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Author Topic: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?  (Read 8326 times)

Kaio

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2014, 04:08:55 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;167319
In this thread I've tried working with you to come up with ideas on how to do the actual recon work for a Brazilian ethnic religion and time and again you have told me that my beliefs are not in accord with reconstructionism.

---RECONSTRUCTIONISM DOES NOT HAVE ANY BELIEFS. IT ISN'T A RELIGIOUS SYSTEM!---


 I do not remember saying that your beliefs are not in accord with reconstructionism. And I do not remember saying reconstructionism is a religious system.
 You said reconstructionism is a method and I agree with it. You also said:

Quote from: Juniperberry;167309
I think I left your version of recon behind  some time ago that, yes, my priorities are now different from yours.


 In my version of reconstructionism the lore is prioritized. It's the guide, the measure. I think it's this link to what remains from the pre-Christian religion in question that allows one to say one is reconstructing a version of the Germanic/Greek/Inca religion.
 I also think I never said reconstructionism, or my version of it, is the only true and/or possible way to practice a contemporary religion inspired or informed by ancient native religions.

Quote from: Juniperberry;167319
[Reading the lore literally and then obeying it to the letter isn't reconstructionism. It's bible study.


 I think there are some remarkable differences between reconstructionism and the relationship Christians have to the Bible:

 
  • Snorri, the skalds, Hilda E. Davidson, Sophus Bugge, the Grimm brothers, Jan de Vries, Gabriel Turville-Petre, John Lindow, Rudolf Simek, Folke Ström, Britt-Mari Näsström and many others are not regarded as prophets;

 
  • the lore is usually not taken uncritically. Internet fora and debates around the lore, as you mentioned them, attest this;
  • in spite of the lore often being regarded as the guide, the measure to many mainstream reconstructionists, it's not regarded as the whole of the religion. While many Christians seem to think that Christianism begins and ends with the Bible, I doubt any reconstructionist think the same about the lore. What I see is that many concerns in recon communities have not to do with whether to adapt or not (like in some forms of Christianity), but how properly to do it;
  • many, if not most, recons accept the idea of UPG as a (poly)theological tool at least to fill the gaps in the lore and/or to build a kind of contemporary lore, additional to the ancient one, by introducing into this modern part of the tradition, maybe after cross-checking, possible personal information received, for example, through dreams and/or oracles. Many reconstructionists regard UPG as a form to keep their respective religions alive.


Quote from: Juniperberry;167319
(...) Any living thing is a wight, but a wight is also: an assembly, a council, a meeting. The gods are both living things and an assembled council, and thus a wight,  and I don't know what could possibly fit that description better than them.


 I see how the word wight has an etymological relatedness to the ideia of creature; by the way, Orel textually states that the Old English word wiht has creature as one of its meanings¹. But I think this would not lead me to jump to the conclusion that every single thing and social institution was regarded as a wight. Again, I do not remember of any statement about Deities being the same as wights in the lore; actually, it seems it was quite otherwise according to the lore. An example of this conceptual difference shown during the settlement of Iceland was brought up by yourself. Even you partially conceded this when you wrote the following about the Deities:

Quote from: Juniperberry;167319
Obviously we can't just call them wights, because they are something more than that, so we honor them with the title of god.


Quote from: Juniperberry;167319
Pre-conversion Germanic religion did not come from a single people and there are elements of multiculturalism within it.

You seem to have a very romanticized and folkish inspired (read: racist Asatru) view of Germanic  religion. I'm curious what forums, groups and books you took your ideas from.  
 
I can understand trying to connect with roots. But to want and admire a culture because it is segregated and pure from other cultures, existing undisturbed on its motherland, and to consider that ideal, is just...whatever. It doesn't seem right.


 I actually wasn't thinking about Germanic religion and people when I wrote the part you quoted from my post. I was thinking more about, say, Greek religion and people. I think it feels much more "comfortable", for lack of a more proper word, when one unarguably belongs on the most possible levels to the society related to the religion one wants to reconstruct and practice.
 I do not sympathize with racism; quite the opposite. "Race" seems to be a relatively new idea and religious purism doesn't seem compatible with how polytheism works. But yes, I like the notions of pertinency, rootedness and historical reference and precedent. I would not see the point of, say, an European with absolutely no ties to Brazil and/or Africa - neither ancestor(s) nor linguistic, nothing - practicing Candomblé. It reminds me the universal character of religions like Christianity and ethnic religions seem to have never worked like this.

