A Year in Church: A Pagan Studies Christianity From Within
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Article ID: 14177
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: September 26th. 2010
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Not too long ago, the one-year mark passed for how long I have been studying Christianity “in immersion.” The Church I chose to visit was part of the Metropolitan Community Church Denomination. This Denomination stands on a Queer affirming policy and practices and “open table” policy. This means that I was welcome as a Gay Pagan more or less with out hostility.
One thing that was brought up in reference to my presence as a staunch Pagan who was there to learn about how Christians worship and this Jesus fellow was the question of “Would Jesus Discriminate?”
I think that is a question worth taking time to discern. (But I must also state that I am not an authority on Christianity. Christianity is by no means my home turf.)
Would Jesus discriminate? In order to answer that question, one would have to decide ‘what Jesus’ they are talking about? The Historical Jesus? A man who lived thousands of years ago whom we can only read about with limited historical verification? The Jesus who was born of the union of God and a mortal? The one who healed with miracles and was raised from the dead? A holy spirit that can overtake one in worship? Or the Symbolic Jesus? A Jesus who exists as the representation and manifestation of each Christian’s desires, hopes, fears, and love. Or must one choose? Are these three seemingly individuals separate entities at all?
History tells us of a man, named Jesus, who had an idea about religion that has impacted the world for centuries upon centuries. Assuming that stories we currently have about this figure have any measure in fact, we can build a case that Jesus would not discriminate. Jesus walked with the least among society. He stood beside those who were marginalized and spoke with them, cared for them, and asked others to do the same.
Admittedly, I had no idea of these things, even as a person that attended church as a child. Stories such as the “Woman at the Well” and the Parable of the “Good Samaritan” demonstrate in historical context that Jesus crossed social lines of all types.
Using the Historical Jesus archetype, I can say that as a Pagan I was met with a fair reception. The Pastor welcomed me with open arms. He thought my desire to study was an amazing idea and was a tad shocked I would take the chance. I was allowed to participate in all the activities and exercises in that congregation. The first person introduced to me the day I began my visits has become someone I admire and respect. After time, there was an attempt to include me in communion as part of the “open table policy.” I, of course, cannot take “host” as that is technically a contract with a spirit and as a Pagan on the path that I am on I could not participate in that contract creation. But fruit was brought in and was shared as a show of kinship between the congregation and myself. I learned a good deal about Historical Jesus and think that some people could use the role model, religion aside.
‘Son of God Jesus’ really amounts to Historical Jesus with super powers. 'Sorcerer Jesus' would best describe him. I am sure many people may take offense to that. Jesus Christ, the perfect embodiment of what is it to love God and receive His Love in return was an Avatar, plain and simple. He healed; he taught; he moved the world. There was no discrimination. Even when he returned to his home and his town rejected the idea that he could be anything more than a man, he preformed miracles. And as with most Avatars, his power was lessened by doubt. Yet, even though they weakened him, he served them and cared for them. I think that alone shows he would not discriminate.
So that is two out of three. This Jesus guy seems not so bad. As far as being an entity to channel worship through he seems like a decent medium. I myself had not seen a need to have a representative to Sacred until I noted how important it was to have some affability to what you are worshiping. I thought about how I worship as a Pagan and saw there may be weaknesses in my connection to the Elders.
Jesus connects Christians to God. Some forget that. Jews have the direct party line via prophets. Christians get into the Party via his Son. Muslims have Muhammad’s sacred reports that re-establish the direct line/ prophet concept (historically speaking) . Representatives and manifestations of gods appear to be needed to create strong foundations for faith. I kind of learned that from Sorcerer Jesus. I just do not think worshipping him is for me.
Not to spoil the surprise but, ‘Symbolic Jesus’… he would discriminate. Why? Because he is nothing more than the extension of his followers. Individually, of course, not all Christians discriminate. However, Plato would perhaps say that there is this giant floating idea of Jesus that exists out there in space. This 'Idea Jesus' when shared with the 'Concept Jesus' thereby creates a 'Mixture Jesus'. This Jesus would be the Jesus of people such as Pat Robinson, Fred Phelps, and George W. Bush as well as the Jesus of the Pastor who accepts me so easily. The problem is more people say he would discriminate than are saying he would not. So, I submit this idea: “I like your Christ; your Christians worry me.”
I have met a myriad of people who have made me feel at home at church. Some even have visited the local drum circle to see how Pagans worship. They have opened their eyes to the idea that others can worship something sacred and not be evil. But there are others who have not made me feel so welcomed. They have tried to hide it in humor or something that can be taken “poorly” but was “not meant to be offensive.”
I have found that people who tell you ‘what the Bible means’, what ‘Jesus said’, and what ‘God feels or wants’ are people who do nothing more than project their own feelings and desires. They will discriminate themselves and have a ‘Jesus’ who does the same. People who state what they think as an individual about the depictions and interpretations of such things are not as inclined to unfairly discriminate. They have an open-minded Jesus.
So as long as the Christian learns about Historical and Holy Spirit Jesus evenly -- and has been shown the importance of Jesus’ hospitality -- then ‘Jesus’ would not discriminate. But these conclusions took an open-minded Pagan who is practiced in spiritual learning a year of difficult spiritual work to find out. It took a seasoned Clergy person with a New Yorker Attitude to bring it to life in an oppressed Virginian City. If not for these circumstances I would have to say I would not have believed Jesus was anything more than like the worst of his modern disciples. So, Pagans, Wiccans, and Heathens of all sorts should perhaps also take the time to learn and study and not discriminate based simply upon one ‘idea’ of ‘Jesus’. After all, it is okay to like this Christ person (in one form or another) even if Christians tend to worry you.
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