Sunday, June 9, 2013

Breaking my Promise, the Threat of Pagan Dominionists

Just a few short weeks ago I posted that I would not write about the brewing debate around Pop Culture Paganism Vs. Polytheism.  While I intend do keep the promise of not taking sides in the value of these theological approaches, I am alarmed at the tone and absolutism featured in the discourse.

As the discussion has progressed, individuals have begun to attempt to declassify those with opposing views as the “other” or not Pagan at all.  Less than a year ago the Internet was abuzz with devout polytheists proclaiming that they are “no longer Pagan”.  Today out of this same group come cries to disavow those who have opposing views and proclaim what a real Pagan is.

Let me express my opinion plainly. What is not Pagan is framing someone else’s approach to divinity as not acceptable under the Pagan umbrella. It is the diversity of our paths that is the strength of our community. Those who wish to diagram Paganism as only existing within their own theological context clearly are promoting a dominionist theological stance.

These events are alarming, add to this narrow and divisive view of Paganism a dose of the name calling that has occurred on both sides of the debate and we have a volatile mixture that could cause a schism within our broader community.

I value my hard Polytheist friends, my Pop Culture friends, my Humanist Pagan friends and all paths that seek a connection to the divine. To put forth my own beliefs as superior to others would grate at the very foundation of what I believe Paganism to be.

Let me propose that it is time for all to withdraw from this debate, seek within the ability to honor others beliefs with out seeing them as opposed to our individual paths. There are dozens of example of Pagans engaged in positive efforts across the country, lets join in making progress rather than distructive debates that tear asunder the very fabric of diversity that is our beloved community.


Anonymous said...

One of the beautiful aspects of Paganism and Wicca for is the respect for diversity. We strive to understand the basic tenet that spirituality is a highly personal relationship between an individual and his/her vision of divinity and our goal is to protect, respect, and honor that right to that highly personal and individual relationship.

It is product of the mundane world and the effect of other religious dogma upon it that encourages people to define and judge that highly personal spiritual relationship in others so that it reflects and, thusly, somehow justifies one’s own relationship. Unfortunately, this approach seeps into the practice of our spiritual beliefs.

When we are strong in our own faith in our relationship with divinity, we drift away from the need to weigh and measure that relationship against someone else’s.

When we are strong in our own faith in our relationship with divinity, the relationship is self-defining and self-justifying without the need for validation from any other person or their vision of spirituality.

When we are strong in our own faith in our relationship with divinity, we can encourage others to become strong in their faith in their personal relationship as well as long as that relationship does not cause unnecessary harm. This is the Path.

Muwah! Mead

Nicole Youngman said...

I'm deeply puzzled by extremely-hard polytheists, as well as non-feminist and non-earth-centered Pagans. My general reaction though has always been to ::shrug:: and think "ok, whatever, we're a super-diverse bunch after all." It seems like the last year-plus a lot of folks (at least in our corner of cyberspace?) aren't willing to do that and are indulging in a whole lot of You're Doing It Wrong preaching (meanwhile I'm puzzled all over again by the concept of "doing it wrong"--I always that that didn't make any sense in Paganism. Oy.).

In any case, can you explain what you mean by Dominionism a bit more? I'm familiar with the term from Christian dominion theology (aka Christian Reconstructionism), but I'm assuming you don't mean that the more dogmatic amongst us are trying to rule the world according to their beliefs.

Pagan In Paradise said...

It would be a little more narrow use of the term. Individuals seeking to have their opinion of what a Pagan is defined by their theological context, there by excluding those with differing views from the Pagan umbrella. Seeking to have one Pagan viewpoint have dominance over others.

Sam Webster said...

Peter, what you describe is not dominionism. That's a Christian flavor where they intend to take over the government and establish a theocracy. It is not really fundamentalism either, since that is a specific reaction in the early 20th C to theological and scientific developments and demanding a literalism Biblical interpretation. You can stretch it, as folks do today, but what we are seeing in our community is simply sectarianism. Folks with contradictory theological positions rejecting the validity of the other's religion. Sadly, with either a bit of theological training or deep enough spiritual experience, both sides would know that they are just positions in a larger theological continuum that Paganism as a whole embraces. There is room for all of us today, much as there was before Christianity arose.

Aine said...

Ah, yes, telling someone that if they ever speak out against you again that you will make them pay, harassing people online for days...those are just 'theological positions'.

Pagan In Paradise said...

Aine, agreed, it goes beyond simple sectarian divides. Individuals are attempting to define Pagan for others through use of influence, bullying and divisive tactics. While I know the text book definition of dominionsm, I believe the essence of that concept is alive and well in this recent diologue.

Sam Webster said...

Interesting, but very sad. . .and quite historical, if you know the history of Christianity. (Can you cite where this level of violence is offered? Not challenging, just want to read the original.) Sectarian violence is what we are seeing between Shia and Sunni, what has long happened between Catholic and Reformed, and now Pagans, you say? Not dominionism, that is something very specific: Are these folks stating a theologically based position that they have the right to take over the government and the means of production to run them in their interpretation of their Gods' will? That's dominionism. If that what these Pagans are saying, or is it something else. Dominionism is not just a worse form of fundamentalism.

Sam Webster said...

Use of bullying starts at the sectarian divide: look at the Shia-Sunni battle in Syria. They are not Dominionists, not really fundamentalists either really, although a case can be made. But it does seem as though Pagans are taking a page out of Christianity's playbook and with the ease of verbal internet violence starting sectarian wars. Perhaps they are still too Christian, and not Pagan enough to not care what another thinks?

Pagan In Paradise said...

In this Sam we agree!

"But it does seem as though Pagans are taking a page out of Christianity's playbook and with the ease of verbal internet violence starting sectarian wars. Perhaps they are still too Christian, and not Pagan enough to not care what another thinks?"

Christopher Blackwell said...

Remember that most Pagans are ex Christians, so regardless of what side of the argument we are on, we may still carry some Christmas baggage as to how we treat religion belief and practice. Certainly one of the biggest arguments in Christianity is what is a proper Christian. So we have changed religion but we have not fully changed our way of treating religion. Some of this may change when most of our people are second and third generation pagans or Heathens, perhaps then we may not have left over Christian baggage.

Perhaps I am lucky that my first chosen religion was Buddhism, a my parents were not Practicing Christians, but then I may carry Buddhist baggage. [Grin]

forestdoor said...

Aine says: "telling someone that if they ever speak out against you again that you will make them pay"

That comment, as you very well know, was directed at someone making PERSONAL REMARKS on relationship status, not because someone disagreed with his theology. And let's be clear on why someone getting personal elicits such a strong reaction.

Apparently it's okay for people on "your side" of this debate to say that someone should put a shotgun to someone's head for her beliefs. Amazingly, none of the pagans complaining about our fundamentalist and dominionist attitudes seem to have a problem with THAT. But then again, maybe you've never had your life threatened over what you wrote on the internet - believe me, it gives you a new perspective on all of this, and makes the difference between aggressive theological debate and AN ACTUAL THREAT crystal clear.

Pagan In Paradise said...

Note, anyone on any side of any conversation who makes threats on my blog will be blocked, No exceptions.

Aine said...

No one on our side has said that. People from AsatruLore have made threats against people for years. That your partner chose to misrepresent the AL people as the PCP is an issue you should take up with him. If he attributed those threats to their ACTUAL source, maybe there could be proper action taken against those making those threats. But it's easier for your partner to obscure where they've come from, for some reason.

But I can see that you think threats are okay, as long as they're said for the 'right reasons'. (If you don't want people to think you're Galina's partner, maybe don't call her that?)

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