When I read and re-read Sunweaver's initial post the thing I am most struck by is that she is using the word Hero in a modern sense to describe it in an ancient sense. There is a projection of modern connotation onto an ancient word and the ancient understanding of heroes. Her comments below address this fact, but her writing and an inevitable implication and projection of the modern unto the ancient, as well as a blatant disregard for the ancient conception of heroes in favor of the modern usage of the word (which would be fine if she was not specifically talking about hero worship in a Hellenic context). It rapidly became clear to me that the disconnect and the tension in the thread between she and the lovely Ruadhán is that they are approaching it from different spheres of what is important. to Ruadhán the thing of import is talking about the phrase as it related to the ancient conception of the hero cult, to Sunweaver the thing of import was her own personal relation to the word regardless of the cultic associations or implications that may be present.
Ah-ha, now I'm getting it.
As I further examined the comments on her article, the most striking thing is that of the people who strongly agreed with her, there was a high disregard for academic study and drawing from ancient sources, and the viewpoint that because it is inspired from ancient sources it cannot be relevant to our modern life and a general misunderstanding of the reconstructionist methodology. The user kenofken stated "I'm never going to re-create the exact relationship with the gods and each other that the ancients had. It would be a waste of time and maladaptive even if I could. I have to engage my religion and everything else in the here and now." to which Sunweaver gave an enthusiastic response to and implied that people who are disagreeing with her are taking the myths literally or the deeds of the heroes literally (not a chance in hell. Haven't met a single person who takes the deeds of the heroes literally.) and the user Erin Lowe states "I think this is a fascinating article in what speaks to a lot of people. Why look into dusty old books for your religion? The much venerated ancients were sorta making it up as they go along! And why not modernize and change things? They did that too!" which is kind of very inaccurate. Things changed, but many and most things stayed the same. We can see this reflected in the Shinto faith and realize that while they went through phases and changes, the bulk of practices and beliefs and festivals stayed the same (who could be priests and participate in matsuri changed over time mainly). So, traditions arose at some point in time, but were also maintained and sustained over time, and we see this with many other faiths which hold tradition in high regard and have continued to hold it in high regard. But I digress.
The comments on her blog and elsewhere give me a clear indication that the fundamental disconnect plays into the fact that those who identify as Recons and those who don't seem to really differ in the fact that 1) Many of the stances of non-Recons tend to be a reaction to a Christian culture assimilating some objections mostly employed by Atheists (such as, it is old, it couldn't possibly be relevant) and 2) Have a larger focus on what things, words, rites, and concepts mean for them personally and generally are in favor of disregarding what they meant for the culture in question of which they are very loosely drawing their beliefs from. Their stance is a reactionary one and is in staunch opposition to anything which remotely reminds them of the larger Christian culture.
That is fine, it works for them, I get it. It is also bringing up yet again, straight in my face, that there are major disconnects between Neo-Pagans and Recons and their derivatives. Reconstructionism is not something that stands in opposition to Christianity nor does it allow you to be centric on yourself and nor does it go 'As long as it lets you cope with the world!'. There is less plasticity (but there is still plenty, I assure you) than Neo-Pagan inspired faiths allow or have, and our separate cultures and tendencies seems to be a source of perpetual tension for us.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't a slam against those people, I firmly believe that the Reconstructionist Methodology isn't for everyone, but it has reminded me that at the end of the day, after it is all said and done, I cannot be a fully integrated part of the Pagan Community. I will always feel a certain disconnect and will probably continue to feel uncomfortable when an enthusiastic and bright-eyed girl talks to me about how Hades is a heavy God and tells me about how the Eleusian mysteries were revealed to her by Persephone to be about compassion. The people are nice, and we can worship together, but the longer I'm around and active in the community the more I realize that to a greater or lesser degree, I'm going to always be the odd-man out.
|Black Sheep by Freedy_Ng on flickr|