Imaginary Rainforests

Posted: August 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Atheists are fine. I like atheists.

Atheists intruding in religious dialog and community for the sake of converting and/or destroying them, I do not like.

I have dedicated a significant portion of my life to worldly scholarship and knowledge, and do not in any way begrudge those for whom focus on these or related things is a legitimate calling.

That said? Atheists making statements about theistic religion being problematic because of moral behavior and bettering our world, speaking from a place of erasing the possibility of the gods (and reducing them down to archetypes or hallucinations) sound a lot like this:

“Rainforest preservation activists really concern me. If they cared so much about making the world a better place, why are they so driven to protect a thing I’ve never visited, seen, or experienced? I don’t think I am alone in stating that the rainforest is a complete fantasy, and that our American society has obviously progressed beyond the novelty of needing fantastical temperate and tropical forests whose precipitation can be fancifully measured at between 250 and 450 centimeters annually. With our sophisticated methods of thought, philosophy, education, empirical understanding of rational nature, and el nino, we no longer need to cling to desperate ecological magics such as the myth of the rainforest. Instead we should draw upon the vivid imagery of pop-up books and Kipling’s colonialist noble savagery in order to — as rational human beings manifesting a mature stewardship of our own futures — use them as metaphoric models of our own collective rainforest, which is born obviously of mythic consciousness colliding with the tears of our lost innocence. I am deeply concerned for the psychiatric welfare of people who write seriously about rainforests as though they are real. Tell me: do you truly believe this, rainforest activists? Surely you mean these words only as symbolic reference, yes? You’re not so much a nutter as to truly believe in rainforests, or magical beasts like the jaguar and the tapir or the mythic anaconda? And, besides, if the only way that a person can engage with their world in an active and moral way is to seek to serve a place that does not really exist, they are causing great harm. What has this “rainforest” ever done for humans? How does it solve the real issues in the real world, like poverty and insurance lawyers who co-opt religious dialog in mic-stealing spot-light theft in order to futilely fend off gnawing insecurities and profound doubt in their own petty life choices? Let’s focus on the the real world. The one without rainforests.”

It turns out that a person can still respect rainforest activism without having been to one.

  1. hjorhrafn says:

    This is a great observation. I’ve never liked gatecrashers. Debates are great. Coming into my home and blatantly disrespecting my beliefs because you think I’m too much of a simpleton to have given them any thought however is just poor form.

  2. Beautifully done! (No surprises there…!?!)

    I am thinking in my WPR talk, when I mention those who sponsored by campaign at the beginning in thanks, I may especially talk about how he has financially supported the polytheist restoration by his generous contributions…and given that he is likely to be in the audience, that might cause a bit of a reaction. 😉

    • Ha. No, I think it would be FAR more effective to simply ignore the fellow, and perhaps give him back his money. It’s blood money, after all.

      • Yes…I’m going to do some divination…

        Funnily enough, IndieGoGo just stated that as of Sept. 1, they will be allowing contributors to campaigns to get refunds themselves/easier, rather than having to go through a major process to get them. It might make it easier if he withdraws it himself…but who knows? I could try and piss him off enough meanwhile that he takes it back himself; but if there were a quick way to give it back on my end, that would be good, too.

  3. Joe Bloch says:

    Someone’s been reading Patheos Pagan channel again. 🙂

    Couldn’t agree more.

    • I haven’t actually read that particular character’s writing in two years or whatever. But I’m still tracking what is being said, and by whom, and what damage it is doing.

      The irresponsibility of Neo-Pagan bloggers never ceases to amaze me. When I am writing, I am writing for two audiences, and two audiences alone:

      1) Practitioners identified as Polytheists of polytheistic religious traditions who are looking to expand their dialogs and understandings of their religious approaches and theistic necessities.

