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Author Topic: Ignorance to our beliefs  (Read 16768 times)
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« Topic Start: May 12, 2008, 12:23:46 pm »

When searching for images of The Morrigan,i came across a website which depicted her and The Dagda as comic book characters. Obviously i felt rather annoyed at the depiction and considered sending this message,except my email wasn't working:
"I would like to know how you came up with the idea of including the irish Gods in your comics;since i have seen an image of The Dagda and Morrigan in an image and would like to say that this is highly offensive to Celtic pagans and wonder why you are treating the Gods in such a derogatory fashion. Ignorance of the importance of the Gods to some people can course be forgiven.  "
Do you think it is necessary to inform people of the importance the Gods play in our lives do you feel it is just harmless fun. I do think drawing people's attention could help shift the ignorance to our practices and make people see we are serious in our faith,yet is this the right way to do it?
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« Reply #1: May 12, 2008, 12:38:53 pm »


Were the images themselves offensive?  The storyline?  Do you simply feel that comic books are an inappropriate medium for telling these stories or depicting these beings?

In other words, what exactly was offensive?  Perhaps you could post the website so we could check it out for ourselves.

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« Reply #2: May 12, 2008, 01:11:03 pm »

Do you think it is necessary to inform people of the importance the Gods play in our lives do you feel it is just harmless fun. I do think drawing people's attention could help shift the ignorance to our practices and make people see we are serious in our faith,yet is this the right way to do it?

Honestly, I doubt informing people about these depictions would make a difference in their continued use, as these characters are characters and not meant to be accurate representations of real gods. I also really don't see what the point of trying to inform these people would be. These artists (not religious followers or anything) take images from anywhere and everywhere and make them their own. They don't care about our religious lives, nor do I really care if they care.

I think it's all harmless fun. I couldn't tell since I haven't seen the images, but I seriously doubt I'd be offended by them.
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« Reply #3: May 12, 2008, 01:18:58 pm »


I don't see it as offensive. I don't see why gods can't be portrayed in comics, just as I don't see why Neil Gaiman can't write a book involving a lot of them (in American Gods, say). Generally, comics and books like American Gods are quite clearly fiction, and most people are sensible enough to understand that, just like most people are sensible enough to know that films like Braveheart aren't accurate historical documentaries of what happened to prominent historical figures...I do object to people passing off their 'ancient Irish potato goddess' as an actual historical deity that the pre-Christian Irish worshiped, but that's much different from people writing a work of fiction for entertainment purposes.

My husband has a tattoo of the Morrigan on his arm, but he's an atheist and sees it as a piece of art that he likes, of a mythological character that he's particularly interested in. I don't find it offensive that he doesn't see the image as portraying a goddess, and nor do I think he should. My beliefs are different to his, and that's OK, so long as he respects mine as I respect his...He's even (jokingly) told our son that it's supposed to be me, so every time he sees it my son says, "Look! Mummy!" I figure that if that pisses the Morrigan off, she'll let him know in her own way. So far she seems to have a sense of humour... 
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« Reply #4: May 12, 2008, 01:33:43 pm »

Not Celtic here, but...  Like Marilyn, I'd like to know more about what offended you.  I don't see anything terribly offensive about portraying them in a comic, in and of itself, so I'm wondering if there's more to it than that.

would like to say that this is highly offensive to Celtic pagans

As a side note, I would tend to be wary of speaking for "Celtic pagans"; that's a lot of people you're setting yourself up as spokesperson for, and you don't necessarily know that they agree with you.

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Do you think it is necessary to inform people of the importance the Gods play in our lives do you feel it is just harmless fun. I do think drawing people's attention could help shift the ignorance to our practices and make people see we are serious in our faith,yet is this the right way to do it?

Still speaking as not-a-Celt, but as someone whose gods also get grabbed and manhandled into all sorts of inappropriate things:

Without more information, I can't speak to this specific instance, I'm afraid.  I guess there could be situations where a portrayal is so horrendously inaccurate that it absolutely must be corrected.  I don't know.  For the most part, I tend to think it's just not worth it.  If I went around trying to correct every piece of media that incorrectly portrayed the Greek gods, I think I'd have a good couple of lifetimes' worth of work ahead of me.  Even then, I doubt I'd have cleared up all the misconceptions; I would just have corrected the media itself.  Maybe.  I have other things to be doing with my time and energy.  It irritates me that Disney, for example, felt the need to sanitize Zeus and Hera's marriage into a nice happy one and to portray Hades as some sort of evil mastermind.  It doesn't concern me, though.  I guess it's kind of what Finn said.  They're characters, not intended to be accurate.  *shrug*  I therefore don't expect accuracy, nor do I feel it's reasonable to demand it.

Then again, I've also never been particularly concerned about public understanding in the broader sense like that.  I know what I'm doing and who my gods are; it doesn't particularly worry me if Joe Schmoe down the street knows, as long as he's not burning down my house over it.

