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Author Topic: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity  (Read 10337 times)

Demophon

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Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« on: January 20, 2016, 10:11:08 pm »
Lately I have been having some problems reconciling different religious traditions that I practice. I have been a practicing pagan of some stripe for over a decade, and I was not raised in a religious household in which we went to church regularly or anything, but in the past three years or so I have been going to church. I am even working on a graduate degree in Christian theology right now, which is an... interesting experience. Somehow I ended up really involved in the wider Church community.

I feel like my heart is in paganism, but church offers a lot that modern paganism just doesn't. It's about structure, tradition, community, and satisfying liturgy/ritual. I just feel secure in certain types of churches. For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others. I'm in a big city, but pagan communities are pretty scarce, and the ones I have been able to find just like to bitch about Christianity and mainstream culture, and the negativity is just so draining. When it comes to ritual, I'm either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.

While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures. There was a time when I was starting to reconcile myself to an Abrahamic monotheist theology and a greater appreciation of Scripture, but for whatever reason it didn't stick. Maybe because I support feminism, queer rights, and sex-positivity. There are Christians who are into those kinds of causes too, but being pagan and having a worldview that accepts diversity when it comes to sex and gender, not to mention pretty much everything else, is a lot easier than trying to believe in a text that promotes patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. It's more complicated than just those issues, but they are the obvious ones.

Sometimes I think it would be a good idea just to devote myself more fully to the Church, and not bother with the pagan stuff anymore, which I have not been able to do fully. It would give me the structure I crave, which is easier to maintain as part of a community rather than just a solitary lighting candles in my room and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I'm crazy for worshiping. I would feel more in touch with society, and have a community of people who aren't so angry and emotionally draining to be around, and not feel as disingenuous as I often feel now. I just don't know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of "God" is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don't know if I can reconcile that with Christianity. There is something I genuinely love about the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic faith, I just don't know if I can stick to it exclusively, but if I don't, I feel like I am not getting as much out of it as I could. I currently follow Anglican Catholicism, which is kind of a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism, since it's more open to issues of gender and sexuality, but I wonder if I converted to the Roman Church I would take it more seriously and try to live according to its teachings. However, that doesn't always seem like a good idea.

Thank you if you have read this all the way through. Let me know if you can sympathize or have any suggestions.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2016, 12:25:19 am »
Caught this just before going to bed; please excuse any infelicities in phrasing, as I am stoned to the gills on melatonin.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others. I'm in a big city, but pagan communities are pretty scarce, and the ones I have been able to find just like to bitch about Christianity and mainstream culture, and the negativity is just so draining.


Okay, first problem: you're not dealing with pagans who are grownups.  This is not an age thing.  This is an actually doing your shit thing.

I strongly recommend seeking out grownups to socialise with.  They're less frustrating.


Aside from that, I came to the conclusion long ago that if I was looking for theological agreement in my social life or my religious life I was basically dooming myself to loneliness.  Which is why I don't bother with it.  If I'm looking for social community, I'm not basing it on religious stuff; if I'm looking for religious practice community I'm looking for things that actually work for me and the other people involved.

Which means I have a rather ecumenical pagan ritual group (six of us, no two of whom share a religion, including those who have several; I think the closest thing we have to religious commonality is that a lot of people in the group are of Jewish heritage), and have been known to go to a UU church when I want other people to be doing the heavy lifting and just do religion.

Quote
When it comes to ritual, I'm either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.


My personal experience with ritual that makes me feel ridiculous is that it is ritual from an incorrect religion.  It's not actually engaging anything of use to me, and thus leaving me vaguely uncomfortable and out of joint.

My personal feeling is that I'm better off doing religious ritual that's actually from a religion that works for me.  It took me a really long time to find that, though.

Quote
While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures.


That thing about looking for theological agreement before finding community I said above?  May apply here.  Though I'm wary about applying it too hard to Christian communities, they tend to care more about what people believe than I do. ;)

Uh.  I thought I had something more profound to say but maybe that's the sleepydrugs deceiving me.  So I guess I'm done for now. :}
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Gnowan

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 12:32:14 am »
Quote from: Demophon;185509
Lately I have been having some problems reconciling different religious traditions that I practice. I have been a practicing pagan of some stripe for over a decade, and I was not raised in a religious household in which we went to church regularly or anything, but in the past three years or so I have been going to church. I am even working on a graduate degree in Christian theology right now, which is an... interesting experience. Somehow I ended up really involved in the wider Church community.

I feel like my heart is in paganism, but church offers a lot that modern paganism just doesn't. It's about structure, tradition, community, and satisfying liturgy/ritual. I just feel secure in certain types of churches. For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others. I'm in a big city, but pagan communities are pretty scarce, and the ones I have been able to find just like to bitch about Christianity and mainstream culture, and the negativity is just so draining. When it comes to ritual, I'm either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.

While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures. There was a time when I was starting to reconcile myself to an Abrahamic monotheist theology and a greater appreciation of Scripture, but for whatever reason it didn't stick. Maybe because I support feminism, queer rights, and sex-positivity. There are Christians who are into those kinds of causes too, but being pagan and having a worldview that accepts diversity when it comes to sex and gender, not to mention pretty much everything else, is a lot easier than trying to believe in a text that promotes patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. It's more complicated than just those issues, but they are the obvious ones.

Sometimes I think it would be a good idea just to devote myself more fully to the Church, and not bother with the pagan stuff anymore, which I have not been able to do fully. It would give me the structure I crave, which is easier to maintain as part of a community rather than just a solitary lighting candles in my room and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I'm crazy for worshiping. I would feel more in touch with society, and have a community of people who aren't so angry and emotionally draining to be around, and not feel as disingenuous as I often feel now. I just don't know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of "God" is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don't know if I can reconcile that with Christianity. There is something I genuinely love about the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic faith, I just don't know if I can stick to it exclusively, but if I don't, I feel like I am not getting as much out of it as I could. I currently follow Anglican Catholicism, which is kind of a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism, since it's more open to issues of gender and sexuality, but I wonder if I converted to the Roman Church I would take it more seriously and try to live according to its teachings. However, that doesn't always seem like a good idea.

