It seems that I am not the only one who has been disturbed by the recent debate about whether pagans need faith, or, should believe in their religion, or not. John Becket has a post over at Patheos addressing his concern over recent articles written by prominent pagan authors.
T. Thorn Coyle has an article at the Huffington Post that seems to have John all bent out of shape, aptly titled, "Why I am Not a Believer" making the following statement in the first paragraph:
"As a matter of fact, belief holds little importance to me at all."
Mr. Becket points out that though the article admits a modicum of belief, experiences should be the primary focus and goal to shape a person's interpretation of paganism. Although, that is not what I got from Coyle's article. What I perceived is, that experiences (experienced over and over) are the basis of what can be interpreted as belief, but, all "belief" is, is a story of one's experiences retold over and over again, until humans cite a story for themselves [belief] and retell it as THE story to end all, be all (the basics of any religious doctrine).
Of course, interpretation is the key to understanding... and, interpretations are as vast and varied as there are individuals to make them. Mr. Becket seemed to appreciate Galina Krasskova's interpretation, though, from her essay on PaganSquare titled "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Theories".
"I very much believe that there's a certain foundation lacking in our communities across the board... Right interaction with the Powers would have been modeled by virtue of its being worked into the very social fabric of our community. This would have been how the whole community viewed the world and the Gods and it would all have gotten reinforced every day. The reality of the Gods would have been taken as a given... We lack even the capacity in many cases to conceive of what that would have been like and what it would have meant for us as people trying to engage spiritually... I think many of our controversies and problems come when post-modern attitudes come up against indigenous sensibilities with respect to the Holy...We put far too much stock, in my opinion, in our theories and ideas and philosophies and while these things certainly have their place, it should not be at the exclusion of actual spirituality. I've seen all of these tactics being used to avoid engagement. [belief/faith]".
RIGHT ON, SISTA! But, where do these two women sit in contrast to "faithless pagans" (as interpreted from my twisted viewpoint)? Where has all the faith and belief in these exploited "Gods of Old" gone? Again, I ask, what is the purpose of calling oneself "pagan" if you hold no belief in pagan Gods?
Perhaps, the answers lay in the obvious difference between these women's "faiths"... from a topical standpoint of who walks the walk and IS polytheist (as opposed to, simply, talking the talk).You see, Galina is heathen and T. Thorn is pagan. Would it be safest to say, then, that pagans are quite faithless in their religious devotion to "deity", while heathens are more apt to believing in pagan Gods? Eh... Pagan. Heathen. I guess it's all chocked up to interpretation, isn't it?
[Ikinde Skreja Ominnsaer, June 2013, CFTP]