February 8th, 2008
|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
The forms of Christianity that people are least likely to leave are those which are often tied with their identity and fairly well integrated into society. In my experience people are more likely to leave a Pentecostal/Holiness/Non-Denominational church than they are an established church.
Plenty of Italians are nominal Catholics; they use birth control and think the Pope's a pleasant, Santa-Claus like fellow; they go to church on major holidays because they've always done it or because it's a family tradition.
The same can be said for a lot of Anglicans, although there are plenty of other factors that make Anglicanism more attractive.
People may switch parishes but they rarely leave the fold. I know quite a few lapsed Catholics but not so many lapsed pagans. Paganism is also quite a lot more open than many forms of traditional church-based Christianity. There's not a need for pagan churches in the same way there's a need for Catholic or Anglican or whatever denomination to have a church.