'Our Gods and Goddesses Are Closer to Us'
How modern pagans are reviving the polytheistic religions of the ancient Greeks, Druids, Egyptians, and other civilizations.
05/30/2011 04:27:21 AM
Very interesting and informative. But in your mentioning of the Kemetic Faith you did not mention that the oldest of the Kemetic temples is the kemetic Federation which was founded in Europe in 1900 and is still going very strong with a large following. In recent years it to has started to get a internet presance but at the moment its large following is stil in its temples around the world.
02/12/2007 08:39:33 PM
In fact I think monotheism is completely unnatural. It has always been IMPOSED through war, conquest, colonialism, shame and intimidation everywhere where it exists. And even where it does exist, it is really de facto polytheism. Catholicism has more deities than Hinduism! It has troops and hierarchies of angels, saints, etc. Thousands of Virgin Goddesses. And in Shia Islam the veneration of saints and imams is widespread. Among the Gnawa and other Afro-muslims, reverence of ancestors and jinn is widespread. Very few monotheists are truly monotheists.
02/12/2007 08:33:19 PM
It's refreshing to see this. I think what she's doing is entirely legitimate, and she's wanting to do it the most appropriate way possible, which tells me that she's very sincere. Kemet.org and netjer.org are also doing the same, with their Egyptian deities. Ecclesia Antinoi is doing it with Antinous. May Apollo, who lives forever, lend her clarity in all things.
10/27/2004 09:08:16 AM
The question of ancient atheism is really a red herring; it would be just as valid to ask how a devout Christian reconciles his or her belief with the writings of Madelyn Murray O'Hair... i.e. not a valid question at all. Erik
10/27/2004 09:04:52 AM
(cont.) If so, how do these modern believers personally reconcile their belief in these gods and goddesses with such ancient disbelief? I personally think they were wrong, or at least misguided. Your question begs another, though - how should a follower of these teachings reconcile the writings of a handful of atheistic philosophers with the much greater weight of ancient belief, existing before they wrote and continuing afterwards?
10/27/2004 09:04:25 AM
Costrel: For example, do modern Hellenic reconstructionists intellectually confront the ancient Greek philosophers and writers (Socrates, Lucan, etc.) who questioned the literal belief in the Greek gods and the Greek myths? Indeed! While I may not agree with their theological position, it still helps my understanding of the whole complexity of the period to read and consider their arguments. Bear in mind, too, that many of the philosophers, while questioning, were not necessarily atheistic (to take one example from your question, in the Phaedra Plato records Socrates leading a prayer to "beloved Pan and all ye other gods of this place"). (cont'd)
10/27/2004 09:01:42 AM
Costrel: I've been studying neo-paganism for a number of years now, and one intellectual question has always bothered/interested me in those who have revived it. Not to get too picky, but NEO-paganism by definition is not a revival, but a new thing that may be more or less informed by older beliefs and practices...
10/25/2004 10:48:14 PM
"If so, how do these modern believers personally reconcile their belief in these gods and goddesses with such ancient disbelief?" In the same way the ancients did, I imagine. Remember that orthopraxis was considered as important as, if not more important than, orthodoxy.
10/17/2004 03:36:33 PM
I've been studying neo-paganism for a number of years now, and one intellectual question has always bothered/interested me in those who have revived it. For example, do modern Hellenic reconstructionists intellectually confront the ancient Greek philosophers and writers (Socrates, Lucan, etc.) who questioned the literal belief in the Greek gods and the Greek myths? If so, how do these modern believers personally reconcile their belief in these gods and goddesses with such ancient disbelief?
09/07/2004 10:07:45 AM
In my experience, most people do think, just not the same way people who think they don't think do.... It seems to me we base this "people don't think" thing on the worst of the lot- a few mindless idiots and the worst of the kids we went to school with. In my experience, while those few mindless idiots do exist, the people who we thought didn't think when we were kids do grow up to think.
09/05/2004 01:42:26 AM
I don't know... do you spend much time dealing with the illiterate masses? That may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight. Most people do not think about where it comes from, ever. When you get right down to it, most people don't think.
09/04/2004 09:55:05 PM
(Greenland Halibut doesn't count.)
09/04/2004 09:53:46 PM
The vast majority of people in the West do not think about where their food comes from at all. Far too many have no clue beyond "The supermarket?" I have heard this claim many times, but I don't buy it. While many, indeed, will say the supermarket, I've never met anyone over the age of 3 who thought it somehow appeared there. Nikos- You're right, of course, but it's always been about access to excess, even now. The nobles and the clergy regularly could get whatever the hell they wanted, except in times of war. Have a turbot, recently?
09/04/2004 03:11:29 AM
Not silly at all. Read what I said again... I did not say that that was how it was, I am saying that if the people here and now would give proper consideration to what they are eating, overconsumption would be minimized. The vast majority of people in the West do not think about where their food comes from at all. Far too many have no clue beyond "The supermarket?" Never mind as to how veggies grow, when fruits are in season locally, or even that meat comes from animals. As far as ancient cultures go, most people were more worried about getting enough, rather than too much.
09/03/2004 10:21:39 PM
I know in both Greece and Italy up until about 70 years ago, meat was rare for the average person (once a month often) and in ancient times, often the peasents only ate meat during the public sacrifices.
09/03/2004 10:00:37 PM
Now you are being silly. Are you honestly claiming that in the ancient cultures which provided meat to the populace via sacrifice that over consumption did not occur? Ha!
09/02/2004 02:56:05 AM
Afraid I have to disagree with you. One of the problems in the world today (overconsumption) could be attributed to not properly sacrificing the animals we eat. Sacrifice -- to make sacred. If everybody were to recognize the circle of life and the holiness therein, they would be more likely to eat only what they need to live and leave the rest for others. As I recall, humans are omnivores, we are evolved to eat meat on a regular basis... like about 2 - 3 times a week. Any more or less, and health problems show up.
09/01/2004 10:23:25 AM
Anyone who eats meat participates in animal sacrifice....as it always has been. Afraid I rarely sacrifice much more than a fish.... don't really have room to store my own livestock... but some of the farms I go to have no problem with me praying over my turkey before they do it in.
08/31/2004 04:02:12 AM
## I'm surprised nothing is said in this article about the gods of Mesopotamia. If they are real gods, 1900 years of neglect won't affect them. Why not restore their worship also ? If these believers is in Hera, Apollo, Dionysos and the rest are not practicing animal sacrifice, I hope they got permission from their gods not to do it. If a religion is worth reviving, it is worth reviving properly. (It would be very interesting indeed if the worship of the old gods of Rome were revived - a temple to them might be very attractive.) ##
08/25/2004 06:30:35 AM
"pagan," "heathen," "infidel" -all Christian and Muslim hate speach toward Gentiles who wish to follow their own Gentile religions, and not any of the three Jewish faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
08/25/2004 06:21:29 AM
It does not surprise me that Gentiles and even some Jews are reconnecting with Gentile religions, showing that Gentile religions are as valid and worth while as any of the three Jewish religions. To me all religions have a place in the world. The violent bigotry gentiles faced regarding their own gentile religions at the hands of the prostelyzing 2nd and 2rd Jewish religions of Christianity and Islam was tragic, and ironically tragic as well for Jews of the 1st Jewish faith, Judaism. The Ancient Olympics itself was shut down in 394 C.E. by Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius 1 who considered the Olympics a "pagan" festival (typical arrogant Christian reaction to Gentile religions and festivities). There was up to then 291 Olympiads taking place over 1,170 years.
08/25/2004 06:21:22 AM
I read "Jesus and the Goddess" by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. An excellent book that shows what orignal Christianity was. The only thing I changed in the book is that wherever the word "pagan" was written I scratched out and wrote "gentile". To me "pagan" is oft a derogatory word Jewish religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) uses to describe non-Jewish religions, ie Gentile religions, as inferior and less sophisticated. Gentile seems more to be a neutral word, less negatively loaded, merely meaning non-Jewish. So instead of for example "pagan" religions mentioned in the book I scratched "pagan" out so it would read "gentile" religions. More respectful.
08/23/2004 09:47:00 AM
About this article.. now, I am a Hellenic Recon, but I certainly haven't taken on a Greek name and I don't go dressing up in costumes.. for festivals and such, I typically wear some sort of finery. And how exactly does one disembowel bread? lol..
08/23/2004 09:42:36 AM
Wow.. so much hate speech on this thread, though I shouldn't be surprised. I had intended to reply to some of the more.. provoking statements I saw on this thread, but I decided not to bother, given that it won't change hearts or minds. So I will simply say 'to each their own' and 'may whoever or whatever you worship smile upon you today.'
08/21/2004 10:25:55 PM
whirlwindhair: unfortunately, to some - love isn't the most important. They prefer preaching their radical fundamentalism because they won't be happy untill everyone is a blind-leading-blind fool like them. I don't care who worships who, honestly. As long as it's not harmful to me or society, who cares?
08/20/2004 06:40:20 PM
Sorry to see you all arguing. I believe in Jesus,in Thor and Anubis and many of the others. Thor and Anubis and those like them, I believe were not Gods like the One who created us all, but they were quite powerfull nevertheless.Thor once told me that he used to sit on Mount Olympus and play that old game of skipping rocks with Zeus. They were quite good buddys. And Thor so liked to give his big feet a good soak in that warm ocean water, not cold like up where his home was. Anyways, does it really matter what we all believe, or if we agree with each other or not? I am of the belief that love is most important. I also am not afraid of death as I view it as just another step in life. The main difference being that when that step is taken, we are no longer bound by the physical body ---at least for some time.
08/20/2004 03:24:32 PM
With regards to human sacrifice: Most cultures seem to have done tbat at one time or another, and eventually grew out of it. The Bible also has human sacrifice; Abrham and Issac, in which at the last moment God tells him not too (at that point, it Abraham does not act all that surprised or shocked that God would ask for human sacrifice) Other stories from the Bible include human sacrifice, one is even a man sacrificing his daughter, who laments the fact that she will "die a virgin."
08/20/2004 09:41:53 AM
I got interested in the ancient Greeks after I read the entire Bible. The more I read the more I learned - such as the fact that Venus was married to Atlas so she was a neglected wife, committed adultery with one man, and went through hell for it. She committed her "life" to love between other people. I saw her as an ideal of what a great wife should be. The Bible ends with the rich, jeweled, oppressive great whore. What a relief to read about other "big" woman.
08/20/2004 09:33:55 AM
I've been watching the Olympics and noticed that the broadcasters are not discussing the personal lives of the athletes while they perform. Did the Greeks ask that they disist from gossip? If Greek gods made humanity understand human flaws and that there is something bigger than them up there, then I'm all for them. I've heard too many people, broadcasters included, acting like "little gods", as if it is their duty to talk about, criticize, and judge their fellow human beings. I don't know what's up there but it should be saying that it's bigger than us because man can't handle this world very well - that's exactly right without naming names.
08/20/2004 08:15:10 AM
"As far as human sacrifices go, this wasn't practiced by everyone, and isn't a conclusive argument." Well, beyond that, human sacrifice is grossly misunderstood, especially as it pertains to the Germanic tradition. The primary human sacrifices were prisoners of war and the purpose of the sacrifice was two-fold. First, it fulfilled the promise made when the first spear of the battle had been thrown over the host of the enemy to dedicate those who were about to die to Odin. Second, it helped to restore balance. There were other types of human sacrifice as well, but in the Germanic tradition it was never about propitiating angry gods as is so often imagined.
08/20/2004 01:59:28 AM
The point of beliefnet...I am fairly certain...is not for us to snipe at eachother. I think blogs are more appropriate for that.
08/20/2004 01:25:16 AM
As far as human sacrifices go, this wasn't practiced by everyone, and isn't a conclusive argument. I mean, if we want to go that route, I'll note that the whole of Christianity is based on the sacrifice of the son of their own god, which is, in some denominations of the faith, recreated over and over and over. Not to mention, that the Biblical Jesus was Jewish, and he never told his followers to stop being Jewish, or to stop celebrating their holidays, ignore their laws, etc. The whole of Christianity's practices are "made up", changed from the original, altered, added to. Why is this okay but Asatru and other heathen practices changing and adapting over time is ridiculed? Double standard. If one is fine, so is the other. If one isn't fine, the other is just as wrong.
08/20/2004 01:16:11 AM
I'll bite here, and also see if it lets me post this time. No one ever said that heathenism, or that Asatru, didn't consider death important. WEhat was said is that what happens after death isn't really the focus; it is what one does in this life, before death, that makes the difference. Which all boils down, I suppose, to what our respective gods ask of us. The Christian god asks for faith; the Nordic ones ask for deeds. Is one better than the other? Not objectively, no. But either is more suitable to the people who follow that belief.
08/19/2004 06:35:10 PM
"Just reading the different posts and am amazed once again how a serious, respectful question and answer session can be turned into a hostile debate so quickly. And by the christian no less. Seems to me that's how it always ends up, is that faith really that fragile?" It is a shame, isn't it? Too many people react negatively to the unfamiliar. It's almost as though they seek validation of their own beliefs through other people and, when they don't get it, they tend to get nasty. I have no idea if that's what happened here. However, it is just VigiDivine's sort of response that has led to many Recons (among others) from fully trusting Christians. In many respects, responses such as those by Gayil, Steve and Blueberry are easier to deal with. Open hostility is at least honest. Vigidivine's latest posts belie a more surreptitious animosity, a mere pretense of tolerance, interest and respect. Sad.
08/19/2004 05:04:34 PM
La Estrella, even your copying of my question shows a question mark, how do you equate that with a comment?
08/19/2004 02:01:31 PM
is that faith really that fragile? Are comments like this really necessary? Do they further the discussion or encourage tolerance (on either side)?
08/19/2004 10:58:04 AM
Just reading the different posts and am amazed once again how a serious, respectful question and answer session can be turned into a hostile debate so quickly. And by the christian no less. Seems to me that's how it always ends up, is that faith really that fragile?
08/19/2004 10:42:24 AM
> if the gods are real, if they have > given a purpose, and if there is a > bigger story that requires it, > world-rejecting is the correct > choice. Not necessarily. For the Celts (my area of study, and somewhat close to the Norse in terms of beliefs), death (and the afterlife) were certainly important. To some extent, there's some evidence that they treated it pretty close to this life, to the point of making promises to repay debts in the Otherworld. What happens in life is vitally important, as well as what happens in the afterlife. There's not really a correspondence to Christian Grace - what happens in the Otherworld is dictated by the actions taken in this world, as opposed to beliefs held in this world. (I'll admit this might be splitting hairs, to some extent.)
08/19/2004 10:19:13 AM
> However, I have to say that the Recon > label is probably not the best one. > It tends to lead to false impressions > about what it is we do. Admittedly, > though, we haven't been able to reach > any kind of consensus for a better > label. Imbas has started using "Restorationist," which is a bit closer in a number of ways, and gives a different implication. And it still serves as a good umbrella term.
08/19/2004 10:03:52 AM
"I think you've invented a new religion picking and choosing to fit modern sensibilities." You can think whatever you like. It won't make it any more true. "E.g. when did the gods decide they didn't need human sacrifices any more?" Who said they didn't? "If your gods are real you are in deep trouble." Why would you think so? "But you don't really believe any of it do you?" What an amazing and unjustifiable arrogance on your part! I'm sincerely disappointed.
08/19/2004 10:03:35 AM
My, VigiDivine, you have turned hostile all of a sudden. No matter: "A quick Google turns up all kinds of material on Norse customs - funeral mounds, how to deal with the unquiet dead, spectres, monsters, and various other uglies. Seems death was rather important after all. And world-rejecting self-sacrifice." With all due respect, your quick google search is no substitute for years of serious study and practicing the faith. I never said death was unimportant. I simply said that it was less important than what we do in this life. If you had any real experience with Nordic myth and legend, you would know this to be the case.
08/19/2004 09:31:33 AM
While "world-rejecting" is a bit overstated, if the gods are real, if they have given a purpose, and if there is a bigger story that requires it, world-rejecting is the correct choice. Jesus rejected the world, and it bought him the glory that those who follow him will also receive. Faith shows itself in choosing what is not in front of us, because we really believe in something better. A quick Google turns up all kinds of material on Norse customs - funeral mounds, how to deal with the unquiet dead, spectres, monsters, and various other uglies. Seems death was rather important after all. And world-rejecting self-sacrifice. I think you've invented a new religion picking and choosing to fit modern sensibilities. E.g. when did the gods decide they didn't need human sacrifices any more? If your gods are real you are in deep trouble. But you don't really believe any of it do you?
08/19/2004 08:40:45 AM
"My understanding is that religions in general are very concerned with death, among other things like propitiating the gods, and then developing further into moral codes and the like. That's what I mean by traditional religion." Hrmmm... In this discussion I think more useful labels would be those provided by Charles C. Russell. What you're describing as "traditional" seem to be traits of what Russell would term "world-rejecting" religions, i.e. religions that believe what happens in this world is of little consequence except as it impacts one's destination in the afterlife. Such religions place an emphasis on death that simply isn't found in "world-accepting" religions, i.e. those that believe what happens in this life is of paramount importance. Christianity is, in this framework, world-rejecting. The native, pre-Christian religion of the Germanic peoples is world-accepting. They are both, nevertheless, traditional.
