Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weighing in on the veiling, body-fat and Jesus debacles

I really didn't want to go here. I was taught by my mom to steer clear of topics I don't know enough about to give an informed opinion. Well, I'm still poking the hornets nest today because three topics are everywhere, they keep touching my life and practice and I do have an opinion about them and/or the people who have an opinion on it. I'm talking about the act of religiously veiling, either your hair, your face or your entire body, the Pagan online community pet 'favorite'; body-fat, and rejecting Jesus Christ.

Veiling is not part of my religious practice, no one in my offline community does it, and I really couldn't care less who does or does not do it of the people in my online community. It's become this new thing in the community and I'm completely fine with it. Lots of Goddesses veiled, especially within the Hellenic pantheon; Hekate, Hestia, Rhea, Calypso, Persephone, Aphrodite, even Athena. Lots of  mortal men and women in myths and life veiled as well; Helena, for example oh--and people like Emperor Augustus. It was a matter of peity. You covered your head when you entered ritual or--as is becoming more normal in the (Neo-)Wiccan and some Eclectic practices--you veil everywhere except during ritual. Sometimes, you just veiled because it was damn hot out and it was part of life--because everyone did it.

I will say it now, for once and for all, I do not veil but I support every person's right to veil. For cetain rituals and festivals, I would be completely open to veiling. I do not support forced veiling, nor do I support the oppression of women. I support the free choice to veil but I will not actively support the cause by celebrating Covered in Light's International Veiling Day on September 21th. This is not my fight. I was not going to talk about it, write about it, do anything with it. Yet, I am. Because everyone is talking about it and it's now lodged in my mind.

Issue number two is the recent body-fat and health thing. For those who don't follow the online Pagan community very well; it all started when Peter Dybing, a Pagan blog writer of average body type, decided to write a blog post addressing a 'major concern' (for him) in Paganism; the 'trend of obesity' within its members. Somewhat understandably, any Pagan blogger who is even marginally overweight took his head off. Not so much for addressing obesity but for assuming that anyone who is overweight is unhealthy and needs to be saved by someone of average weight. I'm not sure if that's exactly what Dybing meant to say, but it's certainly how it was interpreted by the Pagan blogosphere at large.

Obviously, I am not a doctor. I know zip about obesity and health. It doesn't look healthy to me but I'm also well aware that some people are just more prone to being overweight, no matter how much they work out and no matter how healthy they eat. It's just part of them. I'm not obese, nor overweight. Of course, there are parts of my body I think could stand to lose a few pounds. My hips, for example, and my upper arms do that flubbery thing on occasion that worries me a little. I think any woman (and man, probably) living in this photoshop age worries about those unruly parts of their body that don't fit the magazines. We do this, no matter how adamantly we tell the world we don't.

A person's body is their own responsibility. It's not up to me to advice anyone on their health or even to have an opinion about it. And so I don't. That's my two cents on this topic; unless you're sharing your story or you are a doctor or researcher into the link between health and obesity, don't judge. Don't 'fat-hate'. It's not your life and if your sensibilities are hurt by someone else's body... well... you need to take a good look at yourself.

The third, admittedly emerging, topic is the rejection of Jesus Christ. I understand a lot of people, especially in America, came to Paganism after leaving some form of Christianity. I also understand this must be hard. It must be hard abandoning something you have spent your youth believing. It must be hard to have to deal with family, friends and neigboors who still believe in this and assume you will be coming back to Christianity or, at least, still believe in Jesus Christ. I understand the need to make clear, once and for all, that you no longer believe in Jesus Christ and/or reject His teachings.

But I also think there is far too much Christianity in Paganism and justifying your Pagan faith by rejecting everything else is not, or should not be, our way. I believe in everything. I'm not sure if Jesus-the-man existed as such, but I believe in His Divine form. I chose not to worship Him, because His teachings, although commendable at its foundation, don't speak to me. I worship the Theoi and all that comes with Them, yet I greatly respect Jesus.

I understand that most of the fallout is over the word 'reject'. I'm taking it to mean 'an active removal from daily thought and practice', not 'Jesus does not exist and everyone who believes in Him is stupid'. With that in mind, there should be no issue. Yet, I sense the Pagan online community might go nuts over this. So here is to hoping they don't. I would much prefer my Paganism with a lot less Christianity on the side.

In fact, I hope all three issues blow over fast so we can go back to the things that matter most in Paganism; religion and (daily) practice. This is a rant and my two cents. Do with it what you will. I don't believe in remaining silent as a way of avoiding taking a stance. So this is where I stand on these subject; at the sidelines, realizing these are not my battles.


3 comments:

Memory Walker said...

Stating your position is a fine thing to do.
If it helps, I agree on all three points. :)

Elani Temperance said...

Good to hear ;-)

Maya M said...

I bet that all those "Covered in light" ladies (and gentlemen?) never ask themselves whether their campaign looks nice in view of the fact that nobody can organize an opposite "Shown in light" campaign in places such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example.