I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, and he’s a better artist than I am (although I draw an awfully good tree!), but Alyxander Former’s recent post on Patheos (complete with comics!) is kinda missing something really big.
In it, he proposes that one shouldn’t debate matters of theology, particularly regarding the nature and myriad of the gods, because it’s unknowable. This is an unfortunately secular and disenchanted view of the world, inherited not from Pagan traditions but from Western discourse. This discourse asserts religious experience must be private or commodified and nowhere in between.
In essence, we don’t know how to talk about belief in our disenchanted world because we ignore all sorts of pluralistic necessities in favor of a hegemonic compromise where no belief actually can matter because belief is somehow unapproachable. The vegan who takes her respect for animals so seriously she doesn’t eat them, the anti-capitalist and anti-war activist who actively attempts to fight those things, the person who cares for the homeless so much she goes out and does something about it–those are people whose beliefs “matter,” and they threaten others not by their words but by their consistency, and they also threaten the Capitalist order which asserts that the only thing we can believe in is ourselves and the market.
This is unfortunate. Also, it’s sad he asserts that polytheists are axe-wielding vikings ready to be violent, rather than people meeting gods and attempting to explain to others what this means. Sure, there are some impolitic folks on all sides, but there’s a much bigger point that we’re missing, one that I’m afraid his cartoon will only serve to re-enact into Pagan discourse. That is, we OUGHT to be debating these things, because the gods actually matter.
Again, some of the discourse is ugly, and some people are particularly embattled and embittered by years of attempting to help others understand that the gods exist and are doing stuff and life explodes in brilliant meaning once you let yourself acknowledge them.
But, whatever. Here’s what’s missing: