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Author Topic: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?  (Read 8589 times)

Kaio

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When I read about what we nowadays call "Pagan religions" before the spread of Abrahamic faith systems it seems clear that "religion" as we define it today is a relatively new concept.
 Scandinavians for example conceived what we call their "conversion" to Christianity in terms of siðaskipti, "change in customs". It seems very different from the often very personal relationship many - or most? - Westerners have with the Deity or Deities they worship at least since Augustine of Hippo.
 Having in mind the societal embeddedness of the ancient Pagan religions, I think these links allow one to think about what could mean to develop - or to construct - something similar for a modern, republican-type and socially plural society:

 
    Ceisiwr Serith's text and links under the title "American Paganism"
    [/LIST]
     
      text about American Civil Religion
      [/LIST]
       
        site about the Constitutionalist Church
        [/LIST]

         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?
        When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

        Juniperberry

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #1 on: November 22, 2014, 04:36:07 pm »
        Quote from: Kaio;165888


         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?

         
        What would you be trying to achieve?
        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 #2 on: November 22, 2014, 05:03:25 pm »
        Quote from: Juniperberry;165899
        What would you be trying to achieve?

         
        And how do you think you can do it, more to the point?

        I see questions like this a lot here, and its always confused me. You can't shift society one iota, much less start a radical paradigm shift. America has over three hundred million people. You're one person. Unless you're tapping into a whole buried layer of existing emotion (like every rights movement ever) the idea of you altering society and how people think is nuts.

        Trying to make an ethnic society out of a society of umpteen shittons of ethnicities... oy.

        Tl;dr: Cnut. Didn't work.
        "This is a sorrow-spider. Which end do you hold it by? TRICK QUESTION!"

        Kaio

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #3 on: November 22, 2014, 05:06:09 pm »
        Quote from: Juniperberry;165899
        What would you be trying to achieve?

         
         Sometimes I wonder what would be a Brazilian - or pan-Brazilian? - ethnic religion.
         Some people say that Brazil already has its own ethnic religions, but they are actually African-Brazilian religions (like umbanda and candomblé). It means that they are deeply linked either to Africa, or to Christianity. There are also indigenous-based Brazilian religions, but again they also have this partiality; pre-Columbian native inhabitants of the lands where Brazil came to existence are not precisely Brazilians.
        When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

        Juniperberry

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #4 on: November 22, 2014, 05:28:17 pm »
        Quote from: Kaio;165907
        Sometimes I wonder what would be a Brazilian - or pan-Brazilian? - ethnic religion.
         Some people say that Brazil already has its own ethnic religions, but they are actually African-Brazilian religions (like umbanda and candomblé). It means that they are deeply linked either to Africa, or to Christianity. There are also indigenous-based Brazilian religions, but again they also have this partiality; pre-Columbian native inhabitants of the lands where Brazil came to existence are not precisely Brazilians.

        So do you think religion is in the people or in the land? (Or both, neither, various combinations.)
        « Last Edit: November 22, 2014, 05:28:57 pm by Juniperberry »
        The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

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

        Kaio

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #5 on: November 22, 2014, 05:38:57 pm »
        Quote from: Juniperberry;165911
        So do you think religion is in the people or in the land? (Or both, neither, various combinations.)


         I think it's about an articulation of people, land, their interrelationships and Deities.
        When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

        Juniperberry

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #6 on: November 22, 2014, 06:00:49 pm »
        Quote from: Kaio;165912
        I think it's about an articulation of people, land, their interrelationships and Deities.

         

        Maybe I'm not understanding you, but don't you have all those things in Brazil now?

        I used to think that Christianity and immigration took us off of our natural course, as if religion/spirituality was somehow artificial now. Yet most cultures that converted also did so in ways unique to their culture. Christianity isn't monochromatic, it's colored by the cultures that adopt it. What is the Brazilian interpretation of Christianity, and there's part of your answer.  Because where we are now is the natural course of things and now is where one should begin. It's not as if the spiritual experiences of being human are on hold until you find the correct recon method, it's all actually occurring at this very moment.

        People still love, die, marry, celebrate and mourn. Plants still sprout, bloom and rot. People still access the spiritual and give names to those experiences local and personal. All of that is happening right now, where you are, as you are. What more are you looking for? (serious question)
        « Last Edit: November 22, 2014, 06:01:40 pm by Juniperberry »
        The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

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

        Kaio

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #7 on: November 22, 2014, 06:20:31 pm »
        Quote from: Juniperberry;165913
        (...)

        I used to think that Christianity and immigration took us off of our natural course, as if religion/spirituality was somehow artificial now. Yet most cultures that converted also did so in ways unique to their culture. Christianity isn't monochromatic, it's colored by the cultures that adopt it. What is the Brazilian interpretation of Christianity, and there's part of your answer.  Because where we are now is the natural course of things and now is where one should begin.

         
         This approach would lead me back to some form of folk Catholicism.
         Brazilian folk Catholicism is highly syncretic but it's still Christian. It retains attributes of general Christianity that I really don't like, like regarding suffering and life-hating behaviors and opinions as some of the greatest values a human being can have.
        When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

        Juniperberry

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #8 on: November 22, 2014, 06:57:29 pm »
        Quote from: Kaio;165916
        This approach would lead me back to some form of folk Catholicism.
         Brazilian folk Catholicism is highly syncretic but it's still Christian. It retains attributes of general Christianity that I really don't like, like regarding suffering and life-hating behaviors and opinions as some of the greatest values a human being can have.

        I don't think looking at the folk influences in Catholicism will lead you to become Catholic, anymore than reconstructed influences will lead you to perform human sacrifices.

        I grew up with the idea of Guardian Angels, which actually aren't definitively defined in the bible. However, the belief in a guardian spirit is really prevalent in European folklore (though not unique to it).  I don't need to reconstruct that belief, because it had enough staying power in the collective cultural consciousness that it wasn't rooted out.

        It seems to me that the best bet in most religions, including reconstructed polythestic ones, is to stop focusing on what the religion tells people to do, and look at what comes naturally and instinctively to the people and the environment:  The folk truths.

        Polytheistic folk 'religions' were informed by the world around them, not by religious teaching. And the natural laws of the world have been fairly constant... i.e. truths. Literally everything you're looking for is right in front of you, always has been, and so doesn't need to be reconstructed. (IMO) Unless you're reconstructing a cultural society of people, and then that's something else entirely.
        « Last Edit: November 22, 2014, 07:01:44 pm by Juniperberry »
        The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

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

        Kaio

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #9 on: November 22, 2014, 07:45:51 pm »
        Quote from: Juniperberry;165929
        I grew up with the idea of Guardian Angels, which actually aren't definitively defined in the bible. However, the belief in a guardian spirit is really prevalent in European folklore (though not unique to it).  I don't need to reconstruct that belief, because it had enough staying power in the collective cultural consciousness that it wasn't rooted out.

        It seems to me that the best bet in most religions, including reconstructed polythestic ones, is to stop focusing on what the religion tells people to do, and look at what comes naturally and instinctively to the people and the environment:  The folk truths.


         I think I'm not making myself clear.
         When I talk about a potential and new ethnic religion, I'm talking about a religion largely or completely different, independent and/or maybe exclusive in relation to other ethnicities and religions.
         Theoretically some aspects of native later religions of Indo-European-speaking populations came from a Proto-Indo-European-speaking population's religion. As time went by and dialects diverged from one another, religions started to form relatively discrete unities (in spite of regional differences) and this is how Germanic paganism, for example, took form. It's on this level that I sometimes try to figure out what would be a Brazilian ethnic religion.
        When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

        Faemon

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        Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
        « Reply #10 on: November 22, 2014, 07:56:55 pm »
        Quote from: Kaio;165888
        it seems clear that "religion" as we define it today is a relatively new concept.

        Perhaps. But religion as most people define it today are what we have to work with.

        I can only guess that people in pre-Christian, pre-science societies (obviously, I'm speaking in a broaaad generalization, here) probably did not have the vocabulary to wonder about it in the same way that most modern people do, or didn't have the circumstances to stir up the motivations that we have--motivations to separate the spiritual from the scientific from the government from the natural-environmental from the communal from the cultural from the personal from the ideological from the practical...challenges to aspects that define those aspects...a reasoned tendency towards separation, cultural awkwardness such as that.

        At least, that's been the case with me. I can't shift my own reasoning to believe that rabbits and butterflies are human souls, and to eat rabbit meat causes reincarnation of the human person who that rabbit used to be...when I've been educated that rabbits and butterflies are living organisms with lives and personalities of their own (probably) an ecological niche and natural predators, and to wonder why even rabbits in particular?

        So, maybe I cannot think and believe the same way that members of previous generations of any faith could do. But there's no way to know, because the problem with history is that nobody writes down the obvious. Besides, I don't feel like I need to know for sure so that I can get in the same frame of mind. It's interesting to speculate, but how would I apply that, if not to my own modern life, to me with the reasoning that I've been given through standardized education? I certainly can't expect to influence others.

