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Author Topic: Pagan (self)criticism  (Read 3568 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: August 25, 2009, 04:45:31 am »

Since I have neglected my 'thread starter-job' and haven't started any new topic lately, I'm just tossing out something that might spark controversy over here. Wink


Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?

Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?
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« Reply #1: August 25, 2009, 11:02:00 pm »

Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?

Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?
Indeed, this occasionally happens and it does not always seem very beneficial, however, it may be natural and part of a competitive nature that some have.  Perhaps "sparring" with equals and our superiors sharpens skills that would, otherwise, remain unchallenged.

There are (sometimes) those, also, that seem to believe that their way is the only way to serve a particular God.  This seems to be a strong trait among those new to a path, but I've met plenty of "old" folks that like to be the sole conductor of a God's orchestra and chastise newer path-members who may do something differently.  If some of us play broken instruments with crippled fingers, and our Gods approve of our attempts, who would dare to be the human to stop the song?

On the whole, though, I have to say that most Pagans are quite openminded and humble enough to remain willing to learn and grow.  Holding ourselves to a high standard can prevent us from being overly critical (and perhaps more understanding) towards others.  If we are honest with ourselves, we can all recall the bumbles, but, hopefully, we may also more clearly recall the ones that encouraged us rather than those that attempted to humiliate, reprimanded, or passed a harsh judgement.

As far as dealing with those of other religions, it seems that many, myself included, remain on the defensive simply because we need to protect ourselves and our own from the cruelty of misunderstandings and the harsh treatments that often get justified by their rigid beliefs.  Being on the defense may appear that we are less critical, but it may be because some topics become "off limits."  We might play checkers with a child (and even let them win a game or two), but chess is for those who have outgrown checkers. 

Among "our own" we can broach any topic, challenge any thought, and freely dispute, confront, and dare more often.  Perhaps, to some it may appear that we hold each other to unfair standards, but, in fact, isn't it just the opposite?  Does our occasional sparring draw too much blood or does it simply make us more skilled and fully competent?

  

     
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« Reply #2: August 25, 2009, 11:11:08 pm »

Since I have neglected my 'thread starter-job' and haven't started any new topic lately, I'm just tossing out something that might spark controversy over here. Wink


Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critical towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?

yes, in general. Except that some people have a huge big anti-Christian bias, which I guess is understandable, to a certain extent. But I do think it's important to work through and past that kind of thing in one's personal spiritual practice, whatever it may be.

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Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?

Again, to a certain extent, and again, I think a lot of that comes back to personal bias. Many people have difficulty seeing other people's preferences and needs as valid, when they are extremely different from one's own. I also think that a lot of this is b/c so many paths and traditions are very new, and the need for reflection and discussion is extremely important for people to continue to grow and understand each other.
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« Reply #3: August 26, 2009, 05:05:11 pm »

Since I have neglected my 'thread starter-job' and haven't started any new topic lately, I'm just tossing out something that might spark controversy over here. Wink


Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?

Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?

Basic group dynamics:  Pagans are in a far better position to know what to criticize within their own religious sphere than any outsider would.  This is true of *any* group of people:  people on the inside tend to develop a critical discourse, because they actually *know* enough about the group to be able to engage in discussion.  Outsider criticisms are, except in very specific cases, not nearly as well-informed as those of "insiders."  This is basic anthropology.

Or would you rather Pgans critiqued religions they *don't* belong to? 

One of the points on the so-called "rhetorical triangle" is "ethos":  this means, more or less, "authority to speak on the topic in question."  People who are members of the group under discussion usually have a MUCH higher ethos than do outsiders -- especially in the case of subcultural minority groups, like Pagans.  (It doesn't always hold for dominant, hegemonic groups, like Christianity -- if a group/discourse/whatever is dominant in a culture, even people who aren't members of that group are forced to develop strategies to deal with it, and therefore have a stronger ethos than other kinds of "outsiders" often do.)
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« Reply #4: August 26, 2009, 05:18:24 pm »

Or would you rather Pgans critiqued religions they *don't* belong to? 

