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Author Topic: being eclectic & tensions between my different interest groups & beliefs  (Read 768 times)

EclecticWheel

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I have been developing my spiritual beliefs since childhood and have finally arrived at a place over the last 2-3 years where my worldview is becoming pretty stable although some of the outer aspects of my path are still in flux, but mainly only a couple of rituals I'm still working out.  Overall it has become stable.

I think the best word I can put on it is eclectic, but I find myself in an unusual place.  Not bad or anything, just unusual because of the combination of beliefs and practices I have.

I have explored lots of beliefs and practices, sometimes on the side of my primary practices, but on the whole over the past 7 years my spirituality has followed a general trend.  Culturally I'm Episcopalian and am very accepted in those circles and know other eclectic Episcopalians.  But I am a pantheist (sexed up atheist) and have my own interpretation of Christ and the Trinity.  I am a materialist but am devotion centered with devotions to God, the saints, one folk saint, personal spirits, and to some extent interact with fictional characters from books and other sources much like any other spirit.

Some of my practices are traditional.  If I set up an altar to a folk saint I try to make sure I'm doing so in a traditional way and other practices are traditionally Anglo-Catholic.  If I'm working with spirits I personally met then I make my own traditions, same with fictional characters.  My interpretation of what I'm doing or why I'm doing it is virtually never traditional in part because I'm a materialist.

This has resulted in me spending time in various groups to nurture different parts of me, some of them Christian, a local neo-pagan group, and I have had good discussions and friendships with other skeptics, agnostic-atheist types but depending on what group I'm in find it hard not to feel like I'm censoring myself.

Even amongst progressive Christians there is only so much I can say without being thought weird.  Ironically I sometimes have more discussion with traditionally inclined Anglicans - my liberal Christian friends are usually less inclined to mysticism, don't like a lot of mystery in religion and worship, and tend to be rather secular  (this is by no means true of all of them and I do really enjoy these friendships.)

I get along great with my neo-pagan friends and attend their worship when welcomed.  One I am particularly able to discuss with and we get each other though we are very different in some ways spiritually - she is a Kemetic reconstructionist but also has other practices.  I also clicked well with an eclectic Christopagan who I suspect was also a materialist.  But amongst some others I kept fairly quiet because they insisted Christians stole everything from them and I didn't feel too safe to share.  Also when I am a guest at events I venerate the gods and show respect but the most response I ever felt from those gods to me was kind of like, "Oh, aren't you sweet."  Nothing hostile, they just weren't overly interested.

Amongst humanist and atheist types, I have known them to be hostile toward all religion and spirituality (with notable exceptions).  If I share my own sentiments, let alone my blend of spiritual practices, some of them have balked, especially since I am essentially a materialist.  I can get this from the other side of the fence with religious people who don't understand how I could be a materialist.  One exception is a friend I have who is a humanist and anthropologist but she is a little weird too.

I have no problem meeting different spiritual needs or different forms of fellowship by associating with different groups, but having to censor myself feels dishonest at times.  Then again not talking about every single aspect of my worldview isn't necessarily dishonest, just a little uncomfortable when the different groups I mingle with can sometimes be hostile to one another but different aspects of each meet different needs for me.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Emma Eldritch

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Quote from: EclecticWheel;150633
I have been developing my spiritual beliefs since childhood and have finally arrived at a place over the last 2-3 years where my worldview is becoming pretty stable although some of the outer aspects of my path are still in flux, but mainly only a couple of rituals I'm still working out.  Overall it has become stable.

I think the best word I can put on it is eclectic, but I find myself in an unusual place.  Not bad or anything, just unusual because of the combination of beliefs and practices I have.

I have explored lots of beliefs and practices, sometimes on the side of my primary practices, but on the whole over the past 7 years my spirituality has followed a general trend.  Culturally I'm Episcopalian and am very accepted in those circles and know other eclectic Episcopalians.  But I am a pantheist (sexed up atheist) and have my own interpretation of Christ and the Trinity.  I am a materialist but am devotion centered with devotions to God, the saints, one folk saint, personal spirits, and to some extent interact with fictional characters from books and other sources much like any other spirit.

Some of my practices are traditional.  If I set up an altar to a folk saint I try to make sure I'm doing so in a traditional way and other practices are traditionally Anglo-Catholic.  If I'm working with spirits I personally met then I make my own traditions, same with fictional characters.  My interpretation of what I'm doing or why I'm doing it is virtually never traditional in part because I'm a materialist.

This has resulted in me spending time in various groups to nurture different parts of me, some of them Christian, a local neo-pagan group, and I have had good discussions and friendships with other skeptics, agnostic-atheist types but depending on what group I'm in find it hard not to feel like I'm censoring myself.

Even amongst progressive Christians there is only so much I can say without being thought weird.  Ironically I sometimes have more discussion with traditionally inclined Anglicans - my liberal Christian friends are usually less inclined to mysticism, don't like a lot of mystery in religion and worship, and tend to be rather secular  (this is by no means true of all of them and I do really enjoy these friendships.)

