Reader Question #2: How do you start believing when you don’t (even if you know it would be good for you)?

Dear readers, a reminder: Helleneste kai Grammateus is open to questions. To take advantage of this, please read the Site Policy and complete the Ask a Question form. As always, this is a free service, but if you wish to help support this blog, I greately appreciate donations.

This comment came in response to a previous article, Why believe in divinity if you can’t prove it’s real?

One slight problem: if you know you’re just deluding yourself in order to live longer and healthier, how do you even believe? For those that aren’t, the fact that being religious is correlated to better health is of no significance. -Quintin

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Reader Question #1: Is it morally wrong to break with my parents’ religion?

As previously announced, I’ve decided to take interesting comments, questions, and topics posted to Helleneste kai Grammateus and answer them in longer articles. You can take advantage of my offer after reading the Site Policy and completing the Ask a Question form. As always, this is a free service, but if you wish to help support this blog, you can make a donation.

Below is the first question that set me off doing this. It was a comment in reply to article on How to Find Your Patron Goddess or God, and it’s a really important one.

I’m a Catholic and I have been drawn too this religion, I’m not sure what it is but I love the gods but I will feel terrible for leaving my religion, I’m barely a teenager but like I said its like I’m being drawn too this, and I have been searching this stuff all day and it just feels right somehow I’m confused, would it be bad for me too leave my religion behind and start again??

Deanna

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Islamic Center Proposed in Tennessee

Anti-Islamic protestors

Anti-Islamic protestors raise signs

Here’s another amusing video from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, this one on the topic of an Islamic Center proposed in Tennessee and the growing hatred and paranoia of all things Muslim.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Tennessee No Evil
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
Protestor holds a sign against proposed Islamic center

Protestor holds a sign against proposed Islamic center

Remember folks, religious tolerance applies to all religions. It doesn’t mean endorsing their creeds, liking what they do, or -gods forbid- agreeing with others’ beliefs. It means allowing them to practice their faiths. Ideally, it means trying to understand why others believe what they believe; but at the very least, not being a jackass about it by persecuting believers of other faiths.

This applies not only to Christians with respect to Islam and to us, as polytheists. It also applies to us and our behavior towards monotheists like Christians and Muslims.

What do you think of (and feel about) the building of Islamic Cultural Centers?  Should we be tolerant if and when we are not tolerated?

Was Jesus a Demi-god?

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Jesus depicted in stained glass in St John the Baptist's Anglican Church via Wikipedia

This post follows The Difference Between Gods and Demi-Gods.  Please read that article first.

Hi Alexandrabond, of course the Christian church is mostly Pagan in ritual, although forgotten are the meanings of the rituals.

Isn’t Jesus a Demi-god? The fact is that Christianity looks nothing like Judaism so what does it look like? – bdrex

The Catholic practice of revering saints:

My suggestion is concerned more with the actions of followers than the nature of their saints. The cult behavior towards saints/heros/demi-gods is very similar in our respective religions.

Christian ritual:

I also agree that it’s very interesting how pagan their rituals are and that they have forgotten the meaning behind their rituals. That’s the unfortunate result of such a strict hierarchical church structure in which (at least until at least the Reformation) only priests and some nobility read and recited their mythology.  You’re also right that Christianity departs a great deal from Judaism. How interesting that this obscure Jewish cult divided so significantly from its parent religion and gained such notoriety over time.  While Judaism had its own, separate and contained, culture, the Christians under Paul reached out to gentiles (non-Jews) to convert them.  Any similarities they could borrow from pagan religions would make the transition easier and for utilitarian (not necessarily spiritual) reasons.

Disclaimer:

As always, as a modern Hellenic polytheist, I’m much less concerned with orthodoxy (correct thought) than orthopraxy (correct practice).  I don’t presume to hold a direct line to divinity, am not writing to fight over personal gnosis, and really don’t care to tell Christians what to believe.  Quite frankly, belief doesn’t matter, actions matter.  What I care about is how we relate to each other.

