Walled Garden approach to CR

iBrian

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Recently the issue of the "walled garden" approach at CR has caused a few misunderstandings, so I've updated the Code of Conduct and user agreeement with the following section at the top:

NOTE: CR is intended to be a useful reference resource for people looking to find out more about specific religions.

In that regard, CR employs a “walled garden” approach to the individual faith boards.

This means that the individual faith boards are for persons of that faith to discuss faith issues in the context of their faith, and invite interested questions and discussions from persons outside of that faith about it.

CR does not support direct attacks on any faith, and suitable critical evaluations about any faith needs to be made on a more neutral board, such as the Comparative Studies, or Politics and Society, if it involves critical discussion of political events.

Hopefully this helps explain things better, but if you feel this needs updating, or else anything else about this isn't clear, please do feel free to ask.
 
The question I have relates the breadth of understanding of those that follow Jesus. Those that have a more metaphysical, esoteric or gnostic bent have been told they are not christians, told they slam christians, told they blaspheme because they wish to discuss the issues surrounding the canonization and interpretation of the bible.

We love to discuss the intracies of scripture and our understanding, we respect that others read the book more literally. We would appreciate debate of our concepts and thoughts with open minds...that don't result in name calling or indications that we are going to hell (despite the fact that I believe that Hell is not a place but an understanding that we create for ourselves...I still have no interest in being drug into others personel hells that they've created..)

While I understand that much of Christianity is based on and utlizes Pagan rituals and symbolism...and I respect those that are Pagan, my understanding of Christ's teachings do not belong under the Pagan board...
 
Generally gnostics and esoterics very much distance themselves from basic Christian doctrines, so I try and keep the Christianity-board focused for those groups who share those doctrines, in the broadest sense possible.

The language of say "indoctrinated" Christianity versus Gnostic Christianity are completely different - they may reference similar scriptures, but the theological references are completely different, so far as I understand.

This means a single board enveloping traditional and Gostic Christian viewpoints is going to be plain confusing, with both extremes feeling cramped and stepping on toes, whether intended or no.

This is why I try to divert the esoteric discussions to the Esoteric board, as then the discussions can follow whatever broad base of reference as needed, without anyone feel that their viewpoint is being impinged.

Hopefully that helps. :)

ADDED: Another point is that we do try to keep the Christian board as broad as possible - the sphere is so diverse and often exclusively so, that I think we'll always see some form of tensions there between traditionals and modernists - ie, conservative and liberal - but so long as they are using the same shared points of references, at least they can follow the same arguments in the discussions. With esoteric Christianity, there's a whole different frame of reference that isn;t really shared, hence the distinction.
 
In considering Wil's points, I would agree with everything he's said, and a couple of things come to mind - which are really separate points entirely.

One is that although there will always be the more orthodox or conservative elements within Christianity, most inquiring followers of that faith now can accept that the four canonical Gospels are not the only legitimate Gospels ... and may even be as arbitrarily picked as by playing pin the tail on the donkey.

The Apocryphal teachings and such recent finds as the Gospel of Judas - which has obviously stimulated more discussion on the Xian forum than any single thread in quite some time - all belong on the Christian forum, proper, and not on Pagan anything, imho. Certainly the notion that these writings are equally as legitimate as the other books of the Bible can now be accepted by many if not most individuals (Christian or otherwise) ... unless we really are still living in the dark ages, with Inquisition ruling, heretics going to the donjons, and the likes of Bishop Irenaeus deciding for us on a whim, what is holy and what is not.

My second point is that Pagan Esoteric is not quite how I think of myself, and in fact, it is a rather Christian-centric definition that could be seen as simply applying to anyone not Christian. Webster defines `Pagan' thus:
1 : [SIZE=-1]HEATHEN [/SIZE]1; especially : a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)
2 : one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods : an irreligious or hedonistic person
3 : [SIZE=-1]NEO-PAGAN[/SIZE]
Even according to the last definition, I am apparently "a person who practices a contemporary form of paganism (as Wicca)" - and frankly, this just doesn't fit!