08/19/2004 08:33:23 AM
"Hope I haven't been too much of a killjoy." On the contrary. As you may have noticed, we rather relish a good debate! :-)
08/19/2004 08:30:54 AM
"I read in both of your posts a deemphasis on the traditional religious question of death, and an emphasis on place and story (the tapestry, the change)." As you've defined these terms, I'd say we are directly in line with traditional Germanic views of death. If anything, we probably fret about it more than our ancestors did simply because we find ourselves surrounded by a modern, Christian mileau. "Is there some story in trad and recon Asatur - i.e. a direction and purpose to history?" No. In fact, this is one area in which most modern Asatruar do differ significantly from our traditional ancestors. Namely, the traditional (i.e. pre-Christian) Germanic peoples did have a past/present/future conception of time. For them, time was simply divided into past/non-past. As such, they had nothing to compare to the sort of grand march of time toward some divine plan view that is so common in today's world.
08/19/2004 01:14:44 AM
CH: Thanks for the clarification of "tradition" and Asatru. No, by traditional, I'm referring to religions without an explicit or implied "neo-" prefix. My understanding is that religions in general are very concerned with death, among other things like propitiating the gods, and then developing further into moral codes and the like. That's what I mean by traditional religion. And now I'm really gone for the day. Later! CH, hope your cold gets better.
08/19/2004 01:04:57 AM
(Cont) But, for a basic explanation, our wyrd, it is the path that our life takes, and the paths that we can find to take, based on our actions and the wyrd and orlog of those that went before us. Or, hrmmm... basically, you know, it's like building a house of cards, and each person gets to build a set number of floors. Your floors are effected by those that come before, and your floors effect how those that come after are built. You have freedom to decide how to build, but depending on how you place the cards, some other places to put the cards are closed to you, and some are opened. And then someone might turn on the fan, and you're bound by that fan no matter what you do. If that makes any sense. If it doesn't, blame the cold meds. ;)
08/19/2004 01:02:28 AM
And also my apologies for my chronic mispelling of Asatru. I wish I could claim I'm dyslexic, but its just sloppiness. No offense intended.
08/19/2004 01:00:44 AM
That said, if you mean traditional as 'Christian" (I'm not nitpicking here, just confused), I would say you are right. Part of it stems from the fact that, even if Asatruar practice alone, still the concept of kin and of folk and community are very important, and these influence even the view of death. No matter what happens to us personally after death, some sort of immortality is assured if we are remembered after death. Even if we are not remembered, our wyrd and orlog effect those that come after us. These have been translated as fate and luck respectively, though those are definitions rather lacking in depth.
08/19/2004 12:59:59 AM
Well, off to do some work. Thanks Tyrsson and ChicagoHeathen for answering my questions. Reconstituted Asatur is becoming clearer in its outlines. I've also been stimulated to reintegrate bits of theology and spirituality - areas of recent growth for me - with philosophy and apologetics which have not been an emphasis. Thanks loads. Hope I haven't been too much of a killjoy. God bless.
08/19/2004 12:55:18 AM
Vigi-- I suppose it depends on what you see as the "traditional" view of death. Mind you, I quoted from the Eddas, and similar sentiment is found in Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon poems. The Germannic peoples Tacitus described were similar in character to their later descendants. so you're looking at a view of death that is almost as old as, if not as old as, Christianity's. So I'm not sure what you mean by traditional. There is no such thing as "traditional" Asatru, if that's what you meant; Asatru is the name of the reconstructionist religion based on the pre-Christian religious beliefs of the Germanic/Nordic peoples of Northern Europe.
08/19/2004 12:37:35 AM
I also believe in non-rational sources of knowledge, e.g. the Holy Spirit who reveals what we can't observe or deduce: the mind of God, and possibly even in different modes of knowing. I do believe however that once revealed, these truths occupy the same "truth-space" as, say, the HTML 4.1 specification.
08/19/2004 12:30:24 AM
Tyrsson, CH: I read in both of your posts a deemphasis on the traditional religious question of death, and an emphasis on place and story (the tapestry, the change). Is there some story in trad and recon Asatur - i.e. a direction and purpose to history? I sense that the trad and recon answers differ to a large or small degree.
08/19/2004 12:23:42 AM
It would be more accurate to say that their meaning for you is bound up in your belief in their historic factuality. Given that this is not the place for Christian apologetics, however, I think it's best to leave this train of thought were it is. Please stop reinterpreting christian statements in terms of your post-modern meta-narrative. If you want to qualify, put the modal operator in its proper place, e.g. 'You believe that ....' That's my last try on this issue.
08/18/2004 10:00:37 PM
"Isn't there an apocalyptic good-vs-evil or order-vs-chaos battle somewhere in the Norse myths? May I ask if this has personal significance to you?" Ah, yes, Ragnarok. Some see this as literally true, that the world really end in a final battle between order and chaos and that a new world will be born from the ashes of the old. I tend to believe, however, that Ragnarok is more valuable as a metaphor for profound change in the world, both on an exoteric and esoteric level.
08/18/2004 09:56:51 PM
"If the resurrection wasn't a historical fact in the same sense of me going to the beach last weekend with friends, I will give up my Christian beliefs. Their meaning to me is bound up in their historical factuality." It would be more accurate to say that their meaning for you is bound up in your belief in their historic factuality. Given that this is not the place for Christian apologetics, however, I think it's best to leave this train of thought were it is.
08/18/2004 09:54:34 PM
"Please start with Asatru on death, recon and traditional takes." LOL! You would have to start with one of the most complex aspects of our religion, wouldn't you? :-P CH gave an excellent introduction into this. I would only add that we believe there are many different possibilities after death ranging from reincarnation to an honored place in the halls of the gods to remaining behind to watch over kin. What matters most, however, is to be remembered well for what we did in this life. It is the only legacy we are assured of.
08/18/2004 08:59:06 PM
Okie, last reply for a bit. (I need dinner.) There is an apocalyptic (sp?) battle in Nordic lore: Ragnarok. This is the great battle between good and evil, chaos and order, the gods and the evil giants, that will take place at the end of this world. The Wolf will come, and Odin shall die, most of the gods shall die. One man and one woman will come to the Tree, Yggdrasil, and hide within it, and when the battle is done the word shall be remade and they shall live in it. It is of great concern to Odin and the other gods, of course. Myself I don't worry about it, save for hoping I don't get dumped in Loki's army.
08/18/2004 08:54:16 PM
No, I don't divide what is religious and what is secular. They are very much entwined in my life. What I divide in my mind is the scientific and the religious, and the rational from the irrational. So, I believe both in evolution and in sacred cows who spring out of primoridial slush and suckle frost giants. (No, not making that up.) I believe in the physical forces that create thunderstorms and that Thor makes the thunder come. I believe in both, believe each top be true, whether or not they are provable. The duality of science and religion, and keeping them separate, allows me to do this. Just like a magnet. one magnet, two completely opposing sides.
08/18/2004 08:48:25 PM
Hrmmm... Starting with Asatru on death. I think a good way of expressing it is to pull out a bit of old lore. "Cattle die, kinsmen die, the self must also die; but glory never dies, for the man who is able to achieve it. Cattle die, kinsmen die, the self must also die; I know one thing which never dies: the reputation of each dead man." (Havamal) What we do in life lives on after us when we die. If we lived well, and done good deeds, this goes on after us. If we live evilly and do bad deeds, that lives on after us as well. We live on through kin and through memory, regardless of what may happen after death. And though our lives, how we live and die, affects our afterlife, we do things for the here and now, for the world we are in, not any world to come. If we have woven well, the tapestry will be strong for those who take up the loom when we are gone.
08/18/2004 08:47:03 PM
CH: The undertext that I think there is religious-vs-secular divide in your beliefs is there. But I was also honestly asking the question, to reality-check my opinion. I would like to know how your faith works its way out into the rest of your life. Change topic: Hypocrisy is a universal human problem, a disconnect between what we believe and what we find ourselves able to do. When I find myself not doing what I say I believe, reflection shows what actions prove - I don't believe as much as I thought I did. We only know what we act on. We only believe what we obey.
08/18/2004 08:31:52 PM
"So let me ask: what would be the impact on your life if your spiritual beliefs were incoherent with the physical world as you experience it?" Well, to be honest, they aren't. But at one time they were. Or, more specifically, my spiritual beliefs meshed with my perception of the world, but the religion to which I was bound did not conform with either. That is why, at 15, I walked away from Christianity. Not hate, not anger, not disgust, but a simple knowing that I was not of that god's people. Had I been, I would have stayed and fought against the corruption and hypocrisy. So, here I am, 21 years later. I have no regrets. Were I to find things were not meshing again, I suppose I would seek again. but I don't perceive it happening. Christianity never felt like being home. Asatru does.
08/18/2004 08:23:53 PM
"What do you get from the sacred stories?" ...At the very least, I get a sense of my own place in the cosmos and insight into how to live my life well. Yes. I also find great strength and comfort in knowing myself as a small actor in a big story. Isn't there an apocalyptic good-vs-evil or order-vs-chaos battle somewhere in the Norse myths? May I ask if this has personal significance to you?
08/18/2004 08:13:32 PM
It would be more accurate to say that there is far more truth in the Bible for you. For me, the oppposite is true even though I'm not a Greek Reconstructionist. If the resurrection wasn't a historical fact in the same sense of me going to the beach last weekend with friends, I will give up my Christian beliefs. Their meaning to me is bound up in their historical factuality. I don't drink beer commercials, go on vacation to Romantic landscape paintings, or live in the light of something that didn't happen. At least that's my intention.
08/18/2004 07:02:27 PM
Please start with Asatru on death, recon and traditional takes.
08/18/2004 07:00:39 PM
On "reading the gospels": I found in one of the Asatru forums thae statement that it wasn't clear how to appropriate the benefits of Christ's sacrifice. That's just the most egregious of many posts that say to me that many people just don't have the most basic understanding of the christian faith.
08/18/2004 06:47:45 PM
"The ways of the gods are not the ways of humans; what does he care if animal sacrifice has any "meaning" for the sacrificers? It's about him, not them." Actually, it's about the relationship between them both.
08/18/2004 06:46:04 PM
"Can you back up that claim?" Given that most Recons live in Christian countries and were raised in Christian families and that many of them were once Christian themselves, Windsinger's statement is a perfectly reasonable assumption.
08/18/2004 06:44:00 PM
"Mythology is anything that cant be scientifically proven beyond resonable doubt." While I appreciate this is how the word is commonly used, that really isn't the definition. It certainly isn't the way the word is used by Reconstructionists.
08/18/2004 06:42:18 PM
"With all due respect, Windsinger, the Bible isn't mythology." Actually, though, it is. Mythology is simply the sacred teachings of a religion. The Bible, then, is mythology by definition. "There is far more truth in the Bible than in the Greek myths; especially when one considers their incredible birth tales." It would be more accurate to say that there is far more truth in the Bible for you. For me, the oppposite is true even though I'm not a Greek Reconstructionist. "Besides I would prefer the GOD of Israel to some prideful and arrogant god like Zeus or Hades or Aphrodite." Interesting. I would say the same thing about the Christian God. It would seem we all see religion through our own lenses.
08/18/2004 06:35:59 PM
"I really honestly want to find out how Asatru deals with these basic religious issues of the integration of religious and secular truth - including death, the significance and handling of the sacred stories, etc. as in my last sets of questions back a page or so." All this in fewer than 1024 characters? Yikes! :-) As I said before, if you any specific questions, please feel free to ask. As stated, I really don't know where to begin addressing this one. "I'm also interested in how the "reconstructed" faiths differ from the historic (can I use that word?) ones." Well, if we're successful, they should differ as little as possible. However there are some pragmatic differences, usually related to the fact that most modern people do not grow and raise their own food. So, for instance, most of us don't perform animal sacrifice even though many of us would like to. We just don't have the means at our disposal.
08/18/2004 06:28:19 PM
"So let me ask: what would be the impact on your life if your spiritual beliefs were incoherent with the physical world as you experience it?" I realize this wasn't addressed to me. However, I'm really not sure what you mean by this. Could you clarify?
08/18/2004 06:25:32 PM
"I'd like to hear more on this if possible." Well, this format is rather limited, making any in depth discussion difficult. However, if you have specific questions I will try to answer them as best I can. "What do you get from the sacred stories?" That's difficult to put into words if, for no other reason, because I get so much out of the lore. At the very least, I get a sense of my own place in the cosmos and insight into how to live my life well. "How is it different from looking at the experience of contemporaries or historical figures?" As I've said before, myth transcends history with a sense of Truth. History is often inspiring, but it doesn't have quite the richness and depth of mythology.
08/18/2004 06:20:15 PM
"A few years ago I read an interesting paper from someone working in knowledge representation claiming that all truth is contextual." Well, I tend to take the constructivist approach myself. I believe that all knowledge is ultimately constructed through cultural consensus. "The difference with what I understand of your view is that both "spiritual" and "factual" truth are in the same boat, and that we trust the boat because we trust its maker." Well, I simply think that there are different ways of "knowing." The rational approach relies on the definable, the testable, the disprovable. The irrational moves beyond those restrictions.
08/18/2004 05:11:43 PM
Regarding my own comment about the bread-bull substitution -- see, that's what I get for mouthing off before I read the rest of the article. My central point, though, seems to still be valid, and instead of snarking I'll come out and state it: if Zeus is a real personal entity, why should he be happy with someone else rewriting his ritual? And if he is not, why should anyone worship him? The ways of the gods are not the ways of humans; what does he care if animal sacrifice has any "meaning" for the sacrificers? It's about him, not them.
08/18/2004 04:56:47 PM
Windsinger writes: I think it's silly to tell heathens to "read the gospels" as if most of them hadn't. First, statistically, they probably have [...] Can you back up that claim?
08/18/2004 04:54:15 PM
I find it interesting that Andrea Berman (according to one person mentioned in the article) wants a "coherent religion where she is not making things up," but then in her ceremony, she and her friends include "the ritual disemboweling of a loaf of bread representing a sacrificial bull." Seems like she can't help making things up after all.
08/18/2004 04:36:26 PM
With all due respect, Bravo88, incredible birth tale, prideful and arrogant god? Are you speaking of the God of the bible? It amazes me what we cannot see when we don't want to.
08/18/2004 04:35:10 PM
This imaginary friend of the child may indeed exist, I do believe in the spirit world and i also believe spirits do contact us on earth. it may be a ghost or spirit, which is in communication with the child, but alas unless that spirit was to makeitself known to everyone else as well, the child will face mockery and disbelief for it, as do many christians who preach the gospel to non-believers.
08/18/2004 04:32:39 PM
Bravo - with all due respect to you, and other believers and non believers alike, the bible IS technically mythology as its version of events has never been proven or disproven. Mythology is anything that cant be scientifically proven beyond resonable doubt. Everyone has the right to believe whatever they wish, but they should also expect others to refute their claims of truth in the matter, possibly even bring up scientific evidence to support their claims. Preaching the biblical message and expecting everyone to believe in God (or other dieties for that matter) is, strictly speaking, Like a child with an imaginary friend, who gets upset when others dont believe that imaginary friend exists. to the child involved, this friend seems very real, but is elusive to everyone else. Continued:
08/18/2004 04:20:07 PM
With all due respect, Windsinger, the Bible isn't mythology. It's your choice and right to not believe it as it is the choice and the right of anyone to believe or disbelieve. There is far more truth in the Bible than in the Greek myths; especially when one considers their incredible birth tales. Besides I would prefer the GOD of Israel to some prideful and arrogant god like Zeus or Hades or Aphrodite.
08/18/2004 11:53:22 AM
I think it's silly to tell heathens to "read the gospels" as if most of them hadn't. First, statistically, they probably have and second, does one really assume that when one reads the gospels people will go "Oh, you know, this mythology is so much better than MY mythology, so I'll start believing this one." Christianity: Not my culture, not my gods.
08/18/2004 10:38:44 AM
Gee, all this trying to get a common terminology going, and answering the flames is tiring out my typing fingers. I really honestly want to find out how Asatru deals with these basic religious issues of the integration of religious and secular truth - including death, the significance and handling of the sacred stories, etc. as in my last sets of questions back a page or so. I'm also interested in how the "reconstructed" faiths differ from the historic (can I use that word?) ones. Thanks.
