My son has a friend staying with us for a few days who describes herself as a pagan. She wouldn’t accept our invitation to attend church with us on Easter morning because of that belief. As a result, he didn’t attend either.
So I’ve been thinking about paganism today.
If I understand it correctly, that word can mean lots of different things to different people. I think that people in America today who choose that label to describe their religious convictions would generally believe that the Divine is in nature, that all things are indwelled by the Divine or are an expression of it. Most might limit that to all living things; some see the Divine in any material thing.
If I remember my Dark Ages college education correctly, we divided paganism into polytheism (many gods), pantheism (the spirit of all living things together compose the Universal Divine), and panentheism (the Universal Divine also is beyond the material world).
I suppose today’s pagans would be about as diverse as a paleopaganism like Hinduism, so I don’t want to give anyone a hard time about their paganism based my lack of understanding. These days, religious beliefs are collected, much like platefuls at a potluck. Something look good to you? Add a spoonful. When you reach the end of the table, what you have may not look very attractive or make any sense from a dietetic perspective, but you’ve got exactly what you wanted.
In fact, I guess that’s what perplexes me most about paganism: How is it you decided to believe what you believe?
I can’t see what would persuade a person to hold a pagan belief system and practice its rituals, other than finding it attractive. Is there evidence of any kind that leads a person to reach the conclusion that God is within us all? What more is there to it than deciding to hold an opinion?
And is there anything that makes it a better opinion than any other religious notion any other person might cook up in a fevered imagination? Perhaps someone out there can help me sort this out.
I don’t suppose it matters to me what someone else believes, as long as they don’t claim their beliefs are actually true, for themselves or anyone else. Beliefs based on opinion aren’t even true for the people who believe them; they are merely believed. There is no such thing as private truth. To claim a belief is true, you have to be able to demonstrate it is true. To say “it’s true for me” is to say less than nothing.
There is one, and only one, system of religious and moral truth that can be proven true beyond a reasonable doubt.