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Author Topic: The Reconstructionist Book Problem  (Read 10180 times)

Darkhawk

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The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« on: January 10, 2013, 12:32:48 pm »
(Heh, there's no prefix for 'reconstruction in general'.  Maybe we should have one?)

Somewhere recently I saw a comment about how one has to, in order to be a good reconstructionist, read the academic books rather than the "popular" ones.  Because only those will actually teach you how to do the religion.

I wonder sometimes if people who say this actually read academic books.  Because they have jack shit about how to actually practice the religion they're studying in the here and now.  I mean, I can read all about the procession of fifty priests with offerings for the Wagy, but not only am I not a priest, I am not fifty priests.  I can read about theories of ritual structures built around standing stones, or their astronomical alignment properties, but I don't have a Stonehenge in my backyard and even if I did we have no actual knowledge of what was actually done there, rather than what might have been done there and some interesting facts about star alignments.

A lot of my personal work involves going through academic books to come up with information for how to celebrate various festivals, yes.  But that work is primarily as an interpreter.  I pick up pieces of knowledge out of academic tomes - the overwhelming majority of which is completely irrelevant to a modern day practitioner, since we lack large communities of co-religionists, civic support for religion, institutional temples or worship spaces, or other things that get studied academically - in the awareness that the knowledge I have is incomplete, does not encompass the majority of the population practicing that religion in ancient times, and so on.

And then I try to make something useful out of it.  Something that we can do now.  Something that connects to the world now.  Which is a process of translation, interpretation, synthesis, interpolation, and making shit up to fill in the obvious holes.  And that is not something that comes out of academic books - that's something that comes out of a process fed by academic books and a whole heap of other stuff.  And it's a great heap of actual work, to boot.

And doing that work not only shouldn't be everyone's job, it can't be.  (I personally know several people who - upon learning that they'd be expected to basically take an independent-study college class in order to be a part of their religious community - wound up leaving the relevant recon communities entirely.  Not for lack of devotion; for lack of any community support at all, ever, in this regard.)

The thing about popular books - aside from the fact that many of them are cruddy, but that's a different problem - is that they're attempting to solve this actual problem: synthesising data into something that can actually be put into practice.  Yeah, it's not gonna be as deep an understanding of ancient practice as reading everything in its bibliography and everything else besides, but it might have little things like:

* a functional festival calendar
* with ideas about how to celebrate each of the festivals
* structures of basic rituals
* context for devotionals
* and an outline of worldview/ethics/approach
* in terms that will be accessible to a broader community, enabling shared practice and celebration, which is after all a big part of the entire point.

A good and accessible library of such things will be, for purposes of actually conducting oneself in a religion superior to the academic books in their bibliographies, because they will have put the pieces together into something that can actually be done, rather than handing someone a crate containing disassembled car with half the parts missing and saying "Go for a drive!"

And even if they're not going to produce as well-informed a practitioner as someone who has read everything in their biographies ... well, reading them will take a lot less time, and be a lot more direct to the actual goal of having a religious practice and community.
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we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Maps

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 01:02:41 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;90051



 
Don't have much else to say to this other than: yep.

Shine

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 01:19:03 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;90051
(Heh, there's no prefix for 'reconstruction in general'.  Maybe we should have one?)


That would be awesome.

Quote
Somewhere recently I saw a comment about how one has to, in order to be a good reconstructionist, read the academic books rather than the "popular" ones.  Because only those will actually teach you how to do the religion.


Not "good". "Well-rounded" is a better term, I think. "Informed" might be another good term, but I'm not sure how much I like the possible implications of that word. From what I understand, Reconstructionism is not just about practicing a religion "as it was" in ye olden dayes. It's also about understanding the historical contexts that created that religion to the best of our abilities. This is so when we inevitably have to fill holes, we understand the history and can fill in with something that isn't historical, but at least has a basis in history.

Quote
I wonder sometimes if people who say this actually read academic books.  Because they have jack shit about how to actually practice the religion they're studying in the here and now.


Um, well, yeah. That's part of being well-rounded as a Recon (even though I'm not exactly a Recon anymore. Just Recon in certain specific approaches.)

Academic books aren't meant to tell us how to practice the religion. They're meant to give us information that will help us figure out how to practice. (Kind of what you get at downthread.) In other words, it's our job to synthesize the information, mold it into a usable form, and then go for it. If a person approaches academic books as how-to books, then, best of luck to him/her, but I don't see how it's going to work.

