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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Canadian Affirms Oath of Citizenship on Pagan ‘Holy Book’

Melissa Gold, a fellow member of Hellenion (a recognized church of Hellenic Pagans) affirmed her oath of citizenship on her copy of Hesiod and Homer this week – possibly a first in North America.

Hellenion’s Press Release:

“Hellenion is delighted for Melissa Gold, who was recently able to undertake her Canadian citizenship ceremony while holding a volume of Hesiod and Homeric Hymns. We celebrate with her that she was able to mark the moment of being able to participate fully in her country’s democracy while maintaining her Hellenic principles. In these times all of us are regularly reminded how precious the rights of religious freedom and tolerance are, and salute the government of Canada for their on-going commitment to these principles. We hope more countries will soon enact laws to extend religious freedom to all their citizens. All the best to Melissa and her family.”

From Melissa’s interview with Pagan+politics:

PNC: This gets to something that may be a bit controversial in our wider religious community, the idea that Pagans could have a holy book and why we would swear or affirm an oath on one. Which book did you choose and why did you choose that one?Melissa: I wanted to make a point that Hellenic texts could logically be part of a citizenship ceremony in lieu of touching an altar of Zeus, which was a traditional way to make oaths in antiquity. I had brought a Loeb volume containing the works of Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, and the Homeric Hymns. Those texts represent some of the earliest writings about Hellenic spiritual practice and mythology, which underlie most of what was done in ancient times along with the epic poems and give us inspiration and direction today.

PNC: Did it give you pause to be choosing a book, knowing you may be setting an example or precedent for Hellenics?

Melissa: Yes and no. While I realized that some people might regard my particular choice as a precedent, I suggest that anyone in a similar position choose whatever is of importance and significance to them. If it helps anyone to have the works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns be known as a precedent, that’s great; but polytheism is inclusive and therefore many other choices would be just as good. There is no one right choice as in monotheistic societies. – Full article at The Wild Hunt

Tyler Clemente Dead at 18: Teasing and Bullying Teenagers is an Epidemic

This issue continues here: RIP Gay Victims of Abuse: Will YOU Wear Purple on October 20th?

From: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl7z1N6LFh8

My heart goes out to everyone who suffers from teasing and bullying.  They are forms of persecution, and it’s treated far to lightly in our culture when its targeted at children and teenagers.  Teenagers are already going through a difficult transition point in their lives, a point at which they are establishing their identity.  It’s an especially vulnerable time to be subject to attacks on that identity. Continue reading

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?

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