Absolutism

There was a recurring theme during 2013, and it appeared in numerous blog posts and statements by Big Name Pagans (BNPs).  That theme was one of absolutism in paganism.  In other words, this thing is correct; everyone who is pagan must do this thing, regardless of the path you follow.

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you likely know I do not fall into this camp.  Oh, I’ve been known to dip into it once or twice (or a hundred times) when writing SOPs, or creating tip sheets, or training someone to do something specific within a system or when there are regulations that, if not followed, might land someone in prison for a very long time.  However, my religious practices don’t fall into this category.  I do what I do, when I do it, because it works for me and for my gods.  I’ve been known to add things, or delete things, from my practice based on ideas from others but, ultimately, I don’t do things just because other people think I should.

Some of my firm position on this issue comes from my beliefs about the fluidity of morality and the “situationality” of ethics.  For me, there are no hard and fast actions that can be ruled out as never-to-be-done-under-any-circumstances.  There are things I choose not to do because they repulse me, or they make me uncomfortable, but that’s both a personal thing and a situational thing.   There are things I choose to do that others might find repulsive or creepy, and so be it.  My life isn’t lived for their pleasure, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.

Although, really, they should.  All the time.  Seriously.  No, I’m not joking.  Well, okay.  I guess I am, but I hope you see where I’m going.

There is no one-size-fits-all in religion; hell, there’s no one-size-fits-all in clothing (no matter what anyone claims) so why would religious practice be any different?  It is too nebulous and personal a thing – there’s no prayer that works for everyone, no position in which everyone should be when approaching deity, no offerings everyone should give.  Those who stand on a box, or in a pulpit, or naked in the middle of a forest clearing and spout such nonsense are doing themselves a disservice, not to mention the people who have genuine questions.  Is it so hard to add “this is how I do it” to a statement without saying everyone else should do it too?

Given the number of people who do just that, apparently so.

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4 responses to “Absolutism

  1. I hope you don’t mind me adding my own thoughts here for a bit – but I noticed an…interesting trend with some BNPs and Pagans and polytheists who tend toward absolutism and were called out. They huffed and puffed about being called out and then added ‘disclaimers’…but the disclaimers didn’t say anything like, ‘this is how i was taught’ or ‘this is how i do it’ but instead ‘this blog is for REAL polytheists’ or a variation of that statement. Which is so not helpful.

    Anyway. Enjoyed your post 🙂

  2. I wonder if this Absolutism would diminish for pagans born into a faith as opposed to adopting it from a monotheistic tradition. IMO former Christians sometimes adopt this idea of the One True Way in which all worship must be done.

  3. I tell students – you need to learn a baseline of rules, but once you’ve learned them it’s ok to break those rules where they no longer work for you.

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