The Pagan Experience week 4 of February is letters C or D. I have chosen D for this week.
I believe one of the things that I like about Paganism, for different reasons in the beginning than now, is the lack of dogma within Paganism.
Dogma (n)- a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself. From das Wiki.
Yes, there is the Rede. And the Rule of Three. There are teachings that come from Cunningham and Gardner.
But unless you belong to a coven, there really isn’t any dogma.
This is a problem, I believe, with folks who take their religious literature at its word. These folks see it not as a metaphor or a parable written for specific peoples of a specific time, that can be shifted over time to apply lessons to people in later times. Rather, they see it as a way to discredit fact, discovery, and progress; a narrow way to look at the world.
If one was to explain the “wrongness” of being gay with the lines that, paraphrased, are a man shall never lie with a man as he lies with a woman…well, these same folks would have to check all of their closets (can’t mix fabric types) and need to reel it in when they go to seafood restaurants (can’t eat shellfish). This is the type of dangerous dogma…this is the type of dogma that is preached by religious leaders and eaten up by followers. This is the type of dangerous dogma that leads to ignorance and hate. We can’t look away from this one line (even though we ignore many others from the same passage) or that means what we believe isn’t worth believing.
Dogma is not necessarily religious. KKK shared the dogma that all non-WASPs were evil and need to be exterminated. ISIS shares the dogma that all non-extremist Muslims need to be exterminated. Hitler preached the dogma that all non-Aryans needed to be eliminated.
Dogma is a dangerous thing.
When I left the Christian faith, I did so partly because I could not handle the brainaches I was getting from trying to consolidate all of the conflicting pieces of dogma and real life. Many family members believed in everything the church stood for, yet their actions went in direct opposition of what they said they believed. Thugs in the media murdering while wearing a cross- rappers selling millions of records with content based around rape and murder, thanking God and Jesus when they won an award for their violent art. I will never forget a car ride with my dad, around Christmas time, when he was going over all of the stuff he disagreed with about the church…Mary could never have been a virgin because you have to have sex to have a kid was his biggest gripe. He would never say it with his [second] wife in the car…he only went to church to appease her. Even though she had sex before marriage and used birth control…very big dogmatic no-nos! Brainache!
As a Pagan, I don’t ascribe to anyone’s dogma. I don’t have to. I approach my spiritual path in a very scientific way, a very open-minded way. If I find something works, I adopt it. If I learn later that it doesn’t work, I change it or I leave it behind. Did you know recent work in the area of theoretical physics has shown the Big Bang Theory likely never happened? The Big Bang Theory has been a thing for so long…it has been an accepted theory in the scientific community (and progressive religious leaders liked it because they could add their supreme creator to it) but now it’s just gone. Some of the math didn’t add up. And with a what’s-old-is-new-again theory, the math now adds up. The Universe didn’t ever begin. And it won’t ever end. It always has been. And it always will be.
But I digress…
Wow…this post did not end up where I was planning for it to. But I think I’ve found a good ending place.
When I first started on my journey, I was in my 20’s and out of college. I was not “going Pagan” as a rebellious phase. I was healing from a trauma. I have remained on my path for eight years. Eight years is not a phase, but rather a lifestyle choice. When I first started on my journey, I was quick to lash out against anything and everything Abrahamic because it was domineering and cruel…because it made my head hurt and its people were/are hateful hypocrites. The further I walked on my path, the more and more I realized I was never against the Christian spirituality, but rather I was against the dogma of the religion. I was not against the ideals, but rather against the way they were interpreted. What’s right for one isn’t right for another. Live and let live, love and let love.