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Author Topic: If not Pagan, then what?  (Read 6089 times)
Mandi
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« Topic Start: July 10, 2007, 04:25:12 pm »

We've pretty much deconstructed the class of religions called pagan. 

Some people, like me hold onto the term pagan because it demonstrates that a minority movement is possible, can gain recognition by larger institutions (governmental, educational) and provide a modicum of protection to it's members.

By using the example set by Wiccanesque faiths, we have proven that alternative doesn't mean unacceptable.  UnChristian doesn't necessarily mean without faith. 

Then at the same time we have to ask why we're all huddling under this little umbrella skeleton if the cover it provides is so shallow.  We're cursing the blanket, but how else do you keep off the rain?

Expecting the military to recognize every religion that happens to declare itself a religion will in my opinion do more to damage the large scale perception of alternative faiths.  Some people have a hard enough time wrapping their minds around Hindus and Islamics not being an assault to their faith, so to introduce twenty or so new religions to the non profit category could water down what small dignity 'pagan' faiths have collected over the last fifty years. 

Then again, perhaps that's what is needed.  I can see it doing much to take religion out of our schools and our government.  Equality would be nearly impossible to provide to a base of a few hundred faiths.  Seeing religious institutions loose tax exemption status and government funding wouldn't cause me to shed any tears either. 

I don't know how this would play out unless it happened in a way that the lesser known sects living under the name paganism were  to step forward and ask for recognition and equal status with the more mainstreamed faiths.  Otherwise it could be interpreted as a disbanding of a trend rather than the expansion of individual faiths.  Pagans pack it up and go home.

I don't think 'pagan' really makes any statement besides not being  J/C/I but still being theistic.  It's become a blankey we toss to our critics to keep them from having an accurate view when judging the validity of faiths not their own.
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir

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« Reply #1: July 10, 2007, 04:35:00 pm »

Then at the same time we have to ask why we're all huddling under this little umbrella skeleton if the cover it provides is so shallow.  We're cursing the blanket, but how else do you keep off the rain?

Why do we have to ask this?

I use the word 'pagan' because it's true.  I don't expect it to be a fully realised explanation of my religions or what I believe; I expect it to be a single-word descriptor that people have heard, where if they want more information they can then get it, and if they just want a tidy little box, they have one.

I don't see there being a problem with it not being a more specific word, because I don't see any reason to ask it to be.  It is what it is.  If I want more specific adjectives it's my obligation to use them, not "curse" the fact that words actually mean things.
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« Reply #2: July 10, 2007, 04:36:10 pm »


I'm Kemetic. That's just what I am. You can hang up a whole political story around it, but the thing is, it's not a political choice. I call myself what I am.

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« Reply #3: July 10, 2007, 05:49:59 pm »



Some people, like me hold onto the term pagan because it demonstrates that a minority movement is possible, can gain recognition by larger institutions (governmental, educational) and provide a modicum of protection to it's members.

By using the example set by Wiccanesque faiths, we have proven that alternative doesn't mean unacceptable.  UnChristian doesn't necessarily mean without faith. 

Then at the same time we have to ask why we're all huddling under this little umbrella skeleton if the cover it provides is so shallow.  We're cursing the blanket, but how else do you keep off the rain?

Expecting the military to recognize every religion that happens to declare itself a religion will in my opinion do more to damage the large scale perception of alternative faiths.  Some people have a hard enough time wrapping their minds around Hindus and Islamics not being an assault to their faith, so to introduce twenty or so new religions to the non profit category could water down what small dignity 'pagan' faiths have collected over the last fifty years. 

I don't think 'pagan' really makes any statement besides not being  J/C/I but still being theistic.  It's become a blankey we toss to our critics to keep them from having an accurate view when judging the validity of faiths not their own.


Labels, labels, labels....ugh!  Be nice if we were all just people for a change!

You know I'll bet without much effort one could just about fill up a page with labels to refer to oneself!

But, what can you do? Okay, I'll buy "Pagan" as a blanket term but I don't understand the "rain" on the blanket?  What are we being sheltered from?

As for the military graves well, I'll bet there are lots of religions not recognized by the VA.  Seems to me if a soldier gives his/her life for their country - the ultimate sacrifice - then they should be able to have Garfield the Cat on their tombstone if they want it.  Why the military has to "approve" a religion in the first place is beyond me. Funny how they are not so picky about religious affiliations when someone signs up.









