Why I Hate “Project Pagan Enough”

I could not have planned this better if I had tried. Project Pagan Enough, a “movement” initiated by Pagan blogger Fire Lyte, is a stark example of exactly the sort of lack of maturity within the Pagan community that I talked about in my last post. You see, there are really three things going on with Project Pagan Enough.

First, Project Pagan Enough calls for tolerance regarding the way that people dress or the choices (including musical taste, for example) that people make that may make them appear “too mainstream” to Pagans who think that Paganism necessarily needs to stand outside of the mainstream. Indeed, this seems to be the main thrust of PPE:

If you listen to Lady Gaga right alongside Kellianna, you are still pagan enough. If you don’t mind wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, Prada, or other name brand, mainstream clothing to the local pagan festival, you are still pagan enough.

Okay, I get it. Some people don’t dig the idea that, as participants in alternative spiritualities, our choices regarding music, clothing, etc. should necessarily be alternative. And I agree! I don’t think that any decision made merely for the sake of being unlike someone else can be productive: That’s just negative definition, which I’m against. However, I DO think that a case can be made that Pagans should be making decisions that happen to be counter-cultural. For example, I don’t believe that rampant consumerism can be compatible with an earth-based spirituality and, therefore, I think that Pagans (who claim to be earth-centered, or at least should do so) should eschew practices that embody this (i.e., buying Prada).

As a Pagan whose appearance might be construed as “mainstream”–I wear jeans and black t-shirts; I have no piercings or tattoos; my hair is blonde and cropped–I have to say that a “movement” to end harassment against this is ludicrous. Any individual must be able to stand up for him- or herself concerning the choices that he or she makes. If someone is making fun of you for the clothes you wear, do something to deal with it! Call them out on it! Argue! Stand up for yourself! The fact that the online community has reacted to this pledge while continuing to ignore issues of actual importance displays quite clearly the childish behavior of those involved. This isn’t middle school, folks.

But this isn’t the only point being made by Project Pagan Enough. Additionally, PPE seeks to encourage interfaith tolerance:

Also, Project Pagan Enough seeks to encourage members of the pagan community to be more tolerant of other religions, beliefs, and practices. What do I mean? Aren’t we the most tolerant of all faith-based communities? Well, what happens when you hear the word ‘Christian?’ Are you still that tolerant, loving, inclusive pagan?

[…] Project Pagan Enough seeks to say that we should be secure enough in our beliefs and ourselves to truly tolerate other religions and stop laying blame for what we consider to be the evils of the world on the doorstep of other faiths.

How exactly this interfaith message is related to being “Pagan Enough” eludes me. On the one hand, I think that it is essential for Pagans to work toward getting over the rampant anti-Christian bigotry that I see plaguing our community; on the other hand, I think that the sentiment of Project Pagan Enough is exactly that shallow sort of “tolerance” that I railed against in my last entry [linked to above].

And here’s why: The third and most inconspicuous of the facets of Project Pagan Enough is its insistence that Pagans should be all-inclusive not only regarding clothing and music choices, but also including practice and belief:

  1. You are pagan enough, despite how you look, act, smell, dress, believe, or are.
  2. You recognize that others are pagan enough despite their appearance, smell, manner of dress, belief, practice, or other aspect.

In other words, here we are again: “Paganism” is meaningless. If it is possible for anyone who believes anything and does anything to be “Pagan Enough”, Paganism is a so-called “religious tradition” that has neither set beliefs nor set practices and therefore cannot be viewed as any sort of religious tradition at all. By the parameters of Project Pagan Enough, anyone that has ever lived is “Pagan Enough,” including all Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, Raelians, or Atheists. Anybody.

Project Pagan Enough is an immature attempt to solve immature problems. I hope that those who have engaged in this “riot” will further examine their own choices and their relationship to Paganism and begin to ask why it is that they have involved themselves with something that they themselves assert to be ultimately baseless. I hope that others will look at Project Pagan Enough and see in it an excellent example of the real problems facing contemporary Paganism, and that they will work toward a deepening, rather than a shallowing, of Pagan discourse.

