what religions do you find most interesting apart from your own? Would you pick one of the major world religions? Say Islam, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or Judaism? Or would you pick something more obscure, like Wicca or Taosim or Rastafarianism or Gnosticism? Would you pick irreligion, say Atheism or Agnosticism? Or if you’re not Christian, would you say Christianity?
To participate, state your own religion (or irreligion) as your first preference, state the other religions that interest you most as your second and third preferences, then pass onto five others. If you’re feeling brave, say why they interest you.
My religion is – well, that’s kind of what this blog is about. My religion is my religion, and it’s a sort of druidic shamanic faery witchcraft thing. If you want a bigger answer than that, there’s three years of blog postings below. Dig in.
I like Anne’s answer to this question the best – “yes.” They are all interesting because they are all manifestations of the human drive to understand the Universe. She beat me to it with the good answer, though, so I need to work for another one.
I’m stuck with the question “interesting in what way?” I find mystical contemplative traditions interesting regardless of source, so I’m interested in Sufism and Christian mysticism, for instance, without having a burning desire to learn more about Christian or Islamic practices in general. I’m less interested in those aspects of religion that prescribe rules for behavior within communities or descriptions of the fate of the soul after death. What really interest me are the big questions about the role of the self within the universe. The answer to those questions among more mystical types tends to be “love more,” and I love seeing all the paths that lead to that answer and the different ways the answer is presented.
But here I am talking about investigating ideas in other religions, and that’s just research. I’m going to answer the question as though it was asking specifically about practice – which religion could I see myself practicing, besides my own? The problem I have always had with practicing anyone else’s religion is the feeling of being a spiritual tourist. I love Tibetan Buddhism, for instance – the chants, the practices, the art, the philosophy, the history – I had a brief but passionate love affair with Buddhism when I was younger. It was a valuable and educational experience, but I broke it off because I never felt like it fit me. I was constantly aware of being a foreigner within the religion – it was beautiful but it never felt like mine. I never felt like anything but a tourist, and I suppose with much devotion, study and language lessons I could come to feel at home there, but to do so would mean giving up my native land. I left it behind because the price for it was too high for me. It’s still interesting to me and I still occasionally go and sit with them, but once I realized that I wasn’t willing to walk all the way down that path it stopped looking like the right place for me.
So, turning closer to home, I would love to learn more about the religion and spirituality of the Abenaki people that lived in the region that is my home before my own people came there. I don’t know how much of that is alive and current, and if it is I don’t know how much I could or should have access to – I want to learn more about it, but only from someone who lives it as part of his or her culture, not from books or anthropologists or other interpreters. So this would involve coming into a personal, friendly relationship with people from that culture, and I don’t think that could be done successfully except in the ordinary way people come into personal friendly relationships. I do not want to cozy up to someone just to gain access to “Indian-ness” because that would both be rude and would be unlikely to get me what I want. It is interesting to me and possibly something I would be willing to immerse myself in, as I have always felt that my connection to the forests and mountains of my home is the root and the essence of my spirituality – I can give up the various trappings of paganism without a whole lot of regret as long as I get to keep that link. But I don’t think that this is possible for me in this life – if it is, it’s something that has to happen to me, not something I think I can reasonably seek out. I have no expectations around it and accept that certain doors will probably stay closed to me forever, and that’s okay. But I’m still interested.
My third choice is one I could realistically see adopting someday. I would be interested in becoming a Unitarian. This is, to be honest, mostly for pragmatic reasons. If I was to live in a more rural area, which I hope to someday, I would like to have the social support of a church, and the only church I could join in good faith would be the Unitarian Universalists. However, I don’t think I could do so as a sort of “beard” for my Paganism, as that feels disrespectful to the Unitarians. I would need to really take it up as part of my path, and I’m not sure what that would mean from here. So I’m interested, in the way you might be interested in someone you don’t know really well yet but feel sure could be a good friend in time.
I do not ever see myself giving up my own path. There have been times when I have wanted to give up the dysfunction, confusion, controversy and general silliness of modern paganism, but that feels like turning my back on family and home. I have people already; I have a spiritual home and I have no desire to leave it.
I almost forgot the “tag five others” bit. I’m kind of late on this one and it seems like everyone has been tagged already. Maebius, maybe you could do this one?
In other news, you may have noticed a prolonged silence here. My life is all up in the air right now, and I’m waiting for things to settle out a bit. I don’t feel like writing about my current unsettlement, but it’s hard to write about anything without referring to it, so I’m mostly just not writing. I have no plans to give up blogging, as I like it and as you can see am game for a meme now and then, so there’s no need to take me off your feed just yet. I could up and get chatty any day now.