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« Reply #4: July 10, 2007, 06:33:17 pm »

I use the word 'pagan' because it's true.  I don't expect it to be a fully realised explanation of my religions or what I believe; I expect it to be a single-word descriptor that people have heard, where if they want more information they can then get it, and if they just want a tidy little box, they have one.

I don't see there being a problem with it not being a more specific word, because I don't see any reason to ask it to be.

Word.  You said it better than I would have.
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« Reply #5: July 10, 2007, 10:17:48 pm »

Labels, labels, labels....ugh!  Be nice if we were all just people for a change!

*peers at Nile_Lily's religious affiliations*

I'm always kind of shocked when someone with Egyptian ties has an issue with the creative and definitional uses of language.  The words we use to define and describe are how we create and maintain the universe in its proper function, not something to treat as oppression.

People who are just people are chock full of descriptors -- every single adjective and descriptive noun that gets blown off as a "label".  All of them make those people more real, complete, and full of meaning.  As you said, "You know I'll bet without much effort one could just about fill up a page with labels to refer to oneself!"

Yes.  That's what being just people is all about.  Pages and pages of those unfairly maligned "labels".
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« Reply #6: July 10, 2007, 11:03:38 pm »

*peers at Nile_Lily's religious affiliations*

I'm always kind of shocked when someone with Egyptian ties has an issue with the creative and definitional uses of language.  The words we use to define and describe are how we create and maintain the universe in its proper function, not something to treat as oppression.

People who are just people are chock full of descriptors -- every single adjective and descriptive noun that gets blown off as a "label".  All of them make those people more real, complete, and full of meaning.  As you said, "You know I'll bet without much effort one could just about fill up a page with labels to refer to oneself!"

Yes.  That's what being just people is all about.  Pages and pages of those unfairly maligned "labels".

*hugs*

This is your words and heka rant, isn't it? 

I loved your description of it though.  Poetic I thought:  The words we use to define and describe are how we create and maintain the universe in its proper function,
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« Reply #7: July 11, 2007, 01:20:22 am »

*hugs*

This is your words and heka rant, isn't it?

One of its iru, yes. Wink  I'm glad you appreciated.

(Thanks for hugs.  It's been one of those days.)
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Mandi
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« Reply #8: July 11, 2007, 08:42:21 am »

Why do we have to ask this?

I use the word 'pagan' because it's true.  I don't expect it to be a fully realised explanation of my religions or what I believe; I expect it to be a single-word descriptor that people have heard, where if they want more information they can then get it, and if they just want a tidy little box, they have one.

I don't see there being a problem with it not being a more specific word, because I don't see any reason to ask it to be.  It is what it is.  If I want more specific adjectives it's my obligation to use them, not "curse" the fact that words actually mean things.

So then why is it that any time it is said that there might be a continuity between the people using the term pagan we scream like our mothers have been insulted?

One minute it's "true" the next it's a meaningless term that causes more headaches that the benefits it creates.

Pagan faiths have nothing in common besides not wanting to further explain themselves to Christians.

so why do we group them together?

It seems like intellectual dishonesty at the very least. 


To say that the word 'pagan' has a meaning in the middle of all this seems beyond hypocritical since people will tell you exactly why they aren't a part of any imaginary pagan community, and pagan really doesn't mean a thing.

I wish people would make up their minds and either eliminate the term if it's just the source of semantics meltdowns, or accept it and get over it. 

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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
Mandi
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« Reply #9: July 11, 2007, 08:55:01 am »


Labels, labels, labels....ugh!  Be nice if we were all just people for a change!

You know I'll bet without much effort one could just about fill up a page with labels to refer to oneself!

But, what can you do? Okay, I'll buy "Pagan" as a blanket term but I don't understand the "rain" on the blanket?  What are we being sheltered from?

As for the military graves well, I'll bet there are lots of religions not recognized by the VA.  Seems to me if a soldier gives his/her life for their country - the ultimate sacrifice - then they should be able to have Garfield the Cat on their tombstone if they want it.  Why the military has to "approve" a religion in the first place is beyond me. Funny how they are not so picky about religious affiliations when someone signs up.

and I'll be willing to be 99% of those labels on that page would be positively skewed titling.  Internal definition is typically fairly easy to live with since it's for the most part a walk through the ego.

