The Marriage of Christianity and Paganism
The Problems With Christianity
I used to attend a Southern Baptist church when I was in high school. Growing up, I remembered a lot of the values there, and was grateful they were instilled into me. However, there've been a lot of insensitivity regarding human rights issues there, whether it be the LGBT community, or abortion, or even basic women's rights. But what caused me to leave was their handling of the elections, specifically the 2016 one. Lately they've been pushing for more and more troubling for the Republican Party. In fact, it got to the point that when they started distributing flyers demonizing the Democrat Party, all the while pushing the Republican agenda on their followers. But it wasn't just my church; many people have left because of the elections. There've been deep divisions between Christians, and many have resorted to attacking each other due to their political beliefs.
Christianity is one of the world's oldest and most popular religion in human history. With its humble beginnings in the Middle East and the Roman Empire, it spread to other territories through missions, cultural diffusion, and even folktales. In fact, it'd gotten so popular that religious wars had been fought over the right interpretation of the Bible. Even now, many denominations have attacked one another in an effort to get more converts, alongside other religions.
And even still, there are many disturbing legacies that Christianity has left behind. The Catholic Church's infamous history of child sexual abuse and corruption is one people have often regarded with disgust and dismay. The Southern Baptist Convention had been instrumental in supporting dark prejudices that have led to unjust racism. Many church-goers have often complained about the hypocrisies between what the Bible teaches, and what is being practiced now. In fact, it's the reason why many have left Christianity altogether.
The Problems With Paganism
Then of course, other religions aren't exempted either, especially Paganism. Paganism encompasses a variety of beliefs that are often used to benefit humanity. When Christianity first came to the fold, a lot of traditional beliefs in Paganism were intwined into the new religion. Old gods and goddesses became saints, and many age old rituals became little more than memories faded within time, or simply scenarios in old tomes many of us never go through.
Paganism has had to fight the stigma placed on it. From being characterized as a den of depravity, to even promoting murder, many macabre accusations were made to try and demonize the system. However, recently there has been many legitimate, concerning issues regarding pagan communities. For instance, the arrest of Kenny Klein had been instrumental in discussions as to whether or not people have actually consented into doing potentially harmful acts. There are still many stereotypes within paganism, such as the assumptions of feminine power and other branches of feminism in covens. Cases of sexism still appear within a female-centric religion. Christian Day, who describes himself as "The World's Best Known Warlock", has been convicted of harassing a woman by leaving her threatening messages and harassing her online.
However, this gives way to a larger issue. Men who tend to dominate others have sometimes see these communities as unequal. And while many individuals within the covens tend to live in harmony within one another, there have been cases where men haven't been treated as equals, and were sometimes even seen as lower than the women in the covens.
The Iridescence of Christianity
Even so despite these problems, both Christianity and Paganism have certain attributes that make them worth believing in.
According to the Bible, Christianity was the offspring of Judaism. We believe that Jesus Christ had come down to save the world from sin, and those who believe in him shall receive everlasting life. While we don't know the specifics of Jesus's life, we, as well as other historians, know that he existed. While there are many interpretations regarding the Bible, we know to help the poor, be a kindness to others, love our enemies as we would ourselves. We must honor and obey our parents, as well as use actual common sense whenever we deal with a troubling situation. I was born and raised as a Christian, and to this day I'm still one.
As you may or may not know, Christianity has had a dark history with humanity. After all, the religion has been instrumental in instigating many massacres. The First Crusades in 1096 have led to the destruction of various Jewish communities. Many Christians have also accused the Jews of poisoning the wells during the outbreak of the Black Death. The European Witch Hunts started to try and purge those who didn't believe in the Catholic Church and their beliefs. It was a time of paranoia, since many people believed that the end of the world was imminent, that the Devil may triumph over God. Even now, Christianity has been associated with radicals such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which have been infamous for their anti-LGBT slurs and picketing of American soldiers' funerals. Not only this, but Christianity has also been used to promote prejudice and cultural stereotypes that have done much more harm than good.
Despite that, Christianity still has a very special place in this society. Many Christians have had a hand at promoting peace in history. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for civil rights, and gave his famous "I have a dream" speech to try to bridge the gap between black and white communities. Sojourner Truth was an African American woman who had fought for human rights, and wouldn't let anyone stop her, no matter how difficult things got. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an outspoken pastor who spoke out against Hitler's policies and Nazism. There are many more Christians who have pushed for LGBT rights and human rights, and have advocated tirelessly for women's rights as well.
The Beauty of Paganism
As I've said before, Paganism is an umbrella term to describe different beliefs, mainly those before Christianity. It's an ancient outlook that has many followers throughout a variety of countries. According to the Pagan Federation International, paganism has represented different deities, and helps people foster a love for nature. Magic has also had a role in paganism, and is often used to ward off evil spirits, to bring harm to one's enemies, or even help bring fertility. In modern Paganism, there's been an increased tolerance within the community. There's a respect for women because of the many goddesses within various branches. Many individuals are also taught to have a respect for life.
Like Christianity, Paganism has had a complicated history with human morality, and has sometimes been used in the most gruesome of ways. There have been many instances of child sacrifices in order to achieve a perceived benefit, whether that be to save a community from a natural disaster, or to bring the downfall of enemies from far away. Many ancient pagan trials have used rituals that harmed unwilling participants, because in the early days, they thought that the more blood they used, the more powerful their spell would be. Paganism, as stated before, has also been used to promote various strange rituals that participants may not be comfortable with. Consent is often debated here, as are gender roles.
But there have been many instances where Paganism has been used for the good of humanity. Many practitioners respect nature, and often have a wonderful tolerance for other religions. Paganism has also helped bridge the gap between men and women, and while there are still struggles regarding this, there has been more progress in paganism than anywhere else. What's more, Paganism often carries with it an interesting history that allows us to learn more about our past, and what previous societies thought of religion.
A Kaleidoscope of Perspectives
Of course, both Christianity and Paganism have their fair share of problems. But despite that, many of their followers continue to move on with their beliefs. Because of this, they've come together to create the culture we enjoyed today.
Christmas is often one of the combinations of the two; Christmas trees are often derivative from pagan roots, where the Viking and Saxons worshipped trees. However, the holiday is also associated with the birth of Jesus Christ. Easter has been associated with the resurrection of Christ, but many churches have also incorporated Easter egg hunts, which is often used as a fertility ritual. A more public holiday, Halloween, has had pagan roots with the holiday Samhain, a day where the veil between the living and the dead weaken. It's also used to celebrate the harvest, and is often associated with the Christian Day, All Hallow's Day.
In the end, religion is an important part of culture. Whether you're a Christian, a Pagan, or whatever your beliefs are, it's vital that we be able to compromise these beliefs in order to support each other as humans. After all, if we can never compromise our own belief systems, we'd never get anything done. Key legislations wouldn't have passed that helped guarantee basic human rights, as well as support one another during desperate times, such as natural disasters or war.