Tag Archives: spirituality

Rain Poem

The poetry of rainy evenings and lo mein boxes.

An iron sheet of heaven’s malice beats
The face of this, my forgotten city.
Night children, aimless, seek absolution
From sins they did not know they had performed—
Neon confessionals and liquor store
Priests hear stoned apologies for nothing.
That unholy shower washes away
These souls which find salvation in a bottle.

-Michael Sweeney


Filed under poetry

The Pilgrim’s Progress and the Psychology of Salvation

In The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream the universal struggle for meaning, here represented as salvation in the Celestial City, is demonstrated from the perspective of John Bunyan and his autobiographical everyman Christian. Bunyan achieves the expression of this struggle through the use of a complex allegory of the Christian life and the path to salvation. Bunyan’s spiritual journey reflects his internal psychological struggle with what he saw as his “past sin” and the flaws he found in himself. The Pilgrim’s Progress is, in this sense, a deeply autobiographical work. Bunyan is expressing, though the life of Christian, his own challenges, triumphs, and failures on the road to salvation.

John Bunyan’s early contact with spirituality and with the conflicts surrounding him during the English reformation are clearly visible within the allegory presented in The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan’s largely normal and healthy early life1 concealed the deeper psychological and spiritual problems he harbored, problems which would be awakened by his pious first wife and his later contact with the English dissenters.2 His career as a preacher began under the influence of his wife in 1653 at the Bedford Meeting.3 These early days of Bunyan’s religious career led him to begin the psychological and theological odyssey that is the Christian life, culminating in his authorship of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is a rendering of Christian life,4 the allegory of the journey outlining the underlying psychological changes undergone in its course. Applied more widely to life in general, the “journey” Christian experiences can be seen in the quest for ultimate meaning and personal discovery. John Bunyan’s early life was characterized by both physical disease5 and mental illness,6 details of his inner life independent of his religious experience, but essential as catalysts of his personal growth. Depression and depressive ideas, as exemplified in the Slough of Despond, were important parts of Bunyan’s early life which he needed to overcome. Bunyan’s depression revolves around a kind of personal discovery and detachment from the sins of his past, this kind of Despond becoming relevant “when a man begins for the first time to think seriously about himself” and “the first thing that rises before him is a consciousness of his miserable past life.”7 The burden of past sins, as represented by a physical burden on Christian, is an important aspect of the journey being discussed in The Pilgrim’s Progress. It is more than a symbol of past sins, it is a deeper allegory for the past in general. In reading the book and listening to Evangelist, Christian becomes aware of the past and his sins within the past. I this sense, the burden which Bunyan sees as “an innumerable company of my sins and transgressions,”8 represents all of life prior to Christian’s rebirth in the Celestial city. It is in overcoming this burden that Christian reaches salvation in shedding himself of the burden of sin, but more broadly he finds meaning in the present by shedding himself of the burden of the past.

Beyond the complex psychological mire from which Bunyan drew his influence, he was informed by the geographic, political, and cultural environment in England.9 Bunyan’s nonconformist faith was in a tenuous balance with the Puritan and High-Anglican movements of his day. Early in life he fought alongside the Puritans in the Parliamentary Army, helping to expel King Charles I. Under the Puritan-controlled Parliament of Oliver Cromwell, dissenters like Bunyan were largely allowed to practice independently of government control. It was with the rise of Charles II to the throne that life for dissenters and nonconformists of all stripes became much more difficult. Forced underground by laws prohibiting the public preaching of non-ordained or non-Anglican ministers, openly dissenting preachers like Bunyan were imprisoned en masse.10 It was during just such a prison sentence that Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Religious dissent grew in England in direct correlation to the English Civil War. During Puritan rule while dissenters and nonconformists were free to practice, many like Bunyan flocked to their numbers. It was under the returned monarch Charles II that the role of religious dissenters in religious and political matters in England was solidified.11 Movements of dissent covered wide regions including most of England and Wales,12 being well established by the time of Bunyan’s conversion.13 Prior to the eventual crackdown on non-Anglican practices by Charles II, nonconformism and dissent had been promoted in rural areas outside of the Church’s control in order to prevent the expansion of Catholicism.14 With his roots such a frantically divisive and politically unstable period, Bunyan’s role as a controversialist is probably to be expected. He remained “irritated when reminded of his humble birth,” and “reproached the privileged of this world,”15 and he worked in economic and political agitation against commercial dishonesty, fraud, and corruption in the government and in companies.16 Both under Parliament and the Monarch, Bunyan was both a political and religious dissident, all of which was informed by his faith and his search for purpose. The complex underlying conflicts of his conscience went hand-in-hand with his place as an outspoken author and preacher, and “his ethics were the fruit of his religion.”17

