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Author Topic: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby  (Read 7473 times)

Asch

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(Pagan) Religion as a Hobby
« on: September 19, 2011, 02:04:23 pm »
So I've come across this comment a few times in different contexts. The basic argument is that a lot of Pagans see their religions as more of a hobby, an important hobby but still sort of a hobby, hence some of the reluctance to invest time and money in 'mainstreaming' or supporting whatever local culture/community is available. I know that some of the reluctance to say, pay for a course or donate to a grove/coven is based around the idea of debasing the practice etc by exchanging money but I have to wonder if the 'hobby' argument doesn't have some merit. I also wonder if part of this lack of fiscal support may be due not only to the economy but to passionate participants already facing cash flow challenges due to volunteering etc already.

Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

HeartShadow

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2011, 03:07:42 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
So I've come across this comment a few times in different contexts. The basic argument is that a lot of Pagans see their religions as more of a hobby, an important hobby but still sort of a hobby, hence some of the reluctance to invest time and money in 'mainstreaming' or supporting whatever local culture/community is available. I know that some of the reluctance to say, pay for a course or donate to a grove/coven is based around the idea of debasing the practice etc by exchanging money but I have to wonder if the 'hobby' argument doesn't have some merit. I also wonder if part of this lack of fiscal support may be due not only to the economy but to passionate participants already facing cash flow challenges due to volunteering etc already.

Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

 
I think there's also the critical question of what is *my* community.  I mean - TC I offer a lot of time and energy to.  I do all my staffy stuff.  That's a contribution - but it's not a financial one OR a local one.

I don't really HAVE a local "pagan community" - there are pagans around here, but I have no more in common with them than with anyone else.  I'm much more invested in the /knitting/ community - because I actually get something BACK from that.

reciprocity is really the basis of interpersonal relationships - and no, I'm not shelling out time/money/whatnot unless I'm actually GETTING something out of it.  The warm fuzzies of "support the community!" always sound to me like "we got nothing, give us cash anyway!"

Juniperberry

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2011, 03:56:59 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
So I've come across this comment a few times in different contexts. The basic argument is that a lot of Pagans see their religions as more of a hobby, an important hobby but still sort of a hobby, hence some of the reluctance to invest time and money in 'mainstreaming' or supporting whatever local culture/community is available. I know that some of the reluctance to say, pay for a course or donate to a grove/coven is based around the idea of debasing the practice etc by exchanging money but I have to wonder if the 'hobby' argument doesn't have some merit. I also wonder if part of this lack of fiscal support may be due not only to the economy but to passionate participants already facing cash flow challenges due to volunteering etc already.

Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

 
Mark Stinson, of Jotun's Bane Kindred and host of Lightning Across the Plains Midwest Gathering, is devoted to this issue.

He has a few articles out about the importance of community building, of living heathen, of putting your money where your mouth is. He coined HINO,  heathen in name only, and argues against heathens who are only really heathen on the internet.

What do you do locally?, he asks. How are you supporting and building frith with other heathens, with your loved ones? Its one thing to talk about wyrd and the gods and thew online, but how do you live those things? What makes you heathen other than your forum posts, and what community do you have worth to, to show the gods and ancestors. What do your children know?

To him, it definitely shouldn't be a hobby, or  online role-playing, but lived. Built up. A community.

I agree to an extent. Heathenry is about community, and of giving and supporting and maintaining one another and our beliefs. You can't be heathen in name, and then put the brakes on when it comes to actually doing something.

Though, I disagree with him that one has to be involved in a heathen community to be involved as a heathen. I think supporting local schools and merchants and friends and loved ones who aren't heathen is as important and meaningful as supporting a kindred.

Our ancestors didn't support each other and build frith because they were heathen, they did so because helping each other helped everyone. Supporting my schools gives my children a better education, supporting my neighborhood helps the property values, etc etc. There are apparently some HINO's that don't make that connection, that like to talk of Thor online but fail to live as a heathen where they actually have some impact on others and wyrd. They don't act locally or even in the home.

I do think that beliefs with this philosophy of community allow everyday participation to be easier than some other paths, rather than having to put some investment into a specific community separate from the common one. So I appreciate that difficulty and decision to commitment.
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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2011, 04:07:07 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;21011
I think there's also the critical question of what is *my* community.

