Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review: ChristoPaganism

In the minds of some people I know, everything about Christianity is crystal clear. The Bible is literally true and divinely inspired. We can only be saved through Jesus. Some even really believe that the universe was created in six of our days and is about six thousand years old. Astrology is tolerated if it's the superficial newspaper kind, and tarot is right out, what with the risk of demonic possession and all. There's Christianity, and everything else, a.k.a. Paganism, with exceptions for Judaism and possibly Islam. If you happen to be one of those people (and if so, what are you doing here in the first place), you may as well just hit the "Back" button now. What follows will only offend you. Still here? Anyway, you've been warned.

There doesn't seem to be any room in this view for any common ground with other religions, especially under the literal interpretation of Christianity and its Holy Book. But as we grow beyond the literal interpretation, and read about other traditions, we do find some common ground. This is the subject of ChristoPaganism: an Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higginbotham. The book explores some common factors (and, yes, there are some) between Christianity and Paganism, but mostly talks about people who include elements of both paths in their spiritual practices.

Let's talk about paths for a minute. As most of you who have been following along know, there's just one ultimate goal: realization of unity with the Divine. The Christian Hermetic path, which I'm following, is just one way to reach this goal. The Christian Mystic path is just as valid, as are others. What's more, the paths approach each other as they move toward the top of the mountain.

But back to the book. The most interesting part is the second half, which has interviews with people who are following various combined paths. They talk about their backgrounds, their current path, and how they reconcile the two components. There's an interesting anecdote from one of the authors that I'd like to discuss briefly. She was giving a talk about Paganism to a class in a Catholic school and was asked to explain what immanence meant. She compared it to the Consecration of the Host in the Catholic Mass, which deeply offended the teacher, because the author was comparing the most holy part of the mass to a pagan concept. On reading this, I smelled a rat and did a Google search on "immanence catechism". Sure enough, it was there. The teacher, of course, should have known this. I only mention this because one of my pet peeves is people who have strongly-voice opinions on subjects they know little to nothing about.

So what's my opinion on the subject on the book? It's best expressed by a quote from The 21 Lessons of Merlyn: A Study in Druid Magic and Lore: "the one God has many faces."

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