Part of Bunyan’s earliest influence was his disagreement with those around him. “The disagreement among Bunyan’s friends is easily explicable”18 in the sense that Bunyan uses both his poetic and doctrinal work to argue his own points against those who disagree with him. Bunyan was further in conflict with those around him who were not his friends, demonstrated in his mixed views on the neighbors of Christian.19 Bunyan was boisterously active in the fight against those whom he saw as “all talk or show, and no action,”20 leading him into conflict with Quakers, Anglicans, dissenters, and many others.21 His primary targets were those who he felt hampered others chances of spiritual achievement or of finding salvation. These characters in his own life became the antagonists of The Pilgrim’s Progress, contributing to his own rich allegory of personal growth under communal influence.

The essential nature of the community in Bunyan’s image of the Christian life is visible in his depiction of Christian’s neighbors and of those whom he encounters along the path to the Celestial City. Early on the pilgrimage, characters such as Pliable, Obstinate, Fearing and others serve to either hold back or otherwise prevent Christian from continuing on his pilgrimage to the Celestial City. Pliable demonstrates Bunyan’s criticism of the vapid faith of those who can be swayed to enthusiastic devotion to a cause, but who stop at the nearest sign of danger.22 Pliable’s attitude, “rather than a valorization of neighborliness, . . . becomes a point of satire in Bunyan’s text.”23 Later figures such as Little-Faith serve to solidify Bunyan’s sense of neighbors and surroundings as more challenging than helpful. Along with figures like Atheist and others, Little-Faith is an example of a character actually driving Christian backward rather than onward on his journey.24 The conflict with those around him which Christina is forced to undergo along his pilgrimage culminates with his battle against Apollyon, “Christian panoplied in heavenly mail,/O’ercame Apollyon in that fearful fight.”25 The final victory in battle represents a substantial shift in the way Christian relates to his enemies and friends, another important feature of his psychological journey. Much of Bunyan’s work prior to his imprisonment consisted of sermons and doctrinal critiques.26 These works were most essentially an expression of his political and social concerns, but they link these concerns to his religious feelings. Bunyan felt he had a gift as a preacher, and her sought to share that gift with the world through his early works of doctrinal nonfiction.27 His growth from largely doctrinal and religious writing to the work of novel-writing in The Pilgrim’s Progress and his later work shows a shift in Bunyan’s way of approaching religion, this is the shift to allegory. In her work “Trope and Truth in The Pilgrim’s Progress,” Machosky compares Bunyan’s shift from doctrinal to allegorical works to the “fall from the realm of heaven and true light into the dark and profane world in which we live.”28 Bunyan must bring his work from the heavenly heights of doctrinal discussion and nonfiction down to a level at which average people might understand his inner thoughts. This is both a technical and spiritual shift in Bunyan’s life in the sense that he is changing fundamentally the way he approaches his deepest spiritual concerns.

Allegory in The Pilgrim’s Progress plays a central role in the development of the plot and in the creation of the more complex details of the deeper meanings. Bunyan’s inner spiritual life is fleshed out in the complex allegorical system he creates. Allegory was not widely used in Protestant circles during Bunyan’s time, especially among Calvinists. Calvin saw the danger in allegory lying in the difficulty of fully grasping the allegorical intent of the work. Bunyan was fully immersed in Calvinist religious traditions throughout his life, and to break with their traditional views of allegory represents another important feature of the spiritual and psychological premise underlying The Pilgrim’s Progress. In this sense, it is possible to see Bunyan’s broader spiritual and psychological journey through both the story of Christian in the novel, but also through the story of how the novel came to be. It is both a shift in the subject and style of his work, and it is a doctrinally questionable departure from traditional methods of expressing this journey. The allegory of The Pilgrim’s Progress becomes more and more difficult to fully grasp with the passage of time, and Bunyan’s own fears about the misinterpretation of his work are clear in the many detailed explanations and addenda to his work provided, in poetic form before the work, in his Biblical references, and in the form of a sequel about Christian’s wife and family.29 It is the proper reading of the allegory that is most important to Bunyan because “Bunyan’s primary interest is not with an emblematic tradition or poetic glory, but rather. . . as a means of pointing toward intangible qualities that he believed man needed most.” Bunyan’s introductory apology for his allegorical “dream” is probably most indicative of his hesitance to dive headlong into an allegorical piece,30 but his insistence on using this method shows its necessity in a full understanding of Bunyan’s journey. As a literary trope, “allegory cannot be completely controlled,”31 and is thus sometimes a less than desirable system for expression. The Pilgrim’s Progress exhibits both the primary weakness and the central beauty of allegory as a literary tool and social trope in the sense that it approaches its reader in a way that is at once completely free of the author’s control and deeply rooted in the author’s psychological being.

