Thursday, March 1, 2012

The "F" word

It's time to talk about the "F" word. I enjoy the "F" word. It's so expressive and evocative. People get so many different ideas about what you mean when you use it. And it seems to have different connotations depending upon your cultural background.

Right, I'm talking about faith. That mysterious little word; it seems to make some people cringe while others rejoice. In my experience, and I admit that I don't talk to a lot of other pagans, I don't hear the word faith in conjunction with paganism nearly as much as I do when talking about the other religions. In fact, "faith" is another word for "religion" in some contexts, but rarely is it used in that context to describe paganism.

Why? Probably because so many pagans are fed up with the institutionalized religions that they don't want to be lumped in with them through that context. This is probably a subconscious choice, since the conscious choice is to simply eschew religion.

I think that's a mistake. I'm a pagan and I have as much faith as anyone in an Abrahamic religion. The problem is something I mentioned before. Pagans have worked so hard to distance themselves from institutionalized religion that they've marginalized themselves. I know that with neopagans representing only 0.02% of the world population, it's pretty easy for the rest of the world to marginalize us as well. However, that less than insignificant percentage will never increase unless we stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

Alright, so there's the problem. How do we fix it? Pagans are such a fractured, intractable, bunch that I'm not sure how well this could ever be resolved. Groups like Unitarian Universalism are close to the answer, but with roots in the Abrahamic religions it doesn't suit all pagans.

Personally, I think pagans should take a page from the Hindu playbook. We need an evocative label that encompasses our faith, and isn't based on a derogatory term. We need a label that we can rally under, but doesn't limit our individual expression of faith.

I had originally intended to write about the way I experience faith. It seems as though this desire to label my faith prevailed. I'm sure this bears greater examination. I'll have to think some on it and I'll post my thoughts later.