The Christian Noob (n00b)

born & raised Catholic, now going to a Presbyterian church & still learning

interview with Amadahy, a Pagan detouring into Catholicism, part 3

This part three of my conversation with Amadahy — a Pagan considering becoming a Catholic (RCIA).

ME:

One concept that I’ve had about religion is that humans need religion. We all need to believe in something. I often think (believe) that there’s one God (strictly monotheism) with different names (Jehovah, Allah, etc). If I were to consider the multiple gods and goddesses from Paganism, perhaps these are multiple persons of the same god like the different avataras of Vishnu. Maybe (once again, uncertain) this is why I get curious every time someone tells about his/her faith. At the same time, it drive me crazy when someone tells me he/she is an atheist. So now I must ask if you believe in Jesus.
I’m surprised you mentioned
Huxley. I read Brave New World when I was in high school. I’d never made so many notes on a book as that one. I even have the original movie and the [1980] remake.
Aside from
HIM, what other bands do you like? As I’d already told you, I like Korpiklaani. Right now, I’m listening to Arkona (Goi, Rode, Goi! & Yarilo), but I don’t speak the language so I don’t have a clue what the song’s about. Of course, the biggest critic (my four-year-old whom I gave a Pagan name and a fictional name) didn’t like it.
Regarding your comment about having tattoos and feeling comfortable in a
Catholic church, most people get tattoos for fun (me, a skull) or to make a statement (you, your life story). Judaism and Islam don’t allow tattoos or other body modifications, but I don’t see why the Church (Christian, whatever denomination) has to be opposed to it. As a matter of fact, one of my friends who’s a pastor has a tattoo on one of her ankles.
By the way, are you familiar with the
Universal Life Church, in which members (ordained ministers) come from all religions?

AMADAHY:

There have been a good amount of studies done regarding humans and spirituality, a more recent one suggested that humans are hard wired to be spiritual in some manner. This is an intensely debated area, especially when you get into the hows and whys certain areas of the brain light up for certain spiritual activities. IE is that meditation transcendence real or induced by chemical changes in the brain… or is it all the answer to how rather than why. You could argue with me that I feel God because a certain part of my brain is occasionally highly active, and that’s true… but it doesn’t discount the experience or really explain WHY. Fun stuff.
Are you asking me if I believe in Jesus? You’ve reached a topic that poses the most difficulty for me. I can wrap my head around some level of a God, some level of the Holy Spirit… but my brain stops working with this Jesus fellow! I think Jesus was perhaps an amazing person, a shaman, someone clearly united with his higher self, and an excellent teacher. The son of God, sure. I don’t think that Jesus‘s intention was to be worshipped, but more of a lead by example in that we should strive to be as Christ like as we can.. saintly. I think that was more of his mission than the worship people can sometimes take out of control. It’s the people that rely and pray to him so much, for little things…. I think you have to save yourself in some right. He provided all the tools and resources needed to “save yourself,” which included his own death. Stand up, unite with YOUR higher self, and help your fellow man. I guess I feel he led the way, a very clear path. I’m still working on the Jesus stuff, though. I’m new! I thought Jesus Christ was only a cuss word until I was in high school, there was no person attached to it! Give me a little bit of a break with this one! lol I’m more than willing to discuss just about anything, but understand I might not say what is traditional or taught by the church. I don’t entirely know what is taught by the church. I’m new…
The tattoo issue is somewhere in the Bible; I really can’t tell you where at the moment. Something about not tattooing your body like the “Pagans.” I think it’s in the old testimate somewhere. Pagans then and Pagan now are not the same, and we could debate all day about what the Pagan in the Bible actually means. Times have certainly changed and tattoos are not really frowned upon like they have been, even among Catholics. The priest I was close to felt that tattoos were not a reason to condemn somebody, but felt the need to discuss with me how skin integrity changes over time. I am well aware! lol
I’m familiar with Universal Life Church, yes. I feel like it can get a little frivolous, but I support it in general. Really, I’m indifferent.
What other bands do I listen to a lot? HIM, Apocalyptica, Danzig, Misfits, 69 Eyes, Type O Negative, Beats Antique, Rancid, Black Veil Brides, Depeche Mode, Iggy Pop, Kill Hannah, KMFDM, Man Man, Muse, Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Nine Inch Nails, Queen, Rob Zombie, Godsmack, Sully Erna, Ramones, Frank Sinatra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Glenn Miller, Voltaire, Ok Go, The Clash, Cheap Trick…. I listen to a lot of classical too, the soundtracks to the Giselle Ballet and the Nutcracker play a lot.
I also love any and all Christmas music. For years it can sometimes make me cry, so I pretty much can’t wait for Christmas season this year. My first Christian Christmas.

