How Wonder Woman Both Perpetuates and Challenges Christian Dualism

The movie Wonder Woman is a Christianization of Greek myth, with Zeus taking the role of the Christian God and Ares taking the role of Satan, making Wonder Woman a female Jesus. A certain kind of Christian dualism has worked itself so deep into our collective psyche that it seems we can’t even tell a story about pagan gods without replicating that dualism.

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What American Gods Tells Us About the Need for Religious Ecstasy

American Gods possibly reflected and probably magnified a dissatisfaction among many Pagans with popular forms of Paganism. And it offered one possible alternative: literal belief in the gods and devotional forms of worship. Popular Paganism was failing to produce the kind deep religious experiences that many of Pagans craved, and devotional polytheism promised to answer that craving. There is a lesson here for Godless Pagans and other Religious Naturalists. If we want our religions to thrive, and if we want to experience the depths that spirituality has to offer, we must find ways to tap into the experience of transcendence and ecstasy.

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Literal Minded Atheism

Whether the gods are objectively real is the least interesting question you can ask about a person’s religious experience. What is much more interesting is the subjective reality of their experience. What was the experience was like for them? And what does it mean to them in the context of their life? People’s religious experiences aren’t going to help us put a person on Mars or cure cancer, but they can help us understand why we want to put a person on Mars or why should try to cure cancer.

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Literal Gods Are for the Literal Minded: Re-Enchanting the Gods

The disenchantment of the world happened, not when we stopped seeing gods and spirits in nature, but when we stopped seeing our essential connection to nature. Personifying rivers and trees with dryads is not going to accomplish this. Rather, we need to realize our essential oneness, the manifold ways in which we are connected to the rivers and the trees–whether or not we find gods in them.

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Capitalist Extortion in the Pagan Community

Extortionist behavior is not aberrant–it’s a feature of a capitalist system. Not all capitalists will resort to this level of extortion, obviously, but there are no inherent checks to prevent it when they do. It even finds its way even into our religious lives. We can condemn the extortionist behavior, but its not a problem of a few bad apples. We need to get to the root of the problem–the inherently extortionist nature of capitalism. Until we do that, extortion will be an unavoidable part of our lives–and our Paganism.

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Ego-Paganism and the Tyranny of Structurelessness

Opposition to all organization on principle serves nothing but the egos of certain individuals. And it reduces our community to the lowest common denominator — the heckler and the troll. They should not be allowed to define our agendas, because their only agenda is the destruction of all agendas. We need to recognize ego-Paganism for what it is: dead weight for our community. While we need to create space for ego-centered Pagans, we cannot allow them to keep us from coming together to help make the world a better place.

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