As an example, things I've read from academic books (especially Assman and Hornung) have informed my view of the Netjeru. That, in turn, informs how I approach them, what I offer, how I behave around them, etc. Did Assman or Hornung ever say, specifically, how to behave in a modern context? Nope. Did they give me enough information to do that myself? Yep.

Not only that, but in religions like Kemeticism, there's so much freakin' symbolism and mythology everywhere that if you don't know at least a little, it's going to be tough to understand exactly what's going on. You don't need to be an Egyptologist. You don't even need an entire library of Egyptological books (unless you're obsessed with Egyptology, of course ;)). You just need enough to understand.

For some people, that means reading a ton of books. I am not one of those people who can read one or two books and understand. I need to read a shitload of them. There are those who can read just a couple books and get it. . . and my envy of them makes me want to eat my own fingers.

But since it's usually impossible to know how well a person assimilates information, it's better to hedge a little to the "too much" side than the "too little" side.

Quote
And doing that work not only shouldn't be everyone's job, it can't be.  (I personally know several people who - upon learning that they'd be expected to basically take an independent-study college class in order to be a part of their religious community - wound up leaving the relevant recon communities entirely.  Not for lack of devotion; for lack of any community support at all, ever, in this regard.)


This is unfortunate. Yet, I'm one of those people who believes that Recon religions require a lot of reading. Even if you don't end up using all of what you read, when you're synthesizing and occasionally making things up to fill in holes, knowing a lot about the background of your religion is helpful.

But here's the thing: it doesn't have to be done all at once. It doesn't even have to be done in a year. Or two. Or ten. I'm only two years into my own path and have read about a quarter of the things people have told me I "should" read to be a good whatever. Yet somehow, I've managed a reasonably good practice given current constraints. I've had some life-changing encounters with the Netjeru.

I'm not sure calling this a "book problem" gets to the heart of things. It's more of a "can't possibly practice until you assimilate 123513462456 pieces of knowledge of varying levels of arcaneness" problem. ("Book problem" is a helluva lot more succinct, though.)

We can also call it the "newbie problem" in some cases, because thanks to 101 books, there's this impression that everything has to happen right away. You have to get all the tools, books, deities, and everything else right the hell now. Except it doesn't work that way. Things are acquired slooooowly.

Personally, I believe that reading the academic books is part of devotion, and we don't do all our devotions all at once. Devotions get scattered through the weeks, months, years, decades. Now, is a person a "bad" practitioner if he or she doesn't read many academic books? No. We all have our ways of honoring the gods.

Quote
The thing about popular books - aside from the fact that many of them are cruddy, but that's a different problem - is that they're attempting to solve this actual problem: synthesising data into something that can actually be put into practice.  Yeah, it's not gonna be as deep an understanding of ancient practice as reading everything in its bibliography and everything else besides, but it might have little things like:


And how do you know they are or aren't cruddy if you're not well-rounded? Yes, the popular books are wonderful in helping a person get started and I wish there were more of them out there for Recon religions. But the pagan community as a whole (which Recon gets subsumed in, like it or not) seems to have a problem with, well, historical accuracy. Something that isn't historically accurate isn't necessarily fluffy bullshit, but it isn't historical. Depending on how strict of a Recon you are, this is a Big Deal.

Quote
* a functional festival calendar
* with ideas about how to celebrate each of the festivals
* structures of basic rituals
* context for devotionals
* and an outline of worldview/ethics/approach
* in terms that will be accessible to a broader community, enabling shared practice and celebration, which is after all a big part of the entire point.


That said, if there was a book that had the above for a Kemetic--and it was actually good--I'd snap it up without a second thought.
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HeartShadow

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The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 01:38:59 pm »
Quote from: Shine;90055


That said, if there was a book that had the above for a Kemetic--and it was actually good--I'd snap it up without a second thought.

The problem I see with the whole academic book argument is that it sounds more like hazing than actual knowledge.

You say yourself that if the book Darkhawk suggests existed you'd buy it.  That it would be desired.  But the implication is that the academic style books are somehow better.

Why does someone need an undergrad education in the religion to be a layman?  What if someone has a reading problem?  Are they unworthy?

I find the idea of academia being part of daily religion horrifying.  I love academic books, don't get me wrong.  But that doesn't mean I need to read them to be a layman.  That's just an artificial barrier.