If [you’re] curious the popular deities out of your list, as I’ve found, are: Aradia, Astarte, Bast, Brigid, Cerridwen, Diana, Dryads, Green Man, Hecate, Hera, Horus & Isis, Lugh, Morgan, Morrigan, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Rhiannon. Also Mother Goddess, Father God.
If someone’s a follower of Greek or Norse theology then they would have that focus, but the ones I listed are probably the ones I’ve seen most often named by Pagans.
Lucifer is NOT recognized by most Pagans except for being a part of Christian theology. Some do recognize him, though. Touchy subject. Lilith is the same way. Michael, Gabriel, and…. oh who’s the other one?! Oh well… they’re sometimes thrown around too. I’ve never called for any of these in any ritual.

ME:

I agree with the idea that “humans are hard wired to be spiritual in some manner.” Possibly non-related chemical reactions might be the reason, but it might simply be the NEED and/or URGE to have a god taking care of us. Now excuse my ignorance and/or confusion, but what does IE stand for?
You’ve got good and valid points on Jesus. I’ve got to admit that some of your ideas have also crossed my mind at some point or another. Then again, the mystery of the [Trinity] says that God is present in THREE PERSONS, which sounds confusing, If you replace the word “PERSONS” for “MANIFESTATIONS,” it sort of makes more sense. It’s much easier to understand that God is present in THREE MANIFESTATIONS — God present in all places, all knowing, all mighty, creator of Heaven and Earth (the whole cosmos, of course); incarnate in the body of Jesus ; and His spirit referred to as the Holy Spirit. Well at least, this is how the [Trinity] makes sense to me.
I don’t see anything wrong with tattoos or body modification except for circumcision. The latter’s not natural. It’s like cutting one’s left hand because it’s dirty (Muslim concept) or evil.

“For thousands of years, the Devil has been associated with the left hand in various ways and is normally portrayed as being left-handed in pictures and other images. In the seventeenth century it was thought that the Devil baptised his followers with his left-hand and there are many references in superstitions to the ‘left-hand side’ being associated with evil. As an example, in France it was held that witches greet Satan ‘avec le bras gauche’ or with the left hand. It is also considered that we can only see ghosts if we look over our left shoulder and that the Devil watches us over the left shoulder.”
http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/lh-info/myths.html#sthash.U4WjPepv.dpuf

What did the word “Pagan” mean in those times?
By the way, I came across the concept of folk Catholicism, possibly the form of Catholicism that I grew up in.

“Folk Catholicism is any of various ethnic expressions of Catholicism as practiced in Catholic communities around the world, typically in developing nations. Practices that are identified by outside observers as “folk Catholicism” vary from place to place, and often depart from the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. […] Some forms of folk Catholic practices are based on syncretism with non-Catholic beliefs and may involve the syncretism of Catholic saints and non-Christian deities. Some of these folk Catholic forms have come to be identified as separate religions, as is the case with Caribbean and Brazilian syncretisms between Catholicism and West African religions, which include Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_Catholicism

Since you like Christmas music, check out my friend Elle’s EP [Bold Christmas].

By the way, did you like the Queen + Paul Rodgers thing?
Personally, there’s nothing like Freddy Mercury on vocal kicking ass!

AMADAHY:

What was a Pagan Biblically? I have no idea, to tell you the truth. Christianity started in more urban areas at that time, and Pagan was often used to describe the country dwellers. I don’t really know, but I just like people to keep in mind that Pagan biblically is most likely not the same as modern Paganism. I’m not sure ancient Pagans would recognize Pagan practices today, but there is only so much archaeologic research available to go on. I guess I don’t want people to take some random biblical passage and start attacking modern Paganism, because what that passage means might have a different interpretation.
There is no Queen without Freddy Mercury. No negotiations.

ME:

I found the verse of the Bible that talks about tattoos. It’s Leviticus 19:28. The King James Version isn’t too clear.

“28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28, KJV)

You’d need a newer version like the New International Version for it to make more sense.

“28 Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28, NIV)

According to http://www.biblepages.web.surftown.se/fg01.htm (Appendix 2), it seems that the word Pagan and Gentile are used interchangeably. Look at these examples.

“1 Corinthians 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” (KJV-1769)

“1 Corinthians 12:2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led.” (NASB-77)

“1 Corinthians 12:2 You know that being led away, younations were led to dumb idols.” (LIT)

At the same time, take a look at the definitions stated in this essay.

“In the Bible, ‘gentiles’ is a reference to people of other nations than Israel — non-Israelites, non-Jews.”

