TERF Wars and Trans-terrorism
5 years ago
The principle of reciprocity provides the proper context to the much-misinterpreted Roman religious maxim do ut des, usually translated "I give that you may give." Too often, even by those alert to the complexities of Roman religion, this has been read as a commercial transaction in which Roman worshippers paid their gods in advance for some benefit.
This is unjust. What the maxim actually implies is the exchange of gifts as an expression of ancient rules of friendship and hospitality. Behind this conception lies a concept of an exchange of gifts between different orders of being as the bond that unites the universe. As Walter Burkert has pointed out, the exchange of gifts is among the foundations of human culture, and the sharing of food and the exchange of gifts remain important sources of interpersonal bonds even today.
Modern theorists of religion have wrestled with the habit of making gifts to gods, ancestors and spirits, on the assumption that there are no obvious returns on the investment. To ancient and modern Pagans alike, however, the assumption is transparently false. If such beings exist and govern the natural world, their gifts are as obvious as food and drink on the table, rain on the fields, fertility in the soil, and the fact of life itself. The gods are primarily and superlatively givers of good things, and the world in which life takes place is their gift to us.
In the same way, and for many of the same reasons, anything that is a source of benefit to human beings may be seen as a giver of gifts, and an appropriate recipient of reverence and offerings. This is the thinking behind Shinto habit . . . of worshipping the builders of irrigation systems as "water gods." The same principle underlies the Greek Pagan tradition, baffling to many modern scholars, of building temples and making offerings to abstract concepts -- Peace, Victory, Mercy, and the like. In modern India, where such ideas form one strand in the rich fabric of Hindu religion, musicians make offerings to their instruments and craftsmen to their tools in a similar spirit.
. . .
If Pagan gods are verbs, as the Christian god is sometimes said to be, the verbs in question are conjugation of "to give." Yet human beings and, indeed, all other entities have the capacity to give as well, and in giving, to imitate the gods.
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs -
Because Sophia over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
In their quest to bring the Christian religion to the pagan people of Western Europe, the Church cleverly incorporated existing festivals and rituals into the Christian calendar. One of the many correlations between ancient winter festivals and Christianity revolves around the older Celtic name for the festival of Alban Artuan – or the “Light of Winter”. When deciding where to put the Christian celebration of Jesus’s birth, it is little wonder that they chose this festival to herald the arrival of the “Light of the World” – a human beacon of hope and light into a time of darkness.
It is thought that pagans may have been the original “tree trimmers” as they brought greenery into the house as a symbol of life through the long dark nights. The evergreen was brought in and adorned with decorations to symbolise the various stellar objects that were important to them; the sun, the moon, the stars. These also served as gifts to the pagan gods.
Thanks in part to [a] bunker mentality, American Christianity has become . . . a “weak culture” — one that mobilizes but doesn’t convert, alienates rather than seduces, and looks backward toward a lost past instead of forward to a vibrant future. In spite of their numerical strength and reserves of social capital, . . . the Christian churches are mainly influential only in the “peripheral areas” of our common life. In the commanding heights of culture, Christianity punches way below its weight. [Cute phrase, huh?]
[T]his month’s ubiquitous carols and crèches notwithstanding, believing Christians are no longer what they once were — an overwhelming majority in a self-consciously Christian nation. The question is whether they can become a creative and attractive minority in a different sort of culture, where they’re competing not only with rival faiths but with a host of pseudo-Christian spiritualities, and where the idea of a single religious truth seems increasingly passé.
Or to put it another way, Christians need to find a way to thrive in a society that looks less and less like any sort of Christendom — and more and more like the diverse and complicated Roman Empire where their religion had its beginning, 2,000 years ago this week.
Now you may not know this about me, but I am the mythic Yuleclipse Fairy. I need you to know a few things.
Tuesday is a lunar eclipse. It will be visible from most of North America
Tuesday is also the Winter Solstice - the longest night.
Tuesday is the first night that a lunar eclipse has occured on a Winter Solstice in 456 years.
Tuesday is the day that you will be outside doing magic.
If you don't do something I will know and I will be displeased. You don't want to piss me off. Just get your lazy ass out there and meditate, cast a spell, dance a jig, do something!