Please no. Pagans do that as poorly as other outsiders do with Pagans.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #5: August 27, 2009, 11:09:01 am »

Or would you rather Pgans critiqued religions they *don't* belong to?
If you're asking me personally, absolutely not.

And I'm not asking because I think selfcritic is a bad thing. I've just noticed that there is a lot of critic inside the Pagan community which is pointed towards itsself or other parts of the community. I find it hard to tell if it's really selfcritic or if it's critic of related groups who are slightly different.

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Pagans are in a far better position to know what to criticize within their own religious sphere than any outsider would.
This is a good explanation, but I wonder if there's also sometimes a need to criticize other Pagans to define your own lines or to define what Paganism should or shouldn't be about, what appearance Paganism should have to outsiders etc. There may be a lot of different reasons involved in critizism than just having a good position to judge. (f.ex. I'm in a relative good position to judge German orthography, but that doesn't mean that I go into forums to look for mistakes.)

For me there's also the question if Pagans really have the knowledge to make informed judgement of all other Pagans because the Pagan community is so diverse. There might also be some stereotypes one group of Pagans creates about the other which aren't necessarily better informed than if they create stereotypes about Christians or other non-Pagan religions.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying criticism is a bad thing, I'm just trying to evaluate it.
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« Reply #6: August 27, 2009, 11:16:06 am »

Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?

Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?

I see this a lot when it comes to spiritual experiences more so than in groups of Pagans who work within a ritual-based framework. The Unverified (or, as I prefer, Unique) Personal Gnosis can be held up to an extremely bright light & then dissected piece by piece until the person who experienced the UPG begins to feel like they should check themselves into a mental institution for being delusional. Many people complain that there are no good books beyond the '101' series, and most Pagan libraries are lacking in books that explore the deeper Mysteries, and I see this as both part of the problem with numinous experiences and symptomatic of the severe criticism to which numinous experiences, and the people who have them, are subjected.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #7: August 27, 2009, 03:27:48 pm »

Personal Gnosis can be held up to an extremely bright light & then dissected piece by piece until the person who experienced the UPG begins to feel like they should check themselves into a mental institution for being delusional.
This I've seen too. And not just UPG, but personal experiences in general. There may be delusional parts in every personal mystic experience, but that doesn't mean that the whole experience was a delusion.

Sometimes I find it also very difficult to judge people on what they tell about their experiences with energies or deities because it's so hard to describe the experiences and understand what the teller means.

When I was a newbie I was often troubled by how people jump to conclusions about the stuff I told about my experiences. I didn't know how to express them correctly, I didn't know the right words, and once someone had made up her/his mind about what my experiences were I found it hard to correct miscommunication. I don't find it bad to correct newbies where they tell bs, there are a lot of one-book-expert newbies running around. But I find it rude if people don't ask twice what someone who isn't yet fully familiar with Pagan terms really meant before they lecture them on his/her errors. (I'm not sure though, I haven't been rude to a newbie once or twice.)
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« Reply #8: August 27, 2009, 03:53:18 pm »

Please no. Pagans do that as poorly as other outsiders do with Pagans.

I think there's a slight difference there, though.  There's at least the off-chance that many pagans were Christian at some point in their lives.  The converse is much rarer.

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« Reply #9: August 27, 2009, 05:37:37 pm »

I wonder if there's also sometimes a need to criticize other Pagans to define your own lines or to define what Paganism should or shouldn't be about

Whether or not we like or agreee with it, it is the case that for many people there is a monolithic, unified Pagan perspective. For the people who hold this belief, I think its definition and defence are quite important
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« Reply #10: September 13, 2009, 07:35:00 am »

Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?

Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?


