Friday, February 1, 2008

What's My Problem Over Sharing Craft With Christianity?

What's My Problem Over Sharing Craft With Christianity?

To begin, I am not a Christian and I have never been a Christian. I don't know about Christianity or about being a Christian from the inside. Whatever I know about Christianity, about being a Christian, I know from the outside. From reading book sand texts and pamphlets, from hearing sermons, from visiting churches and sacred sites, from attending Christian occasions of worship or celebration, from the realm of interfaith, from conversations with lay folks and clergy folks, and from thinking about Christianity and Neo-Pagan Craft.

I am, however, a Neo-Pagan Craft practitioner. My affiliation with Craft goes back to my childhood, and I learned fundamental skills of practice when I was a young teenager. I realized that what I was doing was *Neo-Pagan Craft* in my early 20's, when I read my first books describing Neo-Pagan Craft. These days, I am affiliated with three Neo-Pagan Craft trads--
Faery, Gardnerian, and Reclaiming--and one not-Craft magical trad--the UnderWorld Tradition.

As far as I can tell, Christianity is, for the most part, different at its roots from Neo-Pagan Craft.
The two hold basic tenets that are opposed, not compatible, not reconcilable, that contradict one another. At least, Christianity that defines its faith according to one of the traditional Creeds holds basic tenets not reconcilable with those of Neo-Pagan Craft.

Christianity is monotheistic. Neo-Pagan Craft is polytheistic. Yes, Neo-Pagan Craft takes in a range of notions about the nature of Deities and their metaphysical number. But it does not insist on one and only one, the rest relegated to inferiority and, at best, partial access to powers of the godhead.

Christianity declares humanity to be sinful, sinful by nature. Neo-Pagan Craft says humanity may be a lot of things, very, very bad among them, but not sinful. Not sinful by nature.

Christianity provides a spiritually beneficial adaptation to being sinful by nature--salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Exactly how salvation takes place appears to vary in a number of details, sometimes hotly argued among adherents of different Christian denominations, but, so far as I can tell, Jesus Christ is the active agent of salvation everywhere and at all times since His incarnation.

Neo-Pagan Craft does not recognize sin, and so it does not provide any beneficial adaptation to being sinful. Not through faith in Jesus Christ. Not through faith in any other Deity. Craft offers
a different adaptation that involves a different relationship of human to Deities. This relationship anchors itself in direct experience of Deities, and it emphasizes changes brought about via that direct experience.

Some denominations of Christianity insist that for most adherents their relationship with Deity must be mediated by clergy. Others do favor direct experience with Deity. Neo-Pagan Craft holds that direct experience is optimum, even though a category of *clergy* seems to be emerging within Craft.

What I find challenging about sharing Craft with Christianity, as some Christians and many
one-time-Christians take up Craft, is the efforts to bring some of these Christian notions and outlooks over into Craft. Because I think that the basic tenets are opposed, I find borrowed Christian notions and outlooks dilute the Craft tenets. Christianity borrowed into Craft makes
Craft less Crafty, more like this or that maybe progressive, post-modern Christian denomination or movement. Subtly, I fret, Christianity borrowed into Craft makes things like clergy more likely and mediated relationships with Deities typical, and looking for salvation from sin possible.

I surprise myself with how crotchety I am over sharing Craft with Christianity. I don't mind a diversity of spiritual traditions and outlooks. I believe that such diversity is good for a community and a culture. But I feel something about Craft that I hold to be its root strength weakening as
notions and outlooks borrowed from Christianity diffuse throughout Craft.


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