Thank you if you have read this all the way through. Let me know if you can sympathize or have any suggestions.

 
I believe I understand what you're saying about the Catholic Church.  I've only seen parts of a Catholic mass, at weddings and funerals and on TV, but it's very powerful.  I, too, have felt silly performing pagan rituals with others and even by myself.  My "rituals" now are more meditations.  I've also felt uncomfortable during protestant services where we all turn and hug.  I'm a hugger, but not with strangers.

There are Christian sects that consider Catholics to be more Pagan than Christian.  It seems to me from what you've said that the Church could fulfill both your Pagan and Catholic needs, so long as you can rectify that some of the Bible is from God and other parts are from the mouths of men.  Heresy, I know.

Not being Christian myself, I try to live by Matthew 22:37-40--(paraphrased, Jesus said, "Love God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.  This is the whole of the Law.").  This is also what I brought my son up with.

That pretty much leaves things wide open and one has to search within themselves to understand what this means to each individual and what/who is God and what constitutes a neighbor.

I'm a panentheist, so I believe in "All in God" and "Thou art God."  I believe that everything is part of God but is also God (which would be similar, I think, to the Holy Spirit), but God is "more than the sum of it's parts).  So I have no problems with god/desses because I think they, like us, are part of the Ultimate God (as my son used to say when he was little).  Sometimes I think that the God of the Old Testament is not the same God of whom Jesus speaks.  I think of Christianity as another pantheon, but I get the feeling from reading the New Testament that Jesus is referring more to the Ultimate God, rather than Yahweh.

When Jesus said, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," he didn't put in any caveats.  So that includes all the wonderful diversity we manifest.  I, personally, include in "neighbor" animals, plants, rocks, the earth, the universe....  we are all made of the same stuff.  And I interpret "Love God" to mean love the divine in everything and everyone.

I don't commune with any god/desses but I wear a moon goddess pendant.  The phases of the moon reflect for me the principle of "life, death, and renewal."  I just connect more with a ubiquitous goddess that's a little more approachable than trying to connect with the Ultimate God.  Perhaps that's why Catholics revere Mary so much and for the same reason.  So I don't think there's a problem with you feeling that "God is a more feminine being."

I know my words would be heresy in the Church, but the rituals and celebrations are in your heart and soul.  How they bring you closer to God is not the exact same as those of the person sitting next to you, however communal the rituals are.

~Gnowan

Juniperberry

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 12:34:45 am »
Quote from: Demophon;185509
Lately I have been having some problems reconciling different religious traditions that I practice. I have been a practicing pagan of some stripe for over a decade, and I was not raised in a religious household in which we went to church regularly or anything, but in the past three years or so I have been going to church. I am even working on a graduate degree in Christian theology right now, which is an... interesting experience. Somehow I ended up really involved in the wider Church community.

I also wasn't raised with religion and am in a similar boat. Paganism sort of feels like it should be a natural fit, but at the same time I've never been able to completely detach from Christianity.  

Quote
I feel like my heart is in paganism, but church offers a lot that modern paganism just doesn't. It's about structure, tradition, community, and satisfying liturgy/ritual. I just feel secure in certain types of churches. For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others. I'm in a big city, but pagan communities are pretty scarce, and the ones I have been able to find just like to bitch about Christianity and mainstream culture, and the negativity is just so draining. When it comes to ritual, I'm either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.

One thing I've noticed studying paganism is that often pagan spirituality was actually contained and created within the traditions, rituals, and community of a tribe. It wasn't what gods you worshiped but how people worshiped those gods and the bonds of history, tradition, and family that that worship built and sustained. (And with pagan conversion it wasn't so much a hesitation to worship a new god or myth but a hesitation to reject old traditions and rituals that defined them as a people.) So in a way, it is the very essence of (some) paganism(s) to be most spiritually uplifted because of the rituals of your larger, tribal, traditional religious community (like church).


Quote
While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures. There was a time when I was starting to reconcile myself to an Abrahamic monotheist theology and a greater appreciation of Scripture, but for whatever reason it didn't stick. Maybe because I support feminism, queer rights, and sex-positivity. There are Christians who are into those kinds of causes too, but being pagan and having a worldview that accepts diversity when it comes to sex and gender, not to mention pretty much everything else, is a lot easier than trying to believe in a text that promotes patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. It's more complicated than just those issues, but they are the obvious ones.

Many historical paganisms weren't free of patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia etc. So you're likely screwed either way there.

Quote
Sometimes I think it would be a good idea just to devote myself more fully to the Church, and not bother with the pagan stuff anymore, which I have not been able to do fully. It would give me the structure I crave, which is easier to maintain as part of a community rather than just a solitary lighting candles in my room and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I'm crazy for worshiping. I would feel more in touch with society, and have a community of people who aren't so angry and emotionally draining to be around, and not feel as disingenuous as I often feel now. I just don't know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of "God" is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don't know if I can reconcile that with Christianity. There is something I genuinely love about the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic faith, I just don't know if I can stick to it exclusively, but if I don't, I feel like I am not getting as much out of it as I could. I currently follow Anglican Catholicism, which is kind of a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism, since it's more open to issues of gender and sexuality, but I wonder if I converted to the Roman Church I would take it more seriously and try to live according to its teachings. However, that doesn't always seem like a good idea.

Thank you if you have read this all the way through. Let me know if you can sympathize or have any suggestions.


Something that I have recently begun doing is just giving it up to God. I try not to worry if I'm believing right, but rather just "do me" and have faith that God--if he truly is good and kind and wise--will sort things out for me better than I probably could anyhow.

And then there's the fact that the paganism I have a history with wasn't about spiritual mysteries and salvation and achieving a heavenly paradise, but about a right relationship with the natural, living world.

Neither of these two things conflict, in my mind. I don't worship pagan gods to attain supernatural miracles, I worship to praise and give thanks and maintain a balance and harmony between myself and the natural world. I worship God because I believe there is a good, wise, all-powerful something that can, quite possibly, hear me in ways that the natural world cannot, and work in ways that the natural world cannot. Not in the sense of miracles, but in the sense of something beyond that which I can comprehend that always seems to be there.

