CHU/Sidney started quoting "Getrude" and "Tobias" in a manner that left no room for doubt as to where he/they stood, writing:
" At the same time Antistoicus was challenged about his own website by correspondents on our guestbook. One reader who obviously had some understanding of the current situation hit him with the following: "'Antistoicus - "Constructive relationship with Xtians" Get real, like many others you are clearly being played like a drum by theocratical forces that are based on gospel-based 'evangelism' but cannot see it!
Or alternatively YOU are a sleeping 'agent provocateur' for the Church's crusade mission to Paganism itself! Come on admit it!"
Take a good, careful look at the quote Sidney/CHU has cited. It doesn't talk about "Fundamentalists". It doesn't talk about "evangelists". It refers to "Xtians" (Christians), period. CHU/Sidney went on to write :
" Antistoicus was unable (or unwilling?) to answer this serious accusation and failed to respond. "
which, taken literally, is a bald faced lie. You've already seen me respond to that accusation at length. CHU/Sidney will probably try to salvage that claim by saying "yes, but you didn't respond immediately", to which my response is "yes, and that is to be expected, because I have a life". I don't have time to spend all day watching a guestbook waiting to see if somebody is going to make another unfounded accusation.
Beyond that, though, the argument is simply stupid. If I go walking down Division Street, and run into a drunk who points to me and yells "He did it! He killed all the Kurds in Iraq!", do I stop and establish my innocence, or do I keep on walking and ignore the lunatic? If I were always to exercise the second option, I would end up spending all of my time arguing with lunatics and, before long, I would have as little in the way of a life as they would. And, let's face it, when Gertrude makes an argument along the lines of "you're in favor of talking civilly with Christians, therefore you're plotting the downfall of Paganism", lunacy is what we are seeing.
Contining CHU's efforts to dig up dirt, Sidney (CHU) then wrote that
" Yet another reader exposed his game plan with the following quote.'Gertrude' is right regarding this 'Church crusader' called ANTISTOICUS. On his 'own' website it says clearly, and I quote: "
Aside : Have you noticed that Sidney, Tobias and Gertrude all seem to share this quirk of using single quotes at the most bizarre moments? Why is "own" put in quotes, there? (In case there is any doubt, yes, I am Antistoicus, and this is my website). How interesting that all three (?) of them share this unusual quirk.
Continuing, Sidney quotes Tobias who quotes me ... excuse me while I catch my breath ... as I write the following :
" I'm off the clock and like any other 'CHURCH GOER ', I get to be myself"
To show you how desperate Tobias was to dig up dirt, that quote comes from the entry page to what will be the new Shutterbug photography subsite. Here's the whole passage :
You are now leaving the Almond Jar. Yes, really. The page you're headed for has nothing to do with Hellenism, or religion. It's just a photography page, and when I put something up over there, I'm not Antistoicus, moderator of the Shrine, I'm just me, a guy who's putting up photos. Please don't expect a religious tone out of me, as I do so, or be horribly shocked if I try to sell you something while you're over there. Assuming, that is, that I ever learn how to shoot something worth buying. I'm off the clock, and like any other church goer, I get to be myself.
Oooooh! Sinister, wasn't it? Again, quotation out of context.
This wasn't a theological treatise. This was a breezy, conversational note tossed up to guide the reader on his way. Even were Tobias' criticisms valid ones, on literal, semantic grounds, they'd be wildly inappropriate here, to the point of being legitimately offensive. How relaxed can we be, if we're expected to go through our day watching every word we utter, out of fear that somebody may be watching, hoping to find a verbal misstep, as they wait to pounce? I'm sure we remember the bad old days of the golden age of Political Correctness. It was just that lack of opportunity to relax that made them as unpleasant as they were.
Not that one can even give Tobias that because, as somebody pointed out, one of the very first things that I said when I first posted was that I was a Christo-Pagan Synchretist. Of course I'm a church goer. Yes, literally. Jesus is one of the gods I worship, and so, of course, I will visit his holy places, ie. the churches. What kind of worshipper would I be if I never did that?