My suggestion would be to consider establishing a main board with the heading Wisdom Traditions, either as a new board, or possibly in an effort to reorganize some of the existing ones. The number of individuals who consider themselves students of the "Ageless Wisdom," or one or another of the Wisdom Traditions, is quite large, and this category could potentially include discussions (or sub-forums) on the Eleusinian/Greek Mysteries, the Egyptian Traditions, Atlantean/Lemurian/Lost Civilizations (possibly part of a larger sub-set?), the Masonic/Rosicrucian/Hermetic Traditions, Theosophical Movement (and 20th/21st Century Movements), and more.

I could provide additional input, but only after more coffee and more contemplation. In one sense, it doesn't bother me too much that if i want to post something along these lines at present, I must go to PAGAN, and choose a sub-forum of that board. But this seems an appropriate time to bring this idea up, so that's my 2 cents ...

cheers!

andrew
 
I said:
Hopefully that helps. :)

no, it does not help. this comes up every month & you listen to yourself instead of what the people are saying. members offer good advice & suggestions & you render lip service & push them away. Gnosticism is not a pagan religion, while doctrinated christianity does have some pagan influences & thought.
if a group uses completely different material, then they need a place to discuss that material. drawing a different conclusion from the same material is quite a bit different than using different sources.
it is not as complicated as you make it.

Hopefully that helps. :)
 
I said:
Generally gnostics and esoterics very much distance themselves from basic Christian doctrines, so I try and keep the Christianity-board focused for those groups who share those doctrines, in the broadest sense possible.

The language of say "indoctrinated" Christianity versus Gnostic Christianity are completely different - they may reference similar scriptures, but the theological references are completely different, so far as I understand.
I agree, Brian. The beliefs "mainstream" Christianity holds about "God the Father" and the beliefs some Gnostics hold regarding the "Demiurge" are quite different {to say the least, :eek: } and could be a potential point of great strife, which is the very reason why you have employeed the "walled garden" approach here at CR, when it comes to doctrines. Perhaps a sub-board on the comparative religion board specifically dedicated to examining, interpreting, and discussing scriptures might be helpful, in a similar manner that the Interfaith Parsha Project discusses different Hebrew scriptures on a set schedule. Just a suggestion. :)
 
taijasi said:
One is that although there will always be the more orthodox or conservative elements within Christianity, most inquiring followers of that faith now can accept that the four canonical Gospels are not the only legitimate Gospels ... and may even be as arbitrarily picked as by playing pin the tail on the donkey.

This very much underlines my point - there's nothing wrong with discussing apocryphal works, but when people state that traditional Christianity is inherently wrong, they are challenging Christianity full-stop.

When I first set up the forums, I always imagined the main problem would be Christians witnessing at the non-christians - but instead the greatest challenge has been dealing with non-Christians looking to tell how Christians how they should think. :)

taijasi said:
Certainly the notion that these writings are equally as legitimate as the other books of the Bible can now be accepted by many if not most individuals (Christian or otherwise) ... unless we really are still living in the dark ages,

Again, my point underlined - the Christianity board is for discussions of Christianity among Christians and interested non-Christians - it does not invite condemnation of Christianity from outside of that, and precisely why a walled garden approach is required.

taijasi said:
My second point is that Pagan Esoteric is not quite how I think of myself, and in fact, it is a rather Christian-centric definition that could be seen as simply applying to anyone not Christian.

That is actually a good point - that section used to be labelled as "Alternative". Would you suggest something like this would work better for you?
 
Bandit said:
no, it does not help. this comes up every month & you listen to yourself instead of what the people are saying. members offer good advice & suggestions & you render lip service & push them away. Gnosticism is not a pagan religion, while doctrinated christianity does have some pagan influences & thought.
if a group uses completely different material, then they need a place to discuss that material. drawing a different conclusion from the same material is quite a bit different than using different sources.
it is not as complicated as you make it.