An important key to the functionality of Bunyan’s allegory in the expression of his psychological premise is the role of Christian as the everyman.32 “The objective of Bunyan’s work is to make a traveler of anyone who follows its course.” Bunyan forces the reader to confront his own sin and psychological struggle by making him “an armchair pilgrim.”33 It was essential to draw together the reader and Christian in the sense that Christian is both an autobiographical character and an everyman because it brings together the psychological struggles of Bunyan and the psychological struggles of the reader. This feature is what makes Bunyan’s allegory so successful. Despite the difficulty of later interpretation, there is a deeper level of understanding available to the reader by placing the reader in Christian’s shoes.34 This close relationship between Bunyan and his readers allows for both a full understanding of Bunyan’s psychological and theological points and a deeper self relation of the reader to the work.

The use of movement as a point of allegory in Bunyan’s work is part of how the internal changes of the individual are described.35 The individual is on a path, taking a journey from blindness and meaninglessness to salvation. The question “why standest thou still?”36 Is posed to the reader as central to the understanding of Bunyan’s intent. When all possibility of salvation and escape from destruction are offered, why does the average person remain as he is? This is part of what Bunyan tackles in The Pilgrim’s Progress by saddling the reader with his own burden of sin. By helping the reader to understand the deeper struggle of Bunyan’s spiritual life, characters like Evangelist and Good Will in pushing Christian along the path to the Celestial City mirror Bunyan himself, or at least as he sees himself, in the capacity of a preacher guiding sinners to salvation.37

The universal struggle for meaning and salvation, as approached by Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress, is essential to his spiritual development and to the growth and completion of the Christian life. John Bunyan’s use of allegory is essential because it condenses the deep psychological suffering of one without salvation, one who live in the past and wallows in the mire of his sin, into a more tangible, physical journey from one point to another. This method allows the reader to more fully grasp Bunyan’s own flaws and triumphs, and it draws in the reader to an understanding of his own sin and psychological struggles. The journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City is one which every man and woman must make in life, and Bunyan captures the essential nature of such a journey by expressing the trials and tribulations of not only the Christian life, but of any examined and well-lived life. This is the essential character of the work, and it is the underlying truth of Christian life.

1 Josiah Royce, The Case of John Bunyan (Detroit: U of Michigan, 1976) 26.
2 Adam Sills, “‘Mr. Bunyan’s Neighborhood’ and the Geography of Dissent” (Detroit: Literature Resource Center, 2010) 1.
3 Royce 26.
4 Julia Roller, ed., 25 Books Every Christian Should Read (New York: Harper Collins, 2011) 193.
5 Royce 27.
6 Daniel Gibson Jr., “On the Genesis of Pilgrim’s Progress” (Detroit: Literature Resource Center, 2010) 4.
7 James Anthony Froude, Bunyan (New York: AMS Press, 1968) 156.
8 Stanley Eugene Fish, “Progress in The Pilgrim’s Progress” (Detroit: Literature Resource Center, 2010) 3.
9 Sills 4.
10 Froude 68.
11 Sills 3.
12 Sills 1.
13 Sills 2.
14 Sills 1-2.
15 Henri Talon, John Bunyan- The Man and His Works (Cambridge: Harvard U, 1951) 282-283.
16 Talon 288. 17 Talon 272-274.
18 Froude 154
19 Royce 33
20 Richard H. Schmidt, God Seekers (Grand Rapids:William B. Erdmans Publishing,2008) 206.
21 Talon 94.
22 Alexander Whyte, Bunyan Characters: First Series (Edinburgh: Project Gutenberg, 2005) 29.
23 Sills 23.
24 – – -, Bunyan Characters: Second Series (Edinburgh: Project Gutenberg, 2005) 29.
25 Bernard Barton, “Lines on Seeing the Portrait of John Bunyan” (Detroit: Literature Resource Center, 2010) 2.
26 Fish 3.
27 Talon 106.
28 Brenda Machosky, “Trope and Truth in The Pilgrim’s Progress” (Detroit: Literature Resource Center, 2010) 1.
29 Machosky 4.
30 Machosky 8.
31 Machosky 5.
32 Roller 193.
33 Machosky 6.
34 Roller 194. 35 Gibson 6.
36 Fish 4.
37 Gibson 3.

