Friday, August 27, 2010

Religious Pervasiveness

So far, I don't really belong to any religion. I consider myself "Pagan," because that's a nice, oblique term. "Pagans" aren't affiliated with any church, so I don't have to constantly defend the actions of some institution. It's not affiliated with any specific culture, so I don't have to follow the rules and traditions of that culture. It's not specific enough to include dogma, but it's specific enough to separate me from the Abrahamic religions. Basically, if the term was defined as "I believe what I believe, so just ask me if you want to know something specific, if not leave me in peace," then that would be OK with me.

But, I am glad, in a way, that a Pagan religion is not the dominant religion in America. (Examples of Pagan religions include Wicca, Asatru, Druidism, Ancient Greek Religion, etc...) If they were, they would probably be exploited by our corporate and political forces, and completely changed to fit the people-in-power's agenda.

Look at the Ancient Greek religion. It was usurped and changed by Roman leaders and turned into a justification for immorality, especially in government.

Look at the way Christianity is used by Americans to justify our own selfish point of view. How is Christianity used by the far right to justify the accumulation of wealth when the Bible clearly states that it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? How did "turn the other cheek" become "nuke the middle east?" I remember when WWJD bracelets were trendy... but who among us actually acts like Jesus? Christianity has thrived within our consumerist nation, infiltrating merchandise, reality T.V. shows, pop culture, and especially political media! The Christian "message" seems to be "conform." What ever happened to "love thy neighbor?" Doesn't really fit in today's so-called "Christian" culture. And of course I'm not even getting into all the prejudices and atrocities done in the name of Christ.

So, what would happen if the majority of people abandoned Christianity in favor of a minority religion like Wicca? Well, Wicca is normally about caring for the Earth, doing no harm to others, and celebrating the cycle of life. However, if the people in power embraced Wicca, all sorts of evil could be justified under that religion. Hoarding wealth could be justified by saying the equivalent of "my magic is more powerful than yours." Racism and intolerance could still be justified by saying we are "weeding out ignorance." Either men or women could be viewed as inferior- Wicca made popular could very well escalate the gender wars instead of eliminating it!

Something that I've observed by living on a farm... often a weak animal is picked on and ostracized. Maybe it's young and inexperienced and physically weaker than an animal in their prime of life. However, the "bully" gets sick or old or weakened somehow, and then the weak animal becomes the strong. However, instead of remembering how it felt to be picked on, it will instead become an even bigger bully than the first bully, and pick on anyone weaker than itself. It's a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes it's better NOT to be in a position of power! I hear things like "if only America embraced the ideals of (insert philosophy or religion here) then we would have a better world!" I'm sorry, but I can't share your idealism. The hard truth is, that assholes will still act like assholes, no matter what label they say they embrace. After all, Christianity USED to be a minority religion, and under persecution character was formed. However, now that Christianity is pervasive, it has become the weak animal who became strong and bullied everyone else.

Unless we can learn from the past and learn to change ourselves to build better character, (instead of merely using a certain mindset to justify ourselves) then the world will never improve, no matter if we are Christian or Wiccan, Communist or Capitalist. If you are in a majority religion, take a good look at what your religion teaches and the life that you are living, and see whether or not you're just using your religion to get what you want. If you are in a minority religion, don't ever assume that more power or more press will mean a better life for you- it won't. Remember what it feels like to be oppressed and apply a better morality to those whom you have power over.

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