Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pantheists, polytheists, and monotheists

Some perceive a considerable gulf between monotheists and polytheists, but from my pantheist-centric point of view, I see more difference between pantheists and non-pantheists than between monotheists and polytheists.

In the article "Which God? The Real Difference Between Evangelical and Liturgical Churches," Ben Griffith, a Christian, says, "God is divine mystery." According to, "the concept of God in Sikhism is of oneness with the entire universe and its spirit." Naturalistic pagans may speak of multiple deities, but view them as archetypes, not as literal beings. These beliefs -- Christian, Sikh, and pagan -- all seem in harmony with my own beliefs. Not all who hold similar beliefs would identify as pantheists, but I feel that they do at least have a view somewhat similar to pantheism. I identify as a naturalistic pagan and not as Christian or a Sikh, and but I feel that people who hold these types of beliefs have more in common with me than do pagans who believe in deities as actual beings.

Not all Christians are conservative

So many non-Christians have anti-Christian views. When I stick up for Christians, non-Christians tell me I'm naive to believe that Christianity can have positive aspects. We hear a lot in the media about conservative Christians. Conservative Christians may think their version of Christianity is the only real Christianity, but we don't have to buy into that. I have lived surrounded by Christians all my life. That includes Quakers, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists. My grandmother has bachelor's and master's degrees from a seminary. Her father, my great grandfather, was a professor at a seminary. I have family members who are employed by churches. I have family members who have close connections to a monastery. So no, I don't think I'm completely ignorant of Christianity when I say that not all Christians are the same as the conservative Christians one encounters in the southeastern US or hears about in the media.

One family member, after working for Episcopalians for several years, said that the basic tenets of the Episcopalians seem to be:
1. Be compassionate and charitable to thine fellow-man.
2. Take care of the earth and the environment.
3. Don't take the supernatural elements of religion too seriously.
4. Have wine and beer at all church social functions.
Many of my family members who are Christians don't care whether Mary was a virgin, or on what day Jesus was born, or whether three wise men showed up for the occasion. What they care about is the message of love that Jesus taught. I was brought up Christian, and I was brought up to believe that the fundamental message of Christianity is "Love your neighbor, and everyone is your neighbor."

Sure, there are some who call themselves Christians who would say that I am wrong. There are some who call themselves Christians who would say that the people in my family and in my community are not real Christians. They can argue until they are blue in the face, but they will not convince me that my family members and my community members have no right to call themselves Christians.