So, on one hand, I try to have a harmonious relationship with the natural world I currently interact with, and on the other I give up to God all the Beyond stuff.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 12:37:01 am by Juniperberry »
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2016, 07:40:20 am »
Quote from: Demophon;185509
Lately I have been having some problems reconciling different religious traditions that I practice.

(...)

Let me know if you can sympathize or have any suggestions.


Sympathize, yes. I am not sure, myself, how to reconcile Paganism, Mahayana Buddhism and ceremonial (and admittedly very Christian) magic, so any suggestions of mine will be cautious.

I will not point you in one direction, but in several. At the end of the day, you will only be able to solve this problem by your own, although the matter involve communities.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
I am even working on a graduate degree in Christian theology right now, which is an... interesting experience.


I studied Buddhology while I was a Lutheran, and I have been studying the theological background to the English Civil War as a Pagan, so that's not unusual. The subject of one's research doesn't necessarily have to belong to one's chosen religious path. I am, for example, very happy over the fact that Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, who is an expert on the history of Nazi Occultism, isn't a practicing Nazi Occultist himself.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others.


Since the entire western world is basically Agnostic/Atheist (with the possible exception of some parts of the U.S. - I haven't went to that country), we will feel different, regardless of which religion we happen to practice - Christian, Pagan or otherwise.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
... or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.


That doesn't sound like Hellenismos. If Hellenismos was the sort of Paganism that attracted you to begin with, the practice of other varieties of Paganism will possibly be confusing.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures.


Yes. I know what you mean. The outward signs helps to achieve an inward contemplative state. The French Occultist Eliphas Levi (who was a suspended Roman Catholic deacon) regarded Holy Mass as the pinnacle of magical rituals. There is something theurgical over a carefully celebrated eucharist with a sacrificial intention.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
There was a time when I was starting to reconcile myself to an Abrahamic monotheist theology and a greater appreciation of Scripture, (...) but being pagan and having a worldview that accepts diversity when it comes to sex and gender, not to mention pretty much everything else, is a lot easier than trying to believe in a text that promotes patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, etc.


Have your read chapter 8 in Lux Mundi and the chapter about revelation in John MacQuarrie's Principles of Christian Theology? Anglo-Catholics reflected over similar issues a century or decades ago. If you eventually decide to be Anglican, you do not have to agree to the view on verbal inspiration Sydney Anglicans (and probably the Ugandians) maintain. Anglicanism is usually more sophisticated than that.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
Maybe because I support feminism, queer rights, and sex-positivity. There are Christians who are into those kinds of causes too, It's more complicated than just those issues, but they are the obvious ones.


Have you read Charles William's Outlines of Romantic Theology, Jeffrey John's Permanent, Faithful, Stable and the books by Matthew Fox? I guess you would find them useful. Fox is, by the way, popular among Anglicans and Pagans alike - which is an achievement.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
... and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I'm crazy for worshiping.


Is it really so? The grand cultural synthesis of late Antiquity admitted (some of) the ancient deities to survive as allegories, art and heraldry. The most obvious of these are Justitia/Themis, Fortuna/Tyche, Silvanus, the river-god of Jordan (often depicted in mediaeval art depicting the baptism of Christ), Mother Nature, Sophia, the virtues, and since the Renaissance the olympian gods have been a part of architecture (and opera). Where I live, business associations still use the caduceus of Mercurius/Hermes in heraldry. Graeco-Roman mythology is a part of our common cultural heritage, regardless of if someone actually worships the deities anymore - but since the last decades some of us do.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
I just don't know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of "God" is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don't know if I can reconcile that with Christianity.


I feel the same sort of pain as you do, I guess. I am unable to believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, and that shuts me outside Christianity, despite my fascination over the writings of Jacob Boehme, my respect for the Cambridge Platonists and Evelyn Underhill, and despite the Christian language of my magical workings.

Quote from: Demophon;185509
I currently follow Anglican Catholicism, which is kind of a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism...


No it isn't. Late mediaeval renaissance humanist English Christianity was flung into a trajectory of its own, because of the divorce of Henry VIII and the Elizabethan settlement, and the Scottish theologians from Aberdeen took a patristic-episcopal stand against Calvinist presbyterianism in Perth in 1618. Out of that mix came a certain sort of patristic-sacramental Christianity which is not just a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism. To that trajectory belonged Peter Baro, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, Herbert Thorndike, John Cosin, John Johnson, Thomas Wilson, Thomas Brett, Samuel Seabury, the tractarians, F.D. Maurice, Charles Gore, Stewart Headlam, Percy Dearmer, A.G. Hebert and so many more. If Anglo-Catholicism forgets its own history, it loses its raison d'être.
 
Folk-Catholicism in Brazil and the Caribbean is able to harmonize participation in public Roman Catholic worship and elements of African Traditional religions and Spiritism. Some Anglicans in the past were also Occultists. I hope that you will be able to find a modus vivendi in your spiritual life.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2016, 09:40:31 am »
First, as usual and unsurprisingly, Darkhawk said a bunch of things I agree with very much.

(I definitely agree with the comment about needing to find adult Pagans who have gotten beyond the need to bitch part.)

Quote from: Demophon;185509

I feel like my heart is in paganism, but church offers a lot that modern paganism just doesn't. It's about structure, tradition, community, and satisfying liturgy/ritual. I just feel secure in certain types of churches.


First, I think it might help to know that this is something that people in many religions struggle with.

I had a fascinating conversation a couple of weeks ago with the woman who was my confirmation sponsor in the Catholic church 25 years ago. She's always been someone who has been a part of a variety of different religious communities (her late husband was heavily involved in the local queer-friendly Jewish community, she has spent extensive time with both the Episcopalians and Catholics, grew up heavily Quaker and she said that a particular Jewish community is the one that is her home spiritual community in many ways right now.)

She is delighted that I'm Pagan, and I said, explicitly, that one of the things I most valued learning from her is her approach to religion and spirituality: that there are many wonderful things in many of them, and that even when the religion as a whole isn't a good fit, that doesn't mean there aren't things you can enjoy and value in it.

One of the things we got on to talking about was which of the various communities she's a part of are actually any good at the pastoral care part (something she's very aware of: I was visiting because she'd had a bad fall and was in a rehab center for a couple of weeks.)