¹ OREL, Vladimir E.. A handbook of Germanic etymology. Leiden: Brill, 2003, p.452-453.
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Kaio

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2014, 04:38:29 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;167331
It's not ok to say that you want a pure and segregated ethnic culture like the Germanic people and not expect it to raise some flags. (...)
So we have someone idealizing an element of racist Germanic paganism, asking about US-American ethnic religion, and dismissing African and indigenous influences, all in the effort to create a segregated and pure ethnic religion.

 
 I did not say anything of what I bolded in this quote!
 I've already said that I often bring up examples from the Germanic religion because my experience with reconstructionism was developed when I practiced ásatrú.
 I do not know what sticking to the lore has to do with racism. I am aware of the problems Germanic contemporary pagans have with racism, nazism, misrepresentation... all this is discussed in Brazil too.
 And when did I dismiss African and indigenous influence? One of the issues that come up when I think about a possible Brazilian ethnic religion is how to include into ir contributions from all of the "three peoples" that formed Brazil.
 Why do you think an ethnic religion has to be racist and extremely purist? Greek religion, for example, can be analyzed as having elements from (Proto-)Indo-European, Semitic, Minoan, native Cypriot, Egyptian and maybe other religions; yer it did not prevent Athenians from a certain period from prohibiting the practice of their religion by foreigners.
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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2014, 06:07:37 pm »
Quote from: Faemon;167323
First sentence, I agree. Second sentence, isn't the system the skeleton, though? Or is the system and the content the same in the way you're using the words?


No.  Reconstruction is the scaffolding one puts up when building something.

When the building is done, you tear down the scaffolding.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Juniperberry

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2014, 06:36:25 pm »
Quote from: Kaio
In my version of reconstructionism the lore is prioritized. It's the guide, the measure.


The lore is full of inaccuracies and hidden agendas and should not be taken as a guide, but simply as a "problematic but still important" source. Pretty much every recon will tell you this.

The reason my version of reconstructionism is different than yours is because I prioritize historical accuracy in regards to the big picture, without narrow-mindedly focusing on what the 'guiding lore' specifically states as being religious truth.

But that clearly is not valuable to you in your pursuits. Good luck anyway.
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."

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2014, 08:41:57 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;167341
No.  Reconstruction is the scaffolding one puts up when building something.

When the building is done, you tear down the scaffolding.

 

This makes sense to me. Maybe this is why I don't come across as a valid recon, or maybe why I'm taking whatever Kaio is saying  too personally. I'm standing on the rooftop of what I built, enjoying the view, and the scaffolding has been dismantled and laying in the yard. But sometimes you miss a project that filled your time, and you want that time to still matter in some way.
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."

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2014, 07:24:58 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;167356
This makes sense to me. Maybe this is why I don't come across as a valid recon, or maybe why I'm taking whatever Kaio is saying  too personally. I'm standing on the rooftop of what I built, enjoying the view, and the scaffolding has been dismantled and laying in the yard. But sometimes you miss a project that filled your time, and you want that time to still matter in some way.
Well, and once you've standing on the building, nobody can tell what the scaffolding looked like, they only know what their scaffolding looks like right now. Your building doesn't look much like their scaffolding so clearly what you're doing is not the same thing. ;)
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Juniperberry

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2014, 01:58:19 pm »
Quote from: Kaio



Is this possible - and/or desirable - to turn republican-type societies into ethnic societies? Does it have anything to do with trying to indigenize these societies? Do non-modern types of religion fit contemporary reality? And what the consequence of these questions for reconstructionism?

Sometimes I wonder what would be a Brazilian - or pan-Brazilian? - ethnic religion.




Someone mentioned that I'm missing an important element in this discussion-- the need to discuss the political elements of the cultures we're trying to reconstruct.

Have you ever read Guns, Germs, and Steel? If so, remember that the initial question was: why did Europeans advance at such an accelerated rate compared to New Guinea? A question that was then extended globally.

To summarize, the answer is in how well geographic location supported agriculture and livestock. If a culture was able to farm/herd on a larger scale, they formed larger, denser communities. This allowed the society to establish groups focused on specialized skills like agriculture, medicine, military, etc.