08/18/2004 10:21:05 AM
...rule out the possibility of myth-that-actually-happened. I believe very strongly in "myth". I believe that a stallion fathered Sleipnir on Loki ... I believe those tales to be true. I just don't believe they're provable, or an accurate retelling of history. In honor of CH, I'd like to introduce the acronyms PIP (Provable In Principle) and SARH (Substantially Accurate Retelling of History). Then I'd like to restate that C.S.Lewis says the Norse tales are true myths, but the Christian myths are myths-that-are-PIP-and-SARH :-) And I also announce that our scientific team is monitoring PIP and SARH in order to confirm the first case of ITA (Inveterate Terminology Abuse) syndrome. Be careful out there :-)
08/18/2004 10:01:00 AM
I'm trying to shy away from making straight apologetic statements, but I find it hard to ignore the misconceptions. So one last comment before toddling off to bed: Jesus said "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." People liked Jesus; he was intelligent, funny, startling, kind, wise, generous. The people he butted heads with were the self-righteous religious types, the ones he said were in danger of hell. He preferred spending time with people who needed, who were not so full of themselves that they couldn't reach out to the divine walking in their midst and give him their trust. Read the gospels.
08/18/2004 09:48:23 AM
The class failed to address the issue of "the wrong set of rules" (there is a God, but not the one you believed in all this time) or the lose/lose scenario (there is no God, and by pretending that there is, you have missed out on all the fun you could have had in life). Absolutely. And I could add, you could have helped others to also miss out. So discrimination is important, yes? Unless we place our bets on something that will never cause us or anyone else to miss out on anything, because we will evaluate it purely on pragmatic grounds, assuming we can make the evaluation, and that if we are mistaken we can switch brands without cost if we see something better. And that's the American approach to religion, including Christianity. But there's still this annoying traditional religous issue that straddles like a Colossus the religous and physical realms. IDS = Its Death, Stupid.
08/18/2004 09:22:24 AM
PaganPriest: My illustration was about resurrection - a good thing - not about hell. And my question was "do your beliefs say anything about the physical realm", because I believe thats an important point. Especially when it comes to death, which most people on most days think is a bad thing try as some do to convince its a natural and good process. And I agree with you about the divine reaching out to us, because I believe in the God illustrated in the story of the prodigal son. But I doubt that the majority of religious belief systems would agree with you; some gods are more likely to have you for breakfast.
08/18/2004 05:36:38 AM
I think it is far better to realise that as falible mortals, we cannot fully understand the Divine, but the Divine can understand us. As long as we try, the Divine will reach out to us... no matter what we call the Divine, no matter how we formulate that reaching, when we make that leap of faith, Divine arms are waiting to catch us accross that divide between mortal and Divine realms.
08/18/2004 05:30:43 AM
Reminds me of the description I was given of Pascal's Wager Arguement in a high school apologetics class. Either there is a God, and He has specific rules to live by, or there is not. If there is, and I fail to live by His rules, then I am condemed to Hell for not following the rules. If there is not, then I never had anything to lose to begin with. That class, suposedly meant to strenghten one's faith by asking and then answering deep questions was the single most forcefulpush out of Christianity I got from anywhere. With the above question, the class failed to address the issue of "the wrong set of rules" (there is a God, but not the one you believed in all this time) or the lose/lose scenario (there is no God, and by pretending that there is, you have missed out on all the fun you could have had in life).
08/17/2004 11:53:19 PM
CH: I can't find where I used gender-specific pronouns, but I will try to be careful in any case! In everyday life, we talk not of proof but of "reality checks". I think this is because we know that we are capable of (prone to?) get it wrong, and that some things are important to get right. So let me ask: what would be the impact on your life if your spiritual beliefs were incoherent with the physical world as you experience it? In my case: if Jesus wasn't resurrected in a new perfected physical body, I won't be either, and the hope I have of future glory (the famous "pie in the sky") won't be realized (e.g. I won't experience it), and choices that I've made are foolish. This was the criticism the apostle Paul met in Athens. There is a firm grounding of spiritual truth claims in a physical outcome I expect to experience but will not be able to produce myself.
08/17/2004 11:34:25 PM
I would say that the lore represents a dialectic between gods and men. Meaning comes from the metanarrative between these two groups. I'd like to hear more on this if possible. On hermeneutics: Not as such, no. There are many different layers of meaning to every myth and it takes different techniques and processes to arrive at those understandings. We are blessed, though, with a long and rich body of scholastic Germanic studies to help us. I enjoy the OT histories of patriarchs and kings, but I don't think its possible to recover the Law and the Prophets from the historical books alone. Of course, you may not have that issue if your not looking for teaching (Law) or rebuke and comfort or for validation of the message (Prophets). What do you get from the sacred stories? How is it different from looking at the experience of contemporaries or historical figures?
08/17/2004 11:28:26 PM
Tyrsson: A few years ago I read an interesting paper from someone working in knowledge representation claiming that all truth is contextual. Recently, some christians dealing with the shift from modern to post-modern meta-narratives (pardon my french) have taken the more modest view which is a little more compatible with your view: we can know enough to function in areas of human competence (e.g. spiritual, physical, what have you) because God has set it up that way. And what we know is true, but not exhaustive or perhaps even directly correspondational (there's gotta be a word for this). The difference with what I understand of your view is that both "spiritual" and "factual" truth are in the same boat, and that we trust the boat because we trust its maker. To put this another way, God both acts and speaks into history, and is both able and willing to break into our little fantasies on occasion (e.g. Jesus). So we don't need to posit our own complete trustworthiness.
08/17/2004 10:57:54 PM
VH: I would guess from your comments you are from the US with a chip on your shoulder because the US is avowedly Christian. The country I live in is 0.3% christian so your zings bounce off "my wings [which] are like a shield of steel" :-) But your other comment about God's mistake begs the old question of where "good" comes from. The traditional christian answer is that God's character, will and purpose defines good. The attempt to independently know good and evil is another aspect of Adam&Eve's sin. And with all respect: you seem to understand very little about christianity.
08/17/2004 10:50:15 PM
Ooops. Sorry for the blown tags.
08/17/2004 10:49:42 PM
"So, let me ask first: What role does Asatru have in its adherents lives?" For me, Asatru is my life. That is to say I make little distinction between my spiritual and secular lives. It is who I am. "Can I ask for clarification on the significance of the sacred stories?" This tends to vary considerably between various Asatruar. Some place more significance on it than others. For me, it is quite important. "Where do they get their meaning, from the reader or from the gods?" I would say that the lore represents a dialectic between gods and men. Meaning comes from the metanarrative between these two groups. "Are there rules of interpretion (hermeneutics) to get at the meaning?" Not as such, no. There are many different layers of meaning to every myth and it takes different techniques and processes to arrive at those understandings. We are blessed, though, with a long and rich body of scholastic Germanic studies to help us.
08/17/2004 10:33:13 PM
"I read Tyrsson and ChicagoHeathen as attempting to rule out not only the provability but the possibility of myth-that-actually-happened and so deflect possible criticism of their more modest truth statements." That's really not quite it. Rather, I find Truth in myth, not fact. As counterintuitive as it may sound, history is mutable. Sure, the "facts" are always there, but which "facts" end up being emphasized has more to do with personal agendas than it does with what really happened. Myth, by contrast, may at times be based in "fact," but its value as Truth comes from something beyond what can be rationally defined and tested. Please keep in mind that my views on rational/irrational come not from my experience as a Recon, but from my training as a scientist.
08/17/2004 10:26:58 PM
VigiDivine states: I read Tyrsson and ChicagoHeathen as attempting to rule out not only the provability but the possibility of myth-that-actually-happened and so deflect possible criticism of their more modest truth statements. Well, I don't know what Tyrsson is attempting, but I know I'm not trying to rule out the possibility of myth-that-actually-happened. I believe very strongly in "myth". I believe that a stallion fathered Sleipnir on Loki, and that Thor dressed up as Freya to get his hammer back. I believe in the nine worlds and Yggdrasil. I believe those tales to be true. I just don't believe they're provable, or an accurate retelling of history. It is, perhaps, a paradoxical way of reasoning, but it works for me. (Oh, just by the by, I'm a woman, not a man.) :)
08/17/2004 10:12:27 PM
VigiDivine writes: The problem with Adam&Eve was not a mistake, it was listening to the devil,... So, God's mistake wasn't in condemning all of us for what Adam and Eve did. His mistake was creating the devil. Think of all the trouble that could have been avoided if He had not created the devil! (Of course, I am sure there is an explanation for the creation of the devil that does not involve a mistake by God.) At any rate, thanks to the Olympics for reminding Christians, many of whom seem to need constant reminding, that their religion is not the only one there is, nor is it the only one that people are allowed to practice.
08/17/2004 08:49:31 PM
Okay, I'll bite: The problem with Adam&Eve was not a mistake, it was listening to the devil, who had already caused a large proportion of the angels to rebel, and distrusting God and living out that distrust by disobeying and "looking after #1". A recipe for complete relationship breakdown. God then spends a fair chunk of time teaching people to trust him again. And the crux of this effort is Jesus' self-sacrifice, which teaches us to turn away from self-trust and towards God-trust. Relationship is a central theme of the bible; keeping it in mind is very helpful to understand the meaning and significance of the text.
08/17/2004 08:36:09 PM
I'd like to explore the Asatru worldview in its practical aspects. Initially, I'll be asking in terms of what seems important to me from a christian perspective, but hopefully I'll be able to tune that in time. So, let me ask first: What role does Asatru have in its adherents lives? I also skimmed over the Asatur forums, and I noticed that the sacred stories are being used to draw life lessons. Can I ask for clarification on the significance of the sacred stories? Where do they get their meaning, from the reader or from the gods? Are there rules of interpretion (hermeneutics) to get at the meaning?
08/17/2004 08:32:50 PM
Thanks Tyrsson for the friendly message last night. I should remember what lovers do naturally: express interest in the other. I guess I still struggle with cyberspace. C.S.Lewis wrote that the Norse myths awoke in him a taste for the spiritual, and these myths are true in sense but not in another. He also writes that Christianity is myth that is also factual. Like Lewis, its the wonder of myth-that-actually-happened that captures both my heart and mind. I read Tyrsson and ChicagoHeathen as attempting to rule out not only the provability but the possibility of myth-that-actually-happened and so deflect possible criticism of their more modest truth statements. Accordingly their understanding of "belief" and its significance are more restricted than the Judaeo-Christian view. Similarly for their definition of rational/irrational which differs from what you might find in your dictionary. But I'd rather ask some more questions -- next post.
08/17/2004 08:27:03 PM
Yeah, but as the other thing thuswise quotated is Islam's 'culture of death' we can clearly see some major prejudice.
08/17/2004 07:50:09 PM
"Note that on the front page link to this story it's not Reconstructionist, but 'Reconstructionist.'" Heh! Yeah, I noticed that, too. However, I have to say that the Recon label is probably not the best one. It tends to lead to false impressions about what it is we do. Admittedly, though, we haven't been able to reach any kind of consensus for a better label.
08/17/2004 07:47:58 PM
"But he started it!" Heh! Yeah, but he'll argue that CH started it who will, in turn, point out correctly that he was just responding to another poster who... I mean, I've been tempted to take the bait myself. Heck, I've even nibbled on it here and there in this discussion. However, it occurs to me that Recons get so little air time here at BNet that we ought not to squander this opportunity with Christian apologetics. The lasting impression I'd like to leave other members is that, no matter how silly some of them may ultimately believe us to be, they cannot honestly say that we're simply anti-Christian.
08/17/2004 07:26:50 PM
Jesus schmesus, not my god, not my problem. Note that on the front page link to this story it's not Reconstructionist, but 'Reconstructionist.' I think from now on, those who attack Recons of any sort should be labeled with the quotes. So, 'Christians' as opposed to Christians.
08/17/2004 07:01:27 PM
A friend pointed out that the Rabbi did not deny that Jesus was the Buddha, either. A lack of a denial means nothing. Sorry, Tyrsson, I'll try to behave from now on. But he started it!
08/17/2004 06:59:07 PM
Yadayada 8/17/04 12:46:25 AM "If there was evidence to refute the miracles of Jesus... However, there are no such documents from the first century that refute the recorded accounts of the life or miracles of Jesus. In fact, in the Babylonian Talmud, the writer records that Yeshua, was "hanged on a tree for sorcery!" What is interesting about this historical reference to Jesus is that the writer (a non-Christian Rabbi) makes no attempt to deny that some sort of supernatural events were performed by Jesus." As mentioned earlier, there is evidence that people worshiped someone called Jesus, I do not dispute that. Most likely, there was a teacher named Jesus. There is no documentation anywhere outside of the Bible that actually claims he had Divine powers, only that his followers claim he did. Big difference. There is a difference between being hanged for sorcery and actually performing miricles. 2,000 years ago, no one doubted the existance of magic and sorcery.
08/17/2004 06:49:26 PM
PaganPriest, I appreciate your sentiment. I really do. However, the more we turn this discussion toward Christianity and away from Reconstructionist faiths, the less chance we have that the Christians here will ever learn anything positive about us.
08/17/2004 05:52:23 PM
Several pages ago, VigiDivine wrote: /16/04 10:25:44 PM "Is God being arbitrary and capricious? The cross speaks against it." Sorry, I would say that if anything, the cross shouts loudly of an arbitrary and capricious God. Jehovah just couldn’t admit He was wrong with the condeming all of mankind for Adam & Eve’s simple mistake, He had to have a blood sacrifice... But, that is just my view on it.
08/17/2004 08:39:47 AM
"If we rely on "divine calling", how do we know it is true? Maybe its just the devil (or Loki?) pulling our chain. What place do evidence, logic and personal experience play?" Again, for me, it comes down to what effects do holding these beliefs have on my life? This provides, in my opinion, the only rational means by which to judge faith. In that way, even if my beliefs aren't factually accurate, they are nevertheless True and positive and worth holding on to.
08/17/2004 08:36:20 AM
"The question of proof is an interesting one. Why do we believe what we believe?" Well, everyone is a bit different in this regard so it's hard to proffer a single answer. For me, I would simply offer the old adage, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." In this context, the outer trappings of religions, the written documentation, the claims and counterclaims of "historicity" mean nothing if their teachings and ways do not have a positively transformative effect in my life.
08/17/2004 08:31:14 AM
Yadayada, "And you went to college for this? Because I went to LEARN to think, not to be told HOW to." You have completely (deliberately?) mischaracterized CH's argument about the historicity of the Bible. In the process, you have now derailed the discussion with irrelevencies and personal insults. If you wish to discuss the historicity of Christ or the Bible, there are boards for that subject that I'd be happy to recommend. Here, however, the subject is Reconstructionist religions. Please do try to stay on task and don't view every comment that challenges your perspective as a personal attack. CH was most certainly NOT attacking Christianity with his statements.
08/17/2004 08:24:32 AM
"So to sum up in vernacular: "don't sweat the small stuff because no one cares", but "make sure you don't screw up big 'cause your kin will throw you out on your butt to die in outer darkness"?" Nope. I'm afraid you still aren't getting it. :-) In Traditional society, kin would almost never throw you out on your butt. Furthermore, the small stuff, in terms of interpersonal relationships, are important, more so, in fact, than in modern society. While I understand that from a Christian perspective redemption and fate may be intimately tied to one another (i.e. your original question), they really aren't seen that way from the Traditional Germanic perspective. From your response I sense that you offered these questions as flip sides of the same coin. My original answer should be viewed from the perspective of two separate coins.
08/17/2004 04:27:59 AM
The question of proof is an interesting one. Why do we believe what we believe? In the NT accounts the vast majority didn't believe Jesus in spite of many miraculous signs performed in their presence, and in spite of 1st-hand accounts of the resurrection itself. Did they lack proof? If so, what would have constituted proof to them? Why did they not "get it", though the upwards of 100 disciples who gathered before Pentecost did? And what about those of us who have to rely on secondary sources? If God makes our belief a moral issue, then he must make it possible for us to believe. If we rely on "divine calling", how do we know it is true? Maybe its just the devil (or Loki?) pulling our chain. What place do evidence, logic and personal experience play?
08/17/2004 01:30:31 AM
Oh yes, the old snarky defence: If you don't like what someone says, start insulting them. Show your wit and make it a veiled insult. Though I cede this point. I should have been clearer at the beginning, due to the fact that some people regard a "historical document" as "something that has had great impact on, or relevance to, history". In that respect, the Bible is a historical document, in the same manner as the Tao, the Q'ran, the Declaration of Independence... If you thought I meant it in that way, then I apologize for the misunderstanding. I mean it in the sense of "historical document" being the "accurate factual telling of a history", ie, historically accurate. And I stand by the statement that the Bible is not historically accurate, certainly not in any provable manner. Again, Frith. CH
08/17/2004 01:14:42 AM
Ah, yes, of course, the old ostrich defense: ignore it & it'll go away. Dismiss it and it doesn't exist! And you went to college for this? Because I went to LEARN to think, not to be told HOW to.
08/17/2004 01:12:28 AM
Chicago: here's a question for you: why is it that whenever a non-believer gets caught in a false statement about christianity and is overwhelmed by evidence he always tries to bring the argument down to an emotional level? Emotionally overwrought indeed. Sheesh!
