The life of Jesus of Nazareth plate 47. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thursday’s Talking Point: Why Pagan?
When I am confident in my own beliefs, they are not threatened by the beliefs of other.
Occasionally, I am asked the question, why are you a Pagan. Or, I am asked a variation of this question, why are you not a Christian. Strangely enough, no one ever asks me why I’m not Jewish or Muslim or Hindu (but I was told once by a Hindu friend that I am, I just don’t realise it).
Questions as to why I chose to reject the religion of my upbringing an follow a Pagan path arise as well when I point out that I actually believe that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, really lived. That as a man he was a great teacher. That he was and is a prophet in the Jewish and Muslim faiths. I even believe that his words of wisdom led to the formation of the Christian religions.
But, I’m not Christian. And, I don’t want to be.
So, why not? The very basic answer, and one that I never had reason to probe deeper until recently, is that I am not Christian because nearly every time I sit in a listen to a Christian religious sermon I come away from it feeling anger. Doesn’t matter what the denomination or the topic of the sermon, and I don’t want to take away from those who are able to find comfort and solace there. This is me, and my reactions and I own them completely.
Why the anger though? And how can I believe in Jesus, but not be Christian?
I believe my anger stems from an instinctual realisation that the dogma of modern Christian religions bear very little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus as I understand them. It isn’t the man I reject, it is the religion which has arisen in his name.
I’ve recently started reading a book, Jesus Through Pagan Eyes by Rev Mark Townsend which provides a look at Jesus from a Pagan perspective. This, of course, is what has set my mind to pondering my own attitudes towards Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus, the prophet, taught many things as documented within the Christian New Testament and the Muslim Quran. Love one another, heal the sick, provide for the poor. Jesus wasn’t speaking to the leaders of the Jewish religion of his birth, he was out there speaking to the social outcasts and rejects. He was sitting with the social lepers, the unclean, the ones denied entrance into the temples and he preached the idea that we should hold love in our hearts for all people.
Christianity, as a religion, I believe has fallen away from those teachings. The money lenders are once again sitting inside the temple. Note, it isn’t the individuals I am speaking of here, it is the organizational hierarchy within the church I am speaking of. The work and dedication of the individual is overshadowed by the corruption of the whole.
Some of people I meet up who identify as Pagan have the idea that in order to be Pagan, one must reject completely all ideas associated with Christianity. Generally, these are people who are still finding their own identity as Pagans and those who decided to become Pagan not because it was a religious belief which called to them, but because it was a way of rebelling against the status quo. They are sticking the proverbial finger up at the religion of their parents, or of the social group they came from.
These people will accept blindly the wisdom of other Ascended Masters such as Buddha or Confucius while rejecting, just as blindly, any suggestion that this man from the Sea of Galilea had anything of importance to say or even that he might have existed!
If they continue to follow a Pagan belief system, this urge to rebel against what they came from will hopefully evolve into an urge to move towards a deeper understanding and integration of their own spiritual beliefs and an acceptance of the beliefs of others, however different. Included in this, for some Pagans, is the desire to include the teachings and wisdom of Jesus within their own Pagan practice.
I can’t say that I am one such person, however reading this book is giving me a lot of insight into my own beliefs and attitudes.
UK Link Jesus Through Pagan Eyes
US Link Jesus Through Pagan Eyes
- J is for My Journey and Jesus (naturalpantheist.wordpress.com)
- Revd Mark Townsend (Author of Jesus Through Pagan Eyes)