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Author Topic: Making the switch?  (Read 4884 times)
thetwitchyone
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« Reply #15: May 12, 2010, 07:09:24 pm »

Hey all,

I have a question for anyone who came to Paganism after being a part of another religion/system of belief, especially one with very different or even opposing tenets. Christianity would be the obvious example, and it's mine. I became a Christian almost four years ago, but ever since I was young I'd been interested in magic and ritual and myth and all things pagan. I've recently started to question whether Christianity is right for me, but at the same time, it's very difficult - I believe in Jesus, or I thought I did, and I don't want to do anything that's wrong in His eyes. Not because I'm afraid of Hell or anything - I've never believed in Hell as most Christians see it - but because if what I've believed about Christianity is in fact true, I'd be hurting God by turning away from Him, and I don't want to do that.

So, as I try to figure this out... I'd love to hear about anything you guys have experienced, or any thoughts on the subject. If you've gone from one belief to another, did you just... stop believing in what you'd believed in before? Do you still believe in it, only more inclusively? Any thoughts are appreciated. Smiley

I'm going to give you a bit of a different viewpoint.  I was not raised Christian, but Baha'i.  I don't know what I'd call myself now, but one of the beliefs that I hold is that the 'divine' speaks to us in our own ways.  Many people see the divine in God, or YHWH, or Allah...  or dozens more singular, monothiestic beings.  But many see the divine in their ancestors, or in the spirits of nature and the Gaia-esque ecological bonding, or in the gods and goddesses of their particular ploythiestic pantheons.

Each of these ways for the divine to speak to us is as valid and real as the next.  And this is where I depart from many people's understanding, because IMHO they are all the same divine that is speaking to us.  Different facets of the same divine, sure, but all part of the same, infinite being.  Because anything that is truely infinite would be so far beyond our limited ability to interpret, we would NEED it to be given to us piecemeal like that.

In my belief, then, you are not turning your back on the Judeo-Christian God.  You can't.  You are finding a different path to Him (possibly by finding a path to Her, for instance...) but in the end, your 'old God' won't be upset by you finding a 'new God' because you're still talking to the same being.  (It would be like Johnny Depp getting mad because you liked him better in Alice in Wonderland than you did in Pirates of the Carribean.)  As long as you are commited to whatever divine you have found and you find them Good and Pure, you're on the right path IMHO.

That's my personal belief.  I'm not sure if that makes me a polythiest, a monothiest, or something else, but there it is...
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Sylvan
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« Reply #16: May 12, 2010, 10:44:43 pm »

So, as I try to figure this out... I'd love to hear about anything you guys have experienced, or any thoughts on the subject. If you've gone from one belief to another, did you just... stop believing in what you'd believed in before? Do you still believe in it, only more inclusively? Any thoughts are appreciated. Smiley

I wouldn't say that I've consciously discarded the beliefs of the religious traditions with which I've previously been affiliated. More so I would say that I've stopped believing in the ways in which those traditions told me I should experience and understand my personal spirituality. The main challenge for me over the years has been to understand the roles of context, culture, social pressures and changes in my own personality in terms of how I've explained my spiritual experiences to myself. This has left me to wonder whether the experiences that I had in, the Christian tradition for example, actually involved Christ or whether I simply translated the experiences for myself using the language of Christianity because that's how everyone around me explained similar experiences.

I don't know if that helps at all, but that's what came to my mind when I read your post.
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Ellen M.
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« Reply #17: May 27, 2010, 12:38:51 pm »


My transition from Christianity to Paganism was a painful one, but I feel like if things had gone down a little differently, I would definitely feel comfortable incorporating aspects from both religions into my own path. Like others, I'm a hard polytheist and, for the most part (with a few odd exceptions) believe all the deities to be separate, individual personalities, and none of them to be omnipotent, omnipresent, or any of the other omnis that God gets labeled in Sunday School.

Because of this, I don't feel like calling on the Christian god because I don't believe in a universal, 100% benevolent and full of goodness and light deity. I don't like the god from the Old Testament cause he's a bit of a prick. Jesus is a cool dude - he gives me a ridiculous amount of Dionysian vibes, actually - but since I don't believe in sin or Hell, I see no reason to turn to him. Not much use for a savior deity when you don't think you need saving!

All that said, there are plenty of ways to blend elements of both religions together. For example, you could view deity as one divine source that manifests in a million billion different ways, including the Christian god. There are plenty of references to a female divine figure in early (and not so early) Judeo-Christian mythologies acting as a consort or helper to God/Yahweh. (Look up Chokmah, Sophia, and Shekinah for more info.) You could pray to Jesus, talk to him, explain what's going on, and legitimately ask him about the path you're on, and the things you're looking into. Jesus is pretty chill. In my experience, the Christ I know - unlike the one I hear certain Christian groups yammering about - really only gets upset if you do things like kick puppies, kill babies, and talk in the movie theater. (Trust me, no one likes folks who do that.)
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Uttara
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« Reply #18: May 27, 2010, 01:35:33 pm »

So, as I try to figure this out... I'd love to hear about anything you guys have experienced, or any thoughts on the subject. If you've gone from one belief to another, did you just... stop believing in what you'd believed in before? Do you still believe in it, only more inclusively? Any thoughts are appreciated. Smiley

The transition wasn't very difficult for me personally, I started reading atheist books and started to disbelieve in the claims that christians made. But my philosophical mind wasn't satisifed with Atheism. I started searching and thankfully it wasn't long before I met my guru and started the path I'm on now.

