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Author Topic: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity  (Read 10363 times)

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2016, 03:16:06 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.


Have you read Brahma Sutra, and the commentary to it, written by Shankara? Advaita-Vedanta is fascinating, and, if I understand it correctly, it has a lot of things in common to Platonism and some forms of Buddhism (Tatagathagarbha-doctrine, but definitely not to hardcore Madhyamaka), which fascinates me.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2016, 10:36:02 pm »
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.


This is probably quite redundant, as you've likely known about them for years, but it occurred to me that assuming that to be the case was sillier than being redundant: you've checked out the Wiccan Church of Canada, yes?

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. 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: Darkhawk;185613
*waves a little "HI THERE I AM A HARD AGNOSTIC" flag*

 
*pulls out hir own identical flag and waves it*

I'd go so far as to say that using agnosticism as a way to reject and be dismissive of all religion is, if not intellectually dishonest, then intellectually cowardly (makes me want to say, 'So just be a soft atheist, already!'). Or at best, a sign of someone who believes themselves to be intellectually sophisticated, but is not yet as sophisticated as they think. Your peers are still young enough that the latter is likely to be the case for many of them, so hopefully many of them will grow past it as you/they enter their thirties.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2016, 11:07:50 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;185509
--

Also tacking on the tried-and-true "go talk to a priest" advice.
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Demophon

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2016, 11:40:09 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;185623
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.

They aren't really a big deal in Canada. If I remember correctly, the Anglican Church of Canada has not required priests to assent to the Articles since the 1970s. Some of the few remaining Prayer Book parishes like to affirm them as part of their Anglican identity and tradition, but I would say the vast majority of parishes don't care.

In theory I kind of prefer the Alcuin brand of Anglo-Catholicism. I actually really like the Prayer Book even if though it's different than Roman Catholic liturgy. Cranmer knew what he was doing, and rather than the compromise between Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation that Anglicanism is often explained to be, I think the purpose of the Book of Common Prayer was not only to purge the Church of England of medieval corruptions and correct some of the weird Reformed theologies, such as Calvinist double predestination, but also to affirm the primacy of traditions based on Scripture. Besides that, the language is beautiful, and they prayers are moving. Parishes of an Anglo-Catholic churchmanship supplement the Prayer Book with Marian devotions and intercessions of saints, so it's the best of all worlds if it's done well.

SSPP parishes can be really beautiful too, but there is not much that is recognizably Anglican about them. They might as well be Catholic churches, except they allow their priests to marry and aren't in communion with the Vatican. The whole benediction of the Sacrament in the monstrance by Anglican churches makes me a little uncomfortable, though I'm not strongly opposed to it. It's just not part of Anglican tradition, and appropriation of Roman Catholicism. The parish I go to is just a really positive place, and I have a sentimental attachment to it because my grandparents went there over 40 years ago, and my great-grandfather, who was an Anglo-Catholic priest in England, presided at Mass there when he would visit. I like the Alcuin parish for Evensong, but it's kind of stuffy and gloomy for Sunday morning Mass.
 
Quote from: FraterBenedict;185624
Have you read Brahma Sutra, and the commentary to it, written by Shankara? Advaita-Vedanta is fascinating, and, if I understand it correctly, it has a lot of things in common to Platonism and some forms of Buddhism (Tatagathagarbha-doctrine, but definitely not to hardcore Madhyamaka), which fascinates me.

You're very well-read, Frater. It's hard to keep up ;)
 
Quote from: SunflowerP;185651
This is probably quite redundant, as you've likely known about them for years, but it occurred to me that assuming that to be the case was sillier than being redundant: you've checked out the Wiccan Church of Canada, yes?

I have been to a few classes there, and I know some of the clergy involved with it. I haven't gone consistently or attended any rituals. I was kind of put off by the people who attend the classes, such as one guy who was really into alien conspiracies, and a pair of girls who claimed to have a leprechaun living in their basement, but maybe that's not fair to the WCC as an organization.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 11:41:58 pm by Demophon »

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2016, 09:25:47 am »
Quote from: Demophon;185664
Cranmer knew what he was doing, and rather than the compromise between Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation that Anglicanism is often explained to be, I think the purpose of the Book of Common Prayer was not only to purge the Church of England of medieval corruptions and correct some of the weird Reformed theologies, such as Calvinist double predestination, but also to affirm the primacy of traditions based on Scripture.


