All posts by Miriam the Moabite

Thoughts On Faith Building: Pillars Of The Revival Faith

In continuing my thoughts on building communities I want to next address the idea of having a set of held beliefs within a faith that solidifies the sense of belonging. For this, I have looked to Islam’s Five Pillars for inspiration:

The ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam are the foundation of Muslim life:

  • Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;
  • Establishment of the daily prayers;
  • Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;
  • Self-purification through fasting; and
  • The pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.

Islam 101

Before I go further, I am very aware that although all Muslims believe in the Five Pillars it has not stopped the bloodshed of Muslim on Muslim violence and that it has not been successful in creating an Utopian religious community. However, as I have witnessed, reverts to the faith are reminded that no matter how much they are policed by their zealots if they believe in the Five Pillars then they are Muslim. They are Muslim Enough.

This is what I would like to establish: that no matter how we see fit to carrying out our faith, if we agree on our Five Pillars then we are Revival Enough.

While making this list I tried to keep it as broad themed as possible so that each Revival culture and individuals within each sect may adapt it to fit their needs.

The Five Pillars of the Revival Faith:

  • Faith or belief in the pantheon of Gods as separate individuals and acceptance of Their influence in our lives.
  • Establishment of daily prayers.
  • Concern and involvement in community service and social justice.
  • Building a strong Hearth and Home.
  • Pilgrimage to holy sites.

Let’s break each one down:

  • Faith or belief in the pantheon of Gods and acceptance of Their influence in our lives:

Personally, I think this would be an acceptable Decree of Faith (Revival version of Shahada) as this is the at the very heart of what makes a Polytheist a Polytheist. We hold the belief in multiple Gods and that each One is a separate individual. We also have accepted that these Gods do, in fact, influence our lives.

What is important to establish is that this belief does not negate syncretism or that The Gods could be part of a Greater Whole. It is, however, establishing the belief that each God is a whole entity unto Themselves and not archetypes.

  • Establishment of daily prayers.

Communication with the Gods is key in any faith. There is no wrong or right way to preform daily prayers, what is important is that it is done.

  • Concern and involvement in community service and social justice. 

Giving back to our communities and being involved in creating a more just world is how we better serve the Gods.

  • Building a strong Hearth and Home.

Regardless of how Family looks (mother, father, children ;  single parent with children ; same sex parents with children ; childless couples, ect) the keystone to our faith is the Hearth and Home. By establishing a strong faith that involves the care of each family member’s relationship with the Gods, we create the keystone to stronger communities.

  • Pilgrimage to holy sites.

Not everyone will be able to make a pilgrimage to holy sites, I know this. However, I think it is important to have that one will attempt to do so at least once in their lives. There is no “official” list of holy sites as that is an individual assessment.

Please note that this is a general outline explaining each point. I left each topic as broad stroked as I can in order for people to inject their own thoughts and experiences. It’s not perfect but it’s a good start.

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Thoughts On Faith Building: Joy and Declarations

A while back I watched on Facebook as another faith’s community came to life as they welcomed a new convert. The outpouring of congratulations, blessings, and cheers from that group cast a sharp contrast in my mind to how we approach people new to our faith: mostly they are ignored, but in the slight chance they are acknowledged, it is with a mixture of annoyance (another newbie, ugh) to down right hostility because they are seen as a threat.

Ya’ll, this shit has got to stop.

What if, when a person says they are new to the Gods, they are welcomed into our faith with sincerity and joy?

You know, joy?

A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

Why is this lacking so hard in our community, in our faith, in our daily interactions with one another?

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the whole business of how one “converts”. I’m not a big fan of the word because it means to me that a person had to be convinced that a new religion is the “right” one, but sometimes language is limited and we have to use what we’ve got.

I know in the mystery cults they have forms of initiation for the new converts, but what about the rest of us? There’s private dedication rituals, but what if there was a way to have a public declaration of one’s desire to be with the Gods?

When Muslims revert, they publicly recite the Shahada:

The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادةaš-šahādah)  “the testimony” is an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet. The declaration, in its shortest form, reads:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله

lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, Muhammadun rasūlu-llāh

There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.

from wikipedia
What if we had something like that? What if we publicly bore our testimony of the Gods and our intention of living our lives alongside Them? What would it say? What would it be called?
I looked in my handy-dandy big book of Whelock for words in Latin. I found:
* decerno  = decide, settle, decree
* fas est = it is right, fitting, lawful
* fides = faith, trust, promise
I have no idea what the actually creed/testimony would say, but I will freely admit that I’m really liking the idea of a unified public decree. 
Thoughts?

HOW TO DEFEAT A RELIGIOUS BULLY IN BOY SCOUTS: HELLENISMOS AND RELIGIO ROMANA EDITION

Cora here.  Over the years I’ve been contacted by parents of Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts wanting more information on how to navigate the religious topics (Duty to God) and the religious emblems that are starkly missing for our faith(s).