So I guess it was a slow trasition, starting with simple questioning and within a few years winding up in a completely different faith with a wildly different worldview. Although I don't doubt the existence of the Abrahamic God I doubt that He is anything he claims to be. Smiley
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Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED)
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« Reply #19: May 27, 2010, 03:47:08 pm »

Although I don't doubt the existence of the Abrahamic God I doubt that He is anything he claims to be. Smiley

I try not to be disrespectful to the beliefs of Christians, but I have often thought the same thing.  I've never been Christian but many members of my family are and I've read the books of the bible, as well as some other texts and commentary.  The impression I've been left with is of possibly the most successful trickster in history.

One who was unsatisfied with his place in the (Canaanite?  Pre-Judaic?  I'm not sure where the origins I've read come from) family of gods and set out to claim a following who would see him as the all, the alpha and omega of gods, the singular deity with no other gods, family or not, to keep him company.  He absorbed most of the attributes that are commonly spread among an entire pantheon, laid claim to the power to reward and punish everyone, believers or not, and wound up with the omni-omni-omni titles we are so familiar with today.

Like I said, I try not to be disrespectful, but as the follower of a trickster myself I like to play with the idea.  I also admire his success at pulling it off.  My own deity is considered a creator some places, but he has never managed the all-to-everyone title in any society that I know of.

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« Reply #20: May 27, 2010, 04:48:21 pm »

One who was unsatisfied with his place in the (Canaanite?  Pre-Judaic?  I'm not sure where the origins I've read come from) family of gods and set out to claim a following who would see him as the all, the alpha and omega of gods, the singular deity with no other gods, family or not, to keep him company.  He absorbed most of the attributes that are commonly spread among an entire pantheon, laid claim to the power to reward and punish everyone, believers or not, and wound up with the omni-omni-omni titles we are so familiar with today.

I have to wonder how much of that was the deity and how much was his followers? I suspect mainly the latter, especially once Christianity took hold and the Jewish Bible/Old Testament was interpreted by people with little knowledge of Jewish tradition or thoughts on it.
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« Reply #21: May 27, 2010, 04:51:41 pm »

The impression I've been left with is of possibly the most successful trickster in history.

One who was unsatisfied with his place in the (Canaanite?  Pre-Judaic?  I'm not sure where the origins I've read come from) family of gods and set out to claim a following who would see him as the all, the alpha and omega of gods, the singular deity with no other gods, family or not, to keep him company.  He absorbed most of the attributes that are commonly spread among an entire pantheon, laid claim to the power to reward and punish everyone, believers or not, and wound up with the omni-omni-omni titles we are so familiar with today.

Oh great, another plot bunny.  Damn you Marilyn!
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« Reply #22: May 27, 2010, 05:09:23 pm »

Jesus is a cool dude - he gives me a ridiculous amount of Dionysian vibes, actually - but since I don't believe in sin or Hell, I see no reason to turn to him. Not much use for a savior deity when you don't think you need saving!

I don't believe in Hell or have any need for salvation, or even think that Jesus was part of the Godhead, but I still turn to the words of Jesus for inspiration.  I think his advice on the way we should treat other is much more valuable than material on salvation.

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« Reply #23: May 27, 2010, 05:33:09 pm »

Although I don't doubt the existence of the Abrahamic God I doubt that He is anything he claims to be. Smiley

Quote
I try not to be disrespectful to the beliefs of Christians, but I have often thought the same thing.  I've never been Christian but many members of my family are and I've read the books of the bible, as well as some other texts and commentary.  The impression I've been left with is of possibly the most successful trickster in history.

This board needs a popcorn smiley badly....
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« Reply #24: May 30, 2010, 11:50:10 pm »

I was raised Roman Catholic and actually went to a Catholic school for 1st through 8th grade. I received the first five Sacraments, though when it was time for my Confirmation, I was getting the feeling that Catholicism wasn't right for me. This feeling clung to me and grew stronger as I entered high school, and though I don't remember the details, I'm pretty sure my transition from Catholic to (at the time) Kemetic Reconstructionist was very, very abrupt. I had always been fascinated by the Egyptian Gods, and when I was looking up information on Them, I discovered Kemeticism and, being fourteen, thought it was cool. I decided then that the Abrahamic God didn't exist, because He didn't feel real to me.

Nowadays, though, because I consider myself a hard polytheist, I do recognize Him to exist. I might not pray to Him or have a connection with Him as I do with my own Gods, but I believe that He's there.


Also, what you say about whether the faith of Christianity is true or not: How do we know anything is true, objectively speaking? Even physics might not be true as we know it now. It's my belief that there is no such thing as an objective truth, so to me, it's not a question of if something is true, but whether that truth is applicable to me.

It's just something to think about. Wink

I didn't really consider this as an option until you said it. I've read other people describe their own paths and opinions on "true" paganism, and a lot of them seemed to be pretty strict. But I guess a lot of them were more of the Reconstructionist (right word?) and Traditional paths. I'm glad to see others are more loose with their ideas. I was afraid that I'd be shot down as a "fluffy bunny" for finding out what feels right and going with it. I don't like the idea of mixing and matching incompatible faiths and deities necessarily (I wouldn't want to piss anything off  Lips sealed), but hard and fast rules are one of the things I didn't like about the religion I was raised with.

That said, I've was having trouble completely shaking off the idea of the Christian God. I thought that it was because I was raised Catholic since birth and it permeated my subconscious or some such. Hard polytheism isn't something I've heard of until now, and yet it really explains a lot. I couldn't help but feel that He was there, even though I haven't been a practicing Catholic for about a decade, and I wondered if I should go back to Christianity because of that. But, then again, I couldn't help but feel like there's more than just the Catholic God and hard polytheism makes a lot more sense. Thanks for bringing it up, I feel a lot better.  Grin
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