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The Well of My Mind

A short poem about letting go and just being at peace for a moment.

There is a well –in wooded grove–

Where oft’ I stumble in my mind.

There my soul is free to move

Among my thoughts, where dreams I find.

My worries –tossed down to the pit–

Are lost when by that well I sit,

And I may drink a moment’s bliss

And flee from life’s insidious hiss.

-Michael Sweeney (The Cave Tro11)


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Positives and Negatives of Religion

A reflection on Chapter 5 of “Faith, Religion, & Theology: A Contemporary Introduction” for my fall semester religion course.

     Upon reflecting on the chapter “Religion: Why Bother?” from the book “Faith, Religion & Theology: A Contemporary Introduction” by Brennan Hill, Paul F. Knitter, and William Madges, I have had a chance to see the bigger picture of the benefits and problems presented by religion and religious interaction in the world for my Religion class. These are presented in a more organized way than they are usually shown during research and media attention regarding religion. When researching or reading into this topic, personal biases, inaccuracies, and fallacies in argument can obscure the understanding of the real situation. Though it is shown through a decidedly Christian, theological, “pro-religion” view, it still serves a valuable purpose in highlighting the main points of the arguments against religion and its study.

     Two attitudes are presented in the first part of the chapter, the “ho-hum” and “watch out” positions. These are shown, through the admission of the author, to be potentially legitimate positions for the layman to take in his view of religion. The idea of the “ho-hum” position is an unenthusiastic idea of religion. It tends to be visible in the attitudes of many modern people who feel they don’t have the time to reflect upon the spiritual or to participate in religion. It is less a critical position and more an apathetic approach to religion, while the alternative “watch out” position is openly critical of religion and religious institutions. Without knowledge of the alternative views of religion, or of religion’s potential for good, these views are potentially well reasoned and not entirely without merit.

     The problem with both of these positions is that they result in a restriction of dialogue about religion. The apathetic observer sees no reason to study religion, or even to keep it alive. Someone with a serious dislike of religion will aggressively oppose the maintenance of religious conduct, perhaps even of its study. If religion is a “crutch” or an “opiate” as Freud and Marx stated respectively, then it is something to be disposed of. This thinking may result in a refusal to hear the alternative position of religion as an emotional tool for self improvement, or even to pay attention to it as a fascinating social construct to be studied.

     Greater issues of self understanding are where the greatest personal benefit of religion can be found. Many people, myself included, feel the need to grasp the meaning of their existence. Religion, for good or bad, fills that role for someone who doesn’t have the free time to mull over the greater questions of the universe. It provides a platform from which to become better people, and in many cases it succeeds. The dangers of religion are present, but the positives can result in psychologically healthy individuals capable of dealing with larger philosophical and moral problems, without being philosophers themselves.

Works Cited

Hill, Brennan, Paul F. Knitter, and William Madges. “Chapter 5 – Religion: Why Bother.” Faith, Religion & Theology: A Contemporary Introduction. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1990. 133-58. Print.


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Personal vs. Public Piety

     Religious devotion is the most important part of many people’s lives. They insist upon wearing traditional religious garb despite pressure to stop, they eat according to strict dietary guidelines, they lives their live in a general state of piety and respect for tradition. I respect the devotion of the very religious, despite a wide philosophical gap between us. I do not, however, respect those who are outwardly pious and spiritual, but do not know the true meaning or importance of their acts of devotion.

