Sippin' on dat Haterade (or: Why Pagans can be Worse than Fundamentalists)


"The mythic hero is also an amalgamation of a number of archetypal images, and as such is a part of our species' psychic inheritance, a universal constant that transcends culture and time."
                                                         -Don LoCicero Superheroes and Gods

"[We live in a society] without the kind of gods that used to exist, or the legends that used to travel back and forth with tribes.  The tribes each told the same stories in their own way.  I gave those stories the power of the old concepts with characters from our own day."
                                                    -Jack Kirby (from Les Daniels' DC Comics)

Well.  It took three years, but the internet has finally caught up with us.  And with the internet, comes the yucky egocentric and long-winded 'opinion' (read as 'fact') blahblahblogs vomiting up their eternal wisdom. 

http://thehouseofvines.com/2013/05/17/we-bleed-ink/ 

My original reaction to the different comments quoted in this post was a wavy-brained gaiety.  The trolls were all shoving to get in front.  ('I hate people who worship fictional beings like Dionysus, Krishna, or Jesus.  Everyone knows Allah is the one, true god!').

Instead, I'm giving you, fair reader, an easy argument in case you're ever backed into a corner by one of these overly serious, self-aggrandizing goof-asses.  I'm also taking the time to participate in the wonderful world of internets, where I can attack someone I don't know over a 50 word comment they made without ever having to worry about running into them in a remote back alley.


"Julian Betkowski weighs in with The Need to Understand the Role of Religion:
A lot of work has been done in certain portions of the occult community to position all of magic, all of the Gods, as mere figures of the psyche, as ghosts in the machine, phantoms of archetypes that haunt the unused byways of our neural highway. Again, whatever works for you, but that is not religion. That is apologetics. Apologetics for things that people are too afraid to openly acknowledge they believe in. If you think magic is real, and the Gods are real, then you are a nut job in contemporary American society. So instead, you say that it is all psychological and you are just exploring the hidden places of the human mind. That is perfectly fine, but it is also perfectly cowardly. We cannot have it both ways. The Gods are real, or they are not. There is no in between."

To say that this interpretation of Jung's Collective Unconscious is the only one is grossly assumptive.  I would have to point out that Jung didn't see the archetypes as 'mere figures of the psyche', but as the vitals of consciousness.  And this is not the only paradigm that would allow for the worship of fictional characters, either.

I'll say it right now: The Batman is a very real being and we have a very real relationship.

There. No apologies.  Happy, pappy?
 
I've already written about the fallacy of Aristotlean Either\Or logic, and how dumb it is to believe in a single, infallible TRUTH.  The statement, 'We cannot have it both ways. The Gods are real, or they are not. There is no in between,' is meaningless.  Fucking prove it, dork.

"Urbanpooka believes we have no right to disagree with others: [ok, dickhead]
This is not reasonable discussion. Reasonable discussion of another’s pagan practices should not involve telling that person that their practice is a falsehood, or does not exist outside their head, or has no impact in their lives. It is not reasonable because it cannot be proven. Forget the fact that it is horribly, horribly rude, and that even traditional pagans are often deeply offended when non-believers turn such “arguments” on them. When non-believers do that, I’ve heard it wondered aloud “Why are you being so shitty to prove your point?”
 Thank you, Urbanpooka.

"And the second comes from fathergia and was left here:
Honestly, this whole debate is upsetting me in a very big way. Not in the debate or the conflict, but in the fucking fact that we are having this god damn STUPID debate. Fucking, Christians and Hindus and Muslims don’t have to discuss and ARGUE with each other whether Batman and Wonder Woman are worthy of veneration or some EQUALLY stupid shit. THIS is why people don’t take us seriously THIS is why we CONTINUE to get ridiculed and made fun of by academics and the larger religious community, because we KEEP BRINGING UP STUFF LIKE THIS. I want to be a part of this community, I want to look at people and feel a sense of glowing pride and be able to PROUDLY exclaim ‘These are my people’. I want to be PROUD of my fellow Pagans, I want to point at them and smile and applaud their writings and accomplishments, but how do I do that when they are conflating Tony Stark with fucking MLK Jr? God damn, that is disrespectful. I respect that man, I mean, fuck, I have a ritual called Isonomia that I do on MLK Day. Conflating him with someone who doesn’t exist is ridiculous, I mean, what the hell? It is like she got inspired from the South Park Imagination Land saga of episodes. How do you connect with people who make you embarrassed and who disrespect people that you respect and admire to a great deal? How do you do that? I don’t know if you can. I just know that this has made me very unhappy. I hope shit like this doesn’t keep coming up."
Jesus Christ.  Where to begin?  Sounds like someone has lots invested in not looking stupid.  Considering the out of proportion rage and the theme of avoiding embarrassment, I would assume that fathergia is a 14 year old boy in the midwest who's sick and tired of getting beat up after school.  Of course, I'll have to do the one thing no one else in this debate seems able to do, and admit that I COULD BE WRONG.  

Criminy.

One thing I noticed here was the proliferation of people designating which gods are 'real'.  From what I can tell, the only signifier of 'realness' is antiquity.  So cross your fingers, Sons.  If we can keep the Batman popular for another thousand years, he may get another opportunity to apply for the deity position.

