Reply to Green Egg article on Christianity

Sometimes, despite being very busy, I am compelled to respond to things I read. Often this involves letters to politicians seeking some form of progressive social change. Today though I read a silly, high-handed article reproducing some wrong headed ideas about Christianity. This was in Green Egg – the oldest Neo-Pagan mag around. This is now free online, which is why I read it – I let my subscription lapse years back. Anyway, for reference my response is below. The original article is on page 38 by Frank J. Ranelli.

I was shocked to find Frank J Ranelli’s badly written bit of misinformed spite, “On the Immorality of Christianity” within the hallowed pages of GE 152.

So here’s another pagan rant based on what the author thinks mainstream western Christianity teaches. Ho hum. Really, most Neo-pagans have long ago got over the need to attack Christianity. So, just a few counter points.

Most of the Christian priests I know accept our “innate nature of goodness” – Original Blessing, which exists alongside of and superior to Original Sin. Revelation then helps us to reveal our goodness and helps to guide us. It does not replace our inner “naturally earned ethics”. Indeed many Christian leaders are clear that the fostering of personal conscience, the will and right to choose our actions and non-actions, is the key to the Christian message.

Devotees of Christ are not “fortified only with ancient apocryphal and worrisome scripture”. They are recipients, if they wish to be, of thousands of years of tradition and experience of exploring the mysteries, of rituals, practices, meditation processes, of wisdom and knowledge that is more vast and immense than most Neo-pagans are aware of. And of course they are fortified by an inner, intimate relationship with the One through Christ.

Mr Ranelli seems not have read to any depth both ancient and modern theology. His understanding of original sin and hell are childish and certainly not held by most of the clergy and laity I know. Briefly, original sin acknowledges that alongside of our creation in divinity (original blessing) we have within us a desire for ego-centeredness that moves us away from the One. This quality is part of our make-up as human beings, something I am sure Neo-pagans would agree when we look at the world around us and at our own communities.

In the Christian myth, Christ’s Incarnation brings perfection (divinity) to imperfection (humanity) so that humanity may become divine through the ongoing lifelong process of theosis. The Incarnation was and is seen as a mythic event – even ancient church leaders saw the same religion existing before the Common Era and only being named Christianity in the Common Era. Christ’s Salvific action here then is a call to us to travel towards perfection through love as it is through Him Christians find restoration with the One.

Similarly there are many other views of Christ’s sacrifice and atonement than the banal descriptions of Mr Ranelli. The sacrifice of Christ is, in Franciscan theology, a gift whereby Christ takes upon himself and holds up to us all the vicious, petty, scape-goating and murderous human impulses. These imperfections are held by perfection and thus Christ offers Christians, through the symbol of the Crucifixion, a way to work towards redeeming our own destructive natures. This is not cleansing “away your responsibilities and actions in life”. Indeed, Christian teaching insists we are each responsible for our own actions and our redemption – our restoration with the One – is worked out through our bodily and daily life actions. Christianity is actually an earthy religion, where what we DO here and now – with our bodies, energies, mind and soul – to the earth, to each other, determines our resultant state of being. Most Neo-pagans would agree.

And yes, most Christians know about the contradictions in the gospels, their late composition etc. Really it makes little difference as all but the noisy literalists (who Mr Ranelli seems to think are the only Christians) approach to gospels as a doorway and vehicle by which to know the One through Christ.

And really, GE editors, how can you let Mr Ranelli get away with “Christianity, on the other hand, commands compulsory fear, obligatory love, the subjugation of women, and the willful suspension of progressive reasoning via a theology of abject despair.”?

Maybe SOME Christians traditions do this (I have not encountered any), but such a blanket statement is misleading and offensive. Most Christians I know experience love, not fear in Christ. Yes, it is true we are commanded to love God and our neighbour as our self. Guilty as charged on that one. Our bad for loving. Yes, most Christian traditions have promoted woeful suffering to women, a fact that needs addressing far more than it is being currently. As for progressive reasoning, let us remember please that formal logic is now only taught in Christian seminaries.

I suggest Mr Ranelli and those carried along with his invective read some works by Thomas Merton, Matthew Fox, Richard Rohr, John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg to name just a few. Or just go to the Living the Questions channel on YouTube.

