I find religion to be extremely fascinating, if you haven't figured that out already. Pretty much all aspects of it just pique my interest. I like learning about people's beliefs and practices. I enjoy the mythology aspect, the pageantry, the history. I am most wholeheartedly impressed by people who say that religion has made a great difference in their lives -- has transformed them into better people, helped them to grow, or helped them to have personal confidence. It doesn't really matter which religion, as I find them all equally powerful and valid.
I am also interested in the foibles of religion - the dogmatic oppression, fear, anger, and lack of rationality that drives people to completely disregard the golden rules of their religion. I am fascinated by the lengths at which people will go to protect their children from enemy religions, or to prove that their God or Holy Book is the "right" one. Yes, I probably pick on Christians more than most religions, but that's because I live in the United States, and I speak English, and that's the most accessible and prevalent religious group where I am. Basically, there are just more examples of Christians for me to look at, so they get put under the microscope more often.
However, despite both of these things being true, I don't personally care to partake in organized religion. I'm not an atheist, though I find atheists to have many powerful and valid points.* (And they're also pretty funny, usually.) Often, I find most public displays of faith fascinating, bit also a little bit awkward and embarrassing. Seeing them sets off two reactions in me. First, "How fascinating that you are so moved by something that you feel compelled to express this spiritual/emotional surge by doing weird shit in public.**" Second, "Was it necessary to do this in public, or did you just want to show off a way in which you think you might be better than other people?"
All this is a roundabout prelude to bringing up the recent topic of a post by zoethe. She wrote about The Circle of Moms which is having a contest to decide the best "Best Faith-based Blog of a Mom". Apparently, a Pagan woman reached the top spot, and this has angered Christians, who are now getting out the Christian call-trees to try and flood-vote the Christian blogs to the top. Here is a snippet of Christian responses from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom:
- * "Unfortunately, Circle of Moms' top 25 "faith" blogs includes pagans/witches. Since yesterday, the pagan soccer mom's blog has moved from the teens to 2nd place, and there aren't very many votes (relatively speaking) separating 1st (a Christian blog) and 2nd place.Would you guys please help by voting daily till the contest is over? It literally is bringing tears to my eyes to think a pagan blogger could win 1st place in a "Faith Blog" contest. "
* "Wow, the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms from @CircleofMoms is being overtaken by witches...seriously."
* "I was SO disturbed to see those...especially the blog of the Pagan (witch) mother with a CHRISTIAN husband!?!?! I just can't understand how a Christian could be married to some-one who practices witchcraft!? Scary. Praying for their children!"
* "Mixed in with the "faith" blogs are pagan blogs. In fact one of those bloggers, a self-professing witch wrote, "Looking at the nominations there were a couple of pagan blogs which thrilled me to no end. How cool would it be for one of the pagan bloggers to win the top spot?" How sad is that? Different faith is wrong faith. I encourage you to pray against the aggressive attack on Christian faith that is prevalent in our world today."
Truly, it doesn't matter to me who wins. There are some great Christian women out there, and some great Pagan women. But, suddenly this contest (which is supposed to be about "who has the best blog") has turned into "Christians vs. Pagans". And that's just nasty. Here are a plethora of Moms, probably most (or all) of them good people, who have been pushed (probably unwillingly) into this name-calling, threat-swapping religious battle - just because one or two Moms were sore losers or dogmatic idiots. The question of "Who has the best blog?" will not be answered by this poll. Neither will the question of, "Who has the best religion?" In the end, what will come of it will be more bitterness, more misunderstanding, and a tarnished spot on something that should be fairly wholesome: the state of being a Mom***.
I mean, seriously. These are ladies who have Scentsy parties, write blog entries about how cool asparagus is, and post recipes about making play-doh at home. (I skimmed.)
Each side will be vindicated, no matter what the results turn out to be. If the Christians win, they'll believe God is on their side, and the Pagans will have yet more proof of being oppressed. If the Pagans win, it'll be a victory for alternative religious expression, and the Christians will have yet more proof of being oppressed.
And this is why I don't care for outward displays of faith. Because who wins? Who benefits? What is accomplished by proving your god is an awesome god? Will that god or goddess be any less awesome if you refrain from these actions? I would hope that your deity would continue to be just as awesome no matter how many battles you win in his name.
Basically, this sort of shit is the same as the guy who sits on the bus, holding his book in just such a way that you can read the title, and therefore be in awe of the fact that he's reading a really cool book. It's all smoke and mirrors and popularity contests and hubris. But, apparently the human animal is driven towards these petty displays. I guess because the desire to know that you are RIGHT is somehow hardwired in the brain. It means that you are more socially acceptable, even socially superior, and belonging to a powerful social group provides many physical and emotional benefits.
So did I vote, despite feeling kind of disgusted by the whole thing?
Yeah, I voted. I don't think it is the fault of the bloggers, at least not most of them. They just got caught up in something, and by trying to be good people of faith, fueled it. But, more than hating the situation, the handling of it, the hubris, and the inevitable outcome...I hate lopsided popularity contests. The contest was supposed to be about the best blog, and it was the Christians who first decided to make it about something else - proving their God is awesomer by proving there are more Christians to click a voting button.
So, yeah, I voted for the Pagan lady, without having ever read her blog.
I hope she wins. She was already in the lead in the contest and probably deserves it. And anyway, Christians crying about oppression and showing themselves to be poor losers is hilarious.
(And after going back and reading some of Pagan Soccer Mom's entries, I've added her to my google-reader. She's quite well spoken. The lady in second place also seems nice, even if her entries don't speak to me in particular, I can see how they would be quite powerful for other people.)
* I'm more of an apatheist. It's not that I don't think there is a God or gods. It's just that I don't think that the existence or non-existence of a deity should have any bearing on your morality or ethics, and therefore how you live your life. I also believe that mythological beings are important archetypes, and that by invoking them, we can learn and change ourselves. However, the invocation of these deities has really nothing to do with whether they exist or not. Let's put it this way: Is the story of Batman any less powerful or valid if Batman is a fictional character?
**Not that I am opposed to doing weird shit in public, by any means.
***I'm actually being a bit dramatic here. In a few cases, this has caused some Pagan moms and Christian moms to start a more open dialogue. And I approve of that wholeheartedly.