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Moonsmith

Tested

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Moonsmith

On a number of occasions I have heard Christians suggest that an event "tested their faith" or words to that effect.

I have never heard a Pagan say that.

Has your Pagan belief ever been tested? - I'm not necessarily asking what it was that tested it.

Do we have lower expectations of our gods or blame them less?

 

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JohnMacintyre

Dear Moonsmith,

No, I can't think of anything that has ever "tested my faith" though that may be connected with what I understand "faith" to be. Christians, in my experience, tend to use the term to refer to their belief in something for which there can be no objective proof. Hence a challenge may be experienced as "testing their faith".

I tend to use the term either as shorthand for religion, as in "faith community", or to describe the memory of religious experience. As my "faith" is that memory, it's not really testable in any meaningful sense, so the very concept of it being "tested" does not make sense to me,

Best wishes,

John

 

 

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Maeve

My beliefs have not tested my faith in them although I do test myself to learn and develop and add or subtract when listening to others ....

A senior Wiccan I knew, declared that he had "lost his faith" and indeed, ever thereafter, has not practised - certainly the Wiccan Craft - I don't know if he still identifies as pagan as I have lost touch with him. He never explained his loss nor what it meant to him and I have never been able to understand. For me, my path / beliefs / religion - call it what you will - is a way of life and I have not lost that way of life nor ever wanted to deviate from it 😊

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Earthdragon
On 1/10/2019 at 2:00 AM, Moonsmith said:

Has your Pagan belief ever been tested? - I'm not necessarily asking what it was that tested it.

Do we have lower expectations of our gods or blame them less?

I think pagan ways being more in tune with natural cycles and the forces of nature together with the lack of projections of concepts like all powerful benevolence means that pagan beliefs are less of a glass house in the face of the inevitable rolling stones and rocks that trundle towards us at times in our lives ( Just wrote that off the top of my head and find it a curious mix of Dylan and Chaucerian proverb lol ).

I have found my pagan practices have provided many challenging experiences, some in the early days verged on the disturbingly challenging. I think they tested of my beliefs insofar as the easier course would have been to turn my back on paganism though in truth I see them more as a direct and honest confrontation - psychologically a bit like being given a glancing blow from the fearsome end of the All Father's club.

In the Druidism I practise there is an acceptance that as we learn and progress on our path we are tested in the application of what we know ( or what we think we know) and how we carry ourselves amidst these tests. These aren't tests of one's belief as such though for some they might well interpret them as such. From whence come the tests? Life throws tests up effortlessly I have found. And yes in my experience some tests do come from the gods and goddesses though blame doesn't really seem a relevant concept in that. 

Maybe in transactional analysis terms the pagan ways of relating to deity  (not speaking for atheist pagans) tend to be more Adult - Adult rather than a Child - Parent dynamic. 

Edited by Earthdragon
Errors in sentence construction
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Veggie dancer

I don't think I've ever felt my pagan faith has been tested but then for me it is not a fixed set of ideas and rules anyway. my own personal religion is more about exploring than knowing so if something calls an idea I hold into question then my 'faith' just shifts or grows in a different direction. 

If someone had been told or leant a very definite set of pagan beliefs then I'm sure that faith could tested.

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Freydis

No, never.  I have been tested, but that's something different - not my beliefs and practices.

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Ellinas

From the start I will ask everyone's pardon.  There is a danger this might become a rant and rather ugly...

As you all know (or, at least, as I've never kept secret), I am a former fundie Christian.

In such circles, "testing" is often mentioned.  It is seen as inevitable.  It is seen as a validation of Christian faith.  It is based on texts that tell the believer to expect to be tested - ideas that go all the way back to sparing the rod being  a method of spoiling the child.

One might object that the Christian god, being so very omniscient, needs not to test the faith of his believers.  The stock answer is that gold is put into the fire not to prove that it is gold but to burn off any impurities.

Leaving aside the accuracy of that statement, it boils down to suffering being  a seen as a method of gaining spiritual maturity.

It's a useful excuse to put before anyone who objects that a "good", "wise" god would hardly be expected to cause sometimes extreme suffering.  I suppose it convinces those who use that excuse - at least, as long as they refuse to think about it too deeply.

The bottom line here is that "testing" is linked to suffering in the Christian imagination (those who die for their beliefs are merely privileged to be tested to the extreme).  Whilst it is true that Christians draw comfort from saying that god will not test any person beyond what he can bear, the shallowness of that thought process, when the person enduring the suffering has little choice but to bear it, seems not to occur to them.

This is deeply entrenched in Abrahamic thought processes.  The whole religious system is linked to death, suffering, even genocide (in the Old Testament) and through to the promise of ultimate vindication in the never ending suffering of unbelievers.  It is also part of a fortress mentality that sees persecution (widely defined, so as to include, e.g, someone taking a satirical swipe at their dottier ideas) as part of that "testing" that validates their faith and purpose.

