Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Invested Authority

Another part of the quote that I want to talk about from the book, Pagan Theology, is “the authority that is invested in them.” When scholars and well-known people within Paganism dedicate their time to help grow the body of knowledge, it helps to provide a base of information to better understanding of Paganism. These people are investing their status as an authority and allowing themselves to become an example of what the Pagan religions represent. By example, they become almost a type of public Pagan Ambassador.

I would think that a major part of each religion’s validation has to do with the body of writing that is produced by its followers over many, many years. Ideas are produced, discussed, and expanded upon. Some of those ideas become more popular than others, and some ideas fall flat before getting very far. Over all, the speed at which Paganism has become a suitable choice within the religious landscape has been very quick when compared to the history of other religions. I would say that one reason why this has happened is technology. We can not deny that the internet has helped with the popularity of Paganism. (Not that the internet is the only technological advance that has helped. It is merely one example.)

Because of the technology, as well as the education system, we have today, it will not take as long to acquire a significant amount of “valid” religious writings within different Pagan denominations. The time that is invested in producing these writings will effect the future of Paganism.

* This post is a continuation of the previous post on the Authority To Validate and was written before all the comments.

1 comment:

Bernulf said...

Yet another good article!

Public Pagan Ambassador? I'm not really too comfortable with this concept, as it encourages generalizations based on a few well-known or well-read individuals. I think it's more than okay for people to try to share their knowledge, and share their perspectives and experiences; but people who assume a degree of plenipotentiary status (or accept it, for that matter) are people I'm not naturally at-ease with.

Public Pagan Ambassadors -> Public Pagan Plenipotentiaries / Proxies -> Puffed-up Pack of Prattling Pagan Pomp-mongers

I think this is where the Internet has been particularly valuable in the growth of Pagan religions, in that it gives lesser-known individuals a chance to advance their own perspectives, to agree or disagree with what's been written elsewhere (and to have those perspectives reviewed by others who bear the same right to agree and disagree). I think this makes the advancement of a religion more of a collective effort (even with all the disagreements and outright brawls over things); which, if anything, should increase its validity within the community. It also has the benefit of dispelling the adverse effects of generalizations - for every loon (I'm not using the term, lunatic, out of respect for the Moon-worshippers among us) out there, there are at least a hundred sane, rational people who can publicly and constructively disagree and make their own contributions to the validity of Pagan religions.

This is not meant as disrespect for those individuals who have sacrificed their time and energy on behalf of providing good scholarship and guidance to the Pagan community - without such people, the ball would not have started rolling. I think we are at a point now, though, where it will require effort from the Pagan community-at-large to keep the ball rolling ... this is not a task for a few good scholars in my opinion, it's a task that requires the general community to take up the gauntlet of scholarship and start making its own contributions.

Another possible reason for the speed at which Paganism has grown over the past half century or so might also be the sense that we are returning to something more natural for us. I think of it as Western society having spent a long time in a hotel room in a big city - with comforts and amenities of its own - and Paganism being like coming home to our comfy cottage in the woods.