And, y'know. Some communities, way better than others. And not always the ones you'd expect.

Her choices are different than mine - and to some extent, the available choices depend a lot on which religions you're talking about. There's a lot in the Catholic Church I find really really amazing (especially on the functional social care side of things: I have long tended to be around fairly progressive and social-justice active nuns and other religious leaders) plus, y'know, century after century after century of amazingly designed ritual and music and cultural aspects.

But it is also not a religion where I feel I can say the Creed entirely and believe it, and so it is not the religion for me, no matter how much I occasionally wish it could be. (And there are also a lot of things that drive me up a wall, and those would be a problem too, but the creed and religious belief aspect is the piece that is the absolute line for me, because those things are important defining factors of Catholicism.)

Quote
For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others.


The HP who trained me has a speech about how pursuing religious witchcraft past a certain point tends to make us smell different to other people. He's not talking about actual smell, of course, but a sense that we are different than the norm. That our priorities are different than mainstream society's. That our reactions may be different, and in ways that may make us feel isolated or strange, or make others react to us in ways that are not always comfortable.

And talking about that, with him, over the years, I've come to the conclusion that one can either embrace it, and run with it - or that if you can't, then you need to find something you *can* embrace.

I've come to grips with the fact that I'm always going to be a step off from what the mainstream does. It's particularly clear around the holidays, but it is at other times, too. And I could spend a lot of time fighting that, or ranting about it (as some of the people you've run into sound like they do).

Or, instead, I could shrug and say "This is my life, over here, and there are people in it who value the things I value, and some of them are local, and some of them aren't, and it's a pretty good life."

(I moved 8 months ago back to somewhere where I have a number of local friends: none of them share my precise religion, a couple come fairly close, but for social support and just plain people to social with who won't blink if I say 'that's a ritual day, sorry', they all get that.)

And once I figured out how I wanted to deal with questions about religion that come up in other settings, I was good. (Fortunately, I live in New England, in the bits of New England culture where talking about religion with people you don't actually do religious stuff with just isn't done much.)

It also helps that I have had explicit amazing interactions with deities who are not the Christian god, and thus at this point, going back to monotheism as a belief would be denying those experiences, which I am not willing to do. Makes some of the choices easier on a practical level, at least for me.

Quote

When it comes to ritual, I'm either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.


Agreeing with Darkhawk that this might be that these are not the kinds of ritual you need. In the first case, if it's not satisfying, there might be options - for example, connecting with specific people with a similar practice who may not be local, where you might build shared practices even if you can't be in the same place.

In the latter case, I found that my early experiences with that kind of thing sometimes didn't work for me, but when I poked at what I was feeling, I got the pretty strong sense that it might be different if I was doing ritual with people I did know (or at least, was in the process of getting to know, with the expectation of a long-term interaction), and a clear idea of why they were doing what they were doing.

Finding the training circle I trained and initiated with was very much the right move for me: there are a lot of things that were not great at various points (because people are people, and not everything involving other people is always awesome) but I got so much more good and amazing and wonderful out of it, in part because they *did* have very clear ideas of why they did ritual a particular way and what that meant, and how that got applied that worked for me.

(My personal practice is different than the tradition in a number of ways, and it has been much much much less formal ritual for the last four or five years, but I always have that bedrock to come back to.)

On the other hand, I like a lot of UU members I know, but I am pretty sure I would never be comfortable with a UU community as my primary religious experience, because the lack of ritual structure in a way that works in my head would just not work for me.

The one other thing I'd say is that the Roman Catholic church takes conversion very seriously: I went through the process when I was a teenager (my mother was raised Catholic, my father was Church of England, he converted to marry her, they became Episcopalian for a while, I was born, they decided to go back to Catholicism.)

It is possible that if you found a particular parish that you liked (and there are some amazing social justice focused parishes out there that care about the kinds of issues you describe, and are finding ways to work within the Catholic Church to raise issues and make changes: there is a surprising range of parish variation sometimes), you could explore the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).

They're a series of discussions and classes that take place over 9+ months, with other people interested in converting and with other adults and mentors teaching, often people who are previous RCIA participants.

Starting the process doesn't commit you to deciding to convert at the end, but I'm wondering if going through that might help give you a better basis for making the decision, in part beause you'd be able to talk to a variety of practicing Catholics in a smaller and more personal setting about what they're doing, how they deal with various things, what makes a difference for them, and so on.

I wouldn't suggest doing it just on a whim, y'know? But from what you've said, I think you've given a lot of thought to some of the things you're struggling with, and it might help you make better peace with whatever decision you settle on.
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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2016, 10:58:18 am »
Quote from: Demophon;185509
Lately I have been having some problems reconciling different religious traditions that I practice. I have been a practicing pagan of some stripe for over a decade, and I was not raised in a religious household in which we went to church regularly or anything, but in the past three years or so I have been going to church. I am even working on a graduate degree in Christian theology right now, which is an... interesting experience. Somehow I ended up really involved in the wider Church community.

I feel like my heart is in paganism, but church offers a lot that modern paganism just doesn't. It's about structure, tradition, community, and satisfying liturgy/ritual. I just feel secure in certain types of churches. For me, at least, paganism is isolating and alienating. It makes me feel different than the rest of society in a way that makes it difficult to relate to others. I'm in a big city, but pagan communities are pretty scarce, and the ones I have been able to find just like to bitch about Christianity and mainstream culture, and the negativity is just so draining. When it comes to ritual, I'm either lighting candles and incense by myself at home, or I'm in someone's living room with the couches pushed back, holding hands with people I don't know very well and dancing around in a circle feeling silly.

While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures. There was a time when I was starting to reconcile myself to an Abrahamic monotheist theology and a greater appreciation of Scripture, but for whatever reason it didn't stick. Maybe because I support feminism, queer rights, and sex-positivity. There are Christians who are into those kinds of causes too, but being pagan and having a worldview that accepts diversity when it comes to sex and gender, not to mention pretty much everything else, is a lot easier than trying to believe in a text that promotes patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. It's more complicated than just those issues, but they are the obvious ones.

