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Cultural Appropriation and Paganism - Page 2

post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
I don't know, all your examples are NA, Christian or Jewish in origin, not pagan. So I don't feel qualified to answer.

I will say that just because some people in a culture have no idea why they are doing what they are doing doesn't mean that the culture as a whole doesn't value the practice. And honestly, I wouldn't accept an ok from anyone that is so far removed they don't know why it's done anymore.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally posted by stafl

Can anyone answer the questions I posted earlier?

Do the adherents of any one faith own their beliefs and practices?


Isn't that the same as saying that one particular religion is the only source of "Truth" and that their path is the only correct one with which to reach that Truth?
Yes, imo, they own those practices. No it isn't the same. Why would it be the same?:

Ownership of a spiritual practice doesn't necessitate prescription of that practice for all.

Nor does it exclude the possibility that truth (if that exists) can be found outside that particular spiritual practice.

There are spiritual communities who do not prescribe their ways onto others.

I probably won't understand lifting ceremony, for example, out of the culture, context, and language wherein it lives, so to speak. But I am very fulfilled by my participation in the rituals of my ancestry and have zero desire to take something like say, smudging or a sweatlodge sit for my own experience.
post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Isn't that the same as saying that one particular religion is the only source of "Truth" and that their path is the only correct one with which to reach that Truth?
absolutely not and I don't understand at all why people think that?

But I think one possible reason is that some people are so appalled at Christianities belief that only their God their way is the way; that they go to the complete opposite of any and every way is acceptable. And it doesn't matter what any culture thinks because I have a right to it all.

And IMO that is just as bad if not worse. Because as cultural practices are stolen from their communites they become forever changed. And so which is worse, decimation by a group that thinks that a culture is wrong or decimation by people that thinks a culture is right ?
post #24 of 29
arduinna said:
Quote:
I agree with you to a point. Was it really mine is better that is the problem? Or is it mine is the only way that is?? Because one can think their way is better and not necessarily think it's the only way.
I agree. However, I tend to think the former leads to the latter, particularly in the small-minded, and there's where the problems tend to arise.

stafl said:
Quote:
But if these practices somehow comfort me and bring me closer to my own spirituality, why wouldn't it be appropriate for me to celebrate them?

Since I associate with no one particular organized religion or belief system, am I to be denied the chance to pray and worship in my own unique mish-mash way?
I personally think that's probably the difference. You aren't appropriating it and then institutionalizing or promiting it, merely taking it for your own use, and apparently doing so after careful and thoughtful consideration, not because it's "cool" or "in."

Meiri said:
Quote:
It seems to me that a specific custom removed from the rest of the cultural context from which it originates loses most of its meaning.
I would think so, too.

Quote:
But I think one possible reason is that some people are so appalled at Christianities belief that only their God their way is the way; that they go to the complete opposite of any and every way is acceptable. And it doesn't matter what any culture thinks because I have a right to it all.
Or they're so enamored of a sense of what I might call "religious political correctness" that they do this. You know, the kind of PC that tends to be homogenizing rather than tolerating/celebrating differences as people like to say it does. (I may not be putting that at all well, I can't seem to express myself!) I tend to differentiate between "divisiveness" and "difference," preferring the latter to the former.

arduinna said:
Quote:
I wasn't saying that you do believe what I posted. What I posted was my opinion of what can happen when anyone (not specifically you) believes that they can appropriate what they want without consideration of where it came from and what it was traditionally used for
Okay, I understand better now and I see your point. In my own personal case, I tend to believe that all is Truth and just different paths being taken, but that doesn't mean I am going to start doing rituals from here and there. I tend to find meaning in the Christian rituals, I think probably because that's more of a *cultural* familiarity with me, not because I buy into everything they say. I certainly don't buy into the idea that it's the only path, which probably would make me a hopeless hypocrite and head case to a lot of the people I go to church with. At this point in my life, I don't much care about that. It's like, I feel a soul stirring when I hear "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes probably equally because it's that song and because I'm Scotch-Irish and appreciation of bagpipe playing must be in the genes. So spiritually that means something to me because it's my culture and my background.

