This is the first week of “B” in this year’s Pagan Blog Project, and I planned to write “B is for ‘Brighid’”. I wanted to write “B is for ‘Brighid’”. I really did.
But I’ve learned something about blogging, in my long experience of three weeks – something you might call a “Blogging Basic”. I can’t write about what I want to write about. I have to write about what my brain wants to write about. Which is, apparently, not “B is for ‘Brighid’”. At least, not this week. Maybe next week.
The reason this is on my mind right now is because of a couple of relatively new people who have been posting lately on The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum (TC). One of them, I’ll call Poster M, is fixated on djinn (as in genies) and other similar entities. He claims to “own” two of them – or, rather, he claims to own two objects, each of which has an entity bound to it. The bound entities are required to answer when he calls and to help him in various ways, like granting wishes and sharing wisdom. M seems to be completely convinced of the existence of these entities, and others like them (and completely unconcerned about the ethical issues of enslaving these entities). He cites various YouTube videos and websites like this as proof. (There is a lot more about M that is just flat-out annoying, but this is the part I’m interested in at the moment.)
I’ll call the other new poster “Poster F”. What annoys me so much about F – and, believe me, I’m NOT alone – is that she, evidently, thinks she has something interesting to say about absolutely everything despite that fact that she doesn’t appear to use her brain to think about anything. For example, way back in October 2011, someone on TC started a thread about polygamy and asked what people think of it. Discussion ensued, and, as discussion always does, eventually petered out about three months later. Perfectly normal for TC. Along came F, a full year after the last post in that thread, and – in the course of going through and making annoying, banal comments on every thread she could find, active or otherwise – decided to post her thoughts on polygamy. Those thoughts (and I use that word very loosely), consisted of, essentially, “I think polygamy is bad because I once heard about a polygamist who abused children.” (My paraphrase; not a direct quote.) She was referring to Warren Jeffs, who was a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that split from the Mormon Church in part over the practice of polygamy. Jeffs’s group continued to practice polygamy. Jeffs practiced all sorts of other things, too, and, in 2011, was convicted of felony child sexual assault.
Now, I’m the last person to defend child abuse of any kind, and I’m not particularly interested in the Mormon Church or its factions. That is not my issue with F. My issue is that she didn’t bother to think about the question that was asked, which was: What’s your take on polygamy? Instead, she remembered seeing something on TV about a polygamist who was also a rapist and child abuser, and assumed that all polygamists are rapists and child abusers. Of course, many of us – including some TC regulars who are in poly relationships – tried to clarify the question and correct the misconceptions. We explained that polygamy is an arrangement between consenting adults, and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with rape or child abuse. But F dug in her heels and insisted that polygamy = child sexual abuse because she had seen it on TV.
So, that’s the “blithering bunk” part. Between M and F, there was so much inane twaddle lying all over TC’s forum that it was almost impossible to avoid stepping in it to get back to the real conversations. So annoying.
But – and I really hate to admit this – the inane twaddle forced me to think about something. Beliefs. How do we form them? How and why do they evolve? Why are they so important to us?
Is M’s belief in djinn any more outlandish than my belief in Brighid? Well… When you put it like that, I guess not.
Is F’s use of TV to form her initial beliefs about polygamy any more suspect than my use of Irish stories? Unfortunately, no. (Although I still take issue with refusing to adapt those beliefs to account for new information.)
So, why do some beliefs seem so much more … legitimate(?)… than other beliefs? Or is that all a matter of perspective?
My aging parents live in the same house I do. They are both long-time lay leaders in their (United Methodist) church, and my brother and sister-in-law are both Methodist ministers. Why is it OK to talk about my brother’s work as a pastor, when it feels so scary to even hint at my beliefs as a pagan?
Our beliefs are fundamentally important to us. Important enough to die for, in many cases. They inform our decisions, large and small. They color our world and our outlook on the world. They influence everything from what we wear to who we love.
But where do they come from? And why?
I have no idea.
So… I guess……… B is for “beats me”.