Can Jesus be for Pagans too?

Posted on March 28, 2013
Filed Under Definitions & Labels, deity, entities | 6 Comments

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.

Comments

5 comments
Leni
Leni

My time as a Christian was brief enough that I really cannot asscoiate the Jesus of my childhood with Institutional Christianity. Awakening to my Pagan identity was far easier than it was for many of my friends, who had grown up Southern Baptist, because I was able to distiniguish between the Mystery I encountered and the values that I could embrace (forgiveness, kindness, gentleness) and those I could not (homophobia, anti-intellectualism, misogyny). In studying religion, mythology,and  art history, and through my own personal questing for an approach to the Divine that did not require I leave more than half of myself hidden, I came to see Jesus Christ and the Christain myth as another iteration of a powerful narrative trope which is recurrent in the Western mythopoetic tradition. The Slain God, the resolution of opposites, the New Aeon--it is a deep well of archetypal power.

I too had to detach completely from participating in this myth and its ritual cycle (okay, excepct for Xmas). In later years, I tried to reframe the mythos through an ironic or pop culture context, celebrating Dead Rock Star Day on Easter. It was certainly ironic when my Pagan path took a sharp swerve away from Celtic Studies and Wicca, towards Santeria, hoodoo and Southern conjure. Although the Orisas are African spirits, being surrounded by the  images and prayers of Saints, of Christ and the Blessed Virgin, makes one feel less concerned about defining what the Mystery than establishing a relationship with it.

Although I honor the Christian myth as an important narrative I cannot call myself Christian or integrate Jesus into my practice because I have only felt His presence in my life throuh the music and art this myth has inspired. At one time I actively courted this contact. (This is not my experience with the Blessed Virgin, who has been always with me). Even if I sought a deeper connection to this energetic current, its association with so many values that I can't embrace, would make it impossible for me to claim the word. 


NicoleK
NicoleK

Well said, Taylor! I utterly agree with your conclusion.

While I certainly have very similar attitudes toward Christianity as you, I strongly disagreed with Sam's article. It felt divisive to me. I also object to the policing of other people's religious beliefs or practices. The first critical lesson I learned as a pagan was the uniqueness of each individual's direct connection to the divine, and I believe no one has any business trying to dictate how anyone else chooses to access that connection.

The biggest issue I had with Sam's article, though, was that it simply did not ring true for me at all.

Early on in my practice, I certainly had my own backlash against Christianity, and it was a necessary part of my process. As I delve more deeply into my spiritual path, however, I have been blown away by how much rich spiritual Truth can be found in the Christ myth. While Jesus is not a significant part of my practice by any means, I find that I can get a lot by lifting him out of the framework of Christianity entirely -- where he never quite seemed to fit anyway, oddly enough. ;) The Jesus I know had nothing to do with Yahweh at all -- and everything to do with the core human experience of being a divine being within a mortal body. Jesus teaches that god is not to be found outside of us, but within us, and that we are all connected to each other as part of the divine. 

Of course, I didn't actually learn those things from Jesus initially, and I think it's because in the process of setting the myth into stone as dogma/fact, the church has effectively murdered Christ as a living myth, and, now dead, he is no longer effective at creating an authentic link to the numinous. It took my pagan path to lead me to those truths. But now that I've found them, I find myself seeing Jesus through new eyes and thinking, "Oh. Yeah. He is me."

thesilverspiral
thesilverspiral

When you have so many other perfectly good gods to choose from, why would you want the one with so damned much baggage?  Dionysus, Mithras, Horus, all work perfectly fine if you need some sort of god of cyclic ressurection.

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

@NicoleK That's an excellent example of how you've encountered Jesus and made him a part of your spiritual reality. Thank you for sharing!

Magicexperiment
Magicexperiment moderator

@thesilverspiral True, but for some people Jesus is what works. I saw one person comment on how Jesus was the only male deity that called to her..if that is what works...Again it wouldn't be my choice, but to each their own.

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