In a nutshell, we're asked as pagans-- how committed are we to our path if we have dedicated ourselves to paganism, but haven't renounced our previous faith? In her topic post, Aine says,
"In my opinion, it's too easy to dedicate to something without having to forfeit something else. There is no risk, nothing to lose and because of this, it's too easy to commit."So I've been chewing on this idea since yesterday. I understand the point, but I'm not sure that I really agree. I have dedicated to my path in ritual, in front of others. I have re-dedicated to my path. I have been part of several rituals where I challenged, guided and then welcomed new dedicants after their year and a day of study. These were rich, emotional, fulfilling rituals with vows that were taken seriously by all involved. But were they incomplete because they didn't include a renouncement of former faith?
And, "Commitments are necessary, and sacrifices are a part of life. In your spiritual life, you can't walk two paths at the same time. These paths may run parallel to each other but they are separate."
I think not. At least for me.
I can't say that I grew up in a very religious family. I remember going to Methodist church when I was very little and I was part of the children's choir for a couple of years. But I don't remember being involved in the church much beyond those years, except for when I would spend the occasional weekend with my Gram and she would take me to her Baptist church.
In my teens and 20's I was confused about religion. I tried finding God by reading the Bible several times, but never made it very far past Genesis. Why was God so down on women? Why was he so angry and vengeful? Where was the love?
In my early 30's I was involved in a 12-steps program, two of those steps stating that I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, and, being willing to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God. Wait a minute. I didn't understand God. And I certainly wasn't willing to turn my life over to Him. So I went searching for understanding.
And on my last day as a Christian, I went to Easter services and listened to not one, but two pastors tell me I was an unworthy sinner who needed saved and blah blah blah. It was spring time, a time to be celebrating, and we sang doleful hymns about how Jesus died for our sins and without his sacrifice, we would never make it to heaven and everlasting life. After the service I sat in my car in the church parking lot and cried because I hadn't found God. And I made the decision to explore a different spiritual path, paganism.
Although I didn't state it out loud or during a dedication ritual or in front of witnesses-- I feel that at the moment I decided to pursue a pagan path, I renounced my former (tenuous) faith. I made a choice. I was committed to that choice. And after several years of study, I made a second commitment to my path when I went through a dedication ritual and gave myself to the Lady and the Lord.
I feel I renounced the Christian path when I made my choice to pursue paganism, but I don't renounce God or Jesus. I believe They are just different aspects of the Lord that I now honor. Only I know the Lord as Lugh and the Greenman and Hanuman and Father Sky and by other names. They are all different parts of the whole. How can I reject one of the many faces of the Lord, just because I don't connect with that aspect? Instead, I focus on the faces of the God that I do connect with.
What are your thoughts?