Originally posted on The Oasis Project: I have a Sensory Processing Disorder of the hypersensitive type. I am easily overwhelmed by loud sounds, flashing lights, rough textures, etc. Many years ago, at the last BayCon in the San Jose DoubleTree…
Monday, 28 November 2016 (in response to this post)
To the first part of this question, I can answer definitely: I do still feel that I am Christo-Pagan. But the second part is an interesting thing. “Is Jesus calling [me] to be a priest for him?”
Have I ever asked Jesus if I could or should be a priest for him? Those who adhere to the idea of the Priesthood of All Believers would probably by saying, “You don’t need to ask him, he calls us all.” And if that is true, what is the purposes of pursuing ordination? (Or, as it says in a translation of the The Mind of Absolute Trust that I used to chant with a Soto Zen Buddhist sangha, “What reason for wisdom and holiness?”) Part of the reason I felt called to ministry was due to the way I heard the following question when I was rebaptized on 24 November 2013:
In this commitment will you do your best by GOD’s abundant grace, to continue to walk in the ways of love, to follow the teachings of Jesus about inclusion and justice, and to keep your heart wide open as possible to all that is good in this world?
When I heard Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon ask me that question, I knew I had to mean it when I responded, “I will, with the help of GOD.” And it was in that moment that I began my discernment process for seminary.
Although, it might be more accurate to say that I began again my discernment process for seminary. At various points in my life, from childhood clear through adulthood, I’ve considered becoming an ordained Christian clergyperson.
My coven held a Second Samhain on Friday, 18 November 2016, for those of us who couldn’t be present for the initial Samhain ritual. My primary ministry mentor was channeling (sometimes called “horsing”) various spirits and deities during the ritual. She had messages for me from Hecate, Melek Ta’us (the Peacock Angel, and quite the trickster), and Jesus. During this part of the ritual, I received a clear message that Jesus would indeed be willing to have me as a priest for him, but ultimately the decision was mine.
So, at this point I’m still a bit uncertain regarding how I want to proceed, but I’m leaning toward pursuing Christian ordination again. And more than ever before, I’m leaning toward the Progressive Christian Alliance. So at the very least, I’ll be revisiting their ordination information.
Monday, 21 November 2016 (in response to this post)
I can honestly say that I’m not “just” Christian. That I can answer right away and with certainty. So, I can say that I am a Christo-Pagan if by “Christo” one means a person whose religious practice includes doing my best to adhere to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the one also known as Christ, and if by “Pagan” one means a person who worships or is devoted to other, non-Abrahamic gods.
I am a devotee of Antinoüs, the deified lover of Emperor Hadrian. Additionally, I’m cultivating a relationship with the Tetrad++, a six-being group deity that transcends gender. I’ve had experiences with the Morrighan, though I’m uncertain if it’s right for me to say at this point that I’m a devotee of hers or that she is my matron.
My formal Pagan practice is Wiccan in format. That said, I’m also a practitioner of chaos magick. So, there are times when my worship is highly unritualized and seemingly casual. Forms of prayer that I’ve seen used by the Ekklesía Antínoou also move me. So though I’m an ordained Wiccan priest, it could be argued that I’m somewhat of an eclectic Pagan.
Then, there’s the seemingly most significant challenge to my status as a Christian: the fact that I’m a borderline Satanist (my second-born scoffs at the qualifier “borderline”). I have had many positive and beneficial interactions with The Adversary, so much so that I don’t see him as adversarial toward me. I’m certainly an adversarial theologian. In fact, I had developed such a reputation at my former seminary for being an adversarial theologian that when I told one of my cohort that I had borrowed The Satanic Bible from the seminary library he asked in all seriousness, “Oh! Are you reading it devotionally?”
But, back to identifying as Christian. Do I believe that Jesus was the Son of God? Yes, but I believe all people are the beloved children of God. That said, I don’t believe in substitutionary atonement, that in three hours on a cross Jesus somehow atoned for all the sins of humanity. And I know I’m not alone among Christians, even among Christian clergy, who reject this particular belief. So, that alone doesn’t interfere with my call to Christian ministry. For me, it’s more Jesus’ teachings about love and kindness and mercy and justice (especially social justice) that are important. I’m not concerned for my immortal soul. I’m much more concerned about suffering here in this life. I want to help alleviate the suffering of others, if I can.
And, there’s nothing that says the only way I can help alleviate that suffering through Christian ministry. That said, I have encountered other trans and queer persons who want to be a part of Christian community. Why shouldn’t I be a priest for Christ so that I help can bring Christian ministry into my own marginalized communities?
On Sunday, 6 November 2016, I had the privilege of attending the West Berkeley Shellmound Interfaith Prayer ceremony. Part of the purpose of this ceremony was to show support for and solidarity with the Standing Rock Water Protectors, but also to protest development in Berkeley that would dig up and destroy burial grounds.
Transit schedules being what they are, I arrived a little early. One of the organizers asked if I’d hold one of the First Nation flags so that people would know where we were gathering:
Needless to say, I agreed. It was a humbling honor to be asked to do this. What I didn’t realize is that they would have me hold this flag during the ceremony itself. That was a truly an honor.
The ceremony started with thanking the ancestors. And this was the first time in a social justice setting, whether secular or religious, in which I was encouraged to be grateful for my ancestors. It was the first time in a social justice setting when I wasn’t told my ancestors are sh!t, and that I should revere them, be grateful for them. “They’re proud of you,” Wounded Knee said so us. That’s not to say that those of us of European descent don’t have to acknowledge and work to overturn our privilege.
While I had known that there were a great many Shellmound sites throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, I had no idea that the parking lot we were standing on was an Ohlone burial site. I was standing on hallowed ground that had been profaned. There is a development plan pending approval that would excavate two stories down into this land for more parking while building five stories up on top of this. It’s a plan to further profane this sacred site.
Let that sink in: developers want to excavate a cemetery to build restaurants, shops, and housing that we know will not be affordable. Wounded Knee spoke of the 13,000 Ohlone remains that are currently “housed” at UC Berkeley, remains that the university doesn’t want to relinquish. “They don’t belong in a museum!” Wounded said, and he’s right. Those remains are his ancestors, and they belong with him and the other Ohlone, to return to the Earth with respect.
And while representatives of the local Ohlone nation described this proposed atrocity to us, a train full of tanker cars rolled past. The Black Snake was there in Berkeley, too.
If you were to ask me which parts of the ceremony were prayers and which parts were calls to action, I’d have to say, “Yes.” There didn’t seem to be any distinction, to me. The prayers were calls to action, the calls to action were prayers.
And those calls to action extend to us, all of us. If you’re on Facebook, request to join the West Berkeley Shellmound group to keep informed of further action. If you’re not on Facebook, send a message to BayAreaSacredSites@gmail.com and ask to be added to their email list.
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