Hopefully that helps. :)

I'm pretty sure I've dealt with repeated complaints from you in the past about non-Christians taking over the Christianity board and rubbishing it, to address such matters. Are you now saying that I shouldn't have listened to you and others who raised similar complaints then? :)

As I mentioned, there's always going to be a dynamic within the Christian board between Conservative and Liberal elements, and there's no attempt to try and stifle that - in fact, there's every attempt to try and be braod as possible. But at some point it needs differentiating if we have different expressions of Christianity arguing a point, as opposed to a free for all to condemn any kind of Christian belief or doctrine. The latter is what I'm trying to keep out from the Christianity board - a complete rejection of Christianity as a valid faith, no matter how its based.

Hopefully that helps a little more. :)
 
I said:
Hopefully this helps explain things better, but if you feel this needs updating, or else anything else about this isn't clear, please do feel free to ask.

Hopefully that helps a little more. :)

no, it still does not help DO or fix anything.
you completely miss the point every time.
 
taijasi said:
My second point is that Pagan Esoteric is not quite how I think of myself, and in fact, it is a rather Christian-centric definition that could be seen as simply applying to anyone not Christian.
I said:
That is actually a good point - that section used to be labelled as "Alternative". Would you suggest something like this would work better for you?
That would work fine for me ... but other designations might serve even better. I'll keep pondering it, and maybe other folks have some ideas, too.

I think the fact that I saw just about every Christian voice at CR (or a large portion of the most active folks) post on `Gospel of Judas' ... makes my first point fairly well. Using the word `orthodox' can be misleading, for obvious reasons, and perhaps I should have said conventional rather than conservative. But the end result is the same, something to the effect of: You don't see things like we do; you go sit over there. One hopes to avoid all traces of that type of spirit or attitude, while yet preserving the `Walled Garden' approach, and ensuring mutual respect.

Of course, some of this begs the very question of how, and whether, religions develop and evolve to begin with (!), since if they do not, imo, then like people, they can become empty, lifeless shells with only a vague semblance of the original inspiration that animated them! Obviously, that represents an extreme condition or possibility, and certainly its part of a meta-issue, while we're looking at something a bit more practical, imminent and down-to-earth at CR ... but if my point is valid/accurate, then I like to hope it also isn't completely irrelevant. ;)

And I do mean all this in a positive light ... :)

Namaskar,

andrew
 
Bandit said:
no, it still does not help DO or fix anything.
you completely miss the point every time.

I'm afraid you'll have to clearer, bandit - if you have a message between the lines I'm completely missing it.

What would you like to see that's different?
 
taijasi said:
I think the fact that I saw just about every Christian voice at CR (or a large portion of the most active folks) post on `Gospel of Judas' ... makes my first point fairly well. Using the word `orthodox' can be misleading, for obvious reasons, and perhaps I should have said conventional rather than conservative. But the end result is the same, something to the effect of: You don't see things like we do; you go sit over there. One hopes to avoid all traces of that type of spirit or attitude, while yet preserving the `Walled Garden' approach, and ensuring mutual respect.

Certainly the point I've tried to make is that just because a faith board represents a certain faith, that therefore persons outside that faith are precluded from discussions on such a board.

CR was very much built as a site to help people learn about different faiths, rather than critique them, and this is the ethic I've tried to continue from the main site to the forums.

That's why lots of universities actually link to CR - it's an educational resource that different people can take what they need from, and can only be supported so long as CR remains neutral to all faiths.

To help with this, I feel a need to help ensure that different areas of the forums protect the interests of those faith groups, to make them feel comfortable enough to post their views - and try and encourage plenty of room for different views via different boards.
 
I said:
That's why lots of universities actually link to CR - it's an educational resource that different people can take what they need from, and can only be supported so long as CR remains neutral to all faiths.

