Contemporary Paganism: Meaningful Practices #6

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R. Eugene Laughlin
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Contemporary Paganism: Meaningful Practices #6

Post#1 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:38 pm

Reverence

Religion as an institution is inherently problematic for a variety of reasons. For example, an institution has expenses, which necessitates fund-raising and funds that have to be administered... Institutions need a structure as well, and that usually means a hierarchy, and the specter of authority... once an authority structure is accepted, someone feels empowered to issue behavioral proscriptions and prohibitions, others feel obliged to obey them, etc.

The point is, none of that is necessary for religion as a practice. In its most generic form, doing something religiously refers both to doing something routinely and doing it enthusiastically, or at the level of maximal engagement.

Derivational Contemporary Paganism, as an alternative to Reconstructistic and Eclectic Paganism (typically referred to as Neopaganism), looks not to the past for clues or inspiration in developing religious practices, but rather seeks after the awe-inspiring events of the world in which we live, and derives practices from there. While it's reasonable to think of natural events that occur with some regularity, like spectacular sunsets, rainbows, rare sightings of wildlife for an area, etc., and indeed such events qualify, we can also find awe-inspiring events in the context of human relations: demonstrations of uncommon courage, altruism, deep compassion, and such.

Events that might be described as uncanny good fortune can also inspire awe, whether experienced directly or observed in someone else's life. On a related note, unexpectedly recognizing how deeply interconnected people and events can be also tends to inspire the sense of awe alluded to. We can also be moved to awe and inspired by art of any sort.

Reverence, in this context, refers to paying attention to anything and everything along those lines, and taking time out to reflect on them, and to appreciate them, to hold them sacred. As a religious practice, it's reasonable to schedule a time to recall recent events that were particularly awe-inspiring, be it weekly, or monthly, or whatever suits ones personal lifestyle. But bear in mind that the derivational approach means that any and all such decisions can be left to personal inspiration itself.



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