It's hazing.  Unless you know a way it isn't.  I don't.

veggiewolf

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 01:57:29 pm »
Quote from: Shine;90055
...

 
As a proud book collector, I'm the first to admit I have tons of academic texts on my shelf, and I do refer to (and quote from!) them on a routine basis.  

However, rich as they may be in information, they are poor in application to everyday modern life.  Since we live every day lives in modern times, does it really make sense to bog ourselves down in THE LORE to the exclusion of everything else?
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Darkhawk

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 02:03:16 pm »
Quote from: Shine;90055
Not "good". "Well-rounded" is a better term, I think. "Informed" might be another good term, but I'm not sure how much I like the possible implications of that word. From what I understand, Reconstructionism is not just about practicing a religion "as it was" in ye olden dayes. It's also about understanding the historical contexts that created that religion to the best of our abilities. This is so when we inevitably have to fill holes, we understand the history and can fill in with something that isn't historical, but at least has a basis in history.


Reconstruction is a methodology, not an idol.

For as long as the methodology of reconstruction is relevant, the reconstructionist category of religion is full of half-finished, partially abandoned projects.  In theory the idea is that - with the information we have gathered - we can produce something that's functional in the here and now.

And if the process always has to go through a loop of "let me look that up in the University of Foobaz Press", that's not actually functional in the here and now.

If we look outside the pagan world: yes, there are religious scholars.  Ask any rabbi how much reading is required to take on that role.  Or a Catholic priest, with a half-dozen years in the seminary.  But: that level of work is not required to be good, well-rounded, or informed in those religions.  It is a specialist task, and the majority of people in those religions know what is required to conduct their religion, possibly more in fields of interest, and leave specialised knowledge to the specialists.

So why is there this notion that a properly equipped recon-type should aspire to do the sort of work required for specialist practitioners in other religions?

I can tell you this:  when I'm trying to explain religious questions to my kids I am not going to hand them Jan Assmann.  Because if I cannot involve my children as junior participants - which means having accessible practices, moral and ethical teachings, and sacred stories on hand to address their questions - I don't have a functional religion.  I have, at best, a rough draft.  And if I can't present something comprehensible without a tome, it's not a very good rough draft either.

So long as the answer is "hit the books", we're stuck in rough draft form, and I am not and will never be satisfied with that.  It's a bad answer.  It's proof that we have failed to actually follow through on the process.

Quote
This is unfortunate. Yet, I'm one of those people who believes that Recon religions require a lot of reading. Even if you don't end up using all of what you read, when you're synthesizing and occasionally making things up to fill in holes, knowing a lot about the background of your religion is helpful.


This isn't "religion with homework", this is "homework as religion".

Religion requires acting within community, honoring gods and ancestors, adhering to practice and requirements, and living one's life.  None of that is accomplished by reading a book.  The book - at best - can provide an idea of how one might do that, but reading it will never accomplish actual religion.

Someone who isn't burning the incense, building healthy relationships (self/others/community/cosmos), and praying for the dead is not doing Kemetic religion, no matter how big their library is.  They may know a lot about it in the abstract, but they are not actually doing it.  Reading the complete works of Erik Hornung will not light a single candle in the darkness.

Someone who never reads a single academic text, but who does everything they can to act with justice, to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, who wishes a thousand of every good thing to each West-wandering soul, lights a candle on the sixth moon-day, treats their family well, neither works nor expects others to work extra-long hours, burns incense and sets flowers at a shrine to the gods: that person is devout.  (More so than I am, for sure.)
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Juniperberry

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 02:06:06 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;90062

I find the idea of academia being part of daily religion horrifying.  I love academic books, don't get me wrong.  But that doesn't mean I need to read them to be a layman.  That's just an artificial barrier.

It's hazing.  Unless you know a way it isn't.  I don't.

I think it's just a matter of taste. As pointed out, both styles have their flaws so people should just read what interests them and not what others say should be read. I like history, so I'd be fairly interested in what those fifty priests did in a world and time so unlike my own. But, yeah, no one should ever say someone is doing it wrong or needs to do it better through such and such, or disparage someone's beliefs based on personal choice.

