August 2012



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My faith wanderings in supposedly problem solution format

I've been reading Stephen Prothero's work God is Not One in little bits and pieces. I thought about purchasing it before my car died and then of course everything is going into buy a new or new used car. I'm still reading the book in bits and pieces. I'm not as well informed on faiths that are not mine and not Christianity (specifically Catholic) that I can comment too strongly on the inner factual material.

What I can say is that I find the premise fascinating. I love the title. It's true that the monist piece leads me to believe that everything breaks down to the same energy so in a sense everything is one, and in that spirit of finding commonality and acknowledging we all come from the same and end up the same (way way way way down the line not even necessarily after death) I like the whole religions are all paths to the same mountain top.

Telling people I'm a monist often means that I have to listen to that all religions are one bull and I'm supposed to agree. My chosen path means I agree. I don't know why they would thing that I'd be able to discern the difference between myself and them but I would recognize the difference between Christian practice and goals vs Jewish practice or Hindu practice or my own. There are differences, big ones people!! I don't want to go to Heaven and I'd be annoyed to end up there. I'm horrified with the concept of mokesha and the possibility that could happen to me worried me when I seriously started to consider Hinduism as a spiritual path (that made it an easy cross off the list).

I'm also a hard polytheist and it's easy for me to reconcile monism and polytheism because I am a person living in this degree of separation and difference from the original energy pool. I acknowledge that the "sameness" between gods, faiths, and schools of thought are worlds apart and effectively separate in this world. Telling me Isis and Athena are the same being is equal in my mind to telling me that my sister and a random stranger are the same person. In a very large scale way it might be true, but within the day to day framework and interaction I have with the world in this plane, it's not true at all. Pretending that stranger is my sister would have a variety responses and the best outcome would be that this stranger is befuddled and worried for my mental wellness. And sure on other planes of consciousness when I'm in energy work or deep mediation or in the middle of ritual work, I might be at a place where that stranger and my sister are the same being and I move forward with what I'm doing accordingly but experiences like that don't make for good writing or explanation on paper you kind of have to just take my word that it's very simple there and complicated here. It pisses me off when pagans do this to the gods and in a larger scale it pisses me of when religious and atheistic people try to apply the same brush to religion.

So I'm wondering now how to fit my faith into the problem solution formula that Porthero provides for major faiths. Heck I'm wondering if I can, not just with my specific neo-pagan whatever but if other branches of paganism can do that.

I mean originally my "problem" was that Catholicism did not fit my faith needs and several of it's teachings ran counter to how I viewed the world add in it's oppression of women and I was gone. For me, paganism became the solution.

It's not a belief system I have based on problems. It's a system I picked up and continue to grow in based on intuition and personal experiences. I'm fully aware that it might all be false or in my head. If someone did prove beyond all doubt that there was no divine presence and we all completely ceased to exist after death, I don't think it would change how I live or what my faith means to me partly because how I want to live no matter what is beyond is woven into my faith but also because my faith was working before and if it was all mental, fine I still want it to work.

My religion isn't a buffer or a coping skill (at least it's not just those things though sometimes it plays those roles), and I'm not saying that fitting it into a problem solution system would make it that way. I don't know, I suppose whatever "problem" I'm looking to fix with my faith the solution is communication with guides, gods, and thought forms as well an awareness of my real world surroundings and my spiritual ones. Perhaps the problem is single mindedness and the solution is multiplicity and increased awareness. Something to think on.