Saturday, February 11, 2012

Culture of the USA & Religion

For this week's Pagan Blog Project entry I decided to do "C is also for Culture"; I wanted to define American culture and how it impacts religion, especially pagan religions. The topic, though, is much too large for a single post, so I decided to bring it here. It's always been difficult for me to step back far enough to see the forest for the trees, and without being able to define the culture I was raised in, I think it's harder to enhance the good aspects and combat the negative aspects.

This is a portion of my blog entry:

So, what makes American culture?

We’re consumers. Materialistic behavior is rampant in the USA, with a strong vein of disposability and convenience. It’s always about the next something to acquire. And despite what my grandparents’ generation has to say about it, I think we’ve always been this way- look at “Manifest Destiny”. Americans have always been about getting more. And we are absolutely willing to sacrifice quality if it means we get it faster- just look at what passes for food these days. We are an impatient people.

How does this affect religion- pagan religions in particular? Well, there’s cultural appropriation, for one thing. (Hey, we got their land- why can’t we have their religion too? ) There is a market flooded with Wicca 101 books that emphasize getting your altar tools and religious jewelry over actually understanding the religion, it’s real history, or the significance of the tools aside from elemental associations. And if the first spell from a 101 book doesn’t work right away, or we still feel awkward after making offerings in our backyard for a whole week, we decide it must not be right and move onto something new. The pagan umbrella gets crammed with people who have dabbled here and there but don’t have the knowledge or experience to do much or be of much use to anyone; and worse still, this is treated as normal.
So, I guess my question is- what aspects of American culture stand out to you? What affect do they have on religious behavior/mentality in Americans?

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