The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum (Archive Board)
July 02, 2020, 11:33:09 am *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: This is our Read Only Archive Board (closed to posting July 2011). Join our new vBulletin board!
 
  Portal   Forum   Help Rules Search Chat (Mux) Articles Login Register   *

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 02, 2020, 11:33:09 am

Login with username, password and session length
Donate!
The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.
TC Staff
Important Information about this Archive Board
This message board is The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum's SMF Archive Board. It is closed to new memberships and to posting, but there are over 250,000 messages here that you can still search and read -- many full of interesting and useful information. (This board was open from February 2007 through June 2011).

Our new vBulletin discussion board is located at http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/ -- if you would like to participate in discussions like those you see here, please visit our new vBulletin message board, register an account and join in our discussions. We hope you will find the information in this message archive useful and will consider joining us on our new board.
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 18   Go Down
  Add bookmark  |  Print  
Author Topic: Special Topic: Why We're Touchy About Defining Paganism  (Read 51838 times)
catja6
Board Staff
Staff
Adept Member
***
Last Login:February 29, 2016, 11:06:03 pm
Canada Canada

Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Posts: 1119


Blog entries (0)


« Reply #15: April 13, 2007, 02:35:22 pm »

"A Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan."

A definition is generally a statement that describes what something is. The statement above seems to be describing what Paganism is not.

I do understand how difficult it is to define such a wide variety of beliefs with one short, all-encompassing statement, but that does sound like it says "We don't know what it Paganism exactly, but we do know what it isn't." I guess that's as good a place to start as any.  Smiley

So?  It's a misnomer that "negative definitions" are *always* some horrible crime against logic.  In certain situations, negative definitions are the best and most useful -- such as this one. 

   
Logged

Welcome, Guest!
You will need to register and/or login to participate in our discussions.

Read our Rules and Policies and the Quoting Guidelines.

Help Fund Our Server? Donate to Lyricfox's Cancer Fund?

RandallS
Co-Host
Administrator
Grand Adept Member
*****
Last Login:June 23, 2020, 07:47:48 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Pagan
TCN ID: ADMIN
Posts: 17181


Blog entries (0)


« Reply #16: April 13, 2007, 06:16:16 pm »

A definition is generally a statement that describes what something is. The statement above seems to be describing what Paganism is not.

Everyone would like a "positive" definition of Paganism, but people have been trying for many years and every such attempt to define Paganism by what it is (instead of what it is not) has failed either because it is so broad that it includes nearly every religion on the planet or because it excludes religions normally considered Pagan both by their members and by others. Such definitions are worse than a working "negative" definition.
Logged

Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog - Forum] -- Out Of Print & Out Of Style Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Software Gadgets Blog -- Interesting Software, Mostly Free
Cheap Web Hosting -- Find an Affordable Web Host
xanaeau
Senior Newbie
*
Last Login:December 27, 2009, 08:55:41 am
Australia Australia

Religion: Ecclectic earth and energy based spirituality
Posts: 6


dear goddess the pressure

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #17: April 19, 2007, 06:39:41 am »

Everyone would like a "positive" definition of Paganism, but people have been trying for many years and every such attempt to define Paganism by what it is (instead of what it is not) has failed either because it is so broad that it includes nearly every religion on the planet or because it excludes religions normally considered Pagan both by their members and by others. Such definitions are worse than a working "negative" definition.

I suppose that the greatest difficulty in finding a "positive" definition for the word pagan is that the word itself is thought to have originated as a slur. Paganus (the latin origin of pagan,) an adjective; originally meant rural, rustic or of the country, and as a noun meant country dweller or villager (English Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press 2007) of which i guess the modern correlary would be country bumpkin or maybe hillbilly. However as the rise of Christianity took place, the development of the word as we use it today came about. It is thought possibly to be in apporximately the 4th century with the rise of serfdom that the word began to take on a spiritual meaning, referring to country dwellers who had not kept pace with the "civilised" world in their conversion to christianity. This is reflected in The Georgics written 29 b.c. by the latin poet Virgil. Or perhaps the use of paganus in Roman military jargon for "civilian, incompetent soldier," which Christians (Tertullian, c.202; Augustine) picked up with the military imagery of the early Church (e.g. milites "soldier of Christ," etc.).  (Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pagan)


Any way I guess what I am trying to work my way toward is the fact that we are using a word to define ourselves that originated as a negative word, and has retained those negative connotations in a lot of modern day circles. This to me means that we are already fighting an uphill battle, however it's not only a battle of definition, but also one of perception. This said I do not have any light bulb type inspiring ideas about how to solve this problem Huh

The possibility of using terms such as non JCIM based spirituality and including referneces to earth based and also universally based religions is tempting, however it then raises the question of faiths based in mythologies such as egyptian and norse ones etc...

