Should Christians Be More Like Pagans? Would it Matter?

On the Summer Solstice over 20,000 individuals went to Stonehenge to revel and watch the sun rise (alas it was too cloudy this year to actually see the sun, though that didn’t seem to dim the celebrations). While in the past these massive throngs of travelers, tourists, and true-believers were seen as a charming (or annoying depending on your views) facet of British life, recent demographic upheavals regarding religion in the island nation have some re-evaluating what these crowds represent. “A new analysis of the 2011 census shows that a decade of mass immigration helped mask the scale of decline in Christian affiliation among the British-born population – while driving a dramatic increase in Islam, particularly among the young. It suggests that only a minority of people will describe themselves as Christians within the next decade, for first time.” So I was not completely shocked to hear that the Anglican Church in England is working to create a “pagan church” in the name of reaching out the kind of folks who like to gather at megaliths for festivals. “The church is training ministers to create “a pagan church where Christianity [is] very much in the centre” to attract spiritual believers. Ministers are being trained to create new forms of Anglicanism suitable for people of alternative beliefs as part of a Church of England drive to retain congregation numbers. Reverend Steve Hollinghurst, a researcher and adviser in new religious movements told the BBC: ‘I would be looking to formulate an exploration of the Christian faith that would be at home in their culture.'”
No doubt certain corners are already hunting “Episcopagans,” but I think this is more like the churches that hold “goth” services.

Quick Note: Should Christians Rent Space to Pagans?

The conservative-minded Anglican site VirtueOnline has got its knickers in a twist over a recent story concerning Spring Equinox celebrations held by the Mother Grove Goddess Temple in North Carolina. Why would the heretic-hunters at VirtueOnline care about what a bunch of Pagans are doing in North Carolina? Because of where they held the ritual. “Members of Mother Grove Goddess Temple will celebrate at 7 p.m. Saturday with A Breath of Appalachian Spring: A Ritual in Celebration of the Spring Equinox, in the parish hall of the Episcopal Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village.” Que outrage:
“All Souls’ Cathedral is supposed to be God’s House, and it is disgusting that the Chapter should allow this pagan cult to meet anywhere on the premises!

Regulating Native Practices and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: While the final fate of New Age guru James Arthur Ray, who led a “sweat lodge” ceremony that ended up killing three people, remains an open question, others are working to put Ray, and others like him, out of business. Arizona state Sen. Albert Hale, a former president of the Navajo Nation, is sponsoring a bill that would allow the state to regulate any for-pay activity that claims to be a “traditional and authentic Native American practice.” “A measure proposed by state Sen. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock, would require the Arizona Department of Health Services to regulate individuals or businesses that charge people to take part in what are claimed to be “traditional and authentic Native American practices.” Violators would be subject to yet-to-be-determined civil penalties. Hale said the measure is a direct outgrowth of the incident last October in Sedona, when three people died after participating in what was billed by its promoter as a traditional sweat lodge ceremony.

Post-Christian Anxiety

Longtime readers of this blog will notice that I use the term “post-Christian” quite a bit. This doesn’t mean that I think Christianity is going to dry up and blow away any time soon (that would be statistically unlikely), but that we are entering a world where that faith is one of many, and no longer the only moral and cultural guide. …a post-Christian world is one where Christianity is no longer the dominant civil religion, but one that has, gradually over extended periods of time, assumed values, culture, and worldviews that are not necessarily Christian (and further may not necessarily reflect any world religion’s standpoint). This situation applies to much of Europe, in particular in Central and Northern Europe, where no more than half of the residents in those lands profess belief in a transcendent, personal and monotheistically-conceived deity. This trend is no longer isolated to France or Germany, it has been gaining stream in the Americas as well.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.Remember the Episcopagan scandals? Well, the main player in that drama, former Episcopalian priest turned Druid Walter William Melnyk, is releasing a new novel co-written with with Druid priestess Emma Restall Orr entitled “The Apple and The Thorn”.”The Apple and The Thorn is a love story set on the mythical Isle of Avalon at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain. The novel draws on the persistent myths of the Lady of the Lake; legends of Jesus’ visit to Glastonbury with Joseph of Arimathea; the Holy Grail and the Chalice Well. Although set in ancient times, it is a heart-rending tale of power and belief, a contemporary reminder of the emotional and physical conflicts that surface when the missionary zeal of one faith threatens to destroy the beauty and spirituality of indigenous culture and suppress freedom of belief and worship.”If the Lady of the Lake and Joseph of Arimathea debating over the true nature of Jesus (and the resulting Christian religion) is your kind of thing, no doubt you’ll be well-pleased with what Melnyk and Orr have produced. The book is out now in the UK, and is scheduled for a May release in the US.The Lansing State Journal reports that Baby-Boom religious seekers will most likely remain seekers once they hit retirement.