Sometimes I think it would be a good idea just to devote myself more fully to the Church, and not bother with the pagan stuff anymore, which I have not been able to do fully. It would give me the structure I crave, which is easier to maintain as part of a community rather than just a solitary lighting candles in my room and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I'm crazy for worshiping. I would feel more in touch with society, and have a community of people who aren't so angry and emotionally draining to be around, and not feel as disingenuous as I often feel now. I just don't know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of "God" is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don't know if I can reconcile that with Christianity. There is something I genuinely love about the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic faith, I just don't know if I can stick to it exclusively, but if I don't, I feel like I am not getting as much out of it as I could. I currently follow Anglican Catholicism, which is kind of a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism, since it's more open to issues of gender and sexuality, but I wonder if I converted to the Roman Church I would take it more seriously and try to live according to its teachings. However, that doesn't always seem like a good idea.

Thank you if you have read this all the way through. Let me know if you can sympathize or have any suggestions.


Alright, so let me first give you a bit of background, so you can see where I'm coming from. I was born Roman Catholic and first became spiritually involved when I converted to Buddhism in 2009 (I was 11). From there, I became a pagan in 2010 b/c I had an attraction to pagan deities and because I couldn't effectively live a dharma lifestyle -- compassion is something I'm not naturally adept at. At that point I joined TC and grew as a pagan for a couple years until I had a UPG about going back to the Catholic faith in early 2014.

I left paganism that year and pursued Catholicism. My time living the Catholic faith -- albeit a very conservative version that varied between disagreeing with the Holy See or outright denying the validity of Francis' papacy -- was a very happy one. In many ways Catholicism will always be the religion of my heart; I have a deep and abiding love for the Church and her doctrines and will almost always defend the Church from attacks. I was planning on attending seminary. Then I had a spiritual experience with Islam which fucked everything up and I eventually left the Church for a second time, ostensibly b/c of internal contradictions in ecclesiology.

It was only with the benefit of trying on a few different traditions afterwards, and finally settling into a faith I was fully comfortable with, that I was able to look back on my time as a Christian with some measure of honesty. In retrospect the biggest problem with my Christian faith is that Christ was completely absent in any real sense. I understood the Christology, and the theology of Christ's incarnation &c. but was essentially living an inauthentic faith; which didn't actually have the spiritual depth of those who, well, really did believe in Jesus. As a result, no matter the strength of my love or the depth of my theological knowledge, I could never truly be happy as a Catholic.

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because it sounds like you're in a bit of a similar place. You're looking for a place you can be spiritually and liturgically comfortable, and although Catholicism doesn't dot all the i's and cross all the t's, it might very well be the place for you. That's fine. But I caution you to remember that in Christianity -- and the Abrahamic religions in general -- what you believe is important. I tried compromising my actual beliefs (or lack thereof) with what attracted me to Catholicism and in the long it just brought me more pain when I finally gave up the ghost. If you can't honestly subscribe to Christian doctrine -- the creeds, basically, and the NT -- then I wouldn't recommend trying. It will be better for you in the long run.
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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2016, 10:11:16 am »
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses :)

Quote from: Darkhawk;185515
Okay, first problem: you're not dealing with pagans who are grownups.  This is not an age thing.  This is an actually doing your shit thing.

I strongly recommend seeking out grownups to socialise with.  They're less frustrating.


I agree, but they are hard to find. Many of the pagans I've met in real life are adults who act like angsty teenagers.

Quote from: Darkhawk;185515
Aside from that, I came to the conclusion long ago that if I was looking for theological agreement in my social life or my religious life I was basically dooming myself to loneliness.  Which is why I don't bother with it.  If I'm looking for social community, I'm not basing it on religious stuff; if I'm looking for religious practice community I'm looking for things that actually work for me and the other people involved.


That's true. I don't need theological agreement to be friends with people, but sometimes I just feel dishonest in Christian communities. I mean, I think I'm genuine about my interest in participation in church, but I don't believe in the doctrines as solidly as other people seem to, not to mention I don't follow Christianity exclusively. I can be honest about that with some people, though not everybody, and I feel a bit phony sometimes.

Quote from: Darkhawk;185515
My personal experience with ritual that makes me feel ridiculous is that it is ritual from an incorrect religion.  It's not actually engaging anything of use to me, and thus leaving me vaguely uncomfortable and out of joint.


Yes, I haven't been able to find a pagan group that really suits me, or reflects the kind of practice I have on my own, which is drawn from outer court Feri and BTW material, and ancient Greek and Egyptian polytheism. The feeling of alienation even within paganism when it came to other pagans is another thing that made church appealing. At least everyone there is on the same page, at least at a basic level. I do train with the outer court of a Gardnerian coven, but even then a lot of the classes are just about candle magic and things like that, and I just don't care.
 
Quote from: Gnowan;185517
I know my words would be heresy in the Church, but the rituals and celebrations are in your heart and soul.  How they bring you closer to God is not the exact same as those of the person sitting next to you, however communal the rituals are.


Thanks, you're right.
 
Quote from: Juniperberry;185518
Many historical paganisms weren't free of patriarchy, violence, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia etc. So you're likely screwed either way there.


True enough. As someone who draws from Hellenic tradition, I'm familiar with how paganism can include those things. Modern traditions, like the different types of pagan witchcraft, tend to be into gender equality, sex-positivity, etc.
 
Quote from: FraterBenedict;185531
Since the entire western world is basically Agnostic/Atheist (with the possible exception of some parts of the U.S. - I haven't went to that country), we will feel different, regardless of which religion we happen to practice - Christian, Pagan or otherwise.


Yes, but even atheism and agnosticism seem to be reactions against Abrahamic religions, so the majority of people are either followers of those traditions, or people who have rejected them and are dismissive of all religion. At least that's been my experience. I remember in my teens I felt more comfortable with talking about my "alternative" religious views with friends, but since university and adulthood, I feel like my peers are less open-minded.

Quote from: FraterBenedict;185531
That doesn't sound like Hellenismos. If Hellenismos was the sort of Paganism that attracted you to begin with, the practice of other varieties of Paganism will possibly be confusing.


