(This first appeared in the Imbolc 2005 edition of The Druids Egg)
Generally speaking, I’m pretty tolerant of people. Pagans especially are a diverse and eclectic group, often holding belief systems that incorporate paths that are not traditional to European Paganism. These would include ideas and techniques culled from Hindu, Buddhist, Indigenous American and other sources.
The most common ideas are probably culled from the Jewish system of Kabbalah, which also inspired such magickal luminaries as Gardner, Crowley, Blavatsky and Fortune, and continues to inspire modern neo-Pagans as well.But don’t we have to draw the line somewhere? Can all belief systems be grafted onto the tree of Neo-Paganism?
I’m thinking of course of Xianity – the basis of which is the very antithesis of Pagan thought. Some have glommed on to parts of Xtianity and begun to call themselves “Pagan Xtians” or “Xtian Pagans.” Others simply glom onto the worst aspects of Xtianity and call themselves “Libertarians”. Now I want to qualify this: If by “Xtian-Pagan” one means that they are simply inspired by the teachings of Jesus, then I see little wrongness there. After all, much of Jesus’ words are merely paraphrases from the Talmud, and there is some wisdom to be had there. What I am addressing here is the person who accepts the Calvinistic ideas of “utter depravity,” “original sin” and the anti-sex phobia that permeates much of modern fundamentalist xtianity. How can a system which insists that humans are inherently bad and need to be redeemed be compatible or reconcilable with the freethinking of Neo-Paganism? Actually, there’s a whole list of incompatibilities, only a few of which I will expound upon here:
- Pagans worship a multitude of Goddesses and Gods and in some cases include themselves in the pantheon. But Xtianity limits you to 3 (in the case of Catholicism 4); but Xtians also insist that their 3 or 4 deities are in reality only one. A secondary deity is added to the mix to, but you’re forbidden to worship him – you’re only allowed to fear him (I’m speaking of Satan of course, who has the same powers as the Xtian God – though they deny this too).
- Most Pagans believe you should “do as you will, but TRY to harm no one”. But Xtianity insists that there’s a whole list of things (sin) you must not ever do (the majority of which are not inherently harmful to anyone) and you will be turned over to their lessor God (Satan) to be tortured forever if you do.
- Many Pagans enjoy being naked in nature. Xtianity insists that’s a sinand leads to more sin. Extreme Xtians believe your shouldn’t even see yourself naked.
- Many Pagans are polyamorous, or homosexual, or bisexual. All Pagans agree that these are simply lifestyle choices. Xtians believe these to be the most vile of all sins, and want to pass laws against them. These life styles would become capital crimes if the most radical Xtians had their way.
- All Pagans believe that Nature should be preserved and protected for both our health and welfare and for future generations. Xtians believe that their God has given them dominion over the Earth, and that they are to rape, pillage, plunder, pollute and lay waste to entire ecosphere, so that “when the last tree falls, Jesus will return.” (Quote from Reagan’s Interior Secy., James Watt).
- Pagans believe that the idea that “you get what you pay for” applies not only to the goods and services you purchase, but those you offer for sale as well (including work for wages). Actually Xtians believe this as well, but refuse to apply it to human resources (a word they made up- workers are denigrated to “resources.” Not much different from slaves actually). If a worker doesn’t work like a dog for the most minimum of wages, he’s considered a “slacker.” This is part and parcel of the “Puritan (later “Protestant”) Work Ethic,” which suggests that man is being punished continuously for his sin by being made to work at the most unrewarding, menial, degrading, and exhausting labor for as little wages as possible.
- Pagans believe that humanity is to valued, and that all of humanity is really one organism with the Earth. To cause harm to any one part then, is to cause harm to all. So Pagans fight for equality, for universal health care, for a “living wage,” and they help those who are in need by providing food,clothing, shelter and education to the victims of Xtianities Capitalist system – and for those who are victims of natural disasters, war, and autocratic governments. Xtians look the other way, believing that these victims are just sinners who deserve what they get, or, if they do offer relief, offer a lot of proselytizing with it.
- Pagans celebrate life and the joy of living. Most believe in reincarnation. Xtians are preparing for death and a supposed afterlife in Heaven, and seem to believe that the more of life’s pleasures you are denied (and can deny others) the better your place in Heaven will be.
- Xtians want to take over the entire world and make it into a Hell, where there is no pleasure, only hard work at low wages over long debilitating hours, polluting the planet and destroying nature for the glory of their God (and capitalism). A hell where you speak when spoken to. Where you can be killed for an opinion. Where there is no art, no music, no dance, and no books (other than the bible). Pagans want a world in which everyone’s basic needs are taken care of, where no has to worry about being hungry or homeless, where war is outlawed, where health care is easy to get and available to all, and where people are free to express themselves in all ways. The sad thing I find, is that many Pagans have fallen victim to the selfish parts of the Xtian paradigm, embracing so called “Libertarianism” and the whole Xtian “Marlboro Man” mentality, rather than the intrinsic Pagan ethos that we are all one on this Earth, andwe need to take care of each other, and we need to take care of the Earth for our own good, for the good of all, and for the good of future generations.