In small, isolated groups where the geography didn't allow for this, the community's collective energy was often focused on hunting and gathering, and they therefore didn't have the time or manpower to develop more specialized skills. A larger, self-sustaining community could reproduce on a larger scale and produce more manpower. A smaller, less-sustaining community was forced to practice stricter birth control, limiting their manpower.

Pockets of these smaller tribes often shared a common language and culture, but didn't have the resources to develop have any political unity and often faced 'shifting alliances and wars', and thus they weren't able to develop any centralized government or organized religion. We still see this in indigenous tribes in the Amazon.

Organized religion is important. In tribal societies, where the population consists of a large kinship, a stranger is a threat to the tribe and the tribe's resources. There is no reason not to kill him; he's a liability. In larger communities, organized religion/centralized government (previously one in the same) creates a bond that isn't based on kinship, and strangers don't kill one another; they're an assest.

Offerings in tribes are often reciprocal, based on the scarcity of resources. Since tribes didn't have a central authority, beliefs were mostly superstitious rather than ideological; their beliefs didn't 'justify authority, the transfer of wealth, or serve to maintain peace between individuals'. It was simply an organic and natural relationship between spirit and man, that was dynamic and fluid.

Chiefdoms did develop at one point in the Amazon, though. Lots of people working together is better than a few working alone, as mentioned above.  In cheifdoms we know that one man/family governed multiple tribes, each with their own lesser chief. The chief was believed to have a special kinship with the supernatural and he would use this to intercede with the gods on the people's behalf, sometimes appointing and establishing a priesthood.  Offerings now became tribute (surplus resources) paid to him, which in turn he would either redistribute to the people at a later date, or use to finance the elite and specialized classes. The chief maintained order of this centralized government/religion  by a)monopolizing the military, b) redistributing tribute/wealth fairly, c) and using religious ideology to justify his continued authority.

In the end, if evolution and migration patterns had been different, and the Amazon had gotten the head start in centralized government and religion, then they would have been the Colonialists.

So tl;dr: To reconstruct a Brazilian ethnic religion in the way that you're asking--in regards to republic and ethnic religion-- you would need to either a) become a survivalist/anarchist and develop a non-systemic, individual  superstitious-based spiritual understanding of the natural world, b)designate an individual as the central authority of your religion/politics and allow that authority to justify and determine your spiritual worth and existence or c) all of the above: be a member of a contemporary republic that allows for separation between church and state, participate politically for the good of society, and in superstitious-based spiritually for the good of the kinship.


So, I guess that's macro-reconstructionism. Micro-reconstructionism would probably be defining what the specific cultural religious justifications were in a chief-based religion, or defining the specific cultural superstitions of a tribal-based religion. And then adapting them to choice 'C'.

And, disclaimer: this is an incredibly brief overview of certain elements of the book's answer, and doesn't touch on all elements and conditions.
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."

Faemon

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #37 on: December 15, 2014, 08:50:17 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;167442
Pockets of these smaller tribes often shared a common language and culture, but didn't have the resources to develop have any political unity and often faced 'shifting alliances and wars', and thus they weren't able to develop any centralized government or organized religion. We still see this in indigenous tribes in the Amazon.

...

In the end, if evolution and migration patterns had been different, and the Amazon had gotten the head start in centralized government and religion, then they would have been the Colonialists.

So tl;dr: To reconstruct a Brazilian ethnic religion in the way that you're asking--in regards to republic and ethnic religion-- you would need to either

a) become a survivalist/anarchist and develop a non-systemic, individual  superstitious-based spiritual understanding of the natural world,
b) designate an individual as the central authority of your religion/politics and allow that authority to justify and determine your spiritual worth and existence or
c) all of the above: be a member of a contemporary republic that allows for separation between church and state, participate politically for the good of society, and in superstitious-based spiritually for the good of the kinship.


So, I guess that's macro-reconstructionism. Micro-reconstructionism would probably be defining what the specific cultural religious justifications were in a chief-based religion, or defining the specific cultural superstitions of a tribal-based religion. And then adapting them to choice 'C'.

 
Great post! Also feasible breakdown of stuff that an individual can actually do (rather than wish for some national movement towards isolationism or monolithic religious nationalist religio-political propoganda rewriting history into something more palatable.)
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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #38 on: December 15, 2014, 09:08:36 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;167442
Have you ever read Guns, Germs, and Steel?

