The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20699   Message #217682
Posted By: Joe Offer
25-Apr-00 - 12:18 PM
Thread Name: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
Subject: Paganism vs. Monotheism
I'd like to address an issue that's been bugging me for a long time.

It has become fashionable in folk, liberal, and feminist circles to espouse the beliefs and rituals of modern paganism; and to reject and sometimes condemn Judaeo-Christian beliefs as patriarchal and sexist, as racist and oppressive. As a liberal, feminist, pacifist, folkie Christian, that puts me in a difficult situation. At times, it makes me feel excluded and unwanted. That seems unfair to me, since my religious beliefs have helped me all my life in my opposition to racism and sexism and injustice and warfare. I'd like to ask for tolerance and appreciation for my beliefs, just as I require myself to be tolerant and appreciative of all beliefs.

Certainly, there have always been elements within Judaism and Christianity that are sexist and oppressive. The God of Genesis and Exodus may often seem pretty macho and patriarchal – but try to remember that this is the God who gave hope to the most oppressed and persecuted people the world has ever known. St. Paul said a lot of good things, but he also said a lot of things that are embarrassingly sexist and patriarchal – but Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus, not Paul. Judaism and Christianity are founded on the wonderful ideals of love and freedom and responsibility and dignity. There are people who have diverted these beliefs to support oppression and patriarchy, but these are twisted misunderstandings of the lofty ideals that are the basis of monotheism.

The God of Jews and Christians is a God of love and justice. This God is spirit, neither male nor female. Christians believe that God became human and united with humans in Jesus, a male. The masculinity of Jesus is not something that is essential to the beliefs of Christianity. That Jesus was a Jewish male and not a female person of color is just an accident of the natural fact that a person has to be one thing or another – it is not a core belief of Christianity.

So, I would ask pagans to think again about the many things they may have in common with the best of the beliefs and ideals of Christians and Jews and other religions. Most religious faiths are founded on the highest of ideals, and they have much in common. Don't look on Christians and Jews as enemies – they are your fellow believers in love and justice and goodness. Sing your songs with everyone, along with the songs of Jews and Christians. Celebrate and express your own beliefs - but do it in a way that includes everyone.

I would be remiss if I didn't make some mention of Islam. To Westerners, there is much about Islam that seems hopelessly unjust, sexist, and even cruel. If you study Islam more deeply, you will find there is goodness and love and lofty idealism at the core of that faith. All religions are human religions, and all are subject to both the frailties and the strengths of their human members.

One other thing - it's important for women to know that many men, even Christian and Jewish men, are feminists. If you can't love us and accept us as your allies, you'll never win your battle for justice - and then we'll all have much to lose.

I believe that most people, male and female, are essentially good and beautiful. It's up to all of us to find that goodness and beauty in each other. We need to find what unites us. We need to celebrate and learn from our differences and not let our differences divide us.

-Joe Offer-