I often find myself grasping at language to define my own faith as I have drawn elements from a number of paths as they resonate within me. So i cannot even take the solace of naming one particular path when I speak to friends I ran into it the other day when talking to my very christian co-worker (who is fantastic to talk about theology with I might add,) who when I said the word wicca immediately said "Oh that's terrible Lynton, that's witchcraft, your consorting with the devil!" Suffice to say that her and I disagree on that point.  Wink

I guess all we need to do is invent a new word to describe ourselves Wink
Logged
WarHorse
High Adept Member
******
Last Login:July 04, 2012, 06:05:14 pm
United States United States

Religion: Eclectic Pantheist
Posts: 2994


The little tyke.

Blog entries (0)

WWW

Ignore
« Reply #18: April 19, 2007, 07:44:07 am »


I guess all we need to do is invent a new word to describe ourselves Wink

"Other."  Grin
Logged

"I've seen knights in armor panic at the first hint of battle.  And I've seen the lowliest unarmed squire pull a spear from his own body to defend a dying horse." - Kevin Costner as Robin of Loxley, Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves.
RandallS
Co-Host
Administrator
Grand Adept Member
*****
Last Login:June 23, 2020, 07:47:48 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Pagan
TCN ID: ADMIN
Posts: 17181


Blog entries (0)


« Reply #19: April 19, 2007, 08:08:12 am »

This said I do not have any light bulb type inspiring ideas about how to solve this problem Huh

This is the problem summed up in one sentence.  Grin

The term "Pagan" is a useful one nevertheless because it gives most people who hear it some idea of what you are talking about. A word coined by the Pagan community to use instead of "Pagan" would be meaningless jargon to non-Pagans -- which really would not help in communication, IMHO.
Logged

Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog - Forum] -- Out Of Print & Out Of Style Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Software Gadgets Blog -- Interesting Software, Mostly Free
Cheap Web Hosting -- Find an Affordable Web Host
Star
Message Board Coordinator
Senior Staff
Grand Adept Member
****
Last Login:January 12, 2013, 08:36:08 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Reconstructionist
TCN ID: star
Posts: 9033


Etcetera, Whatever

Blog entries (0)

ilaynay starcr
WWW
« Reply #20: April 19, 2007, 08:32:04 am »

I suppose that the greatest difficulty in finding a "positive" definition for the word pagan is that the word itself is thought to have originated as a slur.

Actually...  I don't think that's the kind of positive/negative divide that was being addressed in what you quoted.  I think it was defining a group by what they are (positive) as opposed to what they are not (negative), not whether they're good or bad.  Smiley
Logged

"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
-- Aart Van Der Leeuw

Main Blog:  Star's Journal of Random Thoughts
Religious Blog:  The Song and the Flame
I can also now be found on Goodreads.
Entwife
Master Member
****
Last Login:February 24, 2015, 06:57:07 pm
United States United States

Religion: Pagan (Ecclectic? Green? Something along those lines)
Posts: 520


Blog entries (0)

WWW

Ignore
« Reply #21: April 19, 2007, 09:42:47 am »

"Other."  Grin

LOL That's what I've been using!  Grin Of course, we've also jokingly used this definintion.... Paganism, the new Christianity. Irreverantly amusing perhaps, but it still doesn't define Paganism really. Earth-based religions in which one attempts to live in harmony with all Life and connect to the Divine usually works though.
Logged

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." ~ Voltaire
yewberry
Adept Member
*****
Last Login:August 02, 2014, 04:15:33 pm
United States United States

Posts: 2087

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #22: April 19, 2007, 01:10:15 pm »

Earth-based religions in which one attempts to live in harmony with all Life and connect to the Divine usually works though.

Except that it doesn't in many cases.  "Earth-based" is a heavily loaded term that many pagans don't embrace.

Brina
Logged
Juni
Adept Member
*****
*
*
Last Login:May 18, 2015, 04:18:28 pm
United States United States

Religion: Misticism
TCN ID: Juni
Posts: 2302


Strive to be happy.

Blog entries (2)

WWW

Ignore
« Reply #23: April 19, 2007, 01:12:16 pm »

Except that it doesn't in many cases.  "Earth-based" is a heavily loaded term that many pagans don't embrace.

Brina

Not to mention there are plenty of pagans that have no interest in harmony or the Divine.
Logged


.: Eleven-Pm.org .:. updated 30 June :.