I think, that the middle way of removing a few 15th century oddities (like alms-indulgences and the more bizarre shapes of trentals), refusing some Swiss 16th century inventions (like predestination and a purely symbolic view on the eucharistic presence) and complying with Erasmus' ideas on vernacular worship and married clergy, was better achieved in the 1549 edition, than in the 1552 one. In the 1549 edition, Cranmer was willing to compromise with other types of churchmanship existing side by side within the Henrician and early post-Henrician church. Under the influence of Martin Bucer from Strassbourgh, Cranmer adapted the BCP in a Reformed (but not Calvinist) direction in 1552.

What is more important, as I see it, was what happened later, when the following generations adapted the BCP further. The Elizabethan edition of 1559 lacked the infamous Black Rubric, and restored the mediaeval words of distribution, thereby opening up for the doctrine of the Real Presence, something maintained even more clearly in the English Catechism of 1604.

When it comes to art in churches, the Elizabethan settlement was underwhelming: Officially English church buildings were not supposed to have any other interior piece of art, than the two tables of the Decalog and the royal initials of the Queen. In reality the artistic programme wasn't put in practice everywhere, but the scarcity of art in some English churches was caused by this practice from the 1560s and the later iconoclasm under Puritan theocracy in 1645-1659. The chapels royal were exceptions, for a while: During the entire rule of both Elizabeth I and James I/VI altars in chapels royal were furnished with frontals, crucifixes and candlesticks, and from 1600 and onwards, the style of the chapels royal began to trickle and spread from these chapels to cathedrals and ordinary parish churches. The most famous examples of cathedrals reintroducing ecclesiastical art during this time are Ely, Chichester and Winchester under Lancelot Andrewes and Coventry, Lichfield and Norwich under John Overall. Incense was used by Andrewes and George Herbert. A garment known as 'cope' became mandatory at celebration of the eucharist in cathedrals and collegiate churches in 1604, but if this was supposed to signify 'chasuble' or pluviale is impossible to clarify.

Between 1559 and c. 1600 the communion table was expected to stand with the short sides facing east to west/long sides facing north and south, with the communicants sitting in the southern part of the choir and the priest standing on the northern long side of the communion table facing the congregation. In Puritan parishes this practice remained until 1660, but in High Anglican parishes the communion table was restored to the traditional place of the mediaeval altar in a gradual process from c. 1600-1645, abruptly ended by legislation against Anglican beliefs and worship.

At the universities, Calvinist doctrine had a high level of popularity from 1580 or so, but it began to wane around 1610, and the difference between what was preached in pulpits on grassroot-level differed considerably between different parishes, ranging from a sort of Reform-Catholicism to extreme Puritanism, with vaguely Protestant conformists in the middle. From 1620 onwards, a younger generation of theologians and churchmen wanted to make the High Anglican stand on sacramental theology and free will not just one among several options, but mandatory for the entire church. The Puritans were just as extreme (or more so) on their part. Although the English Civil War had many different causes, most of them of political nature, the heated conflict between Puritans and High Anglicans added fuel to the war, and as a turnout Anglicansim was banned in 1645.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, a handful of Scottish bishops tried to introduce a Scottish version of BCP in the Scottish church, which, at this point of time, was a strange amalgam of patristic-sacramental Episcopalians and Calvinist Presbyterians. This edition was closer to the 1549 edition of the Prayerbook, than to the Elizabethan edition, and the oblation and epiclesis were restored. The Presbyterian party didn't approve of the Prayerbook, and a Scottish rebellion ensued.

Episcopacy was restored in both England and Scotland in the early 1660s. In English churches, the communion tables were restored as altars in the east in an nostalgic backward looking view of the halcyon days of the 1620s and 1630s as the new 'normal'. In the Georgian era this position of the altar caused the early Evangelical movement within Anglicanism to misinterpret the (then already obsolete) rubric about the northward position as a direction for the priest to stand on the northern short side, while the original intention had been to direct the priest to stand by the long side of the table facing the communicants. An eastward position had been the widespread one during the Caroline era, but these two interpretations of rubrical detail paved the way for the liturgical wars of the 19th century.

The situation during the reign of Charles II and James II/VII was a liturgical compromise. On a handful of points, the Anglican mainstream position as we know it had emerged. Church historian Judith Maltby even claim that 'Anglicanism' didn't exist before 1660 - what existed before 1645 was, in her terminology, Prayer Book conformism.

