Second Stories: Genesis

I know a pagan leader in Chicago who believes (among other problematic things) that every Christian is required to believe in “the 100% literal truth of the Bible.”

I disagree.

There is a huge variety of ways in which Christians approach their scriptures, from (yes) the literal to the amazingly allegorical. In fact, I’d say that mystical, metaphorical interpretations of Christian scriptures have outweighed the literal approaches throughout history, in terms of legacy.  The literalist interpretations to which the Chicago leader I’ve mentioned is referring to are, in my opinion, radically new inventions of Evangelicals in America who, let’s not forget, are not the spokespeople for all Christians.

And so, in keeping with my series on Second Stories, the following is an interpretation of a biblical narrative that is anything but the sort of literalism so many pagans expect from Christians. It was written by my friend Laura and performed at this year’s Easter Vigil at the Episcopal Cathedral here in Chicago (which I attended and thought was lovely). A retelling of the creation story from Genesis, I think that this story might resonate with a lot of pagans — and might spark some nice theological discussion. The text is of a dialogue between a Creator and the Earth.

Hope you’re all enjoying the beginnings of Spring! The text is after the jump.

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Just a few updates…

First — Have you ever noticed how things in the blogosphere can be sort of synergistic?

Many of you probably know already, but yesterday Jason Pitzl-Waters over at the Wild Hunt posted this article that touches upon a lot of the themes I’ll be trying to explore through the “Second Stories” posts over the next few weeks — recognition of wrongs committed, culpability, guilt and blame, awareness of Christian history, Christianity moving into the future, etc. If you haven’t seen it, please go check it out as I think that familiarity in this arena can only benefit us all. As many people have agreed in the comments section of that post, Jason has presented a very level-headed approach to the topic, which I commend him for.

Second — Speaking of blog comments, a new discussion has cropped up in the comments section under my post Neoplatonism at Cherry Hill from last week. Feel free to chime in if you’re interested further in Neoplatonism and pagans approaches to “re-paganizing” (?) Neoplatonic thought. Fun times.

Third — Check this out.

Lastly — (And this is just plain ‘ole tooting my own horn, BUT…)–  I’m excited to let you know that I’ve been accepted to my #1 choice graduate program, the M.A. (History of Religions/Theology) program at the University of Chicago Divinity School. So, that means I’ll be staying put in Chicago for the next few years and I’ll be able to keep doing what I love to do: Gettin’ down and nerdy in the library. Get excited — I am.

Keep it classy… somebody’s gotta do it, and it ain’t gonna be me.

Second Stories: Christians and Reproductive Justice

I’ve decided to take up a series in which I’ll be presenting links to things that Christians and other Abrahamic monotheists do that prove to pagans that they’re NOT ALL RAVING LUNATICS BENT ON WORLD DOMINATION AND THE OPPRESSION OF OTHERS.

This is in order to provide another point of view on Christianity (both historically and today) for pagans to ponder, in order that we may avoid the danger of a single story. Let me unpack a little…

You see, I’m disappointed in Neopagans. That’s because, for all the hot air that’s blown around about us all being the most diverse, the most accepting, the most loving community, we sure do sling a lot of shit at other people, especially at Christians. Now, yes — YES! — there are legitimate criticisms to be leveled at Christians of all stripes, surely. But what is illegitimate — and what I see so often from pagans — is when folks make blanket statements about Christianity that ignore the variety and diversity of Christians today. Things like, “All Christians hate gay people,” or “all Christians are pro-lifers,” or “Christians don’t do anything to make up for atrocities committed by churches in the past.”And what is worse is when pagans make these claims and then avoid actual engagement with Christians in a way that is productive rather than destructive (though usually there’s no engagement at all!)

Well, there are gay Christians and Christian allies. Whole churches of ’em. There are pro-choice, pro-women Christians and Christian organizations. And there are Christian groups working today towards making amends with those who have suffered — and who are suffering — at the hands of Christians. But it seems that the culture of anti-Christian rhetoric in paganism ignores these individuals and these groups, and their significance in the makeup of global Christianity.

I’ve seen pagans accuse all Christians of holding certain theological tenants that are not representative of the majority, or even a large minority, of Christians. I’ve seen pagans go on and on about Christian history in  ways that are duplicitous or contradictory, or flatly false (“The Romans were tolerant of the early Christians!”). I’ve even seen pagans claim that Christians who challenge their myopic definitions of Christianity are “not really Christians” or are “equivocating” regarding what “real Christians do” and what they “have to believe.”

AND SO, in order to undermine false understandings of the breadth and depth of Christian experiences, and to work against the rising tide of anti-Christian bigotry among pagans, I’m going to start occasionally updating with collections of links to projects and organizations created by Christians (and other Abrahamic monotheists) that provide Second Stories. Second Stories are second points of view, second ways of looking at Christianity and monotheistic traditions that shed light on the presence of inclusive practices, affirming theology, and justice-oriented work being done.

((ADDENDUM: See this post from Witch, Please! Link now working.))

To start, I’d just like to point out some of the Christian organizations, or organizations including a large number of Christians, that are pro-choice and working towards the health of and reproductive justice for women. I’ll be updating this list as I have more time and find more examples. Feel free to add more links in the comments.

Pro-Choice Christians Are Everywhere.”

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Check out this pdf from the Planned Parenthood of New York City Religious Leaders Task Force.

Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Justice.

Abortion Ban Degrades and Devalues Women.” — From a Rabbi’s perspective: “This law as it has been enacted unquestionably diminishes the inviolable status and worth that ought to be granted women as moral agents created in the image of God. Regardless of the outcomes of the challenges to this law in the courts, the parameters of our public debate regarding abortion ought to be reestablished.”