Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dogmatic Dilemmas: Reclaiming Religion

Not so much in the Hellenic community, but far too often in the general Pagan community, I see the words "religion" and "worship" met with sour faces and cold shoulders. I think that far too many of us still have the dogmatic programming in our heads from certain people and places, and we associate these terms with it. We think that, to say we are religious or that we worship, is to say that we beg, plead and cry to a God for forgiveness for being human, that we follow rigid, dogmatic structure, and that we're all grouped together under a church or group authority and nothing more. We think these practices leave no room for personal truth, practice or understanding, and that we are reduced to nothing more than drones. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Certainly, some people in these categories may use the words "religion" or "worship," but if we look to our ancient ancestors, the origin of our spirituality, we find another story. 

Our ancestors were very much religious people and they very much worshiped their Gods. They did not see themselves as being equals to the Gods, but rather as their servants and beings to respect. To be religious is to have a practice, and to worship is to give reverence to your Gods, and I think it's a mistake to dismiss these terms and practices simply because we think we have to be inhuman and grovel. We also do not have to abandon our individuality and force ourselves into a group category just because we use these terms. Religion and worship is literally an umbrella category, holding all the many spiritual beliefs and practices within humanity. I myself have no problem using these terms to describe my practices. I don't even consider myself to have a word for religion or worship because they are part of everything I do in life.

We all practice religion and worship in one form or another. I know there are people out there who like to call themselves, "Spiritual but not Religious," but the two can rarely be separated. If you have any kind of regular practice, that's religion. If you've ever given offerings, prayers, or done a ritual, you are religiously practicing. If you give honor and reverence to your Gods, that is worship. Anytime you have any kind of structure whatsoever to your practice, you are being religious, even if it's your own structure entirely, and anytime you recognize Deity as worthy of your respect, admiration, reverence and service, you are engaging in an act of worship. We seem to have developed the fallacy that religion and worship must = dogma. It's just not the case.

No matter what one's religion is, or what their practices and beliefs are, they can use these terms without falling into dogmatic and personally oppressive categories.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

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