 
This.

Our paths are intimate and it's hard to share that with others. Our paths are not cookie-cutter patterns that we've punched out to follow. We have an abundance of diversity in our paths, each other and what we believe.

I've attend Pagan Pride events. I shop at Pagan owned stores. I donate (when I can) to Pagan organizations that I feel help the greater good. I've attended public and private rituals. But to be honest, a community that does not make. It all feels impersonal somehow. Somehow this message board feels more like a community than anything I've  been to. The fact that I get that from online rather than in person is depressing.

So how can we support something that doesn't exist? Where is the true community of service between the Solitaries, Covens, Groves, etc? I see so much "me, me, me". I do want there to be an "us" but so far, I'm not feeling it. I've lived in cities where there is a a large "pagan community" but there's too much politics between groups.

I'd love to see an open community of pagans out there that really wants to help each other grow, learn and better ourselves. I just don't know how to get from "here" to "there".

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2011, 04:08:45 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
I know that some of the reluctance to say, pay for a course or donate to a grove/coven is based around the idea of debasing the practice etc by exchanging money but I have to wonder if the 'hobby' argument doesn't have some merit.


Oh, as much merit as any other tendentiously offensive suggestion, I suppose.

Most of the people I see prating about how the kids these days just don't support The Community are people who think that they're entitled to special treatment from anyone who considers themselves pagan due to their self-appointed status, even if those people have no religious connection with them whatsoever.  Or people who think that everyone should throw behind their Wiccan or neo-Wiccan goals and don't care that people have other symbols, other holidays, other important issues.

"We pagans" don't benefit from being able to get Samhain off as a religious holiday; only those pagans who consider Samhain a holiday benefit.  The rest of us don't get time for our actual festivals - and might find it harder to do so if someone thinks they've already taken care of "the pagans".  "We pagans" don't owe Big Name Author a grand debt; only those people who actually do anything to which Big Name Author's work has relevance have any possibility of looking to that person as an elder in their path.

Blurring those lines makes a giant mess.

Quote
Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

 
I think people who think that there is some The Pagan Community that has obligations mostly are under the unfortunate illusion that "pagan" is a religion, and I have no interest in supporting such counterfactual impressions of reality.

What I do in my community is known to my community, not the imaginary communities that I'm supposed to be a part of according to someone else's attempts to coerce resources out of me without my consent.
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sailor

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2011, 04:35:55 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
I also wonder if part of this lack of fiscal support may be due not only to the economy but to passionate participants already facing cash flow challenges due to volunteering etc already.


 
I'm going to opine that it is not the current economy.  The lack of cash giving has been a long term issue in the Pagan "community", both in good and bad economic times.

I only skimmed HeartShadow's post, but I think she's on or close to the mark.  The community really isn't one.  This ranges from pagan being a very broad umbrella term to lack of trust of groups that do not appear to be both large, open membership and responsive to members.  In short, why should I give money to Your coven when I'll have no say in what happens to the organization in the long term.

monsnoleedra

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2011, 05:05:55 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
..Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?


For me I first would have to ask myself what is support? If its some coven or such that is say collecting toys for public support, money for some charity, etc I am more inclined to support them.  That support may take the form of money or a product such as a toy for instance.  

Possibly even if it is a desire to purchase land or such in order to create a pagan / heathen friendly area it is a possibility.  Granted that one is far more unlikely to occur as I have doubts about doing any sort of ritual work in an area that is used by others for what ever and leaves a residule trace of energy work and purpose.

Yet if it is to simply show support because of something they have done or some position they endorse then that becomes an issue.  Do I agree with the position they have endorsed?  Do I even agree with the position they support in thier practice?  That argument always reminds me of the idiots that break some law then claim we should support thier actions because they claim to be some form of Pagan / Heathen.

To make the assumption that just because they claim some practice that currently falls beneath the Pagan / Heathen umbrella seem's rather assuming on thier part.