I'm rambling and not sure I'm making a point here. Sorry....

Ultimately I'm not sure I know the answer. I can really see some points on both sides of the issue, and I feel the answer has as much to do with someone's motivation as to the actual rituals they are trying to appropriate......
post #25 of 29
Well, to repeat what I have said in similar threads...
for me, "appropriation" is about power and oppression.

I would NEVER work with American Indian dieties or rituals, because my culture has been decimating their culture for centuries. I think it is incredibly disrespectful for an oppressor culture to take from an oppressed culture... Even IF I PERSONALLY have never oppressed. And that's what a lot of folks don't get. It doesn't matter how respectful YOU are as an individual.

I stay away from Voudon and Santeria and Candomble (sp) for the same reason.. religions brought over to Cuba, Haiti and South America by slaves that syncretized with the religion of the slave-holders.. are very powerful religions, but I don't feel I have any business messing with them. I do have a friend who is a lilly-white Southern boy.. and a POWERFUL Santerian. He says he was called, and who am I to argue? But I would not go there myself.

Now, European and Middle Eastern stuff is fair game for me.
And I have used Hindu dieties as well... as I have no oppressor relationship with India. I feel the karma is clean. I work mostly with dieties that have connections to my heritage.. but I am a Pantheist, not a strict Polytheist.. so I feel OK about sometimes borrowing another God or Goddess image.

Now, others have said.. well what if you were something else in a past life?
but I am in this life now.. and so that is what I deal with.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
But I am very fulfilled by my participation in the rituals of my ancestry
What about people like myself, who don't have any one particular heritage from which to draw? Most US citizens are a hodge-podge of many different cultures.
I am partly German-Jewish, Lakota, Irish, Scottish, English, and probably more that I'm not aware of. And just perhaps, it's that mixed heritage that brings me to my odd eclectic beliefs that are a mixture of many different faiths.

What matters the most to me, is how different faiths define what I have found within my heart to be True. I have taken my own innermost beliefs, and applied religion to them rather than the other way around. I borrow bits and pieces from many different sources in my search for enlightenment.

I don't see how what I am doing has any effect on any culture or any faith system, as I am totally outside and apart from them. My beliefs and rituals are for me and only me.

Quote:
as cultural practices are stolen from their communites they become forever changed.
That is the evolution of ideas. It's going to happen, like it or not. Each generation takes the lessons their forefathers have taught and re-invents them in context of current times. Conquerors have always incorporated aspects of the conquered culture into their own. A belief system or religion that does not allow for change will surely die out just as the dinosaurs did. The outward appearance of religions constantly changes, but the Truth at the heart of those religions carries on forever and is timeless.

So to go back to the original question, yes I feel everything is fair game as long as the individuals who are "appopriating" the ideas and customs in question do so with good intentions and a deep inner respect of that which they borrow.
Organized religions that borrow things from other religions? well, as I am inherently opposed to organized religion of any sort for numerous reasons, perhaps I'm not the best to say one way or the other.
post #27 of 29
bumping this discussion, in light of the more recent thread on the same subject...
post #28 of 29
stafl, ITA with your post. I said some of the same things on the other thread. As long as borrowing happens with respect and honest intentions towrds enlightenment or gnosis or unity with god and humanity, I do not see it as racist/sexist/classist.

It is not going to stop happening. Religions evolve, as you said. Due to a series of reasons, climate, food sources, changes such as abolition of slavery and ownership of women, ease of immigration, movies, gender study, a new book you found that shakes you to your core.

And of course, beliefnet!
post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
While wandering around I found this quote

At any rate, I am completely on board with the argument that when someone who is not a part of a particular culture and religion attempts to dictate their own wishful thinking and misunderstanding of another culture to someone else, they are being a twinkie. Especially when they try to sell it back to the members of the culture they only think they understand! Those of us enculturated in the dominant (middle-class) culture need to be extremely careful that we are not interpreting another culture's experiences for them using our own norms. We have been very guilty of doing this in the past, and our past victims have every right to view us now with suspicion.

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