The Pagan Athiest

There’s a behind the scenes of each show and it comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes it’s from comments from listeners and also our own internal conversations. Sometimes we find more information, sometimes we continue the conversation after the show, but sometimes we catch something in post production that is unexpected.

And this past Friday’s episode of The Mountain Bears, as Aeson was reviewing the recording and prepping it for distribution, he noticed something.

I kept saying “we” in regard to the protest of Pagan Pride.

I didn’t quite believe it at first, but there it is, I have jumped into the situation, me, the athiest, have become part of the pagan “we.”

Maybe it’s all the time on the road, the many wonderful people in the pagan community that have so warmly and kindly invited me in, and the overall welcoming way every event I end up at seems to go. I’m not cloaked in some shadow of existence, an athiest in pagan clothing, but quite the opposite, it’s be a very open thing.

And, oddly, it’s never been an issue. In much the same way the athiests welcome divergent view points, so too does the pagan community.

That, with a willingness to hear and an ability to be open to the premise of different ideas and experiences, there can be difference of belief with opportunities for inclusion.

On that note, I think that’s where my story of the Pagans and Me, a “we,’ begins.

Though, not necessarily in the here and now. From my side it started with an agnostic and an athiest, more colloquially known as mom and dad respectively. It involved years of encouragement to seek, question, wonder, engage, and listen. But most importantly, to respect. Though, not in the way most have come to accept the word. Respect, not blindly and obediently, but objectively and in kind.

Strange though it may seem, I’ve often found myself gravitationally pulled towards pagans. A concept that seems on one hand absurd, as I don’t share the beliefs, but on the other hand makes absolute sense. A sense I have only recently begun to articulate. There’s a certain aspect to paganism that shares so much in common with atheism that it is head slappingly obvious that it seems almost ridiculous to not have realized it sooner.

Pagans and atheists are both explorers. Seeking beyond dogma, authority, looking for more than just expedience and conformity, for something sincere and truthful.

That, although our conclusions diverge, our values align. And presented with the idea of those who share those same values being attacked by those who fail to question, who accept without thought, who attack without understanding, I find myself in the boat with them.

Though one could say this is “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” I feel it goes much deeper than that. Beyond battle lines that need not exist and into the core of humanity, of morality, and is not about enemies of friends, but an affront to the very idea of being a good and decent person. To seeing people who strive for that ideal attacked by a group that fails to see how their actions are the antithesis of decency, of love, of their own conception of God, leaves no room for for me to be uninvolved.

There is a we, in every situation, even if we don’t always agree.

Posted in Joe's Writing.