On the complexity of life and perspective, theologically speaking

I have been preoccupied of late with the overwhelming complexities of life, not only on a personal scale but also how one relates to society as a whole vis-à-vis one’s individual worldview.  I believe this is doubly the case for those of us who choose to follow a Pagan lifestyle but also recognize a deep abiding love for the root teachings of other spiritual worldviews often radically different from our own,  despite the distinct possibility that because we choose to follow the natural religion of life and we understand the greatness of our Gods as exemplified in the smallest quantum unit to the utmost entirety of the universe, emergent thereof, we may find ourselves ostracized from mainstream society to a marked degree. We are not of the “Children of the Book”, as the Muslims say, and many modern day Christians testify that we are therefore misguided at best or wholly evil at the worst and ultimately, deserving of their hatred simply because we do not acknowledge Jesus Christ to be divine.

By the way, many of us do recognize and hold a deep abiding love of the root of the biblical Christ’s teachings as a viable means of achieving peace with oneself and one’s neighbors. It’s frustrating to me that so many evangelical fundamentalists preach the concept of ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ and then in the next sentence say that all Pagans are going to Hell. Excuse me, but that’s not a mortal’s judgment to make (biblically speaking), for such decisions lie solely with God and remain well outside human responsibility. Love your neighbor as you love yourself, even when his or her beliefs are different from your own. That is one commandment I can fully agree with.

I philosophically recognize that the concept of God is academically genderless and have always envisioned deity as a Great Spirit that transcends such concerns, having created the infinite universe and remaining omniscient of all that occurs through space and time at every point in Creation.  When I pray I freely admit that in my mind’s eye I picture the Goddess, for surely the Sacred Feminine is included within the makeup of deity, undeniably merged with the identity of that glorious and infinite presence we as a species generally refer to as God.

No disrespect intended toward the viewpoint of those who believe I somehow worship Satan, Lucifer, or whatever, but I say this with all certainly – my Goddess could kick the Devil’s butt any day. In my writing I speak about my Mother’s faith having influenced me quite often but I do not frequently mention my Father’s beliefs for he rarely discussed religion with me. I can still remember the one thing he taught me in my youth that affected me profoundly and in many ways continues to influence me today. Although he is a self-identified Christian he does not believe in Hell, choosing to place his faith in an all loving, all forgiving God that would not punish his children for eternity simply because they may have “broken the rules”, so to speak. I may not be a Christian but I still find that concept to be a source of comfort, for it removes the sting of death and replaces it with the prospect that the end of life is simply another step on our final journey home.

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About William Knox

Rev. William Knox is the founder and current Chancellor of the Contemporary Pagan Alliance. Ordained in 1995 as an interfaith minister, he serves as senior priest at the Sanctuary of Light in Ravenswood,WV. and is an invested brother in the Shanddite Order of Pagan Secular Monks.
This entry was posted in Death, Equality, God, Inspiration, Paganism, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to On the complexity of life and perspective, theologically speaking

  1. tari brand says:

    you speak for many of us who have made the decision to love all of the universe, and eloquently so. thank you for the expression of truth.

  2. deryckrj says:

    Am I correct in thinking that your conception of deity is at once pantheistic and personal? I find your writing to be really very enjoyable to read and I appreciate your very sensitive appreciation of other religious (and irreligious) points-of-view. I’m a pagan at heart and a philosopher at head (if that makes any kind of sense) so a big part of my world-view hinges on attempting to reconcile spirituality with philosophy. Well, I say *hinges*, really it’s more a case of “I find it enjoyable to play around with my conceptions and pre-conceptions,” so when I read your blog my mind is filled with possibilities. I haven’t read every article yet but I’d be really interested to get a grasp on how you are able to reconcile the pantheistic conception of god with that of a personal god, because it’s something I am yet to do. If it’s something you’ve already covered but I missed it, then please by all means just show me where to go. I also have questions about your views on determinism, but perhaps that’s best kept as a separate discussion…

    • William says:

      Thank you for your contribution to the discussion. Your understanding of my personal position is generally correct though I should like to note that I am a panentheist, not a pantheist. Although the distinction may at first appear subtle, I assure you that panentheism allows for a personal relationship with deity. Within its philosophical framework, God is present both within and without the entirety of creation.

      The reconciliation you seek exists, at least in part, within the proper blending of traditional spiritual belief and the expansion of scientific knowledge. If one acknowledges that God created the universe then God must by necessity be consciously separate from the universe as well. This does not actually negate the pantheist worldview when one considers the infinite nature of Deity, from my perspective. I do not attempt to place limits on God, for all possibilities are conceivable within an infinite divine reality.

      As to determinism, I will provide a basic summary of my position in answer to your query as it would be quite possible to launch into a lengthy treatise on this one subject alone and I agree with you that such complex discussion should probably be placed within its own post, which I will certainly consider. My next article should provide additional clarity but it will not delve too deeply into the concept of free will, being concerned primarily with painting a broader picture of interfaith spiritual truth.

      I do not support the commonly proposed dichotomy between determinism and free will, being a proponent of soft determinism myself. Free will can be most easily defined as possessing the freedom to act based on one’s individually determined position without the interference of external factors originating from outside the causal consciousness.

      Yes, I freely admit to being a compatibilist, which I acknowledge is perhaps the minority opinion but I believe that soft determinism remains the only logical position for the enlightened theist to assume. Essentially, free will exists outside the boundary of legitimate causal determinism and by its very nature remains practically undefinable from an incompatibilist position or at the very least, attempts to provide it definition tend to lack even the semblance of coherent thought.

      • deryckrj says:

        I agree with you, regarding determinism, and I apologise for not seeking to clarify whether your views were pantheist or panentheist. Believe it or not, I actually did ask that question in an earlier draft of my initial comment, but for whatever reason I abandoned it. I appreciate the distinction, and for the most part largely share a panentheist view, at least in as much as I regard the Divine (what I understand you to mean by God) as being necessarily transcendent and immutable. I believe that through my will I can affect change in the world and also believe that my interactions with deity are also, at least for the most part, conducted as an act of will (or at least by means of such). Although I also acknowledge the spontaneous interactions that sometimes occur and cherish them.
        Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully, and I look forward to your future posts.

  3. davidtenn says:

    Thank you for this great post. I believe completely in a personal God and would have found your Dad a like minded friend. At the same moment though I find myself in alignment with your way of understanding through your eloquent prose which I find a joy to read. If pressed I would call myself a Shamanic Gnostic Christian Spiritualistic Pantheist with a smattering of Buddhist Philosophy … I think! Please continue with your story. Love David

    • William says:

      Thank you for your kind words. That your personal spiritual position can be essentially categorized as ‘syncretic spirituality’, for lack of a better term, does not surprise me. I think that the further one explores the complex similarities of most major theological positions, the more fully one begins to distinguish individual facets of the perennial philosophy embedded therein. As always, peace be with you my brother.

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