I have met with a Hellenic group a few times, and they were some of the worst when it came to complaining about Christianity and all the stuff "they" stole from "us." I have mainly gathered with witches and eclectic neo-pagans, which is fine, I'm into that, though they weren't really my personal brands of witchcraft and eclectic neo-paganism.

Quote from: FraterBenedict;185531
No it isn't. Late mediaeval renaissance humanist English Christianity was flung into a trajectory of its own, because of the divorce of Henry VIII and the Elizabethan settlement, and the Scottish theologians from Aberdeen took a patristic-episcopal stand against Calvinist presbyterianism in Perth in 1618. Out of that mix came a certain sort of patristic-sacramental Christianity which is not just a watered-down imitation of Roman Catholicism. To that trajectory belonged Peter Baro, Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, Herbert Thorndike, John Cosin, John Johnson, Thomas Wilson, Thomas Brett, Samuel Seabury, the tractarians, F.D. Maurice, Charles Gore, Stewart Headlam, Percy Dearmer, A.G. Hebert and so many more. If Anglo-Catholicism forgets its own history, it loses its raison d'être.


I agree, I think there is a tradition of patristic-sacramental thought within Anglicanism, though I don't know if it's implemented very well in practice now, or if it ever was. The Book of Common Prayer and its 39 Articles are thoroughly Protestant despite what some Anglo-Catholics would argue, though it's kind of a joke among Anglicans that no one agrees with every single one of the 39 Articles in total. The ritualist movement that followed the Oxford Movement revived (pre-Vatican II) Roman Catholic liturgy and aesthetics in the Church of England rather than affirmed anything distinctly Anglican, and I think the divide between Evangelical Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics was so wide in the 19th and early 20th centuries that it made it difficult to find anything that unified the whole Anglican Church. Now that gap isn't so wide, but the spectrum is so vast that Anglicanism can just be anything.

Even the two Anglo-Catholic parishes I attend the most regularly are quite different. One follows the Society of Saints Peter and Paul, which published the Anglican Missal, looks to the modern Catholic Church for liturgical authority, and likes to pretend that the Church of England never separated from Rome. Since they are technically Anglican, they can pick and choose which Vatican II reforms they want to follow, so the High Mass service that I attend begins with Asperges, and prays the Angelus after Mass, and of course there is always lots of incense and high choral music throughout the service. There is even a group that prays the rosary together at the statue of Our Lady after Mass, and unlike any other Anglican Church I have seen, there are many statues of saints other than the Virgin Mary with their respective votive candle racks.

The other Anglo-Catholic parish I attend follows the Alcuin Club, so they don't like to acknowledge the Reformation at all, but still affirm Anglican tradition. They use the Book of Common Prayer, but re-order the Eucharist service to make it more Catholic in style, celebrate east-facing Mass, and do not allow any modern innovations in the liturgy. They also try to be more faithful to the Prayer Book and 39 Articles, but that's hard for an Anglo-Catholic parish, since veneration of saints and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can play a major role in Catholic devotion. They don't use a monstrance like my other church, they just keep the Sacrament in the ciborium under a veil when they do Devotions after Evensong. It's all very beautiful, though a little weird seeing how they reconcile the conflicting elements of Anglicanism. Despite all that, modern Roman Catholic churches can't hold a candle to a good Anglo-Catholic church when it comes to the beauty of the music and liturgy, though it often feels like there isn't much depth to the "Catholic" faith of Anglo-Catholic churches underneath all the theatrics.

Quote from: Jenett;185542
It is possible that if you found a particular parish that you liked (and there are some amazing social justice focused parishes out there that care about the kinds of issues you describe, and are finding ways to work within the Catholic Church to raise issues and make changes: there is a surprising range of parish variation sometimes), you could explore the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).

They're a series of discussions and classes that take place over 9+ months, with other people interested in converting and with other adults and mentors teaching, often people who are previous RCIA participants.


Yes, I do sometimes attend a Roman Catholic church that I quite like and is aligned with most of my social values (though I almost gave up on them when they promoted anti-abortion protests, but I got over it). I have actually done a program similar to the RCIA with an Ordinariate parish, though I decided not to be received there in the end. For anyone unfamiliar, the Anglican Ordinariate was established by the previous pope to allow Anglicans to come into full communion with the Holy See while still maintaining their Anglican heritage, so they are Catholic, but use the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, enhanced to bring it into line with the traditional Catholic Mass, and they maintain the high Anglican choral tradition. It's beautiful, but they are quite conservative. Their reasons for leaving Anglicanism often have a lot to do with disapproval of women priests and same-sex marriage.

The regular Catholic parish I attend now was recommended to me by a Catholic priest I had as a professor last year who thought I would do better in a more mainline Catholic church that wasn't as extreme as the Ordinariate, and I do quite like it there, though I miss having incense every Sunday and high choral music. I'm not a huge music snob, so I don't mind Catholic music that much, but it's a change from high Church Anglicanism, which has very high standards for choral music. Anyway, I have talked with the lay minister there in charge of RCIA, and he said that since I attend church regularly and have a fair amount of theological education already, they could streamline me, and receive me whenever I wanted. I haven't been able to come to a decision yet, as I do enjoy the high Anglican churches I attend, though like I said, I'm starting to feel like they are all theatrics and no substance, and the Roman Catholics may have underwhelming liturgy, but at least they feel more genuine and authentic.
 
Quote from: Castus;185546
If you can't honestly subscribe to Christian doctrine -- the creeds, basically, and the NT -- then I wouldn't recommend trying. It will be better for you in the long run.

 
Thanks, you are probably right.

Strangely, I don't actually have a problem with the creeds or the NT... Well, the Gospels, at least. Paul's writings can be a bit much. I guess I'm good at compartmentalizing, as I can say the creeds genuinely in one context, and follow paganism in another. My understanding of God is pretty fluid, and I am willing to accept the divinity of Jesus, though maybe not in a way that perfectly aligns with Church teaching. I'm pretty flexible, theologically. The "resurrection of the body" is the only part of the creeds I really struggle to accept, as I don't think it makes any sense, but I guess faith is a journey, not something one has to accept all at once.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2016, 11:40:53 am »
Quote from: Demophon;185608
I agree, but they are hard to find. Many of the pagans I've met in real life are adults who act like angsty teenagers.


