Tuesday, July 05, 2011

What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other

At the end of June, I had the opportunity to attend the Wild Goose Festival down in North Carolina, a festival of progressive and emergent Christians interested in exploring social justice, peace, art, interfaith dialogue and Celtic spirituality. A friend of mine, the author Carl McColman (who used to be a Pagan and has since converted to Catholicism and studies as a contemplative and lay-monk) was one of the presenters at the festival, and one of the head organizers of the event was Gareth Higgins, who ran a Celtic Spirituality & Peacemaking retreat in Northern Ireland that I attended last summer.

All in all, the event was really amazing, and even laid to rest my anxieties about being pretty much the only Pagan (other than my partner Jeff) among 1500+ Christians. Since getting back home, I've been thinking a lot about my experiences from the festival and what it taught me about the places where Pagans and Christians (especially progressive and emergent Christians) can really benefit from interfaith conversation with one another.

So I decided to write a 3-part essay about the topic! I just posted the first part of the essay to my website, "What Pagans and Christians Can Learn from Each Other." In short, the three things I looked at were:

1. Pagans can share with Christians a deeper understanding of the role of nature, wilderness and wildness in the spiritual life.
2. Pagans can remind Christians to view time as a cyclical dance, and not simply as a linear history.
3. Pagans can help Christians revive and restore a sense of enchantment and value in ritual and religious aesthetics.

I wanted to invite TC folks to check out the essay (here) - hopefully it'll spark some good conversation and discussion! I think it's really important for Pagans to realize that not all Christians are the conservative/fundamentalist type. (One thing that really amazed me, for instance, was that the Publicity Coordinator for the festival found out I was coming, and bragged about it on their Facebook and Twitter pages. You know we're making progress when a Christian festival is excited about being "cool enough" for Pagans to attend. )

Anyway, I plan on writing two more parts, "3 Things Pagans Can Learn from Christians" and "3 Things Pagans and Christians Can Work On Together." I can post links to those parts once they're up, if folks are interested!

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