Ordination by bishops became mandatory for deacons and priests (before 1645 exceptions had occurred). In order to make it clear that a consecration occurred during the eucharistic prayer, it was given the title consecration prayer (Puritans denied consecration). It was made incontestable that absolution was to be pronounced only by bishops or priests, never by deacons (Puritans were uncomfortable with the idea of clerical absolution). In Scotland, liturgical life remained diffuse, since Episcopalians and Presbyterians still were expected to remain within one church, and Reformed preaching services then often took the position the daily office had in England. On the other side, some of the Scottish bishops permitted reservation of the sacrament, a practice that became more widespread when the Scottish Episcopal Church became independent in 1690.

The compromise didn't satisfy any of the churchmanships, with the possible exception of the emerging Broad Church Anglicans. The Puritans held that the compromise wasn't going far enough in their direction, left the church and founded non-conformist dissenter denominations of their own, some leaving for the colonies on the other side of the Atlantic. The High Anglicans, who had hoped for the restoration of the 1549 eucharistic liturgy, with some further approvements suggested in the Durham Book, found themselves with a book designed to keep the Puritans inside the Church, which hadn't filled that purpose.

When the non-jurors were deprived of their sees and benefices, and they became an independent Anglican church in England 1689, most of them began to use the eucharistic rite of 1549. Thomas Wilson, who remained bishop of Sodor and Man within the Established Church solved the problem by praying the oblation and the epiclesis silently, but I do not know how typical he was for Georgian churchlife. The Scottish bishops let small booklets (wee bookies) be printed with an improved version of the 1549 liturgy, reshuffled to better follow Eastern Orthodox patterns and strengthened the sacrificial language. A standardized Communion Office was adopted in 1764.

When the American Episcopal Church became independent, it adopted a version of BCP (1790) which was a compromise between Scottish and English (and a few liberal omissions and editing of its own).

The liturgical reforms in many parts of the Anglican Communion between 1910 and 1962 very often looked at the English BCP of 1549 and the Scottish Communion Office of 1764 for their inspiration (sometimes in combination with segments from the Sarum Missal or the Roman Missal): The liturgies in Korea, Japan, (then) Nyasaland and (then) Rhodesia spring to mind. This is also true - to a certain extent - of the liturgical revisions  in Southern Africa and Canada. From 1958 onward liturgical reforms happened in a wider ecumenical context, influenced by the Roman Catholic liturgical movement and similar movements within Lutheranism, Old Catholicism and Presbyterianism.

Edward

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2016, 07:28:15 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.


 

I think it is important to remember what Christian dogma says about veneration of gods other than the Abrahamic one. Abrahamic religion virtually invented intolerance. I don't want to discourage you, but any attempt to reconcile Christianity with any other belief system is bound to be schizophrenic in nature. Ultimately I feel that it comes down to what is most important to you. Is it spiritual truth? Or, is it being part of a larger group where you feel like an accepted member regardless of your misgivings about its dogma?

My sincere hope for you and others in your predicament (myself included) is that we as heathens/pagans overcome the inertia behind our cause. That someday we do have strong and accessible large communities to turn to where we are accepted without having to bow to Abrahamic dogma. I believe it is up to all of us to manifest the change in the world we wish to see. We should not passively sit by and watch, but rather actively seek to create this reality. I truly wish you the best.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2016, 07:53:39 pm »
Quote from: Edward;186104
I think it is important to remember what Christian dogma says about veneration of gods other than the Abrahamic one. Abrahamic religion virtually invented intolerance. I don't want to discourage you, but any attempt to reconcile Christianity with any other belief system is bound to be schizophrenic in nature. Ultimately I feel that it comes down to what is most important to you. Is it spiritual truth? Or, is it being part of a larger group where you feel like an accepted member regardless of your misgivings about its dogma?

 
Oh dear.

Alright, so, I'm going to not be an asshole here and instead engage in TC-approved speak:

I feel this is problematic on a number of levels, most importantly--

(a. the rather silly assertion that Abrahamic religions 'invented intolerance'. Demophon here clearly approaches Christianity, and presumably Abrahamic religion in a wider context, in an at-least somewhat positive light. Their choice between paganism and Christianity is evidently an important one, and by starting off the bat with silly insults towards Abrahamic religions denies that there are two legitimate forces here at play, thereby devaluing Demophon's spiritual struggle; which is not an enviable one.

