Saturday, October 5, 2013

Religious templates?

In the last few weeks, I have a couple of strange encounters with "ideas" about improving pagan spirituality.  These are all ideas I am very familiar with, because they are staples of Christian worship.  One was a call for a book of common ritual roughly parallel to the Book of Common Prayer (I have nothing against prayer or sharing chants, poems, songs and ideas, but to compile them into a canon is worrisome). Another person was interested in tithing, the practice of formally dedicating part of your income to your faith.  Someone else mentioned that we should all set aside a day each week to focus on spiritual matters, like a Sabbath. One writer suggested pilgrimages to pagan holy sites (which is a whole other topic to think about) . A while back there was some discussion of the community needing evangelical pagans to convert others (that one I am dead set against. You can read more about my position here). I've heard people say we should financially support Pagan clergy, the way clergy is supported by church congregations; frankly that one doesn't seem feasible as there are almost as many pagan clergy members as pagans, as far as I can tell.  I confess to being confused about why Pagans would be interested in doing these things.

For me,  the best parts of being Pagan are the lack of bureaucracy, hierarchy, set in stone ritual, and dogma. I can worship exactly as I see fit. I am encouraged to seek out new and old ways of worshiping, to open myself to direct contact with deities, and  to be true to my relationship with the Divine and no one else's.I am not against being open to someone else's way of worshiping, but I grow very concerned when I see so many people trying to mold paganism into Christianity's modes of worship, because rite and ritual and worship do reflect thoughts and feeling and events.  I feel hierarchies, bureaucracies and unyielding tradition and firmly set roles begin to remove us from our own relationships with the Divine, the Universe, the gods, Source or whatever you want to call it.

Building Pagan communities does not mean it needs to be fit into already established molds. We can create something new, something free form and organic, in which all view points are valid and welcome.  We can interact with, learn from, and love ideas from other faiths without trying to squash ourselves into their ways of being.  We can begin to erase the lines between us. We have opportunity to create whatever we need, but it doesn't have to be a remodel job or fit into a template. Different religions have different ways of worshiping and that's good for us all. We can search and find something that speaks to our hearts.

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