Sunday, June 14, 2009

IPVBM 2009: #1 Proselytization

When I was driving home from work the other day I saw a not so unfamiliar sight along the side of the road. A man, riding a bike wearing black dress pants, a perfectly white short sleeve dress shirt with a black tie, helmet, and backpack. I'm sure I knew who he was as people dressed similar to him are often seen biking along the road of this area. Who was he you ask? He was probably a Mormon out doing what Mormon's do in my area which is awkwardly ride bikes in dress clothes up and down the street, delivering pizza. Just kidding. He was probably out fulfilling his duties as a young Mormon boy by spreading the words of Joseph Smith to the local masses. This made me begin to think about proselytization and how its not really a Neo-Pagan practice and I would even say that it is generally looked down upon in the Neo-Pagan communities. Meaning as Neo-pagans we don't try and convert people who are not Neo-Pagans, or do we?
Most of us would say no we don't proselytize as a community, but how many of us who say and think this have not at one time argued or discussed the blatant pagan symbolism and themes found in Easter and Christmas with someone who was a Christian? I know I have been guilty of this in the past and whether we like it or not I would say that by doing this we are to a small degree proselytizing. Because by doing so we are poking holes in another faith's tradition and practices to reveal a 'truth.' We may not be trying to get them to accept a particular deity, pantheon, or religious tradition, but by yanking some of the rug out from under them we are attacking and degrading the fabric of what they know and enjoy about their religion.
So, though proselytization is not a direct practice or religious obligation found in the many forms of Neo-Pagan traditions, and is typically something that is not approved of in Neo-Paganism in general, we may, at times, find ourselves engaged in such behavior as a result of the zeal we have for our faith and the lingering issues we may still harbor with the faith/s which we have since converted from. It's important to not allow our zeal to get the best of us and, despite what we know or think, to keep from addressing the understanding of others if doing so serves our own interests more than theirs.
And now a test: Did you ever notice how Easter is on a different day every year? The date for Easter is found according to the Full Moon. Easter is always on the first sunday, after the first Full Moon, after the Spring Equinox!
Try and not tell a Christian that one.
This has been a test of the Neo-Pagan Anti-Proselytization Movement!

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