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Author Topic: Pop Culture Paganism  (Read 10599 times)

Lokabrenna

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Pop Culture Paganism
« on: May 18, 2013, 12:34:25 pm »
So apart from tumblr blowing up about it for a while now, now some BNPs are weighing in on the subject of "Is it okay to worship figures from pop culture as deities?" (Note: Not just "is it okay to incorporate popular culture into devotional practice.)

Here is the article that started it all: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2013/05/making-light-hero-worship/#comments

and then see here, here, here, here,here, and here.

My own response to this issue is here.

I left out some links because then I'd be here all day.

Suffice it to say (sorry for all the linkage) that this issue has led to some hurt feelings and has pretty much divided my blogroll down the middle, so I'm interested in hearing your take:

 Is it okay to worship/work with pop culture figures as deities/spirits in their own right?

Darkhawk

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2013, 12:42:11 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109003
Is it okay to worship/work with pop culture figures as deities/spirits in their own right?

Since it does not violate my ethical principles in any way for them to do so, it is okay by me.  (Beyond that, I get the distinct impression that a lot of people are having quite a lot of fun misreading each other in order to generate maximal outrage.  I very much liked your post on the subject when I read it earlier.)

The actual place I've been discussing this, by the way, is here:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sermonsfromthemound/2013/05/notes-toward-a-pagan-theology-of-fiction/
« Last Edit: May 18, 2013, 12:42:25 pm by Darkhawk »
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Snowdrop

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2013, 01:25:34 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109003
So apart from tumblr blowing up about it for a while now, now some BNPs are weighing in on the subject of "Is it okay to worship figures from pop culture as deities?" (Note: Not just "is it okay to incorporate popular culture into devotional practice.)

 
I mean, I don't think it's wrong in the sense of being unethical in any way.

It is one of those things where I would hope you have an underlying philosophy that explains why you're doing it, though.  If you believe gods are thoughtforms, or if you believe there's a divine energy that can manifest in lots of different ways, it makes sense.  Or if you're actually a hard polytheist but believe that Superman the character was created as a revelation of a hitherto-nameless god.  Or if you had some sort of mystical experience of Superman that you're working off of.  

But seriously?  Like, if you want to worship Superman but don't have any theory as to how Superman can possibly be a god when he's also a fictional character created by a known person?  Then, yeah, I would judge that.  

I still wouldn't think it's bad somehow, but I would think it's awfully silly.  

I think a lot of the emotion behind this debate isn't actually attached to the subject being discussed, though.  I mean, I may be completely off-base, but . . . I feel like the reason why this raises so many hackles is that this is substantially similar to the worship of gods Who have significant pop culture presences.  *coughcoughcoughLokicoughcoughcough*  Because seriously?  I find the vaguely fannish attitudes of a lot of Lokeans irritating.  I don't mean fannish in the sense of, "person who visualizes Loki as Marvel!Loki," either, although there's some correlation between the two.  I mean fannish in the sense of mistaking squeeing and randomness!!! for religious ecstasy.  I think more of that frustration is behind this than people are admitting.  

Also, I don't even like (or, for that matter, know much about) Chaos Magick, but I'm still uncomfortable with some of the (mostly implied) jabs that have been taken at it in this debate.

Nyktipolos

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2013, 02:26:31 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;109004
Since it does not violate my ethical principles in any way for them to do so, it is okay by me.  (Beyond that, I get the distinct impression that a lot of people are having quite a lot of fun misreading each other in order to generate maximal outrage.  I very much liked your post on the subject when I read it earlier.)

The actual place I've been discussing this, by the way, is here:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sermonsfromthemound/2013/05/notes-toward-a-pagan-theology-of-fiction/

 
Thanks for posting this article, because it just gave me an idea on this issue I hadn't considered before (specifically: the Alan Moore bit near the end).

Not to mention it's one of the more neutral or level-headed posts on the subject I have run across lately, so that's a nice change of pace.
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Jack

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2013, 02:53:26 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109003
Is it okay to worship/work with pop culture figures as deities/spirits in their own right?

 
Mostly I think this is fucking stupid, because seriously, why the fuck does Sannion or Galina Krasskova or any other BNP give a damn who I worship?

Is Mara more legit as an obscure Latvian goddess or the goddess of a temple that gets millions of eager visitors each day (at Disneyland)?

Your post on the subject was super reasonable and I appreciate it, though the way you referred to Fushigi Yugi made it sound more like the gods in that series were made up than just used in a media adaptation. /nerd

But it's just another round of people whining about other people who aren't "doing it rite" because we're doing it differently.
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Lokabrenna

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2013, 03:08:37 pm »
Quote from: Jack;109014

Your post on the subject was super reasonable and I appreciate it, though the way you referred to Fushigi Yugi made it sound more like the gods in that series were made up than just used in a media adaptation. /nerd

 
I've actually never watched Fushigi Yugi (my friend went nuts over it, I was at the point where I wasn't that interested in anime) but was I was getting at was worshiping the gods as expressed in the show and not necessarily the historical gods they were based on, if that makes sense.

It's like when I talk about the gods in Kushiel's Legacy, Kushiel (and all of the other deities apart from Elua) exist as angels in Jewish lore, but when I talk about Kushiel, I'm not talking about lore!Kushiel, but the Kushiel from that series, who is understood very differently in the books.