If I might make a suggestion--if you do feel the need to correct people, you might want to reconsider how you're doing that.  An angry accusatory message like the one you intended to send is not going to make people think, "Oh, that person knows what they're talking about and I should clean up my act."  It's generally going to make them write you off as just some random angry person ranting at them, and your message will wind up in their trash bin without a second thought.  They're certainly not going to go off and do any research about the true nature of the gods on your say-so.  I'd also suggest staying away from "forgiving" them for anything; that's only going to sound overbearing and put them on the defensive, which in turn is going to make them less likely to take you seriously.

Rather, I would suggest being specific about what about their portrayal of your gods offended you, on what you're basing the claim that they're wrong, and what they can do to fix it.  Be calm, be reasonable, lay out your facts and ask them to reconsider.  I don't know that this will necessarily get better results, but it will have a better chance at making an impression than a "hands off my gods!" rant.  And even if they don't listen to you or change what they're doing, they'll come away with a better impression of the group you're claiming to represent, which is really what this is all about, right?
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« Reply #5: May 12, 2008, 02:38:25 pm »

I guess there could be situations where a portrayal is so horrendously inaccurate that it absolutely must be corrected.  I don't know. 

Speaking here as a Kemetic -- dude, Stargate.  It's not worth sending nasty letters to anyone over Stargate SG-1, which is the most theoretically-offensive portrayal of the Egyptian gods ever.

It's a good show.  Occasionally the implied theology makes me laugh my ass off.  (The Celt is watching it and has gotten up to the point where Anubis is the Big Bad.)

Quote
If I might make a suggestion--if you do feel the need to correct people, you might want to reconsider how you're doing that.  An angry accusatory message like the one you intended to send is not going to make people think, "Oh, that person knows what they're talking about and I should clean up my act."  It's generally going to make them write you off as just some random angry person ranting at them, and your message will wind up in their trash bin without a second thought.  They're certainly not going to go off and do any research about the true nature of the gods on your say-so.

Some might well decide that something that can get people ranting angrily is worth doing more of, because it's attention.  And as minor a demographic as pagans, certainly not united in belief about offensiveness in the first place, can be alienated quite handily if their outrage serves as advertising.
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« Reply #6: May 12, 2008, 03:04:14 pm »

Speaking here as a Kemetic -- dude, Stargate.  It's not worth sending nasty letters to anyone over Stargate SG-1, which is the most theoretically-offensive portrayal of the Egyptian gods ever.

*nods*  I'm honestly not sure I can think of a situation where I'd judge the offense serious enough to start writing ranty letters about, myself.  I mostly just put the "I guess there could be situations where a portrayal is so horrendously inaccurate that it absolutely must be corrected" to err on the side of caution, because I was sure that as soon as I made an absolute "there isn't a situation" type of statement one would probably pop up.  But I can't imagine what that situation would be, myself.

And, as I said, there are portrayals of my gods that I occasionally find irritating.  But it's a long way from "irritating" to "need to set the writer/artist/creator/producers/etc. straight about it", for me.
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« Reply #7: May 12, 2008, 03:08:35 pm »

Do you think it is necessary to inform people of the importance the Gods play in our lives do you feel it is just harmless fun. I do think drawing people's attention could help shift the ignorance to our practices and make people see we are serious in our faith,yet is this the right way to do it?

Here's my two cents- if the images are simply the gods in comic book form, I wouldn't get too upset about it.  It's good to keep a sense of humor in one's faith because you avoid becoming someone who takes everything *too* seriously. Smiley  Not much fun in that.  Maybe the comic is actually quite funny or creative, I don't know.  There's no copyright on how the gods are depicted.

If there's something specific about the images that you find offensive, maybe it wouldn't hurt to share your thoughts with the artist.  I don't think an angry note would open dialogue though.

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« Reply #8: May 12, 2008, 03:14:18 pm »



I think, in most cases, it is *actively dangerous* to intellectual freedom to attempt to police depictions of deity too closely.  If we set up a precedent of, "How dare you wrote about my gods in ways I don't consider appropriate!", the people who will benefit the most are Christian fundies, because they are the loudest and most organized:  to many of them, it is not "appropriate" or "respectful" to depict Jesus as potentially "one among many," so anyone doing that -- like, say, Pagans -- will be at the receiving end. 

And what's wrong with comic books, exactly?  Are they somehow automatically "worse" than using gods as characters in plays, novels, or any other fictionalized depiction?  At its core, ALL literature -- which includes comic books -- is for entertainment.  Some entertainments are more serious than others, but entertainment, in the broad sense, is one of literature's primary functions.  Any art, really. 

I think it is far, far more effective to make sure that there is accurate information about Pagan religious beliefs out there and accessible, than it is to get bent out of shape about overtly fictional depictions of gods.  And those fictional depictions, even if stupid, do have the effect of keeping the gods' names alive:  the Greek and Roman divinities were revived in the Renaissance because the art and literature concerning them could be handwaved as pretty fancies, so Church authorities (with some exceptions) generally didn't feel the need to clamp down on artists and writers.  This paved the way for the Phil-Hellenism of the 18th century, which led to the revival of actual worship of the gods.       