      2) Newcomers to both polytheistic religion and Polytheist identity, whether out of Neo-Paganism or not, who are looking to put their feet on some firm ground upon which to grow and understand both polytheistic religious approaches and Polytheist identity (e.g. a fully embodied world-view which holds in religious affirmation the existence of many gods).

      I’m not looking to rain on any other group or movement’s parade or shit in anybody’s cornflakes. I am not seeking to alter the trajectory of, say, mainstream Neo-Pagan thoughts on ritual foundations, or an anarchist’s approach to discussing socio-political matters. What I -am- looking to do, quite directly, is protect the rational and necessary bounds of the subject of polytheism itself, that those who stumble upon these discussions online — as they will exist here forever — might find clarity rather than harmful confusion, toward the answers that rise for them in the dead of the night when the gods begin to whisper or shriek in such a way that it is known that the approaches supplied to them by other cultures and ways of understanding simply are inadequate to the task of survivability under such encounters. Or, you know, those who, absent such awesome encounters, STILL are called to genuine and embodied polytheistic traditions and affirmed theistic approaches.

      I’d like really strongly for their to -be- an accessible polytheistic resource available.

      Certain humanist atheopathic cultural eugenicists would do away with that, directly, just as their Mormon forbearers rise each day to stamp out other religions through “mission work”. But it isn’t just those who pose damaging threat to the accessible and life-saving polytheistic resources that I am discussing: it is any who would with crowbar in hand attempt to leverage open the core meaning behind these most basic of terms — polytheistic, polytheism, Polytheist — in attempt to rewire their power (meant for life-saving religious affirmation, identity, and meaningful connection with others of like religious regard) to some other cause, politick or agenda.

      • hjorhrafn says:

        This is absolutely what we need more of. More strong, honest talk. While I understand definitions change, I absolutely can’t understand the almost Orwellian double-speak some people will go through in order to twist a symbol/word to suit their agenda. Words have meaning and power.

        I’ve been a Heathen for almost twenty years. For most of that time, I’ve mostly stayed away from other pagans. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I ran across your blog and Patheos Pagan and really started reading about the (online) pagan culture again. The idea that there are people that would consider themselves atheopagans had never crossed my mind. I don’t begrudge anyone their beliefs, but I expect the same from them.

        • Likewise in a lot of respects, here. I was -never- a Pagan, nor did I in any way with Neo-Pagan Culture or traditions. I am a Thracian Polytheist, and I’ve been doing that for decades; I avoided Neo-Pagan culture was I avoided -all- social scenes, as what they were doing was clearly not in any way related to what I was doing. During that time I had a reputation for my abilities as a spirit-worker, services offered, and insights available for greater outreach than the behind-the-scenes things I’ve been doing. (For example, my prison chaplaincy has nothing to do with Neo-Paganism at all.)

          I was dragged out of my cave in only the most recent of years and “exposed” to Neo-Paganism. I was immediately met with two really contradictory things: 1) Neo-Pagans were REALLY insistent that I was a Pagan, what I was doing was Pagan, and I was wrong if I said otherwise (as I had been doing for all those years, and continue to do now). 2) Neo-Pagans really wouldn’t let me leave, once I’d been exposed. It’s like Hotel California: once you make the mistake of visiting, YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE.

          I’m socially related to the neo-pagan festival cycles and online communities in a sort of fringe way, I suppose, but my religion is NOT a part of Neo-Paganism or the “Big Tent”, despite insistences to the contrary. And now that I’ve “stepped in it”, I can’t seem to scrape it off the bottom of my boot. And a lot of things are now being done using language and ideas that I either coined myself or helped — through writing or behind the scenes work — to popularize and define, which are damaging and destructive to polytheisms over all. I’ve never not been a Polytheist, and did not convert to these ways or world-views from some earlier thing, nor did I arrive here through Neo-Paganism.

          …and yet now my religion is (in essence, though not specifically named) being attacked by an atheist who somehow has the same claim to religious validity as people with actual religions and affirmed theologies?

          What the fuck.

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