There is a thought that has bee circling inside my head. I wrote a post a while back about how the rise of Orthodoxy should not beget Adikodoxy (wrong-think). I wrote this in context of the larger Pagan umbrella, that within the “umbrella” there should be no concept of “wrong think” and that each path be free to believe as it pleases and follow that practice without interference from outside people who belong under the umbrella.
A good, if old example of this is what happened to the Dianics several years ago, where outside people, with different views, essentially crushed that Pagan Religion off the face of the earth. While I’m sure the Dianics still exist, my impression is that it is a very underground existence…long hunted as transphobic and likely to be butchered should it show its face again. At least, without changing key religious doctrines it once held to be more….politically correct.
I mention the Dianics both because it should be familiar to my fellow Pagans, and because what happened to them left a lasting impression upon me. Not the impression that more and more, social justice ideology was invading every aspect of public paganism (no, that had been going on long before that), but that truly, no pagan religion was safe from the wrath of other pagan religions if it deviated from the dogma others held.
Back then, I think a lot of people took this as an example of the dangers of orthodoxy. And they were not incorrect. In a larger sense, the orthodoxy of the umbrella was allowed, and used, to crush adikodoxy committed by a religion under that umbrella. Much the same way that certain paths in Catholicism have been crushed as Heresy.
What brought this back into my mind however is the recent conflict between McNallen of the AFA and Smith of the HUAR. I was reading Jon Upsal’s Garden the other day and Jo had a post about the history and founding of Heathenism in the Americas. One of the key points of it was that McNallen was the founder of the first Heathen organization in the Americas. He defined what it meant to be a heathen at the start. Now, there were splits, namely the Folkish/Universalist split, typified by McNallen and Abell. But when it comes right down to it…Heathenism in the Modern Era is best defined by the person who started it: McNallen.
McNallen created American Heathenism. It’s Orthodoxy is what he says it is. Now, we can best view the AFA and Troth comparatively as the Catholics and the Orthodox. There were a couple other founding members for that first Asatru organization (Jo, if you could link or list them in the comments that would be helpful, sorry man 😄 ). The AFA can be viewed like the Catholics, who held that their’s was the most important of the leaders, vs the Orthodox who held that the leaders were all equal in terms of defining orthodoxy.
All well and good.
Even coming to Smith, there is an analogy which works well, the Protistant Reformation. Much like those who followed Luther’s example, reskining a different religious and political ideology in Christian imagery, Gods, and so forth, Ryan and his HUAR have wrapped their own political and religious ideology in the cloak of Heathenism. Much like the protestants did, HUAR also decries the “Papist” Heathenry as a false Heathenry, despite the latter having been the foundation rather than the new comers with their “truths.”
This too, I can forgive and live with. After all, as I move ever more into the Cultus Deorum Germanica, I am doing some similar things, taking Roman Cultus and adding in Heathen gods and ideals. Internally, religions can evolve even as parts of them remain the same. Different people have different needs, and as long as each demarcates itself from the others, they can exist side by side, even if they do not truly co-exist. But they are, ultimately, still the “same” religion…not falling under an umbrella.
The truth is, the “umbrella” is something much larger and more ambiguous. In the West, there are really two religious umbrellas. The larger and more powerful Monotheistic Umbrella, covering Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The smaller and less powerful Pagan umbrella, which contains supposedly all non-monotheistic religious practiced in the West.
So when I speak of not letting orthodoxy create adikodoxy, or closing the umbrella, this is what I’m speaking of. The umbrella existed for a few good reasons. Banding together gave us individual and small groups a wider base to practice with, this early on created a tolerance between the different religions. However, with time, growth, and the rise of a certain highly vocal type of pagan with a specific ideological bent, the tolerance created by mutually assured need has instead become replaced with an intolerance created by ideologically assumed dominance.
There is a parallel to what happened with McNallen (and Abell) in the larger world as well. Which illustrates perfectly why I, if for different reasons than Jo, will join him in saying:
Most people are familiar with Pope Francis, current head of the Catholic church. Most people are equally familiar with Pope Benedict. One of the shortest ruling popes I have ever heard of, especially in a modern era where you don’t get assassinated so that some other guy can become pope.
Pope Benedict was actually someone whom I gave a grudging nod of respect to when he got elected. He was the old school catholic, the pope who was going to restore tradition and order to a church that had been deviating from the traditions of hundreds of years for the sake of political expediency and political acceptance from the political “left.” A Pope of Orthodoxy, a Pope of Tradition, a true Catholic Pope!
And the next thing I knew, he was resigning. In his stead was Francis who, as time has gone on, has struck me as less of a catholic and more of a…well, a social justice pope. And as someone who has dealt with a lot of social justice pagans, recognizing it in another religion wasn’t that hard. But what engaged my fury upon all this was not that the Catholics had elected a SocJus Pope (that was their right), but rather that in a lot of ways, I was left with a taste in my mouth that the Catholics had…not done this.
Everyone who mocked and complained about Benedict that I have ever come across was…a non-catholic. The Catholics themselves, at least the ones I came across, at worst just shrugged and said “he’s the pope.” Now I could be wrong about some of that, but that’s what I saw. Non-Catholics raised such an unholy fuss that they forced the entire Catholic Church to back down from their desired position and instead elect a pope that would please, well, the “leftists” who were attacking them.
This is what has happened in Paganism when Beckett and others decided to weigh into the fight between Smith and McNallen. Non-Heathens decided that they had the right and the ability to dictate what should and should not be acceptable belief inside a religion they do not practice, are not a part of, and that they should have the ability (as Beckett went after Abell) to remove any and all religious leaders they feel should not exist.
It is functionally no different.
At which point, I’m ready to say it is time to shut the proverbial umbrella. Pagans came together to create an umbrella to hold off the proverbial storms that came at us from outside. However, now that umbrella is being used as the weapon to purge religions of their orthodoxy for the sake and desire of a different religion’s orthodoxy. It would be no different than if the Muslims insisted that they be allowed to set theological dogma inside a Baptist church because they both worship the same god.
Jo says to take the umbrella and shove it. I say…perhaps it is time we toss it in the bin. I’ve already watched one Pagan religion be destroyed. I’m willing to cut all cords and have us all take our chances by ourselves than watch another religion, this one to whom I actually have ties, face the same.