Will and Elst.

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by prajapati, Sep 15, 2005.

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  1. At_the_Wellspring

    At_the_Wellspring ...always learning

    Jul 18, 2005
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    I'm no expert on religious history, or on comparative religion, but I'll just add my two cents anyway...

    As for my own experience of Christianity, it doesn't seem to claim complete separatism from its pagan roots. Undeniably human history and culture will always have some effect on religion and its celebrations. We all live in the same earth, all cultures relate to the natural substances and seasons, which is why images and rituals involving the 'earthly' substances are very present in, I would say, (though I'm not an expert) all the different religions. Doesn't it make sense to use what everyone is familiar with and can comprehend, such as light, water, changing of seasons, growth and harvest to best help people explain religious concepts?

    The way I perceive it is that Christianity was able to use existing celebrations to help explain new concepts, rather than trying to be completely foreign.

    And while I know that colonising cultures often (probably usually) disregarded the existing people's culture/ religion in an attempt to enforce their own upon them, there are also examples of where the 'new' 'imported' religion somehow blends into the existing belief/ spiritual understanding. For example, here in New Zealand, the Maori culture is one very spiritually connected with the land. There are several Gods in Maori spirituality, of the sky, earth, forest, sea, etc. Ok, New Zealand, like all colonies, doesn't have a squeaky clean history in race-relations, but out of it all has emerged a form of Christianity which is specifically Maori 'Ratana', and which springs from a Maori way of thinking.

    Surely everyone will have a slightly different take on life, God, meaning etc dependant on their cultural history, so isn't it important to base religious concepts on things that people understand from their cultural history to promote understanding of the ideas?

    Anyway, I'm not sure if that is relevant.

    But basically I don't see that anyone is arguing against the fact that Christian celebrations fall on pagan dates and celebrations.

    So you could reduce it down to saying that Christianity just added a 'Christian spin' to pagan events - but in the end it is this 'Christian spin' that is the important part of Christianity - not what date things are celebrated. Like bandit said, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, they celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, this is what is important, not necessarily what date it happens to be celbrated on.
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

    Jan 9, 2004
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    Kindest Regards, prajapati, and welcome to CR!

    The first thing I would have to ask is what is your motivation behind what you have to say here in this thread?

    While I can agree with most of the things you mention concerning dates and influence, I do not necessarily agree with your, or your mentor's, interpretation of the "facts."

    I have watched Brian attempt to explain a premise you evidently are determined to ignore. No, the "manequin" is not pagan. The manequin, if it in fact exists, is humanity's search for meaning, of an attempt to describe the indescribable. The manequin exists underneath all institutional religions, and every culture and religion clothes the manequin in ways that are significant to their own understanding, going all the way back into pre-history. The cave paintings in Lasceaux and other places cannot help but demonstrate how tribes attempted to connect with what we now call Divine. Now we live in an age of super-tribes, to borrow a phrase, with a great deal of history between the cave paintings and where we are now.

    A lot of what you are hinting at stems from the quest for political power. It would only make sense that once that power is gained, it seems only "right" to spread it around. Whether or not this is ethical is irrelevent, in the past it is how things were done. When Rome was the dominating influence, the culture / politics / religion of Rome were spread throughout that empire, including things like language, education, and economics. Christianity, or more specifically Catholism, is the heir to the Western Roman Empire. That doesn't sit well with some, but it is fact. As with all great things entrusted to "men," there are both good and bad things connected with all of this.

    You make some rather wanton oversimplifications out of matters that in truth are not so simple. Such as Charlemagne's conquest of Europe, and the conquistador's Europeanization of the Americas, as only two examples.

    In the first instance, Europe was Christianized by Charlemagne at the point of a sword. The conversions were minimal and not sincere. In some instances, once a tribe surrendered to his forces, they were herded through a stream, where a priest stood upstream blessing the water, and it was called a baptism. The people thusly treated went home and continued as they always had. The church only held any real power and influence in the major cities, and from there dealt their political power. The vast masses of rural farm communities were allowed to continue in their paganism as before as long as they caused no trouble and paid their taxes. In time, there developed a feudal system, but that is beyond where we are in this discussion.

    In the second instance, the power of Rome (as the church) was long solidified, although there were always internal struggles within Europe, lasting up until the late 19th century. Martin Luthur helped a great deal towards that end, the Reformation constantly stirred controversy, particularly in what became Germany, but England developed its own unique brand of Christianity bouyed by the success of Luthur and isolation of island life. But we are concerned with the conquest of the New World and the Europeanization of America. A people who held military advantage over such "backward" people as the American Natives with such things as horses, gunpowder, sailing ships and more felt obliged to modernize those they conquered by subjecting them to all their culture entailed, including religion. While I am not privy to the inner workings of the minds of the powers that existed at that time, after the fact it is apparent some of the methods used. And while European influences are very apparent, they are not the "be all and end all" of the form of Christianity that grew in the New World. Have you heard of the Virgin of Guadelupe? (sp?) Having grown up in California, I can say unequivically that the version of Catholism in Mexico and the South West US is not identical to the Catholism you will find in say Maryland, or Europe. Or the Phillipines, for that matter. True, there are many similarities, but there is also a great deal of latitiude as well. A further example, since it is mentioned, concerns Haiti. I have heard it said that Haiti is 90% Catholic, and 100% Voodun. Similar in Africa, by the way. And Brian not long back posted an article about Jesus in Japan that was quite eye-opening. I have mentioned in the past a group of Christians in this modern day in Turkey that still sacrifices to their local nature deities, which they call by Christian names and understand as Christian saints. In their minds they are 100% Christian, yet most Christians I know would shudder to see, let alone participate in such things.

    The Christian clothing that dresses the manequin is the attempt by Christians to understand and reach out to what we all intuitively know is there, but cannot see, because of the veil that separates the material world from the spiritual world. Christians turn to our Teacher of Righteousness we call Christ, the man Jesus. We all try as best we understand to apply His teachings in our lives. That is the reality of the individual Christian.

    What leaders in religious institutions do is another matter altogether, Christian and otherwise. We trust them to lead us correctly. Sometimes they do well. Sometimes not. I want to believe most have the best intent, but even that is not a given.

    And Christians are not alone in any of this process. All of the major world faiths have their struggles with the same problems. Even the religion of science. Even the religion of atheism and humanism. It seems to me a shame to point a finger at one, and one only, when effectively all are equally guilty at one time or another. Most have histories equally bloody as Christianity, and equally unrepentent in their conquests. This even includes the pagans that you seem so intent to elevate with your synopsis.

    We are all human. We are all fallible. Our past and our present are filled with mistakes and errors of judgement. It is well you see a fraction of this, I wonder if you have it in you to look at it all. And then, once you do understand, the question then becomes; "so, now what are you going to do about it?" You can continue to throw your temper tantrum, or you can choose to set aside past differences and get on with your life, and try to do what you can within your sphere of influence to fix those things you feel are broken.

    What Columbus did, or Martin Luthur, or Pope (pick one, any one), or the King of England or France or the Netherlands or Spain or Belgium or Germany, doesn't matter. Not when it concerns where you personally are going to land in the eyes of your maker. Your father or mother cannot get you into heaven. That is your responsibility. In the end, what really truly matters is how you personally interact with God. Be it Karma, or the Book of Life, or the weight of your soul in the balance against the sacred feather, it is what you do here and now that matters.

  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

    Jul 15, 2003
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    I think juantoo3 has answered the points thoughtfully enough for the time-being - and on that note, would be a good place to close the thread - especially as the general directionless anger and judgement of Europeans isn't a position I want to encourage at CR.
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