      I recently visited an amusement park with my family to enjoy some of the warm weather we have been having. An Orthodox Jewish summer camp was also visiting the park while we were there. When I see a group of people of a faith, culture, or tradition other than mine, I am often held rapt by their traditional ways and pious nature. I have been mesmerized by the prayerful manner of many a Rabbi, Priest, or Imam. I was not, however, so impressed with a few of the boys and councilors on this particular camp trip. They all wore black yarmulkes, but a few had jewel studs on their yarmulkes. I don’t understand how a device so clearly meant to humble oneself before God could possibly need to have diamond studs.

      When I visit church with my Catholic family, I often see people who shuffle almost angrily to be first to receive communion. The irony of this eludes them, but it is just one more example of people missing the point of their religious devotion. My religion teacher often says that if you don’t believe that the host is the body of Christ then you shouldn’t take it, but I think that if you don’t believe in peace and harmony, then you shouldn’t shake hands with your neighbor and tell them “peace be with you.”

      When people stop understanding the meaning behind their traditional garb or religious ceremony and start to wear gold plated mitres, jewel studded yarmulkes, or any other variation on “fashionable religion” they are missing the point of having a religion or life philosophy. It seems to me that if someone is acting religious for no reason other than to appear pious, they would be better served removing the act all together. Jesus had much to say on piety for the individual versus piety for show.

      “Be careful about not living righteously merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven” – Matthew 6:1

     When someone devotes their life to a faith, whether I agree with them philosophically or not, I can respect their dedication, but I hope that those of great spirituality or faith strive more for personal betterment and service to others than for fame and public recognition.

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Certainty and Doubt

    Of anything I believe, the one thing I know to be true beyond any real doubt, that is the fact that I am real and conscious. In his Meditations, Descartes makes the point that much of what we know, which is based entirely in our senses, is corruptible and falsifiable. His famous phrase cogito ergo sum further illustrates this point by showing that in order for one to doubt your own existence, you must exist to doubt it. The question of the implications of the existence of the self or the rest of the world are hard to recognize. It is, in fact, its own philosophical issue. Does it really matter whether I really exist if I am still sentient and capable of experience?

    Those who believe in strict creationism are, according to accepted science, convinced of their knowledge of the nature of the creation and development of the universe and all organisms. Though there is a slim possibility that they are correct, and that those of us who regard evolutionism as the truth have been deceived, but it is extremely unlikely. They believe that they are absolutely correct, and they argue that they have access to special knowledge from God or some other force that informs their understanding of biology and cosmology. The consequences of their belief in these principle are that they will continue to live without accepting the thoughts and wisdom of others, and they will attempt to spread their ideas to others who are not, in fact, wrong.

    When I doubt myself while taking a test, the potential outcome is that I could be correct or incorrect. This is a situation where the implications, for me, are rather steep. I may pass or fail a test based upon the doubt of my initial thoughts and knowledge. This, however, is a relatively unimportant consequence for others. Questions of doubt and certainty in issues such as the debate over the origin of species and universe have much wider impact, and the outcome threatens to change the way we examine the natural word. These doubts control what we allow to color our views of the universe, religious certainty, or scientific doubt and skepticism. Perhaps the best outcome lies somewhere in between.

    Everything we do in our lives is based in knowledge of things. Without really knowing what we are talking about, we will come to conclusions similar to the hypothetical future cosmologists in Brian Greene’s lecture. We will make assumptions about the universe without actual knowledge to back them up. In that situation, the old knowledge of the cosmos is ignored because of the lack of physical or sensory evidence of the existence of what was recorded. This is the result of a lack of knowledge regarding the situation being dealt with.

    Perhaps a better question than to ask if there is anything we do that requires knowledge, would be to ask if there is ever anything we can do without prior knowledge of things. In his Meditations, Descartes points out that even the most fantastic dreams and images we can conjure are composed of parts which we already understood. This shows that in order to complete most complicated tasks or thoughts requires some understanding of what is going on. Perception of reality in order to collect the necessary knowledge is one of the few things we do without knowledge.

    I think that there are certainly things which are not knowable by humans, chiefly among them the true nature of reality. We can only really grasp things as fully as our senses allow us. Once again this deals with the deceptions of Descartes “demon” of lies. That demon represents the fact that our senses can be tricked, and that what we believe to be truth cannot be entirely proven. Our knowledge of reality cannot extend beyond what the human brain is capable of deciphering.