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About John Harness
John Harness is an artist and educator in Chicago. He is a member of Socialist Alternative and the Klingon Language Institute. He writes about political activism and roleplaying games.

25 Responses to Why I Hate “Project Pagan Enough”

  1. theo says:

    Congratulations. Unless I nit-pick (which I’m going to try not to do), you’ve said absolutely nothing I disagree with in this post. That’s wonderful, and also terrible. It’s depressing when an issue is so blatant that I can’t fight with you about it at all.

    What upsets me most about this is that this middle-school inclusiveness is that it takes our attention away from the bigger things we, as a religion, should be focusing on. On these things, of course, I have plenty of things about which I can disagree with you on.

    I’m beginning to think that the best thing we can do is ignore Project Pagan Enough and their ilk. It might be best to just ignore all the identified pagan voices who spend their time on drivel and supporting, or even enforcing, the standard that being pagan is meaningless. Of course, that leads me to the realization that I should also ignore the work of those pagans out there who make ludicrous claims and create strict definitions for the sole, again immature, purpose of validating their beliefs. I will admit that this second group is more difficult for me to ignore. I get really really angry at them.

    I can forgive the PPE’s of the world on the grounds of good intent. The people who really make me angry are those who insist Wicca is thousands of years old, and that Wicca is the one true Pagan religion, and that to be Wiccan you must be able to trace your lineage at least 200 years. (Which, for those who don’t know, is impossible, since Wicca is less than 100 years old.) But I think I and my religion and community may be better served if I interacted with these people only when they invite or create confrontation.

    What would our religion look like if we just let the PPE’s and Validators do what they do and focused on actually deepening our relationship with the Divine? Is it enough to create deep, empowering traditions and practices, or do we need to be recognized as the True Pagans?

    I suspect the PPE’s and Validators might be a sign that we are ready for the deeper work, but also a test. If we spend our energy trying to retrain or eliminate the groups of people that don’t deepen the work, will we ever have the time to do the deepening?

  2. Cat C-B says:

    It is precisely because I find the constant carping on what is “really” Pagan (usually manifested in attacks on other kinds of Pagans, as in Wiccans who attack Recons for “not following the threefold-law,” or Recons who attack Wiccans for overemphasizing the importance of goddesses, or Pagans who hunt who attack vegetarians for not properly appreciating the importance of the hunt, or vegetarians who attack those who hunt or eat meat for not “loving life” enough, etc, etc, etc…) so distracting that I do support Project Pagan Enough.

    As for the attacks on other religions (generally monotheism in general or Christianity in particular), if a fraction of the energy went into exploring our own relationships with our own gods as Pagans too often spend denigrating their former beliefs, I would be a very happy woman.

    I don’t think that makes me immature. I take it you disagree; a shame. I normally enjoy your writing, Johnny.

    Ah, well. We can’t all be one another’s fans, I suppose.

    • Nettle says:

      Cat, if it said all those things I’d be a fan too. I went back and re-read to see what I was missing, and I still didn’t see what you describe here. I am all for accepting others as they come – I’m not interested in deciding who is “really” pagan and who isn’t and I agree that it’s a huge distraction to spend time arguing over who counts as a real pagan or to waste time complaining about other faiths in pointless abstract ways. I would encourage anyone to engage in some serious self-examination to see where there can be more kindness, compassion and non-judgemental curiousity – I’m really big on all those things and we all have room for improvement. That’s not what I read there, though. All I read was about what the author wants OTHER people to do to make her (him?) feel all warm and fuzzy and comfy.

      hmm, this is making me much grouchier than usually the Internet has any capacity to make me feel – perhaps there is a button of mine being pushed here that I need to look at further. I think part of it, as I said below, is that some of us have real problems and someone complaining about hurt feelings because Srs Pagans Are Mean just looks petty.

