Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why A Christo-Pagan?

I know I've dealt with this question before—in my second entry here, no less—but I think it's one that I could stand to re-visit every once in awhile.

The most obvious reason is that Christo-Paganism, as I practice it, anyway, is partially based on a framework that makes sense to me at a very deep level because even though my immediate family wasn't (and still isn't) particularly religious, I grew up with a certain consciousness of Christianity because I spent fourteen years (kindergarten, plus grades 1-12 and OAC) in Roman Catholic schools, where prayer—whether or not you want to involve yourself in it—is a fact of life, and where involvement in worship of one kind or another was inevitable.  And even though I'd actually rejected Catholicism by the time I was in my second year of high school, I always sensed something behind it (if that makes any sense) that I could get along with.  My occasional brushes with other Christian denominations over the years—especially Anglicanism—gave me the ability, if not always the will, to see that not every church has the problems that I eventually grew to be unable to tolerate in the denomination of my baptism.

I became Pagan primarily because although I didn't think that Paganism of any stripe was perfect either, there are several things that Christianity largely fails to address, or address adequately, that many Pagans have made a central point of their beliefs and their actions.  Things like caring for the planet we live on.  Like women's equality and the unjustness of discrimination against people who are "othered" for any reason.  Like the importance of our sexuality, whatever form it takes, to us and to the many ways that we experience the world.  Like the importance of working for the betterment of the world, not because it could save us from eternal punishment but because it's the right thing to do.

I blend the two, though not always very well, because both approaches have enriched my life and strengthened my sense of compassion in their different ways.  Except for a brief time when I was feeling the most embittered by my disillusionment with my original faith, I have always regarded Jesus as a great teacher.  The love and compassion that make up most of his teachings are still the basis of my moral compass.  And Paganism has taught me, and continually reminds me, that as much as we try to ignore or deny it, we really are all connected to each other in one way or another—and that taking care of each other, and of the planet we live on, is of paramount importance.

It isn't an approach that could work for everybody, of course; I don't think it's possible to have any such thing.  Not with the huge variety of experiences that humans tend to have with the world.  But even with its problems (which are, to be fair, mostly caused by the Christian part, especially the exclusivity that I've rejected but that's still such a big part of the mainstream Christian worldview), it works for me.  And I figure that as long as it's not leading me to cause harm to anyone else, that's as much as I need it to do.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hell must be freezing over...

...because, as far as I can tell from having read this article on Ars Technica, there's actually some sense coming out of the Vatican.  Environmentally speaking, anyway.  And though I still feel no small measure of contempt for the source of this statement, I can't deny that I agree with this particular message anyway.

To summarize: the damage that we've been causing to the environment is real and it has Consequences.  We're already starting to see them in the natural disasters that have killed so many people in recent years, and it's going to keep happening.  We have to do our best to help the people who have been made vulnerable to these disasters, and if the nations who are doing all this damage in the first place don't wise up and do something decisive and constructive to halt this damage, it's going to get a hell of a lot worse than it already is. And yes, it'll be expensive to do what's necessary, but if it isn't done then the long-term consequences will be even more expensive.

Despite my great dislike of the Vatican, I can completely agree with the principle behind this statement.  We humans have been very bad for the planet in recent centuries.  We're starting to see changes to the world's climate, and a corresponding rise in the number of natural disasters that we ourselves have gradually caused, no matter how indirectly it may be, because of our pollution and our refusals to do anything about the damage we've caused to the Earth.  Thousands of people have died because of natural disasters that have happened because of the changes we've slowly been making to the planet.  If it isn't already too late to fix the damage we've caused, we've got to act now or we'll eventually find that in abusing our planet so badly, we've truly sown the seeds of our own destruction.

And harvest time is coming.

Now, I don't think that we'll absolutely destroy the planet.  Life has sprung up here several times after several mass extinctions, and I have no doubt that it will happen again, even if it takes a few millennia for the Earth to sufficiently heal itself.  But we'd better smarten up, or the next mass extinction will be our own.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Say It Ain't So...

I am so disappointed in my country right now.

We have given a majority government to the one party leader in Canada who I absolutely think is the last person who should ever have had it—and the worst possible person for the Prime Minister's office.  We've just validated all his lies, all his hostility towards democracy and the common person, all his secrecy, all his refusals to do anything constructive about poverty, all the credit he took for an economic survival that was really none of his doing.  We've just said that it's OK to prorogue Parliament whenever things aren't going well for you; we've just told him that his hostility towards health care, education and the environment is perfectly fine.  We've affirmed that women don't need equal pay for equal work and that it's OK that a pregnant person's right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy can, and probably will, be "up for debate" (read: rescinded) at some time in the next four years.

We've asserted that science is irrelevant and that it's fine to consider the purchase of jet fighters that cost more than Ontario's entire education system (and then lie to Canadians about the price) while claiming that universal health care is just too damn expensive.  We've affirmed his position that water that's clean and safe to drink isn't a basic human right.  We've OK'd his absolute and utter disdain for the descendents of the first peoples of this continent.  We've approved corporate tax cuts in a country which already had one of the world's lowest corporate tax rates—and we've therefore also approved the ensuing necessity for the increasingly-impoverished middle class to pick up the slack.  (In Canada, even the poorest people who pay taxes pay a higher tax rate than the richest 1% of the population.)  We've given our official seal of approval to a Prime Minister who has several times tried to pass legislation that would make it legal for law enforcement to read Canadians' e-mail and see detailed internet usage data without a court order; after all, who needs privacy?

We've done nothing less than fling open the hen-house door and invite the hungry fox in.  We should have tossed him out on his ass.  Instead, we gave him an open invitation to do things to Canada that George W. Bush could only have dreamed of doing to the USA.  And you know, he once said, "You won't recognize Canada when I get through with it."  Given everything that he was able to get away with when his hands were relatively tied on account of having only a minority government, I shudder to think what he'll be doing to us now that he's got that majority that he's been salivating after since 2006.

I hope I'm wrong.  I really do.  But Harper's track record so far isn't encouraging, and I suspect that things are going to get a hell of a lot worse for us before they even start to get better.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Little Side Note

Depending on how familiar you are with Canadian politics, you may or may not know that tomorrow, my country is heading to the polls.  For a lot of reasons, I don't think that it would be an exaggeration to say that this may be the most important Federal election that's yet taken place within my lifetime.

And I'd like ask you to do a very little something for me.

If you believe in any deity (or deities), or any other Higher Power to whom it is traditional to offer prayers, please pray to them for us; please pray that the people of Canada will vote for leaders who will not continue down this dangerous path that Stephen Harper's started us on.  At this point, we need all the help we can get.  (If you're curious about why I'm saying this, please click here and here.  The people behind these pages say it so much better than I ever could.)

So please pray for us.  Send us positive thoughts and energy.  We need the help badly.  And if you happen to be one of my fellow Canadians, please vote—vote to get this menace to all that is Canadian out of office.