I’ll say this much for Sam Webster — he’s sparked some interesting discussions in the community.
First off, there’s this comment by Michael Sebastian Lùx left on an earlier post here at The House of Vines that summarizes the situation nicely:
The more I read and follow Mr. Webster’s writings, the more I wonder what Christianity he’s been smoking. Seriously not the kind that filters up through the filters of the censers and toward the celestial spheres and hierarchies accompanied by the chants of the faithful, nor is it the kind that smells like a sultry, hot summer’s day around a barbeque with gospel, catfish and watermelon. It’s not the flashy lights, bad make-up and salvation via television, nor the bombastic debates between theologians throughout the ages. It’s definitely not a poor woman praying in church in piety and doesn’t even have the same integrity of the Westboro hatemongers who at least stick to their banners and protest signs. I don’t know the God he’s talking about, I don’t know the monolithic church he feebly tries to assail.
Jason Mankey offers one of the most comprehensive deconstructions and rebuttals of Webster’s hateful screed I’ve yet encountered:
History is written by conquerors, I get that. The most common forms of Christianity look rather intolerant, but it wasn’t always that way. Sam is basically saying that if you are a Pagan who follows/worships Jesus you are limited to only the (canonical) New and Old Testaments. There were probably hundreds of gospels at one point in the development of Christianity, and many of them suggested radical and completely different cosmologies from what would become orthodox Christianity. It’s certainly difficult to be a Catholic Christian and a Pagan (though that doesn’t stop adherents of Santeria or Voudun from mixing the two faiths), but the tapestry of Christianity is far more complex than Webster is willing to admit.
Soliwo questions whether Sam has got the right enemies in mind:
Sam Webster states that the system of Christianity is the enemy. In a way I can sympathise with this statement. I think many Pagans are involuntarily influenced by ages and ages of Christian history. Galina Krasskova has written often and eloquently about ridding herself from ‘the monotheist filter’, this heritage of Christianity. In no unsure words, she calls it a war. To be honest, her writing often makes me highly uncomfortable. But, in essence, I do believe a world without extreme monotheism would be a better world. And I do believe that is important for us Pagans and polytheists to examine our automatic thinking and its origins. The monotheistic word view is a my enemy of sorts.
However, Sam Webster does not only declare war on the system of Christianity, he also seems intend to declare war on those Pagans (who in his mind, are fake pagans) who include any element of Christian heritage in their Pagan practice. These Pagans are declared infiltrators and enemies of our religion.
Thankfully Ruadhán is here to remind us who are true enemies are — Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Warboar lays down some much-needed advice:
Look, I get that people have had traumatic experiences with various forms of Monotheism, but stop whining about it, and stop yelling at Pagans and Polytheists for venerating Saints, or incorporating Arthurian elements into their religious worldview, or worshiping Jesus, El, YHVH, or Whomever if and when they want to. It’s become more than a bit tiresome, and it’s not accomplishing anything worthwhile. Many Polytheists (myself included) who are attempting to construct historically-informed religious traditions based on Ancient models don’t want anachronistic Monotheist interpretations and practices mucking up the Theology. That’s perfectly understandable. But ragging on Christo-Pagans? Come on. They’re not hurting you, or me, or anyone else. They already have the syncretist “warning sign” in the title, and they’re not forcing any of us to join their particular party. They’re hardly a “threat” to Paganism and Polytheism.
And Sarenth discusses the unexpected directions that ancestor-veneration can lead us into:
In the last two years my Catholic Ancestors have raised Their Voices and let Themselves be known much stronger than previous. It seems now, in addition to speaking for my long-Dead Ancestors, that I must speak for and with the Catholic ones as well. When They first began contacting me, it was a cacophony of voices, questions like “Why did you stop going to church? Do you not like Fr. ___ anymore?” and “You can still pray with us, yes? (or ja?, dependent on the Ancestor)?” and many others. Their Catholic identity was so strong and intrinsic to Their Being that They carried it over with some part of Them into Death. If Their Catholicism is as deep, powerful, and purposeful a presence in Their life as Paganism is in mine, that it lasts well after They have crossed over, who am I to argue with Their spirits?
From Dr. R’s Religious Ramblings comes this, blazing with truth:
I do believe in Jesus, who was born of the virgin Mary, hypostasis of the Feminine Divine. I believe that the Christ Consciousness, or something like it, descended upon him at his baptism, after which he spent 40 days in the desert, grappling with it. He came out of the desert and began his teaching. Having enraged the mortal authorities, he was crucified, died and was buried. He rose again after the second night, which no prophet ever foresaw, because that’s what Dying Gods do. He ascended into heaven and while his orthodox worshipers wait for him to return and take revenge on everyone who was mean to them in high school, he won’t. He remains ever present through his teachings and whenever bread and wine are broken and consumed in his memory. My ancestors worshiped and still worship him, I consider his words when I’m dealing with others and I have a picture of the Sacred Heart on my ancestral altar. He did not die for my sins, and I don’t need salvation because of the crime of some mythical proto-ancestor. I am not a Christian, and if you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t either.
Lady Imbrium compares Christian and Pagan ways of being social:
You know something though? I think we draw closer to each other AND our various gods/spirits/guides in this more laid-back approach to community. We’re building and reaffirming relationships, and isn’t that what it’s about?
Sihathor has the radical notion that people should be treated the way you want to be treated:
In the context of my epiphany, if Kemetism is that open temple for me, then to some extent, other people’s religions are similar, for those other people. I don’t throw rocks at people for visiting so-and-so’s house rather than staying home like some shut-in.
This one’s a bit older and not a direct response to Mr. Webster, but here’s a piece by Galina on how mystics speak the same tongue:
It was the mystic poets of a dozen different traditions that helped me learn to love Odin well. When He first came for me, I had counsel from Loki but there is a great chasm of being between the experiences of a God and the experience of being human. I didn’t always know how to translate that well into the everyday practice of loving Him. While I instinctively knew that terror and being opened up beyond what i thought i could bear was part of what He brought, learning to carry that passion, that claiming, learning to live the life of one owned by a God whose name is furor in my every day life was not so easy.