  3. Nettle says:

    Thank you – this bugged me but I couldn’t put a finger on exactly why, and your post is helpful.

    “help help I’m being oppressed!” for being too normal? gah, if that’s your big problem, be grateful. Some people actually have real problems, like losing custody of a child for being Pagan, or being denied your religious rights in an institutional situation, or having Christian zealots disrupt your religious observations on a regular basis while the cops just laugh about it. These are real ongoing issues; the “project pagan enough” statement sounds like little kids looking for a blue ribbon and an A for Effort just for showing up.

  4. Cat C-B says:

    I’m realizing that my comment might have been misinterpreted–taken to mean I’m no longer a fan of this blog. I am! Very much so.

    But I’m also a fan of the Project, which may mark me as the kind of “silly, immature” Pagan others might not like. I mean, I’d prefer not to think that, either! But that was my meaning, if it was unclear. I’ve got no intentionof staying away from The Great Tininess, which is one of my regular stops.

    Blessings!

  5. the pondering pagan says:

    RE: “I don’t believe that rampant consumerism can be compatible with an earth-based spirituality and, therefore, I think that Pagans (who claim to be earth-centered, or at least should do so) should eschew practices that embody this (i.e., buying Prada).”

    WHOA!!

    Hold it right there!

    Who is to say that paganism = earth centered?!

    Pagans invented civilization itself; just look at the Romans and the Egyptians and the Greeks for examples of this. Pagans have lived in *gasp* CITIES for thousands of years – yea, long before the birth of Christ and the rise of the Church a few hundred years after that.

    THAT is one of the reasons I DO have my own badge for “Project Pagan Enough” – because OTHER PAGANS want to put me into a box and just assume that if I’m pagan, I must be “earth centered” – and if I’m not they want to treat me like I’m not pagan enough.

    Well, guess what?! That is NOT the case, and I will NOT be told what I am and am not. Do NOT assume that I’m “earth centered”. In fact, do not assume that all pagans are earth-centered.

    My partner Joseph is Asatru. This means he’s NOT CHRISTIAN or Jewish or Muslim. He’s ASATRU. That’s pagan (or “heathen” as he prefers the Germanic word, not the Latin-based word). He’s every bit as pagan as anyone else – and he’s definitely NOT “earth-centered.”

    He is GOD CENTERED. His Lord is Odin. He has Odin’s symbol, the valknut, tattooed on his chest. This means Allfather is free to do with Joe as He pleases, up to and including taking his life if it is demanded of him.

    Odin is not an “earth God.” Odin is a God of wisdom and prophecy and war and many other things. But He is not “earthy” like Freyr is, and Joe does not worship the earth.

    Many people who are Roman reconstructionists, or Greek reconstructionists, or Egyptian reconstructionists strongly resent this total ignorance on the part of so many eclectic pagans that pagans lived in cities, pagans busted their buns developing the civilized arts (music, philosophy, medicine, weaving and all the household arts – just ask any hearth Goddess about that) and in fact, the emperor Julian (before he got stupid and rushed off to fight the Persians, where he got his butt killed) was trying to restore the prestige and glory of paganism in Rome.

    ROME! The Eternal City! Founded by PAGANS! Come on now!

    This really twists my tail. I couldn’t even finish reading the entry – as soon as I hit upon that one line, I think steam came out of my ears.

    One of the things I preached about to a Unitarian Universalist congregation recently was how “pagan” is a word that does mean (among other things) “civilian” or “non-military person” – this is part of how it would have been used by Roman soldiers when describing residents of Rome who were not military personnel. They still lived in the city of Rome, they went to temples (hello – remember those ruins??) and they made offerings to the GODS.

    Do modern pagans even believe in Gods? I mean, really believe in the Gods they claim to worship? I hear far more talk of magic and/or earth worship than I do talk of developing a relationship with a specific divine being these days.

    And I for one don’t regard magic or psychic ability as a necessity to be a pagan, by the way. That’s another thing that twists my tail – the assumption that if you’re pagan, you must practice magic. No.