Actually, it tends to seem to me that a lot of pagans are far, far more critical towards people of other religions (especially Christianity) than they are of other pagans. Amongst pagans- certain crowds of them anyway, the merest question or criticism of anyone is like insulting their mother or something, because you know, respecting others means nodding, smiling and accepting at face value everything they tell you. They're half fairy and can levitate a Cadillac via telekinesis?  Better not question it because we're pagans and we respect each others beliefs!
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« Reply #11: September 21, 2009, 05:12:59 pm »

Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?
Do you see a tendency in the Pagan community to judge Pagans with different measurements than adherents of other religions?
I've seen it, but I don't understnd it. Sometimes I feel like I need to get a clue about real pagan etiquette. What I have learned is to have an open-mind and coexist. But, everywhere I look, they argue and criticize each other. I have waved it off as they are just trying to have a discussion, but I can't help and feel the hostility. Corrections are one thing, but corrections by giving you opinion is another matter.

Expressing beliefs is a sort of delicate matter. I find it hard to express my own thoughts because fear of being misunderstood. Sometimes, I argue to stop the attacking. There are so many people that truly believe in their opinions, but I argue to express them as a suggestion or a story of their experience. As everyone mentioned UPG. What they suggest may work perfectly for them, but it could be a disaster for another. I try to be very simple, but even then I get the "No, your wrong". I have to give up and say, "I suppose I am wrong...-_-". For the sake of arguing in circles. It's almost like answering, who came first, the chicken or the egg?

But then...I am afraid that there is no way to debate without opposing views interrupting. The only thing I see that works is that no one take anything personal...
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« Reply #12: November 02, 2009, 12:07:18 pm »




Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?


What I have seen is that certain groups of pagans want to dot every i and cross every t.  Take the Pagan out of his group and my experience is that most are far less critical.   I have yet to hear a Pagan speak against the teachings of Jesus, but the teachings of say..the Catholic church is another story
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« Reply #13: November 02, 2009, 03:16:29 pm »




Do you have the impression that Pagans are much more critically towards themselves and adherents of related Pagan religions than to those of other religions?




I'm a newb at this sight so lets hope I'm not "judged" too harshly for my thoughts on this subject.  A few things came to mind when I read the quoted.

I remember when I first found other pagans, and remember thinking how neat it was to have found other people who seemed to have put themselves through the same self analytical process that I did.  I think it's a lot easier to follow a group or religion than it is to actually figure out what you believe.  That's hard work and should be held to high standards.  I don't necessarily mean that other groups don't think about what they ultimately come to hold in high esteem, but it sure seems like there are a lot of people out there who can just follow the crowd and listen to the "he said she said"..and believe every word like it were their own.  Not to say some so called pagans don't, but in general I guess.

If I pay a lot of money for something or work really hard to achieve something, I'll value it more than something that was just handed to me. 

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« Reply #14: November 02, 2009, 03:48:19 pm »


  I think it's a lot easier to follow a group or religion than it is to actually figure out what you believe.  That's hard work and should be held to high standards.  I don't necessarily mean that other groups don't think about what they ultimately come to hold in high esteem, but it sure seems like there are a lot of people out there who can just follow the crowd and listen to the "he said she said"..and believe every word like it were their own. 


I think this is a critical point. A lot of "mainstream" religions have a certain number of devout followers or leaders, but as a general rule, a very large number of followers that have never really given a lot of deep critical thought to their faith, and just do like their parents and grandparents.

For the most part, members of modern pagan or neo-pagan groups are critical thinkers that have spent a significant amount of time exploring faith or seeking their path. This is just not the case for many mainstream religions. And also, if someone says they are Catholic or Muslim or Jewish, that is usually the end of the conversation; few will ask the proclaimer to expland on just what that means.

Whereas, if asked about their faith, the general modern pagan often needs to expand a lot, and sometimes even defend their faith. Perhaps just the simple level of "involvedness" of many pagans makes them more critical of themselves and their peers than those of other faiths, about whom we might assume a ceertain measure of aloofness.

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