08/17/2004 01:12:24 AM
If you want to see this as an attack on Christianity, fine. I have said time and again that the Bible is a very very valid faith reference. If you want to see the mention that it isn't a historical document as some sort of intolerance, put-down, bigotry, or attack... well... that's your issue, not mine. I put the lore of my own faith to just as rigorus an examination. And I say that it too, is not a hitorical document. While I believe it is true, it is not empirically provable as true. That's the beauty of faith. Sorry you have an issue with that. Frith, CH
08/17/2004 01:11:31 AM
Yada-- You've proven that Christians existed and that THEY believed in Jesus. This isn't news. I *know* Christians exist! :) Tacitus *is* a good historical reference. He *does* mention that there is a "Christus" that was a cult leader who was put to death. That is a great historical place to start. From there' if I were doing a dig, I'd try to uncover his sources. Note, though, he didn't say that the man claimed godhood, or to be the son of a god, or that he was held to be a king or anything like that. Tacitus shows the "historical" Christus as a troublemaker who a bunch of fanatics worshipped. Tacitus is usually fairly reliable. Not perfect, but reliable. Kinda jibes with the Bible, what he says, no?
08/17/2004 01:06:20 AM
Chicago says: You are right when you say that the Bible is a good starting point for an archaeological dig. ********* Actually, I didn't say that--Paganpriest did. So your post should rightly be addressed to him. I would add that this same argument (about Noah) you make was also made about the existence of Abraham--whose name has been found in the region he was biblically placed in, in an ancient city site. That, as you should know IF you really know archeology, is rare in archeology. But the lack of someone's 'Kilroy Was Here' does not prove the non-existence of that person--as you should also know. And, if you're honest, you should also admit that every find which corroborates the Bible adds to its validity and reliability as an historical document. I have real doubts as to your knowledge in this area, however, given the fact that you actually made the incredible statement that the Bible was not an historical document. And deservedly so.
08/17/2004 01:01:34 AM
Tyrsson: So to sum up in vernacular: "don't sweat the small stuff because no one cares", but "make sure you don't screw up big 'cause your kin will throw you out on your butt to die in outer darkness"?
08/17/2004 12:57:58 AM
Vigidivine; I wasn't talking to you anyhow.
08/17/2004 12:56:37 AM
Chicago Heathen: there's something wrong AND bad about people who claim something doesn't exist which plainly does, as the evidence I've posted here shows. This is not even all the proofs I could cite, but we have to allow for room here. And the fact that ANYONE would have to go to the lengths of presenting false ideas about another religion smacks, to be perfectly honest, of desperation. As if that person were not sure enough of what he himself believed that he felt it could stand alongside that other faith. What is it about the fundamentalist attitude that it seems to creep into every faith--even paganism? Faith doesn't stand by tearing down--especially falsely--the beliefs of others. It stands in the truth of what we know in ourselves to be good and right. And the confidence that we have in that.
08/17/2004 12:56:36 AM
VigiDivine, I'm heading off to bed. Despite our rocky start, it's been a pleasure discussing this with you. I hope we can continue tomorrow. :-) In frith, Týsson
08/17/2004 12:54:53 AM
Yadayada: I understand the reason for the flood of posts, but it would have been nice if it could have been done out-of-stream rather than choking up this skinny space.
08/17/2004 12:53:56 AM
Yes, historical places are mentioned in the Bible. Again, there are real places mentioned in the works of Stephen King. Heck, I've even been on a tour of the place that inspired "The Shining", and could easily believe it haunted. But just because the hotel really exists, just because Boulder, Colorado exists, just because a bunch of places he mentioned in the story exists, doesn't mean Danny Torrence ever existed. Doesn't mean Jack Torrence got snared by an evil hotel-spirit. But I've been to Stapelton! I was there! Doesn't that make it true? No. Because some of the places and people mentioned in the Bible existed too, doesn't mean that everything in it is true, factual, or historical. It only gives you a starting point from which to look for the truth. Not the whole of the truth itself.
08/17/2004 12:53:41 AM
Actually, Yada... Archaeology was also part of my college coursework. I had to take a ton of Humanities courses, and I stuck to ancient history, mythology, and anthropology, including archaeological anthropology. You are right when you say that the Bible is a good starting point for an archaeological dig. But that dig would be done, generally, to prove the existance of things that happened in the Bible. There is strong evidence to support a major flood in the area. This is also supported by other cultures' myths of similar antiquity. (See Gilgamesh.) However, there is no more proof that Noah existed than there is that Gilgamesh existed.
08/17/2004 12:52:25 AM
"I didn't find any idea of redemption, which to some people seems to be a selling point, but what I did find was "one failure and you're doomed you unlucky dude". And since I'm definitely in the "doomed" camp, I'd like to know whether I understood this correctly :-)" LOL! Not quite. The concept of fate is really quite complex and difficult to address in such short space. Suffice it to say that the foundation for the Germanic concept of fate is that the present builds upon the actions of the past. Most things we do in the past are of relatively little consequence or can be corrected easily enough. However, some actions are of such import and carry such great weight that their consequences are difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. Furthermore, our paths sometimes collide with events over which we have no control. However, the future, inasmuch as it exists at all, is not fixed.
08/17/2004 12:52:16 AM
"Did a little quick reading on this. I found concepts of "luck" (fate?) and shame, which remind me oddly enough of extant Japanese culture." There are valid comparisons to be made between extant shame based cultures and the ancient Germanic peoples. Of course, there will also be important differences between them all as well.
08/17/2004 12:49:41 AM
My answer below to Paganpriest is a quote from a book cited at the end of the posts. True, Pagan, you only asked for one source to be cited, but that attitude begs to be shown up for what it is. However, should you happen to be among those who hate any fact which happens to disagree with your own predisposed ideas, feel free to read just the first one and skip to the end for the closing comments.
08/17/2004 12:46:25 AM
Paganpriest says: As far as Jesus is concermed, there's the gospel and there's... the gospel. There is a pasage in Josephus(sp?) that mentioned something about people believing that there was a man named Jesus. If you can actually cite an other document, by all means tell me. I'd like to see it. ****************** If there was evidence to refute the miracles of Jesus, the early enemies of Christianity could have readily destroyed the authority of the New Testament documents. However, there are no such documents from the first century (or any other century for that matter) that refute the recorded accounts of the life or miracles of Jesus. In fact, in the Babylonian Talmud, the writer records that Yeshua, (the Hebrew name for Jesus), was "hanged on a tree for sorcery!" What is interesting about this historical reference to Jesus is that the writer (a non-Christian Rabbi) makes no attempt to deny that some sort of supernatural events were performed by Jesus.
08/17/2004 12:45:52 AM
Thallus Thallus was a historian who lived in the middle of the first century CE. His writings focus partly on the historical events of the Roman Empire of that century. We do not have his original works, written around 52 CE, but we do have the writings of men who referred to his work. Julius Africanus, an early church father writing in the year 221 CE, wrote about the writings of Thallus. In a document written by him, there is a discussion about the darkness that was recorded by the writers of the New Testament at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus. "Now from the 6th hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land." (Matthew 27:45)
08/17/2004 12:45:26 AM
Now the skeptic might easily dismiss this event, recorded in the gospel of Matthew, as mere dramatics, an attempt to dress up the crucifixion event was some supernatural imagery. However, the darkness which occurred at the time of a full moon was recorded by Thallus. Africanus notes that Thallus had attempted to explain away the event: "Thallus, in the third book of its history explains away the darkness as an eclipse of the sun, unreasonably as it seems to me." Africanus, writing in the year 221 CE, had access to the writings of Thallus. Thallus in his third book wrote that this darkness, which occurred during the reign of Caesar Tiberius, was a result of an eclipse of the sun. Africanus makes the point that this could not have been a solar eclipse, because the crucifixion took place at Passover which always occurs during a full moon and during a full moon, there can be no solar eclipse. Africanus recognized this.
08/17/2004 12:44:50 AM
An interesting aspect of this reference is that Thallus does not try to deny the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, the occurrence of his crucifixion nor the historical fact that the darkness occurred. He presents Jesus of Nazareth as a historical person, and the darkness as a historical event. His motive in writing about the darkness is to explain it as a natural event. Philopon Philopon, a sixth century secular historian, wrote regarding Phlegon as well. He wrote: "And about this darkness. . . Phlegon recalls it in his book The Olympiads." Like Thallus, Phlegon verifies the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth and the historicity of the darkness which occurred during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. These common threads occurring in the writings of two men who were not Christians is powerful evidence that Jesus is a historical figure and an unnatural darkness (not an eclipse) occurred during his life.
08/17/2004 12:44:18 AM
Tacitus Cornelius Tacitus, born circa 52 -- 55 CE, became a senator in the Roman government under Emperor Vespasian. He was eventually promoted to Governor of Asia. Writing in the year 116 CE in his Annals, he writes of the burning of Rome in 64 CE and how Caesar Nero had tried to stop the rumor that he (Nero) was behind the destruction. "Therefore, to scotch the rumor (that Nero had burned Rome) Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue. . .
08/17/2004 12:43:27 AM
They (the Christians) were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night. Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of the charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man." This amazing document verifies that Jesus, or Christus, was a true historical figure, that he lived and was killed under the reign of Caesar Tiberius, that he was sentenced under Pontius Pilate and that by about 64 CE, Christianity had spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire.
08/17/2004 12:42:58 AM
"That is quite a testimony. This letter confirms that Christians worshiped a crucified Jewish sage, that they face death bravely and that they despised worldly attributes. He explains this on the basis that Christians believed they were immortal and would spend eternity with God." None of which proves that there was, indeed, a crucified Jewish sage. It merely shows that there were people who believed there to be a crucified Jewish sage. That's an important difference. It's also completely irrelevant to this discussion.
08/17/2004 12:42:30 AM
Tacitus verifies that Christians were viciously tortured by Nero only 32 years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. They historical validity of this letter by Tacitus is doubted by very few scholars. According to some scholars, Tacitus is: "Universally considered the most reliable of historians, a man in whom sensibility and imagination, though lively, could never spoil a critical sense rare in his time and a great honesty in the examination of the documents." Emperor Hadrian During the period when Hadrian was Emperor of Rome, 117 -- 138 CE, there continued to be tremendous persecution of Christians. Serenius Granianus, the governor of Asia at that time, wrote a letter to Emperor Hadrian asking for his advice regarding how he should handle the Christians. Hadrian responded to Serenius' successor, Minucius Fundanus, and an excerpt from this letter, preserved by Eusebius follows:
08/17/2004 12:42:12 AM
Tyrsson: Did a little quick reading on this. I found concepts of "luck" (fate?) and shame, which remind me oddly enough of extant Japanese culture. I didn't find any idea of redemption, which to some people seems to be a selling point, but what I did find was "one failure and you're doomed you unlucky dude". And since I'm definitely in the "doomed" camp, I'd like to know whether I understood this correctly :-)
08/17/2004 12:41:41 AM
"I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, nor opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against the Christians. For it is far more proper, if anyone would bring an accusation, that you should examine it." This fascinating letter from the Roman Emperor himself verifies the historical existence of the church, the belief that Christians were troublemakers, that Christianity was illegal at that time and that Christians would be taken before a counselor simply for admitting that they were Christians.
08/17/2004 12:41:16 AM
Though not a specific reference to Jesus of Nazareth, this very early historical reference to the church, it's illegality in the Roman Empire and the persecutions (malicious proceedings) are powerful evidences for the rapid spread of the church within one generation of the life of Jesus. Therefore, this increases the reliability that Jesus was a historical figure and that the events surrounding his life were extraordinary, so much so that people were willing to die for the belief that he was the messiah. Lucian of Samosata Lucian Of Samosata, a Greek satirist, wrote a remarkable statement regarding the church in 170 CE. "The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day -- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . .
08/17/2004 12:40:37 AM
You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all-time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property." That is quite a testimony. This letter confirms that Christians worshiped a crucified Jewish sage, that they face death bravely and that they despised worldly attributes. He explains this on the basis that Christians believed they were immortal and would spend eternity with God.
08/17/2004 12:40:22 AM
There is no mention of Jesus in his lifetime in outside sources, say, from the Romans. The only mention of him is in Josephus at least 60 years after Jesus is said to have died), which has been widely disputed, and Tacitus (2nd century), who merely mentioned a man, Christus (note, not Jesus), which means "the Annointed' in Greek. No records from the actual given lifetime of Jesus are available. So, to use the Bible as "historical proof" that Jesus existed is circular logic. One must presuppose the book he is mentioned in is true historically for it to prove Jesus existed historically. One last time, belief is not proof. Faith is not fact. There's nothing wrong or bad about it. It's just how things are.
08/17/2004 12:40:10 AM
For the Bible to be taken as a historical document, a few things have to happen. First off, there needs to be corroborating evidence. Now, there is a fair amount of evidence suggesting that some of the things in the Old Testament happened. It's hard to seperate legend from what actually happened. (Many of my Jewish friends also say the OT is not strictly factual, but mingles fact and legend and belief.) However, there's not a whole lot of evidence supporting the existence of Jesus, or the events in the NT, other than that the epistles were really written to people. There's "evidence" in the Bible, but you can't use the book to prove the existence of someone mentioned in the book. (cont)
08/17/2004 12:39:30 AM
Mara Bar-Serapion Mara Bar-Serapion, a Syrian and a stoic philosopher, wrote this letter to his son from prison sometime after 70 CE. "What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from their executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise man the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given."
08/17/2004 12:38:58 AM
This letter refers to Jesus of Nazareth as being the "wise king". The writer is obviously not a Christian because he places Jesus on a par with Pythagoras and Socrates. Consequently, the writer can hardly be described as biased in his reference to Jesus and the church. Therefore, it is a valuable historical reference regarding the historicity of Jesus. There are many other non-Christian historical sources for Jesus of Nazareth but since space is limited we will move on to rabbinical sources. In Search Of The Messiah--Mark Eastman (who is Jewish, I might add).
08/17/2004 12:38:17 AM
Paganpriest also says: Yadayada, don't confuse faith with fact. If you have faith in Jesus, that is fine for you. I'm not interested. But don't pretend that your faith means that there are real facts to back it up. **************** Well, there are your real facts. So my reply to YOU is, I could care less whether you're interested in my faith or not. But you ought to have enough respect for what others believe not to PRETEND to a knowledge you clearly do not have, while accusing them of pretending to facts which need no pretense. There's a word for that--no, a couple of words: bigotry and hypocrisy.
08/17/2004 12:27:57 AM
Paganpriest says: Actually, ChicagoHeathen, if I were going to do an archaeological dig or historical research in that time and place, I would start with the Bible. It may not always be right, but it can help point in the general area. ************* Archeology has proven scripture to be incredibly accurate. Having studied it for over 30 years, I think I can safelt speak to that. You, like many people, are a victim of the blind prejudice of the closed minds of the 'open-minded' in this country, which says that no reasonable or thinking person can possibly believe scripture. This tells me a few things about you. 1) That you have no idea concerning the archeological or other evidence concerning scripture. As I said earlier, Josh McDowell's books are a good starting place to look for that. 2) That you, like most people, believe whatever you're told, so long as it falls within the realm of popular opinion. More to follow.
08/17/2004 12:17:37 AM
Yadayada-- Again, you are mistaking a religious document with a historical one. I actually am very well informed; I have studied Christianity and many other religions, and I once was Christian. Even the nuns taught that the Bible was a religious document, and not a historical one. That does not make it invalid as a source of faith for Christians. It does, however, without corroborating reliable evidence, prove the existance of Jesus. Please note the difference before getting all emotionally overwrought, for so you seem to be. As I said, I do not view my OWN religious texts as historical proof, so this isn't Christianity-bashing. It's a simple explanation of faith vs. proof.
08/17/2004 12:15:54 AM
"BTW: Thanks for the Tacitus quote. The Web ref I found says that he was probably wrong about the Teutons not representing the gods in human likeness, on which issue I claim no personal competence." Well, Tacitus is not without his problems as most Christian apologists are well aware. Nevertheless, the idea of idols in human likeness was rather a late addition to Germanic practices, most likely influenced by Greek contact. Before that, and even after in many cases, an idol might be no more than a piece of wood or old tree stump or even (I think) rock in which the god was thought to reside when visiting Midgard. The Germanic people had quite an abstract view of the gods, recognizing that they were more than simply humans with magical powers.
08/17/2004 12:10:25 AM
Chicago Heathen says: "Scripture", I hate to say, is not a historical document. ******************* You, I hate to say, are incredibly misinformed. Scripture is made up of many, many historical documents, known as papyrii. Each book of the Bible has several (at least) copies of these historical documents from which we get our modern translations. Should you really be making authoritative statements about something you clearly don't know about? How about if I came in here and said all pagans were satan worshippers--a common misconception of some, I might add--would you think that was either reasonable or balanced? The proper thing to do when one has an idea about another faith, yet is not a student of it per se, is to ASK, not TELL. And one's religion is only deserving of the respect he shows for the faith of others.
08/17/2004 12:09:59 AM
"Is there an prescriptive ethical content to your belief in the gods?" But of course! :-) Although a purely modern construct that is not without some controversy in my faith community, the ethics of our folkway have been summarized in what are known as the Nine Noble Virtues. These include courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, industriousness, self-reliance and perseverance. Mostly, though, the gods lead us by example. We have very few "shalt nots" and a lot of "this is what happens when you don't live honorablys" if that makes any sense. :-)
08/16/2004 11:27:00 PM
Tyrsson: Is there an prescriptive ethical content to your belief in the gods? BTW: Thanks for the Tacitus quote. The Web ref I found says that he was probably wrong about the Teutons not representing the gods in human likeness, on which issue I claim no personal competence.