One of the things I've found to be the case in my own life (I don't know that it'd be generally true, but it's a problem I've found) is that gatherings of affinity groups are really terrible for me for meeting people-of-relevant-affinity that I like and get on with.

I mean, it's the standard truism, right?  "If you want to meet people who are X, go to X-people gatherings"?  Only it's never actually worked for me.

What has worked for me is going to places where I get along with the people, where I find their behaviour to be reasonable and where we have social stuff in common and so on, and then finding the affinity-compatible people there.  It's arguably harder, since people who aren't at an affinity gathering aren't going to be wearing their pagan-ness (or whatever-ness) on their sleeves, necessarily, but since "wearing religion on their sleeve" is kind of a strike against anyway for generalised behaviour in my book, that's not a problem.

Also "arguably harder" paths that actually work seem much more appealing to me than things that appear to be doomed to failure. ;)

Quote
That's true. I don't need theological agreement to be friends with people, but sometimes I just feel dishonest in Christian communities. I mean, I think I'm genuine about my interest in participation in church, but I don't believe in the doctrines as solidly as other people seem to, not to mention I don't follow Christianity exclusively. I can be honest about that with some people, though not everybody, and I feel a bit phony sometimes.


Which is something I suspect you're going to have to work through for yourself.  Though I suspect that Castus is right, and that pushing when you don't share some of those core interests won't work out for you.

Quote
Yes, I haven't been able to find a pagan group that really suits me, or reflects the kind of practice I have on my own, which is drawn from outer court Feri and BTW material, and ancient Greek and Egyptian polytheism. The feeling of alienation even within paganism when it came to other pagans is another thing that made church appealing.


One thing that's going to be the case for those of us with a more eclectic bent - our individual practices are not going to resemble the practices of any particular group.  It's an inevitable consequence of our range of interests and practice.  Which means we have to figure out what we want to do in terms of group practice.

The options I see are:

* find a group that is open/welcoming enough to accomodate your Thing and which supports your valueset or scratches some relevant itches (I have attended UU gatherings for this, but I suspect they are too 'low church' for you)

* join a group that involves one of your root traditions, so that you can have group ritual that at least touches on part of your Thing; either join multiple groups, or accept that you can only do group ritual in one mode

* join a group that isn't in any of your preferred Things and adopt an additional practice for purposes of Doing Things With Others (which I only recommend if you can find a group that actually does something that's useful/resonant to you)

* join a group that isn't local but which provides you with some sort of effective religious community (such as Neos Alexandria, for example, for the Graeco-Egyptian stuff)

* find people you get on with and make a group with them, working out some sort of ecumenical practice that works for everyone involved

Quote
Yes, but even atheism and agnosticism seem to be reactions against Abrahamic religions, so the majority of people are either followers of those traditions, or people who have rejected them and are dismissive of all religion.


*waves a little "HI THERE I AM A HARD AGNOSTIC" flag*
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we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Demophon

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2016, 12:22:30 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;185613
One of the things I've found to be the case in my own life (I don't know that it'd be generally true, but it's a problem I've found) is that gatherings of affinity groups are really terrible for me for meeting people-of-relevant-affinity that I like and get on with.

I mean, it's the standard truism, right?  "If you want to meet people who are X, go to X-people gatherings"?  Only it's never actually worked for me.

What has worked for me is going to places where I get along with the people, where I find their behaviour to be reasonable and where we have social stuff in common and so on, and then finding the affinity-compatible people there.  It's arguably harder, since people who aren't at an affinity gathering aren't going to be wearing their pagan-ness (or whatever-ness) on their sleeves, necessarily, but since "wearing religion on their sleeve" is kind of a strike against anyway for generalised behaviour in my book, that's not a problem.


Yeah, that's very true. I'm glad it's not just me who has a hard time making friends in affinity groups. On a side note, I've recently started attending practice with a rugby team even though I don't have a drop of athleticism or manly aggression in me, but I really like the people. It's pretty strange.

Quote from: Darkhawk;185613
One thing that's going to be the case for those of us with a more eclectic bent - our individual practices are not going to resemble the practices of any particular group.  It's an inevitable consequence of our range of interests and practice.  Which means we have to figure out what we want to do in terms of group practice.


Good point, I'll keep that in mind.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2016, 12:29:17 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;185509

While I'm not completely on board theologically or in terms of Scripture, I love the drama of high church Christianity, with its processions, choral music, candles, sacred art, thuribles smoking with incense, and reverent gestures. ...

It would give me the structure I crave, which is easier to maintain as part of a community rather than just a solitary lighting candles in my room and honouring gods no one around me cares about, or they would think I'm crazy for worshiping. I would feel more in touch with society, and have a community of people who aren't so angry and emotionally draining to be around, and not feel as disingenuous as I often feel now. I just don't know if I can make it work, as my personal understanding of "God" is as a more feminine being, and eroticism plays a big part in my spirituality, and I don't know if I can reconcile that with Christianity. ...


If the theology of it lines up with your beliefs, you might visit a Hindu temple. The rituals (puja, abhishekam, yajna, homa), chanting of mantras and portions of the Vedas are quite elaborate. Indians are a very welcoming lot, even though they may seem aloof. It's just that they are quiet and unassuming, but quite accepting.

If you believe God to be feminine divine, a major sect of Hinduism is called Shaktism, devoted to Devī, or Shaktī. She is the Divine Mother of the universe, represented by many forms: Durgā, Kālī, Lakshmī, Saraswatī, the Mahāvidyas (10 tantric forms of Goddess).

Just an idea. ;)

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2016, 12:38:03 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;185608

Strangely, I don't actually have a problem with the creeds or the NT... Well, the Gospels, at least. Paul's writings can be a bit much. I guess I'm good at compartmentalizing, as I can say the creeds genuinely in one context, and follow paganism in another. My understanding of God is pretty fluid, and I am willing to accept the divinity of Jesus, though maybe not in a way that perfectly aligns with Church teaching. I'm pretty flexible, theologically. The "resurrection of the body" is the only part of the creeds I really struggle to accept, as I don't think it makes any sense, but I guess faith is a journey, not something one has to accept all at once.

