There’s a whole load of things I’d like to write about, and I’m having trouble choosing one that I think I can get done in the time I have at present. With any luck, all will be addressed as the weeks of November process onwards, but today’s still a bit of a question mark…So, I’ll go with this one.
Various people have written about Teo Bishop’s “revelation” (so to speak!) on The Wild Hunt yesterday.
I’m sure many modern pagans and polytheists are upset at this. I personally have no love for nearly all forms of institutional Christianity, and I think that monotheism is one of the most destructive and insidious notions that has ever occurred in human history.
However, in Teo’s case, I wish him well, and I think this may actually be a really good thing. I say that not because I like Teo (although I do, and have enjoyed speaking with him on the occasions where we’ve been able to), but because I think getting to Jesus through paganism might actually be a “right way ’round” sort of maneuver that is to be encouraged–and I say this in all seriousness.
While not all pagans and polytheists agree on this, I don’t really have a problem with the figure of Jesus; I personally don’t think he existed historically as he is portrayed in the Christian writings about him, nor do I think he need have existed on the earth at all, but I do affirm that some spiritual being that goes by that name does, indeed, exist, and isn’t necessarily what people say he is. (The same is true of his ostensible father, Iao Sabaoth, even though nearly everything Christians have said about that god is false.) One can accept the reality of a particular divine being without accepting what the purported followers of that being espouse in their theologies. In fact, that methodology is so common amongst pagans that it is second-nature to us. I can’t tell you how many pagans have said over the years that such-and-such deity is “more than” or “different than” or “has evolved from” what was said of them in the past, often by their actual devotees and people who had interacted with said deity to whatever extent in the past. If we do this all the time for Isis and Loki and Shiva and Kali and Amaterasu-Omikami and Brigit and Antinous, then why not for Jesus, too?
So, Teo has indicated that what may result from all of this is a kind of blended religious practice, a Christo-Paganism as many have called it previously. I don’t have a problem with this, as long as it doesn’t end up being monotheistic or monistic, and subordinating all other deities to the “One God” of Christianity. There is nothing which says that the Christo-Paganism of any given person needs to accept a monotheistic theology, or to prioritize Christian views on any given subject. (Indeed, the prevailing Christian thoughts on queerness of various sorts are nothing to emulate or admire, for starters.) Thank all the gods that there is no such thing as the Christo-Pagan pope, and that people can take that particular path as experientially as they wish to, and can avoid the worst excesses of creedalism in doing so. Getting to a religious viewpoint that has Jesus as an important part of its practice from the viewpoint of paganism or polytheism is a good thing, I think, because even knowing that there is as much diversity amongst divinity as there is before evaluating Jesus within such frameworks gives a lot more options and a great deal more freedom to those theological viewpoints than has been the case with almost all of modern Christianity, and that has to be construed as a positive step, I think.
Thus, I wish Teo, with all sincerity, the very best of luck with whatever comes in the future on his path. You shall always be welcome under my roof and at my table, wherever it may be!