Neo-pagans are very good in wanting (and occasionally demanding) non believers and journalists to go beyond the stereotyped and cultural view of our spiritual forms. We do not want to be seen in pointy hats casting curses or in graveyards raising the dead. We expect outside observers to be open to hearing the ‘truth’ about our traditions, to go deeper than the outer forms and common misconceptions. However, we do not seem to do the same justice to Christianity.

I was shocked to find Frank J Ranelli’s badly written bit of misinformed spite, “On the Immorality of Christianity” within the hallowed pages of GE 152.

So here’s another pagan rant based on what the author thinks mainstream western Christianity teaches. Ho hum. Really, most Neo-pagans have long ago got over the need to attack Christianity. So, just a few counter points.

Most of the Christian priests I know accept our “innate nature of goodness” – Original Blessing, which exists alongside of and superior to Original Sin. Revelation then helps us to reveal our goodness and helps to guide us. It does not replace our inner “naturally earned ethics”. Indeed many Christian leaders are clear that the fostering of personal conscience, the will and right to choose our actions and non-actions, is the key to the Christian message.

Devotees of Christ are not “fortified only with ancient apocryphal and worrisome scripture”. They are recipients, if they wish to be, of thousands of years of tradition and experience of exploring the mysteries, of rituals, practices, meditation processes, of wisdom and knowledge that is more vast and immense than most Neo-pagans are aware of. And of course they are fortified by an inner, intimate relationship with the One through Christ.

Mr Ranelli seems not have read to any depth both ancient and modern theology. His understanding of original sin and hell are childish and certainly not held by most of the clergy and laity I know.  Briefly, original sin acknowledges that alongside of our creation in divinity (original blessing) we have within us a desire for ego-centeredness that moves us away from the One. This quality is part of our make-up as human beings, something I am sure Neo-pagans would agree when we look at the world around us and at our own communities.

In the Christian myth, Christ’s Incarnation brings perfection (divinity) to imperfection (humanity) so that humanity may become divine through the ongoing lifelong process of theosis. The Incarnation was and is seen as a mythic event – even ancient church leaders saw the same religion existing before the Common Era and only being named Christianity in the Common Era. Christ’s Salvific action here then is a call to us to travel towards perfection through love as it is through Him Christians find restoration with the One.

Similarly there are many other views of Christ’s sacrifice and atonement than the banal descriptions of Mr Ranelli. The sacrifice of Christ is, in Franciscan theology, a gift whereby Christ takes upon himself and holds up to us all the vicious, petty, scape-goating and murderous human impulses. These imperfections are held by perfection and thus Christ offers Christians, through the symbol of the Crucifixion, a way to work towards redeeming our own destructive natures. This is not cleansing “away your responsibilities and actions in life”. Indeed, Christian teaching insists we are each responsible for our own actions and our redemption – our restoration with the One – is worked out through our bodily and daily life actions. Christianity is actually an earthy religion, where what we DO here and now – with our bodies, energies, mind and soul – to the earth, to each other, determines our resultant state of being. Most Neo-pagans would agree.

And yes, most Christians know about the contradictions in the gospels, their late composition etc. Really it makes little difference as all but the noisy literalists (who Mr Ranelli seems to think are the only Christians) approach to gospels as a doorway and vehicle by which to know the One through Christ.

And really, GE editors, how can you let Mr Ranelli get away with “Christianity, on the other hand, commands compulsory fear, obligatory love, the subjugation of women, and the willful suspension of progressive reasoning via a theology of abject despair.”?

Maybe SOME Christians traditions do this (I have not encountered any), but such a blanket statement is misleading and offensive. Most Christians I know experience love, not fear in Christ. Yes, it is true we are commanded to love God and our neighbour as our self. Guilty as charged on that one. Our bad for loving. Yes, most Christian traditions have promoted woeful suffering to women, though many are changing this now. As for progressive reasoning, let us remember please that formal logic is now only taught in Christian seminaries.

I suggest Mr

I was shocked to find Frank J Ranelli’s badly written bit of misinformed spite, “On the Immorality of Christianity” within the hallowed pages of GE 152.

So here’s another pagan rant based on what the author thinks mainstream western Christianity teaches. Ho hum. Really, most Neo-pagans have long ago got over the need to attack Christianity. So, just a few counter points.

