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Author Topic: Culture/Worldview and Deities  (Read 10695 times)

Stardancer

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2011, 07:50:48 am »
Quote from: Melamphoros;8295
This thread was inspired by one of my "quietly watch while munching popcorn" threads.  How does culture and worldview relate to deities?  Is it required to have a particular worldview to fully understand a deity?  Is cultural context the only way to understand a deity or just the way the deity was worshiped in the past?  Can one worship or understand a deity without the original worshipers' culture/worldview?

I think I'm with both Jenett and monsnoleedra on this one.

First example: I worship Sekhmet (among others) - I am in no way a reconstructionist, and I see no need to be. The same way I don't need to redecorate my house and entirely change my personal schedule, just because a beloved aunt comes to visit. However I will make sure I feed her something she likes, avoids stuff she's allergic to, and if her knees are bothering her I will find some extra blankets for her legs. So I check websites and shared UPG as to what Sekhmet likes, and make sure to offer her that. But I don't build a temple, I don't use ancient egyptian rites, I don't worry about statuary.

Can I then Know Sekhmet? Maybe there are bits missing, but my interactions with Her are fulfilling, I feel her assistance and her help, and I feel her enjoying what I give her. So I guess I know her well enough for my purposes.

Second example: Njord. I have no particular relationship with him, but he is  here. When I step onto my local ferry, I'm right above his home, his dwelling. I try to sense for other energies or deities, but they're not here. This is His, his land, his place, the place that is infused with Njord's energy. Certainly, he can be
worshiped and enjoyed anywhere in the world, but this is where he originates. It's like I'm a next door neighbour of someone elses favoured aunt/uncle... Despite me having a land attachment to Him, you who invite him into your house might very well know him better.

But that doesn't mean any of us know him 'perfectly', and I don't think any of us  can; It might very well require that a) all worshipers had to live here, b) that all who live here revert to ca 10. century AD life style (count me out on that one; thralls and setting out baby girls in the woods ain't my cup of nettle tea), and c) that the life style was accompanied by the 10. century AD cosmology (you can count me out on that one too, I don't much appreciate sacrificing either humans or horses).

It is after all the religions that are being reconstructed through examining myths, history, lore, etc - not the Deities themselves. They're already here. Favoured aunt exists as she is - the only question is how she is approached.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 07:52:00 am by Stardancer »
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Darkhawk

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2011, 09:16:06 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;8577
God what did I even say that started all this... Oh, "you're basically just a polytheistic Christian". Which Darkhawk claimed was offensive to Christianity because I used Christianity as the 'default' religion for Americans when providing an example. (Or something, I still don't really get it what the problem is.)

 
The problem is that you are claiming that Christianity is so valueless and incoherent that if anything does not fit a particular very narrow perspective it must be Christian.
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Eyesinthedark

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2011, 10:12:58 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;8442
I think understanding the worldview is important. There are concepts that make a religion unique and that give one a certain outlook on your place in the world.

For example, and I forget who it was, but someone said why would Ragnarok matter if we're all dying anyway. Death in the worldview of heathenry is different than our modern one. We're so trained to the idea that death means separation from the world rather than changing your relationship to world. If we don't understand the worldview than we're interpreting heathen concepts from a basically Christian mindset rather than as a heathen one. We then place the gods into God's framework, his operations, and into his control of the world and spirit.

 
I think that was probably me, and I admit I hadn't thought about it quite like this before... Thanks for giving me something to think about!!

To me understanding where and who your religion came from is important for its own sake (I'm very much still learning about the worldview though!), but while I enjoy reading the lore and thinking about the culture and worldview that produced it, I guess I'm not really a reconstructionist at heart. I enjoy the knowledge, but I find it hard to integrate it with my worldview, which I don't necessarily see as a bad thing.
Worldviews evolve for a reason, after all, and seem to be heavily dependent, at least in modern times with our almost unlimited access to other people and cultures, on one's personal beliefs and preferences.

I, too, think Jenett has hit the nail on the head. Understanding the worldview is great, but one doesn't necessarily have to adopt it oneself to follow a particular deity. To follow a religion as a whole, possibly yes though.

