Can Jesus be for Pagans too?

jesus Sam Webster recently posted an article that has caused some controversy: Why you can't be worship Jesus Christ and be a Pagan. My own response to the article is admittedly based on my own history with Christianity, which has been a fairly adversarial relationship. I had my occult books burned by my mother, a fundamentalist Christian, when I was forcibly outed and I also received death threats for practicing magic. Even in later years I can't say that I really care for a religion which has many adherents that seem compelled to push their beliefs, and vision for the world on everyone else and I have resented it, when it has happened to me. I understood and appreciated where Sam is coming from, because my experiences with Christianity do not make me feel that my beliefs and choice of lifestyle is welcomed by people who adhere to that particular religion.

I am frankly skeptical as to how Jesus can be integrated into magical practices or into Paganism, especially given the commandments of his father, that there should be no other gods other than him. At the same time, I don't know that I can blame Jesus the deity for the faults of his worshippers. Indeed, having read the new and old testament a few times through, what has always struck me is that the parables of Jesus and the golden rule are actually insightful lessons that anyone, Christian or otherwise, could benefit from. And I'm also of the mind that if something calls to you and there is a meaningful experience there that contributes to your life, you need to honor it. So if someone tells me that Jesus is part of their pantheon, I can accept that it works for them. It would never work for me, but fortunately as long as they can accept that, we'll get along just fine.

At the same time, I don't think that Sam's article is all that different from how Christians would respond to the idea of Jesus being part of a Pagan pantheon. Back in my days of being a Christian, I remember telling a friend about the Greek myths I was reading and how there was one myth that made me think of the Christian God and made me wonder if there was some relationship there. I remember his mother telling me, quite fiercely, that I shouldn't read Greek myths (or fantasy or Science Fiction) and that having such discussions were sacrilegious. Not surprisingly such close mindedness was one reason I left the Christian religion, and its various sects behind. And while I don't assume all Christians are that way, I've encountered enough of them that are, that I could just as easily see them arguing that a pagan who worships Jesus is a fifth columnist or that his/her belief isn't genuine.

But you know, it doesn't matter what Sam, or I, or some Christian thinks about what you believe. What matters is what you think and how you choose to accept it (or not). I learned long ago that looking for acceptance from others was not a fruitful path. There will always be someone who will say what you believe is wrong, heretical, etc. And you can argue against them, but likely no one will budge. So share your own opinion and perspective, like I'm doing here, and then leave it at that. In the end, the only person who's opinion matters is yourself, and the relationship you have with your pantheon of choice.

My Experiences with Persecution

When I was 18, and still in high school, I dealt with my first experience of being persecuted for my spiritual beliefs. I'd been careful about hiding what I believed from my mom, and from most others, but I had a few friends and one of those friends had fundamentalist Christians for parents. They found a book I'd let him borrow and he told them it was mine. They contacted my mother, who was furious. She is a hardcore Christian herself. My friend told me that they had told her about my beliefs and I remember going home, dreading what would happen. She didn't bring it up. She'd been acting weird the last couple of days, and I realize she must have known and been chewing on it. I actually wrote her a letter, explaining my choices and why I'd chosen not to tell her...when I got home, I was greeted to an ultimatum. I had a half hour to choose. I could choose to move out, and no longer live with my mom, or I could choose to burn my books. This was a hard choice, because I didn't have a job at the time and I had no way of knowing if she'd even let me take the car I usually drove. I made the most practical choice, and allowed her to burn my books (most of them anyway). There were a few books I was working my way through or hadn't read, so I hid them carefully, and the ones I burned were ones where I'd already mastered the exercises. When I told her my decision she searched my room carefully, and even made me burn The Books of Magic comics. It was a shameful experience and one I've never forgotten. She grounded me for a week and several days into it, I told her if she ever made an ultimatum like that again I would disown her for the rest of my life.

Why did I do it? I did it because I didn't have much money or a place to live. I was still in high school and I wanted to graduate. I wasn't about to ask one of my friends for a place to stay. I did it because it was the practical choice, but making that choice forced me to evaluate why I was hiding my beliefs. My mom burned my books because she was a Christian and had been taught ignorance through her own beliefs. Even to this day, I don't talk my spirituality with her, because she judges me for it. She knows I've written books, knows I don't believe in her God or the values she ascribes to. She doesn't approve of my choices. Then again I don't approve of her being Christian and I've made it clear I don't want to hear about her beliefs. Most of the time she honors that request...and occasionally she doesn't.

