Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lesson 19: Hellenion the Organization Part 1

1. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of Reconstructionism?
What attracts you to it?
2. Hellenion's Mission Statement allows for a very broad range of historical
beliefs and practices. What challenges does this present? What makes an
inclusive, "big tent" approach work (if you think it does)?

1) The strengths of reconstructionism are apparent, we have traditions to
extract from, we have a "this is us, this is not us" and we have guidelines we
can follow and traditions that (some at least) are well documented and attested
to. Thus, we can say that while we are a "new" religion, we are at the same time
building from an old one, which helps avert some the derision that faiths like
Mormonism and Scientology get for being more recent. On the downside,
reconstructionism breeds rigidity, it breeds hostility by people trying to
decide if someone is "Hellenic" enough. It also creates a false dilemma, one
that is largely due to our Christian culture. The "issue" stems from many recons
automatically assuming /believing that because a person worships a non-Hellenic
God they cannot be a recon. They may make exceptions for Egyptian and Roman
deities, but Gaelic, Germanic, or Japanese deities are "off-limits" to these
folks. That is just silly. If the Greeks had "access" and a thorough
understanding of Japanese Gods, I have no doubts that they would have eventually
found their way into Greek religion. If Greece was next to Japan and Germany
we'd be in the same boat (regarding syncreticism with them or acceptance of
their influence). I reiterate, reconstructionism is not mimicry, and we don't
have to hold the same personal beliefs as the Greeks. Reconstructionism's
greatest flaw is its tendency among some to devolve into mere imitation and

As for my draw towards reconstructionism, I can't quite say entirely. There is
of course, the support, the knowledge of a shared practice, and the focus on the
group and family over it being all about your spiritual development that is
quite nice, but there is something more. Something about it that just feels
inherently right for me, despite the struggles that come with it.

2) The biggest challenge comes from people having this illusion of uniformness
of belief and practice, and when that illusion is shattered it can create quite
a bit of dissonance for some folks. It also means that when people move from
town to town they may have to go through a period of adjustment to the new
Demos's way of doing things. They may come from a Demos that relies heavily on
Boetian sources, for example, or maybe Spartan, but their new Demos may rely
heavily on Athenian or be Panhellenic in practice. This thought and fact may
take some getting used to. As for the "Big Tent" that we have in Hellenion, I'd
say it works fine as long as we approach one another with respect and realize
that we are all drawn together and united by our worship of the Immortals. We
are united by their blessings and graces, and keeping that in mind will make it
far easier to respect, support, and encourage our other members, keep our
general morale up, and grow as an organization.

I may have gotten excited and pinned my welcome letter to my wall. Maybe.

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A young man living in North Texas. He is an actor, a Hellenistos, and a proud member of Hellenion.