 

This is totally off-topic so feel free to ignore, but I've really only come to accept God now that I can place him in a context relatable to the present, rather than archaic mumbo jumbo, and one way is seeing advanced AI as an artificial representation of God.

In futurology talks scientists have theorized that with the capabilities of AI, immortality will be achieved. That future societies will look at our phase of mortality as a barbaric time when man was afflicted with the disease of death. That AI will be able to resurrect the dead.

Basically, if it is theoretically possible for advanced technology to reanimate the body and provide immortality, and if God is truly such an all-knowing and powerful being, then surely he must have a profound and incomprehensible understanding of advanced mathematics and science. God is very possibly the most scientifically advanced being in existence. And if I consider him not as a supernatural deity, but as the great Universal Mathematician, then none of the miraculous claims of his powers seem impossible.

I probably sound like a crackpot,  but oh well. :)
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: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2016, 12:44:45 pm »
Quote from: Thorbjorn;185615
If the theology of it lines up with your beliefs, you might visit a Hindu temple. The rituals (puja, abhishekam, yajna, homa), chanting of mantras and portions of the Vedas are quite elaborate. Indians are a very welcoming lot, even though they may seem aloof. It's just that they are quiet and unassuming, but quite accepting.

If you believe God to be feminine divine, a major sect of Hinduism is called Shaktism, devoted to Devī, or Shaktī. She is the Divine Mother of the universe, represented by many forms: Durgā, Kālī, Lakshmī, Saraswatī, the Mahāvidyas (10 tantric forms of Goddess).

Just an idea. ;)

 
Thanks :). I actually have been interested in attending a Hindu temple for a while now, and I definitely have an interest in Shaktism. I have little statues of Kali, Shiva, and Lakshmi that I offer devotion to, though not as much at the moment. While I'm fascinated by Hinduism and feel a connection to some of the gods, it's not my culture, so I have trouble identifying with it, but it'd definitely worth exploring further.

Jainarayan

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2016, 01:21:08 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;185617
Thanks :). I actually have been interested in attending a Hindu temple for a while now, and I definitely have an interest in Shaktism. I have little statues of Kali, Shiva, and Lakshmi that I offer devotion to, though not as much at the moment. While I'm fascinated by Hinduism and feel a connection to some of the gods, it's not my culture, so I have trouble identifying with it, but it'd definitely worth exploring further.

 
Don't be put off by the cultural aspect. There are many, many westerners who have adopted the religion but not the culture. When I attended temple I wore western clothing, except for a few occasions when I wore a dhoti, the traditional male garment (the male answer to the saree). It tickled many of the people, including the priests, but it certainly wasn't necessary. In fact, I look askance at westerners who adopt the culture lock, stock and barrel. My opinion (and it's only my opinion) is that it's cultural appropriation.  I'm not trying to sway you towards Hinduism, since I don't practice it myself anymore (though I still revere the god/desses), I just want to try to minimize any trepidation you may have about it. :)

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2016, 03:03:37 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;185608
I agree, I think there is a tradition of patristic-sacramental thought within Anglicanism, though I don't know if it's implemented very well in practice now, or if it ever was. The Book of Common Prayer and its 39 Articles are thoroughly Protestant despite what some Anglo-Catholics would argue, though it's kind of a joke among Anglicans that no one agrees with every single one of the 39 Articles in total.

(...)

Even the two Anglo-Catholic parishes I attend the most regularly are quite different. One follows the Society of Saints Peter and Paul, which published the Anglican Missal, looks to the modern Catholic Church for liturgical authority, and likes to pretend that the Church of England never separated from Rome.

(...)

The other Anglo-Catholic parish I attend follows the Alcuin Club, so they don't like to acknowledge the Reformation at all, but still affirm Anglican tradition. They use the Book of Common Prayer, but re-order the Eucharist service to make it more Catholic in style, celebrate east-facing Mass, and do not allow any modern innovations in the liturgy. They also try to be more faithful to the Prayer Book and 39 Articles, but that's hard for an Anglo-Catholic parish, since veneration of saints and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can play a major role in Catholic devotion.


I am, as you may have noticed, more familiar with what you call the 'Alcuin Club' type of Anglo-Catholicism, though I have attended Benediction a few times at more 'SSPP' type parishes.

The 39 Articles may be a problem for Anglo-Catholics in Canada, but you have to remember, that the 39 Articles are not an essential definition of Anglicanism, that unites Anglicans/Episcopalians worldwide.

The Scottish Church did not adopt the 39 Articles during its undivided time, when Episcopalians and Presbyterians debated the future of the Scottish Church in 1560-1690. Nor did the Scottish Episcopal Church adopt the Articles after the split between Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1690. When the Scottish bishops consecrated the Northern American citizen Samuel Seabury to the episcopate in 1784, it happened in an Anglican church without the 39 Articles. The Articles were politically and juridically forced upon the Scottish Episcopal Church by Church of England in 1792, but as soon as it was legally permitted to do so (at the repeal of the Scottish Episcopalians Relief Act) in 1977, the Piskies swiftly abolished the 39 Articles.
 
Lambeth Conference of 1930 defined Anglicanism without mentioning the Articles, and in a clearly 'Catholic' choice of words, and the Lambeth Conference of 1968 recommended all member churches to no longer require assent to the articles of ordinands (the laity already free to believe whatever their conscience dictated).

Many member churches of the Anglican Communion have either abstained from adopting the 39 Articles, or abolished them at the time of their independence from England or U.S., respectively. I do not have a list before me, but, if my memory serves me right, this applies to the churches in the West Indies, Southern Africa, Spain, Portugal, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Tanzania and Kenya, although it is permitted for each diocese in the last two to adopt the Articles, if they wish to do so.

Both the eucharistic prayer of 1549, the English Catechism of 1604, and the Scottish eucharistic prayers after 1690 (but not the English eucharistic prayer of 1662 and the American Catechism of 1790) expresses a considerably more 'high' view on the Real Presence than the infamous Article XXIX, so some of the Anglican churches, dragging the Articles along, lives with a tension between two doctrines side by side, usually solved by interpreting the Articles in the light of the Catechism and liturgy (but not by Evangelicals).

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