I conducted a small survey this week on several e-lists as to what readers believed it was that made Christianity and Paganism so averse to one another.
I received a number of responses (thanks!) which ranged from intellectual issues, spiritual issues, historical issues. But the bottom line to all responses was a four letter word. The F word.
Pagans fear Christians will persecute them–laugh at them at best and burn them up again at worse. And, we must give it to the Pagans; these fears are not baseless! Remember that highly enlightened time known as ‘The Inquisition’? Or how about that charming era called The Burning Times? The Pagan memory reaches far enough back into the not so distant past to recall what happened when men arrived from distant shores “in the name of the Lord” and showed them the love of Christ by stamping out the Pagan evil in fires and torture chambers. And all this in the name of a man who, when his own disciple cut of the ear of a soldier come to crucify him, rebuked his student for his actions.
But let us not forget that back in the day, Christians were also persecuted. Now that Christianity has become such a world power, such a force to be reckoned with we often forget that fact. We forget that Yeshua was, back in the day, not just some rebel nut job. He and his followers, far from being random cult loonies, were serious subversives taking away glory from the Roman emperors, the gods, etc., Christians, in order to worship under the pagan regime were forced underground ironically using what are now thought of a pagan sigils in order to identify themselves to each other. These days, its hard to think of Christians as persecuted members of any society but there it is. Think back to the whole Christians and lions thing. Not exactly a fair fight by anyone’s standards—surely that comes down as persecution in anyone’s book!
These days though, whereas I continue to see a very real, very physical type of fear in Pagans of Christians, the fear I see in Christianity is not rooted in any type of physical persecution. The Christian fear I see comes from faith in a power I’ve never truly understood. Faith in this power is sermonized day and night to the top of the lungs of more preachers than there are gnats in the bayou on a hot summer day. In fact, despite that according to Christianity, God came down in human form, healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, changed water to wine, walked through walls, and even put himself back together again after being tortured to death on the cross, this other power garners far more attention than the works of the formidable Christ force. The best I can gather from watching fundie Christian programming and listening in to fundie church sermons, is this: Despite all the Son of God did and supposedly still does, despite the fact He is ruler of all things seen and unseen, we still must concern ourselves with, nay! devote all our time, energy, prays, thoughts, etc. to that other guy.
You know, that other guy?! Old Bub?
Beelzebub, I mean.
I know it sounds ludicrous, but each and every thing any one person considers remotely evil (or just doesn’t like or agree with) is blamed on the devil. Wars, rumours of wars, famine, plague, murder, theft, terrorism, homosexuality, drunkenness, porn, the death of family values, gluttony, demonic possession, Britney Spears, Oprah Winfrey… Hell, even Orville Redenbacher’s popping corn probably pops so well due to demonic forces from his evil corn popping empire. Truly Bub is an amazing force!
But still, I find fear an unsatisfying answer to my question. Fundamentalist Christianity as it is today, sees itself as the one true and only path to salvation. Fundamentalist Christianity is averse to any religion other than itself: The Buddhist is going to hell is surely as the Muslim as surely as the Jainist as surely as the Pagan.
So why does the Pagan cast such a scary shadow? Why is it that I see television programs devoted to assisting parents with seeing the signs that their children are involved in ‘witchcraft’? What do they believe witchcraft is? Do they still believe that witchcraft is devil worship? I suppose so, but again, why assume that this power has so much more force than that of Christ? What is it about the very word ‘witch’ that strikes such fear in the heart of fundamentalist Christianity?
Could it be that the true fear is not fear of persecution at all but fear of liberation? Could it be that church leaders know a simple, hidden truth: That if their parishioners practice witchcraft they might see miracles in their lives…they might do what Yeshua said they would—do all He did and more?
Or could it be that they might find out something far more dangerous: if while out there practicing witchcraft, healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, moving mountains they might discover another force, someone they’ve forgotten about altogether…
You know, that other other person?
R.A. Áine Laisrén, a novelist and psychic practitioner for over twenty years, is devoting her life (and the life of her pet chinchilla Fionnghuala) to restoring the Goddess and all Her gifts to Christianity. She will absolutely lose her mind if you refer to the Holy Spirit in the masculine gender, so please just don’t do it!
More information about Áine’s writing and practice may be found at www.sang-realta.com