I took what I read and was understanding and applied it to my personal practice and my personal practice was wrong. It wasn't until yesterday that I came across some new information and the pieces fell into place. And I like that I found out on my own and wasn't just following directions from popular books and how-tos. It may have taken longer, and I may be embarrassed, but it answered years worth of questions and concerns that actually mean something now rather than just "apply here when necessary". I like that for me, not everyone. Some people like knowing how to apply things more quickly because they have other areas of interest they would like to focus on and that's fine, too. I'm not a doer, so information on how to do holidays, how to do devotionals, how to do ritual aren't what I'm looking for. Things that make me think, even if I no think good ;), are what I enjoy.


To clarify: I am not saying one way is better, popular books don't help one to think, etc. This is just what I enjoy based on my individual needs and wants. And that's what everyone should be concerned with.
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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 02:25:24 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;90062
The problem I see with the whole academic book argument is that it sounds more like hazing than actual knowledge.

You say yourself that if the book Darkhawk suggests existed you'd buy it.  That it would be desired.  But the implication is that the academic style books are somehow better.

Why does someone need an undergrad education in the religion to be a layman?  What if someone has a reading problem?  Are they unworthy?

I find the idea of academia being part of daily religion horrifying.  I love academic books, don't get me wrong.  But that doesn't mean I need to read them to be a layman.  That's just an artificial barrier.

It's hazing.  Unless you know a way it isn't.  I don't.

 
I'm capable of reading academic books. I'm doing a PhD. But I can't deny I was put off Celtic Reconstructionism in part by the realisation that I'd need to do the equivalent of a Master's in Celtic Studies in order to practice. It's not my academic background, and even with my ability to read at a fairly high level, there wasn't anywhere to *start*. There's no jumping-off point to help you get off the blocks. Well, there are one or two books, like Celtic Flame and Land, Sea and Sky, that are aimed at slightly more beginner audiences. But very, very few.

In contrast, as a Christian I never felt the need to go off and study theology, but I was capable of arguing it with most of the trained ministers I came across. That's because there were *lots* of stepping-stones between sitting-in-the-pews Christianity and really-advanced Christianity. The same could be said for Druidry. Lots of work has been put into training courses, advice and materials by a number of Druid orders, with a focus on practice. The down-side is that often the theology and scholarship isn't there (not always, of course). But some reconstructionism could do with a balance that moves more in that direction. (I can't speak for all reconstructionism. I do have Heathen friends who seem to have found good guidance and support with their research and practice.)

Example: I had a plan to research calendars and festivals in 2012. It became obvious even before I started that I didn't have enough of an understanding of the Coligny calendar, or a detailed enough knowledge of myth, to know where to start. That's just one example of many.

There have been some attempts to mediate reconstructionist religions, though, haven't there? Priest Drew Jacob's 'Temple of the River' comes to mind. Not sure how often it's been tried (and I don't know if it was much of a success for him).

And it's a real shame, because I have the desire to learn. But while I'm busy doing my 'day job' research, it's unlikely that I'll ever have enough time to go as far as I want to with religious research.
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Darkhawk

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 02:30:16 pm »
Quote from: Sophia Catherine;90073
(I can't speak for all reconstructionism. I do have Heathen friends who seem to have found good guidance and support with their research and practice.)

 
I think the Asatru and the other heathens - as some of the oldest of the recon groups - are the most mature religions in this way.

There exist practicing communities in which people have community, where children can be raised with the basic knowledge of practice, where there are experienced people who can answer more advanced questions or point people to appropriate resources as needed.  There is intro-level space there, a place for converts to learn in methodologies that are actually directly applicable to the practice of religion.
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Maps

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 03:21:59 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;90074
I think the Asatru and the other heathens - as some of the oldest of the recon groups - are the most mature religions in this way.

There exist practicing communities in which people have community, where children can be raised with the basic knowledge of practice, where there are experienced people who can answer more advanced questions or point people to appropriate resources as needed.  There is intro-level space there, a place for converts to learn in methodologies that are actually directly applicable to the practice of religion.

 
I think there's probably this cycle of

1. "Damn, I want to get into this thing, but there isn't anything in the way of into material."
2. "Well, I guess I'll have to go read some irreligious academic stuff and figure it out from there. And when I'm done, maybe I can help contribute to the intro-resource building."
3. -years later-
4. "Welp, I've done my homework. So here's my contribution for newbies: do it the way I did!"