08/16/2004 11:20:16 PM
ChicagoHeathen: I like the example of Odin showing up on your doorstep. To me it appears that "history" and "rational/irrational" are not particularly helpful when used in these ways.
08/16/2004 11:02:51 PM
Vigi-- I think you're misreading what I originally wrote. I never said that the Bible, especially the New Testament, does not validate Christian faith. I'm not talking about faith at all. What I said was, the Bible is not a historical document, and cannot be used as factual evidence as proof that Jesus existed. It is completely valid as a source of belief that Jesus existed. But belief and fact are NOT the same thing. Hel, I believe that Odin rides around the world on an eight-legged horse. The Eddas are a wonderful source to validate this belief. However, I cannot prove for a fact that Odin rides about on his horse, and even if he were to show up on my doorstep, I wouldn't be able to factually prove it to someone else, even if I could make them believe it happened.
08/16/2004 10:55:07 PM
"The problem on our side is that God is simply so "big" we are afraid of him and his reaction to our defects." Hrm... Well, from Tacitus we know: "The Germans do not think it in keeping with the divine majesty to confine gods within walls or to portray them in the likeness of any human countenance. Their holy places are woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to that hidden presence which is seen only by the eye of reverence. Germania Chapter 9 The difference, it would seem, is that our gods have given us no reason to fear them.
08/16/2004 10:46:04 PM
"I think you are being too harsh to say your belief is irrational." I imagine, then, that we place different connotations on the word "irrational." For me, it is not a negative thing. "To illustrate: I cannot prove my wife loves me, but I am not irrational to do so." A classic example to be sure. The analogy fails, however, in that, unlike "God," one can objectively demonstrate that your wife exists. This is why faith will always remain irrational. Again, though, I do not use this in any pejorative sense. It really reflects the inherent limitations with rational thought.
08/16/2004 10:45:17 PM
Gwyddion9: My point was the parental affection and care, not the gender of the parent. I feel bad to take your acceptance of my point without offering to debate you on feminist theology, but there ya go :-)
08/16/2004 10:42:16 PM
I'll also add that the bible progressively moves away from deity residing in cultic objects, sacred spaces or sacred times to the (in biblical worldview) final revelation of the character of God in the person of the human-divine Jesus of Nazareth, and his continuing presence by the Holy Spirit in his followers. That's why "church" means a group of followers, not a building. The claim of the bible is the cultic objets, spaces and seasons are "too small" to reveal God properly, and thus they lead us astray. The problem on our side is that God is simply so "big" we are afraid of him and his reaction to our defects.
08/16/2004 10:40:42 PM
"In defense of Isaiah, many christians term "idols" those things that we make more important in our life more than the one God. In that sense, we are saying that we are not to elevate fertility or wisdom or fire or other things to the place of God." Fair enough. However, when pagans speak of things like wisdom or fertility, they are merely acknowledging the gifts the gods choose to bestow upon us. We certainly aren't placing these gifts above the gods. "Is God being arbitrary and capricious? The cross speaks against it." Well, we could argue on this point for weeks and likely never come to any agreement. Suffice it to say that, in my experience, the Christian God has followers that he calls to himself, just as other gods do. My gods called me home just as I'm sure you feel your God called to you. The beauty of polytheism is that it is necessarily tolerant of these differences.
08/16/2004 10:35:00 PM
VigiDivine, more to the fact of the matter, the NT referes to God, Father, Dad simply because the beliefs were based upon a patriarchial society. Men were everything, women were nothing...things to own. A great book discussing this issue is "When God was a Woman" by Merlin Stone. great book, though is has it's slow moments.
08/16/2004 10:30:45 PM
I think you are being too harsh to say your belief is irrational. To illustrate: I cannot prove my wife loves me, but I am not irrational to do so. My belief in my wife's love is based on experience of her, especially in those situations where other explanations were unlikely. So I'm not 100% sure, but I am reasonably certain, and rational to believe that she does, and to act accordingly.
08/16/2004 10:30:24 PM
I must agree with Nightlad, Who ever said they left? Nightlad, you're right. whether one professes the Greek or other pantheons, they've never left, it was humanity who stopped paying attention. Bless them for their patience!
08/16/2004 10:25:44 PM
Tyrsson: You are right. For another example, the OT prophet Isaiah fails to make the distinction when he disses those who make and worship wooden idols. In defense of Isaiah, many christians term "idols" those things that we make more important in our life more than the one God. In that sense, we are saying that we are not to elevate fertility or wisdom or fire or other things to the place of God. The reason for taking this stance is illustrated in the N.T.'s terming God "Father" or "Dad", indicating the closeness of the relationship he wants with us. The cross of Christ shows how much the relationship means to him. And "jealousy" is the word used to describe his refusal to let us be intimate with another diety. The O.T. judgements on Israel show this side of it. Is God being arbitrary and capricious? The cross speaks against it.
08/16/2004 10:11:40 PM
ChicagoHeathen: There's enough definitions of faith floating around that perhaps it would be helpful to give the biblical definition of faith as I understand it. Something like this: - God says something that can be classified either as true (corresponding with objective reality) or false. - Believer assents mentally to what God says - Believer responds by acting in accordance with what God said, in other words trusting that God's statement is "true". This conception of faith is centered on whether God said it, and the truth-value of what "God said", and the human response having both internal and external aspects with consequences to the believers life and well-being. So: - beliefs are verifiable in principle, but not necessarily in the short term. For example Abraham was promised a child by his barren wife, but he had to wait for 24 years. - reasonable/coherent - not based solely on reason, but based on revelation from God - with consequences both spiritual and otherwise
08/16/2004 10:11:32 PM
"May I ask you: what do you mean by "irrational"?" Simply that some things lie outside the purview of rational discourse. The "rational" is accessible through the scientific method. The "irrational" is not. The subject of divinity, in all its forms, is outside this realm and is, hence, irrational at its core. Belief is something held to be true with one's heart, not one's head.
08/16/2004 10:07:37 PM
"The crux of the matter is that religion, of itself, is pointless unless it serves, respects, and honors a conscious entity." Then you should have no trouble with Reconstructionist faiths. "One can pray to a statue for one's own satisfaction, but the statue will not assist you in any way - it is merely a man made idol - it did not give you life." I am continually puzzled by Christians' claims that pagans are worshipping idols. Idols have always represented a deity, and at times served as a home for a diety during its stay on earth. However, idols have never been considered the deity itself. Ironically, most Christians are quite fond of their crucifixes and crosses and don't see themselves as worshipping idols. "The mere fact that we are conscious, that we can even question our existence - that we seek some power greater than ourselves for answers - speaks volumes in itself of an intelligent origin for life on earth." I tend to agree.
08/16/2004 10:02:41 PM
Steve: I wasn't born christian or raised that way. When I reached college I had a strong interest in Zen. I've started looking at Islam recently. The last few years, I've been reading the bible intensively. Its quite interesting: after you soak yourself long enough, the bible finds its own voice, and while you should know what the traditions say, you begin to be able to evaluate the "parts of the elephant" that each emphasizes. So, yes I have investigated. There is nothing and no one like the Christ of God anywhere I've looked.
08/16/2004 09:51:59 PM
May I ask you: what do you mean by "irrational"? That what you believe is not derived from solely from reason, or that it is does not meant to integrate with the rest of experience and knowledge, or something else?
08/16/2004 09:47:11 PM
>>How many of you have actually researched another religion? How about simply trying to respect another faith? I can't speak for others, only myself after years of questioning and researching other religions and manuscripts than the Bible that I have come to my conclusions. The issue isn't respect of another's faith - a person of any other faith is welcome at my table. The crux of the matter is that religion, of itself, is pointless unless it serves, respects, and honors a conscious entity. One can pray to a statue for one's own satisfaction, but the statue will not assist you in any way - it is merely a man made idol - it did not give you life. The mere fact that we are conscious, that we can even question our existence - that we seek some power greater than ourselves for answers - speaks volumes in itself of an intelligent origin for life on earth. And if not, then any relgion is meaningless and serves only the men that create it.
08/16/2004 09:38:31 PM
"So, do you believe the Greek gods exist in an objective sense; e.g. do they exist for me even if I don't believe in them?" I believe that the gods of all peoples are objectively real, yes. (Keep in mind that I do not honor Greek gods.) "How do you know?" Like any irrational belief, I take it on faith. However, I also look objectively at my life before and after I came home to my gods. In every way, my life is better now than it was before. "How do you know what they are like?" Through the lore our ancestors shared of their experiences with the gods and through my own interactions with them. "Do they want anything from us?" In my experience, only the honor that is their due. "If so, how do you know what they want?" Through the collective experience of my ancestors with the gods.
08/16/2004 09:28:05 PM
Neener, neener to you too. So, do you believe the Greek gods exist in an objective sense; e.g. do they exist for me even if I don't believe in them? How do you know? How do you know what they are like? Do they want anything from us? If so, how do you know what they want?
08/16/2004 09:20:28 PM
"I've noticed myself what others have claimed: post-modern skepticism kills meaningful conversation." Just as I've noticed an alarming rise in the number of people who are unable to clearly state, or meaningfully develop, a thesis. "So, like, have a nice day!" Right back at ya!
08/16/2004 09:18:02 PM
"Almost to a person, they suffered greatly for their beliefs for a future reward which they would only obtain if what they taught was true." There's nothing unique to Christianity about martyrdom. Many people of many different religions have died for the strength of their beliefs with nothing but faith to guide them. "The issue of factual accuracy is worth exploring, but I suggest you Goggle for it." I've examined it and I remain unconvinced. At the same time, I don't think it's particularly important since, in the end, it all comes down to faith.
08/16/2004 09:17:25 PM
Vigil-- Actually, I studied ancient history and mythology in college. The Bible, while containing some factual and historical material, is not a historic document. It cannot be used to verify the validity of anything, except for a set of beliefs. So, while the Scriptures/the Bible are a great reference, starting-point, and lore for the Christian faith, they prove nothing about the actual, factual, existance of a Jesus of Nazareth.
08/16/2004 09:11:20 PM
Tyrsson: I've noticed myself what others have claimed: post-modern skepticism kills meaningful conversation. "That's nice for you". "So what". "Whatever". And email/BBS take it to the n-th. So, like, have a nice day!
08/16/2004 09:07:05 PM
ChicagoHeathen: You are right,the New Testament is not simply history. It would be very odd to claim that a letter sent from a missionary to a church (as much of the N.T. comprises) is history as such. And the gospels are presentations of historical material. Have you ever edited together a presentation without knowing what you were trying to say? So reasonable questions are about factual reliability, transparency of the author's agenda, and whether the intention is good or manipulative. The NT writers are clear in what they are trying to do, and why they think it to everyone's benefit to believe what they witnessed and.or determined from 1st hand witnesses. Almost to a person, they suffered greatly for their beliefs for a future reward which they would only obtain if what they taught was true. The issue of factual accuracy is worth exploring, but I suggest you Goggle for it.
08/16/2004 09:04:42 PM
"No, all religions and beliefs are not equal." Agreed. "I give strong preference to the God of Jesus, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., despite the evil done by others who claimed to know and obey Jehovah or follow Jesus." More power to you. "Since there are objective reasons for my preference, I feel no shame in urging others to reconsider their beliefs." Been there. Done that. I have objective reasons for my preferences, too, and, like you, I feel no shame.
08/16/2004 09:01:34 PM
"The relevance is that Plato was Greek. Socrates was forced to commit suicide for recasting piety in humanistic terms." So the relevance is that you'd like to demonstrate a passing familiarity with Greek philosophers?? I'm sorry, but I still don't see what any of this has to do with modern Reconstructionist faiths. "I live in Japan; at an intersection near my house is a row of little Buddhist Jizo statues placed to secure children's safety. [Do they?] On the other hand, children are taught myths about the Kappa who lures you into the water and sucks your blood and liver through your anus. Common summer TV fare features people oppressed by spirits." Fascinating, though irrelevant. "I'm told other Asian countries exhibit more of the fear and oppression from the spiritual realm." Again, interesting, but irrelevant.
08/16/2004 08:45:21 PM
Actually, the worst murderers in the bible according to our sensibilities were faithful servants of Molech/Melek/Melkart, who burnt their children alive to this "glorious" god of fire. I also remember visiting Chichen Itza in Mexico, and thinking I'm glad I'm a tourist and not a contemporary about to have my heart cut out a la Temple of Doom. No, all religions and beliefs are not equal. I give strong preference to the God of Jesus, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., despite the evil done by others who claimed to know and obey Jehovah or follow Jesus. Since there are objective reasons for my preference, I feel no shame in urging others to reconsider their beliefs.
08/16/2004 08:32:57 PM
I stand by what I said. Scriptures are not a historical document. They contain some historical fact, and can be used in conjunction with archaeological and strict historical evidence to get a picture of what was happening in the area at that time. To be precise, historical documents are things like censuses, merchant records, trial records, or even "histories", though these are often suspect in their own right. The Iliad of Homer is not a historical document, it is a legend about something that actually happened. In modern terms, we would call it historical fiction. However, it can be used as a starting-point on where to look for actual historical evidence to back it. They can prove Troy existed and was sacked, likely by the Hellenes. They may even be able to prove a man named Achilleus fought there. They will never be able to prove, though, what was said, or that he was a son of a god. Hence, it is legend mixed with history. See the difference?
08/16/2004 08:22:47 PM
Tyrsson: The relevance is that Plato was Greek. Socrates was forced to commit suicide for recasting piety in humanistic terms. I live in Japan; at an intersection near my house is a row of little Buddhist Jizo statues placed to secure children's safety. [Do they?] On the other hand, children are taught myths about the Kappa who lures you into the water and sucks your blood and liver through your anus. Common summer TV fare features people oppressed by spirits. I'm told other Asian countries exhibit more of the fear and oppression from the spiritual realm.
08/16/2004 07:25:28 PM
First and foremost I'd like to say that Hitler was no believer of ANY FAITH. Adolph Hitler, the second most brutal murderer to be found in the annals of history, was an atheist. If he were any religion, he would have taken more out of the ancient Vedic religions. Not Norse Mythology. Secondly, if the God proclaimed by Jews and Christians is in any way real, he's not worth the time of thought. He's the first most famous murderer. See the book of Joshua for this "compassionate" God's answer to the Canaanites!
08/16/2004 07:25:26 PM
First and foremost I'd like to say that Hitler was no believer of ANY FAITH. Adolph Hitler, the second most brutal murderer to be found in the annals of history, was an atheist. If he were any religion, he would have taken more out of the ancient Vedic religions. Not Norse Mythology. Secondly, if the God proclaimed by Jews and Christians is in any way real, he's not worth the time of thought. He's the first most famous murderer. See the book of Joshua for this "compassionate" God's answer to the Canaanites!
08/16/2004 07:25:21 PM
First and foremost I'd like to say that Hitler was no believer of ANY FAITH. Adolph Hitler, the second most brutal murderer to be found in the annals of history, was an atheist. If he were any religion, he would have taken more out of the ancient Vedic religions. Not Norse Mythology. Secondly, if the God proclaimed by Jews and Christians is in any way real, he's not worth the time of thought. He's the first most famous murderer. See the book of Joshua for this "compassionate" God's answer to the Canaanites!
08/16/2004 06:43:16 PM
"The ancient Greeks stopped believing in these "deities" and redefined them according to humanist philosophies (http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/pgodscht.htm)." Some did, yes. "Should you bow down to something which is a product of your own mind?" I certainly wouldn't. But then, the fact that modern Reconstructionists, by and large, aren't reframing the ancient gods in humanist terms makes this question moot as does the fact that Reconstructionist notions of what constitutes worship is very different from Judeo-Christian/Muslim constructs. "By doing so, can you add even one day to your life?" Does it matter? "If there is a God with qualities like those described by the Jews and the Christians, or even Plato, don't you think he'd be furious at such willful foolishness?" Given that we don't worship the Christian God, what possible relevance does this question have?
08/16/2004 06:39:12 PM
"Truly, this makes no sense whatsoever. Monotheism is much more sensible than polytheism, that much is undeniable." Actually, it's quite deniable as our faith nicely demonstrates. Monotheism makes no sense whatsoever. "Perhaps the only theism more unsettling than polytheism, is atheism." I disagree. I find monotheism far more unsettling than atheism.
08/16/2004 06:37:19 PM
"This is the simple case of what rejects and losers do now that Dungeons and Dragons is no longer en vogue." Unsupportable ad hominem. "In the absence of any radical counter-culture like the hippie movement of the 60's, we will continue to see Goths, Wicca and now these "neo-Pagans"." And your point is? "Well, Hitler did the same thing and was a believer in Norse mythology, so they're in great company." Actually, Hitler was not a believer in Norse mythology. In fact, he rejected Wotanists completely.