Most of the Christian priests I know accept our “innate nature of goodness” – Original Blessing, which exists alongside of and superior to Original Sin. Revelation then helps us to reveal our goodness and helps to guide us. It does not replace our inner “naturally earned ethics”. Indeed many Christian leaders are clear that the fostering of personal conscience, the will and right to choose our actions and non-actions, is the key to the Christian message.

Devotees of Christ are not “fortified only with ancient apocryphal and worrisome scripture”. They are recipients, if they wish to be, of thousands of years of tradition and experience of exploring the mysteries, of rituals, practices, meditation processes, of wisdom and knowledge that is more vast and immense than most Neo-pagans are aware of. And of course they are fortified by an inner, intimate relationship with the One through Christ.

Mr Ranelli seems not have read to any depth both ancient and modern theology. His understanding of original sin and hell are childish and certainly not held by most of the clergy and laity I know.  Briefly, original sin acknowledges that alongside of our creation in divinity (original blessing) we have within us a desire for ego-centeredness that moves us away from the One. This quality is part of our make-up as human beings, something I am sure Neo-pagans would agree when we look at the world around us and at our own communities.

In the Christian myth, Christ’s Incarnation brings perfection (divinity) to imperfection (humanity) so that humanity may become divine through the ongoing lifelong process of theosis. The Incarnation was and is seen as a mythic event – even ancient church leaders saw the same religion existing before the Common Era and only being named Christianity in the Common Era. Christ’s Salvific action here then is a call to us to travel towards perfection through love as it is through Him Christians find restoration with the One.

Similarly there are many other views of Christ’s sacrifice and atonement than the banal descriptions of Mr Ranelli. The sacrifice of Christ is, in Franciscan theology, a gift whereby Christ takes upon himself and holds up to us all the vicious, petty, scape-goating and murderous human impulses. These imperfections are held by perfection and thus Christ offers Christians, through the symbol of the Crucifixion, a way to work towards redeeming our own destructive natures. This is not cleansing “away your responsibilities and actions in life”. Indeed, Christian teaching insists we are each responsible for our own actions and our redemption – our restoration with the One – is worked out through our bodily and daily life actions. Christianity is actually an earthy religion, where what we DO here and now – with our bodies, energies, mind and soul – to the earth, to each other, determines our resultant state of being. Most Neo-pagans would agree.

And yes, most Christians know about the contradictions in the gospels, their late composition etc. Really it makes little difference as all but the noisy literalists (who Mr Ranelli seems to think are the only Christians) approach to gospels as a doorway and vehicle by which to know the One through Christ.

And really, GE editors, how can you let Mr Ranelli get away with “Christianity, on the other hand, commands compulsory fear, obligatory love, the subjugation of women, and the willful suspension of progressive reasoning via a theology of abject despair.”?

Maybe SOME Christians traditions do this (I have not encountered any), but such a blanket statement is misleading and offensive. Most Christians I know experience love, not fear in Christ. Yes, it is true we are commanded to love God and our neighbour as our self. Guilty as charged on that one. Our bad for loving. Yes, most Christian traditions have promoted woeful suffering to women, though many are changing this now. As for progressive reasoning, let us remember please that formal logic is now only taught in Christian seminaries.

I suggest Mr Ranelli and those carried along with his invective read some works by Thomas Merton, Matthew Fox, Richard Rohr, John Shelby-Spong and Marcus Borg to name just a few. Or just go to the Living the Questions channel on YouTube.

Neo-pagans are very good in wanting (and occasionally demanding) non believers and journalists to go beyond the stereotyped and cultural view of our spiritual forms. We do not want to be seen in pointy hats casting curses or in graveyards raising the dead. We expect outside observers to be open to hearing the ‘truth’ about our traditions, to go deeper than the outer forms and common misconceptions. However, we do not seem to do the same justice to Christianity.

Ranelli and those carried along with his invective read some works by Thomas Merton, Matthew Fox, Richard Rohr, John Shelby-Spong and Marcus Borg to name just a few. Or just go to the Living the Questions channel on YouTube.

Neo-pagans are very good in wanting (and occasionally demanding) non believers and journalists to go beyond the stereotyped and cultural view of our spiritual forms. We do not want to be seen in pointy hats casting curses or in graveyards raising the dead. We expect outside observers to be open to hearing the ‘truth’ about our traditions, to go deeper than the outer forms and common misconceptions. However, we do not seem to do the same justice to Christianity.