The worse for me though is the assumption that we are alike.  I am not Wiccan so hold no support to that practice simply because it falls beneath a pagan umbrella.  I am not a practioner of Santeria, I am not a practioner of any of the Nordic based practices though I am aware of them.

The other item is perhaps more unique to my perspective but that is of supporting groups or cults that honor and worship those who are opposed by the very gods / goddess I worship.  So while I may support a group that worships lets say Dionasus (sp) as he has some similarites and connections to Artemis I can't see going out of my way for one that follows or honors Hera as she is a frequent opponet to Artemis.  So whie I recognize and believe they should worship whoever they desire it doesn't mean I have to support them when it goes in conflict with those I worship and honor.

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2011, 05:08:11 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

 
I'm not sure, to be honest. I would personally take offense to anyone who thought I treated my religion as a hobby. I take the Religio seriously, and even though I am lax in my rites I never let the Gods from my mind; and consider them in everything I do. And I would love for the Religio Romana to go "mainstream" but I cannot realistically see that happening in the near future. As far as I'm concerned the best way to go mainstream is to ordain more Sacerdotes and work towards establishing places of worship. I would donate every penny I have to see a temple for cultores built in my area.

As for my local pagan community, they're mostly psuedo-Wiccans, Wiccans, or Eclectic Wiccans. There's also a small numbers of Heathens; but my local pagan "community" is so far removed from my sprituality that I don't see the point of funneling money into it.

sugarmagnolia

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2011, 05:18:23 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;21011
I think there's also the critical question of what is *my* community.

 
There is also the question of finding the local community.  Personally, I much prefer to meet people socially before I get involved with their group. Since I have to drag the MIL around with me, social settings work best because I have less worry about her causing a disruption.   I can also take the time to get to know people and have a better idea of what their group is about.

Something that I have noticed over the years is the tendency towards a small town mindset when it comes to interactions between various groups.  Outsiders and newcomers tend to be looked upon with suspicion, rivalries develop between groups and many times the first things you learn about them is a lot of "he said, she said", if you can even find them.  Purely social gatherings can go a long way towards changing this.

There is a man here in Arkansas that is trying to organize social outings at various state parks through out the year.  I went to the first one and had a wonderful time. The turn out was rather light, (due to politics maybe?) but it's a start in the right direction IMO.  The next event is planned for the spring and I'm planning on being there.  Hopefully, there will be a bigger turnout as well.

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 05:24:50 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
So I've come across this comment a few times in different contexts. The basic argument is that a lot of Pagans see their religions as more of a hobby, an important hobby but still sort of a hobby, hence some of the reluctance to invest time and money in 'mainstreaming' or supporting whatever local culture/community is available.

Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

 
I'm not sure the reasoning in the first paragraph holds water.  People frequently put a lot of time and money into their hobbies - so much so that it almost makes more sense the other way, that the reluctance to put in time and money indicates that they're not making a hobby of it.  Not, mind you, that this somehow indicates seriousness about paganism as a religion, either, just that "hobby" isn't a suitable label for what they are doing.

IME, usually when the word "hobby" is used in this context, it's got nothing at all to do with what the word "hobby" actually means, either denotatively or in terms of how people engage in their hobbies; it's a kind of code for, "you're not doing what I think you should do, therefore you're not serious about it."  That's not restricted to community involvement; I've seen it used for just about any form of "you're not doing it the way I think you should," that you care to name - but, yes, one of the commonest applications is to guilt people into community support.

I don't think there's any moral obligation for any given pagan to have to support whatever pagan community happens to be available.  That community might be toxic, or fluffy, or poorly-run, or just not of the same pagan religion as said pagan.

How would I do it?  Right at the moment, I wouldn't; I'm solitary, and find it a great relief not to have to worry about others' spiritual needs.  How I did do it was at the coven level (I've had no interest or desire in doing it on a broader level in many, many years), so in theory only for those who wanted to, or who already did, practice as it practiced (I say "in theory", because it's amazing how many people just want to join a group, any group, and will claim to want a particular sort of practice even when they don't).

That may be part of the issue - too much attention paid to "hey, we're all pagan, we should be in community!" and not nearly enough to whether people are actually of the same, or even similar, religions.  Not that the Wiccan/Wiccish folks and the Heathens and the Hellenics and the Celts (and so on) can't all get together for coffee, but you really can't expect them to get together for anything more religious than that.