Darkhawk

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2013, 05:42:03 pm »
Quote from: Nyktipolos;109010
Not to mention it's one of the more neutral or level-headed posts on the subject I have run across lately, so that's a nice change of pace.

 
The author of that piece is a friend, one of the major people in the theology department of Cherry Hill, and edited a book on religion in graphic novels. ;)
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Thorn

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2013, 05:55:01 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109003
Is it okay to worship/work with pop culture figures as deities/spirits in their own right?


Long answer here.

Short answer:  Whatever floats your boat.  While there have been some good points made both by the traditional side (heroes and superheroes are not the same thing) and the pop-culture side (Thought forms are a long respected aspect of magical practice) I think most of the argument boils down to a lot people really looking for a reason to be offended.
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Jack

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2013, 08:42:44 pm »
Quote from: Thorn;109045
Long answer here.

 
I don't think that's the link you intended, btw.

This one just turned up in my feed reader. I constantly feel like I'm only seeing half of this argument, probably because pretty much everything I've read aside from the original post has been of the "omg not real" camp. But hey, a blog post said we should all stop talking about it! Time to pack it in, everybody!
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Lokabrenna

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2013, 08:56:02 pm »
Quote from: Jack;109055
But hey, a blog post said we should all stop talking about it! Time to pack it in, everybody!


As much as I frequently reblog what that blogger has to say, I'm going to have to say nuts to that, I like where this conversation's going even if I think that both sides are being kind of stupid about it.

Jack

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2013, 09:03:31 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109056
As much as I frequently reblog what that blogger has to say, I'm going to have to say nuts to that, I like where this conversation's going even if I think that both sides are being kind of stupid about it.

 
That is not the first post about the subject in my feed reader that I've been disappointed by, and knowing the internet, it won't be the least.

Mostly I feel like there's a lot of arguing at cross-purposes going on. But hey, if it makes somebody feel better about their own practice to call mine stupid, I think that says more about them than me. =P
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Thorn

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2013, 10:11:12 pm »
Quote from: Jack;109055
I don't think that's the link you intended, btw.


Oops.  Let's try that again here.

That's what I get for trying to do stuff in a hurry.  I posted that then ran out the door to go see my friend get her Master's Degree!  :D:
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Materialist

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2013, 03:25:05 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109003
So apart from tumblr blowing up about it for a while now, now some BNPs are weighing in on the subject of "Is it okay to worship figures from pop culture as deities?" (Note: Not just "is it okay to incorporate popular culture into devotional practice.)

 Is it okay to worship/work with pop culture figures as deities/spirits in their own right?


Being sympathetic to Eris, and a liberal, I would say yes. And why not, anyway? All gods are made up to begin with. The more the merrier.

wadjet

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2013, 04:28:09 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;109003
So apart from tumblr blowing up about it for a while now, now some BNPs are weighing in on the subject of "Is it okay to worship figures from pop culture as deities?" (Note: Not just "is it okay to incorporate popular culture into devotional practice.)

 Ohhh, this explains why people on my Facebook are flipping out and going on tangents...I need to pay closer attention to the latest community news, it seems!

My two cents: someone used the example of Martin Luther King Jr in comparison to fictional hero-worship, that MLK's legacy and legendary figure has more effect on people nowadays than the mundane day-to-day sort of stuff real life involves. This individual was making the point of legitimacy for the fictional god argument, but I actually think it displays the exact problem with the concept. Fandom is NOT synonymous with Hero-Worship.

Yes, many people reach a very intense level of fandom, spend every free hour participating in this fandom, and every spare thought turns back to it. They draw pictures and write stories, contemplate detailed "What If?" analysis about the motives and behaviors of characters, and have deep emotional reactions in relation. (Picture the massive flamewars that split communities: remember the Harry/Hermione drama?)

But that is not at all similar to the way even obsessive "fans" of MLK act. Someone for whom MLK is a deep inspiration, they would be inspired, and they would utilize it in their mindset and lifestyle, show evidence in their actions. It wouldn't just be a hobby.

I personally am disgusted by the fandom attitude towards paganism in recent years (some of it is personal bitterness, I admit). Much of it is, if you'll pardon the expression, a lot of circle-jerking and/or escapism. It turns spirituality into a hobby, and it is disrespectful to both the gods and the individuals who are practicing genuinely.

Now, I don't have a problem with an individual who legitimately has a "fictional" god (re: Eris). Genuinely-worshiped fictional goes have some serious effects on an individual, as has been proven many times. But again, there is a clear difference in behavior, in action. Does Captain America genuinely inspire you to be a better person? Then who am I to quibble?

(Now I have to go back and catch up with the flow of the thread.)

Jack

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Re: Pop Culture Paganism
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2013, 06:30:34 pm »
Quote from: wadjet;109177
I personally am disgusted by the fandom attitude towards paganism in recent years (some of it is personal bitterness, I admit). Much of it is, if you'll pardon the expression, a lot of circle-jerking and/or escapism.


I keep seeing this come up as a criticism of people working with fictional deities/fictional heroes/egregores/etc/ad nauseum, but that seems like a totally different problem to me. One is a question of praxis, the other of theology.

Quote
It turns spirituality into a hobby, and it is disrespectful to both the gods and the individuals who are practicing genuinely.


I'm curious about the second half of this. In what way is one person's practice disrespectful to another? If there's cultural appropriation going on, that's one thing, but if I'm over here working with totally different deities than yours, I'm not sure how it's disrespectful to you.
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