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22 comments

  1. Arcad · September 30, 2010

    Care Fra Peregrin,

    how true. It is a bit like that in other traditions too – the loudest speakers are not necessarily the wisest ones – refering to the literalists and other right wing christians who are the ones creating the “modern” picture of Christianity. I am always amazed, even in Germany, where we have far less of these people, how much they are the basis for the public and published view on Christianity. Specifically the Lutheran Church in Germany is far ahead of ancient views like those expressed in that article and others of a similar tone. Also here in CH, not Lutheran but Reformed, a priest of a Church I Am going to now and then is celebrating the old (or now Pagan) festivals under their old traditional names. Where else would you find that? By fact, CHristianity, or better CHristians, and that includes parts of teh organized Churches, have developed far more than what one can read these days. But it seems to be fancy to beat up Christianity for something it really does not stand for (any longer). So indeed, maybe it is worth to update ones knowledge about Christianity before writing articles and books about it.

    in L.V.X.

    Arcad

  2. Mam Adar · September 30, 2010

    I suspect that Ranelli is an American, and unfortunately, his caricature of Christianity *is* what is believed and practiced by a loud, large, narrow-minded, self-absorbed Evangelical and Fundamentalist faction here in the United States. (Incidentally, I just typed “Untied” instead of “United” and pondered whether to correct it.) And they have successfully convinced a great many other people, many of them nominally Christian themselves, that their version of Christ and his teaching is the correct one. So the blame of ignorance does not lie wholly on Ranelli. It is heartening to think that the Fundamentalists have not taken over Australia or Europe with their insanity.

  3. Sean · October 1, 2010

    Mam Adar, thank you.

    That is exactly what I was going to post and you beat me to it. Peregrin, it’s true. I live in the southern United States, and the very attitude and views that Mr. Ranelli writes about are very well entrenched in the Fundamentalist status quo of this region’s version of Christianity. This region is known as the Bible Belt, and is notorious for these views. My wife’s family is still deep within the throes of this destructive paradigm.

    I grew up believing those things myself, unfortunately. It’s what caused me to flee to paganism in the first place (although I have since moved on to the deeper roots of the Western Mystery Tradition). Christianity has been mangled by these people, and I realize it now. I appreciate your posts like this that set the record straight for those of us who weren’t privileged to grow up in a more genuine Christian atmosphere (for lack of a better term). I have lately been rediscovering Christianity in a delightful way that I have never known, thanks to people like you.

    Keep them coming! I love your blog! And know that the virus runs much deeper than some may think.

  4. David Griffin · October 22, 2010

    Care Frater Peregrin,

    I usually do not comment on religion among Golden Dawn initiates as I hold my personal religious beliefs to be a private matter and consider that the Golden Dawn transcends religious differences. Certain aspects of your article, however, compel me to break my silence.

    Your article clearly presents a brilliant synthesis of Hermeticism and Christianity. However, to be quite honest, your exposition also smacks of Christian apologetics. The theology you describe sounds nothing like the mainstream, Baptist Christianity I personally was raised with; with its guilt inducing, fear inspiring message of “comply or get ready for the fire and brimstone.” It also sounds nothing like the sex negative, misogynous Vatican doctrine that denies couples the right to birth control and women the right to abortion.

    There is clearly much Hermetic philosophy and in what appears to be your “Golden Dawn inspired” reinterpretation of Christianity. Notwithstanding, your exposition sounds precious little like the mainstream Christianity I and others have encountered in America.

    Granted, Frank Ranelli’s article may well be a bit overly passionate. You apparently, however, in turn have little compassion for the many Neo-Pagans recovering from the severe spiritual trauma inflicted by the “Christian” upbringing you apparently attempt to whitewash in your exposition.

    Fraternally,
    David Griffin

  5. Peregrin · October 22, 2010

    Hi David,

    thanks for the comments. Really, I agree with you…I have encountered and still encounter all the Christianities you report here.

    My response was designed to make people realise that the ‘bad Christianity’ Mr Ranelli describes is not the only Christianity.

    Christianity has always been pluralistic. In no way does the article show this and in no way does it actually examine any core Christian doctrines. This is fine if the article says clearly it is based on personal experiences and anecdotes. Instead it purports to describe underlying Christian philosophy.

