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Author Topic: The Long and Winding Road  (Read 5988 times)

MarieInVa

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2011, 12:17:41 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;21820
Why would the "none of the above" category have sects?  Everything that doesn't fit into another category, and the kitchen sink, are in there.

If you think that paganism is a religion, then you're going to continue to have problems with this.  It is absolutely not a religion - it isn't even a related family of religions.  It's the junk drawer of religions.

Are you surprised when the junk drawer has both loose screws and rubber bands?  Oh, the loose screws come in sizes and categories, and thus might be the same kind of thing, but this here rubber band doesn't go into the wall at all.

"Denomination" is like "what size of screw are you looking for".  Rubber bands, post-it notes, washers, and the staple remover may also all be in the junk drawer, but that doesn't make them a size of screw.


My apologies if I've offended you or the board.

HeartShadow

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2011, 01:44:27 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;21822
My apologies if I've offended you or the board.

 
It's not offense - it's "we've done this before and it's around again on the merry-go-round"

Non-Wiccan pagans get lumped in with Wicca-style derivations so much it gets IRRITATING - not at the individual person, but at the situation.

It's like someone constantly telling you you like brussel sprouts.  You know you don't, but someone new keeps coming along and saying but REALLY you like them, right?  right?

Juniperberry

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2011, 02:47:51 am »
Quote from: MarieInVa;21812
Darkhawk, one of my stumbling blocks has been trying to wrap my head about the fact Paganism doesn't have denominations or sects, like most other forms of religion/spirituality. There doesn't seem to be those strident categories for Paganism, something I need to remember, and keep moving forward.  One of the primary attractions Paganism has with me, aside from the fact it feels like a perfectly natural fit, is it's  very fluid and personal.  In everything I have read, one thing each author has made perfectly clear, and that there are no esoteric doctrines of Paganism.  It is, what it is to the individual.  How refreshing is that?

 
Paganism is an adjective, that's it.  It says: "This here religion is not one of the big three (Christianity, Judaism and Islam)."

"This here religion" can be any number of specific, organized, and categorized 'paths' that isn't one of the big three. To include; Asatru, Kemetics, Wicca, etc.

Or....

Fast food is an adjective, that's it. It says: "This here meal is not home-cooked."

"This here meal" can be any number of specific meals that isn't home-cooked. To include; McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc.

Don't get confused in thinking that paganism is a free for all with no structure or cults.
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."

schwertlilie

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2011, 11:46:44 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;21820
If you think that paganism is a religion, then you're going to continue to have problems with this.  It is absolutely not a religion - it isn't even a related family of religions.  It's the junk drawer of religions.


That depends very strongly on your definition of "religion." Academically, Neo-/Paganism is studied as a religion in Religious Studies. The boundaries change depending on the researcher, such as whether or not to include Asatru or recons, but it's still recognised as a religion.

The diversity of Paganism isn't a problem - it isn't a "problem" for Hinduism (etc). The practices & beliefs of a monotheist ascetic who worships Shiva as the supreme being and believes that their soul will unite with Shiva after liberation look nothing like those of a hard polytheist who takes inspiration from the text of the Bhagavad Gita or a soft polytheist who worships Shakti as the Great Goddess and ultimate supreme being. And yet, they all identify as & are recognised as Hindus.

Completely agreed, "denomination" is inappropriate for Paganism.

catja6

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2011, 12:23:34 pm »
Quote from: schwertlilie;22151
That depends very strongly on your definition of "religion." Academically, Neo-/Paganism is studied as a religion in Religious Studies. The boundaries change depending on the researcher, such as whether or not to include Asatru or recons, but it's still recognised as a religion.

The diversity of Paganism isn't a problem - it isn't a "problem" for Hinduism (etc). The practices & beliefs of a monotheist ascetic who worships Shiva as the supreme being and believes that their soul will unite with Shiva after liberation look nothing like those of a hard polytheist who takes inspiration from the text of the Bhagavad Gita or a soft polytheist who worships Shakti as the Great Goddess and ultimate supreme being. And yet, they all identify as & are recognised as Hindus.

Completely agreed, "denomination" is inappropriate for Paganism.

 
No.  The most up-to-date research on Neo-Paganism understands it as a GROUP of religions whose main linking factor is that all the religions reference/revive/reconstruct/revise/are inspired by pre-Christian religions of Europe and the Middle East, which is much closer to reality.  Older scholarship repeated the claims of some Wiccan sorts that all Neo-Pagan religions=Wicca (plus a few weird outliers), but that scholarship was wrong.  It was a result of Wiccans being the most numerous and visible Neo-Pagans, and therefore the most available to researchers, who then repeated Wiccan preoccupations and misguided beliefs that they were like, the template for all Neo-Pagan religions.  This scholarship has been overturned by the more recent work of people like Jenny Blain and Michael Strmiska, who are studying various Reconstructionist groups, among others.  I strongly recommend you read the introduction to Strmiska's Modern Paganism in World Cultures, where he critiques this earlier scholarship -- and especially the work of Michael York, whose claims you seem to be repeating here.  