        Quote
          Ceisiwr Serith's text and links under the title "American Paganism"
          [/LIST]
           
            text about American Civil Religion
            [/LIST]
             
              site about the Constitutionalist Church
              [/LIST]

              For the first link, the gist that I got was that there is religious fervor for a nation and its symbols, which is not classified as religious or considered like it, but it is? Maybe, but would need definition.

              On the flip side, I'm also reminded of Chris Hedges . I don't like to kick anyone out of any identification even semantically, but his, "Those are not Christians, they're heretics who have taken the worst of commercialism and use the faith to justify it!" was, I thought, incisive.

              Quote
              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?

              As others have pointed out, you can offer an idea, but even if you think it's a good idea it's unlikely that whole masses of people are going to adopt that idea.

              Does it have anything to do with indigenizing societies? I guess it could.

              Do non-modern religions fit contemporary reality? For a number of people, yes. It would still be contemporary people practicing that religion, though. I consider a false dichotomy between tradition and modernity. While tradition is something carried over from the past, I believe that it only exists in the present because it continues to serve the people who practice it in the present. If anything from the past fell out of practice, it could be easy to say, "Oh, but generations have always done it this way." Perhaps it's an uncomfortable idea, if mutability becomes vulnerability becomes invitation to exploit--but, traditions could very well die all the time in small ways.

              I can't comment about reconstructionism, but here (if you can access more YouTube or youtube at all) is a link you might be interested in checking out: (an hour-long criticism of the mutual exclusivity of sectarian faiths, sectarianism itself being not a good thing for a global society, intellectually defensible ways to explain transformative experiences without some "infatuation with mythology", the philosophy of recognizing the Self as illusionary but with a better definition of the self than something that would be harmful to try to stamp out or do without, and the lack of moral accountability when we lose our Self--does happen in the way that Self-advocates and Free Will believers fear, but doesn't ultimately encourage harm.)

              Not everybody must have an infatuation with mythology forced upon them, though, but I have one, so while Sam Harris' philosophy and practices are beautifully explained and have interesting results to practice, I'm looking into the Otherfaith.
              « Last Edit: November 22, 2014, 07:58:21 pm by Faemon »
              The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
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              Kaio

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              Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
              « Reply #11 on: November 23, 2014, 06:40:55 am »
              Quote from: Faemon;165939
              (...) I don't feel like I need to know for sure so that I can get in the same frame of mind. It's interesting to speculate, but how would I apply that, if not to my own modern life...


               I think a critical and very valuable feature of non-modern Paganism from my point of view is their sense of integrity of life, reality and all-embracing meaning. I think ancient faith systems were like this and I think it may be interesting trying to recover some of this. I do not see how religions in modern sense, in this sense of an aspect of life relatively set apart from other ones, can reach this level of meaningfulness.

              Quote from: Faemon;165939
              I'm looking into the Otherfaith.

               
               I've thought about it so much... a brand-new form of Paganism, one that feels at home in contemporary world and life. Yet I agree with a Cauldronite that said that to some degree modern paganism is about looking for identity. And I think it may be very difficult, maybe uncomfortable and not fulfilling to identify oneself with something so new... to put down roots in a religion that may lack rootedness itself...
               One more thing that I like about the idea of a new ethnic religion, mainly in the case of ethnicities made up by/at the time of European colonialism, is its power to affirm the society in question instead of choosing that typically colonial xenocentrism again  (and at this point I think it's important to say that I don't like proselytism; I'm trying to figure out a faith system that makes sense to me even if I can share it with others at some point.) At the same time if I try to follow through these set of ideas I feel I fail to be true to myself because I really admire several Deities and aspects related to European native ethnic religions.
              When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

              Faemon

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              Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
              « Reply #12 on: November 23, 2014, 07:53:22 am »
              Quote from: Kaio;165959
              I think a critical and very valuable feature of non-modern Paganism from my point of view is their sense of integrity of life, reality and all-embracing meaning. I think ancient faith systems were like this and I think it may be interesting trying to recover some of this. I do not see how religions in modern sense, in this sense of an aspect of life relatively set apart from other ones, can reach this level of meaningfulness.


              Unfortunately, I cannot see how religion in the non-modern sense can be recovered without compromising for this modernity. That's not to say that nobody else can manage it, of course. :p
               
              Quote
              if I try to follow through these set of ideas I feel I fail to be true to myself because I really admire several Deities and aspects related to European native ethnic religions.


