Contextual Belief

My pre-COVID19 office decided to celebrate a Hogwarts and Harry Potter Halloween by dressing in costumes or colors from the various houses.  I chose Ravenclaw, but the online Sorting Hat online assigned me to Hufflepuff.  My Halloween has two sides.  I’ve always loved dressing up, celebrating the night and getting spooky.  Later, as I studied religion and made my own identification with paganism and Wicca, it also became the time to celebrate the beginning of a new year by letting go of old hurts, remembering loved ones and embracing the idea of other worlds and modes of consciousness.

I began a discussion with a coworker and he asked me to explain Samhain and that swirled into a discussion of how pagan based Christianity (and especially Catholicism) is.  And that includes pagan symbolism incorporated into many celebrations like Halloween and Christmas.  If you are looking for a Christian denomination with all the ceremony of Catholicism and very little of the guilty rule-breaking, try joining the Episcopalians. I became aware of them while watching an interview on 60 MINUTES many years ago with Peter J. Gnomes whose book (THE GOOD BOOK) had just been published:

“The Bible and the social and moral consequences that derive from its interpretation are all too important to be left in the hands of the pious or the experts, and too significant to be ignored and trivialized by the uninformed and indifferent.”

Languages and civilizations change. What might have made sense in one era can actually be harmful in another. That harm can take many forms including individuals, religious groups, particular societies and entire civilizations or countries. Literal interpretation without context remains the foundation of extremism in most if not all world religions. Fundamentalism and extremism are virtually synonymous and both become lethal when they become doctrine. I don’t care how small or how large the group. I don’t care how loosely or how directly the individuals in the groups are connected or organized. Any religion that claims to be the last and only word will fall into this trap. This is where being pagan and/or Wiccan frees me and all the other believers and practitioners. I am open about my beliefs and am always happy to explain them, but I don’t need you to agree and I won’t judge you or your beliefs in harmful ways. However, if you are unable to entertain the possibility that any other religion or viewpoint could be valid in part or unable to acknowledge my right to choose for myself, then I will judge you. I will judge you for being unable to think critically about your own beliefs and for lacking empathy and objectivity. Eventually, if you find it easier to blindly follow a doctrine or leader without evaluating that doctrine or leader independently, I will judge you as ignorant and lazy and minimize contact.