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Author Topic: Generosity - a 'pagan' virtue?  (Read 8360 times)
BGMarc
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« Topic Start: February 05, 2009, 08:54:02 pm »

I've had a run of circumstances arise recently that all boil down to the a root issue that I will label generosity (because it's close enough to work for the conversation and I can't think of a closer one). It has lead me to question some of my assumptions (I know, always a bad idea) about the loose knit community that I recognise as 'pagan'; definitely an ecumenical bunch.

How does your path view generosity, particularly of attitude/spirit. For example, would your path view imputing higher rather than lower motives in the absence of other strong evidence to others as a virtue? Does your path teach that it is better to assume ignorance, rather than malice, as a starting point?

What do you think?
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Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED)
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« Reply #1: February 05, 2009, 09:20:20 pm »

in the absence of other strong evidence

This would be the important point for me.  If someone wished to learn from me, or discuss certain matters as an equal, and claimed to have read specific material, or attended certain ceremonies, I would not excuse ignorance of the subject matter or misrepresentation of the ceremonies as innocent lack of knowledge.  I would think they were trying to fake it and probably lose interest in them.  (unless they faked it 'very well'.  I have a religious obligation to appreciate certain behaviours, done well, that much of society would feel obliged to disapprove of)

If they admitted ignorance and were willing to learn, I would stay interested in them.  If they were not ignorant but simply disagreed with my understanding, I would stay very interested.  Disagreement requires knowledge, and I would be interested in 'why' their take differed from mine.

I would probably excuse one or two lapses - we are all human.  But if it was my job or obligation to help them out I would tire of excusing them very quickly.  'Getting away with it' can too easily become a lifestyle, and I have no calling to indulge people.

I am almost always polite and diplomatic, with a few notable lapses of my own, but I am not a book or ATM that will keep presenting info or help no matter how tired of the reader/withdrawer I get.  I tend to drift closer or further away according to my own nature rather than someone else's desire or expectations.

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edited to add last three words - hit post before finishing
« Last Edit: February 05, 2009, 09:22:42 pm by Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED) » Logged

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BGMarc
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« Reply #2: February 05, 2009, 09:34:25 pm »



Absent, thanks for the well considered response. It certainly resonates with me at a person al level. Is this a perspective that your path teaches, or is it a personal predilection, or some mix of the obove? Something else perhaps?
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

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« Reply #3: February 05, 2009, 09:46:29 pm »

How does your path view generosity, particularly of attitude/spirit. For example, would your path view imputing higher rather than lower motives in the absence of other strong evidence to others as a virtue? Does your path teach that it is better to assume ignorance, rather than malice, as a starting point?

I have an obligation to my patron deity to help those find knowledge who truly seek it, but that doesn't mean I have to spoon feed those too lazy to do some research on their own (e.g. read a recommended book) or those who aren't truly interested in the knowledge.  For example, someone seeking knowledge of subject X to do better at Trivia Pursuit isn't someone I need to focus much teaching effort on.
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Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED)
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« Reply #4: February 05, 2009, 09:59:23 pm »

Absent, thanks for the well considered response. It certainly resonates with me at a person al level. Is this a perspective that your path teaches, or is it a personal predilection, or some mix of the obove? Something else perhaps?

A bit of a mix, but mostly, I think, my own nature.  I teach some things (tarot reading, cooking) that are relevant to my path, and I discuss things (culture, authority) that are 'about' things that I am not allowed to teach but shed light, both for me and the people I discuss them with, on private or cultural paths themselves.

Mostly, though, I have an unfortunate temperament.  I will move heaven and earth for a student that interests me and is willing to carry the 'student' half of the dynamic, but I honestly think the student has to do more work than the teacher and can't slack off.  I can teach by rote for some basic things, but the student has to learn actively.  Those things can't become 'rote' without first, and for a while in most cases, being actively studied.

I also, because of some health issues, have a dislike of wasted time.  I don't take kids as students - I want there to be some dedication and progress achieved before I come into the picture.  I don't want to teach someone who is 'trying out' a skill or a path, although I am glad there are people in the world who do.  I will discuss things with people just skimming, but I won't put the effort into teaching, or stick around if I'm not getting through.  Life is short and getting shorter, it seems, so I only want to put the time into passing things on to people who will keep them.

I think I have more to say, but it isn't coming to the surface right now.  I don't have the patience some people do, and I choose my students selfishly.  I choose according to my needs as a teacher rather than their needs as students.

Absent
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"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure."
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Blessed are the cracked, for it is they who let in the light.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

L Cohen
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« Reply #5: February 05, 2009, 10:44:43 pm »

How does your path view generosity, particularly of attitude/spirit. For example, would your path view imputing higher rather than lower motives in the absence of other strong evidence to others as a virtue? Does your path teach that it is better to assume ignorance, rather than malice, as a starting point?