              It might be a similar conflict as that, that got me sort of considering the psychological aspect of the spiritual. Just as a spiritual practice must work within the context of modern life, spiritual gnosis (I believe) must work with the contents of the personal psyche ... and, I haven't quite managed to bridge the two, either, especially considering that my spirituality would be really very strange to most offline people around me, so there's no support there ... but again that's not to say that bridging it can't happen; I think you're more likely to figure out how that would come about, than I am, because it does come off as a need that you have. And of course, your developing thoughts would be interesting to follow. :)
              The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
              the Otherfaith: Chromatic Genderbending Faery Monarchs of Technology. DeviantArt

              Kaio

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              Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
              « Reply #13 on: November 24, 2014, 08:17:54 am »
              Quote from: Faemon;165964
              (...) It might be a similar conflict as that, that got me sort of considering the psychological aspect of the spiritual.

               
               This made me remember the concept of orthopsychy.

              Quote from: Faemon;165964
              (...) And of course, your developing thoughts would be interesting to follow. :)


               Thank you!
              When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

              Juniperberry

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              Re: US-American ethnic religion: what may come from reconstructionism?
              « Reply #14 on: November 26, 2014, 03:40:24 am »
              Quote from: Kaio;165937
              I think I'm not making myself clear.

              I think I understand now. (I hope.)

              I don't know how helpful this will be to you, but a few thoughts...

              Quote
              When I read about what we nowadays call "Pagan religions" before the spread of Abrahamic faith systems it seems clear that "religion" as we define it today is a relatively new concept.
              Scandinavians for example conceived what we call their "conversion" to Christianity in terms of siðaskipti, "change in customs". It seems very different from the often very personal relationship many - or most? - Westerners have with the Deity or Deities they worship at least since Augustine of Hippo.

              Germanic polytheism wasn't really hard or soft. It didn't matter much if gods were universal archetypes or individual and unique entities. What mattered was the customs one had for maintaining a good relationship with that deity. Because the relationship defines the god for you, nothing else, and that relationship is built through shared customs and traditions.  Your Odin wouldn't be my Odin, because you don't share in my customs. When Scandinavians said they were changing customs to convert, it wasn't as basic as just changing the way they did things. It meant turning away from one relationship and pursuing another, by building bonds and traditions with a new god. So it is very personal understanding of deity.

              Even though it's personal it can also be shared on a larger scale. Many people--a tribe, a culture-- can take part in that specific relationship. It was inherited: the customs of the tribe informed the person's sense of self as much as customs of a culture do today. I could no more deny that I have inherited a USonian culture  that shaped and defined me then a Germanic Semnone could deny being shaped and defined by customary sacrifices and worship of ROD. It's a large part of who we are, what we're born to. It was adopted: slaves and prisoners could gain citizenship by converting to the customs of the tribe in the same way that immigrants gain citizenship by learning and converting to our culture.  

              Quote
              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?

              The underlying philosophies of primitive folk-religions can be adapted to contemporary reality, yes. But you won't ever be able to reconstruct them in a satisfying way because we no longer live in cultures where everyone conforms to, and/or understands the rules of, the customs being reconstructed. You can reconstruct the philosophies, and then invent modern customs that express that spirituality in a useful and productive way within your modern culture. That's actually the entire end-game of reconstructionism; to bring a religion that had fallen behind forward into the modern world. We're not supposed to go back ourselves.

              Quote
              Theoretically some aspects of native later religions of Indo-European-speaking populations came from a Proto-Indo-European-speaking population's religion. As time went by and dialects diverged from one another, religions started to form relatively discrete unities (in spite of regional differences) and this is how Germanic paganism, for example, took form. It's on this level that I sometimes try to figure out what would be a Brazilian ethnic religion.

              Germanic paganism had Sami, Celtic, Roman etc influences and really wasn't a pan-Germanic religion. The idea of a pan-Germanic religion came much, much later after the conversion. There are similarities in most primitive folk-religions because they often deal with the observable world, which everyone has the same access to. Everyone has ancestors, everyone sees living and dying flora, everyone sees chaotic nature and fateful coincidence. But it's the relationship you have with the observable world, your customs for interacting with it, that defines it for you. For some Odin was a mage and a poet, for others he was an old battle-axe. In the Icelandic Eddas, Ragnarok was the end of this world, in Continental Germania it was Muspell. For Scandinavians, Buri was the first ancestor. On the continent it was Tuisto.

              That's not to say the Germanic people didn't share the same cultural philosophy, because they did, out of necessity. They lived among one another and frequently interacted. But they also had some very different ideas about what their divine relationships were. I don't know if it would be possible for you to reconstruct a Brazilian ethnic religion and if you did, you would also have to share a cultural understanding with your neighbors.

              So this...

              Quote
              When I talk about a potential and new ethnic religion, I'm talking about a religion largely or completely different, independent and/or maybe exclusive in relation to other ethnicities and religions.

              ...would be impossible.
              « Last Edit: November 26, 2014, 03:41:58 am by Juniperberry »
              The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

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

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