I honestly think it takes an certain sort of person/group to actually go out and do the extra extra work of taking what they learned and instead of running off with it, sticking around and building something for others to use. And I don't think those people happen that often. The movements/groups also seem to need to be "ripe" in a way for that sort of take-charge attitude, otherwise all the information they wind up translating into plain English (so to speak) winds up falling on deaf ears gets forgotten. Either that, or most of the people that take it upon themselves to interpret do really bad jobs.

Darkhawk

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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2013, 04:02:28 pm »
Quote from: Maps;90092
I think there's probably this cycle of

1. "Damn, I want to get into this thing, but there isn't anything in the way of into material."
2. "Well, I guess I'll have to go read some irreligious academic stuff and figure it out from there. And when I'm done, maybe I can help contribute to the intro-resource building."
3. -years later-
4. "Welp, I've done my homework. So here's my contribution for newbies: do it the way I did!"


Which boils down to Shad's point about hazing, really.

Quote
I honestly think it takes an certain sort of person/group to actually go out and do the extra extra work of taking what they learned and instead of running off with it, sticking around and building something for others to use. And I don't think those people happen that often. The movements/groups also seem to need to be "ripe" in a way for that sort of take-charge attitude, otherwise all the information they wind up translating into plain English (so to speak) winds up falling on deaf ears gets forgotten. Either that, or most of the people that take it upon themselves to interpret do really bad jobs.

 
It's actually a really thorny problem.

Naturally-growing religions are different.  (And reconstructionism is fundamentally a methodology to artificially create a religion skeleton.)  They start with someone(s) having an experience, exploring it, codifying it, sharing the results of the experience with others (who may or may not have the shared experience), systematising it, and so on.  And stuff grows from there, over time, developing elaborations that further present or conceal the original seeds.

The reconstructionist process is deconstructionist: what about the fossil remains of the now-dead organically grown beast can we determine, and can we break that back to the original experiences?  (Probably not, at least not fully.  But we can assemble other useful experiences that are more directly applicable to our now.)

And that's a much larger problem.  If I look at my immediate go-to library of research books I have books from people who specialise in art/art interpretation/symbology, books on mindset, books on phislosophical structure, books on 'here is the stuff carved on the walls of this temple and related stuff from the historical record', and so on.  All different aspects of the fossilised beast, right?  And all different scholars.

And practitioners are the same way.  People dig into the meat of the stuff they're concerned with, and the rest trails along behind, for the most part.  (I think that's why Bezenwepwy sometimes self-identifies as "jackal cultist" rather than "Kemetic", actually.)  People wander off and research their own particular gods, or their own particular interests, or whatever else, and there's enough to build a personal practice that way - a pretty solid one, at that - but it's not a religious community at all.

So getting a religious culture out of this requires one of a couple basic options: a group of people who are pooling their mutual fields of interest to make something that is large enough to encompass all their pieces, a person whose particular thing involves a broad enough synthesis for other people to come plug in their hobbyhorses later, or a person/group with a particular vision of how to structure things that turns out to be compelling.  (And when you're starting with the third, you're kind of on the edge of reconstruction, because that's riding the edge back into naturally formed religions.)

ANd that's without getting into problems of competence, implementation problems, and so on.  It's just a size of the beast thing.
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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2013, 04:06:14 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;90062
The problem I see with the whole academic book argument is that it sounds more like hazing than actual knowledge.


Maybe it's because I've loved those "poky, dull, and dry" academic books since I was a child, but I don't see how slowly accumulating knowledge by reading academic sources is hazing. Now, I do understand that there are some in the Recon community who beat newbies over the head with academics. That's not good, of course.

I like the idea of encouraging newbies to start slowly. Get an academic book or two, slowly read through them, and meanwhile start figuring out how to actually practice.

And if it is hazing, the Recon community as a whole could probably figure out a way to tone it down to the point where it's a rite of passage instead. That raises a whole crapload of other problems, though, that I'm not qualified to address. Others can do so if they're interested.

Quote
You say yourself that if the book Darkhawk suggests existed you'd buy it.  That it would be desired.  But the implication is that the academic style books are somehow better.


I did not mean to imply that and I apologize for doing so. What I'm trying to get at is the academic books are really, really important. You don't need a huge library of them. Just enough so that you understand. For some people, this means two or three books. For others, it means fifteen or twenty. I prefer to lean toward the "too much", because it's easier to pare down than to dress up, to mix images. There are other approaches that are equally as valid, so don't think I'm trying to imply my way is the best.