    Oy, Frigga help me. I just lose it when I run into this kind of attitude.

    Read my entry (which I’d posted on another blog of mine a few days ago):

    http://tlholladay1128.blogspot.com/2010/04/on-art-pagan-world.html

  6. the pondering pagan says:

    Before I forget, let me say this: I grew up just outside of Washington DC, and do you know what you see when you go to the National Mall?

    ANCESTOR WORSHIP!!

    And if that’s not pagan, nothing is!

    We have temples and shrines built to our great national ancestors/leaders like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and our war dead (the various memorials like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the WWII Veterans Memorial & Arlington National Cemetery, where is also found the Tomb of the Unknowns). We have temples dedicated to knowledge – all of the museums that form the complex of the Smithsonian Institution.

    These are living shrines that our nation has erected, that we may not forget who we are as a nation and what we value.

    If that’s not pagan, NOTHING IS.

  7. Hystery says:

    Categorization of anything non-Abrahamic under the rubric “Pagan” is problematic inasmuch as it subsumes critical historical, cultural, and thea/ological differences under a definition of Paganism based not on who we are but on who we are not. We have been defined against Abrahamic religion. I intentionally use the passive verb here. There is an intellectual failure of persons who identify as Pagan to promote systematic methodologies for discussing their commonalities and differences. Similarly, I have witnessed a troubling online tendency to apply the same simplified assessment of Abrahamic (esp. Christian) theologies which glosses over profound historical/theological differences among the multitudinous Christian denominations and perspectives. It is intellectually dishonest to continue to accept any definition of Paganism that relies on such incautious assumptions.

    Where do we even begin this conversation? The existence of a popular default hegemony of eclectic Wicca silences meaningful and challenging interfaith discourse. We end up having to both defend Wicca as “not Satanic” before we even get a chance to define our own (often extremely different) spiritual path. The fact that so many of us are spiritually self-defined and therefore difficult to place within any kind of predictable pattern is another difficulty. I am increasingly uncomfortable with the generic term “Pagan” and long for a more sensitive and nuanced way of describing my spirituality. I would not recognize that anyone who was not concerned with environmentalism was a co-religionist. Likewise, I would not consider a literal anthromorphized interpretation of thea/ology compatible with my own perspective. That does not mean that I would not want to engage in interfaith dialog with those who hold these views. I would just not want to attempt to define their spirituality for them according to my beliefs or to be identified casually with their beliefs and practices simply because neither of us is Christian.

  8. cartweel says:

    Hey Folks,

    There are a lot of really great comments here and I look forward to engaging with them–but I haven’t yet because this week’s work load is a little too big. Keep the conversation going, please! And I’ll respond as soon as I can! Thanks.

  9. RE: “I am increasingly uncomfortable with the generic term “Pagan” and long for a more sensitive and nuanced way of describing my spirituality.”

    That’s why there are traditions out there that have names.

    RE: “I would not recognize that anyone who was not concerned with environmentalism was a co-religionist.”

    And I would likely think that anyone who shuns any form of modernity is some kind of neo-Luddite. I would likely think that anyone who attempts to force me to live according to their definitions of certain words would likely be happier in the Roman Catholic Church. I would also likely think that anyone who says “you MUST be green to be pagan” yet has NOT given up their iPods or iPads or iWhatevers, their cars, their Internet connection, cell phones, phones, television, cable, digital TV, clothes bought in a store as opposed to completely made by hand (from cloth harvested either from cotton plants or sheared from sheep), supermarkets, modern medicine, etc, was the hugest of hypocrites. Who the hell died and appointed THEM the pagan pope? Last time I checked, we didn’t have one of those, and part of the reason we ARE pagans is because we DON’T want one of those.

    One does not have to be an eco-Nazi to be pagan.
    One does not have to be pagan to be concerned with environmental matters.
    One does not have to be an eco-Nazi if one is concerned with environmental matters.

