Last month I made a post entitled “A Pagan Home for Everyone” which was mainly floating questions about the position of modern Pagan religions with respect to serving a people as a whole, being accessible to all, and engaging in wider and deeper ethical questions about our identity and the way we practice and organize. It was partly looking at questions of exclusion and inclusion, and I suggested a distinction between universal “religion” and specialized “cult” (terms which I tried to qualify simply in the context of the blog post).
Now I wonder about all that. I wonder because “religion” is almost always a long way from universality and inclusion, and much inclusion and freedom has actually come from secularism, and the questioning of (and opposition to) a great many religions, most particularly the association between religion and political power, but also the association between religion and psychological manipulation. I can’t really avoid that.
So is a “Pagan home for everyone” actually going to be “religious”? I doubt it, though I could imagine it being spiritual in a wider secular context. Redefining religion is always an interesting question though.
Another issue for me is the function of religion within the process of maintaining, enforcing and manipulating social consensus. It’s not for nothing that religions want a stake in motherhood, as that’s where a whole level of social conditioning gets nailed (where mothers are still the primary care givers). We can talk about inclusion and exclusion, but unless we’re talking about the nurturing, development and authentic growth of the individual, then we have missed the boat, and the wrong boat at that.
So it goes right into a contradiction as far as religion-as-we-know-it goes. There’s not going to be an answer as long as the individual core is unrecognised and unacknowledged as the key word in the question. And few societies, religions, or forms of politics will have any truck with that. Deep within, there is a reviled, bright thing, called the Self. Oldest “problem” in the book I reckon, the reviling of Self.
Is Paganism capable of it? I don’t know. Is society capable of it? Well, sometimes more than others times, but the experiment of an enlightened society is just that. But a Paganism that could be for all would have to be for all individuals, and that means an acquaintance with our beautiful monsters, and denying that monster is often a foundation stone of social consensus in practice.
The ethical questions remain though, about breadth and depth of compassion, and the capacity for human insight.
[post edited 21st June 2011]