“The word ‘pagan’ comes from the Latin noun paganus which meant ‘country people’, ‘villagers’. That is, people outside Rome, or outside the walls of some Roman town. Paganus, ‘villager’, was in ancient Rome a contemptuous word, just as the English words ‘pagan’ and ‘heathen’ are.”

“[T]he English word ‘heathen’ simply meant ‘the people out on the heath’. It was a contemptuous word that town-people used of the poorer or rural people who lived outside the town walls. (The word ‘peasant’, which is of French origin, from pais, ‘district’, ‘country’, has the same contemptuous meaning: ‘Country people’, ‘rural people’.)”

In Wikipedia, Gentile originally meant “peoples” and then became “non-Jew.”

“The term Gentile (from Latin gentilis, by the French ‘gentil’, female: ‘gentille’, meaning of or belonging to a clan or tribe) is used by English translators for the Hebrew (goy) and (nokhri) in the Hebrew Bible and the Greek word (ethne) in the New Testament.The term gentiles is derived from Latin, used for contextual translation, and not an original Hebrew or Greek word from the Bible. The original words Goy and Ethnos refer to ‘peoples’ or ‘nations’. Latin and later English translators selectively used the term gentiles when the context for the base term ‘peoples’ or ‘nations’ referred to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible. Following Christianization of the Roman Empire, the general implication of the word gentile became ‘non-Jew’.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile

Paganism means “country people.”

“Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning ‘country dweller’, ‘rustic’) is a blanket term typically used to refer to religious traditions which are polytheistic or indigenous.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paganism

Could this mean that Gentiles (practically any Christian) and Pagans (anyone from the country) are the same.

Newer translations of the Bible say nothing about Pagans (using this word), but the Orthodox Jewish Bible says the following.

Shemot (Exodus) 34:15
“Lest thou make a brit with the inhabitants of Ha Aretz, and they go awhoring after eloheihem, and do sacrifice unto eloheihem, and one invite thee, and thou eat of his zevach (sacrifice, i.e., participate in his pagan worship);”

Melachim Alef (1 Kings) 22:43
“And he walked in kol derech Asa aviv; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was yashar in the eyes of Hashem; nevertheless the high places (places of pagan worship) were not taken away; for HaAm offered and burned incense yet in the high places.”

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 24:21
“And it shall come to pass in yom hahu (that day), that Hashem shall visit [in punishment] the Tzeva HaMarom (Host on High, Pagan deities), and the melachim of ha’adamah (kings of the earth) upon ha’adamah (the earth).”

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 27:9
“By this therefore shall kapporah be made for the avon Ya’akov; and this is full fruitage to take away [Yehudah’s] chattat; when He maketh all the stones of the [heathen] mizbe’ach like chalk stones crushed to pieces, the Asherim poles and pagan incense altars shall arise no more.”

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 57:9
“And thou wentest to Melech [i.e., the pagan g-d Molech, the deity of sacrificed offspring and abortions]; with shemen thou didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy [political] envoys far, even down unto Sheol.”

Yirmeyah (Isaiah) 14:14
“Then Hashem said unto me, The nevi’im prophesy sheker in My Shem; I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; they prophesy unto you a chazon sheker (false vision) and kesem (divination, pagan fortunetelling), and a worthless thing, and the delusion of their lev.”

Yirmeyah (Isaiah) 16:6
“Both the gedolim and the ketanim shall die in ha’aretz hazot; they shall not be buried, neither shall men mourn for them, nor make [pagan] cuttings on themselves, nor make themselves [like pagan mourners] bald for them [See Devarim (Deuteronomy) 14:1]:”

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 16:39
“And I will also give thee into their yad, and they shall throw down thine gev, and shall break down thy ramot (high places, cult prostitution sites of pagan worship); they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee erom (naked) and bare.”

Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:17
“But if he refuses to listen to them, speak to the shtiebel kehillah, and if he even refuses to hear the kehillah, let him be to you as the Goy (heathen, pagan) and the moches (tax-collector).”

Gevurot (Acts) 14:13
“And the priest of Zeus was outside the city and brought bulls and flower wreaths to the gates; he and the multitudes wanted to offer pagan korbanot (sacrifices).”

Now this is more confusing than the essay that made Pagans and Gentiles the same.

Understanding the concept of Paganism a little better and considering my exposure to craft, does my curiosity in Wicca make me as Pagan?

For more information about Amadahy, visit her blog Amadahy Gone Rogue.

Amadahy, thank you for your patience teaching me about Paganism and your faith journey. Blessed be!

Read parts 1 and 2 of this conversation. Also read my post about being a pagan or atheist at heart .

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