I guess if you don't actually have a god/dess angry at you, and you're happy in your religion, and not trying to tell anyone that your modernised worldview was how the ancient people saw things, then where's the harm in adapting things, as long as you're open that that's what you're doing?
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Melamphoros

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2011, 10:16:06 am »
Quote from: Eyesinthedark;8643
I think that was probably me, and I admit I hadn't thought about it quite like this before... Thanks for giving me something to think about!!

To me understanding where and who your religion came from is important for its own sake (I'm very much still learning about the worldview though!), but while I enjoy reading the lore and thinking about the culture and worldview that produced it, I guess I'm not really a reconstructionist at heart. I enjoy the knowledge, but I find it hard to integrate it with my worldview, which I don't necessarily see as a bad thing.
Worldviews evolve for a reason, after all, and seem to be heavily dependent, at least in modern times with our almost unlimited access to other people and cultures, on one's personal beliefs and preferences.

I, too, think Jenett has hit the nail on the head. Understanding the worldview is great, but one doesn't necessarily have to adopt it oneself to follow a particular deity. To follow a religion as a whole, possibly yes though.

I guess if you don't actually have a god/dess angry at you, and you're happy in your religion, and not trying to tell anyone that your modernised worldview was how the ancient people saw things, then where's the harm in adapting things, as long as you're open that that's what you're doing?

 
^This.  All of it.


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stephyjh

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #34 on: July 27, 2011, 12:31:30 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;8577
Do you understand that Darkhawk claimed I was offensive to a majority and not to him personally? Let me break it down for you.


God what did I even say that started all this... Oh, "you're basically just a polytheistic Christian". Which Darkhawk claimed was offensive to Christianity because I used Christianity as the 'default' religion for Americans when providing an example. (Or something, I still don't really get it what the problem is.)

Did I truly offend Christianity by using it as the 'default' religion of America? Since 78% of the country is Christian, I doubt it. statistics. It isn't an overall offensive statement because it reflects the social 'norm', or accepted fact.

Was Darkhawk offended that I chose to use the majority religion instead of choosing to highlight several religious profiles? Yes. It was personally offending. Did I offend the socially accepted opinion by using Christianity as a prevelant worldview in America's religious landscape that one has to overcome? No, because it is the socially accepted opinion that Christianity is widely known and practiced.

Darkhawk being personally offended does not make it an offensive comment.

 
It was, however, an offensive comment. Any Christian presented with the idea of "polytheistic Christianity" would be offended, because there's no such thing, and their first commandment is to have NO other gods. It's also offensive to people who do see their religion as needing to fit within the framework of modern life in order to be functional, and to those who have been badly burned by their experiences with and in certain Christian groups.

Also, Darkhawk is not a man, and your use of male pronouns as default is archaic at best.

Your assumption that it's not "really" offensive because you don't understand why is really frustrating.
A heretic blast has been blown in the west,
That what is no sense must be nonsense.

-Robert Burns

Juniperberry

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #35 on: July 27, 2011, 02:23:49 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;8637
The problem is that you are claiming that Christianity is so valueless and incoherent that if anything does not fit a particular very narrow perspective it must be Christian.


That was not my intention. My intent was to use an example (I even said 'for example') on how having a Christian view on death can hinder a heathen view of death. I chose a specific concept because the two perspectives of those concepts are at odds with each other. I then went on to say, obviously not at clearly as I like, that if you are coming from Christianity into heathenry without adjusting your worldview then your basically just a Christian polytheist. That if we are retaining our philosophy of a previous religion and are just adding new gods to the mix then we're neither one or the other, fully.  ('We' being a generic for all those this relates to and not all people in the world, everywhere.)

I chose a specific concept and highlighted (quickly) the different view from two specific religions. I do fail to see how this is as offensive as you claim and how it's utter nonsense. I can see how my post wasn't as clear as it could have been, and would ask that next time you come at me seeking clarification and communication rather than resorting immediately to insults and accusations. We're all none of us perfect, and we have to give each other some leeway and act as adults. I'm sure you understand this as you're very obviously concerned with decency towards others.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 02:24:54 pm by Juniperberry »
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Juniperberry

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #36 on: July 27, 2011, 02:41:45 pm »
Quote from: stephyjh;8659
It was, however, an offensive comment. Any Christian presented with the idea of "polytheistic Christianity" would be offended, because there's no such thing, and their first commandment is to have NO other gods.