Just a note:  it is really, really not cool, from an academic ethics perspective, to play "I, super-academic, am going to tell you people what your religion is."  There are many, many people in this thread and on this board in general, who have spoken up to point out that Paganism is an umbrella term for many different religions, and that they understand their own religions as being considerably different from one another.  The academic scholarship in this field is so far quite limited, and, as every academic in the area acknowledges, the people on the ground -- Neo-Pagans themselves -- have a much more complex, detailed, and diverse understanding of Neo-Pagan religions as a movement than the scholarship has reflected so far.  The academic work done in Pagan Studies has barely even scratched the surface of what's out there, so appealing to it as some kind of argument-ender is problematic at best.

Darkhawk

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2011, 01:15:05 pm »
Quote from: schwertlilie;22151
That depends very strongly on your definition of "religion." Academically, Neo-/Paganism is studied as a religion in Religious Studies. The boundaries change depending on the researcher, such as whether or not to include Asatru or recons, but it's still recognised as a religion.

 
The factual incorrectness of some forms of academia is not something I am willing to make my problem.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

schwertlilie

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2011, 09:15:45 pm »
Quote from: catja6;22159
Just a note:  it is really, really not cool, from an academic ethics perspective, to play "I, super-academic, am going to tell you people what your religion is."  There are many, many people in this thread and on this board in general, who have spoken up to point out that Paganism is an umbrella term for many different religions, and that they understand their own religions as being considerably different from one another.  

(snip)

 
I'm sorry if I offended you, or anyone else reading. I brought in the academics & Hinduism as examples of places where similar diversity is referred to as one religion. It wasn't intended to be the final word, and I'm sorry that it came across that way.

Hmm, let's try re-wording it: It depends on your definition of religion and of Paganism. In the way I define both, as a Pagan myself, Paganism is a religion - singular - with hugely diverse subdivisions. The way other people define both, Paganism is not singular. There are people on all sides.

Is that a little clearer?

And thank you for the rec for Strmiska, I'll try to track him down. (I've never heard of Michael York, actually.)

catja6

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2011, 10:10:48 pm »
Quote from: schwertlilie;22235
I'm sorry if I offended you, or anyone else reading. I brought in the academics & Hinduism as examples of places where similar diversity is referred to as one religion. It wasn't intended to be the final word, and I'm sorry that it came across that way.

Hmm, let's try re-wording it: It depends on your definition of religion and of Paganism. In the way I define both, as a Pagan myself, Paganism is a religion - singular - with hugely diverse subdivisions. The way other people define both, Paganism is not singular. There are people on all sides.

Is that a little clearer?

And thank you for the rec for Strmiska, I'll try to track him down. (I've never heard of Michael York, actually.)

 
It's still offensive and unethical to go around predicating your definition of Paganism on *your beliefs about other people's religions*, in direct contradiction to those people's understandings of their own stuff.  You do not get to claim authority over other people's religions, and your definition relies upon overriding their own understandings to substitute the definition that is most convenient to you and reconfirms your own biases.  And while there's lots of discussion about what constitutes "religion" in the academic discipline of religious studies, telling people who understand their belief systems as such that they're omg so WRONG because they don't fit your preconceived ideas is a big no-no -- it reinscribes ugly colonialist mindsets that the dominant group gets to have definitional authority over minority groups.

RandallS

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2011, 10:13:33 pm »
Quote from: schwertlilie;22151
That depends very strongly on your definition of "religion." Academically, Neo-/Paganism is studied as a religion in Religious Studies. The boundaries change depending on the researcher, such as whether or not to include Asatru or recons, but it's still recognised as a religion.

Any academics claiming that are the various (and very different from each other) Pagan religions are somehow part of the single religion "Paganism" here on TC will have reality explained to them.
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catja6

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2011, 10:29:14 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;22249
Any academics claiming that are the various (and very different from each other) Pagan religions are somehow part of the single religion "Paganism" here on TC will have reality explained to them.


Seriously.  And if they're any good, they'll pay very close attention.  There simply is not enough research done yet on Neo-Pagan religions to make grand sweeping statements in an academic context and have them count as, like, definitive and authoritative.  And the grand sweeping statements that WERE made come from those researchers whose primary experience with Neo-Paganism was among Wiccanish sorts who were themselves making those claims, and those who belonged to different Neo-Pagan religions weren't numerous or visible enough to correct them.  But now academia is just barely starting to catch up to the on-the-ground developments.  It's a basic premise of social science/humanities research ethics that the people who belong to a group are authorities on their own stuff, and when there's a bunch of people saying "NO, THESE ARE DIFFERENT RELIGIONS," a good academic will respect that.