08/16/2004 06:16:12 PM
I tend to agree. Truly, this makes no sense whatsoever. Monotheism is much more sensible than polytheism, that much is undeniable. Perhaps the only theism more unsettling than polytheism, is atheism.
08/16/2004 06:09:40 PM
This is the simple case of what rejects and losers do now that Dungeons and Dragons is no longer en vogue. In the absence of any radical counter-culture like the hippie movement of the 60's, we will continue to see Goths, Wicca and now these "neo-Pagans". Well, Hitler did the same thing and was a believer in Norse mythology, so they're in great company.
08/16/2004 05:04:55 PM
The ancient Greeks stopped believing in these "deities" and redefined them according to humanist philosophies (http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/pgodscht.htm). Should you bow down to something which is a product of your own mind? By doing so, can you add even one day to your life? If there is a God with qualities like those described by the Jews and the Christians, or even Plato, don't you think he'd be furious at such willful foolishness?
08/16/2004 03:41:26 PM
Josh McDowell has written some books which deal quite well with these things, and the questions skeptics ask. If you are a Christian who wants to validate your beliefs, then Josh McDowell is ok. If you are a true non believing skeptic, then his books are a waste of time. They are the same ole classic strawman arguments. Just because Josh McDowell suddenly had a calming peace come over him in college doesn't prove his god exists any more than Apollo exists.
08/16/2004 03:19:27 PM
No one knows what lies beyond this world, if anything. What we BELIEVE is personal and sacred to us as individuals. We should each celebrate our unique way of expressing our beliefs, rather than trying to convert or subvert others. I've learned in life that the only people to fear are those who think they KNOW the answers to everything spiritually related.
08/16/2004 11:16:05 AM
> none of them claimed to understand > why their pre-Christian subjects > believed what they believed, Jstanl - The "why" of it all may not be there, but, in many cases, the "what" is. While there's few cases (if any) of step-by-step choreographies of rites, we do know some of the major elements, enough to get the basic picture. There's a reasonable amount (varying from culture to culture) of filling in the blanks, but they're educated guesses, instead of entire fabrications. As for deciding why, at least for the modern followers - IME, that generally comes from personal interaction with polytheistic deities.
08/16/2004 11:05:57 AM
Personally, I think bringing back worship of the Greek gods is a fine thing. After all, worship is about thought forms. Some people have the thought form of Jesus in their mind, some Budda, and some Zeus. All of these are aspects of the incomprehendable.
08/16/2004 10:23:31 AM
Actually, Scripture IS a valid historical document, in fact a series of them. However, just like personal letters of concurrent history, or leftover reminders from bygone times, they should be reviewed according to their context, not treated as empirical data on their own.
08/16/2004 06:39:10 AM
How wonderfully said, steveinbiot. I agree completely. I am blessed to have friends (and family) with varying religious beliefs, some rather devout while others are more lax. I enjoy discussing our different approaches to faith with open dialogue. I have never had an “argument” with anybody over the subject… I think that people who are honest and secure in their beliefs are beyond “fighting” about them with others. But that’s just my opinion. As for the article… I thought it was quite well written. Big kudos to Ms. Winston. My only qualm was the title Bnet chose to use for it on the opening page, “They’re Back” implies that they left at some point. Maybe I’m just being knitpicky. Be blessed.
08/16/2004 04:14:59 AM
I used to be a Fundamentalist Christian. What changed for me is when I began to have the courage to truly question my religion (objectively) and started to learn about other religions. (When I say learn about other religions, I also mean looking at them objectively, not just learning how to win an argument with someone of another faith). I would invite everyone to try this as well. If your religion is true, then you will prove this to yourself beyond a shadow of a doubt, and perhaps learn a little tolerance for those that don’t think like you. Or perhaps you’ll learn that everything you believe is based on the opinion of others, and perhaps it’s time that you start to think for yourself.
08/16/2004 02:21:44 AM
Yadayada, don't confuse faith with fact. If you have faith in Jesus, that is fine for you. I'm not interested. But don't pretend that your faith means that there are real facts to back it up.
08/16/2004 02:16:55 AM
Yadayada...bull. As far as Jesus is concermed, there's the gospel and there's... the gospel. There is a pasage in Josephus(sp?) that mentioned something about people believing that there was a man named Jesus. If you can actually cite an other document, by all means tell me. I'd like to see it.
08/16/2004 02:09:35 AM
Actually, ChicagoHeathen, if I were going to do an archaeological dig or historical research in that time and place, I would start with the Bible. It may not always be right, but it can help point in the general area.
08/16/2004 12:36:20 AM
"Scripture", I hate to say, is not a historical document.
08/16/2004 12:32:50 AM
Paganpriest said: The list goes on, ther are lots of possibilities regarding the true facts of Jesus. *************** Actually, there's abundant evidence Christ existed, and that the facts of His life as reported by the Gospels are accurate. When judging historical docs and their validity, one of the things taken into account is what is said about these docs by hostile sources, that is, sources that would have no earthly reason to either admit of or advocate the truth of those docs. Scripture has quite a few of these hostile historical sources; in fact, it has more than any other ancient doc, although the bigotry of people is shown quite clearly by the fact that they accept far lesser proofs regarding docs like those from Homer or Plato, while dismissing the overwhelming evidence concerning scripture.
08/16/2004 12:32:31 AM
Josh McDowell has written some books which deal quite well with these things, and the questions skeptics ask. I highly recommend them. It's also true that, while they would never presume to do so with other religions, such as Buddhism, etc., people who actually know little or nothing of Christianity will make sweeping statements about Christianity, the Bible, etc., and expect to be treated as though they were speaking--pardon the term--gospel. Christians, however, are not supposed to be offended by that. How odd.
08/15/2004 10:23:34 PM
Regarding: "Making it up" I cannot speak for other people, only for the practices of the churh that ordained me. We do indeed make some things. It is called creativity, and it is one of the gifts of the Gods. None of our rituals are carved in stone. We have a general outline that we use, but from there it is created by the priest or priestess in charge that night. On the other hand, the reasons behind these rituals, their meaning, these things we learned from the Gods Themselves. We ask, listen and take notes.
08/15/2004 10:16:12 PM
I have been a priest of the Old Gods since Bealtaine of 1993. I serve 10 Gods to one degree or another and venerate many others, and Their Spirit does indeed dwell within me. I serve Them in this life as I have in previous lives, and as I will in future lives. Steve, you neglected to mention some of the other options regarding Jesus: >He existed and taught something like what is acribed to him, but claims of divine origion were made up by others, after his death. >He never existed at all, those "experts" you saw were saying what they wanted to believe as Christians. >He existed, but everything we now "know" about him was made up after his death. The list goes on, ther are lots of possibilities regarding the true facts of Jesus.
08/15/2004 10:01:05 PM
Oh yeah, go Kymus! You stole the words right out of my mouth!
08/15/2004 10:00:41 PM
It's time we looked back to the old ways. We looked to the practices taught to us before time. We must meditate, contemplate, and sing the praises of the spirits. The Shamans of old saw the truth, through ritual and repetition. We must do the same.
08/15/2004 08:24:51 PM
Some peoples sheer ignorance never ceases to amaze me. How many of you have actually researched another religion? How about study up historically on your own? Or what about simply trying to respect another faith? I am sure that the percentage is rather small. Very, very sad... Remove yourselves from the small bubble you live in, and you will see a very big, new world.
08/15/2004 07:46:33 PM
think its weird that people just make up random stuff and call it religion. Just because you don't agree with it doesn't mean it's random. Your implication that anyone outside your belief system is going at the religion thing all willy-nilly is insulting.
08/15/2004 07:45:25 PM
apparently, some haven't read the article "The Christianities that lost". I see the present day Christianity as a political religion founded in Rome. To assume the Bible isn't a reflection of the "we're the only right religon" is nonsence. I completely believe that the early leaders of Christianity changed, edited and rewrote the bible to reflect exactly want they wanted, mainly to support their belief that Christianity was the "only true" faith. That being said, The Gods exist and finding them more pleaseing to worship than the Christian God just befuddles some Christians. My life in this and the next is given freely in the service the Goddess and God. My relationship with Them is far peaceful, fulfilling than when i was a Christian. People need to learn to be more tolerant. one religon will never be everthing to the entire planets population. it's utterly arrogant to assuem otherwise.
08/15/2004 07:36:47 PM
"I think its weird that people just make up random stuff and call it religion." What do you perceive as having been "made up?" "Yes I know this is based on ancient Greek religion. But seriously can't you just talk to God?" I've tried talking to "God." He doesn't listen. My gods, on the other hand, do. "Or pray?" I pray all the time. What makes you think Recons don't? "God is everywhere, or so I thought." What does this have to do with anything?
08/15/2004 06:42:35 PM
(continued) The ancient Greeks had many beliefs of Zeus fathering a "man god" who dies for the good of humanity and then rises to heaven. In classical myth, Attis, Dionysos, Mitheras, Persephone, Herakles, Adonis are all dieties who die and come back to life. It can be said the Jesus is just another version of a similar theme.
08/15/2004 06:38:37 PM
"Worshipping the ancient gods may satisfy an inate desire in some individuals, however, until the son of Zeus comes to earth in the flesh and reveals what Zeus is really like to us, Zeus cannot be considered more than an idol that must be carried around by its makers because it has no power of its own." "I am Dionysos, son of Zeus, come back to Thebes, this land where I was born. My mother was Cadmos' daughter, Semele by name, midwived by fire, delievered by lightining's blast. And here I stand, an incognito god disguised as a man." --Euripides, The Bacchae.
08/15/2004 05:49:42 PM
(continued) That aside, Steve, you are putting upon other religions the requirements of your own, and judging them through that filter. Zeus does not need a son to walk the earth, though indeed, he fathered many, so that isn't a problem. Zeus does not need to send his son down to earth, though, because he has walked it himself. And he has walked it plenty of times. But again, that only shows some of what he's like. We know that the gods are more complex than we can fathom, and that we understand what we can. Zeus is not one of my gods, but he is a god, a very powerful one. He needs no one to carry him about. Though, if it comes down to it, I see it as less insulting to make a statue representing a god than to wear the image of the instrument of a god's torture as a piece of jewelry. Lastly, who said anything about serving masters or gods? Why serve them, when you can honor and love them?
08/15/2004 05:40:14 PM
Steve: I think you've rather missed a few points here. First off, I wouldn't take any TV special as evidence of truth. Secondly, all most scholars have been able to prove is that in israel, at about the time Jesus was said to have lived, there was a man named Jesus. Actually, there were many, because it was a common name. Thirdly, you have a man's name, historical places, and a date. That doesn't make the stories true. If I could show that a man named Louis Creed lived in Maine in the 1980s, and show that Bangor exists, that wouldn't make Stephen King's "Pet Semetary" be true. (cont)
08/15/2004 05:33:48 PM
(continued) So, though they did not have a bull to sacrifice, they made one of bread. It is still a way of saying: Gods, this is my bread, which I have bought (or baked!) with my own labor, which I have provided through my own labor. This is my sustenance, and you hold such a high position in my life and my love for you is such that I share with you this food." Even today, food is not always a guarantee, and this is a gift from us to the gods. I find it strange in my turn that people think that prayer alone is sufficient, and they cannot make the relationship a true two-way one, and give unto the gods in thanks for all that they give unto us.
08/15/2004 05:28:15 PM
Offerings and sacrifice are some of the oldest forms of communicating with the gods. It was and still is, a way of not just talking to the gods, but of thanking them and of giving something back to the gods. They weren't 'pretending" that the bread was a bull. The old worship in Greece in many cases called for the ritual sacrifice of a bull. This is, in modern times, not only impractical but oftentimes illegal. We can't just buy a bull, drag it to the local park or our apartment, and kill it. We don't have the immediacy our ancestors did in regards to our procurement of food. (cont)
08/15/2004 05:25:29 PM
Worshipping the ancient gods may satisfy an inate desire in some individuals, however, until the son of Zeus comes to earth in the flesh and reveals what Zeus is really like to us, Zeus cannot be considered more than an idol that must be carried around by its makers because it has no power of its own. God's Holy Spirit dwells within us. Will Zeus dwell within his worshippers? Does he offer eternal life or merely satisfaction on this earth? You cannot serve two masters or two gods. The experts agree (watch the specials on the life of Christ on the news stations if you don't believe me) that Jesus is a historical fact and even our calendars are based on the crucifixion. Given that information He was either a madman or He was exactly what He said He was - the one and ONLY son of God that reveals the true God to us.
08/15/2004 05:21:34 PM
ChicagoHeathen: very well said! It's a shame that so many people have a Holier-than-thou approach when it comes to other faiths.
08/15/2004 04:50:44 PM
I think its weird that people just make up random stuff and call it religion. Yes I know this is based on ancient Greek religion. But seriously can't you just talk to God? Or pray? God is everywhere, or so I thought. What is the necessity of pretending a loaf of bread is a bull? Is God supposed to be like "Wow they sacrificed a piece of bread. Awesome!! They're going straight to heaven!!" And I'm not just talking about paganism, I'm talking about religion in general. The philosophy of religion is interesting, but many of the rituals are random and really just pointless. Just pray. Its the easiest way to know God.
08/15/2004 02:10:45 PM
The only reasons monothesists seem to be giving here to not be polytheists is because their god said so. Um, whatever.
08/15/2004 12:11:45 AM
It is ludicrous to revive the worship of the Pagan gods... etc... If this statement were true, then paul would not have to have preached against idol worship, because people would have turned away happily. If old pagan and heathen beliefs had had no spirituality, then people would not have died for their beliefs; people would not have remembered those gods when the new one came to ursurp their places. The only "ludicrous" thing I see is a bunch of Christians mocking reconstructionists for their beliefs. Yes, I said mocking. "Ludicrous" and "false gods" and "can't they see" and all the rest are insulting. If I were to say that everyone who worsipped the imported desert war-god Yaweh was a misguided fool, I'd be screamed at. You have good reasons for believing in your god. Fine. We have good reasons for believing in ours. Deal with it.
08/14/2004 11:10:05 PM
What seems clear about the Bible is that the writers of it don't agree. Knowing the one and only God is like being an astronomer who keeps on trying to know about the beginning of the universe or the white light at the end of it. I think astronomers should tell me about Jupiter and quit spending money on useless goals. The writers of the Bible don't know the one and only God anymore than they can simulate the creation of a mammal. So they fight about it. The Bible agrees that there are "hosts" in heaven. Why don't any of them have names?
08/14/2004 10:27:00 PM
Give me that old time religion, that old time religion, give me that old time religion it's good enough for me. It was good enough for father, it was good enough for father, it was good enough for father and it's good enough for me. No, not Christianity, that's not very old, nor Judaism or Islam or the Greeks either. We are talking about the religion of those who made those cave paintings 30,000 years ago in Africa, Australia, Europe and South America. The religion of the Bushman, or the Huli tribe from Papua New Guinea where the shaman stands at an altar in a sacred place decorated with painted skulls. Let us go wild with a Vodon sacred dance, go into a trance, and feel ALIVE.
08/14/2004 08:37:19 PM
Phloxdays, You think there are multiple gods in the Bible because there are different roles being filled? YHWH is supposed to be omnipotent, so why couldn't he fill all those roles himself? Besides, even the Greek gods aren't restricted to one role (and the same is true of most other people's gods). Please note that I'm not attacking your theory here, just disagreeing with your interpretation of the Bible.
08/14/2004 06:58:12 PM
I've wondered if the Bible is really monotheistic. This is the way I see it: Genesis has the creator or Cronos in the Greek Pantheon. Then the god of wisdom comes in with rules, Deuteronomy. Then after Judges, the god of war, or before that. Then the prophets, Mercury, the messenger. Obviously the New Testament is a recasting where the love god or goddess comes in. That's the way I see it. It's all the same, only in different languages. I love the Olympics!
08/14/2004 06:43:27 PM
"not all those who believe in reconstructionist religions do so because they feel anger at their old religion." Exactly. While I do get angery with certain Christians, like those that want to shove their religion down everyone's throat, I hold no animosity toward Christianity per se.
08/14/2004 06:02:40 PM
not all those who believe in reconstructionist religions do so because they feel anger at their old religion. some people don't even have an "old" religion, they've always been reconstructionist.I also know that sometimes (not nearly always) are reconstructionists more faithful in their beliefs. I must study to learn about my religion, where my husband (who I met at a christian church) has a whole book written of his faith, but has not even read it thoroughly. (he does go to church and is not swayed by others' beliefs though, which I am immensely proud of him for.) we believe in our faiths just as much as you do, and for the same reasons: because it is what makes sense to us.
08/14/2004 06:02:03 PM
I went to a christian church with my mother until about 7 or so. they had to move me from the grade school sunday class to the high school sunday class, because of my persistence of asking questions. even then, christianity didn't make much sense to me, but at the time I thought it was the only religion. (this is why I can't stand when people say there are americans who haven't heard of jesus.) then for a gifted project, I wrote a report on ancient egyptian daily life, when I found out that others had believed in something that made more sense to me than anything I'd ever heard at church, I decided to practice it "in secret". it wasn't until I was in middle school that I learned there were other religions besides christianity, and not until HIGH SCHOOL did I learn there were other reconstructionists.