    I cannot see the purpose and motive of the article. Its audience is clearly Neo-Pagan so it is not a piece of religious propaganda – the audience has already chosen Paganism over Christianity. It is not in the religious-comparative mode as it only attacks one religion in an uninformed manner. It seems to serve little purpose than an emotional vent. Again this is fine, if the author is clear about this, which he is not. I was also genuinely shocked to see this in GE, which back in the early 90s produced a wonderful Christo-Pagan issue exploring the two umbrella religions with reverence, side by side.

    With respect, David I think you are wrong about my view being a “Golden Dawn inspired reinterpretation of Christianity” (though I would love to see such a beastie). ALL of what I say is taken from Christian sources, and not simply modern sources.

    There is nothing GD in my response. The GD, as you know, has no set theology and philosophy but draws heavily from Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism. Neither of these philosophies have doctrines of Original Blessing and Sin, Incarnation of the Logos in Christ or Salvation through Him which are the main doctrines I mention.

    I suggest you look again at the writings of the Church fathers, Desert Mothers and Fathers and early Apologists as well as the modern authors I mention. Really, I am beholden on them and not clever enough to produce a GD inspired Christian view 🙂

    Of course I do have compassion for anyone brainwashed or subjected to theological/religious abuse as a child and adult. I know these things occurred and continue to occur (take the Westboro Baptist Church children for example). My response did not address this issue as it was not intended to. It was a simple response to an uninformed article, not a full treatise on Christian theologies, their misuse and the damage they inflict.

    In the course of recovering from this abuse and trauma many of us do process through a required stage of exposing and attacking the religious doctrines that led to the abuse. This is wonderful and I fully support this in a private context or a forum devoted to this context or if it is explicit. I do not support it in a public magazine where it will only serve to entrench he view that “Christianity” is monolithic and ONLY the unhealthy doctrines it chooses to focus on. What good does that do?

    Thanks again, for your views.

  6. Rebsie · October 25, 2010

    What an interesting discussion. I agree with you completely Peregrin, and as far as the underlying spiritual impulses go, I see no incompatibility at all between the Christian and Pagan mysteries. This discussion does highlight though how the ‘church’ is man-made rather than God-given, and builds artificial constructs which become the channel of misguided messages and perverse control-freakery. To such an extent that many people are unable to reach the gems of truth and unconditional love which are buried underneath.

    I live in the UK, a largely secular society where the Church of England is benign and the evangelical faction here is a tiny enough minority that they are largely dismissed as harmless nutters. I have come to see (through someone close to me who has been exposed to it) how different it is in the US where the skewed message overlaid on the Christian truths has the capacity to cause very real and lasting harm, to individuals and society. And so I understand why many people in the US feel very strongly opposed to such a corrupt and distorted church. None of which changes the fundamental spiritual impulses which lie beneath, and which transcend all the man-made trappings of religious expression, whether they manifest as Christian, Pagan or worship of the Noodly Appendage.

  7. David Griffin · October 26, 2010

    You wrote in your article:

    “Christ’s Salvific action here then is a call to us to travel towards perfection through love as it is through Him Christians find restoration with the One.”

    This appears a variant of the Hermetic principle ‘The All’, or ‘The One’ one important goal of Hermetic spiritual practice, namely at-one-ment with this principle. This is the basis for my contention that you are presenting a view of Christianity colored by Hermetic philosophy.

    I agree with you that Christian theology is pluralistic, and that there is much sublime in certain aspects of it, although I readily admit that I am but a humble alchemist thus am not really qualified to debate theology with you.

    Nonetheless, when you say you fail to see the purpose of Ranelli’s article, I feel perplexed and do not quite believe you genuineness in making such assertion. Surely, as a Golden Dawn Adept you must have developed the powers of empathy for the suffering of those less fortunate than we.

    Granted – Ranelli indeed vents … Yet surely you must at least understand and admit the cathartic effect of reading such an article for a young Pagan struggling to liberate themselves from unnatural guilt and fear instilled by a misguided Christian upbringing.

    As a Golden Dawn Adept – and as a practicing Hermeticist and Rosicrucian – I see much that is sublime in Christianity – and deeply respect and admire the faith of practicing Christians.

    I also shun, however any attempt (theological and otherwise) to sweep under the rug the dark shadow of Christianity’s long trail of Centuries of guilt and fear imposed on countless millions of innocent individuals, as well the human blood and ashes on the hands of Christianity as well.