Darkhawk

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2011, 10:39:36 pm »
Quote from: schwertlilie;22235

Hmm, let's try re-wording it: It depends on your definition of religion and of Paganism. In the way I define both, as a Pagan myself, Paganism is a religion - singular - with hugely diverse subdivisions. The way other people define both, Paganism is not singular. There are people on all sides.

Is that a little clearer?

 
I think I'll come down on the side of "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

What are the characteristics of this religion you call "Paganism"?
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

RandallS

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2011, 08:26:33 am »
Quote from: catja6;22252
And the grand sweeping statements that WERE made come from those researchers whose primary experience with Neo-Paganism was among Wiccanish sorts who were themselves making those claims, and those who belonged to different Neo-Pagan religions weren't numerous or visible enough to correct them.  But now academia is just barely starting to catch up to the on-the-ground developments.

And unfortunately there are a lot of Wiccanish sorts who have made such claims. Of course, they often claim not only that all Pagan religions are really one but imply that all religions in general are really following the same deity with different faces. So I can see how scholars studying modern Paganism could easily come to this incorrect conclusion given the large numbers of Wiccanish Pagans compared to the much smaller numbers of non-Wiccanish Pagans and -- in many cases -- their comparative inaccessibility given that they are less likely to participate in Pagan festivals and neo-Pagan groups.
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schwertlilie

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2011, 09:06:11 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;22256
What are the characteristics of this religion you call "Paganism"?


This "Paganism" is based on discussions with the self-identified Pagans I've talked with, and what they all had in common. I don't pretend it's exhaustive or that it's a universal definition, but it's the best I can do without my references.
 
1) Belief/knowledge that (a) the entities referred to as "gods" exist (also entities such as "spirits," etc, in the sense of lwa instead of ghosts [which often co-exists with Pagan beliefs, but is not required]; or bodhisattvas); (b) that gods/etc exist in other cultures as well (ie that Zeus and Jupiter both exist in some way, and that people who believe in/work with Jupiter aren't mislead/confused/heretics/deluded); and (c) that those gods/etc have the power to affect the world & the life of the people who work with/pray to them.

Working with any gods (etc) is not required. Hard polytheism/duotheism/soft polytheism is not required. Working with multiple pantheons (or just one, or none) is not required. Dualism is not required. Only a recognition of the existence of deities the person does not work with/worship and are from outside that person's own cultural context.

2) Whether or not the person uses it, a belief/knowledge in the existence of magic and its potential to effect change in the person's life. Magic is seen as a tool, and not something inherently evil or restricted only to specific people.

3) Draws in some way - usually, but not necessarily, in practice or magical theory - from the European magical tradition. It can be ritual structure, symbolism, techniques, pretty much anything. (I, personally, think of the magical lodges with this, but I don't know enough about the smaller & folk magic traditions to say whether or not they should be included as influences.)

4) The person self-identifies as Pagan. If they don't think they, themselves, are Pagan, they're not Pagan - they're a person with beliefs similar to Paganism.

Not required - but common - characteristics also included:
- a willingness to acknowledge (though not necessarily work with) entities/energies/etc beyond the happy happy fluffy fluffy joy joy ones
- recognition of the sacred in every day life
- some degree of animism and/or pantheism and/or panentheism
- belief/knowledge that everyone can have direct access to deity/the divine/Mystery; that while some training may be necessary to take full advantage of that ability, clergy are not the sole authority (except in trad-specific matters) or the only link to deity
Again, those aren't required to the definition.

(Obviously, all of those things can overlap with other religions - I know a Core Shamanic practitioner who draws on Scott Cunningham for her group retreats, and a Christian who does magic. It's the combination of the four that's important.)

Under that definition, Paganism includes Alice (she works with Amaterasu in circle), Bob (talks to his plants, doesn't work with any deities, doesn't celebrate sabbats or esbats), and Carol (Irish Celtic recon) as long as they match the four characteristics.

But if, say, Doris, a reconstructionist who tries to practice as closely to the history as possible & to eliminate/ignore Pagan or modern magical theory in her own practice, rejects all four of those criteria.. I'd say that she isn't Pagan.

Juniperberry

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2011, 12:27:26 am »
Quote from: catja6;22248
It's still offensive and unethical to go around predicating your definition of Paganism on *your beliefs about other people's religions*, in direct contradiction to those people's understandings of their own stuff.



There are plenty of people who identify their religion as (just) pagan and don't consider themselves a group within a group. Much the same way many will be Christian without subscribing to any set denomination.

Which is all that Schwertlilie pointed out.
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."

schwertlilie

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2011, 10:02:55 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;22531
There are plenty of people who identify their religion as (just) pagan and don't consider themselves a group within a group.

 
^This. The Paganism I'm talking about is the one practised by those of us who are "(just) Pagan," to steal Juniperberry's phrasing, and which is frequently syncretised with other things. I'm not talking about the broader family of religions with strong European/Middle Eastern, non-Abrahamic roots/influence, which up 'til now I've seen referred to as "Pagan religions" instead. Hence the original point about definitions.

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