My second experience with persecution occurred later that year. The father and step-father of my friend decided that they should kill me for my beliefs. My friend's father called me once on the hour, every hour, telling me how he was going to kill me, and how I was going to hell. I told him I had a cross bow bolt just for him, and I called the police. He didn't call after that, and my friend later told me that his father had called me, and that his step-father was in on it. Nothing else ever happened, but I still remember those calls.

That experience convinced me that hiding my beliefs was wrong. If people were going to judge me for those beliefs and possibly harm me, it was better to be completely in the open about my choices. It was better to come out of the closet. I went public from the late 1990's and on.

Currently I have somewhat different feelings about that choice. I'm still open about my beliefs, but I don't go out of my way to talk about them. If you Googled my name, you'd find out quickly what my beliefs are, but I've found most people don't go out of their way to do so. I think most people aren't that curious, unless its for a job search. Good thing I've chosen to go self-employed, as I'm willing to bet that many companies would hesitate to hire me on the basis of my spiritual choices. Occasionally I do have people Google me and it always prompts some interesting conversations, but I notice that people seem to be more tolerant and accepting. I factor it in large part to where I live. I know in other parts of the country people are less accepting and willing to tolerate beliefs that run counter to the mainstream religions.

Even to this day I am wary of Christians. I have seen too much of their fanaticism and willingness to forcibly convert people to their beliefs. I know some who don't act that way, but my experiences with the religion, both in growing up, and in the recent past and present has shaped my perspective. I can accept their choice to believe what they want, but I want them to leave me alone and allow me to follow my beliefs.



Tomorrow is supposedly doomsday for the Christians, where they will be raptured away and leave the rest of us alone. I'm skeptical of it happening, and I think it's silly how much people are focused on trying to get to some after life, instead of focusing on living their lives. Their's nothing rapturous about giving up the gift of life. And no matter what you believe or don't believe, life is a gift, and an experience, and not something to be so casually discarded. Some Christians claim that only God knows when the final day will occur, but the way I figure it is that the need to even have such a day is symptomatic of a disease, a kind of nihilism that focuses on debasing the human experience n favor of trying to discover a state of being that will supposedly take away all the worries and fears people have.

What about living life for the sake of living it? What about learning what this life has to offer? I'm preaching to the choir in a lot of ways, but I think there is value in this life with its follies and its triumphs.


Religion and Business part 2

I recently attended a business luncheon where the keynote speaker spoke about his business. Among other things he talked at some length about how he dedicated his business to God and trusted in the vision and path God revealed to him. Before every major business decision, he'd pray to God for guidance. It was interesting to note that many people in the room seemed quite comfortable with his god talk and seemed to agree with what he did. I'll admit I had my own knee jerk reaction, but I got over it fairly quick and then I really paid attention to what he was discussing, because I realized I could take what he was discussing and apply it with a magical focus. Instead of working with a god (though one could be useful), I could work with a wealth or business entity who's sole purpose was to focus on growing the business. I could even work with the business itself as an entity, consulting with it about major decisions and using its advice. Maybe it sounds a little farfetched, but is it really?

The keynote speaker's business is doing really well and what's most fascinating is how many times they've gotten really good business deals because they brought it to God and let him does his work. As a magician, it's clear to me that this person has gotten a direct tap to the field of probabilities and gotten some useful results. And you don't need to be a Christian to make that happen, because it's not so much about the religion as it's about the process.

This business owner prays to God each time a decision comes up and is specific in his prayers. Then he lets go and lets it happen. Sounds similar to sigil and spell work.

The magician can take a similar approach. I've actually done that in corporate world, by creating an entity out of the project I was working on and having the entity guide me in my work and interactions with co-workers. Applying it to your own business works in a similar manner, with the added benefit of already having a logo and name for the business, which can house the entity. Before you make any major decisions, do a consult with your entity, explaining what you want to accomplish and directing it's focus toward helping to manifest the desired result. Then let it work and do your part and watch what happens: Manifested reality.

As simple as that.