I really don't know how to respond to this. I know that christianity isn't polytheistic. My point -as I stated above- was that not attempting to understand a new culture but just adding elements to your current culture makes you a mix. Like...If you always make chocolate chip cookies but now you want oatmeal, and instead of separating the oatmeal and chips you just add the oatmeal to the chips, then what you have is oatmeal chip cookies.  This is fine- except for those people who genuinely want just oatmeal, or who can't appreciate the full flavor of oatmeal because the chocolate is over-whelming.

This is the weirdest thing 've had to talk about today.


Quote
It's also offensive to people who do see their religion as needing to fit within the framework of modern life in order to be functional, and to those who have been badly burned by their experiences with and in certain Christian groups.


Well, to this I say that some things are going to be offensive. What we're having is a discussion on exactly this, so rather than attack me for my POV, why don't we discuss it? Why don't you share your view of how adopting a worldview isn't necessary etc, and communicate with me. That's the purpose of this thread- to share differing opinions. I'm not sure that my different opinion is offensive because it's different than yours or somebody else, but fine, whatever. Really, it's not that big of a deal to me since I'm not perfect and never claim to be, but let's be adult and communicate over this. The whole thread is passing us by as we nit-pick every single thing I said that may have been morally wrong lol.

 


Quote
Also, Darkhawk is not a man, and your use of male pronouns as default is archaic at best.


You cannot be serious with this. Quit grasping for straws and stick with somewhat legitimate complaints. I don't know why you're determined to get me for something, or whatever you're doing, but people are looking at you as well as me and something ridiculous like this damages your argument.

Quote
Your assumption that it's not "really" offensive because you don't understand why is really frustrating.


Really? The fact that I'm trying to discuss and understand and see where exactly you're getting this idea is frustrating to you??? Would it be better if I just bowed down to you, Stephyj, and accepted all the criticisms you're heaping on my head? That is one of THE most ridiculous things I've ever heard. But still not as ridiculous as the fact that I have gender issues now, too.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Lokabrenna

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #37 on: July 27, 2011, 03:13:24 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;8460
I think that original culture matters to deity work about as much as knowing where someone grew up matters to having a relationship with them as an adult.

In other words, it obviously has an effect, and the closer you are to someone, the more useful it is to know what cultural background they bring, and how they might react to certain things, and so on.

But it's also quite possible to have a very good working relationship with someone whose culture isn't familiar to you, if you negotiate the individual interactions thoughtfully, or are working in a shared culture that everyone agrees on. (In terms of things like "How do I express respect for you, and show when I'm listening" and "What kind of things do you like to get as presents/tokens of esteem" and "How formal are we going to be with each other.")
 
Knowing the initial cultures gives you a really good start on that negotiation. But it's not the only way to sort things out.

 
This is basically my opinion.
 
I think of it this way, some people go the extra mile and learn the languages that the people who worshiped the gods spoke to use in their rituals, and that's awesome if you have the time and the money to learn a dead language, but I think gods, being gods, have had a lot of time to learn different tongues. This is, of course, assuming that the gods are actual beings that interact with humans, and not, say, archetypes. I think, if you take a more hard polytheist stance, that the gods have had a long time to adjust to the way the world works now.

stephyjh

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #38 on: July 27, 2011, 03:29:02 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;8687

Well, to this I say that some things are going to be offensive. What we're having is a discussion on exactly this, so rather than attack me for my POV, why don't we discuss it? Why don't you share your view of how adopting a worldview isn't necessary etc, and communicate with me. That's the purpose of this thread- to share differing opinions. I'm not sure that my different opinion is offensive because it's different than yours or somebody else, but fine, whatever. Really, it's not that big of a deal to me since I'm not perfect and never claim to be, but let's be adult and communicate over this. The whole thread is passing us by as we nit-pick every single thing I said that may have been morally wrong lol.

 
First, no one's attacking you. You said something that offended me and others, and we called you on it.

Second, after saying something offensive and then claiming it wasn't, the "everyone's picking on me" excuse doesn't work. Have you considered that maybe those people who are offended by what you've said have legitimate complaints, based on what you've said, rather than what you were trying to say? Part of "being adult and communicating" is looking at one's own words and action and taking ownership of them.
A heretic blast has been blown in the west,
That what is no sense must be nonsense.

-Robert Burns

Juniperberry

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2011, 03:41:20 pm »
Quote from: stephyjh;8706
First, no one's attacking you. You said something that offended me and others, and we called you on it.

