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Author Topic: Which Pagan religions are NOT nature-earth based?  (Read 21915 times)
RandallS
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« Reply #45: May 05, 2008, 09:33:55 pm »

As someone mentioned earlier, I think TC would actually be a great place to have this discussion, as we have a much higher ratio of folks who classify themselves as "not nature based" than other boards, which would mean that the usual "Paganism=nature-based" definition wouldn't override the actual discussion.  As long as we can keep it from swinging too far in the other direction (and us more Recon types can control our kneejerks Cheesy), it would be awesome.

We might try it as a "special topic," but we'd probably need some special rules for it in the first post. Like

1) You cannot define any religion other than your own as nature-based/not nature-based.
2) Paganism is NOT a religion, it is a group of barely related religions each of which must be considered individually.
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« Reply #46: May 05, 2008, 09:38:57 pm »

We might try it as a "special topic," but we'd probably need some special rules for it in the first post. Like

1) You cannot define any religion other than your own as nature-based/not nature-based.
2) Paganism is NOT a religion, it is a group of barely related religions each of which must be considered individually.

I think that would work, too. And it's the kind of topic TC has been known to hash out.
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« Reply #47: May 05, 2008, 10:18:55 pm »

LOL...I think I've been there. It's almost better than your rant about that author.

YOu have been. And yes - that's a tight race. Wink
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« Reply #48: May 06, 2008, 12:22:15 am »


How the concept of "nature" works in religion is really interesting; my university has a "Religion and Nature" graduate program, and they study how nature functions in a variety of religions, whether the religion can be classed as "nature-based" or not.  And actually, that's why I think it's *so* important to come up with a good, workable definition of "nature-based," so that we can really understand the myriad ways in which nature can work in religion.  Right now in the Pagan community, all anyone does is scream "WE'RE ALL NATURE BASED!"  "NO WE'RE NOT!  WE WORSHIP THE GODS, AND YOU DON'T!"  But no one ever really talks about what "nature-based" *means*, or can mean:  everybody's so busy classifying their and other people's religions as "nature-based" or "not nature based" -- usually at the top of their lungs -- that nobody really pokes at the definition itself.  When you manage to drag an actual definition out of somebody, more often then not it's so vague that it either includes ("concerned with the harvest cycle") or excludes ("worships nature, not gods") just about every religion under the sun. 

As someone mentioned earlier, I think TC would actually be a great place to have this discussion, as we have a much higher ratio of folks who classify themselves as "not nature based" than other boards, which would mean that the usual "Paganism=nature-based" definition wouldn't override the actual discussion.  As long as we can keep it from swinging too far in the other direction (and us more Recon types can control our kneejerks Cheesy), it would be awesome.

I think there's also the extra muddying of the waters when you consider that even among people of the supposed same religion (or possibly even among some of same Wiccan eclectic traditions), that some people may feel that nature or "nature based" means something slightly different to everyone, based on a personal, individual level.

Generally, though, in this thread, I just meant "nature based" as any religion that observes some special kind of reverence for nature, some connection between it and Deity beyond the simple relationship of creator and creation, even if it's not the primary focal point of the religion, necessarily.  The Abrahamic faiths are what I would consider an example of non-nature-based religions, even if some of them appreciate the beauty of the natural world.
Personally, the nature aspect is one of the things that attracts me to Wicca.

I think one way of defining the difference between nature-based and non nature-based (though that's not what I originally set out to do here) is whether you see your God(s) as immanent with nature, or transcendent to nature.
Thoughts?


BTW, what's TC?




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« Reply #49: May 06, 2008, 01:12:23 am »

BTW, what's TC?

Us - The Cauldron
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« Reply #50: May 06, 2008, 07:21:04 am »

At least 90% of the time, that's what I see. Not someone wanting to discuss which religions are nature-based/Earth-based or even what it means for a religion to be nature-based/Earth-based, but someone telling me that my religion must be nature-based/Earth-based.

My boyfriend does that.  I say I am a Christian witch, (with a heavy side of Celtic ie Brighid and the Morrighan Wink ) and he HEARS Wiccan.  His ex wife is Wiccan, and more power to her, no problem with it.  However he has actually tried to tell me we have the exact same beliefs and actually used the term "tree hugger"  in reference to it.  He tries to tell me there is no such thing as a Christian Witch.  ARGH.  He also goes on and on about how she is an ordained witch, and how she has this degree in her coven or something, and I try to explain I am very happy for her, but as our beliefs are somewhat different, it is like comparing apples to oranges.   Now mind you, as an individual, I am concerned about the environment, and I do believe it is our responsibility as a species to take care of the planet, etc.  but my religion isn't nature based in the way he thinks of it as. 

I dont have a problem at ALL with people asking me if my religion is nature based.  I do have a problem with people telling me what my religion is without consulting me on the matter.

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« Reply #51: May 06, 2008, 08:18:54 am »

Generally, though, in this thread, I just meant "nature based" as any religion that observes some special kind of reverence for nature, some connection between it and Deity beyond the simple relationship of creator and creation, even if it's not the primary focal point of the religion, necessarily. 