In general, and as far as we know from available evidence, the ancient Celtic societies valued generosity and hospitality extremely highly.  Failing to provide for a guest, for example, even an unexpected one and regardless of the host's "economic" status, would bring great dishonor to the whole family of the host.

As a follower of Brighid, I try to follow that example to the best of my economic and logistical ability.
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« Reply #6: February 06, 2009, 07:33:07 am »


Ignorance that one is willing to learn from is one thing, and such people should be cultivated.  We are all ignorant on some things, and a willingness to actually do the work and learn is a virtue.

Willful ignorance is as close to a sin as FlameKeeping gets.  I haven't figured out a word for it yet, but it lies at the root of many problems.  (that one, greed, and rationalization.  Rationalization that one is doing the "right thing" because it's what you want to be doing and not because it's actually right is probably the worst one.)
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« Reply #7: February 06, 2009, 08:10:37 am »

Rationalization that one is doing the "right thing" because it's what you want to be doing and not because it's actually right is probably the worst one.

Rationalization is definitely a big-sin-thing for me. It's not that I'm always opposed to doing less-than-nice things, or even painting them as nice to others, but painting them as nice to yourself means you're less likely to think clearly about such things in the future.
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« Reply #8: February 06, 2009, 08:24:56 am »

Rationalization is definitely a big-sin-thing for me. It's not that I'm always opposed to doing less-than-nice things, or even painting them as nice to others, but painting them as nice to yourself means you're less likely to think clearly about such things in the future.

*nods* rationalization is something that leads to far more evils than actual desire to cause harm ever could.

"everybody's doing it, so it's okay" "they can afford it" "well they should've done X and they didn't so now it's okay" ... these things lead to evils great and small.  And it's VERY hard to notice it in yourself, too.
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« Reply #9: February 06, 2009, 10:10:35 am »

*nods* rationalization is something that leads to far more evils than actual desire to cause harm ever could.

 It's funny, I never would have thought of rationalisation that way; yet, I think I can see what both you and treekisser are getting at. For me it's a philosophical necessity.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

BGMarc at the Pub
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« Reply #10: February 06, 2009, 10:12:43 am »

It's funny, I never would have thought of rationalisation that way; yet, I think I can see what both you and treekisser are getting at. For me it's a philosophical necessity.

I see it more as a psychological inevitability - yet something that needs to be watched out for.

Why do you think it's a necessity?
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« Reply #11: February 06, 2009, 10:18:05 am »

Why do you think it's a necessity?

Stoicism is a philosophy (in the ancient greek sence of a lifestyle) that counsels the initiate to find rational understandings that allow them to experience the universe without experiencing overwhelming passions. Finding a perspective from which we can understand the perfection in crabs (pubic lice, not crustaceans) is sort of a mission for us you might say.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

BGMarc at the Pub
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« Reply #12: February 06, 2009, 10:20:59 am »

Stoicism is a philosophy (in the ancient greek sence of a lifestyle) that counsels the initiate to find rational understandings that allow them to experience the universe without experiencing overwhelming passions. Finding a perspective from which we can understand the perfection in crabs (pubic lice, not crustaceans) is sort of a mission for us you might say.

I can accept the divinity of something without liking it. Tongue

And I certainly can't see a way in which one can justify SHARING said "perfection" with other people - though it sounds like Stoicism would allow such a thing?
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« Reply #13: February 06, 2009, 10:25:16 am »

I can accept the divinity of something without liking it. Tongue

And I certainly can't see a way in which one can justify SHARING said "perfection" with other people - though it sounds like Stoicism would allow such a thing?

Sorry, the attempt at humour derailed the point. Stoicism sees rationalisation as coming to a rational understanding of a situation that allows it to be eperienced without a degere of passion that overwhelms rationality. We don't put any stock in coming up with a rational-sounding argument to justify a point that we don't genuinely belive. That's just advanced wankery.
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"If Michelangelo had been straight, the Sistine Chapel would have been wallpapered" Robin Tyler

It's the saddest thing in the world when you can only feel big by making others feel small. - UPG

Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime. The sentence is death. There is no appeal and sentence is carried out automatically and without pity. Lazarus Long.

BGMarc at the Pub
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« Reply #14: February 06, 2009, 10:27:09 am »

It's funny, I never would have thought of rationalisation that way; yet, I think I can see what both you and treekisser are getting at. For me it's a philosophical necessity.

I guess like any method, its moral worth depends on the moral worth of the end it serves.

I think both Shadow and I agree that rationalising bad things is bad because it makes it easier for us to do them again. Apart from that I'm not sure if we have the same emphasis in other objections. Shadow might object, for example, to bad rationalisations because they're a form of hypocrisy and deception (not sure if Shad actually does though). I'm more concerned with how it muddies your thinking about conventional moral standards (irrespective of whether you choose to conform or not). YMMV!
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