    Let people choose for themselves.

    It is not for anyone else to judge. I thought most of us walked away from Christianity because we were up to the back teeth with people judging us.

    Or do we just want to be the ones doing the judging?

    • cartweel says:

      Tracie, step back. You are welcome here to voice your opinions, but no one is welcome to throw around words like “Nazi.” I won’t delete your last comment, but I will delete subsequent messages if such derogatory and slanderous language continues.

  10. Hystery says:

    Tracie,
    I think I may have been misunderstood and since I think so highly of you and have experienced you as a person of deep conviction and kindness, I’ll take a minute to clarify some of my thoughts that may have been written in a way that led to confusion. If we are clear and you think ill of my thoughts that is fair, but I don’t wish you to think ill of me if I have failed to adequately explain my thoughts.

    I don’t believe that we can define Pagan as any one thing or another or that we can apply any litmus test to it. I do not think I have the right to exclude anyone. Far from it! I’m so far on the margins of what “Pagan” can mean that I would be the last person on earth who could claim that as a right. I think your point is well-taken that if we find “Pagan” too general a term we should use the subcategories of Pagan more effectively to communicate our positions. I guess I would be an eco-feminist, non-theistic Quaker Pagan. But I find that even those labels fail me at times. There has not been enough discourse to make enough people familiar with any of those terms and this complicates things as much as when I say that I’m Pagan and leave it at that. My problem is NOT with Paganism and all its grand diversity but with deficiency in our dialog, our terminologies, and the methodologies we apply to discourse. We have lots more work to do to honor our diversity more plainly.

    I’m not a neo-Luddite. I call myself a Neo-Pagan because I would not wish to go back (and feel it is impossible) to reclaim a historical Paganism. I know others disagree with me here but, I am a modern person who benefits from modern medicine, technology, and civilization. I am an environmentalist and a Friend so I believe in simplicity and conscientious of our relationship to the earth but this does not make me contemptuous of the very technologies that assist us in spreading this message of environmentalism and implementing its practice. Technology makes this blog possible. It is likely our best hope for freeing ourselves from older, more destructive technologies and practices. It has saved my life on more than one occasion. I’m a fan.

    I had a feeling the “co-religionist” part of my comment would be difficult. Let me explain further. Technically, Greek Orthodox, Southern Baptists, and liberal Christian Quakers are all “Christian” but they are practically so far apart in theology that it would be unreasonable for them to approach each other outside of a framework that immediately acknowledged those profound theological and historical differences. I would maintain that Pagans are often even more diverse than Christians yet I’ve been in way too many Pagan conversations in which the participants did not recognize how profound their differences were. They made too many assumptions about what constitutes “Pagan” beliefs and in so doing, inadvertently silenced those who may have spoken from the margins. I say that Pagans who are profoundly different from me are not my co-religionists not because I want to deny their right to disagree with me but because I want to magnify their right to disagree with me along with my right to disagree with them. We can only have fruitful conversations when we are willing to meet others as they are rather than as we wish or imagine them to be. My own religion is defined by my ethical stance as a feminist, pacifist, and environmentalist. It is further defined by my relationship to my Quaker meeting. It feels arrogant for me to say that I share the same religion with a practitioner of an indigenous American spirituality or with a practitioner of the Asatru faith or with one who is a reconstructionist. What do I know of their faith and practice that would give me the right to say that we are the same religion? Just that we are both Pagan?

    I think maybe we should stop saying that Paganism is a “religion” which assumes a common belief system, and come up with another, more careful term for what Paganism is. Paganism is a “_____”, comprised of multiple, diverse religions that often, but not always are characterized by “_____________”. I don’t have the words to fill in those blanks, btw. I’m still too early in the thinking stages and, as I’ve said, I’m just too unfamiliar with the depth of other Pagan spiritual perspectives to dare to fill in those blanks right now.