    Thus I am particularly concerned by remarks made by “Rebsie,” suggesting that the dark shadow cast by Christianity is purely an American phenomenon. Let us recall, after all, that witch hunts, heretic burnings, and the Holy Inquisition are European rather than American Christian inventions.

  8. Peregrin · October 26, 2010

    Thanks, Rebsie.

    Yes, from what i have read and the people I know there is a difference between the US and UK in the place of of Christianity. I am glad to hear that damaging fundamentalism is less prevalent in the UK than in some parts of the US. Of course, the UK remains the only western partial theocracy with the Lords Spiritual being appointed as MPs soley on their clerical status. 🙂

  9. Peregrin · October 26, 2010

    Hi David,

    thanks again for your reply…this topic has legs, as they say. I am sure we could go on forever 🙂

    Anyway, to make myself clearer: I use the term ‘the One’ to try and avoid gendering the Mystery and because the term is closer to the Hebrew divine name ‘Elohim’ than the root of the English word ‘God’.

    The main, and extremely crucial difference between the Hermetic approach and the Christian is that Hermeticism is enlightenment based and Christianity is salvation based. I made this clear in my sentence regarding Christ’s Salvific action …it is through relationship with Christ (the Incarnation of radical love) that Christians may be redeemed and restored with ‘God’ or ‘the One’. Without Christ’s actions there is nothing. In Hermetic philosophy we do not need the salvation, through relationship, offered by Christ, but can find restoration, connection with the One via our own action/enlightenment and the gifts of the traditions and teachers we are blessed with.

    I agree with all you say about Mr Ranelli’s article’s purpose…if, as I said in my first reply it was in a different context. In its current context all it will do is cement the barriers between Christians and pagans…and we have enough of those already.

    I agree…there should be no sweeping under the carpet any of the atrocities you mention…they are clearly at the doorstep of Christianity and even modern liberal Christians need to accept this. However, I am unclear where myself or any commentator here called for or supported such a denial. I must let Rebsie speak for herself, but i read her comments only to show the difference between how Christianity is percieved between in the UK and the US. She acknowledges there are damaging Christianities in both societies but, rightly I think, points out in the UK they are smaller and less powerful. I think a good example is the recent rise of the Tea Party in the US and the possibilty of Christine O’Donnell, an Evangelical Christian with very strong Christian based policies, as Senator. The One / God / the Mystery / the tooth fairy, forbid 🙂

    Thanks again 🙂

  10. JR · October 26, 2010

    A “misguided Christian upbringing” will almost definately instill “unnatural guilt and fear”. No doubt. But so will most religious upbringing that is misguided.

    This does not form a strong basis for a sound argument that Christianity is immoral, nor should it serve as some logical justification for some ‘cathartic release’… at least not if one is wishing to be taken seriously on such a matter.

  11. Mam Adar · October 26, 2010

    David wrote:
    Thus I am particularly concerned by remarks made by “Rebsie,” suggesting that the dark shadow cast by Christianity is purely an American phenomenon. Let us recall, after all, that witch hunts, heretic burnings, and the Holy Inquisition are European rather than American Christian inventions.

    –And how could they have been other than European, when Europe was the only locus of a hegemonic Christendom at that time?

    If pagans are going to keep bringing up the Inquisition and the witch burnings, Christians have every right to keep bringing up the pagan Roman persecutions of the early Church. And so the stand-off continues.

  12. David Griffin · October 27, 2010

    Again, let me begin by reiterating that I consider my religious beliefs a private matter. In fact, this present discussion is the first instance ever of my speaking out in any public forum regarding my personal faith.

    By contrast, my position on the Golden Dawn is instead a well known matter of public record. As a Golden Dawn Adept, I hold all religions in reverence, including Christianity. Moreover, as a Golden Dawn leader, I make every effort to ensure that neither religious favoritism nor prejudice affect the spiritual development and advancement of any initiate of the HOGD/AO.

    In matters of my personal religious faith, however, my primary concern is for the health and advancement of the contemporary Pagan movement. It is undeniable that Paganism as a faith has suffered greatly at the hands of a Christianity that for Centuries sought exclusivity in the spiritual life of Europe. Only by going deeply underground were salient aspects of our faith able to survive. For this same reason, numerous Pagan elements even assumed a Christian veneer.