Second, after saying something offensive and then claiming it wasn't, the "everyone's picking on me" excuse doesn't work. Have you considered that maybe those people who are offended by what you've said have legitimate complaints, based on what you've said, rather than what you were trying to say? Part of "being adult and communicating" is looking at one's own words and action and taking ownership of them.


The us of attack in this instance has nothing to do with some playground bullying notion but the fact that you are attacking my position rather than discussing the over-all issue in a give and take manner, stephy.

In the presidential election, McCain could be said to have attacked Obama's stance on military funding. Attacking his stance does not equal debate or open, civil discussion on the topics.

I accept, and have fully pointed out, that my opinion was offensive to you and Darkhawk. It is not offensive in general though, as others have agreed with and appreciated my opinion. My point, then, is why are we arguing whether or not its offensive, and instead discuss the actual differing views.

Clearly, people are different and react differently to things. I understand that DH found what I said insensitive and I have been making efforts with him to clear up any misunderstandings on the topic. That does not seem to be the focus in my discussion with you.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Auress

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2011, 03:46:45 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;8684
That was not my intention. My intent was to use an example (I even said 'for example') on how having a Christian view on death can hinder a heathen view of death. I chose a specific concept because the two perspectives of those concepts are at odds with each other. I then went on to say, obviously not at clearly as I like, that if you are coming from Christianity into heathenry without adjusting your worldview then your basically just a Christian polytheist. That if we are retaining our philosophy of a previous religion and are just adding new gods to the mix then we're neither one or the other, fully.  ('We' being a generic for all those this relates to and not all people in the world, everywhere.)

I chose a specific concept and highlighted (quickly) the different view from two specific religions. I do fail to see how this is as offensive as you claim and how it's utter nonsense. I can see how my post wasn't as clear as it could have been, and would ask that next time you come at me seeking clarification and communication rather than resorting immediately to insults and accusations. We're all none of us perfect, and we have to give each other some leeway and act as adults. I'm sure you understand this as you're very obviously concerned with decency towards others.


I think this is rather presumptuous, frankly. You assume that everyone who wants to have a relationship with a god of heathenry need to do so from the world view of heathens. Or is trying to do it from that perspective. That is complete nonsense. Why would the Gods care where you hail from, or what worldview you're using?

So, basically, if I wanted to be a devotee of Odin, I'd better just do it from a recon perspective or otherwise I'm wasting my time? I think that's ridiculous. If that were the case, Wicca wouldn't be a successful religion, eclectics wouldn't be successful in their endeavors with the Gods, etc.

What about atheists? Better yet, what about Chaos magicians?? Sometimes, they use whatever deity they wish even going so far as to INVENT their own. They don't come from the perspective of the worldview associated with said deity. And.....they're successful. If we take them at their word.

I think saying someone is just basically a polytheist is rather insulting, myself. I don't hold a recon worldview.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 03:53:07 pm by Auress »

Juniperberry

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2011, 04:12:14 pm »
Quote from: Vermillion;8720
I think this is rather presumptuous, frankly. You assume that everyone who wants to have a relationship with a god of heathenry need to do so from the world view of heathens. That is complete nonsense. Why would the Gods care where you hail from, or what worldview you're using?
Quote


Do you find it any less presumptius to basically rip a god from its native culture and apply it to yours? Shouldn't some understanding of the gods native home and people be of some concern to you?

I don't understand why the gods wouldn't care. And, this'll piss you off but that ship has sailed, but it sounds like you're saying the gods will be happy to be worshipped anyway they can get it. How is that not demeaning to them?

Quote
So, basically, if I wanted to be a devotee of Odin, I'd better just do it from a recon perspective or otherwise I'm wasting my time? I think that's ridiculous. If that were the case, Wicca wouldn't be a successful religion, eclectics wouldn't be successful in their endeavors with the Gods, etc.
I don't think you need to subscribe to he heathenry worldview, but I do think it helps to understand how that god views the world, his purpose and function in it, and what he finds pleasing. Seems somewhat respectful.

Quote
What about atheists? Better yet, what about Chaos magicians?? Sometimes, they use whatever deity they wish even going so far as to INVENT their own. They don't come from the perspective of the worldview associated with said deity. And.....they're successful. If we take them at their word.