    We are all Pagans for sure but we are not all members of the same religions. To say so insults the histories and theologies of many groups who have no more in common with me than the fact that they also are not Christian. I would like to move away from a practice of defaulting to the most popular form of Paganism in the room because we are afraid of confronting very real, very powerful (and possibly very productive) differences between us. We’ve been lumped into one category “Pagan” with little or no regard for dramatic theological and philosophical differences. Mostly, we’re “Pagan” because we aren’t Abrahamic. Am I saying that some of us get to keep the label and some of us (people like me on the fringes) should choose new labels. No. As troubled as I am by continually realizing I fit nowhere, I will keep my Pagan label because I still believe that one thing we have in common is that we are self-defined. It just seems like we need to come to terms with this quirk of our history. I don’t know what that answer will be. I just throw it out as a topic we need to continue to address.

  11. Ruby Sara says:

    Hystery – Thank you for this deeply thoughtful articulation of things I have been trying to put into words for myself. I have the same questions you have, with no more solid answers, but I think the asking of them is deeply important, and I am extremely grateful for your measured and clear thinking on the matter.

    As Quakers say, you speak my mind.

    -RS

  12. Fire Lyte says:

    Hello, Great Tininess!

    I would be the pagan blogger, Fire Lyte, who started the immature attempt to solve immature problems.

    I appreciate all constructive criticism, and I actually wish you had sent me this article in tandem with your posting. I rather enjoy it, and you do make a great point. The outlining of PPE is quite pedestrian and simplistic, and there is a very good reason for this.

    The issue at stake is not defining paganism, as one cannot define a path that – by its very lack of uniform definition – is unique to each one who ascribes to it.

    I’m not really sure why buying a Prada shoe is any different than buying a $9.99 pair of generic tennis shoes from a large chain retailer. In fact, I would prefer – if we’re speaking of matters of conscience – to purchase the name brand shoe, as I can nearly guarantee that it was not made by prison labor, child labor, or other third world work force in conditions unfit for human subsistence. But, does my spending the money I earned on a name brand take away my years of study and education in pagan practices and beliefs?

    As for standing up for oneself, this movement is seeking to empower those that feel put down upon TO stand up for themselves. So, I suppose you’re in agreement with the movement in a manner of speaking. Good for you! I have a button for your site if you’d like it.

    As for the shallow level of tolerance, I think you skipped over the part about academically discussing issues of paganism, debating one’s ‘fluffy factor,’ etc. I have been a big proponent of education and building a deep foundation of knowledge rather than relying on simple New Age bookstore finds. I actually have gotten a lot of flack for calling one another’s bullshit out and holding those in the pagan community accountable for the insubstantial drivel many espouse. You can Google the essay The Pagan Secret – it was the most read article on Witch Vox last year. Shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    As for paganism being meaningless… Well, you’re sort of right and you’re sort of not. If I come up with the word…consuelance. That’s not a word. It has no dictionary definition. But let’s say that I tell people the word consuelance means ‘ease of use,’ as in, “The consuelance of the iPad makes it a fierce competitor in the new tablet PC market.” I have given the word a set definition and a manner in which it can be used. This is how the relationship between words and definitions works.

    Such it is with the word Christianity. I know it means ‘religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.’ Buddhism follows the Buddha’s teachings. Scientology was born of L. Ron Hubbard’s greed, etc. Paganism, though, does not have such roots. It does not have a set definition. Most can’t even agree on where we got the word pagan, or, if they can agree on its root, how it is to be applied to modern adherents. Is an Egyptian ceremonial magician a pagan? Is an agnostic or non-denominational witch a pagan? And, if so, what makes them both fit under the same umbrella? What set of key words quantifies or qualifies both as being pagan?

    ‘Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, Raelians, or Atheists. Anybody.’ Not any of these groups could be considered pagan, because they already have their set definitions, and by their definitive nature are not pagan. I know what is not pagan by whether it defines itself as such. Buddhists cannot be pagan, because Buddha did not say so. I know the same for the rest of these groups in a like manner.