    In our Pagan movement today, numerous young people are struggling long and laboriously to liberate themselves from the oppressive yoke of salient aspects of their Christian upbringing. Likewise, our Pagan movement still collectively struggles to liberate itself from elements necessarily or unwittingly assimilated from Christianity.

    The Pagan Goddess, Aradia, for example, the liberator of the oppressed in the Stregherian Pantheon, for this reason became the liberator from Christian oppression in particular.

    As a 21st Century Pagan, I am deeply concerned for our ongoing liberation from Christianity – not only our liberation as individual Pagans – but also for the liberation of our Pagan movement as a whole. I am therefore particularly disturbed by the tenacious Christian apologetics still infecting Paganism – even at the dawn of the Aquarian age!

    In regards to Ranelli’s article, what commenters in this discussion apparently fail to fully grasp is how many young Pagans are not yet as worldly as you or I – and that reading articles like Ranelli’s can be highly healing for internal processes they yet otherwise find impossible to articulate.

    I invite you to consider an analogy between this and a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, where the telling of one’s personal stories over and over is healing not only for the speaker, but also for many of the other alcoholics present n the room.

    I agree with Peregrin that Mr. Ranelli’s article could have been far more powerful if it had been written in a more personal tone recounting personal experiences instead of draped in the robes of theological debate. I disagree, however, that this article somehow cements any sort of “rift” between Paganism and Christianity. Instead, I view this article as potentially healing for young Pagans otherwise unable to yet articulate the “angst” of their inner struggle for Pagan liberation.

    Sincerely,
    David Griffin

  13. Rebsie · October 27, 2010

    With respect, David, I didn’t say that the darker side of Christianity was “purely” an American phenomenon. That’s your interpretation not mine. No country or denomination has a monopoly on skewed religious messages, and my comment was a sympathetic response to the views of Americans in the comments prior to mine, who expressed concern about evangelical and fundamentalist factions in their country. And my point, which you seem to have missed, but as a Golden Dawn adept you will no doubt understand, is that the spiritual impulse underlying Christianity is a true one, however many human errors (of all nationalities) are overlaid on it.

    (Thank you Peregrin, you understood me perfectly.)

  14. Peregrin · October 27, 2010

    Hi David,
    I am pleased that in your HOGD/AO you continue the tradition of ensuring religious acceptance and respect. Thank you.

    I think on the original issue we have reached a place where we can agree to disagree: you see Mr Ranelli’s article as potentially healing for Neo-Pagans, where I see it as more likely to reinforce negative views.

    On a tangential matter I would like to address some other points you raise here as they are almost like an urban myth that continues itself unchecked.

    There is little evidence to suggest any European pagan faiths went underground and survived until the modern era. Sadly, they were all destroyed or subsumed by imperialistic manifestations of Christianity before the end of the middle ages.

    You write, “Likewise, our Pagan movement still collectively struggles to liberate itself from elements necessarily or unwittingly assimilated from Christianity.”

    I agree with this, though perhaps from a different standpoint than you. Since there were no Pagan religious survivals, Neo-Paganism has drawn far more on Christianity, often via the esoteric traditions, than most Neo-Pagans realise. In addition, as you note, most of us have been raised in a Christian milieu and therefore find it hard to think pre-Christian. See my post: Christianity-tis-all-around-us.

    The traditional presence of the Goddess Aradia is of course debated with the bulk of scholarship seeing little evidence of worship prior to Leland’s eponymous literary creation in 1899. That She is now invoked as you describe is unquestionable and Her power for modern Neo-pagans undeniable, but I think we should always remember She is a modern Goddess.

    I am confused when you write, “I am therefore particularly disturbed by the tenacious Christian apologetics still infecting Paganism – even at the dawn of the Aquarian age!” How can Christian apologists be within Neo-Paganism when they are Christian? If you are referring to the influence of Christian thought, ideology, morality, art, ritual, theology, philosophy, cosmology and practice on Neo-Paganism, it is going to be hard to change since, as I note above, we are all post-Christian. Neo-Pagans are just that – new pagans, not old pagans before 1500 years of the Christian paradigm. We may find this sad and deplorable, but it is still the case.