Aside from questions of semantics and ettiquette, though, we're left with the fact that Tobias is being a geek. None of us grew up in predominantly Pagan cultures, and when one of us says something like "Thank Goddess" or "Gods forbid", that's an affectation. It's not how people normally talk. Firsthand, I can tell you that more than a few of the kids at Beth Shalom, when they got angry, would say "Jesus Christ", even though not a one of them believed in him. Why? Because it's customary. It's part of our common regional culture. To accept this, is to do no more than be ourselves. To do otherwise, makes for tiresome conversations and bad writing.
Regan continues quoting Tobias, who is about to quote me again:
" This pseudo-pagan even states on his site 'WICCANS ARE NOT WELCOME AS GUESTS ANY MORE.' Point proved - Xtian troublemaker exposed!
Really? Interesting jump in logic, there - "he doesn't welcome Wiccan guests, therefore he must be part of the fundamentalist Christian conspiracy". Tobias and CHU / Sidney might want to check that theory out with the Asatruar, many of whom make us look like charter members of the Llewellyn Press fan club and could hardly be termed "Christian".
At the time Wiccans were banned from the Shrine, the Shrine was not yet a Christo-Pagan group; at most, it was a Christo-Pagan friendly Graeco-Roman Reconstructionist group, whose only institutional interest in Christianity was as a source of derivative material we could use to fill in the gaps, when dealing with the fragmentary original Graeco-Roman material. This much was explained years ago in our explanation of what a demipagan is, and "Assimilate This", our rebuttal to the equally nosy demand on the part of some that we become "Eclectic Pagans".
The Shrine was far from being the first Recon group to run out of patience with the antics of its local Wiccan community, some of which we've already mentioned. Wiccans frequently take incredible liberties with the historical record, often growing irate when corrected. One of those liberties is the assertion that all traditional Pagan paths are really one path, and that one path is Wicca. Reconstructionists know better, and so would more Wiccans, were they better read. But they don't want to be.
During our last "courtesy call" on one of the local covens (The "Blessed Village Shrine" in The Prima Nocturne Incident), I had the dubious pleasure of trying to explain to the high priest that the ancients didn't view all Pagan religions as being the same religion. Obviously, the Romans didn't view Druidry as being the same as the Religio Romana; the former was outlawed and the latter was the state religion. A chill fell over the room. "The Romans frequently equated gods from one pantheon with those of another", he said. True, but irrelevant - Jews and Moslems worship the same god, or at least so most people believe, including most Jews and most Moslems. Yet, few would assert that Judaism and Islam are the same religion. Obviously, more goes into defining a religion than giving the list of deities believed in.
I was cut off, before I could even make the point. Disagreeing with the High Priest was considered to be "disruptive" and "divisive". Rather than take responsibility for their own anger management problems, the membership (and the High Priestess), equating reasoned dissent and the willingness to not back down in the face of pressure with the picking of a fight, insisted that we 'go along to get along'. Had we done so, we would have been a Reconstructionist group in name only, but without doing so, we would have had no peace as long as the membership of the "Blessed Village Shrine" (not its real name) was around. We would even have had to deny Aphrodite herself, reducing her to being nothing more than a name for their Wiccan Goddess, a being who bore no resemblence to any aspect of Aphrodite we had ever heard of.
In short, we refused to be evangelized. And that is the dirty little secret which many Wiccans like to try to keep a secret, by throwing screaming fits whenever it is mentioned - that there is a very aggressive Wiccan evangelistic presence, that, unlike the Fundamentalist Christian one, recognizes no moral boundaries, and no need for any kind of civility. A presence that, eventually, more than a few Reconstructionists find they want to be rid of, once and for all.
Some Wiccans will call this "Anti-Wiccan bigotry"; "Sidney", "Gertrude" and "Tobias" make it clear that they would. But this position is hypocritical. Have they not, by their own account, banished Christians from their own allegedly Wiccan events, because of their desire to not be bothered with Christian evangelism? In fact, they've gone far beyond this : not only have they made this banishment a personal choice, made by them and their friends at their own events, but it is a choice which they've pressured Pagans from other groups to make, as well. If the argument for exclusion is valid when applied to Christians, then, mutus mutandis, it remains valid when applied to Wiccans. People may be biased, but valid laws of inference never are.
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