an Unmixed Blessing
[Young Heathens Page]
They never did print this! Wonder why? :-)
Dave Gorman's column/testimony of Christian faith in the Dec. 2, 1999
(ed. note: the University of Kentucky
was both encouraging and disturbing. As a humanist intellectual, a gay man,
and a legally ordained minister of a non-Christian faith (Norse Pagan), I
believe my comments will be of interest to your readers.
First of all, it is wonderful to see someone so happy in his religious faith.
I've seen a lot of lukewarm Christians and lukewarm Pagans. Enthusiasm is
all in all a fine thing. It is equally delightful to see a vocal Christian
take his faith, look at it, and conclude that the implication of that faith
is "stop hatin'!" Enough people, including gays and non-Christians, have
been persecuted, even murdered in the name of Jesus, with Bible quotes justifying
such behavior on the lips of the persecutors. Mr. Gorman is right about
Christianity not being a "white" religion. If Jesus went to the Deep South
in 1960, he would have only been able to eat in restaurants catering to the
African-American community. However, Christianity is and has always been
a strongly expansionist religion which for most of its history has NOT been
above the use of violence to further that expansion. The violent expansion
at least seems to have finally ended. The fact I am able to write this letter
and still live is testimony to millions of Christians having been converted
to "Pagan" values of religious tolerance. Thank the Gods and Goddesses of
Some of Mr. Gorman's other remarks, however, were deeply disturbing: "I was
stripped of my identity, I was born again." I too have been through a death
and rebirth experience, in my case in a Pagan context. A classic "shamanic
initiation crisis;" search under "a=Eliade, Mircea" at the University of
Kentucky's Young Library if you are curious. I'm still me. I'm staying me.
"Dive into the pool of God's word." I presume he means the Protestant version
of the Bible. I've read all of it, including the Catholic Apocrypha. My
conclusion: the Bible is one of a number of collections of religious texts
to have come down to us from ancient times. It contains much that is still
of use to good people living today. It also contains some of the most hateful,
bigoted drivel ever written (according to the Bible, I'm under multiple death
sentences for my relationship with my partner and for my religious practices),
and much that is simply irrelevant (tribal taboos, really gross ancient
sacrificial rites, etc.).
He mentions no longer being a slave of sin. While my own religion doesn't have
the Judeo-Christian-Islamic concept of sin, we are by no means amoral. Those
who wish to know more about where I'm coming from religiously can go to
Jordsvin's Norse Heathen Web Page, my website. However,
I would say that it is very easy to become a slave to a religion as
control-oriented as most Christian sects are. From slave to sin to slave
to an arbitrary Deity: no improvement there!
Mr. Gorman's choice of God is not one I choose to make. A God who would sire
his son on someone else's fiancee is worse than the philandering Zeus of
myth. Zeus, like President Clinton, had his weak moments; Jehovah acted from
premeditation! Jesus no doubt suffered horribly due to his illegitimacy;
he was known even as an adult as "Mary's son," a terrible insult in a patriarchal
society. But it gets much worse: Jehovah/Yahweh then had that son butchered
as a human (or at least half-human) sacrifice. I want nothing to do with
Jehovah; his crimes are enormous. Even if Jesus' sacrifice were truly voluntary,
I wouldn't want to hitch a ride into the Afterlife on someone else's suffering.
I don't even believe that suffering is (necessarily) redemptive! My Gods
and Goddesses are a notch above Jehovah! They took me in and worked with
me without demanding a blood sacrifice or that I become their slave. Friend
and collaborator is more like it. As a seidhmadhr (shaman) in the Norse
tradition, I travel to the realm of the Ancestors in search of wisdom and
aid for myself and others; no human sacrifice is needed for the human spirit
to travel between the worlds.
The story of Jesus, from my perspective, is a beautiful religious legend
that has brought hope, comfort and inspiration to billions of people over
nearly two millennia. It has also led to some of the most vile crimes ever
committed: holy wars, Inquisitions, repression of freedoms. Were the Christian
churches tried for Crimes Against Humanity, the verdict would be "guilty."
While no religion is without its skeletons in the closet, Christianity's
closet is unusually full of horrors! Christians today need to acknowledge
this in order to avoid repeating past crimes. While fewer in number and less
influential today, totalitarian Christians still exist. Were the Pope (or
the president of the Southern Baptist Convention) in charge of America, our
freedom would suffer greatly.
In closing, while I, like most other Pagans, am uninterested in a ticket
for a one-way trip to the Christian Father's House; we Pagans are willing
to work with Christians, followers of other religions, and secular individuals
for a freer, fairer, less polluted world.
all works used by permission of the authors