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February 8th, 2008


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05:54 pm - Church Crumbling
I have watched with interest as the UK press has sensationalized comments by Archbishop Rowan Williams recently, particularly with headlines like today's "Archbishop of Canterbury argues for Islamic law in Britain" and the "Archbishop says nativity 'a legend'" (of course, Fox News got in on the fun with that second one, so it's not just the Brits).

What interests me most, though is that something like either of those (which are obviously just completely out of context headlines) would cause some Pagans to leave an organization, if the head of that Org did that.

I imagine that the thought of leaving their church (as an organization) very, very rarely crosses the mind of a Christian, particularly someone born and raised in that faith. Christians seem, in general, far more likely to hold onto their denominational identity than Pagans do. Even in the case of a major break (such as the Anglican Communion has recently experienced, with American churches joining communion with Nigerian churches or the Worldwide Anglican Communion), rarely will they leave their denomination over something so small as a difference in belief, politics, or who gets to be ordained.

Pagans, in general, are an interesting mix of "joiners" and "leavers." We join organizations like they're sweet candy, and we leave them like they're so many wrappers. This may have something to do with the little, tiny ponds we swim in, or it might have more to do with the general protestantism of Neo-Paganism, where every person is their own priest and just as able to contact the divine as the next guy wearing a dress. Whatever it is, it interests me terribly.

If a Pagan church didn't ordain women, the Pagans would leave. If Skip (ADF's Archdruid) said the US should adopt Sharia (or was quoted as saying that), people would get huffy and probably decide ADF wasn't for them (and, of course, probably without asking him about it). I have a feeling, too, that this might also be a percentage sort of thing: 200 people leaving the Anglican Communion is a drop in the bucket compared to 200 people leaving ADF.

It may also be a question of the amount of work someone wants to put into an organization that they feel doesn't match with their path any longer: becoming "unchurched" is a lot harder than not renewing your ADF dues or ceasing to attend coven functions: you actually have to actively work at it (I still get notices from a number of churches I belonged to as a kid, here and there around the Midwest. . . ADF, PSA, and N14 are as easy to stop hearing from as unsubscribing from a mailing list; the Christian churches would take active contact to stop their missives. . . I can't even simply move without them finding me).

Anyway, it's interesting to watch conflict within a church from several angles in several different churches. It could be an interesting spectator sport: "Church Crumbling" is what I imagine it would be called.

I need some popcorn now. . .
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: "Rancho Deluxe", -JB

(16 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:autothyestean
Date:February 9th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
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I guess the thing is Anglicanism is a big and wide faith with lots of different ideas in, from the cynical high church theologians who are practically atheists anyway, to the cynical low church lay members who are practically atheists anyway, with lots of variations of belief in between. Maybe with smaller groups people expect more similarity in belief.

I guess it helps that Anglicanism has existed since it was forged by Lord Flasheart at Mount Doom in 1066, and therefore many generations have lived within it. Being a member kind of becomes a habbit that isn't easilly broken. Whereas very few people are members of Pagan groups from birth, and still fewer are members of the same Pagan groups that their grandparents were a part of.

Sometimes BBC Parliament televises the ecumenical council of the Anglican Church. I wish it was done in the same style as the Superbowl. That would be awesome.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 9th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
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Sometimes I wonder if the low-level lassitude might be the issue, the reason why people don't leave. There's a perception that some people are just going through the motions (which I don't believe is accurate), but that the motions are comfortable and habitual (and, ultimately, pleasurable) is something I am actually positive of.

I am meeting more and more second and third generation Pagans (possibly because of our attitudes toward sex and a high number of young mothers), so we may find this phenomenon sooner than we thought.

Whether that's good or bad, I suppose, is up to the individual observer, but I generally think that religious habit is a positive thing, really.
[User Picture]
From:autothyestean
Date:February 9th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
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Have you read "A Clergy Man's Daughter"? Its probably my second favourate George Orwell novel after "Keep the Aspedistra Flying". A female protagonist and about religion.

I like how it seems to suggest that there are very important and very active people in church bodies who also happen to completely not believe in God. They beleive in something else... the community, maybe. The fact that there's nothing else. The history, the buildings. Maybe even the liturgy. I don't think that skeptical scholars or lay members are always apathetic about their religion.

Having a tradition is, ironically, kind of what ADF Paganism seems to be about. I guess. In my opinion the belief in the ancestors, the apparent wish to link itself with the past while work with the present and the quite open liturgical system seem to make it an ideal choice for a Pagan family religion. I don't know, that would be my opinion.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:February 9th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)

young mothers

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That phenomenon of a high number of young mothers started to disturb me the last time I went to PSG. I'm all for positive attitudes toward sex, but I would hope that it includes some education in there.

Actually I expect it's more about (much but not all of paganism) being a fertility religion rather than about attitudes toward sex specifically. Some redirect the "fertility" idea toward other things, while others are more literal.

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