(b. I feel that this:

Ultimately I feel that it comes down to what is most important to you. Is it spiritual truth? Or, is it being part of a larger group where you feel like an accepted member regardless of your misgivings about its dogma?

is inherently leading, implying that Demophon ought to be concerned foremost with spiritual truth rather than community. Which may or may not be true, but is not someone else's call to make. The overall impression of your post seem animated by your clear antipathy towards Abrahamic religion, rather than a desire to give genuine counsel.
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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2016, 09:31:00 pm »
Quote from: Edward;186104
Abrahamic religion virtually invented intolerance.

When did they do that?  

Quote
I don't want to discourage you, but any attempt to reconcile Christianity with any other belief system is bound to be schizophrenic in nature.

Not really.  Religions blend all the time; it's part of how they're adapted to be useful to new cultures.  There're lots of Christian folk practices out there, which attest to the ease people have in reconciling and contextualizing their beliefs.
And they manage their syncretisms without their mental health being an issue.


For the OP, a reading recommendation: Jesus Through Pagan Eyes: Bridging Neopagan Perspectives with a Progressive Vision of Christ.  Written by Rev Mark Townsend, former CoE, now OBOD.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2016, 09:31:57 pm by MadZealot »
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2016, 06:16:54 am »
Quote from: Edward;186104
I think it is important to remember what Christian dogma says about veneration of gods other than the Abrahamic one.


That is true, of course, but it is also true that the relation between Christianity and other religions have been more complex than that:

While veneration of other gods was abolished in 394 CE, their depiction in art (even in church buildings, but more generally as illuminations of manuscripts) continued. The most famous examples are the Virtues, the Muses, Iustitia, Fortuna, Abundantia, the river god Iordanes, the seven planets, and Silvanus. Martianus Cappella's De Nuptiis is of course illustrated with Mercurius, Philologia and the seven liberal arts. The cathedral of Siena depicts the twelve pagan Sibyls and Hermes Trismegistus. If you have read Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy you have got a taste of the cultural synthesis between Pagan antiquity and Abrahamite ethos that was prevalent during the middle ages (a synthesis not challenged until the Puritans emerged in the 16th century).

In modern times, the Roman Catholic church has permitted East Asian Catholics to peform Confucian veneration of ancestors, and Catholics in Zaire adopted a regional rite for the Mass, in which traditional veneration of ancestors is a part.

If we turn our eyes to the esoteric undercurrents of Christianity, entering states of consciousness identified with the pagan deities was a part of the Christian magic of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. For this, see especially Three Books on Occult Philosophy I.68 and III.45-49.

Quote from: Edward;186104
Abrahamic religion virtually invented intolerance.


The Roman government periodically persecuted anyone who worshipped Isis and Serapis from shortly after 100 BCE until the reign of Caligula. Tiberius crucified thousands of devotees of Isis. Invented? No: Perpetuated. And it wasn't until the 13th century capital punishment of heresy became prevalent and accepted by the bishops: Before that it was more a matter of repentance (with a few exceptions when emperors acted against the will of the church hierarchy, as in the case of Priscillian).

Edward

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2016, 08:14:26 am »
Quote from: Castus;186106
Oh dear.

Alright, so, I'm going to not be an asshole here and instead engage in TC-approved speak:

I feel this is problematic on a number of levels, most importantly--

(a. the rather silly assertion that Abrahamic religions 'invented intolerance'. Demophon here clearly approaches Christianity, and presumably Abrahamic religion in a wider context, in an at-least somewhat positive light. Their choice between paganism and Christianity is evidently an important one, and by starting off the bat with silly insults towards Abrahamic religions denies that there are two legitimate forces here at play, thereby devaluing Demophon's spiritual struggle; which is not an enviable one.

(b. I feel that this:

Ultimately I feel that it comes down to what is most important to you. Is it spiritual truth? Or, is it being part of a larger group where you feel like an accepted member regardless of your misgivings about its dogma?

is inherently leading, implying that Demophon ought to be concerned foremost with spiritual truth rather than community. Which may or may not be true, but is not someone else's call to make. The overall impression of your post seem animated by your clear antipathy towards Abrahamic religion, rather than a desire to give genuine counsel.

