Good article on interfaith exchanges, polytheism, and relevant issues

This is a good article, one that touches on the experience that I and I suspect many other polytheists have had, not only with those who call themselves “interfaith,” but with other non-polytheistic pagans as well. It’s worth taking the time to read.

I will admit that I don’t understand giving two shits about whether one’s friends accept one’s polytheism, or whether one is part of a group etc. From the beginning of my religious journey i’ve made it a point to cull from my life those who interfere with my work, my faith, who don’t nourish my relationship with my Gods as a matter of choice, no matter how deeply I might care for them. Gods come first. So I can’t speak to the experience of a younger generation for whom this is a concern.

What I can speak to and will is the vignette the author describes at the beginning, your interaction with the so-called interfaith lady. yes and yes. I’ve worked in various capacities in the interfaith community since 1999 (including as dean of an interfaith seminary, to my knowledge the only polytheist to hold such a position) and it has always been an uphill fight. I have found not only no comprehension for polytheism, but also no respect or tolerance. Interfaith is ok until these people are challenged to move outside of their ultimately monotheistic comfort zone.

The problem is, as I see it, that the interfaith community still looks at monotheism as the “norm,” whereas to actually do interfaith work well, there can’t be that type of automatic default. Moreover, diversity isn’t something encouraged in interfaith work despite their rhetoric to the contrary. It’s all about homogenization of the Gods as “it’s all one anyway”. No, Virginia, it bloody well isn’t. I’ve found over the years that many of the people involved in interfaith work are deluding themselves with respect to the depth of their spirituality. it’s a feel good movement when it could be so much more. I think real interfaith involves wrestling with one’s prejudices and discomforts and stepping up to find common *working* ground with those of radically diverse faiths (working, not theological ground). It can be done but it takes a hell of a lot more mental and emotional effort than the easy pabulum of “well, we’re all one”.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on January 9, 2015, in Polytheism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Vision_From_Afar

    The monomythic mishmash of “Spirit” doesn’t do anyone a lick of good, nor does pretending we all worship it (which in turn somehow makes it ‘good’). Interfaith needs to recognize that we can all be and do good while worshiping different things. The unity needs to come from the people, not the Gods. They’re doing just fine. We’re the ones all fucked up.

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  2. So much this.

    Using the analogy of “There are many paths up the mountain” that so many interfaith people use, I have found a way to get it across that there is more to religious diversity than a single mountain. I pointed out that some people climb different mountains, and some people instead are off spelunking or scuba diving. It’s better than anything else I’ve found to get the point across that polytheism is a completely different paradigm and lumping it into one big whole is wrong on many levels.

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  3. I’m also an interfaith worker and have been finding it an uphill struggle as there is commonality between the monotheistic faiths but they share few similarities with Pagan polytheisms. Also personal interactions with the spirit world (aside from with saints) are pretty much a no no in most other faiths and this has proved to be a difference too.

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