This entry is sort of a hybrid. On the grounds that it's all political in the end, this is ending up here instead of Cottage.
I’m still on the fence, sort of. Exploring alternative ways for my spirit to walk, but not closing the door on the traditions I was raised in. I’ve found a few good books and some really helpful websites. There’s Wicca of course, (it's a fair place to start but it isn't calling me) and the Native American wannabees. But I’ve also found sites for Celtic and Hellenic reconstructionists. There are a lot of folks out there who searching for the roots of the beliefs that Christianity and Islam displaced, often violently. They’re smart and proud and moving past the “just leave us in peace stage” to the “you are welcome to walk your path, but I’m claiming the right to walk where my spirit leads me.”
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry whenever I run across the latest claim of a “War on Christianity.” Who got the blame after September 11? After the militants of course. It was God’s judgment on America for tolerating gays, liberals, lesbians, witches, and whatever. Toleration, what a terrible word. If I keep my mouth shut, you won’t kick me. Perhaps it's time to say no. And keep saying it. And to insist on respect, no matter who we are. We expect nothing more and we will accept nothing less. And offer the same in return, when it's earned.
I sympathize with my mom, she’s happy in the church she attends. The Methodist Church does a lot of good internationally through their relief programs and locally through United Methodist Women. I don’t dispute it. It’s just getting too hard for me to put the good on one side and the centuries of destruction on the other and tell myself that it all balances out in the end. John Wesley was well into his sixties and still tromping through the snow putting the bite on passersby for donations to help the poor. He didn’t leave much in his will because “I’ve given it all away.” And what was left he directed to be divided among the six poor men chosen to carry his coffin to the cemetery.
How many William Wilberforces does it take to offset the Inquisition? 1492 was not only the year Columbus set out for Asia and ran into a new world, it was the year the Jews were expelled from a newly united, Christian ruled Spain. How many Martin Luther Kings does it take to offset over a century of persecution? They all claim inspiration from the same root, but too many of the branches appear to be twisted and fruit is tainted.
We look back at the beliefs of the past and count ourselves superior to our ancestors. We don’t haul animals to the alter and sacrifice them. But most of the meat was shared by the followers of the God or Goddess as part of the celebration. If one of our factory raised steers had the choice between our factory meat packing system and the sharp knife of a ritual sacrifice I wonder which it would choose. (probably tell us to go eat our veggies and leave him in peace, actually)
We don’t practice human sacrifice. At least not openly. What else would you call centuries of pogroms, religious wars and expulsions? What else do you call the hundreds if not thousands of people who just didn’t fit in who were accused of heresy or witchcraft? When the Thirty Years was over in the 1600’s nearly seven million Germans were dead. When the Battle of the Bulge was over and the siege of Bastogne was broken, the city was destroyed and twenty five thousand civilians were dead. Those were the ones they knew about. Another fifty thousand were never accounted for. What other name is there for the eleven million who died in Nazi Germany’s death factories? The list is endless and while some of the causes were good, we need to grieve for the lost.
Our ancestors have their own butcher’s bill to answer for. Wars of conquest, civil wars, and slavery. Makes a quite a list doesn’t it. And still, there was much good to their credit. We can claim the same. Just don’t claim that our actions are superior because they didn’t happen two or three thousand years ago.
And I think there is an element of fear in their claims. In this country and in Europe the church can no longer rely on the power of the state to compel conversion or obedience. And I thnk it scares them as much as it gratifies the rest of us.
My this entry did kind of meander didn't it? For now you’ll find me working my way through my books on herbs, doing a little research to see if there really is a way to talk to the animals, and waiting out this spiritual dry spell to end.