 

I'm actually saying that ideally one should be concerned about both spiritual truth and community, and that if we focus on building that community rather than turning to established ones, it might actually happen.

But you're right. It's become clear on here that I really need to walk on eggshells where my own experience with Abrahamic religion is concerned. Not one person on here seems to feel that it is valid, so I can just try to leave it out.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2016, 12:30:27 pm »
Quote from: Edward;186134
But you're right. It's become clear on here that I really need to walk on eggshells where my own experience with Abrahamic religion is concerned. Not one person on here seems to feel that it is valid, so I can just try to leave it out.

 
Perhaps if you were actually talking about your own experience rather than making dubiously accurate historical claims you would get a different response.
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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2016, 01:41:59 pm »
Quote from: Edward;186104
Abrahamic religion virtually invented intolerance.

That's quite a claim. Please support it.
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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2016, 02:31:59 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;186142
That's quite a claim. Please support it.

 
It is intentional hyperbole; I really didn't realize it would be read quite so literally, but as a non-literal statement, sure I can support it.

I feel strange having to point this out, but if you read the Bible or the Koran, you will notice that it is a consistently reinforced theme that no other God exists but Yahweh/Allah, the God of Abraham. This was, at the time, an unusual and unique feature. Proto-Indo-European people had a lot of different interrelated pantheons but they didn't go around telling one another that the other group's Gods were invalid or non existent. Now I'm sure one of the more astute members here will no doubt be able to dig up a few isolated historical examples in a nimble attempt to discredit what I'm saying, but even they will be unable to deny the historical ramifications of this intellectual idea. In the case of Christianity, it led to the near-eradication of most of the pagan religions in all of Europe.

Now I ask you a question... Why on earth am I having to explain this to a message board full of pagans? How is it even remotely possible that no one here seems to even have the faintest understanding or acknowledgement of this? I am genuinely puzzled.

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2016, 02:37:59 pm »
Quote from: Edward;186143
It is intentional hyperbole; I really didn't realize it would be read quite so literally, but as a non-literal statement, sure I can support it.

I feel strange having to point this out, but if you read the Bible or the Koran, you will notice that it is a consistently reinforced theme that no other God exists but Yahweh/Allah, the God of Abraham. This was, at the time, an unusual and unique feature. Proto-Indo-European people had a lot of different interrelated pantheons but they didn't go around telling one another that the other group's Gods were invalid or non existent. Now I'm sure one of the more astute members here will no doubt be able to dig up a few isolated historical examples in a nimble attempt to discredit what I'm saying, but even they will be unable to deny the historical ramifications of this intellectual idea. In the case of Christianity, it led to the near-eradication of most of the pagan religions in all of Europe.

Now I ask you a question... Why on earth am I having to explain this to a message board full of pagans? How is it even remotely possible that no one here seems to even have the faintest understanding or acknowledgement of this? I am genuinely puzzled.

 
Given your explanation, I think you're perhaps confusing the words "monotheism" and "intolerance"?

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Re: Struggling With Reconciling Paganism and Christianity
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2016, 02:58:24 pm »
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.

 
As a eclectic pagan who incorporates Christian mysticism into my practice, I can relate. Here's what I would do in your situation:

If you find services at a certain church or two to be satisfying, then attend. They are clearly valuable to some part of your spirituality. Don't let hang ups about theology dissuade you as I would be surprised if everyone in attendance on a given day had completely  matching sets of beliefs. There is, and has been historically, a wide, wide variety of theology within Christianity.

The same thing holds true for the scriptures. I personally don't adhere to a literal interpretation. I acknowledge that most of the text is a historical account, and heavily edited throughout many cultures and eras. Perhaps reading some accounts of textual criticism (like books by Bart Erhman) or a secular account of Abrahamic religions and monotheism ("A History of God" by Karen Armstrong is a great start) might be helpful as your navigate your syncretism.

I would also say that it's normal to find some social fulfillment in the well established community structure of a church. You may need to come to terms with the lack of transparency you'll be able to display about your personal practices, but we can find social fulfillment in a community without regularly baring our soul. Accomplishment of tasks/goals, uniting in support of a cause, and sharing a traditions are all ways people feel connection with other people.

That said, I also think it's normal for people to have many social circles within with they find community. I sense, as Darkhawk mentioned, that you are trying to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. And that may be an unrealistic expectation for your current situation (geography, culture, spiritual state, etc.).

I hope that helps!

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