Recently I have had a few encounters with a not-so-friendly fella in regards to our family’s faith (Hellenic Romana-Americana Revivalist) and his “concerns” that our son, Thadd, would be unable to earn his Eagle because he doesn’t “believe in God”.

In response to this, I have devised a plan that will effectively shut up any further “concerns” in six easy steps.  I share with you all now in the hopes that if you ever need it, you have it.  I think this would be most effective as a Power Point or having each step printed on a sheet of paper to be presented one at a time.

HOW TO DEFEAT A RELIGIOUS BULLY IN BOY SCOUTS: HELLENISMOS AND RELIGIO ROMANA EDITION

STEP ONE:

Establish that in order for one to be a Boy Scout one must “Follow God” and that means one must believe in God.  Once this foundation is strong move onto to:

STEP TWO:

Read what BSA has to say on the subject of religion and belief in God:

The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion. The Scout Oath states a requirement for a Scout to observe a duty to God, and the Scout Law requires a Scout to be reverent. Again, interpretation is the responsibility of the Scout, his parents and religious leaders.

 

A Scout is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.

 

Read the definition of “reverent”:

rev(ə)rənt,ˈrevərnt/

adjective

  1. feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.

 

STEP THREE:

Reestablish “Follow God”.  Ask if one “Follows God” is it a logical conclusion that one “observes a duty to God” and is “reverent toward God”.

 

STEP FOUR:

Explain in very simple terms what the Delphic Maxims are. You may want to even explain it in terms of it being similar to a longer version of the 10 Commandments.  Explain that the Maxims are the backbone of your religious beliefs and is a moral compass.

Quote the famous “Know thyself” as an example of how well known and wise the Maxims are.  Quote a few more like: “Pursue Honor”, “Exercise Prudence”, “Praise those having arête”.

To strengthen the importance of the Maxims for your boy as a Scout, draw parallels between the Maxims and Boy Scouts.  A boy who has arête is a boy who knows to “do your best” (Cub Scout Motto).

 

STEP FIVE:

Show a list of the Maxims. It can be all, or it can be the top 5, 10, 20 or whatever number you choose. Just make sure they are in order.

Have the person read the number one Maxim out loud: “Follow God”.

 

STEP SIX:

Watch their head explode.

If they try to argue the validity of your concept of “God”, point back to what BSA says on that: The BSA does not seek to interpret God or religion.

Remind them that the important thing is that one needs to “Follow God”.

Agape

There’s been a huge brouhaha over the correct way to give offerings and libations to the Gods; there’s been impassioned posts written about how we are supposed to do it and not very much is being said on why offerings and libations are given.  When reasons on why we should give are stated, it is “because it is required“.

We are to give because it is required.

The Gods require us to give to Them in order to curry Their favour, love, acceptance.

If you have children, let me ask you this: do you require your child(ren) to give you things? If your child(ren) doesn’t/don’t give you things, do you love them any less? Do you shun them, ignore them, give them a proverbial smacking?

Or do you love your child(ren) unconditionally?

When your child(ren) do(es) give you something, do you want it to be an act of pure love or because it is required of them?

I know this might be a radical message for some reading this. It’s okay. Just take a deep breath and let it sink in:

The Gods love us.  Every single last crazy one of us. It’s not about what we give Them, but who we are to Them. They love us unconditionally.

Now, that doesn’t mean They like everyone. There is a distinctive difference between “liking” a person and “loving” a person. There are times you may not “like” your child because of their behaviour, but you still love them unconditionally.

I think that’s what it’s like for Them. They get fed up with the dumbassery of some humans and their behaviour, but it comes from being very disappointed in the choices a person whom They love has made. Because, Their love isn’t contained to these little human bodies, but to our immortal Souls and They know how much better any number of us could be better.

The Hellenes have a words for this sort of love: Agape

(ἀγάπη agápē) means love in a “spiritual” sense. In the term s’agapo (Σ’αγαπώ), which means “I love you” in Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true unconditional love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros.” This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial and spiritual love. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit). Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape was used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God.

(Sorry for having to use Wikipedia for this definition and the heavy use of Christian theology, but I still like how it’s defined here).

So, here’s my non-shocking confession: I don’t actively participate in the giving of food offerings and libations. I’ve been walking with the Gods since my age was in the single digits, and I have never been required to do so in order to have Their love.

They love me unconditionally.

They love you unconditionally.

Start giving to Them from that same point of unconditional love instead of thinking you have to continue buying what you already have for free.

Better yet, spread love like it’s an infectious disease amongst your fellow humans. That’s the greatest thing you could give Them.