    Thanks 🙂

  15. David Griffin · October 27, 2010

    Dear Peregrin,

    You have demonstrated for us clearly here that you can parrot the theories of Rotten Hutton. On this point too, we shall have to agree to disagree (at least for now). Such flaccid conclusions as your hero Hutton espouses are what one must necessarily expect from an historian who confuses personal acquaintances with anthropologist method.

    But then again, as a Golden Dawn Adept, you have always denied even the POSSIBILITY of the physical existence of the Secret Chiefs of the Third Order. How therefore could one possibly expect you to believe in the roots of your own religion?

    Here, as there, your failure to grasp the limitations of the methodology of historical inquiry has left you rootless.

    Best regards,
    David Griffin

  16. Peregrin · October 27, 2010

    Lol, David. 🙂 Sorry if I have touched on a nerve here.

    Let’s be clear though before leaving this – Prof Hutton’s base theses are supported by the overwhelming majority of academics and those who have studied the matter, including many Pagans. As I recount in a few places on MOTO and elsewhere, I came to the same thesis myself upon my Wiccan initiations and recieving Wiccan teachings. This was long before I had even heard of Prof. Hutton. I published my views in local Australian pagan newsletters long before Triumph of the Moon. However, I could not prove them. Prof Hutton’s research did prove them, so I am very grateful to him. So no hero worship here, though I would buy him a drink if I met him 🙂

    And really, stooping to name calling…

  17. David Griffin · October 27, 2010

    I guess we all know where you stand on the issue.

  18. David Griffin · October 27, 2010

    What you apparently fail to consider is that the Pagan movement is not merely Wicca.

    But then again, I am not surprised!

    I have grown accustomed to such thinking over the years in our other arena, from those who fail to see the Hermetic/Rosicrucian forest – for the Golden Dawn trees!

  19. Tony_Theprof · November 16, 2010

    It is not just the Golden Dawn tradition that differs from the more fervent fundamentalists. A Church of England Parish Church I know uses both the more traditional creeds, and also alternates it with this credal form:

    We believe in God, maker of all things, giver of life
    We believe in Jesus, voice of the voiceless, lover of life
    We believe in the Spirit, comforter, sustainer of life
    We believe in the community of faith and doubt
    called to be at the service of all people.
    We believe in the value and dignity of each human being
    We believe that all people are equal before God.
    embraced in God’s love
    and welcome in our community.
    We proclaim the Priesthood of all Believers.
    We respect the richness of different faith journeys
    and seek to offer ourselves to one another and to God
    in maturity, with honesty and integrity.
    We look for a time
    when Liberty, Justice and Equality
    are made real for all people.

    This service also ends with the following blessing – and the gender in “her justice” is quite intentional:

    May the God who dances in creation, who embraces us with human love, who shakes our lives like thunder, bless us and drive us out with power to fill the world with her justice, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.

  20. Peregrin · November 16, 2010

    Hi Tony,

    thank you so much for sharing this Creed and Blessing – they are lovely and beautiful. Very, very good. The Anglican Communion is so diverse – there are Anglicans I know who would die rather than affirm this 🙂 I love it and will share it with my local Priest.

    Thanks again 🙂

  21. Tony_Theprof · November 16, 2010

    I’m in the peculiar position of having a foot in both camps – I go to the local church, belong to the Druid Network, and attend rituals with a local druid and others (for which I write meditations). I don’t see a contradiction, more that one complements the other, and unless one follows Karl Barth dogmatically, there is always going to be overlap.

    Spirit, these good things would not be here
    unless their seeds of life had first lain still
    in the rhythms of winter’s soil.
    Forgive us for trying to be what we are not and for resisting your rhythms.

    That’s from the Celtic evening prayer service, but it could just as easily be neopagan!

    Incidentally, on Ronald Hutton’s thesis, Isaac Bonewits (who sadly died this year) was also thinking along the same lines, that there were no “survivals” of paganism, but quite independently, taking the Moronos, secret underground Jews of Catholic Spain, as an example of how a group of highly literate people lost 99% of their Judaism after only 500 years underground.

  22. Peregrin · November 17, 2010

    Hi Tony,

    thanks once more for this lovely extract from the evening prayer…yes very wonderful. 🙂 Like you I see no conflict between all healthy paths to divinity and much which complements. Thanks for the reminder about the Marranos; I had forgotten about them in this little debate and yes, they illustrate some points nicely, sad as their fate was.

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