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Reviving Religions vs. Reviving Cultures

November 3, 2015 17 comments

So I gave this post, Atheism and Asatru, by Jön Upsal a read.  Then, I sat back and thought.

He raises some interesting points, but I don’t think any polytheist is about shunning or ushering out the non-theists.  Hell, I’m not even all about ushering out the atheists at this point from the Pagan community.  That boat sailed a long time ago; they’re given equal, if not more standing than polytheists, and it is easy to see where many have cast their lot.  I don’t and won’t agree with it, and I’ll speak against it, but there’s been a din of silence from everyone except those on the atheist or polytheist side, and those few voices from in between have been unhelpful “Let’s get together and sing kumbaya” without actually addressing issues, grievances, etc.

I will need to reread some of his points here, especially in regards to the lore.  Non-belief may have been accepted, but it was not the norm to be so.  I get the feeling that Hrafknell’s story has context missing or something.

I think he is right, in that our religions are orthopraxic, but I think we dismiss orthodoxy at the peril of the former losing meaning and weight without the latter.

Here’s the crux: what I think is missing from the analysis here is that these were intact cultures with room for non-believers, whereas, for our purposes, we are strictly reviving our religions, and the culture will follow after.  We simply have a different demographic makeup.  Americans don’t have the investment in anything like an Althing culture, Gebo is practically nonexistant as a feature of regular life here, and that is with contracts and contractual reinforcement. I think there’s room for non-believers in our culture, but there’s also a reason I don’t invite them to my Northern Tradition Working Group or Study Group.  These are polytheist religious groups.  It’s a whole other story if I and my family start a permaculture-oriented community.  I have dear, dear friends I would be inviting, at least one of which is agnostic/atheist.  Depends on the day; sometimes he sounds like he believes in something, others not.

That’s a whole other ballgame though.  The difference between a polytheist religious group, and a group like a permaculture-oriented community, is the former is strictly a religious group, and the latter is a pluralist community.  Belief need not be required to be a permaculturalist, but in order to be part of the Northern Tradition Pagan community, you do need to be a polytheist of some stripe.  I think that much of the talking past one another takes place right here, and this is something worth thought and exploration.

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