Why I Hate “Project Pagan Enough”
March 31, 2010 25 Comments
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:
- You are pagan enough, despite how you look, act, smell, dress, believe, or are.
- 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.