What I hope I've made clear:
    1. Yelling at people you think are wrong is dumb.
    2. Magic is about results.  If it works, then obviously it's doing something right.
    3. Batman is fictional.  So are all the other Gods.  Everywhere.

P.S.  Here is the post that I believe started to 'controversy'.  I may be wrong, since I've never looked at any of these blogs before.  That being said, props to Sunweaver for a great read.

13 comments:

{ Conor W. } at: May 24, 2013 at 6:58 PM said...

Actually, I'm an (almost) twenty year old guy from Texas. Even when I was in high school I was an incredibly well liked fellow ;)

And my anger came MOSTLY from the fact that people were willingly conflating superheroes with people like Martin Luther King Jr. It had far less to do with 'wrongness' and far more to do with something that I thought was screamingly disrespectful, but Sunweaver didn't do that, and any amount of aggression I felt towards her was entirely misplaced. Towards others? Not so much. My anger was not out of proportion though, I was angry because of disrespect towards people that I greatly admire

If you think the Gods are fictional, that's your deal, and someone who thinks the Gods are fictional, well I can distinctly understand how THEY would not have any issues with worshiping the Dark Knight.

And the theme of avoiding embarrassment? Not so much, I stand by what I stand by embarrassed or not, I just thought (and still think) that this is a stupid debate and incredibly silly. As the days have passed have my opinions shifted? You betcha, I'm an emotional person and do react on emotion, once I've cooled down I have a chance to think about things differently. Do I think that worshiping comic book characters is silly? Yup, but people are going to do what they are going to do, no amount of 'calling them out' is going to change that. The only thing *I* can do is hold my own and hold what I believe to be true and leave it at that.

I don't like conflict for the sake of conflict or debate for the sake of debate (unless I'm just really fucking bored). After cooling off from my initial reactions I realized this was a 'fuck it' kind of thing. Especially when you take the stance on 'Pagan' that I do, so logically it is a non-issue. If they aren't of my particular faith, it really doesn't matter especially if we have a just slightly higher than zero percent chance of meeting in person.

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 24, 2013 at 8:07 PM said...

See, everybody? Civil disagreement. It CAN be done!

But calling our beliefs 'silly' on our own page? Tsk. Rude.

{ Ruadhán J McElroy } at: May 25, 2013 at 1:38 AM said...

Dude, if you're going to criticise people openly on the Internet, don't whine about criticisms and "haters". If you want some semblance of a "safer space" free of people making comments you feel are rude, take it to LiveJournal or DreamWidth. I'm not trying to knock you or anyone else, but seriously, if other people's comments bug you, don't make them public.

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 25, 2013 at 8:15 AM said...

*whiiiine*

{ Tannim } at: May 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM said...

I am both a Hard Animist and a Hard Polytheist. For me and those like me ALL the Gods and Spirits are very real. Now personally I have no problem with folks venerating any deities they wish to. I also have no problem with folks who feel that they can work with whatever imaginary or fictional characters they chose to in whatever form of Magick they practice. That is their choice. Personally over the years I have worked various ceremonies with The Elder Gods, Spider-Man, and other fictional characters who fit an Archetype that I want to personify. I have also created golems that conform to the Kire from the Valdemar books, the Borg and others. But that was all in the realm of Magick.

Now you state that, "Batman is fictional. So are all the other Gods. Everywhere." Might one ask what you are basing this conclusion on? If, as it seems from your writing, that you venerate or worship the Batman then why do it if he is not a "real" God in your mind. It seams a waist of time to me to worship or venerate something that does not exist and cannot effect things in a real and tangible way. I am not being critical here I truly would like to understand your position.

As far as the whole "Other religions don't take use seriously because....." issue I am of two opinions here. The first is to simply say, "Joke them if they can't take a fuck!" Honestly I as an individual could care less what some Abrehemic thinks about my religious practices. On the other hand, as someone who had worked for many years trying to build inter-faith bridges I do get a tad frustrated when folks equate Superman with Vishnu or Spider-Man with Iktome. The greater religious community sees things like this and just doesn't understand how the Pagan community can or should be taken seriously. Remember it is the so called "main stream" religions that are represented in our government, not the various Paganisims or Heathenry. I and others have fought long and hard to gain what few rights our community has. Rights such as being able to openly worship and have our on clergy in the military. The right to have our faith symbols on military grave markers, and many others. Yes some of my fellows get a bit stodgy about "this younger generation with their made up religions", Old folks have been saying things like this forever, and it would behoove some of them to remember that at one time it was the old folks saying the same things to them when they started out in Paganism.

As to those who get upset when one compares or elevates the fictional Iron-Man to the same status as MLK JR or The Punisher with Guy Fawkes again I can see both sides to this issue. Personally I am not overly fond of MLK but I respect his accomplishments. On the other hand Tony Stark has had the power to inspire me on more then one occasion. The difference is simply that one is a real person and the other is a comic book character. Now I do honestly believe that Tony, Peter, Frank, Steven and all the other Marvel characters do exist out there in the Multiverse. But here they are regarded as fictions and I honestly do not understand why one would chose to elevate them to the status of Hero or Ancestor. Again I am not criticizing here I honestly would like to understand this position.