That said, here is my approach the subject of Jesus and whether he was a demi-god:

I don’t know for sure if Jesus of Nazareth existed; if he was a good, inspiring, mortal like Ghandi; if he was a god in disguise, or if he was descended from a mortal-immortal pairing and was therefore a demi-god/hero. If Jesus of Nazareth was a hero, then he could have undergone a process like apotheosis (elevation to godhood).

The story of his life and death reminds me of Asklepios: born of a powerful god and a mortal female, rescued from death at birth, possessed life-restoring power, was a kindly man, and underwent apotheosis at the same time as his death.  Some also say that his mother was sent to the heavens.  It’s possible Jesus was the kind of hero Asklepios was – not one of strength, cunning, or quests – but of doing good deeds – and was rewarded for them by his father’s favor.   Yet it’s also possible that much like our holidays and rituals, this too was borrowed from our mythology and Jesus wasn’t divine at all. It’s possible he didn’t even exist.

The Christian mythology is a knot of contradictions and it’s wound too tight for me to untie.  Personally given how many accounts there remain of Jesus, I’m inclined to think that he did exist and was a very good person, but as I have no gnosis of the Abrehamic god or Jesus, I cannot say whether he was anything more than that.

Do you think Jesus was a demi god, a god, or just a man?  If he was just a man, do you think he was elevated to a demi-god or god?

The Difference Between Gods and Demi-Gods

Hades with Cerberus (Heraklion Archaeological ...

Hades with Cerberus via Wikipedia

Gods are immortal and have particular domains that They control/embody/personify. Demi-gods, or heros, are descended from god and mortal pairings. Demi-gods have abilities that surpass mortals, can cross domains that gods can not cross (like descending into Hades – something we don’t see any gods but the Chthonic gods do, because it isn’t Their realm [except for Hermes and Iris because They are messenger gods]). Yet mortals don’t have the power of gods and can be subject to the whims of gods. Mortals often have a special relationship with their parent god and sometimes are blessed with long life or immortality by their parent god or gods in general. Sometimes they have/had cult worship as well (as in, people pray[ed] to them in addition to the gods).

IMHO, Catholocism adapted the practice of worshiping demi-gods/heros to the worship of their saints (not the same figures in mythology/history, but rather, the very human tendency to elevate certain notable individuals to cult status and ascribing a divine quality to them).

What do you think a demi god is?  What do you think defines a god?

Brit Hume Proselytizes Christianity

I don’t think that faith [Buddhism] offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. – Brit Hume on Fox News

At first I tried to shrug this off. But it kept eating at me. Continue reading

Fundamentalist Atheists

Addendum: There have been some lively comments in response to the post below, but there seem to be misapprehensions that 1) I am calling all Atheists fundamentalists, and that 2) I am defending Abrahamic faiths, or that this blog is about Abrahamic faiths.

This is not so.

First, I am talking specifically about intolerance – when it appears among Atheists. Extremists (who are often marked by intolerance) are found in every group, and Atheists are no exception.

If you are Atheist and tolerant of other people’s religious and spiritual beliefs, then this article is NOT about you.

If you feel it could be about you, well, then try to take home the message of the golden rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have done to you’.

Second, please read “About the Author” And “About Helleneste kai Grammateus” before posting.

Thank you. Now for the post…

The Major religious groups of the world.

Major Religious Groups of the World Image via Wikipedia

I read a new term today: “Fundamentalist Atheists” referenced in KCRW’s The New Atheists.

The label is meant for those who don’t believe in any deity (soft or hard) and view the influence of any religion or spirituality as a threat to reason and science and fight back. They believe that religion inherently fosters ignorance and war and fight aggressively against beliefs in anything spiritual. Theirs is called the New Atheism movement.

I would agree that one can be Atheist and be Fundamentalist about it. One doesn’t have to believe in spirituality in order to be so adamant about that belief (or non-belief if you prefer) to proselytize and show intolerance. Continue reading