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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Building a Strong and Free Pagan Community

I hope that moving forward, we are able to disagree respectfully, as friends, to recognize our common goals and community, and sometimes, to join in powerful and moving rituals, regardless of the fact that some of us see the underlying basis of those rituals differently. With that, we might be able to bring a life-centered Paganism to millions, who might fit better into this or that part of our wider Pagan community, with many of us working together to build a better future for the whole web of life.

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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 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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What About Those Who Insist Their Gods Are Real? A Policy Statement.

Though I generally try to avoid engaging with them, there are those in the broader Pagan community who are quite adamant that their gods are real and that anyone who doesn’t think so isn’t a Pagan. Some of them feel the need to rail at people like Atheopagans and call for our expelling from Pagan … Continue reading What About Those Who Insist Their Gods Are Real? A Policy Statement.

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

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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