The gods of the ancient Pagan religions of Europe (and Egypt) are, at this point, pretty much the common property of Western culture as a whole -- to borrow a term from Tolkien, they're all part of the "cauldron of story."  The people with the best "claim," for lack of a better term, on these gods have been dead for centuries.  The gods have, in common discourse, been functioning as "fictional characters" for a very long time -- and that helped keep them in circulation.  Those of us who worship the ancient gods don't, like, *own* them:  we understand them differently than the culture at large, but that doesn't mean that our understanding gets to override and silence every single other version out there -- if we make that the standard, again, some *seriously* ugly crap will come out of it, and it won't be to our benefit.  We get to add our voices to the mix, and hopefully help shape the conversation, but aiming for control of the conversation is really, really problematic. 

And, as Star said, when you're talking about the Greek and Roman gods, it's a fool's errand.  You'd have to lose a serious chunk of Western art and literature -- including Aristophanes, Ovid, Chaucer, and Shakespeare -- if "respect for the gods by the standards of modern-day worshippers" is the litmus test.
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« Reply #9: May 12, 2008, 03:27:03 pm »

When searching for images of The Morrigan,i came across a website which depicted her and The Dagda as comic book characters. Obviously i felt rather annoyed at the depiction and considered sending this message,except my email wasn't working:
Not Celtic, but I am a comic book geek and I think it has much more to do with the portrayal itself than the fact that it's in a comic. 

An example, from a single series: Neil Gaiman, in Sandman, did a storyline in which several deities from different pantheons appeared.  Just looking at the Norse - I found his portrayals of Odin and Loki to be fantastic, but his Thor was such an over-muscled buffoon, I can easily see someone taking offense.

I also wonder, do you get offended when your gods appear in other forms of literature?  Or is it just that it was a comic?  'Cause there are some pretty sophisticated comics/graphic novels out there.
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« Reply #10: May 12, 2008, 04:25:42 pm »

I do think drawing people's attention could help shift the ignorance to our practices and make people see we are serious in our faith,yet is this the right way to do it?

I pretty much agree with what's been said above.  The gods of ancient cultures are, for all intents and purposes, public domain.  If we begin to legislate how they are to be depicted then we need to be prepared to have our perspective legislated as well.  And that's just not a direction I, personally, want to travel.

As another potential perspective, what if the various divinities are whispering, muse-like, into the ears of our artists in an effort to keep the awareness of Them alive and/or to share a heretofore unknown aspect of Themsleves with the world?  You never know and I prefer to believe in possibility.

When all is said and done, the author of the comic is sharing a story.  I seriously doubt it was meant as Truth.
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« Reply #11: May 12, 2008, 04:29:48 pm »

An example, from a single series: Neil Gaiman, in Sandman, did a storyline in which several deities from different pantheons appeared. 

And lets not forget Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series in which even Satan and the JCI God make appearances.

Or the always interesting/amusing AD&D Deities and Demigods in which a large number of known ancient cultures deities are represented.
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« Reply #12: May 12, 2008, 04:46:22 pm »


Psh, I can do you one better and that's furry porn. I have seen many many representations of Anubis in rather interesting positions.
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« Reply #13: May 12, 2008, 05:23:51 pm »

Not Celtic, but I am a comic book geek and I think it has much more to do with the portrayal itself than the fact that it's in a comic. 

An example, from a single series: Neil Gaiman, in Sandman, did a storyline in which several deities from different pantheons appeared.  Just looking at the Norse - I found his portrayals of Odin and Loki to be fantastic, but his Thor was such an over-muscled buffoon, I can easily see someone taking offense.

I remember that one - I suspected his portrayal of Thor was inaccurate, but wasn't bothered.  I did get irritated when Alan Moore has Loki saying "I'm the god of evil", but that's because he's usually accurate in what he writes, and because the concept of good and evil is in itself a Christian one.

Whereas there was an inaccurate portrayal of The Morrigan in a Buffy novel and I wasn't bothered.

This is just fiction after all, and I suspect the Devil is the most misrepresented figure in popular media at the moment.
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« Reply #14: May 12, 2008, 06:28:41 pm »


"I would like to know how you came up with the idea of including the irish Gods in your comics;since i have seen an image of The Dagda and Morrigan in an image and would like to say that this is highly offensive to Celtic pagans and wonder why you are treating the Gods in such a derogatory fashion. Ignorance of the importance of the Gods to some people can course be forgiven.  "

Firstly, it is NOT offensive to ALL Celtic Pagans. In fact, I rather enjoy playing the game and whooping my opponents as Morrigan (notice I do spell it differently.) I think An Morrighan finds amusment in it too, She at least doesn't seem upset when I whoop other characters with the player that is based off of Her.

Secondly, like others have said, the gods are public domain. For many, they are just story book stories and nothing to really be concerned about. They don't set out to offend us, they set out to entertain their audience, and as an artist I can respect that. It gets to me when the artist specifically attempts to offend the followers of a certain path, but not when it's used as entertainment.
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