To help with this, I feel a need to help ensure that different areas of the forums protect the interests of those faith groups, to make them feel comfortable enough to post their views - and try and encourage plenty of room for different views via different boards.
I think that given the mission and structure, respectively, of CR as characterized by these two paragraphs (and by its Founder/Admin!) ... and given the way things run 98% of the time, there are really only very minor issues of organization and protocol that occasionally surface.

It's interesting and curious to me, that the four of us besides yourself, Brian, who are even discussing the various approaches to Christianity on this thread, seem to come at it from a slightly different viewpoint, each one of us! Yet there seems to be agreement on the need for some kind of change in structure, or designation. I almost wondered if a second board under Abrahamic might be able to treat the Gnostic/Esoteric/non-conventional aspects of Christianity ... but I'm not sure that would fit, unless similar boards for the Kabbalistic aspects of Judaism, and the Sufi aspects of Islam, also appeared!

As I glance at the structure again (and this is my other point), I do think that both Esoteric(ism) and Mysticism belong under a different category than Paganism. Magick probably does belong there, at least if it's spelled that way. And besides, how much sense does it make, if when asked one's religious beliefs one replies, "I'm a Magician!" :p

To compare, though, it doesn't make any more sense to me if I say, "I'm a mystic," or "I'm into mysticism," and for you to say, "Oh, so you're a pagan!" And when I say, "I'm an Esotericist," this is equally out of place, especially if I were to say, "I follow the tradition of Esoteric Christianity."

Just trying out a few things; not sure if any of it helps. lol

cheers,

andrew
 
I said:
This very much underlines my point - there's nothing wrong with discussing apocryphal works, but when people state that traditional Christianity is inherently wrong, they are challenging Christianity full-stop....

When I first set up the forums, I always imagined the main problem would be Christians witnessing at the non-christians - but instead the greatest challenge has been dealing with non-Christians looking to tell how Christians how they should think. :)

Again, my point underlined - the Christianity board is for discussions of Christianity among Christians and interested non-Christians - it does not invite condemnation of Christianity from outside of that, and precisely why a walled garden approach is required.

That is actually a good point - that section used to be labelled as "Alternative". Would you suggest something like this would work better for you?
And you inturn are making our point...We follow Christ! Just because we don't believe that the bible was written by the finger of G-d, or make G-d in our image...just because we like to read the layers of understanding underlying scripture...history, metaphysical, mystical, numerology....doesn't mean we don't value the book....dispite its fallacies.

This information is discussed in not just in New Thought churches, but Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic and Jesuit churches and institutes of higher learning. Your old alternative section was under pagan...

And Tali's note regarding Kabbala and Sufi...I think we Christians that didn't come to break the law but fully support the essence of the law, that don't worship Christ yet strive to follow his teachings....I think we may be more brothers and sisters to the Kabbalists and the Sufists...although I don't know how they'd feel about getting lumped in the same forum.

But if this is to be a place where we can discuss...tis obvious that we have disagreements with the orthodox or conservative...and we can't all comforatably fit.

.................

Lastly it is my understanding that I can go into any walled garden at CR, Muslim, Hindu whatever...as long as I am respectful... and have a desire to learn from those 'citizens'...
 
Fair points, Taj - Bruce has already suggested the Esoteric board under the Abrahamic Faiths section.

Wil, I think there's plenty of room for liberal interpretations of Christianity on the Christianity section - I certainly don't think it's a conservative-only board. :)

It's just that there are degrees of separation from traditional Christianity - some who wholeheartedly embrace its traditional root, others within who openly question elements of it, but then there will always be outside observers.

I don't want to invalidate the opinions of any group - merely try and provide the greatest opportunity to have the most constructive discussions
 
seattlegal said:
The beliefs "mainstream" Christianity holds about "God the Father" and the beliefs some Gnostics hold regarding the "Demiurge" are quite different {to say the least, :eek: } :)

along with Monad, Nag Hammadi, Sethiamsim, Mandeism, Platonism, Marsans, Mani...

but nobody is home.
 