No one is going to put either time or money, at least not for long, into a community that doesn't address their needs - they'll find, or build, one that does, or they'll stick to being solo, or if they're silly they'll demand that the existing one change to suit them (hello, drama).  Sure, there's no shortage of people that want there to be a community, so that it's there when they happen to feel like participating, but don't want to put anything in.  But there'll also be a lot of people who aren't interested in community, or aren't interested in that community.  Either way, you can't make them put in what you think they should be putting in.

... Wow, lots of posts since I started. I'm not going to try to read 'em all before I post, or there'll be another half-dozen; if I'm redundant, so be it.

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2011, 06:11:03 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
So I've come across this comment a few times in different contexts. The basic argument is that a lot of Pagans see their religions as more of a hobby, an important hobby but still sort of a hobby, hence some of the reluctance to invest time and money in 'mainstreaming' or supporting whatever local culture/community is available.

The problem is that there really isn't a "Pagan community" because there are so many different Pagan religions. I'm a Hellenic Pagan. There's isn't a local Hellenic group at all to support. And as Darkhawk pointed out, there really isn't much benefit to me from donating time/money to (say) the local Wiccan community. Don't get me wrong, I would be among the first to defend them if someone was trying to say they had no right to exist, but I'd do that for just about any religion -- but I don't feel the need to support the local Wiccan community any more than I do the local Christian community with my time and money.

However, I do support the "Pagan Community" by participating in The Cauldron. :)
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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2011, 09:35:04 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997
So I've come across this comment a few times in different contexts. The basic argument is that a lot of Pagans see their religions as more of a hobby, an important hobby but still sort of a hobby, hence some of the reluctance to invest time and money in 'mainstreaming' or supporting whatever local culture/community is available.

So the argument is that people don't spend money on their hobbies or participate in any kind of community surrounding them? :confused: Have they seen HeartShadow's yarn collection?

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2011, 09:40:59 pm »
Quote from: Asch;20997

Basically, do you think this is an issue? How would/do you approach eliciting participation/support/etc? Do you think it is important that Pagans support and strengthen our various communities? Aside from fiscal support how could other support be offered?

 
Having done more Pagan community work than I sort of want to think about, in various formats (and various other kinds of community-building work as well), the thing I think is crucial is the people doing the work a) being really clear on what the goal is and b) really wanting to work toward that goal for reasons beyond "It'd be good for the community."

When I am doing tradition-focused ritual, I do not need lots of money to make it work. I do - if I want to do the full trad ritual models - need some people who are willing to invest time and energy in learning the methods. But I can do ritual with no more cost than what my own ritual needs would require (except that I'd have less leftover bread and wine at the end - I'd still open a bottle/bake a loaf, just instead of having total-n left, it'd be total-xn left.)

When I am organizing a Pagan event, I want to know who the target audience is, how we're going to support what we want to do, and how we're going to build flexibilty into it. I am *immensely* proud of the fact that Twin Cities Pagan Pride has run in the black since I joined the board, during a time that included expanding one event, launching another (with substantial costs), and a lot of other complicated stuff (including getting 501(c)3 status). A big part of why I think that worked is that we were able to explain what we were trying to do, be relatively transparent about how we were trying to do it, and had a clear idea of what 'success' was going to look like.

We were also really clear about the fact that what we were trying to do was *not* the thing that was going to make everyone happy, and that was okay - we planned our events for the number of people we thought would be interested (based on some past numbers and a lot of educated guesswork), not on the number we *thought* should be interested, based on the total number of Pagans in the area.

I also think about the example of the Twin Cities Pagan community center. They're great people, but they struggled for a long while with what their mission looked like. I was not financially in a place to donate for a while (and due to the health issues, not in a place to volunteer time, either), but the thing I kept coming back to was that they weren't really offering anything that really mattered to *me*, in more than a very amorphous "I think it's a good idea to have one".

