For all those researching contemporary Pagans in Europe and America
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Latest Activity: May 15, 2014
Greetings, all. I am new to this group and I'm very interested in the work everyone is doing toward this topic. Can we get a discussion going? ChristinaContinue
Started by Christina Beard-Moose Oct 12, 2012.
I am starting my research about the uprising of what we can call "Natural Religions", such as neo-paganism and neo-shamanism, and the enviromental dimension of their political speech. If you know any bibliography about this theme, please, let me know!
William Rathouse wrote ".... I'm very curious as to what parallels you find between fundamental Christianity and contemporary Paganism..."
I apologise William, I don't seem to get notifications from this topic and I assumed the thread was dead. Perhaps parallels was the wrong word. My somewhat unscientific impression, gathered as a "watcher" on various forums is of a tension between dogma and personal revelation in both christianity and paganism in the US. As Kierin has noted, the UK scene is more post literalist and easy going. In fact, the submission for charitable status by the Druid Network in the UK, is almost deliberately vague! My interest was sparked by a debate on a UK forum discussing the Northern Tradition and the Folkist element, much of the argument for ethnicity qualification was imported from the US, where "roots" seem to be a real issue.
I'd agree that it's not always, probably not usually at the forefront of people's minds but if you accept that identity is largely constructed on the basis of affiliation (membership of groups) and alterity (whereby those not in affiliate groups are considered outsiders or other) then the primary other is generally Christianity although rationalist atheism also looms large. Within a pagan group, e.g. Asatruar, those who are from a different tradition or 'fluffy' overly eclectic etc. may be considered other to the point of abjection (being made actively undesirable).
In short whilst the countercultural opposition to Christianity is not the defining feature of contemporary Paganism, it is an important part of the construction of Pagan identity
Indeed Green Christianity and non-dogmatic Christianity are not oxymorons but they are not embraced as core to Christian mainstream values still less seen as such from outside and as such do not feature in the Pagan alterity of Christianity. Indeed Christianity itself constructed it's identity in opposition to the old pagan religions largely as a result of abjection of early Christians by the pagan Roman Empire.
I've been a pagan for years, and I don't necessarily think that pagans define themselves solely in terms of not being Christians. The religions of the Book tend towards literalism, however, and paganism, by not having a canon, nor a set of beliefs or understandings that are central to self identification as a pagan, is a far more flexible belief system, well suited to a post literalist age. The emphasis that most pagans I know place on the living world and the health of living systems also makes it quite suitable as a spiritual practice suited to finding paths that may be more sustainable both for the world and the people living within it.
Of course, green Christianity is not an oxymoron, nor is undogmatic Christianity.
I've met a few Quaker Pagans over the years. Very nice people all of them. When you say you're meeting an increasing number of self-described Pagans, do you mean as patients in your mental health work? I'm very curious as to what parallels you find between fundamental Christianity and contemporary Paganism. My initial thought is that Paganism is a counter-cultural movement defining itself in opposition to what is often perceived as a Christian mainstream. However the fundamentalists could also be said to formulate their identity in opposition to a Christian mainstream they see as impure or excessively liberal.
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