    We do not know what paganism is. The dictionary says a pagan is one holding religious beliefs other than those of the world’s main religions. Gosh… That’s…well… That’s a lot of people. Surely they can’t all be pagan…unless, that is, they define themselves as such. I can tell someone they have a set of facts wrong or call them on the BS they’re spouting about raising someone from the dead or academically debate issues of religion or philosophy, but if someone defines themselves as pagan I’m not going to take away their title based on trivial, superficial fluff.

    Attempting to strip someone of their pagan moniker simply dilutes the overall conversation and averts us from the bigger fish that need frying. I would much rather hash out the details of Margaret Murray’s nonsense than gossip over someone’s Prada any day.

    And that’s great if you feel you fit in wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. It wouldn’t take much searching around the internet or Witch Vox – or other forum – to find that there are a large number of pagans and like-minded folk who feel put down upon for their looks or mainstream tastes. This turns away many new and old pagans from interacting with the community at large and it is high time this stops so that we can get to the business of establishing our belief system/religion amongst the larger religions of the world.

    Without a true meaning – other than, well, a pagan is whoever isn’t a part of the other religions – paganism, inherently, is meaningless as a term. As a people, though, we are a fantastic array of all types and it’s time that all of those types come together, throw aside the superficial crap, and get to work learning and loving one another. Once this happens, the deeper issues can finally be hashed out.

    As an extension of respect, I cordially invite you (oh Great Tininess writer) to be a guest on Inciting A Riot: the Podcast. I don’t know if you actually spent any time at all on IncitingARiot.com, but I also have a show. It’s currently resting at number 1 on Podcast Alley in the Religion & Spirituality category. I have a rather large listener and reader base and I’m sure they would leave to hear a counterpoint to the ideals and rationality of Project Pagan Enough. I am quite excited to hear more of how this little project of mine is full of middle school logic and immature rhetoric.

    Truly, though, all kidding aside, I appreciate your article. It is well thought out and you make a good point. Do I agree? Well…no. But, again, I would be more than willing to discuss this further through email (IncitingARIotPodcast@gmail.com), twitter (@IncitingARiot), or on the show! Contact me to set up a time to talk.

    Love and Lyte,

    Fire Lyte

  13. Bill Bittner says:

    I’ve learned that the word “Pagan” should not be used to describe religion. It really isn’t equal to Christianity. For example, Christianity is a religion, with different sects within it. Paganism is more like a semantic category, with different religions within it, such as Asatru and Wicca. And each of these religions have different sects within them. Pagan to Christian is apples to oranges. Asatru to Christian is apples to apples.

    Now, it is possible that Paganism is more like Hinduism, for Hinduism is not a religion. It’s more of a culture, or a category for many religions within it, such as Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Or, is it comparable to the category term Monotheism? Or, the terms Deism, Theism, etc.

    A term like Paganism may be like the terms used in categorizing music genres. They really don’t have any black-and-white scientific definitions, but are aids to organization and comprehension.

    So, if the term Paganism is more of a semantic tool, and not a religion, then it doesn’t make sense that making it too open takes away any of it’s meaning. One can say that the term really has no intrinsic meaning.

    So how to define it? Maybe just by listing the religions within the category. What is Paganism? It’s a set of religions that include Neo-druidism, Dievturība, Finnish, Asatru, Theodism, Hellenism, Kemetism, Romuva, Wicca, etc. Kind of like the music terms Pop, Rock & Roll, or Alternative, which are equally hard to define, but can be by listing the genres within.

    Or you list characteristics, but qualify it by saying a Pagan religion is one that includes may of these characteristics, but possibly not all.

