians? Again, that is if we feel the need to be on the side of the persecuted.
Yes, I know that some of you are rolling your eyes at about this point, probably considering what illegal substances I must be ingesting to arrive at these conclusions. Be that as it may, I stand by my assertions.
I am curious at how many of you have been sympathetic with the Christian whose religious beliefs have not been respected? How many of you have been the continual targets of the aforementioned rolling eyes and moans when you offer a thought, simply because it can be construed as Christian, or worse yet, **gasp**, conservative. Yeah, I didn’t think very many of you. This is a common experience for the Christian, a burden completely ignored by the outsider. While thier numbers may indicate otherwise, to be a true Christian is very much out of fashion in our current culture.
My point is this: Having walked the walk of both the secular and the Christian, and having come to the Pagan community with a fairly charitable sense of open-mindedness, I think myself far more qualified than many when I say that the modern Christian is, in general, far less damnable than the others in many respects.
I realize that we have the perception that the whole lot of them are closed minded and viciously overbearing in asserting their views upon others. The truth, however, is that many of us have a difficult time with reality, constructing enemies where they do not exist.
It seems not so long ago that I often criticized my fellow believers for their luke-warmness. The majority of Christians are not the zealots we portray them to be, and most of those who are do not even come close to the intolerant fanatics that we would have others believe them to be.
Yes, some make a nuisance of themselves with their insistence, but really now…are they the witch-burners we blabber about all the time? Not even close. I mean really: "The burning times…never again!”? This kind of talk makes me ashamed to the point that I cannot comfortably identify myself either as Pagan or Wiccan in the public square, which is really a pity, since there is much to be offered from either. It is such a radical departure from reality that it causes the more reasonable to dismiss us as infantile, and rightfully so.
But hey, we are at least the tolerant ones, aren’t we? I think not. It takes little effort to note the amount of venom directed towards Christians…just peruse some of the contributions on these very boards. Well, we aren’t overtly mean towards them, after all, that would blow our cover as the enlightened tolerant ones. But with only a minimal amount of intellectual integrity, and a slight grasp of reality, it becomes apparent that we are what we criticize. In fact, I see far more of the seeds of another Inquisition coming from us than them.
It was once great sport for me to welcome the visiting Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness into my home. For me, part of the excitement was in their complete shock when they realized that many times I knew their game better than they. Sometimes I would play dumb for several visits, only to spring questions upon them that caused their weaknesses to glare. In a sick way, the goal was to get them to question their dogma and false teachings, for hopes that they would come back to the “real” way. It was a roundabout way of teaching them, almost Socratic in method. The truth though is that they taught me as well.
You see, Christians (although there is a reasonable argument that neither JW’s nor Mormons are in fact Christians) are almost exclusively a well-intentioned lot. Again, most of them are moderate if not weak in their faith, which is to say that they claim the title but do little to actually walk the path. These are not our concern because they do not interfere with anyone on religious grounds. It is the true believer that causes our discomfort, but even they often operate out of (or a combination of) one of two motivations, both of which are harmless enough.
There is the charge of the Great Commission, which is essentially the “commandment” to go out and preach the gospel. This is the motivation of obedience, which we have no right to criticize if we are really tolerant of other faiths.
Then there is the motivation of love, the sincere belief that hell is our destination and they are responsible to guide us out of it if we are willing. Again, I cannot fault another very easily when their purpose was out of love for me.
I am aware that there are other motivations in some (vanity, intellectual snobbery, etc.), but having had extensive experience in the culture, I can say without a doubt that these are the minority. In short, when we condemn their intended charitable actions out of hostility to the nuisance we perceive, it is we who have become the villain who neither understands nor tolerates.
The truth is that we should be much more united than opposed. Monotheism versus polytheism, reincarnation (or Summerland) versus Heaven and Hell, supernatural versus immanent…all of this is, in a sense, meaningless debate when faced with the sleeping juggernaut of secularism, which threatens all religions, Christian and Pagan alike, if not kept firmly in check. Ours is a common enemy which seeks to extinguish both the flame of religious liberty and free thought. If you doubt it, talk to someone who has lived under the repressive totalitarianism of the former Communist Soviet Bloc. Those wise enough to see the writing on the wall understand the direction we are taking. Oddly enough, this route will characteristically be taken in the name of equality, fairness, tolerance, enlightenment, and a number of other deceptively benign terms.
In short, I ask you to please reassess the threat you perceive in your Christian brother (are we not all brothers in the end, regardless of faith?). We may disagree, but as a former “insider” I have to say that they are nowhere near the monstrosity we make them out to be. How can we continue to characterize every criticism against us they may have as a demonization of our kind, when in fact we demonize them at every turn?
I doubt that any of us can produce even a single current member of the “religious right” who is even nearly deserving of the almost cartoonishly devilish caricature that we impose on him. Much more likely is that we have not given full weight to their position.
It is we who are failing to be tolerant. It is we who are failing to understand “the other side”. It is we who have become closed-minded.
I sense no danger from the Christian quarter of taking away my religious freedom, but rather from the government and those professing tolerance the loudest. In fact, the Christians as a whole are too deeply involved in defending their own religious liberties to even concern themselves with us. But we, however, have so aligned ourselves with the powers that seek to extinguish our freedoms that we fail to see that the Christians are merely the first head on the chopping block. If Christianity, which was almost universally the religion of our forefathers, no matter how much historical revisionism we delude ourselves with, can be brought to its knees by removing its free expression from the public square, then how foolish are we to think that we are safe in our freedoms?
While I write these things in the spirit of truth (another concept we tend to skirt) and love, I am sure that there will be detractors, and that is okay. But for those of you who might be a little more open minded and perceptive than those who tout themselves as such, please, let us together bring back reason to the table. Let us be truly tolerant (many could use a refresher in the simple definition of the word). Many of us embrace the Rede, but in truth most of us expect others to go the step further and “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”. Let us do the same.
And to the Christian, it is with a deep sense of shame and humility that I offer my apologies on behalf of our faith. Many have poorly represented it, and though I may be alone, I offer to you both the olive branch and genuine friendship. May your God bless and protect you always.
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