This is where it can get hairy for outsiders making the nature-based call on other religions. Unless they are very familiar with the religion in question as practiced and understood by its adherents, it can be easy to come to the wrong conclusion based on limited or inaccurate knowledge.  For example most people who declare that the Greek religion is nature-based declare it so based on the fact that a few of the deities, like Demeter, are clearly nature-related or that a handful of festivals are clearly nature/farming related -- completely ignoring the fact that most of the Gods are not clearly nature-related, most of the festivals are not nature related and there no real seasonal festival cycle, and that the religion was urban-based instead of rural-based.

Sure, some modern Pagan religions have taken certain myths from Greek mythology and transplanted them into major parts of their seasonal festivals (e.g. the Persephone/Demeter/Hades myth), but that doesn't make the original Greek religion nature-based any more that the name of "Gaia Theory" makes Gaia an important deity in ancient Greece -- she wasn't, she was an ancestor of the Gods deity who received little or no worship.
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« Reply #52: May 06, 2008, 12:10:04 pm »

This is where it can get hairy for outsiders making the nature-based call on other religions. Unless they are very familiar with the religion in question as practiced and understood by its adherents, it can be easy to come to the wrong conclusion based on limited or inaccurate knowledge.  For example most people who declare that the Greek religion is nature-based declare it so based on the fact that a few of the deities, like Demeter, are clearly nature-related or that a handful of festivals are clearly nature/farming related -- completely ignoring the fact that most of the Gods are not clearly nature-related, most of the festivals are not nature related and there no real seasonal festival cycle, and that the religion was urban-based instead of rural-based.

Sure, some modern Pagan religions have taken certain myths from Greek mythology and transplanted them into major parts of their seasonal festivals (e.g. the Persephone/Demeter/Hades myth), but that doesn't make the original Greek religion nature-based any more that the name of "Gaia Theory" makes Gaia an important deity in ancient Greece -- she wasn't, she was an ancestor of the Gods deity who received little or no worship.

Good point, though personally I would never have thought of Greek mythology as nature based for exactly the reasons you cite. 
Perhaps a poll would help?  Ask the users themselves whether they consider their religion as nature based or not, and state that pollees are only to respond with respect to their own religion - none other.  Of course, there's no guarantee that all people would agree or even pay attention to the results, but it could be a link to point to in times of discord and help dispel the myth of Pagan=Nature religion.
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« Reply #53: May 06, 2008, 12:32:04 pm »

This is where it can get hairy for outsiders making the nature-based call on other religions.

I think that defining nature-based can be as hoary a question as defining paganism.

You either get generalizations that are so broad they are useless, or specificities so precise that there is little ground for finding commonalities.

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« Reply #54: May 06, 2008, 01:53:32 pm »

This is where it can get hairy for outsiders making the nature-based call on other religions. Unless they are very familiar with the religion in question as practiced and understood by its adherents, it can be easy to come to the wrong conclusion based on limited or inaccurate knowledge. 

Just playing devil's advocate, I think it also gets hairy when self-definition is allowed to trump other criteria as well.  In some cases, being part of religion might mean that you don't understand the religious practices as well as someone on the outside.  For example, scientologists tend to believe that there religion is a rational, scientific-based faith...many outsiders tend to see it as more of a cult (in the Bonewits sense of the word).  Regardless of how familiar practitioners of scientology are with the tenets of their beliefs, it seems to me that outsiders have a more accurate view of their take on psychology, for example.

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« Reply #55: May 06, 2008, 02:10:02 pm »

Just playing devil's advocate, I think it also gets hairy when self-definition is allowed to trump other criteria as well.  In some cases, being part of religion might mean that you don't understand the religious practices as well as someone on the outside.  For example, scientologists tend to believe that there religion is a rational, scientific-based faith...many outsiders tend to see it as more of a cult (in the Bonewits sense of the word).  Regardless of how familiar practitioners of scientology are with the tenets of their beliefs, it seems to me that outsiders have a more accurate view of their take on psychology, for example.

The eternal question:  Where is that line?  I'm also thinking of Wicca here, where there's a set of people using the word whose self-definition explicitly excludes another set of people who also use the word.  Who gets to self-define the term in that case?  Or is that a case of, "Well, this is what Wicca is for group A, and this is what it is for group B, and they can both use that word"?  Which has its own problems when it comes to clear communication.

(I wonder, though, if this bit of the thread might not be moving a bit beyond the scope of the 101 folder we're in.)
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« Reply #56: May 06, 2008, 05:38:08 pm »

You either get generalizations that are so broad they are useless, or specificities so precise that there is little ground for finding commonalities.

I personally think the terms "nature-based" and "earth-based" are too broad to really be useful in defining religions. Saying a religion "has festivals that follow the seasonal cycle of the northern temperate zone" tells me something. Saying the same religion is "nature-based" really doesn't say anything concrete about the religion.
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« Reply #57: May 06, 2008, 05:44:02 pm »

Regardless of how familiar practitioners of scientology are with the tenets of their beliefs, it seems to me that outsiders have a more accurate view of their take on psychology, for example.

Outsiders who happen to be pyschologists probably do.
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« Reply #58: May 06, 2008, 06:15:26 pm »

Outsiders who happen to be pyschologists probably do.

I don't think you have to be a psychologist to realize that mental disorders actually exist, which the scientologists vehemently deny.  Sad

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« Reply #59: May 06, 2008, 06:50:05 pm »

I don't think you have to be a psychologist to realize that mental disorders actually exist, which the scientologists vehemently deny.  Sad

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