"I don't go anywhere without my mutated anthrax! 'Fer duck huntin." - Futurama
Star
Message Board Coordinator
Senior Staff
Grand Adept Member
****
Last Login:January 12, 2013, 08:36:08 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Reconstructionist
TCN ID: star
Posts: 9033


Etcetera, Whatever

Blog entries (0)

ilaynay starcr
WWW
« Reply #24: April 19, 2007, 01:17:56 pm »

Earth-based religions in which one attempts to live in harmony with all Life and connect to the Divine usually works though.

Hrm.  I wonder if you missed this bit of my initial post:

Quote
There is, to begin with, a general history of people in various venues attempting to describe Paganism as "earth-based" or "earth-centered".  Generally, this means that the Earth is held sacred by Pagans or is central to Pagan religion in some way, and/or that the religion's festival dates are determined by the cycle of the seasons.  This is an ongoing problem for many posters at The Cauldron because this is not an accurate way to describe their religions.  While the Earth and the seasons may play a significant role in many of the Wicca-based religions that dominate Paganism in the public eye today, there are also many faiths in which they hold no significance at all.  In some religions, there are harvest festivals and the like which may seem tied to the seasons and thus might appear to qualify them as "earth-based", but often they are only a few festivals among many.  There are earthy deities, but generally they have other spheres of influence as well and again are in the minority.  A few earth-centric qualities does not an earth-centric religion make.

"Earth-based" is one of the biggest points of contention I've seen in defining Paganism during my time here at TC.  It seems to get brought up with every go-around, and every time almost immediately a good dozen people speak up with variations on "not all Pagans are earth-based" and "I'm not earth-based, but I'm Pagan".
Logged

"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
-- Aart Van Der Leeuw

Main Blog:  Star's Journal of Random Thoughts
Religious Blog:  The Song and the Flame
I can also now be found on Goodreads.
ScorpioMoon
Senior Apprentice
**
Last Login:November 10, 2010, 03:01:29 pm
United States United States

Religion: Wicca
Posts: 55


Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #25: April 19, 2007, 05:27:34 pm »

So?  It's a misnomer that "negative definitions" are *always* some horrible crime against logic.  In certain situations, negative definitions are the best and most useful -- such as this one. 
  

I wasn't making any kind of judgment concerning the definition being negative vs positive. I didn't call the statement a "negative definition" or mean to imply that it was a "crime against logic."

Actually...  I don't think that's the kind of positive/negative divide that was being addressed in what you quoted.  I think it was defining a group by what they are (positive) as opposed to what they are not (negative), not whether they're good or bad.  Smiley

Yeah, that's what I meant, the statement defines us (Pagans) as a group by what we are not as opposed to what we are. And that may be the best we can do in defining modern Paganism.
Logged

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
~ Rita Rudner ~
Star
Message Board Coordinator
Senior Staff
Grand Adept Member
****
Last Login:January 12, 2013, 08:36:08 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Reconstructionist
TCN ID: star
Posts: 9033


Etcetera, Whatever

Blog entries (0)

ilaynay starcr
WWW
« Reply #26: April 19, 2007, 06:51:41 pm »

I wasn't making any kind of judgment concerning the definition being negative vs positive. I didn't call the statement a "negative definition" or mean to imply that it was a "crime against logic."

Yeah, that's what I meant, the statement defines us (Pagans) as a group by what we are not as opposed to what we are. And that may be the best we can do in defining modern Paganism.

Maybe I wasn't clear, putting those two responses together...

When the term "negative definition" is used in this context, it isn't a value judgement.  Not on the thing being defined, and not on the definition itself.  A "negative definition" defines by telling us what the thing it's defining isn't.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It doesn't mean that by using that definition you're somehow slighting the thing you're defining.  It just means that you're defining by saying, "This is the starting point, and this is how much you have to take away from it, and then what's left is what I'm defining."  Taking away -> subtracting -> negating -> negative, more or less.

I've been playing with examples using the term mathematically or photographically instead of as a value judgement, but none of the examples I come up with quite fit.  Sad  So if this still doesn't make it clear, I'm not sure how better to explain it.
Logged

"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
-- Aart Van Der Leeuw

Main Blog:  Star's Journal of Random Thoughts
Religious Blog:  The Song and the Flame
I can also now be found on Goodreads.
RandallS
Co-Host
Administrator
Grand Adept Member
*****
Last Login:June 23, 2020, 07:47:48 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Pagan
TCN ID: ADMIN
Posts: 17181


Blog entries (0)


« Reply #27: April 19, 2007, 06:57:55 pm »

Earth-based religions in which one attempts to live in harmony with all Life and connect to the Divine usually works though.

