Friday, August 12, 2016

Conversations We Need To Be Having: An Ongoing Discussion With Galina Krasskova (Part 5)

Rhyd's comment on Beckett's post mentions Wesley, Cromwell, Savonarola and, inevitably, Hitler. But he, like most of the other commenters, does not speak to one very important question: is spiritual impurity a tangible thing? They not only don't believe in this concept, they never even thought it worthy of consideration. The idea that there might actually be more to this than LARPing and psychodrama doesn't even terrify Neopagans or make them defensive -- it just goes over their heads like Sputnik orbiting above the Marianas Trench. How do we get past that? Or can we... ?

GK: This is the key fault line that separates us on this ideological battleground: we acknowledge the Gods' existence and that informs every single decision we make. The Gods are not secondary or tangential to our purpose and our work. I really think that, like so many other issues that have come up over the past few years between Pagans and Polytheists, that it does come down again and again to the question of belief. Either the Gods are real and that changes everything; it has consequences or you don't believe that They are, and all the things that flow from acknowledgement of the Gods no longer matter, save perhaps as symbolic structures to be twisted out of true or dispensed with when inconvenient. 

If we did not believe that purity and impurity were tangible things we would not have Holocaust Memorials. We would not make a concerted effort to remember the atrocities that occurred on our battlegrounds, slave markets, and other historical places of horror. These would mean nothing to our national psyche if even the implication of the sacred was without palpable anchor and weight.  There would be no point to memorializing. 

But for Rhyd it's all reductio ad Hitleram. He elides all discussion and nuance and effaces the questions that he does not want to answer: were he to answer them honestly in a way that accords with both his rhetoric and his actions the jig would be up and his shallow ideologies would be shown for what they are. Marxism is predicated on the death of religion to bring the 'glorious revolution.' But what Marx saw as an opiate we Polytheists see as vital. What Marx saw as a distraction we see as essential. What Marx saw as an obstacle, we see as fundamental. There is no meeting ground between the two sides of this debate. That's evident by how Rhyd is acting in this and other discussions, particularly when he continuously attacks the foundations and fundamentals of our religions. 
This just drives home to me once again how important the question of belief is.  I'm not even saying you have to have unwavering certainty: spiritual people throughout history have dealt with crises of faith. But if you will not even entertain the possibility that the Gods might exist outside your head, then you have no business calling yourself a Polytheist.  Whether to fight for a temple, whether to cleanse yourself from spiritual impurity, whether or not it is possible to offend the Divine -- those and so many more important questions hinge entirely on the question of whether or not the Gods exist. And I think we really need to make that a hill to die on. 

GK: Or rather, Kenaz, a hill to make them die on. Molon Labe, as Spartans would have said. 

This is our line in the sand and I agree with you, if this is too difficult an equation upon which to structure one's religious life, then don't call yourself a polytheist. it's as simple as that. Ideas and beliefs have consequence.  Secular philosophy is not theology. Bad economic theory is not theology. Piss poor poly sci is also not theology and neither is populist sloganeering which is all that comes out of their side of this fight. 

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