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Texas nationalist, dog lover, gun nut, knife knut

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Labels

From when I started this blog, I've drifted a bit again, back toward being more Christian than I was Pagan, but not all the way to "burn the witches!" fundie. It's more like what I was before studying Asatru/Heathenry, but with more respect and appreciation for my ancestors. I almost think of it as "folk christianity", but then that leads into trying to define what that means, and that made me start pondering the whole "labels" thing as ways of defining and excluding groups and subgroups. I considered the label of "folk christianity" as a way of including the ancestor-acknowledgment and still recognizing that my most recent ancestors (oh, for about the last 1000 years!) were themselves Christian. Plus, I'm not much for denominational worship (gave up on church-going a few years back, tired of the near-constant "we need more money" pleas), and I can read the Bible just as good as any preacher (and the time spent at the local Wesley Foundation debating theological points gave me the background I think comparable to any barely-passed minister).

The whole thing with labels being artificially limiting is probably why I put "no preference" on my dogtags. For example, if I say I'm Protestant, that automatically rules out being Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or any other world religion. If I say I was raised Methodist, one might assume that I would be unfamiliar with Calvinist doctrine and Wiccan ceremony. If I'm A, then that excludes being B, and I'm tired of that yes/no, black/white polarity of religious grouping. As much as we joked about a friend and his "pagan" sermon where he claimed to see God in the trees and in the rivers, I think seeing the Creator in the Created makes us more aware of our own part, of being with Nature, not apart from it. Too many times we look at someone who is part of a certain religious group, and they are doing something stereotypically against that religion's precepts, so we say "oh, look, they're being a hypocrite" when by my reckoning, no, they're just being a normal human, doing what they want as a individual, instead of obeying every little rule that someone else made oh-so-long ago. Historically, Christianity was a splinter group of Judaism, but that doesn't stop us from slamming back some pork ribs at a BBQ. (I think it was in one of Paul's letters that he told the new converts that they didn't need to do everything as the Jews did, as long as they kept certain principles, making it OK to eat some non-Kosher foods. It was more important to change corrupting behaviors (like whoring and lying) than to change diets.) Even that is an example of "we're not like those people" to show group differences.

I'm too tired of trying to define myself by what and who others are, I just said to myself, "fuck it, I'm gonna do what I feel is right for me, if somebody else don't like it, they ain't me anyway, fuck 'em!" I want to live by the "leave me the fuck alone" doctrine, where you don't bother me and I don't bother you. There's still certain standards for civil behavior, but I'm tired of the "because my god said so" as the reason for a rule's existence.

I think I've about rambled myself out, so I'll end here, while I can still compose a coherent sentence.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kelly said...

You sound very much like Paula. And the only thing that was about to get her in trouble at one time with being so accepting to the point of nearly integrating the religions over there was that the Wesley was not intended to be a Universalist student center. It's not like anyone ever complained about what she said and did spiritually on her own time.

When it comes to theology, I tend to think everybody (in the sense of organized religions) has Answers, but everybody also seems to miss some of the point. And that happens to varying degrees. And I don't so much mind the ones who'll say, "We know we don't have all the Answers, but here's what we do have." On the other hand, I don't have a lot of use for the "These are the only Answers that exist, and you know it as well as we do!" crowds.

Most people never question whether or not I'm a Christian. It's obvious that I'm not just familiar with what the bible says, but have also given plenty of thought and study to what it means. Many Christians tend to assume a non-Christian must only be a non-Christian because they don't know what the bible says. Many other people tend to assume I'd only give it so much time and energy if I whole-heartedly believe it.

So, yeah... trying to fit souls into cookie-cutter shapes is made of fail.

August 10, 2008 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

"Folk Christianity" That sounds interesting. Would you mind expounding on that a bit more, when you've time? I'm put to mind at first of pre-Roman Irish Christianity, but don't know more than the roughest outlines - do you?


Personally, I love the earthy "connectedness" of neo-paganism, though the flip side of that is that it (in my own experience anyhow) seems to break down a bit at the edges of the incarnate world... I didn't feel much of an anchor there when death came calling. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I missed the simple faith of Immanence within it, if not the smells and bells.


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* Once in my very-pagan days, I went back to the old "many ways up the mountain" metaphor. Seemed to me while other faiths were charging up to the mountain by one way or another, neo-paganism sort of meandered around the goat paths saying "I'll get to the top eventually, this mountain is just so interesting though.... oooh! look! Pretty flower!"

May 24, 2009 at 12:45 AM  
Blogger Jesse M. said...

Labels are always interesting, I was labeled an Atheist by people and it has stuck.

September 10, 2009 at 6:51 AM  

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