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Author Topic: What should a Christian know about your beliefs?  (Read 31736 times)
ehbowen
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« Topic Start: March 31, 2008, 01:09:09 am »

Those of you who have looked in on my introductory thread should by now have some idea of what I believe. What are some of the things that you would like to tell me about what you believe? What are some of the things that you wish Christians understood about your practices, your world view, your faith, and your deities?

I'm not looking to start any debates in this thread. I plan to do more listening than talking. Is there anything that you would like to say?
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« Reply #1: March 31, 2008, 01:14:00 am »

Those of you who have looked in on my introductory thread should by now have some idea of what I believe. What are some of the things that you would like to tell me about what you believe?

I find these sorts of conversations work better when I'm asked specific questions.  What would you like to know?

Brina
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« Reply #2: March 31, 2008, 01:32:48 am »

I find these sorts of conversations work better when I'm asked specific questions.  What would you like to know?

Brina

Well, as a start, what are the worst misconceptions that you think we have about your beliefs, and what would you like to say to correct them?
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« Reply #3: March 31, 2008, 01:52:05 am »

Well, as a start, what are the worst misconceptions that you think we have about your beliefs, and what would you like to say to correct them?

One of the worst misconceptions is that all Pagans are Wiccan. There are many of us who are not Wiccan and never were, never will be and/or have no wish to be.  Take me, for example. I call myself a Wandering Seeker with Celtic and Hedgewitch leanings. There's nothing at all Wiccan about what I believe. Wink

Another one is that all Pagans are "Satan-worshipping baby eaters". I don't worship Satan and I certainly don't eat babies. There's many of us who don't worship Satan and, as far as I know, none of us eat babies. In fact, there's plenty of us who don't even believe in Satan.
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« Reply #4: March 31, 2008, 01:59:09 am »

Well, as a start, what are the worst misconceptions that you think we have about your beliefs, and what would you like to say to correct them?

Since Celtee took a part of my answer as I was posting this, I will just give this one:

That we're all a bunch of tree-hugging, bleeding heart liberals.  While it is true that many forms of paganism places an emphasis on the reverence of nature, many others don't.  There is actually an interesting thread on this topic here.  Many of us believe in stewardship of the Earth in a way similar that many Christians believe.  And while it seems as though most pagans are liberal, most of us aren't what could be considered "extremist."  Many of us have a more middle-of-the-road approach to politics and some pagans even have conservative leanings and are members of the Republican Party.

Those are the ones that I can think of at the moment.  I might add some more tomorrow when I'm fully alert.
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« Reply #5: March 31, 2008, 02:06:11 am »

Since Celtee took a part of my answer as I was posting this, I will just give this one:

Sorry Mel. Wink
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« Reply #6: March 31, 2008, 02:17:24 am »

Another one is that all Pagans are "Satan-worshipping baby eaters". I don't worship Satan and I certainly don't eat babies. There's many of us who don't worship Satan and, as far as I know, none of us eat babies. In fact, there's plenty of us who don't even believe in Satan.

Just a quick comment; Christian theology on this matter can be pretty black and white—"What's east is east and what's not is west." While that statement may be basically true on the macro level, when you look at details there's a big difference between Miami, Norfolk, and Boston.

About the "baby eating": In the 1970s and 80s there were several authors and speakers who cooked up sensationalist stories about Satanic covens. One in particular was later shown to be a serial liar. But they told people the kind of juicy gossip they wanted to hear, and now the damage has been done. When caught, Mr. Warnke publicly "repented"—but then went back to his same old shtick, gulling the marks. "Fool me twice, shame on me."
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« Reply #7: March 31, 2008, 02:42:01 am »

Just a quick comment; Christian theology on this matter can be pretty black and white—"What's east is east and what's not is west." While that statement may be basically true on the macro level, when you look at details there's a big difference between Miami, Norfolk, and Boston.

About the "baby eating": In the 1970s and 80s there were several authors and speakers who cooked up sensationalist stories about Satanic covens. One in particular was later shown to be a serial liar. But they told people the kind of juicy gossip they wanted to hear, and now the damage has been done. When caught, Mr. Warnke publicly "repented"—but then went back to his same old shtick, gulling the marks. "Fool me twice, shame on me."

Be that as it may, there are still people who tend to think that we're big, scary, eeeeeeeviiiillllllll baby eaters.  If that were the case, there'd be alot fewer children running around that had few, if any, manners and we'd be sharpening our carving knives for the next one.  Wink Cheesy
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« Reply #8: March 31, 2008, 02:46:59 am »

Well, as a start, what are the worst misconceptions that you think we have about your beliefs, and what would you like to say to correct them?

Well, the obvious quick response to that is "Your question presumes that religion is about belief."  Many pagan religions are defined by practice.  I don't much care about belief, personally; I don't know what anyone believes (even if they tell me, they could be lying), so I'm stuck judging on behaviour anyway.  I can't bring myself to make an exception for religious beliefs; I'm going to stick with the stuff I find actually workable in reality.

The issue I have with the set of people composed of Christians-who-argue-with-anti-Christian-atheists-and-vice-versa is that they presume that they have the only definition of what "god" means, and tend to found their discussions on that and completely fail to recognise the existence of people who find their definitions inadequate.  (Seriously.  I've pointed out this flaw a number of times in discussions elsewhere, and have never had someone respond; the investment in the omniwhatever god is apparently so consuming that alternate perspectives don't exist.)