08/14/2004 05:34:25 PM
"Yes, I can see the possibility among the Nordic peoples but even there I think it is remote." It's not remote at all. In fact, it's happening and has been happening in one form or another for the past 400 years. We have the desire. We have the freedom. We have the source material. We have the methods by which to analyze that source material. That's all that's really necessary.
08/14/2004 05:27:34 PM
Fromoz, You might want to look a Balder. Jim
08/14/2004 05:24:38 PM
Anaklasis, (cont.) Yes, I can see the possibility among the Nordic peoples but even there I think it is remote. Recently I heard (read in the paper) a Native American object to being referred to as human. He said, "we're not human, we are the people of the Buffalo". OK, but in my mind this requires a mental condition of imposed ignorance. Just my opinion, Jim
08/14/2004 05:24:25 PM
People create religions to set social standards and laws, and to create stories that identify them. Much of the Old Testament is about how God loved only the Jews, and God was their protector. "God gave David victory wherever he went" The stories in the Bible are becoming outdated and not applicable to our times. Many people are searching for new stories and standards, and we see that much of Christianity is no longer based on the whole of the Bible, but "God is love". Many other people are searching in religions of the past. What we need is a new religion, but the vengeance, hatred and injustice of much of the Bible would be an inappropriate place on which to try to hang modern standards, and I believe it's the same with many other older religions, except for those based on Earth, Nature and the Universe that are consistent through time.
08/14/2004 05:23:38 PM
Anaklasis, I know almost nothing about druidism. I hear some very shoddy attempts at reconstruction has been done. Druidism is the religion of my ancestors, thus my interest. And yes, much of that heritage is still reflected in Welsh and English culture (the English borrowed it from the Welsh, etal.) Still, it is impossible, IMHO, to reconstruct the religion. There were several Druid 'trades' or disciplines and it took a decade or more to learn one of them. Druid leaders mastered two or three. They maintained colleges that maintained the disciplines. When the Romans destroyed the main college on the island of Anglesly about 60 AD the ability to sustain the disciplines was essentially lost. It mostly died with the last practitioners. The Romans had already destroyed the Druids of the Gauls. Now, in the last 200 years we have people who claim to have 'reconstructed' the religion. I don't believe it. (cont.)
08/14/2004 05:07:18 PM
"It is ludicrous to revive the worship of the Pagan gods." Everyone is entitled to his opinion. "The philosophers of Greece did not believe in them." Some did. Some didn't. So what? "Neither did heathen worship offer any spirituality." Demonstrably false. "This is why St. Paul preached against idol worship and set in motion the true understanding of the Divine amongst every nation." And what possible relevance does Paul have to us?
08/14/2004 05:03:04 PM
"When I was taught history, ancient history (ancient peoples) were generally the pre-Christian era. Arbitrary, I know, but then we divde time the same way AD (CE) vs. BC (BCE)." This really doesn't clear up the confusion of the post I was referring to. Furthermore, I would point out that this does not represent a useful dividing point. It's not as though the entire world converted simultaneously, in the same way, with the same results.
08/14/2004 04:57:47 PM
"Actually, it is the other way around. The myth represents the basis of the faith. It does not necessarily explain it." You're arguing the chicken and the egg here. It's really irrelevant to the point that mythology is a representation of a culture's beliefs. Your Genesis example illustrates my point perfectly.
08/14/2004 04:55:31 PM
theon stated: "It is ludicrous to revive the worship of the Pagan gods. The philosophers of Greece did not believe in them. Neither did heathen worship offer any spirituality. This is why St. Paul preached against idol worship and set in motion the true understanding of the Divine amongst every nation. 'He is not far from every one of us... He commands all people everywhere to repent' Paul to the Athenians, Acts 17 Is it not ludicrous to argue religion using the writings of your saint -- while the point being made here is that not all of us happen to believe in this saint, OR this bible he supposedly conributed to, OR his god?
08/14/2004 04:55:25 PM
"Well, the store subdivides relgion, etc. in three groups; 1)current or modern religions (primarily Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), 2)Mythology and 3)Occult. It's their catagories and these are in addition to their several history catagories." You know, I really love the Tattered Cover, but they really don't have the last say in religious taxonomy. The "occult" generally has to do with secret practices, often magical, that are only tangentially related to any particular religion. Again, it is a mistake to equate "occult" with "Reconstructionist."
08/14/2004 04:48:13 PM
(con't) "Adam" was created in "His" image. "Eve" was as well, but there were differences that are spelled out quite clearly. "Eve" was to be "Adam's helpmate." Yes, both male and female are called to help one another, but Adam was originally understood to have the more prominent role. The use of "He," "Him," "His," etc. is NOT accidental, nor "convenient." (Yes, I studied Christianity, theology, world religions, and related subjects while attending both a Christian [Protestant] college and university. Extensive courses in same were required for graduation.) This is not conjecture, but recognized fact.
08/14/2004 04:47:15 PM
"Some of the earliest Christian monks, especially in Ireland, may have may have been Druid converts, but they still were not interested in preserving the religious pracitce, only the legends. Even that is often modified to accomodate Christian sensibilities. Thankfully, we really don't see that trend at all with the Nordic material. At most you're likely to see some sort of disclaimer saying this is the way we used to believe but we believe differently now. There is no attempt, however, to sanitize the material in the way you often see with Celtic lore. Again, we can show fidelity across time and across geography. Moreover, many of the rituals we use in Asatru today were continued in Christian times. An often overlooked fact in discussions such as these is that the Germanic people had as much impact on Christianity as Christianity had on the Germanic people.
08/14/2004 04:46:57 PM
Heathen worship offers far, far more spirituality than the hollow dogmatism of Christianity ever could. Some of the Greek philosophers did not believe, just like today there are secular humanist philosophers. I could also point out that your own "holy" book shows that Christianity is a false religion.
08/14/2004 04:45:47 PM
Livindesert wrote: "Shows even people raised in a monotheistic culture dont understand it sometimes.Male language is used a lot sure but the actually theology of it is that God is no gender because gender is a biological thing.God is all genders and yet none at the same time." I'm sorry, but again, I must disagree with this statement. In Christianity, make no mistake -- "God" is decidedly male. He is "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" all at the same time. Parallels are made constantly throughout Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, between "God the Father" and the church, and as a model for Christian MEN to emulate in everything from marriage to fatherhood to responsibilities, especially those involving family. (con't)
08/14/2004 04:44:54 PM
"But now it's about time we went from this place: I to death, you to life. Who goes to the best, that no one knows except the God." -Sokrates, an initiate in the Apollonian mysteries, as quoted by Platon. Excerpt of Epilogos to the Apology.
08/14/2004 04:41:47 PM
"Do you have historical references written by the practicioners of the religion. I do not know of any Celtic records that were not recorded by either Romans or Christians, niether of which had any interest in preserving the religion." The earliest examples of the Nordic material date from around the turn of the first millennium, about the same time as Christian conversion began in northern lands. Clearly, however, the material is much older than that and shows remarkable fidelity with the archaeological record. Moreover, it shows remarkable fidelity with modern folk practices that never died out in the first place. Intertextual comparisons between different texts recoreded at different times by different authors in different places strongly suggest that the practices we Asatruar have reconstructed are quite accurate.
08/14/2004 04:34:38 PM
It is ludicrous to revive the worship of the Pagan gods. The philosophers of Greece did not believe in them. Neither did heathen worship offer any spirituality. This is why St. Paul preached against idol worship and set in motion the true understanding of the Divine amongst every nation. "He is not far from every one of us... He commands all people everywhere to repent" Paul to the Athenians, Acts 17
08/14/2004 04:18:32 PM
I know almost nothing about druidism. I hear some very shoddy attempts at reconstruction has been done. I guess I can respect the beliefs of these people, should I find the time and opportunity to learn about them, but I have no idea if they resemble the historical practice in any way. As for my own culture, apart from growing up in it and learning about it in the first grade, I can listen to stories and songs; I can go to the archives recording folk memory and practices, and the court records of people prosecuted for heathenry. I can read the sagas of the Icelenders, who retained old traditions longer and more completely than other folks, and talk to the nomadic Sámi people. I speak a native language which developed within the context of norse spirituality, and still reflects it to a large degree. Ever wondered what "Thursday" means, or why "Friend" sounds so much like "freedom"? (If your daughter isn't a source, why quote her as one and waste our time?)
08/14/2004 04:07:14 PM
Um, Jstanl, I think you're not quite up to date. Pre-christian cultures existed as late as in the high medieval era, in some remote areas of Europe into the renaissance. Asatru, which was the native religion to us northmen (nothing to do with celts), continues to influence our culture today. I grew up leaving gifts for spirits on holy days, just like my grandparents did, and their parents before them back to the time before the christian kings. All the asatru does are turning away from the god imposed on them by medieval catholic imperialists. The old rites have tarnished. Some have to be dug out of medieval records, some details are hazy, but they certainly aren't lost. How a bookstore decides to divide it subjects really isn't relevant here. I'm no occultist - I'm a historian and a spiritual person doing the thing I find honest and right. I can only assume that's what these Hellenists are doing, even though the period of neglect has been more than twice as long.
08/14/2004 04:04:46 PM
Anaklasis, Seems you confuse mythology with theology and history. Actually, they are not easy to seperate although I agree that those perspectives must be recognized. The study of myths and stories is not the same as the study of the ideologies and religions which produced them. Mythology seen in its context is vastly different from mythology as literature. I agree. Question; where do you find the context, for example, for Druidism? OBTW, my daughter, a woman of forty, is not my source for European mythology. Jim
08/14/2004 03:51:15 PM
Tyrsson, When I was taught history, ancient history (ancient peoples) were generally the pre-Christian era. Arbitrary, I know, but then we divde time the same way AD (CE) vs. BC (BCE). Jim
08/14/2004 03:48:07 PM
Tyrsson, All theology begins with mythology. Actually, it is the other way around. The myth represents the basis of the faith. It does not necessarily explain it. Some maintain that the Genesis creation myth is based on the Babylonian myth but they fail to realize that the Babylonian myth uses the body of a slain god for the material that another god uses to create the universe. In Judaism God creates the universe from nothing. That is a significantly different view of God on the part of the theologian even though both theologians are using similar images to explain their concept. Jim
08/14/2004 03:44:18 PM
"How does one 'reconstruct' an ancient religion that has not been practiced for nearly two thousand years? What does one base his/her faith on?" Pretty much the way modern Christianity is practiced. It resembles noting like the original 'christian' way of two thousand years ago. Rather its a combination of jewish, christian, pagan and jingoistic Americanism. Pick and choose what seems "right."
08/14/2004 03:31:31 PM
Tyrsson, And what does the occult have to do with Reconstructionist religions?!? Well, the store subdivides relgion, etc. in three groups; 1)current or modern religions (primarily Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), 2)Mythology and 3)Occult. It's their catagories and these are in addition to their several history catagories. Jim
08/14/2004 03:26:04 PM
Tyrsson, In Asatru, we have historical reference to all the sacred ceremonies we now perfrom. Are you suggesting that the historical references are wrong? Do you have historical references written by the practicioners of the religion. I do not know of any Celtic records that were not recorded by either Romans or Christians, niether of which had any interest in preserving the religion. Some of the earliest Christian monks, especially in Ireland, may have may have been Druid converts, but they still were not interested in preserving the religious pracitce, only the legends. Even that is often modified to accomodate Christian sensibilities. Jim
08/14/2004 02:48:42 PM
Livindesert wrote: "I agree with windsigner why be a religion just because you want to give your old one the middle finger." I am not Wiccan "just because" I want to give any religion the "middle finger." To begin with, I don't give anyone the middle finger. (I think it's a vile action representing a vile suggestion.) And to reiterate: Chritianity was never MY "old religion." It was my PARENTS' religion, which I was forced to endure, despite my loud protests. People are free to be whatever religion they choose, and to worship however they choose. All people. Including Wiccans. (Which IS a religion, and I view it as such.)
08/14/2004 02:40:37 PM
Badger3k wrote: "I do agree that people who switch religions (or even from one denomination to another) tend in many cases to resent and denigrate their old beliefs. I've seen many "converts" and "born-agains" of all stripes who seem to have a pathological need to villify their old beliefs. That's not everybody, but it seems to be a common human trait." Let me be clear, I am not pathologically villifying any "old beliefs." Those beliefs were never my beliefs, but were forced upon me for as far back as I can remember. And unless I had been blind, it would have been impossible to miss the hypocritical actions of MOST "Christians." Definite turn-off. I am villifying nothing, but merely telling the truth. If you see that as villification, that is not of my doing.
08/14/2004 02:33:24 PM
"Beeparoni-- Many heathens are quite happy to be called heathens. Many of us do not see it as a pejorative term. :)" Believe me, I know this. But the unelightened "others" usually do. And they attempt to use it as another point of contempt (I know -- they're wrong -- but they often seem to love to "fly" with it! I'm sure you've seen it happen, oui?!) So unless I am in a place where I KNOW that the term won't be wrongly misinterpreted (and this forum isn't one of them, as I think you've seen!), I prefer to err on the side of caution.
08/14/2004 02:32:13 PM
"At the Tattered Cover in Denver (a four story book store) the mythology and occult sections are adjacent to each other but they are significantly different kinds of literature." And what does the occult have to do with Reconstructionist religions?!? While it's true that some Reconstructionists are interested in occult practices, that is only very tangential to their religious practices. Most Reconstructionists have no interest in the occult whatsoever!
08/14/2004 02:29:56 PM
"Meanwhile, when I discuss the subject with my daughter, a self proclaimed witch, I find that we have some common understanding about what is known of those ancient people but that her knowledge of rituals and liturgy are largely fabrications." First, I have no idea what you mean by "these ancient people." Second, "witch" is not a reconstructionist religion that I know of. In fact, most witches I know consider witchcraft a practice, not a religion. "Mythologist only speculate in these areas, they don't claim to know or understand." Which tradition are you referring to? It makes a difference. In Asatru, we have historical reference to all the sacred ceremonies we now perfrom. Are you suggesting that the historical references are wrong? If so, on what evidence to you base this conclusion?
08/14/2004 02:23:39 PM
"Personally, I don't buy this. I spent over ten years reading the works of academic mythologist and none of them claimed to understand why their pre-Christian subjects believed what they believed, to the extent that that is even known." The last generation of academicians were extremely conservative in their interpretations, often to the point of absurdity. All theology begins with mythology. The recorded myths of a culture, therefore, directly tell us what that culture believes. That modern interpretations of that corpus of sacred lore might be different is of little consequence. No religion is static and interpretations would likely be different today than than in the past even if Christianity hadn't interrupted continuous practice.
08/14/2004 01:45:30 PM
One thing important to me to say is this No amount of religious education as a child will MAKE you christian if in your heart you are not, in your heart you will always be what your fellow schoolmates were encouraged to call you "Heathen" complete with spit, and curled lip. Strangely I respect the Founder of Christianity, Jesus, as HE planned HIS original version, sadly it is his followers that bug me, look what they've done to his song MOM
08/14/2004 01:39:49 PM
ChicagoHeathem, I too am happy to use the term heathen, and would add that very few people these days are fortunate to be born into a Heathen family. When I say it was religious education that MADE me heathen, I am refering to the treatment of the young child I was, sent to a religious school, and refusing to kneel and genuflect with grace, I was punished how? dont ask. I know this from childhood, No amount of bullying or even beating altered my conviction that christianity and its methods are definitely wrong, belittling a person for any reason kills their spirit, just as surely and wiping out a species of animal, which by modern "standards" is considered worse than condemning a persons belief. At a very young age I learned to think for myself, and to read of my chosen faith in private, till my runes and books were destroyed, I became very sneaky as a result it's amazing how sneaky you can become to avoid a beating (LOL)
08/14/2004 01:37:20 PM
I do agree that people who switch religions (or even from one denomination to another) tend in many cases to resent and denigrate their old beliefs. I've seen many "converts" and "born-agains" of all stripes who seem to have a pathological need to villify their old beliefs. That's not everybody, but it seems to be a common human trait. I'd also point out that there is really no archaelogical evidence that prove the definite existence of a single god of the Christian beliefs (or any other variety). Anyone can interpret historical fact (and fiction) to "justify" just about any point they want (no matter how rational or silly it is), but that doesn't make it a fact.