 
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Kaio

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #39 on: December 16, 2014, 12:19:43 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;167442
Someone mentioned that I'm missing an important element in this discussion-- the need to discuss the political elements of the cultures we're trying to reconstruct.

Have you ever read Guns, Germs, and Steel?


 I don't like cultural ecology very much, but thank you!
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Materialist

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #40 on: December 16, 2014, 11:17:50 pm »
Quote from: Kaio;167194
What? :confused: What concept of ethnicity are you based on to make this assertion?


It's a nationality. An adjective describing the citizen of a sovereign country, not the ethnic groups living in it. If "Brazilian" was the ethnic group citizens of Brazil belonged to, you wouldn't have had the need to distinguish Afro-Brazilians from the rest of Brazilians.

Kaio

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #41 on: December 17, 2014, 01:07:32 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;167524
It's a nationality. An adjective describing the citizen of a sovereign country, not the ethnic groups living in it. If "Brazilian" was the ethnic group citizens of Brazil belonged to, you wouldn't have had the need to distinguish Afro-Brazilians from the rest of Brazilians.


 There also are Afro-Germans (like Hans Massaquoi) and Afro-Russians (like Pushkin). Do you mean German and Russian are not ethnicities too? If a human society happens to have a modern State, do you think this makes it automatically a non-ethnicity? I still would like to know which concept of ethnicity or ethnic group you are based on.
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Faemon

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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #42 on: December 17, 2014, 02:34:32 pm »
Quote from: Kaio;167545
I still would like to know which concept of ethnicity or ethnic group you are based on.

 
Not Materialist, here, but apparently there is a Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups. Or more than one. The American one goes:

- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Caucasian American
- Asian
- Hispanic or Latina
- African American
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

So when I asked this webmaster where I could possibly make some topics inviting Australian Aborigines to fact-check something I was writing, and if a new sub-forum could be created if that demographic would show to have more presence, the reply I got was that the forums that we already had were standard classification.

And I'm like, "Huh...Asia is actually a very, very, very large continent with wildly different ethnicities within...who thinks up of these??"

I guess it does sort of explain this odd casting call that I read of once: "African-American with a British accent." Why not just audition African-Britons? That might not be the word, of course, but the people I'm thinking of must exist and sound easier to cast, I mean, specifying that the accent must be fake is just unusual to me.

Going back to Australia, apparently there is also a Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups as well, but I like that they actually define the terms rather than make it sort of, "oh, but this was census data simplified as much as possible however we feel like you know bureaucracy is a headache..."
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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #43 on: December 17, 2014, 04:37:35 pm »
Quote from: Faemon;167546
And I'm like, "Huh...Asia is actually a very, very, very large continent with wildly different ethnicities within...who thinks up of these??"

I guess it does sort of explain this odd casting call that I read of once: "African-American with a British accent." Why not just audition African-Britons? That might not be the word, of course, but the people I'm thinking of must exist and sound easier to cast, I mean, specifying that the accent must be fake is just unusual to me.


Black British people is the most common term. Or British African-Caribbean for the majority of black British people who are of Caribbean origin. Yep, many exist.

Race and ethnicity are socially constructed, and very dependent on location as a result. For example, Hispanic isn't a major group here so they're categorised as 'white other' here, rather than as a separate ethnic group. Equally, we consider 'Asian' mostly to refer to people of Indian subcontinent origin, here, where Indian subcontinental is one of our largest ethnic groups. These concepts are strongly related to national/local social histories.
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Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
« Reply #44 on: December 18, 2014, 09:38:04 am »
Quote from: Kaio;167545
If a human society happens to have a modern State, do you think this makes it automatically a non-ethnicity?

Many nationalities share a name with an ethnicity, which can be confusing if it's not clear which is being referred to. If I say I'm Irish, that's true (in part) for my ethnicity, but false for my nationality. The existence of Ireland doesn't really enter into it.

Some nationalities do not have an homonymous ethnicity, like "American." I believe the argument was that "Brazilian" is also one of these.

The distinction can also be more or less obvious to a given person based on their culture/experience. As a U.S. American from New England, I naturally think of these concepts as separate. But when I lived in South Korea (a very ethnically homogenous society), people I discussed this with did not usually differentiate them.
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