Keep in mind that many of us come from Christian backgrounds, and have specific reasons for leaving them.  Some people left on very bad terms; others because they were called elsewhere.  While there are people who are not well-informed about your religion, some of us are.  Some of us are even extensively familiar with theological issues, at least in an area of interest (my particular one is queer theory, for example).

As to specific things about my actual religions, rather than stuff in general, as most people haven't heard of any of them, there are relatively few misapprehensions to correct.
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« Reply #9: March 31, 2008, 07:26:37 am »

Those of you who have looked in on my introductory thread should by now have some idea of what I believe. What are some of the things that you would like to tell me about what you believe? What are some of the things that you wish Christians understood about your practices, your world view, your faith, and your deities?

I'm not looking to start any debates in this thread. I plan to do more listening than talking. Is there anything that you would like to say?

Plain and simple: just because I don't worship the Christian God and follow the Christian ethos, it doesn't mean that I am a bad person. I know plenty of really good, kind people who aren't Christians. And I also know a couple of Christians who are not particularly nice people.
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« Reply #10: March 31, 2008, 07:44:53 am »

Well, the obvious quick response to that is "Your question presumes that religion is about belief." 

To follow up on Darkhawk's point: the thing I wish people got was that the starting points - and the desired end goals - are different than what many people familiar with Christianity presume. It's like going to a different country and assuming that your maps of where you started will still work: the map of the US (or wherever) is a good map when you're there, but it's not going to help you much in France or Hungary or wherever, even though there's some superficial similarities (they have roads, cities, etc.)

Some specific points:
1) Not a congregational religion. While we have a priestess, priest, and other formal ritual roles, everyone at a ritual is generally expected to fully participate in the work of the ritual to the best of their ability. (Many groups will have an occasional ritual where spouses/family who aren't involved can come and see what it's like, but in general? You show up, you get to help with the work. On all levels, from doing the physical set-up to the energy for the working to helping wash the chalice afterwards.)

2) Our practices are based on the premise that the Gods are real, plural, and potentially going to show up to talk to us. They may not do so directly every time, but the potential is always there, and some rituals are based around that fact.

3) We're not a religion of a book: our religion is taught person to person. While many, *many* of us value books and other learning, much of the core of the religion is experiential, and is learned over time, by doing it, and talking about the process and then doing it again. Along with this is the issue of balance between parts of practice: someone who only celebrates some Sabbats and not others, for example, is doing something different than someone who does 8. (As Darkhawk points out, this is part of the reason for divisions based on practice, not belief.)
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« Reply #11: March 31, 2008, 08:57:12 am »

Those of you who have looked in on my introductory thread should by now have some idea of what I believe. What are some of the things that you would like to tell me about what you believe? What are some of the things that you wish Christians understood about your practices, your world view, your faith, and your deities?

For my particular religion, there is an entire FAQ able that answers many questions Christians and others might have: About Hellenismos: Some Frequently Asked Questions.

General information useful to Christians (especially those thinking about trying to convert Pagans):

1) Most Western Pagans today were raised Christian (or at least raised in a Christian society). We have heard of Jesus. Most Pagans know as much about Christianity as the average person trying to convert them does. Some even know more about it than most of those who try to convert them do.

2) Long time Pagans are just as happy with their religion as long time Christians are with their religion. A Christian is no more likely to convert a long time Pagan by telling him about Jesus and hell than I am to convert a long time Christian by telling him about Zeus. Threats of hell as punishment are no more threatening to most Pagans than threats of reincarnating as a animal as punishment would be to a Christian.

3) Even Pagan religions that have "holy books" of some type do not view them the way fundamentalist Christians view the Bible. We don't see them as dictated by our Gods, as inerrant, as literally true, or the like. We see them as providing true information about the Gods and their relationship to humans -- even if the actual "stories" told are not true history, not true science, etc.

4) Telling Pagans they worship Satan, sacrifice infants, and the like just makes them think the person telling them that is either ignorant, a bigot, or both. It certainly does not push them toward converting to Christianity.

5) Most Pagans don't care what the Bible says they should believe/do any more than most Christians care what the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita or the Tao-te-ching says they should believe/do. Quoting the Bible as proof only works if one already accepted the Bible as authoritative. Pagans, like other non-Christians, do not accept the Bible as authoritative.
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« Reply #12: March 31, 2008, 09:09:57 am »

General information useful to Christians (especially those thinking about trying to convert Pagans):

#1 and #2 were just what I was going to say.  I suppose I might as well drag this back out, too:
Pointers for Proselytizers

...Since that's actually what I was thinking of when I was thinking of those two points.  Not that I'm suggesting all Christians are guilty of these things by any means (actually, most I've met aren't); it's just what came to mind when misconceptions were brought up.
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« Reply #13: March 31, 2008, 09:48:26 am »

Plain and simple: just because I don't worship the Christian God and follow the Christian ethos, it doesn't mean that I am a bad person. I know plenty of really good, kind people who aren't Christians. And I also know a couple of Christians who are not particularly nice people.

That's an issue I've experienced with a Christian collegue. I don't believe in sin nor in the concept of good & evil, but that doesn't mean I have no ethics.

For example I don't think there's an evil force behind genocide, but I think genocide is inhuman.
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« Reply #14: March 31, 2008, 10:11:05 am »

#1 and #2 were just what I was going to say.  I suppose I might as well drag this back out, too:
Pointers for Proselytizers

And this article contains a link to the thread on Delphiforums (warning: ad overload) I was trying to find this morning:  Comments on Proselytizing Methods Wanted.
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