If I am reading Brian correctly, it is a matter of organization. We've been all through this before, a couple of times as I recall, trying to organize the boards in the least offensive yet most effective way. And every set up looked at had its drawbacks, there was simply no way to satisfy everybody.

Consider, if the Abrahamic board were expanded, then what too of Rastafari, Baha'i, and a few others who are peripherally monotheistic or allude to it.

What do we do? Create new boards for everybody that comes along? Do we also create a board for the "star wars/"force" religion? I mean, in terms of organization, Brain faces a bit of a nightmare any way he turns.

I appreciate Taj and Wil's concerns, perhaps some form of accomodation could be made by virtue of the fact there is *now* sufficient input from contributors to esoteric Christianity, but for a long time there was little contribution that was openly called such. However, there still remains the matter of "clash of opinions" that frequents discussions where mainstream and esoteric Christianity collide. I do what I can to smooth the edges, but the "attitude" flows *both* ways. One must admit, it is not always the mainstreamers that initiate the attitude. In this, Brian is most correct.

Perhaps esoteric Christianity is not best placed under the Pagan board, yet considering what we have to work with, I think it was a viable solution at the time it was done.

The "walled garden" idea, though taking a while to set in my own reasoning, seems to me the most amicable under the circumstances. When I wish contribution from disparate sources, which is usually for me, I take my thoughts to the more general boards as an invitation. If my thoughts are localized to Christianity specifically, I take them to the Christianity board. On those rare occasions when I wish input from a different faith board, I take my comments to the specific board with the understanding that I am a guest in their garden, and behave accordingly. I do not argue if I disagree. I take my disagreements with me when I leave.

My two cents, for all they are worth. :)

FWIW, I have not contributed, nor intend to contribute, to the Judas thread. Unless there is some need of my services.

As a suggestion, perhaps the esoteric Christians could begin their own Judas thread, in the appropriate forum, where esoteric connotations can be freely explored without concern of mainstream interruption?
 
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taijasi said:
One is that although there will always be the more orthodox or conservative elements within Christianity, most inquiring followers of that faith now can accept that the four canonical Gospels are not the only legitimate Gospels ... and may even be as arbitrarily picked as by playing pin the tail on the donkey.

As much as I welcome and enjoy the input from all of our members on the Christianity board, including 'alternative Christian' views, I think this is an example of what tends to get those posts in trouble. Not picking on you here Taij, but the above paragraph is somewhat offensive, even to moderate to liberal Christians, IMO. Frankly, my opinion is that you can say in the Christian forum that you don't agree that the four Gospels are the only legitimate ones, and discuss it respectfully, but to imply that *most* other Christians agree with you and also in an insulting manner, well, that's crossing the line.

As to the organization of the board, well, I tend to be a lumper rather than a splitter. I'd rather see us all in the same forum talking cordially to each other (even when we disagree) rather than all off in our separate corners ignoring each other.

2 c,
lunamoth

disclaimer: this view is only my view as a member of this forum who happens to enjoy posting in the Christianity forum.
 
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Also, for what it's worth, I've seen things like UU and other alternative Christian forms put under the heading of Syncretic Religions. This might be better than Esoteric Christianity, which Thomas has pointed out elsewhere also has a distinctive yet still quite orthodox meaning.

luna
 
lunamoth said:
Also, for what it's worth, I've seen things like UU and other alternative Christian forms put under the heading of Syncretic Religions. This might be better than Esoteric Christianity, which Thomas has pointed out elsewhere also has a distinctive yet still quite orthodox meaning.

luna
No offense intended, and you're not the only one who likes to group folks together, luna. I, too, would rather see the connections, yet I have never even heard of the word syncretic until a few months ago, in these discussions with yourself and Thomas. I can assure you, quite a few folks will likewise find themselves running to Websters just to understand what that forum/board is all about! I'm sure the same is true when folks toss around words like Soteriology and epistemology ... but then, there aren't any forums that are that particular or focused at CR ...

The Lightning Deva told me that this is enough ... (passing through my area as he is) :eek:

Namaskar,

andrew
 
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