I get along great with my neo-pagan friends and attend their worship when welcomed.  One I am particularly able to discuss with and we get each other though we are very different in some ways spiritually - she is a Kemetic reconstructionist but also has other practices.  I also clicked well with an eclectic Christopagan who I suspect was also a materialist.  But amongst some others I kept fairly quiet because they insisted Christians stole everything from them and I didn't feel too safe to share.  Also when I am a guest at events I venerate the gods and show respect but the most response I ever felt from those gods to me was kind of like, "Oh, aren't you sweet."  Nothing hostile, they just weren't overly interested.

Amongst humanist and atheist types, I have known them to be hostile toward all religion and spirituality (with notable exceptions).  If I share my own sentiments, let alone my blend of spiritual practices, some of them have balked, especially since I am essentially a materialist.  I can get this from the other side of the fence with religious people who don't understand how I could be a materialist.  One exception is a friend I have who is a humanist and anthropologist but she is a little weird too.

I have no problem meeting different spiritual needs or different forms of fellowship by associating with different groups, but having to censor myself feels dishonest at times.  Then again not talking about every single aspect of my worldview isn't necessarily dishonest, just a little uncomfortable when the different groups I mingle with can sometimes be hostile to one another but different aspects of each meet different needs for me.

 
Is it important to you that you be 100% forthcoming with everyone you know? Is it important that you not be considered 'weird'?

I confess I read your post and sat here a bit trying to figure out why you were bothered. Being a naturally solitary person I was also impressed by your huge social circle. I then started to envision this amazing cocktail party where the nature of god came up in discussion and then a brawl broke out in the living room... totally awesome. But not your point.

I think that you just have to figure out what you're trying to get out of these people. Are you fulfiled spiritually or socially by them? Do the disagreements you have with people outweigh the benefits? Do you need close friends, or just cool people to talk about spiritual matters with?

I also think it depends on how much you feel you have to censor yourself. We all have to a little in day-to-day life - I don't walk into my office and start shaking people for their fashion choices. But my hatred of poorly groomed eyebrows and people who wear sweatpants to work is a small thing. It would be different if I felt I couldn't express my sexual orientation, or some huge ethical issue of mine. If you're with that pagan group and they start whining about how the Grinchy Christians stole Christmas, and that amount of stupid truly bothers you... then I think that you should feel comfortable in disagreeing vocally.

You seem like a very sweet person, and one who values getting along with people. While there is nothing wrong with that, I do think it can contribute to your stress about the matter. Being 'weird' isn't so bad - people will still like you. You will probably never find anyone who believes exactly as you do, and that's also okay.

EclecticWheel

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Quote from: Mama Fortuna;150655
Is it important to you that you be 100% forthcoming with everyone you know? Is it important that you not be considered 'weird'?

I confess I read your post and sat here a bit trying to figure out why you were bothered. Being a naturally solitary person I was also impressed by your huge social circle. I then started to envision this amazing cocktail party where the nature of god came up in discussion and then a brawl broke out in the living room... totally awesome. But not your point.

I think that you just have to figure out what you're trying to get out of these people. Are you fulfiled spiritually or socially by them? Do the disagreements you have with people outweigh the benefits? Do you need close friends, or just cool people to talk about spiritual matters with?

I also think it depends on how much you feel you have to censor yourself. We all have to a little in day-to-day life - I don't walk into my office and start shaking people for their fashion choices. But my hatred of poorly groomed eyebrows and people who wear sweatpants to work is a small thing. It would be different if I felt I couldn't express my sexual orientation, or some huge ethical issue of mine. If you're with that pagan group and they start whining about how the Grinchy Christians stole Christmas, and that amount of stupid truly bothers you... then I think that you should feel comfortable in disagreeing vocally.

You seem like a very sweet person, and one who values getting along with people. While there is nothing wrong with that, I do think it can contribute to your stress about the matter. Being 'weird' isn't so bad - people will still like you. You will probably never find anyone who believes exactly as you do, and that's also okay.

I agree with what you are saying - I am mainly just reflecting.  I suppose I have sought out these different social groups to discuss my different interests - even in the neo-pagan group we don't do a lot of ritual and when we did on special occasions the format would depend on who took on the role to lead or plan it.  The friends I made there actually don't have much to do with the original group anymore, we have our own informal meetings now, usually involving dinner or something like that.

I am actually quite introverted and don't always do well in social situations, but these groups are small and often have a general theme of discussion that is interesting to me.  That type of setting enables me to have conversations more easily as I am not in a totally spontaneous situation and I have made interesting friends and have been able to draw on their ideas too.  We often share books.  So I didn't mean to imply too many disadvantages - only to reflect on tensions largely within myself that I manage to balance.  I guess in a way I am comparing how those tensions are reflected within and also without via my different interest groups - a very intriguing exercise to say the least.

For the most part I am not as socially active these days; I now mainly connect with a couple of good friends I made in these settings and we have more private discussions or visits.  My spiritual practices have become almost entirely solitary but mainly because that's what I need right now.  From time to time I attend eucharist or group walks on the labrynth at a friend's house on equinoxes and solstices.  Curiously enough, on one of those walks my Christian and neo-pagan friends, none of whom had met each other, and one agnostic all showed up - it was a powerful moment to feel all of those perspectives within me and without joining together in one ritual, seemingly by chance as we had not planned it but all heard about the walk from different sources.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 01:19:43 am by EclecticWheel »
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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