Polemical topics for polytheists (part 12): Pluralism

First view: Pluralism is good in polytheism because it allows for individual choice and differences in opinion and practice.

Second view: Pluralism is bad for polytheism because it doesn’t encourage unity and causes weaknesses by multiplying differences.

Balanced view: Although being a term that properly applies *between* rather than *within* distinct communities, polytheism also inherently allows for individual choices that are not divisive.

By virtue of the history of polytheism, as well as the etymology of the word itself (many-Gods), there is natural and necessary room for plural ways to exist. A quick observation over the multitude of traditions, past or present, throughout the world proves this point. However, at this time of revival and regrowth for lost traditions, the question of unity and division inevitably arises and necessitates some reflection. To what degree can we differ before we undermine our efforts, and are there any limitations and rules to follow in that regard? I think this extremely important point can be best understood, as well as resolved, by the concept of “community”, which I am glad repeat so often. Our ancestors, while belonging to one or another larger ethnic tradition, always rooted their practices of polytheism within their smaller, distinct communities. This allowed for slow and organic variations* to develop, bearing the distinct and collective mark of the people and the Divine Beings that patronized them. People naturally exist within groups and homogeneity of people and principle within that group is what enables a community to remain stable and happy. For this reason, while individual choices did certainly have a place within community, these had limitations and were regulated by the authority of a majority and the chieftain, archpriest, elder, etc. who represented the interests and unity of that same majority. It is common sense to believe that that individuals cannot find happiness outside of a group to which they can truly belong, and at the same time it is equally true a community cannot stand firm if too many individuals within it set their own choices above the common good and collective interest. This is where pluralism can really be useful: individuals who find themselves alienated by their native community, for whatever reason, always have the ability to join other communities or even establish new ones. This is much more preferable to stirring up division and weakening the unity of the majority, and it is also the natural way of our ancestors. How else do we have so many wonderful and distinct traditions, and why else do we oppose the uniformity of all communities that monotheism enforces? Monotheism prefers the structural power and expansion of a permanent federalism (if not an absolute state), whereas we may better choose the fair diversity of a confederalism (with room for a temporary federalism in times of difficulty) not only between distinct communities within a region, but also among all traditions throughout the whole world. This is why pluralism is better than multiculturalism, and this is how we can both unite and preserve our distinct ways for future generations to come.

 

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*The metaphor of a slowly cooked meal, which is always more delicious and healthier than a meal cooked fast, applies very well here.

4 thoughts on “Polemical topics for polytheists (part 12): Pluralism

  1. Array

    “This is why pluralism is better than multiculturalism, and this is how we can both unite and preserve our distinct ways for future generations to come.” This right here is a brilliant statement that can and should be used not just among polytheists but also those who want to preserve our nation/traditional tribal borders.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Thank you! Well, if you think about it, polytheism (at least in the traditional & indigenous sense) is inherently connected to land and hence borders. Ethnic groups that follow polytheism have an inseparable triad: Gods, people and land.

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  2. caelesti

    This and multiculturalism and some other topics you’ve discussed seem more social/political organization than theology or religious practice, is it OK if I inquire do you have a local in-person worship group or other household members who practice? Or a broader in-person polytheist or pagan community locally or regionally? Because talking about all these theoretical forms of social organization while interesting how does it relate to what we are doing currently, and how can we build from there? I’d be happy to discuss my own local group & communit(ies) and past experiences with them as well, not to just single you out!

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Thank you for the comment. You are right that this post, among others, does discuss socio-political points rather than purely religious ones. But isn’t some sort of socio-political organization necessary for the success and growth of any religious group? I do believe that the socio-political side of religion is often overlooked, because the emphasis is on individual devotion and the rituals that are thought to form it. On the other hand, I have attempted to lay out the benefits of community to the best of my ability and in a broad manner that most, if not all, can relate to. Community (and the socio-political organization that goes along with it) is something I believe we should all be aiming at and striving for, and perhaps I am in effect looking forward with hope by writing these theoretical thoughts, as if in anticipation of what I pray will come about and in prevention ot what may go wrong. I consider theoretical understanding necessary before any undertaking that has to do with practice, especially in such a complex case that affects so many people’s religious destiny. At present, I do not belong to any community and I am sure most likewise do not; as for those who do, the groups are rather small (or large online only) and not properly full-fledged communities on the ground (with very few exceptions). I hope I have answered your question and I welcome you to share your own thoughts and past experiences with community.

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