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  1. #1
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    What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    At the end of June, I had the opportunity to attend the Wild Goose Festival down in North Carolina, a festival of progressive and emergent Christians interested in exploring social justice, peace, art, interfaith dialogue and Celtic spirituality. A friend of mine, the author Carl McColman (who used to be a Pagan and has since converted to Catholicism and studies as a contemplative and lay-monk) was one of the presenters at the festival, and one of the head organizers of the event was Gareth Higgins, who ran a Celtic Spirituality & Peacemaking retreat in Northern Ireland that I attended last summer.

    All in all, the event was really amazing, and even laid to rest my anxieties about being pretty much the only Pagan (other than my partner Jeff) among 1500+ Christians. Since getting back home, I've been thinking a lot about my experiences from the festival and what it taught me about the places where Pagans and Christians (especially progressive and emergent Christians) can really benefit from interfaith conversation with one another.

    So I decided to write a 3-part essay about the topic! I just posted the first part of the essay to my website, "3 Things Christians Can Learn from Pagans." In short, the three things I looked at were:
    1. Pagans can share with Christians a deeper understanding of the role of nature, wilderness and wildness in the spiritual life.
    2. Pagans can remind Christians to view time as a cyclical dance, and not simply as a linear history.
    3. Pagans can help Christians revive and restore a sense of enchantment and value in ritual and religious aesthetics.
    I wanted to invite TC folks to check out the essay (here) - hopefully it'll spark some good conversation and discussion! I think it's really important for Pagans to realize that not all Christians are the conservative/fundamentalist type. (One thing that really amazed me, for instance, was that the Publicity Coordinator for the festival found out I was coming, and bragged about it on their Facebook and Twitter pages. You know we're making progress when a Christian festival is excited about being "cool enough" for Pagans to attend. )

    Anyway, I plan on writing two more parts, "3 Things Pagans Can Learn from Christians" and "3 Things Pagans and Christians Can Work On Together." I can post links to those parts once they're up, if folks are interested!

    --Ali

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Thanks for sharing, Ali. I'm really looking forward to reading these. I've got the first essay bookmarked for later, so you won't hear from me for a while.
    Fight evil: read books.

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Finn View Post
    Thanks for sharing, Ali. I'm really looking forward to reading these. I've got the first essay bookmarked for later, so you won't hear from me for a while.
    LOL, well, all three of them are probably going to be quite long, so no worries!

    I can haz many opinions about Xtians plz?

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by Finn View Post
    Thanks for sharing, Ali. I'm really looking forward to reading these. I've got the first essay bookmarked for later, so you won't hear from me for a while.
    Ditto! I'm at work, but replying to this is way more important than data entry. I'll read in depth later and look forward to your next articles!

    Sage and Starshine (my spiritual blog): last updated 4/19, Some ramblings on depression and religion.
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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by AlisonLeighLilly View Post
    I can haz many opinions about Xtians plz?
    Ali is opinionated? Really?


    I kid of course: I like reading your opinions!
    Fight evil: read books.

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by AlisonLeighLilly View Post
    So I decided to write a 3-part essay about the topic! I just posted the first part of the essay to my website, "3 Things Christians Can Learn from Pagans." In short, the three things I looked at were:
    1. Pagans can share with Christians a deeper understanding of the role of nature, wilderness and wildness in the spiritual life.
    2. Pagans can remind Christians to view time as a cyclical dance, and not simply as a linear history.
    3. Pagans can help Christians revive and restore a sense of enchantment and value in ritual and religious aesthetics.
    I wanted to invite TC folks to check out the essay (here) - hopefully it'll spark some good conversation and discussion! I think it's really important for Pagans to realize that not all Christians are the conservative/fundamentalist type. (One thing that really amazed me, for instance, was that the Publicity Coordinator for the festival found out I was coming, and bragged about it on their Facebook and Twitter pages. You know we're making progress when a Christian festival is excited about being "cool enough" for Pagans to attend. )

    Anyway, I plan on writing two more parts, "3 Things Pagans Can Learn from Christians" and "3 Things Pagans and Christians Can Work On Together." I can post links to those parts once they're up, if folks are interested!