(I can go into more detail about this if people are curious, but basically, the things that would have interested me were at times that weren't accessible to me, rental space was not reliable enough to make it a fixed part of a group schedule, and the stuff I could get to was mostly - barring occasionally workshops and concerts every couple of months - not at my top priority for where I spent my time. None of what they were doing was bad - just none of it was where I was going to put limited time and money. )

I do think there are a variety of ways to build community - I donate here, and I post as usefully as I can because I've gotten a lot out of this space (and continue to, as people ask questions that make me think about stuff in awesome new ways). I run my own websites because I wanted to stretch myself in particular ways -but also because it's good prep work for teaching material that will be useful to me in the long-term.

(Which, really, is one of my own personal rules for community particpation: I am most likely to do stuff that is useful to me one way - but several ways. With the Seeking site, I got to share information (which my librarian brain likes), I got to do useful things for the Pagan community in some part (which my 3rd degree priestess brain likes), I got to stretch myself and rebuild a lot of process and writing skills that the medical foo had done a real number on (which my brain brain likes a lot.) And then I'm going to get to be able to reuse that material in various ways as I move back into teaching trad (and quite possibly not-trad stuff in the probably not too distant future.)

Four uses out of one set of work are really handy - and it's that kind of thing that tends to encourage me to put the effort in. (Likewise, I have volunteered to help with community projects because I'd get skills - like negotiating hotel contracts - that I knew would be useful for other projects - like Paganicon - down the road. And in that case, also got to make sure a dear friend didn't overexert herself in the process. That kind of thing.)

I've also found that it makes me more pragmatic about the community: if those things stop being true, it's a lot easier for me to step away and say "Done with this, at least for right now." Or to say "I'm okay with X task, but not with Y task."

The real trick with community building, in my experience, is to collect a group of people with varied enough interests in different tasks, a stronger interest in the [whatever] working well than their own egos, and a willingness to let go of *how* stuff gets done, as long as whatever base requirements are met (even if other people do stuff totally differently from how they'd do it.)

That isn't easy: most of us have to learn how to do it. Often with lots of repeated lessons. But I've seen enough community spaces - both Pagan and otherwise - to be quite sure it can be done.
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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2011, 10:22:54 pm »
Quote from: FierFlye;21151
So the argument is that people don't spend money on their hobbies or participate in any kind of community surrounding them? :confused: Have they seen HeartShadow's yarn collection?

 
*fervently nods*

That thing is a community unto itself.
Fight evil: read books.

Blogging at: An Seanchas Finn

sugarmagnolia

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Re: (Pagan) Religion as a Hobby...
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2011, 10:26:00 pm »
Quote from: FierFlye;21151
So the argument is that people don't spend money on their hobbies or participate in any kind of community surrounding them? :confused: Have they seen HeartShadow's yarn collection?

 
I'm certain they've never seen my book collection or my fabric collection either.  :p

If the argument is that I must show my support to the local community by giving them my money, then no I don't.
 
1)I have never even met most of them,

2)I barely make the mortgage, utilities, and groceries,

3)Call me old school, but what happened to raffles, car washes, and pancake breakfast fundraisers? Standing outside my local grocery store and begging does not make me want to hand over my money. This last one applies to most organizations today.

and 4)I am more inclined to hand over cash or barter goods to a group that is willing to get to know me socially.

If I know you and I can sit down and visit over a cup of coffee, then odds are I know if there is need.  I may not be able to give money, but I can give time, a meal, or maybe a place to stay for a night or two.  

My grandparents never asked any of their students for money. In fact, when then there was need for money, after my grandmother's stroke and the insurance ran out along with their savings, is was the students themselves that decided to fill that need and ask for donations and hold fundraisers.  

To this day I don't know if my grandparents were ever aware of those fundraising efforts, but I do know that if you were one of their students the most that was ever asked was that you contribute to a shared meal and even that was optional.  

If any one, family, student, or stranger, ever left my grandparents house hungry, it was their own fault, and if there was a true need, my grandparents would help out to the best of their abilities.

This is the same way that I contribute to society and my community. I swore a long time ago, that no one would ever leave my home hungry, tired, or cold. Granted, this has bit me in the ass more than once, but I have no intention of stopping, unless my hospitality is abused. Then the person in question might be fed and sent on his/her way.

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