Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Look At All The Pagans: Christo-Pagans

I gotta admit, I find the whole notion of Christo-Pagans puzzling.

I came to Neo-Pagan Craft, the heart of my practice, via a path that did not cross much of the Christian domain. I am not a Christian. What I know about Christianity comes from growing up in a Judeo-Christian culture and from researching Christianity as a religion.

Don't be too surprised, then, if I am, once in a while, clueless from a Christian insider's perspective.

The first time that I encountered Christians who were intentionally non-compliant with the creeds and doctrines and official faith/practice requirements of their denomination was when I met liberal to radical Catholics, usually Catholic intellectuals. They opposed, sometimes adamantly opposed, various important things about their denomination. But they remained, adamantly, affiliated with the Catholic Church.

In all their struggles, they worked to change the Catholic Church from within.

Even though I understood this stance--from a mostly political outlook--I was perplexed.

What, I wondered, were they trying to preserve or to foster within their denomination, when they so thoroughly and strongly opposed keystones of its creeds and doctrines and faith/practice requirements?

But, then, I figured that political change was, well, more changeable than religious change.

Political faith was, probably, not so obvious to me compared to political enthusiasm. As for political doctrine, I imagined that it was more or less a matter of appropriate analysis and honest ideology.

Hey! I never claimed that I was all that politically savvy! I embraced Utopian political visions and backed away from lots of down and dirty political doings.

American political subculture, after all, begins with the promise of revolution. Throw the buggers out! And start over from pretty near to scratch!

I sorta imagined changing Christian denominations using this same simple political rule of thumb.

So I mulled over how come these Catholic intellectuals, intelligent, able, articulate, held to this Church that they so much disliked.

From my outlook as a non-Christian, as a Neo-Pagan Craft practitioner, I guess that I mulled over Christo-Paganism as, more or less, something similar. Disagreement with key creeds, doctrines, and official faith/practice requirements; an impulse to change from within; reluctance, even reluctance against what seems to me clear self interest, to depart the fold.

And, intellectually, spiritually, a persistent sort of cognitive dissonance and self deception.

(A keystone of my own Neo-Pagan practice and my tattered political outlook involves reducing cognitive dissonance and self-deception, so I--on principle--favor things that point that way. How much these things actually get reduced by practice is a different question.)

One other thing. My own working metapantheon incorporates pretty much no Christian deity, deities, angels, guardians, or guides. I work with a Pagan metapantheon, and I work in a Pagan manner. The Neo-Pagan Craft that I came into was not Christian or very interested in Christianity.Reconciling my Neo-Pagan practice with any aspect of Christianity is a non-issue. I practice my way. Christianity, including Christo-Paganism is over there somewhere, at best for me a matter of occasional curiosity and reflection (like in this post).

All of which brings me to the rather late realization that, maybe, there's more going on with Christo-Paganism than how I am accustomed to think about it. There appears to be some spiritual fruitfulness in itself to Christo-Pagan practice and world views. Spiritual fruitfulness that serves within a somewhat more extensive domain of Christianity than the total of creeds, denominations, requirements of faith/practice defines.

Let me add that Christianity's ability to hold within itself movements and and views that contradict both one another and, often, some to almost all of the keystone tenets of Christianity's creeds, doctrines, and faith/practice requirements is a frequent stumbling block for me.

I am, every once in a while, astonished to learn of Christians who, to my outsider's eyes, do not hold to what I imagine Christianity to be. (The Sea of Faith movement is a good example.)

Probably a matter of All constituting more than the sum of it parts.

Rather than change from within, I am starting to think that movements such as Christo Paganism bring about change at the edges.

That makes a different kind of sense to me, one that even makes some sense to me in regard to my experience of political movements moving towards changing the world.

Christo-Paganism is itself a diverse movement. My brief look around web resources turned up a lot of different aims and outlooks and accounts of what Christo-Paganism is up to.

I found The Esoteric Theological Seminary's web page Christo-Pagan Information useful.

For more about the Sea of Faith movement, look at:

Finally, I'm still puzzled by Christo-Paganism. But I'm puzzled from a different Neo-Pagan Craft outlook. Maybe Christo-Paganism is a little less disagreement with Christianity and a little more agreement with a different facet of All as we may know it.

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