(haha I’m loving this!!)
**Disclaimer** this is my experiences, and is meant as NO offense to anyone. I’m sorry if anything came out harsh.
All in all, I think it comes down to experience, no? For example, right this second. D is upstairs sleeping, so I’ve got my earbuds in, and I’m listening to this rockin’ music station on a website (http://last.fm) And a pagan song comes on by a group called Spiral Dance, the song is called Burning Times. (Youtube it J There are several awesome versions of it.) And before they even got into the song itself, the prelude moved me so that my eyes misted up. I’ve never had an experience like that with any other religion.
The way I see it, so long as your religion moves you like that? All the more power to you!!
Ok. First question: I do not believe that any being is inherently good or evil.
I understand how no being is good or evil; do you believe, then, in good and evil in general?
It’s funny that you asked that. D and I just had a very nice discussion about this just last night in the hot tub J I do indeed that there are behaviors so bad as to be called evil, and vice versa with good. I however believe that perhaps 95% if not a tad more of behavior is in the oft overlooked “grey area.”
Second question: So, a lot of Christians say that they have a purpose to life through their religion. What is your purpose? Purpose wow…good question. Hmm. Gonna come back to this one…
Second try at this one…you’re really making me think. I’m loving it!!
My purpose would to be the best pagan I can be, within the limits of who I am. For me, and through my experiences with pagans and paganism, a big thing is to accept everybody, for who they are. To judge no one. (Really, who are we to judge?) This also includes ourselves. We are the way we are for a reason, ya know?
I also said to be the best pagan I can be. This would mean to honor my Deities, to honor Mother Earth and treat Her good. Do my best to celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats (our holy days; esbats being full moons) to be environmentally aware and friendly; don’t’ litter, recycle, ask Mother Earth before I did or plant or anything like that. To use my talents for the good and to harm no one, including myself.
Third question: You have mentioned a few times that you believe in reincarnation. Have you had a past life? I believe that I have had a few past lives. Contrary to what a lot of attention seekers claim, I do not believe I am ancient or Atlantean or any crazy thing like that. I believe that my soul has had only a few reincarnations, at least one other of those was me as a female. I once had a past life tarot reading, and I believe that that female life I mentioned involved me living in a cottage, in a time where you washed your clothes by rubbing them on rocks. I know that in this life I was a good person, however I believe that in a least one other life I was not. I believe that I also died in one of my past lives by falling a great distance.
Fourth question: I might be getting off topic a little bit here, but as a Christian, I obviously believe in Creationism. Do you believe that your Deity created life and the universe? Yep, though I prefer the term Intelligent Design. Though I do believe that as a species we have evolved a bit, I do not believe that we used to be monkeys or apes or orangutans or anything like that. I however also believe that where we are in life right now, as humans, is not at all what Deity intended. At all.
Fifth question: This isn’t really a question, but I would really like to hear more about your experience with Christianity, whether it just be Christians you know, or your personal situation with the Lutheran church. This is especially important to me because I am intensely aware of how others view and stereotype Christians, as I’m sure people also do to you
(First let me say that it’s always the extreme things that will make the lasting impression. I know a handful of Christians who are a lot more moderate if not liberal in their ways who frequently leave positive impressions with me. 2 of them are accepting as they were my friends before I became pagan. The other one is married to a Pagan.)
LOL Yea, there’s a *lot* of stereotypes for Pagans. Probably not more per se, than any other, but… a very wide variety 😉 Hmm. My experiences with Christianity. Well, when my mom was making me go to church when I was little/younger, I remember a great deal of the sermons were based around offerings and tithing. (If I remember correctly, at the time the already large church was wanting to expand, so they needed money.) At least 1 sermon a month was about tithing. I found it difficult to swallow that money should have such a high priority that people were looked down upon if they gave a smaller amount, no matter their life situation. My …disdain for this (for lack of a better word) has really survived strongly for me. In paganism, it’s strictly forbidden to pay your Priest(ess), or teacher, or helper. It’s strictly forbidden to pay for anything religious, unless it’s materials (ex – if you need to photocopy something, candles, etc.)
Also, I remember being very confused. From what I believe, God knew(knows) what’s going to happen, before it happens. Everything is pre-determined. Who we’re going to marry, our children, etc. It’s all already written. If that’s the case, how on earth do we have free will then? How can I make a true choice, if God has already decided for me what I’m going to do. When I was young I remember struggling with this, and praying for help, but I don’t remember getting any. Nothing to tell me what to do, ya know?
A specific moment in time I remember was long before this whole tithing episode. (Eegads the money in the offering plates…anyway…) I remember that we had learned about Greek mythology in school. And of course it was taught as myth, but to me it made so much more sense, ya know? But knowing that I was Lutheran (or supposed to be) I again started praying in earnest. Every night before bed, throughout the day, things like that. Well, after a while I became disenchanted so I tried reading the Bible, and honestly didn’t get past probably page 10 of Genesis. I think part of it is because I could read so many different versions of the Bible, and it was different. Perhaps not majorly, but different enough that the interpretations were nothing alike. Once I started learning more about the Bible itself (and this went through college) it made it harder and harder for me to believe. (Granted by age 16 I’d already found paganism) I found it difficult to even conceive of believing in a book that had been translated so many times from one language to the next. Even in our church there were several different versions of the Bible. If my own church couldn’t decide on one…well then.
So, what really cemented me in my Paganism were my experiences in a Southern Baptist church. The only reason I’d actually started going was to watch the children in the nursery. They paid me $20 per Sunday and sometimes that $20 can be all the difference, ya know? (And again, yes Southern Baptist is a little…extreme sometimes, a lot less than some others though LOL) When I saw the split in duties based solely on gender, how they would sit and watch videos of other religions and disparage them, saying how they (the Christians) needed to go and rescue them (the other religious practitioners) I was disgusted. And saddened.
I have had so many experiences with Christianity where people are held down (figuratively) because they are female. How they’re not allowed to make decisions, speak their minds or even drive. I expressed joy over the first female bishop and was scoffed at and told it was disgusting. (If only they had known I was ordained! LOL)
Something else that really … sticks with me is how it’s overlooked that Jesus of Nazareth is/was Jewish. Heck, the Last Supper was a Passover meal. Christianity is based around the teachings of someone who isn’t Christian, yet there is such intolerance against anybody who isn’t Christian.
I was once told that I should not take religious studies classes in college because it could “influence” me positively towards another religion. I really could go on and on listing various experiences but I suppose my experiences for the most part are of intolerance towards others. There is so much intolerance even within Christianity itself! So many denominations show such lack of warmth with even other denominations.
In the end, suffice it to say that my experiences with Christianity and Christians is overflowing with intolerance and a desire for money. I recognize this is limited to my experiences and know that this represents only those with whom my experiences were with.