Showing posts with label Cultures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cultures. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

When Religion Was What It Should Be

Crusades, terrorism, and oppressive theocratic dictatorships. These are the things that commonly come to mind today when people think of widespread religion, mainly because we are so used to seeing the dominant religions, which are based on oppression, wreak havoc on the world. A fringe element of radical Muslims committed the worst terrorist attack on American soil, and only our Constitution stops radical Christians from using the government to force everyone into their way of life.

It's almost as if you have to rally against religion if you want to be a freedom fighter, or at least stand against the militant elements of it. However, religion was not always like this, which is something that Pagans and Polytheists like myself are trying to teach and bring back to humanity. Religion was not about imposition in ancient times, nor did it possess so much insecurity that one culture couldn't stand another simply because they had a different religion. Ancient man found himself more than able to live harmoniously in a diverse world. Of course his own culture had its own theology and customs, but there was never any reason conceived to force the entire world into the same way of life. When a Greek visited Egypt, for example, they didn't demand that the Egyptians worship the Greek Gods instead, and abandon their own culture. 

When I was in my first year of college in 2008 back in North Carolina, my philosophy and writing class held a discussion on the history of religion and spirituality. At one point, a girl across from me said that ancient religion was the way religion was supposed to be. It was about a man, woman, or community worshiping their Gods, so that the City, sea, fields, etc, would produce the good and productive things of life for them. 

Only later when I became a Hellenist did I fully understand where she was coming from. Hellenists worship the Gods because it brings bliss to our lives, and shows our proper reverence for the Higher Powers. We simply love and also respect our Gods. Even to this day, we are perfectly content in our own skin, and do not concern ourselves with the fact that other people may have a different theology. 

The admission of monotheism was really the time when religion became globally weaponized, especially when governments realized the great ability that religions like Christianity had to control massive amounts of people. Even though religion had changed, mostly by force, it still retained an ultimate place of importance in people's lives, especially as time went on and the newer generations could be lied to about how their ancestors were converted, and governments were not ignorant of this. They found that they were able to use the new religions and their orthodoxies to produce any kind of obedience, war or wealth they so desired.

However, theology itself was, and is, about the Divine and the human experience of it. It's not about a system of oppression. I don't normally think about it when I walk through my temple doors, but it should be a revelation that I don't walk through them for the same reason I did church doors when I was a Christian. It's not my hope that the world bows to me, but that I find the Gods in my life. If we as the human race could but understand the simple truth that this is the goal of human religion and spirituality, we would never again fall.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.