    An example of this idea is found in the senses of a snake. Snakes have eyes which are relatively similar to ours, however they see in what we have classified as “infrared.” Computers are often able to sense heat and simulate what a snake might see, but we cannot see heat in exactly the same way as a snake. It’s vision is as precise and highly evolved as our own, but it perceives reality in an entirely different way. The snake will never know realty as we do, and we will never really know it as the snake does, but neither of our species can know the true nature of the universe.

    Knowledge changes throughout history, and it advances, or retreats, within very short amounts of time. Our knowledge of the natural world has advanced indescribably since our emergence from Africa as modern humans. Merely the fact that I know that shows that our understanding of our origins and of the process by which we have developed has grown. We owe the advancement of our knowledge not only to scientists, but to the wise men who help us work through the philosophical issues inherent in our sentience. The retreat of knowledge is, unfortunately, not a rare event either. This negative change in knowledge happens at moments such as the execution of Socrates, the crucifixion of Christ, the burning of the Library of Alexandria, and the destruction of cultural and intellectual advances by the Soviets after WWII.

    My own knowledge has change though the course of my life similarly to the collective knowledge of the human race. I do not, however, experience any loss of knowledge. Mental disease would be the only reasonable cause of such memory loss. I gain knowledge whenever I learn new things, or even when my senses perceive new things or ideas. This increase in knowledge is at a more basic level than the intellectual knowledge of the humans race. My knowledge changes as I learn more through basic experiences. Certainty and knowledge will change through the course of both human and individual experience.

    I was once certain of the existence of a literal, anthropomorphic, personal god. As far as I was concerned, God was literally watching over me, hearing my prayers, knowing my thoughts. This certainly went away as I learned about other religious and philosophical schools. I realized that the eastern religions’ pantheons of gods were just as viable as my understanding of God as the Judeo-Christian creator. It seemed to me to be an arrogant assumption to presume the accuracy of what my church and my family had always taught me. Uncertainty about this old knowledge lead me to hold a more open and changeable understanding of God. This is a less literal knowledge of God or gods.

    It is entirely possible that something of which I am currently certain could be shown to be false. This is actually something which I expect. Descartes’ “demon” is at work whenever we use our senses. The demon could be deceiving me right now, but I wouldn’t notice. I think it is healthy for someone’s certainties to be shaken up and changed. This allows for the wisdom and knowledge of those who disagree with you to make their way into your worldview. Dialogue and discussion are more effective if those participating are willing to take on the position of their partner. It is preferable to be uncertain about most things, even if they are true, because when we have questions we will seek answers, and those answers will lead to other questions. This cycle allows the progression of knowledge to unforeseeable heights.

Works Cited

Brian Greene: Is Our Universe the Only Universe? Dir. Brian Greene. Perf. Brian Greene. TED Talks. TED, n.d. Web. 30 July 2013. <http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_greene_why_is_our_universe_fine_tuned_for_life.html&gt;.

Descartes, Renee. “Meditation I and II.” Meditations on First Philosophy. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

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Exploring Spirituality

     Paganism, or more specifically the modern neo-paganism, is a religious and philosophical path which has increased in popularity in recent years. Young people, disillusioned with their dogmatic, overly imposing, household religions, often attempt to return to a naturalistic spirituality which they see as ancestral.

     This topic is one which I have less of a passing interest in, it is more of a serious connection. Though I was raised in a Christian household, and I generally discuss my thoughts on this blog in semi-christian terms, I feel most connection to the pagan faith. It was the first time that I had thought about spirituality or religion in any serious way. I developed much of the basis for the eclectic philosophical religion I have today in my days as a solitarily practicing pagan. I found pantheism, I learned to question established religious thought, and although I became more and more deistic, I feel that, in a way, I grew “closer to God” in the process.

     What I hope this very brief summary of my experience with neo-paganism can pass on is that it is okay to think outside the box in terms of religion. Even though most people reading this most likely hold firm beliefs, I hope that you can perhaps think of this when teaching your children or friends about faith. It is an all too common problem for the developing mind of a teenager to be thrown into depression because of stifled free-thought. In closing, I would simply like to say that dogma isn’t just peddled by churches, it is the chief commodity of parents as well.

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