Sunday, 31 January 2010

"The Big Questions" - Reaction

So, I watched the programme which debated "Is Paganism more relevant today than Christianity?" on Sunday morning.  I watched it again when it appeared, in two parts on Youtube.

And, here is what I thought:  I felt completely unrepresented.

I felt that the pagan speakers were poor.  For example, none of the pagans refuted the statement that past pagans practised human sacrifice, let alone counter with the Christian God requiring Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.   It was stated that paganism had no benefit as pagans were portrayed as nothing more than nature worshippers, and a non-religion, having no moral or ethical guidelines.  Well, I, for one, don't worship nature. I do have moral and ethical guidelines, not borne of a "sustainable relationship with nature", as stated by ERO, but from the society in which I live and the myths of my ancestors; the central tenet of my particular faith being "truth" (roughly translated).  Those that follow the Norse tradition have a set of strict ethical and moral codes to which they adhere, as do several other groups, including Wicca.  So, the statement that paganism is not a religion because it has no moral/ethical guidelines is false, but was weakly rebutted on the programme offering only that morals and ethics were innate.

Paganism is not a religion, it is a "hold-all" term for many different faiths, religions and philosophies, and it is impossible to refer to pagans as a cohesive whole.   Although ERO tried to explain this in relation to the question of afterlife, it was ignored and the debate continued as though all pagans have the same ideas about everything and worship or practice in the same way.   Even the opening statement fostered this impression, when Nicky Campbell announced that "Pagans will be celebrating Imbolc on Tuesday".   Really?  It was my understanding that while some pagans will celebrate Imbolc, others won't recognise the festival at all.  I laughed when the gentlemen said the statements on JF's website were contradictory. Well, of course they are, because pagans are not a cohesive whole.

However, I was appalled at the Christian-bashing, made by JF, with sweeping generalisations and misrepresentations.

There was only a brief discussion which spoke to the question of paganism or Christianity being more relevant to today's society, and Mr Harvey's contribution was reduced to the matter of environmental issues, after which I got the impression he just gave up and watched the rest of the farce.  Certainly some of the faces he was pulling (in the background) led me to this assumption.

I am beginning to see why so many are rejecting the use of the word pagan, and opting for something else instead. I must admit I tend to refer to myself as a polytheist these days.


Cygnus MacLlyr said...


I feel a lot of the 'representative' lot aren't so... sad, but.. there it is.

hard to define, Pagan, because of precisely what you say--- a gamut of diversity.

Wonder if it will ever be otherwise?

Be who I am is all I can do. And, Christian [nor said-basher] that ain't...

Slainte, Lady.

dreamguardian said...

I'm glad the question is being posed

I think that human sacrifice is used to create a knee jerk reaction. Personally as a pagan I have to acknowledge that there's some evidence to suggest at times this may of occurred throughout europe, notably in Rome itself! I'm not ashamed & embarressed by it either. I think context & a mature educated explanation is required but impossible on such a programme.

I agree Sile, our morals & ethics do come from society rather than religion but the latter must feature to some degree, though.

It didn't end quite as bad as I expected but I think we could of been represented much better.

Ancestral Gael said...

Ah, yes. Thanks DG.

I forgot about the Romans, who also accused the druids of sacrificing humans, mostly because my focus is on the western Europe. Even so, no-one countered by saying not all pagan religions indulged in sacrifice.

After all, hasn't society, and most religious groups, become more civilised, or liberal since the time of our ancestors?

dreamguardian said...

'After all, hasn't society, and most religious groups, become more civilised, or liberal since the time of our ancestors?'

Thats their arguement that since the decline of ancient paganism, we're now civilised and why it's used as a slur.

Picture the scene of a woman taken from society, given food & drink, clothed in particular garments and then taken to a special room. A holy man recites prayers, pronounces her free from sin & then she is executed before pepresentatives of high repute within her community!!

Her name was Ruth Ellis & it took place less than 100 years ago