Yet certain labels have the ability to get people in such a twist if the term is used in a way that they don't personally agree with. 

If labels were neutral terms like shoes that we take on and off as we please then we could call each other whatever we wanted to and it wouldn't matter.

It DOES matter, because otherwise people wouldn't get so upset about it.  People DO define themselves based upon labels, or moreso don't want to be defined by someone else's usage of a label.


The "rain" is religion in schools, the 'rain' is conservative groups being the only organized groups who can effectively push their political views through majority tactics.  the 'rain' is when the term "unchristian" is used in political debates and actually holds water with voters.

I wonder if 'feminism' went through a similar deconstruction after it became mainstreamed?




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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #10: July 11, 2007, 08:57:47 am »

So then why is it that any time it is said that there might be a continuity between the people using the term pagan we scream like our mothers have been insulted?

One minute it's "true" the next it's a meaningless term that causes more headaches that the benefits it creates.

Two things here.

First, the people who object to it as a meaningless headachy term aren't (as far as I can see) typically the people who are adamant about not discarding it.  The headaches described by the people who don't want to discard it are more typically caused by people misapplying the term, not by the term itself.  I think you're comparing apples and oranges here.

Second, I think it's a matter of wanting to be free to decide for ourselves which labels are accurate for us rather than having someone else's choice forced upon us.  If we feel the word "Pagan" applies to us, we want to be free to use it.  But at the same time, we don't want other labels ("earth-based" being the most notorious) forced on us just because we choose the "Pagan" label.  The suggestions of continuity often come with those forced labels, whether explicit or implied, hence the screaming objections.

Quote
I wish people would make up their minds and either eliminate the term if it's just the source of semantics meltdowns, or accept it and get over it.

Some of us do accept that it's a fairly meaningless term when you get right down to it.  That doesn't mean it doesn't have its uses, and it also doesn't mean that there aren't applications of it that are inappropriate.  I don't think it's a matter of needing to discard the term and move on, it's a matter of recognizing in what contexts the term is useful and in what contexts it's just a problem.
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« Reply #11: July 11, 2007, 09:01:49 am »

The "rain" is religion in schools, the 'rain' is conservative groups being the only organized groups who can effectively push their political views through majority tactics.  the 'rain' is when the term "unchristian" is used in political debates and actually holds water with voters.

Actually I thought it was just a reference to "Pagan" being an "umbrella term".  Umbrella -> keeping off rain.  Except I don't think that's really what an umbrella term is; it's more like a term that spreads out wide the way an umbrella does to cover a lot of things underneath it.  Unless I'm totally misunderstanding something.
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-- Aart Van Der Leeuw

Main Blog:  Star's Journal of Random Thoughts
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I can also now be found on Goodreads.
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« Reply #12: July 11, 2007, 10:37:22 am »

Actually I thought it was just a reference to "Pagan" being an "umbrella term".  Umbrella -> keeping off rain.  Except I don't think that's really what an umbrella term is; it's more like a term that spreads out wide the way an umbrella does to cover a lot of things underneath it.  Unless I'm totally misunderstanding something.

That too, but what point of an umbrella besides just standing under?  We all look pretty silly if we're huddling under an umbrella for no reason.

If the umbrella serves no purpose, then why carry it?
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
Star
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« Reply #13: July 11, 2007, 10:53:20 am »

That too, but what point of an umbrella besides just standing under?  We all look pretty silly if we're huddling under an umbrella for no reason.

If the umbrella serves no purpose, then why carry it?

Because it's a description of the shape of the term, not the function.
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-- Aart Van Der Leeuw

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I can also now be found on Goodreads.
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« Reply #14: July 11, 2007, 11:05:19 am »

So then why is it that any time it is said that there might be a continuity between the people using the term pagan we scream like our mothers have been insulted?


Labels don't have to imply *vast* similarities.  Some labels define more of a described object than others.

'Chair' tells you that it's something to sit on - unless it's an 'unsafe chair.'  'Wooden chair' tells you something else.

Furthermore, there are plenty of groups that would object to being told that they have much in common beyond loose membership of a group of people who may belong to sub-groups, all of which are disparate.

How much close common identity would you expect in the category 'black men'?  Would you expect to say 'black men are all the same', and not start to hear objections?
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