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Eclectics and Orthodoxy in Religion

To: alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.pagan
From: (haramullah)
Subject: Eclectics and Orthodoxy in Religion
Date: 28 Feb 1998 19:37:30 -0800

49971221 aa2 					Yuletidings to You!

assalam alaykum, my kin.

Karen M. Akins:
# > What they do not see is what they are destroying. Do you see
# > what you destroy when you mingle the symbols of various religions?

destruction is an important part of everyday life and the processes
of Allah's perfect and compassionate will.  to mingle symbols will
be problematic for some, important to others.  can we see what we
might be destroying when requiring One Solution For All, what we 
may be creating?

habibullah (
# What concerns me is mixing symbols in ways that are not respectful 
# of the religions involved.  

this is the issue that I find myself struggling with more often
than not with the religious: in the tug-of-war between individual
growth and respect of the group, which is primary?  most often I
hear the religious say that the group, and respect for it and its
ways, should always be primary.  more and more I feel that this
is short-sighted, and that we do a disservice to solitaries or
the countercultural to insist on this type of 'respect'.

# Which means that you need to UNDERSTAND the religions involved 
# and their perspectives before making the easy assumption that
# it's ok to mix symbols in this way.  

the issue becomes what "it's ok" means, who decides it, and why
there has to be a single standard which doesn't just extend to
the membership of any particular group or religious sect.  I
dispute strongly that such a standard is necessary for all, 
or that such an understanding as you have required here is a 
necessary precondition to mixing religious symbols.

in fact I have known many of eclectic (drawing from a variety
of sources) and syncretic (combining these elements to form a
path of their own) individuals like myself over the course of
my involvement with Hermetic and New Age cultures.  typically
the people involved had little or no exposure to the cultures
from which they were drawing aside from some reading in books
(a popular source of inspiration and knowledge) and the course
provided them by their heart and intuition.

when can we be sure we "UNDERSTAND", as you have said above, 
any religion, let alone a diversity from which we might
draw in order to fulfill our needs of doctrine, symbolism,
ethics or community?  perhaps you are talking about a certain
level of familiarity, understanding at least a few basics 
that relate to the tradition(s) involved.  those who inherited
their religion from kin seldom have but a bare glimpse of the
depth which may be found by book study or dedicated seeking
with knowledgeable instructor, yet they are very familiar 
with the social milieu of the religion in question.

your generalization here strikes me as a restriction that 
may well be important within a conservative religious sect,
pointing out dangers to those who are attempting to come to
a full and complete understanding of this sect's doctrines
and standards.  but to attempt to extend this to a wider
community seems to me disrespectful of individuals who may
very well need a kind of global and superficial perspective
in order to derive meaningful, innovative significance from
the collages they assemble as solitaries or rebels.

# Many people involved in one religion (e.g. Islam or 
# Christianity) might be highly offended by being associated
# with another religion like Voodun.  

by using symbols of diverse cultures we may not be 'associating'
the group or people, but merging a diversity into a unity as
*individuals*, seeing something in these symbols or terms that
proves meaningful to us.  from such experimentation great
alternatives to tradition arise, some of which you have 
mentioned that yielded new religious directions.

# Part of respect is not taking such things for granted, just 
# because from "OUR" perspective "religions are all the same 
# thing anyway" or "are different paths to the same place."  Not
# everybody shares THAT perspective -- and at least we need to 
# respect that fact and be considerate of we are doing!

with this I of course agree strongly, and your heart is indeed
in the right place with your warning here.  it amounts to a
counsel not to disregard the wider effect our personal
exploration may have, or the clash which may be experienced
between the conservative and liberal social spheres, and I
think it well-placed.

# ...We did a Universal Worship service at our wedding....

by this I presume you mean that it included numerous religious
symbols, ideas and rite-forms and attempted to respect the
most conservative elements of each.  I don't consider this to
be 'universal' but 'inclusive and respectful'.  I'm not sure
that a 'universal' event or religious approach is even possible
until and unless it begins to encompass that which is blatantly
DISrespectful of religious traditions and cultural standards
(something I have myself integrated within my Satanism).  let
me be very clear here that I do not mean a disrespect toward
the *people* of these traditions, but instead of the biases
and presumptions inherent to any particular culture, its ideas
and symbology (which the people may well find offensive).