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 25, 2013 at 9:50 PM said...

Thanks for the excellent comment, Tannim.

I understand that to some, the idea of deities being 'fictional' means that they are 'not real'. I don't think the terms are mutually exclusive. The Batman and all other gods (in my worldview) were at one point ideas in someone's mind. They're fictional AND real.

This seems like a hard idea for many to swallow, but I think that's because of our culture discounting story and myth as 'unreal'. I see fiction as a kind of door to another reality. Dig?

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of an egregore, or a group-created entity (or meme), here's the reader's digest: someone thinks up an entity (meme). Over time, more and more people add to that entity, making it stronger. The egregores we call 'gods' are ones that have been built up by a ton of people's attention.

Going back to the Batman, we have Bob Kane creating him, but we also have hundreds of writers and artists adding to the egregore. On top of that, every time someone thinks about him it adds to it, and so on.

Most important to me is the fact that as far back as I can remember, my ethics and morality have been informed by none other than the Caped Crusader.

So even though he's fictional, he still managed to have a bigger hand in molding my personality than anyone else I know. Those are very REAL effects.

Let me leave you with this: Batman is definitely fictional, but you and I both know who he is. That makes him real.

Hope that answers yr questions.

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 25, 2013 at 11:07 PM said...

And I just realized that I should also point out that I can only speak for myself when it comes to theories about what's really going on when we pray or do magic. I can't speak for the other members of the order.

{ Tannim } at: May 26, 2013 at 10:59 AM said...

Greetings Sons of the Batman,

Thanks for the reply. If I am understanding you correctly you are an adherent (knowingly or not) of the "Multiverse as Fiction" theory made popular by Robert A. Heinlein. This explains much. For me this concept is not theory it is fact. I have spoken with Donald Shimoda, Johnathan Livingston, Uncle Lazarus,and others that most folks would call fictional. They each in their own way have helped me to learn and grow. (Gee I am a right royal wanker. I should include them among my "adopted" Ancestors! After all they have taught me as much as some of the "real" people that have influenced me over the years.)

Again if I am understanding you correctly you are what I would term a Chaos Religonist (not trying to put a label on you just trying to clarify things. Personally I despise labels)

As for old Bruce being one of the main influences on who and what you are today I grock that in all its fullness! I have read literally thousands of books on religion, magick, mythology, anthropology, psychology, history and more. And still the two books that have been the biggest influence on me and helped to shape much of who and what I am are both fiction. Hell in the first of those books the main character is a SEAGULL! Granted a highly enlightened seagull but still. I can honestly say that had I not read those two books at the age of 11 I would not be who and what I am today.

As I stated in my original comment I try to build bridges between various communities. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on how to alleviate some of the raging butt-hurt that is going on in the Pagan community over this issue?

One last question. Does your order use the term "Pagan" to describe your practices and if so why? If not what terms do you use. Again I ask so that I may attempt to get some of these "overly serious, self-aggrandizing goof-asses" to perhaps understand where you (and to some extent I) am coming from. Thanks for your time and Walk in Peace.

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 26, 2013 at 1:22 PM said...

Thumbs up. Never heard of 'multiverse as fiction'. Will check it out.

Haven't heard of 'chaos religionist', either, but it sounds handy.

I've never liked the term pagan, but other Sons have used it to describe us. The real problem in nailing it down is that we are made up of autonomous cells, and each one seems to have its own worldviews. The closest thing to a shared dogma we have is the tenets.

My issue (and most of ours) with the pagan community (as a generalization, of course) is the fundamentalist point of view that I was trying to talk about in this post. Where you say, 'I am right, and everyone else is wrong!' The idea that anyone has found an ultimate truth is ridiculous to me. It's what Robert Anton Wilson is always talking about with his idea of Maybe Logic.

For instance, even though I agree with you, the statement, "this concept is not theory it is fact," is an ugly one. But at least you put the "For me," in front of it. ;)

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 26, 2013 at 1:25 PM said...

follow @sonsofthebat on twitter and someone can hook you up with our people, if you like

{ Tannim } at: May 26, 2013 at 1:35 PM said...

Thanks for the invite but I is a caveman Folks are lucky that I got on Facebook after griping for me to do it for years. As to twitter I rank it right down there with cellphones

{ Tannim } at: May 26, 2013 at 1:55 PM said...

When I say that the Multiverse as fiction Theory is fact for me it is due to having experienced it directly and personally. It does not mean that I am not a "full blown nut job who is in need of serious help" Nor do I want to imply that this or anything else I say or experience applies to anyone but me.

As to finding ultimate truth I have found only one "Life is Change" and there are conditions on that one. Everything else is up for grabs. As for RAW I have spent many wonderful hours listening to him talk on Maybe Logic and other concepts.

{ Sons of the Batman } at: May 27, 2013 at 1:01 AM said...

Haha. I know, brother. It definitely seems like a fact to me, too.

send yr email to sonsofthebatman@hush.com so I can get it and we can be pen pals.

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