That doesn't describe my Pagan religion at all. Hellenic Paganism is mainly an urban religion. It's only "Earth based" in the most general sense of the term (i.e. it is a religion found on the planet Earth -- just like every other religion humans practice).
Logged

Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog - Forum] -- Out Of Print & Out Of Style Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Software Gadgets Blog -- Interesting Software, Mostly Free
Cheap Web Hosting -- Find an Affordable Web Host
xanaeau
Senior Newbie
*
Last Login:December 27, 2009, 08:55:41 am
Australia Australia

Religion: Ecclectic earth and energy based spirituality
Posts: 6


dear goddess the pressure

Blog entries (0)



Ignore
« Reply #28: April 20, 2007, 02:06:56 am »

I've been thinking about this over the course of the day, and I'm starting to wonder whether the term pagan is perhaps to broad in order to hold a positive defintion (positive being used in the sense that Star has initiated.)

As a lot of people on this board are aware religions/faiths practiced by people under the pagan banner vary as much if not more than say Christianity and Hinduism. Whilst the basic principles are the same in the broadest sense i.e. live life well, do not hurt others, worship the divine etc... the difference between say Hellenic Paganism, Wicca and Flame keeping are so wide ranging as to border on the irreconcilable. Therefore I wonder if in an effort to categorise our faiths are we limiting somewhat how our faiths are viewed?

I guess the need for categorisation is one that pervades our life; class, race, social standing within classes, wealth etc... are all ever present factors from a sociological point of view. The need to categorise religion is an extension of this. Christianity encompasses many different religions, however they all hold certain things in common, Paganism however encompasses many religions that bear absolutely no relation to each other whatsoever. I guess it reflects the limitation of language which is the point I was trying to make in my earlier post.

Perhaps the only way to combat this is to cease using the word pagan altogether? This would neccesitate a re-think on some terms. Hellenic paganism springs to mind as it uses the word pagan in it's title. Perhaps Hellenicism Huh
Logged
RandallS
Co-Host
Administrator
Grand Adept Member
*****
Last Login:June 23, 2020, 07:47:48 am
United States United States

Religion: Hellenic Pagan
TCN ID: ADMIN
Posts: 17181


Blog entries (0)


« Reply #29: April 20, 2007, 08:14:44 am »

Perhaps the only way to combat this is to cease using the word pagan altogether? This would neccesitate a re-think on some terms. Hellenic paganism springs to mind as it uses the word pagan in it's title. Perhaps Hellenicism Huh

I -- and many other Pagans, I suspect -- am not willing to give up the very useful word "Pagan" just because it cannot be defined both accurately and in a "positive" ("what it is") manner. While some people don't like "negative" ("what it isn't") definitions, there really isn't anything inherently wrong with them.
Logged

Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog - Forum] -- Out Of Print & Out Of Style Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Software Gadgets Blog -- Interesting Software, Mostly Free
Cheap Web Hosting -- Find an Affordable Web Host

Donor Ad: Become a Silver or Gold Donor to get your ad here.

Tags:
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 18   Go Up
  Add bookmark  |  Print  
 
Jump to:  
  Portal   Forum   Help Rules Search Chat (Mux) Articles Login Register   *

* Share this topic...
In a forum
(BBCode)
In a site/blog
(HTML)


Related Topics
Subject Started by Replies Views Last post
About the Special Topic Discussions Board (Special Rules)
Special Topic Discussions
RandallS 0 4848 Last post February 28, 2007, 05:55:37 pm
by RandallS
Special Topic: FlameKeeping « 1 2 ... 7 8 »
Special Topic Discussions
Chabas 105 28080 Last post July 29, 2008, 09:00:43 am
by HeartShadow - Cutethulhu
Defining Atheism and Atheist Beliefs « 1 2 »
Philosophy and Metaphysics
Journey 15 5781 Last post December 28, 2007, 05:37:18 am
by Star
Defining the Celts « 1 2 »
Hazel and Oak: A Celtic Polytheism SIG
Juni 25 8213 Last post October 01, 2009, 10:07:16 pm
by dragonfaerie
Can I suggest a Special Topic Discussion?
Board Questions, Suggestions, and Feedback
Juni 5 2814 Last post January 18, 2010, 05:19:02 pm
by RandallS
EU Cookie Notice: This site uses cookies. By using this site you consent to their use.


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2008, Simple Machines
TinyPortal v0.9.8 © Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.07 seconds with 49 queries.