# If we were to do this again, I would now consider carefully
# what we were doing.  I would probably still do the same thing 
# -- but would accept responsibility for what we were doing in 
# perhaps a deeper way.

because you have a deeper understanding of the elements which
you attempted to combine.  it seems to me that we can never be
more familiar with any religious tradition than we are, and that
such 'universal' explorations are important at no matter what
stage of familiarity we have have attained.  it of course depends
on what aims we may have.  if we are attempting to appeal to a
diverse audience, combine cultures in innovative and revealing
ways, or see how controversial we can be in such combination,
for example (all of which I feel are important, depending on
the needs of the person(s) involved in the endeavor).

# > There are subtle fragile bodys that are easily destroyed.
# > ...This has led me to respect the masters of all religions. 
# > They are not mixing and borrowing from each other. They 
# > know that too many cooks spoil the broth and they must 
# > each cook their own broth from a recipe that has been
# > handed down and perfected.

the ways of the orthodoxy sustain civility, tribes of support,
and traditions of beauty.  it is true that within such uni-
directional and, at times, clearly defined, traditions, that
too many directing wills results in problems.  recipes or
standards of formula assist in resolving diversity of will.

# From my perspective, that is not correct.  There are certainly 
# religions which have mixed and borrowed from other religions.  
# For example, the Sikh faith appears to incorporate elements 
# from both Islam and Hinduism, as well as a lot of new (and 
# age old!) stuff from Guru Nanak, may peace be with him.  
# Jesus, may peace be with him, added new understanding to the
# Jewish tradition, and Buddha, may peace be with him, to the 
# Hindu tradition.

but did not each set forth, as presented by the religious, a
single and unmixed interpretation of the precursive sects from
which they drew?  did they present a jumble of philosophic
positions from which to select, especially as presented by any
particular Buddhist, Sikh, or Christian sect, or did they
espouse a particular doctrine which had derived from certain
elements of previous religious traditions?

I think that Karen's point is VERY important, even while I may
argue against her assertion that this ought hold true for all
people (rather than those within a particular, self-contained,
religious group).

# You use the example of a cook using a recipe that has been 
# handed down and perfected.  Some cooks cook that way.  Others, 
# including one of the best cooks I've ever had the priviledge 
# to know, NEVER cook that way.  

but you don't address the problem of authority.  the value of
the dictum 'too many cooks spoil the broth' is independent of
whether there are rules or if there is a recipe.  if there
are, within the kitchen, cooks of the recipe style and those
of the non-recipe style, how are they to combine these in some
fashion and actually *cook the meal*?

# she says that in cooking there are no rules.  That ain't true for me --
# many of my inventions are disasters -- I needed to learn to cook by
# following recipes and learning the rules first, before I could know 
# how and when to bend them.  And, I'm still almost never able to cook
# effectively by mixing foods from different parts of the world.  But, 
# there are a number of chefs who specialize in just such "fusion" 
# cuisine.
# So, if you're a good cook, you might be able to invent "on the fly," 
# and mix up different cuisines as you wish.  Most of us, however, 
# are probably better off following a trusted recipe! 

and it is this point of Karen's that I feel is perfectly valid.
where I see the problem is in deciding who ought experiment and 
when this exploration ought begin.  in conservative religious
traditions it is usually only acceptable when one has achieved
such an integrated position to the social culture that social
pressure resists the most disastrous option, where it becomes
clear by virtue of experience what avenues of experiment remain
open to the leader.

in more liberal religious cultures such experimentation could
lead one away from the greater group of which one is part
unless one take the time to become familiar with its standards.
this may or may not result in something one desires.

amongst the eclectic and syncretic (as liberal Hermetics),
there may even be *encouragement* to engage this type of
exploration whenever it feels right to the individual.  the
results may yield a style of doctrine and symbolism which 
has the ability to unite the planet's diverse groups over
the course of millenia.  some will be ready for it, others
will never engage it on account of their preferences.

it seems to me we are talking about an issue of *tolerances*,
within religious groups and outside them.  within them I see
that there are real and important limitations to tolerance,
and these are provided emphasis in such scripture as the
New Testament, which suspends hard-line rules of Jewish
tradition for the consensus of the Church, or religious

outside religious groups or within those with a great degree
of acceptance for change and variety the tolerance may be of
infinite supply.  applying the standards of one to the other
seldom works and usually inspires strife where none need
realistically exist.  culture clash is ancient.  if we can
see these lines of demarcation and learn where to best keep
their borders we may create a world where conflict is
resolved without violence and differences are respected.

may peace be with you,

-- (emailed replies may be posted); 408/2-666-SLUG       FUCK

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