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  16. Heather says:

    I’ll admit, I only skimmed the article because, well, life is short. (No offense. It is great you are passionate about the topic, really.) I just wanted to say that I think you should focus more on the overall intent of what the guy is trying to say rather than picking things apart. I think the message is simple–if someone self-identifies as pagan, then meet them where they are on their journey. Focus on our commonalities rather than differences. Ok, so I came to paganism through the Unitarian Universalist church, so that probably makes me a bit predisposed to messages of tolerance of all religions, etc. I discovered the UU church about 3 yrs ago, went to one around Atlanta that did not have a pagan group, then moved and finally joined a church with a pagan group. I suppose you could say I’m not a full fledged pagan yet. With my husband out of work for over a year now, we have known for a long time we will most likely be moving, yet again, any day now. I have trouble connecting to people in general, and this sense of ‘temporariness’ only makes it worse. But through the church, I have been invited and gone to several pagan gatherings. I feel lucky. Despite some tension within the pagan community, the overall feeling is that we need to stick together and appreciate each other. Hey, we’re in the south, in the birthplace of southern baptism no less. Our town just had its second annual pagan pride day, which was a big, big deal here (I feel lucky to have attended both). But really, my point is that I don’t find his overall message juvenile at all. Ok, maybe he worded things oddly in places, perhaps in an effort to inject humor in places. Still, when any religion focuses too much on differences in factions, denominations, practices, etc., it can start to tear itself apart. Think of catholics versus protestants and certain protestants versus other protestants–they’re all Christians after all. And yes, there are differences in pagans–those who like egyptian deities, those who follow thelemic/Crowley, those who are in it for the feminist/goddess aspect, or those who, like me, are more free form and just like to think of the lord and lady, god and goddess combined with a spirit that flows throughout everything. I consider that pagan, even if I know very little as of yet and I don’t dress in pagan-like garb at all. His message is good, and if followed, it would more than likely lead to a stronger pagan community and, perhaps eventually, better acceptance by those who are not. If we get along and treat others with respect (including other religions), well, that’s just being friendly and setting a good example. It doesn’t have to take anything away from paganism or water it down. Sorry, didn’t mean to write so much, but I love to write in general and tend to get carried away. Anyway, have a great day and blessed be to all.

  17. Nick says:

    Admirable for their good intentions, but when you don’t actually stand for anything, what’s the point?

  18. Pingback: A Plainly Declared Position « The Great Tininess

  19. Pan says:

    I dont know if this will be a bandwagon I will be jumping on, but I will say this:

    We have all had that moment were someone has been unkind to us because of our beliefs or grew up constantly out of sync with the religous community we were raised in and because of that this community should be embracing our diversity and encouraging people on whatever their chosen path is. I dont think it’s ok to tell someone their path is wrong because it is not the same as yours, or you disagree their spiritual practices or idea, or because they dont have as may degrees as you do or whatever. Right now almost daily, I hear that I am “Not Pagan” becuase I attend services at a Unitarian Universalist Church and I want to start a CUUPs Chapter–So this discussion does sort of rub a tender spot. Do I care? No not really. I’m going to do it anyway because I like going and because I believe that there are people in my pagan community who will find it to be a the UU Church a valuable resource. I chose to be a pagan because I wanted to define my own beliefs. If I wanted someone to define them for me I would have remained a Catholic. The inherent worth and dignity of every person, justice, equity and compassion in human relations and acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth is an admirable pursuit and it does stand for something. Fire Lytes methods may be imperfect, but her point is not without merit. I would rather see people making imperfect attempts to change things they dont like in this world than being completely indifferent to them.

  20. Harriet says:

    I think you’ve sort of missed the main point. I also think you’ve been a little selective in the points mentioned in PPE, so (to me anyways) this article sounds a little biased. I think the main point is for people within the pagan community to tolerate each other more than anything else! And that, I feel, is a very valid point!

  21. Pingback: Pagan/Neo-Pagan Definitions List | The Lefthander's Path

  22. gingertee407 says:

    “Paganism” as a word is just too broad. Try narrowing it down a bit, to specific traditions. Then you can make more specific definitions. For example, my husband is Asatru. That means he’s a specific type of pagan. I have a friend who is Kemetic. She’s a different type of pagan. Problem solved.

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