Monday, 1 August 2011

Closets and Churches and Belief Frameworks, Oh My

I had an interesting and very useful conversation with the curate from my church at the end of last week. We talked about Paganism and Christianity. She says there's no problem with continuing go to our church and continuing to take communion (which was hugely reassuring, not least because I find communion the most meaningful part of the service). She is completely comfortable with my mix of beliefs, and thinks that if it makes sense to me, it's no bad thing. We did talk about how, while I'm not planning to tell the whole church that I'm exploring Christo-Paganism, there may also be occasional times when I don't want to deceive, like when I'm in an intimate group belief discussion, such as the monthly Bible study I go to. She suggests framing my beliefs in a way that won't confuse or upset those who need Christianity to be Christianity, which is very sensible indeed.

How to frame, though - that's the question. Mentioning polytheism is probably out - most people I go to Bible study with would not be able to cope with that. On some level, though, I'm a pantheist or panentheist, and always have been, and that's not so confusing for most people. I'm still deciding whether, in church, I'm worshipping the ultimate force behind the divinity that is the universe, or merely a tribal god called YHWH who, some thousands of years ago, told his worshippers to prioritise worship of him and put other gods second ('You shall have no other gods before me'). At some point I have to work that out, although instinctively I feel that I worship a god-man who died and was reborn, rather than the Jewish tribal god which was the way which he particularly related to divinity while he was on earth. I'm not too bothered at the moment, really. In the end, in all my worship and mystical practice, I'm worshipping deity, an expression of the Divine.

It's handy that I'm moving on to Water Week in the Witch's Primer exercises. The focus is all on beliefs. I shall make some deity grids. Or possibly Venn diagrams.

As an aside, I told the curate I couldn't say the Creed at the moment (which was basically code for "I can't in good conscience say 'I believe in one God'"). She said, "So write your own..." ! We talked about how there have been so many Christian creeds over the years, that coming up with personal creeds to say quietly during the main one is probably nothing new. I'll write something this week. "I believe in the one great Divine, the source of all deities..." Ah, the aspiring mystic within me will be kept happy this week.

Meanwhile, I'm having a lovely summer off church, and thoroughly enjoying it. When I'm back from my holiday, in August, I'm planning to visit a few local churches for the purpose of my research (I need to identify churches that might be willing to participate in ethnography, which involves me observing what they do in a lot of detail). That should be very interesting. Especially if I bring The Wife, who wants to experience a mega-church of the mega-happy-clappy type. For an atheist, she's far too excited by religion. It's a bit disturbing.


  1. She sounds like an incredibly enlightened person... That's refreshing.

  2. I'm glad it's working out for you and you didn't have to give up going to the church you feel comfortable in. Yay for people who you can talk to and won't be judged!

  3. I find it's better to not reveal to a bible study group that you have diversity in faith.. and if they ask point blank I would say "I'm sorting all that out still, but thank you for asking" They should never pry or push and if they do I would not go back. I think Christians need to learn to respect a person's journey.