08/14/2004 01:36:09 PM
Most religions have their darker moments. Christianity has more noticeable dark points, since it has dominated Western societies and History for so long. The Albagensians are another good point. But really, you need to start with the Jewish zaelots, who influenced early Christians to the point where they wanted to die for their religion (the martyrs). Many Roman governers tried to prevent these people from getting themselves killed. Read about the massacres and genocide in the Bible, perpetrated on the order of the Jewish god. Christianity, while influenced by the Greeks and Romans, still has a basis in Jewish beliefs of that time. Militarism was not a uniquely Greek trait. Exporting your religious beliefs through violence does seem to be a more recent invention that occured after Christianity attained the State Religion status begun with Constantine and more or less finalized with Theodosius. (cont)
08/14/2004 01:26:41 PM
I have no problem with hellenistic reconstructionist mabey i am a montheistic reconstructionist : )
08/14/2004 12:59:06 PM
(cont) "The Romans too. When you look back at history christianity was really very peaceful and let the romans beat up on them." Look up Hypathia's story. Female philosopher. Horribly tortured. Dragged trough the streets of Alexandria by a mob. On the orders of the bishop. Check Snorri Sturluson's chronicles of the conversion of Norway. They include red hot iron and live vipers. It's far, far too late to cast christianity as the white lamb. It became a black sheep long ago. "In the end it was the Greco-roman infuenced war culture through Constantine that lead to the war like behavior of christains untill the preasent.The only christain group to support the war was the southern baptist no others did." If I understand you right, you're saying that christianity has been tainted with roman paganism for the last two millenia, and only now have you discovered the true and orignial religion as thaught by Jesus? Wouldn't that make you a reconstructionist?
08/14/2004 12:58:49 PM
"This is funny the Greeks and greco roman culture were military machines." Yeah. Right. And the United States is a fascist army bent on world domination. Don't you have a problem with looking at millenia of ordinary people living their lives and seeing a "military machine"? "Think about the Spartains." Think about the Spartans before they went militarist. Think about The Athenians, the Corinthians, the Neapolitans, the Alexandrians... "Think about Alexsander." Think about Socrates. Think about Anaxagoras. Think about Aristoteles. (cont)
08/14/2004 12:58:20 PM
I agree with windsigner why be a religion just because you want to give your old one the middle finger.
08/14/2004 12:55:30 PM
I wonder. Is it fear that makes monotheists attack polytheistic religions. [And as for the nonsense about reviving religions because of something Christianity did, many polytheists are polytheists because they have relationships with their deities, not because of the alleged actions of people of other deities. Some of us never were Christians and never saw the appeal of Christianity, to be frank.]
08/14/2004 12:22:02 PM
" We are reviving our religions after seeing the conflict that Christianity has ultimately brought into the world." This is funny the Greeks and greco roman culture were military machines. Think about the Spartains.Think about Alexsander.The Romans too.When you look back at history christianity was really very peaceful and let the romans beat up on them.In the end it was the Greco-roman infuenced war culture through Constantine that lead to the war like behavior of christains untill the preasent.The only christain group to support the war was the southern baptist no others did.
08/14/2004 12:21:21 PM
"Just as there is male and female in all of nature there, there is male and female in the spirit world. Having a male, all-seeing, all-perfect, very angry and vindictive God just did not call to me." Shows even people raised in a monotheistic culture dont understand it sometimes.Male language is used a lot sure but the actually theology of it is that God is no gender because gender is a biological thing.God is all genders and yet none at the same time.
08/14/2004 12:17:04 PM
Beeparoni-- Many heathens are quite happy to be called heathens. Many of us do not see it as a pejorative term. :)
08/14/2004 12:15:27 PM
(continued from below--my comp ate my post!) Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Norse religion all survived for hundreds to thousands of years. Christianity lasting for two thousand years doesn't make it better than these old "dead" religions, merely fit to take its place among them. People didn't just say "oh, my beliefs are all wrong! I'll follow Christianity!", much as some "historical" accounts would have us believe so. People were coerced, killed, criminalized, to keep them from their old beliefs. Old rituals were covered in Christian trappings when nothing could keep people from practicing them. Other religions didn't just "die of their own accord. If people make an animal extinct or near-extinct, it is not seen as good. Survivors are nurtured, even cloning of extinct species is discussed. Yet, when old religious beliefs are revived, people do their best to make sure these new religions honoring the memory of ancient ones are ridiculed do not last. This they call good.
08/14/2004 11:47:18 AM
My main field is not the material culture of the Hellenes, but I guess you're aware that their ideas and beliefs are relatively well preserved. While much ritual is lost to secrecy, persecution, censure and time, constructing a ritual which a greek could at least understand and follow should not be a major problem to someone who took the time to do the research. Remember that to speculate is the modus operandi of the human sciences. A healthy Cartesian sense of scepticism reigns. A good historian won't tell you the time of day without some leeway and a caution that his watch may have stopped, be running late or accidentally set to Beijing time. :) However, in praxis, one has to decide wether to do or not to do. And then I guess it's better to do something than do nothing.
08/14/2004 11:47:09 AM
"Personally, I don't buy this. I spent over ten years reading the works of academic mythologist and none of them claimed to understand why their pre-Christian subjects believed what they believed, to the extent that that is even known." Seems you confuse mythology with theology and history. The study of myths and stories is not the same as the study of the ideologies and religions which produced them. Mythology seen in its context is vastly different from mythology as literature. "Meanwhile, when I discuss the subject with my daughter, a self proclaimed witch, I find that we have some common understanding about what is known of those ancient people but that her knowledge of rituals and liturgy are largely fabrications. Mythologist only speculate in these areas, they don't claim to know or understand." I have no idea what your daughter is getting up to on sundays, but may I respectfully suggest she is not the best source you could find on European native religions. (Cont)
08/14/2004 11:22:27 AM
Jim-- Reading is not believing. No one has said that reading something makes them believe something. Arcadian answered the specific question: what do you base your faith on? The question wasn't: why do you believe in what you believe in? Or: how can you believe in a religion that everyone believes to be false, or how can you believe in something without a couple thousand years of belief and an organized structure to join the religion. If those had been the questions, I am sure other answers could be provided. (Continued)
08/14/2004 11:12:21 AM
Thank you, Adastra! May many blessings of the Universe and of each of our gods and goddesses continue to bless you abuntantly as well! Technically, I would never label anyone as a "heathen" anymore, especially since it sounds so much worse than it actually is! I try to avoid using that particular word whenever possible! *g* You are, obviously, NOT without strong convictions and beliefs, and you are to be commended and respected! As is -- obviously -- Tyrrson, as well! ~Namaste~
08/14/2004 11:05:20 AM
Arcadian, (continued) Meanwhile, when I discuss the subject with my daughter, a self proclaimed witch, I find that we have some common understanding about what is known of those ancient people but that her knowledge of rituals and liturgy are largely fabrications. Mythologist only speculate in these areas, they don't claim to know or understand. At the Tattered Cover in Denver (a four story book store) the mythology and occult sections are adjacent to each other but they are significantly different kinds of literature. Jim
08/14/2004 11:03:55 AM
Arcadian, my question: What does one base his/her faith on? Your response: Mythology, classical writings, folklore/surviving cultural practices, archaeological finds, athropological studies, linguistics, etc. It's a lot of work - to the point that Reconstructionism is often referred to as "religion with homework" - but a large amount can be reconstructed. Personally, I don't buy this. I spent over ten years reading the works of academic mythologist and none of them claimed to understand why their pre-Christian subjects believed what they believed, to the extent that that is even known. Jim
08/14/2004 10:53:01 AM
Beeparoni, may your Gods and my Gods bless you with abundance, you have scholarship, I greatly respect that. Tyrsson you really have my support if we do not believe in their Creator how can we worship, why did Gail say she was sorry for being rude, she had plenty of time to review her post before pressing submit, as did I, and I hate to hear a "sorry" that really has no meaning, I was made a heathen by the Christian treatment of me as a child, I can say no more
08/14/2004 10:52:22 AM
Tyrsson nailed it, perfectly! What in the world makes anyone (Gayil, Steve?) believe that we "worship [ourselves]?" Blatantly false, untrue, misguided, and ignorant statement. We are Humanists, but we believe in more than "ourselves" or even in other people (ALL of mankind, including those of YOUR religion). We believe in something far greater than ourselves, which doesn't necessarily mean YOUR God, although to some, it may include "Him." Any closer to understanding?!
08/14/2004 10:44:40 AM
Our Heathenry, of any denomination goes way way back before the so called enlightenment of Christianity. We are reviving our religions after seeing the conflict that Christianity has ultimately brought into the world. I cannot understand the beliefs of christians who have the nerve to call our Original Deities false, remember the typically christian attitude throughout History, wipe out the Heathens destroy their temples, and if they wont bow down destroy them too. No one has the right to do that to anyone else, and now in Modern Times we are fighting back against the tyranny, of your god.Might is NOT right. I remember something I said recently "I was made a heathen by a religious education" or if you like it better, it is seeing so much of christianity today that makes me prefer heathenry
08/14/2004 10:44:23 AM
(con't) Calling those who do not believe exactly as you do "fluff-heads" says volumes more about you than it does about us! It seems PHARISAICAL (remember them?) of you. (One reason I LEFT the "church" to begin with; hypocrisy and ignorance are rampant -- especially among clergy [my mother is an ordained Methodist minister -- I know whereof I speak!]) Kindly learn and become educated on a subject before even attempting to "argue," please?!
08/14/2004 10:42:53 AM
(con't) . . . The religion inculcates peace, righteousness, and work, and holds that in good time, without warlike intervention, the oppressive white rule will be removed by the higher powers. The religion spread through a majority of the western tribes of the United States, only in the case of the Sioux, owing to local causes, leading to an outbreak. NO mention -- zip, zilch, zero -- of there having to be only "one true god" recognized in order for such a practice to be considered a religion! Nowhere! You have been taught to believe in one certain way, to the exclusion of all others. For instance, Wicca is an established, recognized religion even by the government, with all the rights and privileges granted to it as to any other religion! (con't)
08/14/2004 10:33:01 AM
According to Gayil: "This is not a religion. Religions are an expression of worship of God; the religions of the world are about God and are created by Him, in their manifold ways. This is play-like, only make-believe, of course mere silliness. Everyone knows that---especially these romantic fluff-heads." The very first statement here is so absurdly false! How can people who don't even know the defition of religion possibly hold up their end of intelligent discourse on the subject? From Webter's Revised Unabridged Dictionary: "religion, which originated about 1890 in the doctrines of the Piute Wovoka, the Indian Messiah, who taught that the time was drawing near when the whole Indian race, the dead with the living, should be reunited to live a life of millennial happiness upon a regenerated earth. . . ." (con't)
08/14/2004 10:28:51 AM
Thanks, Steve...says what I want to say about this. Gail
08/14/2004 09:54:23 AM
"It no longer becomes a matter of seeking the Creator and giving Him the honor due for giving us life, but of satisfying ourselves. We put ourselves first, at the center of our worship, instead of God." Given that I believe in no Creator, there's little point in giving him honor. That said, if you knew anything about our faiths, you'd know that they are most decidely not about putting ourselves first, nor do we worship ourselves!
08/14/2004 09:54:07 AM
"Whenever an individual can't accept that in all likelihood based on the evidence in the structure of the physical universe and life itself, as well as archeological history and eyewitness accounts, that there is, one Creator God who has shown us the way to worship Him, they turn to other religions or manufacture their own." First, there is absolutely no evidence that there is "one Creator God," let alone that he has shown us the way to worship him. You have accepted this on faith, just as we've accepted our beliefs on faith. Aside from that, though, we aren't making anything up. These are religions that organically arose out of the folk souls of our ancestors with the direction of our gods. (continued)
08/14/2004 09:48:38 AM
"This is not a religion. Religions are an expression of worship of God; the religions of the world are about God and are created by Him, in their manifold ways. This is play-like, only make-believe, of course mere silliness. Everyone knows that---especially these romantic fluff-heads." I would say the same thing about your religion. You wouldn't find it any more true, though, than I find your silly beliefs.
08/14/2004 09:45:30 AM
"Who Mourns For Adonis?" - A classic Star Trek episode from the original series about how the Greek gods once ruled the earth but mankind outgrew them and so they "spread themselves upon the wind and blew away". Great science fiction based on ancient pagan gods. Whenever an individual can't accept that in all likelihood based on the evidence in the structure of the physical universe and life itself, as well as archeological history and eyewitness accounts, that there is, one Creator God who has shown us the way to worship Him, they turn to other religions or manufacture their own. It no longer becomes a matter of seeking the Creator and giving Him the honor due for giving us life, but of satisfying ourselves. We put ourselves first, at the center of our worship, instead of God.
08/14/2004 09:26:27 AM
Whatever.... This is not a religion. Religions are an expression of worship of God; the religions of the world are about God and are created by Him, in their manifold ways. This is play-like, only make-believe, of course mere silliness. Everyone knows that---especially these romantic fluff-heads. Gail
08/14/2004 08:43:24 AM
"One word...WEIRD!" Heh! Other people's religions and cultures often seem weird. That's part of the beauty of a diverse world--there is always something waiting around the corner to surprise us and challenge our perceptions. This is something most of us treasure. :-)
08/14/2004 08:40:37 AM
"what amazing me if you read these books about these gods you know if they in charge we all our in trouble they very pretty and all to human to be devine." Our gods serve by example, not by decree. By modeling imperfect behavior and teaching us the consequences, we can more easily see how to live our lives properly. I, for one, could never identify with "perfection." How do you approach a "perfect" deity? How can you hope to aspire to such a deity's standards? No, it's far easier for me to see the divinity of "imperfect" gods. "i am sorry if came off rude to those who believe in these gods" You did. I think most of us, however, understand that you've been trained for a long time to believe that there is only one god and that all other gods are "false." It's part of the intolerance builty into monotheistic, universalist faiths and something we've come to expect.
08/14/2004 08:31:36 AM
"Reinventing the wheel for a chariot of the gods isn't going to help change the flat tires on the organized Abrahamic religions which need the help." Why would followers of Reconstructionist faiths want to "change the flat tires on the organized Abrahamic religions?" I'm truly confused by this statement.
08/14/2004 07:21:55 AM
"One word...WEIRD!" Well, y'see... christianity - protestant, catholic, orthodox - all seems pretty weird to me. I guess it's one of those things. Culture collision? Don't you ever feel that your loved ones, living or dead, is with you wherever you go? Do you find the warmth that thought brings to your heart weird? Is it weird to thank them for the joy of their company, and to return the gifts they left you? I find it weird to befriend a god which wants love without sex, demand power without responsibility, grants children in abundance but nothing with which to feed them, gives our enemies a gun and tells us to turn the other cheek... I guess our points of view are just very different. Weirdo.
08/14/2004 05:57:52 AM
The idea that the "gods and goddesses" are archetyps are modern, and not held by everyone as true. Rather it can be called HUBRIS to dismiss oi theoi as part of the "human psyche." Most of the classical religons are well documented, and many parts of thier belief/practice survived well into the Christian era. As for "who can believe that drivel" attitudes, well, how many have read the Bible? In the Old Testiment you had a jealouse, possessive angry desert-diety who gave laws that would be considered abhorent today (Deut. 20 for example) and then the New Testiment, about a dying and rising "godman" whose story is similar to hundreads of other "pagan gods" from that time and era. It is impossible to draw a true line between "myth" and "religion."
08/14/2004 04:22:52 AM
A little piece of lost knowledge about Gods and Goddesses; they are archetypal representations of the human spirit, complete with all its flaws. Their pastimes are the human drama. Understanding the meanings behind their stories can help us all access the divine within. That is why they are there.
08/14/2004 01:38:59 AM
i am sorry if came off rude to those who believe in these gods
08/13/2004 11:43:49 PM
> What does one base his/her faith > on? Mythology, classical writings, folklore/surviving cultural practices, archaeological finds, athropological studies, linguistics, etc. It's a lot of work - to the point that Reconstructionism is often referred to as "religion with homework" - but a large amount can be reconstructed.
08/13/2004 11:41:19 PM
> if you read these books about > these gods you know if they in > charge we all our in trouble they > very petty and all to human to be > devine. That could be said of *many* religions, actually. What's worse, a deity that's approachable to humans, but "flawed," or one that's "perfect," but distant?
08/13/2004 11:06:43 PM
a practitioner of the religion of ancient Greece. How does one 'reconstruct' an ancient religion that has not been practiced for nearly two thousand years? What does one base his/her faith on? Jim
08/13/2004 10:36:39 PM
08/13/2004 09:23:44 PM
what amazing me if you read these books about these gods you know if they in charge we all our in trouble they very pretty and all to human to be devine.
08/13/2004 09:18:40 PM
I always wonder if anyone would worship these false gods and some still do. I have mix feeling being of mix american of irish, german, danes, english hertiage. I know that my family at one time may worship these false gods and have hope and dreams of them in vain. I am glad that some still hold on to there tradtion those only one God and I can never change that in my life.
08/13/2004 09:01:47 PM
Reinventing the wheel for a chariot of the gods isn't going to help change the flat tires on the organized Abrahamic religions which need the help.
08/13/2004 08:50:30 PM
I think it's lovely that people are taking greater interest in the old authentic religions. I in no way think that wicca has become an outdated experiment, but the degree of eclecticism, once such a relief, has managed to water down the religion to the point that it's become every religion, and no religion. I applaude those reconstructing the old ways. I do think that they might do well to look at the overall changes in ritual forms in similar contiguous religions, like hinduism, taoism, and shinto, as a kind of template for how to adapt the old religions.