A member of a local e-group posted a link to this article — Protocol, Privilege and Monotheistic Arrogance.
Interfaith work. Most of us have strong feelings about it. Love, a sense of duty, frustration, hate, and sometimes all of the above.
I am a strong believer in interfaith work, but Galina Krasskova over at Witches and Pagans sums up something that’s been disturbing me for a while now:
“That’s really what unity is after all: it comes from the Latin word ‘unus’: one. It is an erasure of indigeny. It is an obliteration of the wondrous diversity of experience and divinity that characterizes polytheism. It is an extension of monotheistic domination. It’s just been prettied up. It’s been made politically correct. Words like ‘tolerance’ and ‘oneness’ have been slapped on it to present a facade palatable to the WASP and/or new age majority, a façade that precludes active engagement.
“… in the end, those who are working to restore their indigenous traditions need to ask themselves how much time, energy, and commitment they’re willing to take away from their ancestral ways to educate the impious, to educate those who don’t even think to question the status quo.”
Personally, I think interfaith work is valuable, but too often is allowed to eclipse the main focus of a spiritual practice. I’ve come to believe that there is no way to sanitize my spiritual practices so that they will be found acceptable to Mainstream America. Remember: the most vocal fundamental minority* here in the United States, the Southern Baptists, believe we’re all “going to hell,” and that they are doing us a kindness to breach the boundaries of common courtesy and respect for individual choice, in an effort to “save us.” And by “us,” I mean almost everyone else in the United States, not just us pagans. I’m not saying that as a meanness; just stating a truth.
In trying to present our various ways in a pallatable light, one needn’t go very far before the beauty and strength are stripped away from our practices. So these days, I focus my interfaith efforts on actively promoting courtesy and respect of the beliefs of others. You don’t have to believe like I do, and I don’t have to believe like you do. But we should be polite and affirming of each other’s right to the path of our choice. And hopefully not tell each other that we’re going to hell, or reincarnating as a stink bug.
I’m also spending more time on intrafaith work. Making opportunities for those who are genuinely interested in knowing what I find beautiful and powerful in my own practices. Working to keep myself open to the sacred, and to consciously remove the filters I discover within myself that have been pressed onto me by the paradigms of my childhood.
Otherwise, I’d just be throwing the baby out with the interfaith bath water.
*From the U.S. Government Census