So, for the Christian, testing is a necessary part of their belief system and the structure of their faith.  Hence, those that suffer little will cast around for something, anything, that can be termed a "test".  If they can claim that the suffering has created doubts that they have overcome, so much the better.  They have "fought the good fight".

This is a form of brainwashing that renders the Christian secure in his own assumed (and false) humility.  It is the mindset that insists that man is worthless, god is all-worthy, and everything that happens to the believer, however painful, is good and is controlled by his deity.  It creates people who are servile in their attitude to deity and proud (albeit that would never be admitted) of just how weak and worthless they can represent themselves to be.

Have my pagan beliefs been tested?

Only by me every time I re-examine my own ideas.

Do I expect a deity to test my beliefs?

No.  And I would be inclined to walk away from any that tried to impose something similar to the above upon me.  I've turned my back on religious slavery.  I'm not accepting it from any other source.

Edited by Ellinas
Should have done the proof reading before submitting...
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Pearlbrook

Thought I'd bump this thread as it's interesting reading and because I have in a way been tested.

The last few years have seen me go through a lot of doubt and sometimes believing that the label "pagan" no longer applied to me. I don't believe that this doubt or test was sent to me in any way, but it came from within. 

I feel like I need to be honest here, so forgive me if this gets a little personal. 

I have a mental health condition which, when I was here in 2013/14 was undiagnosed. As part of this condition I struggle with a sense of identity and with the need for approval. The reason I left the site was that I realised that I was so keen to be liked and respected that I was subconsciously changing my opinions to conform, until it hit me that I didn't really know what I believed any more. Over the last few years I have attempted to establish safe guards against this need to conform and also to decide what I really believe.

I also feel that Paganism and doubt have an interesting relationship. Many of us come here because we doubt the faith in which we were brought up, and scepticism and analysis is largely encouraged, at least here. But at the same time, it appears that many members of the site and more widely in the community have such a deep sense of their beliefs and their connection to their faith (which is fantastic) that to feel doubt is something that is quite isolating and lonely. 

I am still not 100% sure how I feel about the gods. I don't know whether I acknowledge them because they are real or cling to the idea of them because they represent things which are important to me and bring me comfort. Some days it seems like one, some days the other.

I am  100% (ok maybe 99.999999%) sold on my feelings about some subjects: for example the pantheism which unexpectedly popped up a couple of years ago for me, my opinions on the afterlife and so on. I recognise that my understanding is not universally shared, but although I will continue to read about these subjects and seek answers, I am pretty much at peace with my ideas.

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Moonsmith

Thanks Pearlbrook.

I'm not sure that you need advice but when I started to lapse from Christianity a very wise priest said, "You can let go of God, he won't let go of you"    He was right but not in any way that he would have wanted to predict.

I've said this many times and I think, quite recently, no two people believe the same thing.  Believe what you believe and leave the other stuff in the oven till its ready and you need it.  There are no musts, shoulds or oughts in Paganism unless you put them there yourself.

Edited by Moonsmith
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Pearlbrook
20 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Thanks Pearlbrook.

I'm not sure that you need advice but when I started to lapse from Christianity a very wise priest said, "You can let go of God, he won't let go of you"    He was right but not in any way that he would have wanted to predict.

I've said this many times and I think, quite recently, no two people believe the same thing.  Believe what you believe and leave the other stuff in the oven till its ready and you need it.  There are no musts, shoulds or oughts in Paganism unless you put them there yourself.

I think you're very, very right. I suppose this is something you just have to learn on your journey. I think at first there is a definite possibility of something I'd almost describe as a frenzy - you want to know it all and do it all and be an established figure. It can be hard to slow down and accept that everything is equally valid, especially doubt! I think in life generally but definitely in Paganism, "should" and "ought" are too often our worst enemies.

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Ellinas

Pearlbrook, to, once again, quote Mr Crowley in one of his more lucid moments:

"I slept with Faith, and found a corpse in my arms on awakening.  I danced and drank all night with Doubt, and found her a virgin in the morning".

These days, if anyone asks me whether I have faith, I would say that I bloody well hope not.  Beliefs, yes, but they are subject to change, and moderated by doubt.

Don't fear doubt.   Certainty, as I often say, is over-rated.  Indeed, it is quite counter-productive.

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Pearlbrook
9 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Pearlbrook, to, once again, quote Mr Crowley in one of his more lucid moments:

"I slept with Faith, and found a corpse in my arms on awakening.  I danced and drank all night with Doubt, and found her a virgin in the morning".

These days, if anyone asks me whether I have faith, I would say that I bloody well hope not.  Beliefs, yes, but they are subject to change, and moderated by doubt.

Don't fear doubt.   Certainty, as I often say, is over-rated.  Indeed, it is quite counter-productive.

I really like this approach, Ellinas. Thank you for this, it is good to see doubt in such a positive light. I suppose doubt forms the basis of enquiry, and we need enquiry to progress in our thinking, something which I value greatly.

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