And I have no doubt if they want to share their opinions on this they will. I apologize that my point of view is not calibrated to the global community but only to my own.

Unwilling point out, though, that invented cultures don't have an existing worldview to consider so its a moot point.

Quote
I think saying someone is just basically a polytheist is rather insulting, myself. I don't hold a recon worldview.


I'm sorry you feel insulted by my opinion that has been formed from my own personal experiences and perspective, as it apparently differed from your own. To make things fair, I'll allow you to have your own independent opinion to counteract that without complaining about it offending me. Deal? :)

But I understand, heathens are often accused on here as needing the lore as a Bible, as if we all come from a Christian background and can't move beyond that narrow mindset. Its a fairly common opinion on here that's expressed with some frequency.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

monsnoleedra

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #42 on: July 27, 2011, 04:16:33 pm »
Quote from: Vermillion;8720
..


Just to note this is not tagged as a reply to Vermillion but to keep to site policy

 One thing I have noticed is that all the discussion fails to focus upon or consider the influence a particular god / goddes or pantheon had upon their people.  In understanding and considering that I think a significant aspect of a god / goddess or pantheon is observed.

For instance how can one look to say the Japanesse culture and the notion of Hara Kiri / Seppuku (ritual suicide) without understanding the relationship between the Japanese Pantheon and the Japanesse people.  Even to go so far as to consider the earlier notion that the Emperor was descended from the sun goddess, more specifically Amaterasu.

A relationship that would also manifest in the Bushido Code and dedication to Diamyo and Emperor.  The concept of a Ronin (Rounin) Masterless Warrior(s) and the very social structure of Peasent, Nobility and Warrior class.  A perspective that still exists within the Japanesse society on many levels.  A distinction especially applicable in marriage and ensuring family lines, usually based upon blood spilling practices, ie butchers, etc.

Now perhaps part of the issue might arise from the perspective that many modern Pagan practioners follow European gods / goddesses.  Lets face it you really do not run across to many modern pagans that worship the various Centeral & South American pantheons, Pan Pacific & Asiaic pantheons or African Pantheons.  

Nope, most acknoweldge the European or some Middle Eastern pantheons, many of which are still seen in a romantised notion of what and who they were.  If not romantized certainly a narrow focus or ecclectic approach to what traits are acknowledged and which are ignored.

Yet I trully think you can not know a god / goddess without looking at what they inspired or commanded thier followers to do in antiquity.  You may not follow it but it seem's difficult to ignore it and the ripples across time that it caused or continues to influence.

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #43 on: July 27, 2011, 04:24:22 pm »
Quote from: Melamphoros;8295
This thread was inspired by one of my "quietly watch while munching popcorn" threads.  How does culture and worldview relate to deities?  Is it required to have a particular worldview to fully understand a deity?  Is cultural context the only way to understand a deity or just the way the deity was worshiped in the past?  Can one worship or understand a deity without the original worshipers' culture/worldview?


Personally I think it is important to attempt to understand deities from within their cultural context but it is also possible to worship them without incorporating it. From my own experience, I worship the Hellenic Gods, although currently only the 12 Olympians, and I try to learn as much as I can about them from their cultural POV. I am not however a Hellenic Reconstructionist and am attempting to fit worship of these deities into my own worldview. So far this is working for me and I have not had any great thwaks. I assume that if they are not happy with anything I do they will soon let me know.

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Re: Culture/Worldview and Deities
« Reply #44 on: July 27, 2011, 04:27:42 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;8717
It is not offensive in general though, as others have agreed with and appreciated my opinion. My point, then, is why are we arguing whether or not its offensive, and instead discuss the actual differing views.

I'm guilty of this myself as it's hard to be 100% PC in making generalisations. Inductive reasoning does tell that, as mentioned by Wiki, "Western culture may imply the following:...a Biblical-Christian cultural influence in spiritual thinking, customs and either ethic or moral traditions," under Western culture.
Of course this isn't true for everyone as there is a significant number of other religions in Western societies(including us Pagans), but even viewing most of the intros on boards like this will illuminate predominantly Christian birth religions. What's important is distinguishing generalisations from the subject matter, which I think has already been clarified in this thread. I, at least, didn't see anything as offensive, but could understand how some could have, but hopefully they in turn could understand the reasoning.

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* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
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Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

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