Popular books are useful when they're done well. They're wonderful to have around as quick references as well.

Overall, books are tools. They all have their uses.

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Why does someone need an undergrad education in the religion to be a layman?  What if someone has a reading problem?  Are they unworthy?


An undergrad education isn't necessary. But education in general is. And that's going to involve reading things that aren't fun to read.

People with reading problems aren't unworthy. Even people with reading problems who refuse to try to work around that aren't unworthy. They're going to have a different approach to the faith and that's okay, but it might not be very Recon. (Non-Recon approaches are not teh ebil, either.)

I think part of what's happening here is we're rubbing up against the intersection of layman and priest/scribe. You have people who really don't want to be a priest/scribe. They want to worship the gods, celebrate festivals, and go on with their lives. They don't want to deal with the esoteric. They're not looking to gather arcane knowledge in academic sources. They want practical knowledge for their lives. They don't want to be mystics, or anything of the sort.

Unfortunately, Recon religions tend to encourage practitioners to be their own priest/scribe/knowledge-keeper/mystic. In theory, this works out. In practice, you kind of have a stratification between the priests (just going to use that word from here on out) and the laymen, with little to no communication, or communication that basically comes out as, "go read the sources yourself." Why? Because, again, there's that encouragement to become your own priest.

Maybe a better thing to say is, "if you're interested in a priestly route, go read these academic sources. Otherwise, go read these popular sources." The priests are armed with the knowledge of what's crap and what's not, so the layman doesn't have to worry about "fluff" (mostly thinking of New Age lightness and sweetness fluff). This is assuming, of course, that there are actual popular books out there for the layman that aren't crap.

If it sounds like I'm trying to say Recon religions should be more organized, that's not really it. I'm not sure how it would work, but perhaps it's possible to have people who are "acknowledged experts"--can't think of a better term--who aren't in charge of any organizations. Who are there to help out others on their way. They write books, they blog, maybe they make podcasts or YouTube videos. I don't know.

And then the community has to be careful not to imply that laymen are somehow inferior. Laymen aren't inferior practitioners. They never were. They never will be. If a person wants to be a layman, then he or she should be one. If a person wants to be a priest, then by the gods that's the way that person should try to go.

This is omitting the possibility of someone taking the wrong path. EX: A layman who should be a priest or a priest who should be a layman.

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I find the idea of academia being part of daily religion horrifying.  I love academic books, don't get me wrong.  But that doesn't mean I need to read them to be a layman.  That's just an artificial barrier.


Again, priest/layman intersection. To get started, one needs only a little material, and it doesn't have to be academic.

Academia, to me, is a beautiful part of daily religion, but if it sounds like I believe everyone should feel that way, it's an unfortunate error on my part. I have a tendency of not being very clear.
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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2013, 04:11:46 pm »
Quote from: Shine;90114
Unfortunately, Recon religions tend to encourage practitioners to be their own priest/scribe/knowledge-keeper/mystic. In theory, this works out.


Only if the theory is based on - ironically - completely and totally ignoring actual history, in which very few people were priest/scribe/knowledge-keepers/mystics, because they were too busy making food.

A theory of reconstructionism that is based on total historical revisionism is a bad theory.
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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2013, 04:14:11 pm »
Quote from: Maps;90092
I think there's probably this cycle of

1. "Damn, I want to get into this thing, but there isn't anything in the way of into material."
2. "Well, I guess I'll have to go read some irreligious academic stuff and figure it out from there. And when I'm done, maybe I can help contribute to the intro-resource building."
3. -years later-
4. "Welp, I've done my homework. So here's my contribution for newbies: do it the way I did!"


Yes, and it's maddening.

There has got to be a way to approach Reconstructionism so that there's a kind of balance between "elders"-share-wisdom and newbies-go-read-for-themselves. There has to be a middle ground between "go be your own damn priest" and "just read this 101 book and do whatever it tells you".

Somewhere is a middle ground. But I don't know where.
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Re: The Reconstructionist Book Problem
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2013, 04:17:45 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;90113
Which boils down to Shad's point about hazing, really.


Not just that, but... it feels like a "eager optimism turns stiff and jaded" sort of thing almost. Like "work long enough in this field, kid, and blah blah blah". I don't know what would help fix that progression, though. Maybe it honestly takes having access to a community as big and ubiquitous as one of the big three. I haven't read any big fat books on this kind of human behavior though, so I'm out. :P

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