Paganism/Talk

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Deleted this because I don't believe it is correct:

The terminology of paganism/neopaganism is also used to define difference in religious beliefs stemming from the use of technology and modern devices. Neopagans, as a general rule, see the use of technology as a granted right of mans evolution as long as the use of this technology is for the betterment of the Earth.

I moved the above comment to this page, and I've rewritten this article. I'm sure it still needs a lot of work, because I certainly am no expert on paganism. I would like to suggest gently to enthusiasts of various things about which it's possible to be enthused, please bear in mind that we are writing an encyclopedia for the entire world, with all the many people in it, and that means you must take a wide and long view of the subject you're writing about.

Neopaganists, for example, would do well to remember that paganism has a long history that is historically completely separate from the activities in which they engage at present. The most recent version of this article very inadequately mentioned the differences between ancient Celtic and other polytheistic and animist religion(s), on the one hand, and their modern revivalists, on the other. The rewritten article still needs a lot more information about that, actually. But this was, I think, because the person(s) who wrote some earlier draft of the article either didn't know or more likely didn't care enough about the differences to think it necessary to point them out. This results in confusion to anyone who doesn't actually know about the article, and this confusion is not due to inadequate time and space but failure to use the time and the space that was used.

Not to pick on these authors in particular, though, there have been plenty of other examples where articles suffer from a lack of intellectual worldliness, an intellectual provinciality, as though one person's, one group's, one discipline's, etc., take on the subject were the only that exists. I won't name names, but I've seen this again and again. (OK, to name one group, scientists generally and the computer scientists particularly often seem to think that their own special meanings for otherwise common terms or terms used in other fields are the only ones worth mentioning!) I'm sure I've been guilty of this myself from time to time, although I do try to keep myself alert to it. Of course, there are plenty of people who are very aware of this, but there are also quite a few people who don't seem to be.

Please don't hide behind the fact that people can correct articles and that this is a work in progress. That's very true and someone will eventually correct bad work. But with a little research and thought, nearly everyone working here can at least acknowledge that other takes on the subject exist. It's not that hard to do that much, and it's just efficient, and it makes the overall "stature" of the project higher. It also won't do to say, "Well, this is useful information--I can add it and others can add other relevant views." This is perfectly true, but it is also perfectly true that it is just much better to at least acknowledge that the other views exist--to put placeholders down. This doesn't require much more, if any more, effort than simply writing the text you want to write. --LMS


I agree wholeheartedly, Larry - the qualification of "said to be" isn't nearly enough for the pre-historic matriarchal religion of Europe. I just removed "ancient Ireland" from the list of country-folk untouched by religion NOT because they weren't pagan (though by the late 4th century they were being converted - don't get me started on St. patrick) but because they never really had cities (and the concomitant population of urban snobs) nor were they Latin speakers, so 'paganus' is anachronistic for them. Gaul, on the other hand, is an excellent example. Folks in Bordeaux and Toulouse and Arles and Marseilles and Lyon certainly sneered at pagani. --MichaelTinkler


I'm not too sure whether to agree with your edit or not -- the big question is, how to define pagan? My immediate reaction would be to say any polytheistic religion -- but then we have Hinduism, Shintoism, Indigeneous religions as pagan, which might techincally be correct but isn't how the word is normally used. I think the most accurate description of what the word is generally used to describe is "those polytheistic religions in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Near East displaced by Judaism, Christianity or Islam" -- but that definition doesn't seem that natural... -- Simon J Kissane


Well, that section is about the etymology of 'paganus' in its Christian context rather than the phenomenon 'paganism'. There's room for both in an encyclopedia entry, though I have not objection to someone moving it around. On the other hand, I would object to someone clouding the meaning of "rustic" by including Hinduism or Ireland at that point. When early Christians talked about other 'high' religions they tended to use the word idolatria (latria = worship), "idolatry". Paganism didn't come to have a common Christian usage until the 4th or even 5th centuries. We could move this section, or delete it, but it's the etymology of the word! --MichaelTinkler


As a Neopagan myself, I tried to flesh out some of the basics of Neopaganism, but decided it really needed its own page. This page now sticks to the older usage, but links to Neopaganism. Hopefully this will keep things clear and allow the Neopagan content to be further expanded later.

-- [[Dmerrill]