    --Ali
    I enjoyed the read.. Are the other parts still being written? Can't wait to read them. The first one I could definitely jump on board with but the other two take some thought; but I do enjoy having things to think about :D

    I do view time non-linerly but not necesarily so much in terms of cycles such as pagans might; it'll be something interesting to talk about.. I do have an appreciation for the changing of the seasons but havent connected to it spiritually more than having a part of deep refection, meditation, and thanksgiving..

    About aethetics; I would think it would depend on the denomination of christianity.. "High Church" denominations would have less of a problem with it while some protestant churches are less inclinded to have ornateness of spiritual expression ..heh.. for lack of a better way of putting that.. I am a crafter and artist of sorts and about half to most of what I produce has some sort of religious symbolism in it.. I have a clover triquetra tattoo on my right arm that I designed..

    thanks for the insight to reflect upon..
    I don't know but ask me anyway I may have an interesting answer.

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by AlisonLeighLilly View Post
    2. Pagans can remind Christians to view time as a cyclical dance, and not simply as a linear history.
    I was thinking about this some more.. something that kept coming up for me was the book of Ecclesiastes.. it is one of my two favorite books of the Old Testament (next to or just under Job) I can't help but think of some of the themes between Pagan understandings and christian understandings here.. The main point of the book (from my perspective) is that the only thing in life that matters is the relationship we share with eachother, the personal fullfillment in the work we do, and our connection to the Devine.. In it (Ecclesiastes 3) it is discussed that 'to everything there is a season'..

    I really wouldnt want to be quick to say what i think pagans could learn from christians.. because it could be construed as presumptuous.. instead I just try to reconcile my beliefs with whats out there.. to make myself (pridefull assumptions) less and the Devine more..

    to build up relationships in Love rather than to break down relationships in ignorance and pride.. I dont really see that as a "progressive christian" specific issue.. I hardly consider myself or would label myself a progressive Christian.. I strive for orthodoxy.. purity to the heart of virtue ('am I being true to what I say I believe?' in reality ultimately i see this as an impossibility because of the flawed nature of humanity; noone is really 'right' or 'good' in what they say or do; the only good within humanity comes from the Devine (IMO)).. there is a difference in seeing clearly the heart of the virtues that are taught within the Bible and being blind to what they are/mean versus how they are applied to life and lived out by imperfect beings.. you know? or am I just making no sense? I know a block that may exist here is the concept of perfection vs imperfection.. again thats something that comes with the discussion of absolutism vs relativism i think.. sorry if I'm just rambeling too much just making conversation..
    I don't know but ask me anyway I may have an interesting answer.

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by DaftWullie View Post
    to make myself (pridefull assumptions) less and the Devine more..
    since i couldnt edit my post i just wanted to futher clairfy this:

    that the way I believe I am powerless so its more of me praying to the Devine for mercy grace love and guidence than myself doing anything.. I talk too much.. I apologize..
    I don't know but ask me anyway I may have an interesting answer.

  9. #9
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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by DaftWullie View Post
    I talk too much.. I apologize..
    You don't talk too much!

    I've been away from the forum for too long - got married, went on a honeymoon, and now that I'm home again I'm facing a cross-country move in a few months that require all the usual planning, packing and panicking.

    So the short answer to your question: no, the other parts have not been written yet. But they will be. Some day. I have copious notes. They. Will. Be. Written.

    --Ali

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    Re: What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

    Quote Originally Posted by AlisonLeighLilly View Post
    You don't talk too much!

    I've been away from the forum for too long - got married, went on a honeymoon, and now that I'm home again I'm facing a cross-country move in a few months that require all the usual planning, packing and panicking.

    So the short answer to your question: no, the other parts have not been written yet. But they will be. Some day. I have copious notes. They. Will. Be. Written.

    --Ali
    congrats, thats awesome.. oo moving can be a challenge I know what thats like.. moved to the mid west from the north east just a couple years a go..

    thanks for saying I dont talk too much.. get apprehensive cause some people like to listen and respond.. some may think its annoying an/or that a person who talks too much doesn't listen or think enough..
    I don't know but ask me anyway I may have an interesting answer.

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