The debate between traditional polytheists and pop culture pagans has started up again.
Except in some cases what’s happening is not true debate. Debates involve “reasonable discussion on an important topic.”1 I’m still hemming and hawing on whether or not proper debate should involve responding directly to the post that started the controversy up yet again, I don’t believe it should include paragraphs like this:
You know what makes your life more interesting? Actually interacting with gods. Not the characters in your head, but the real, bigger-than-you’ll-ever-comprehend, powerful, life-changing GODS. When that happens, all else pales in comparison. You stop being in control. You are not the one writing the story or making the rules. (Maybe that’s why so few people do it – it’s scary and dangerous.) But, you become part of a much bigger, more significant story. You begin living mythically. But you can’t do this alone in your safe little world of imaginary characters. You need to engage with the real, independent, divine beings that exist outside of any of our limited ideas of them. You need to let go and WORSHIP. That’s when the really good stuff happens. – Dver, Forest Door, “Worship Them”
This is not reasonable discussion. Reasonable discussion of another’s pagan practices should not involve telling that person that their practice is a falsehood, or does not exist outside their head, or has no impact in their lives. It is not reasonable because it cannot be proven. Forget the fact that it is horribly, horribly rude, and that even traditional pagans are often deeply offended when non-believers turn such “arguments” on them. When non-believers do that, I’ve heard it wondered aloud “Why are you being so shitty to prove your point?”
As I said on tumblr,
Part of me wants to elaborate on the theory of entity creation, about how intense belief and interest can bring something into being in the astral plane, but I suspect it would be argued that these beings still remain under our control is some way or another, and that we are never giving ourselves up to real worship. Honestly, I find that argument [presumptuous]. I know many people who are bowled over and utterly changed by their relationships with these sorts of beings. These relationships are no safer than those engaged in with any other type of spirit—if you’re in a real relationship that is.
The thing is, the focus of your worship can still be imaginary even if he comes from an ancient culture and mythology instead of a comic book. That has nothing to do with the source material and everything to do with the practitioner. Regardless of whether or not the being actually exists, they still might be hearing nothing more than the inside of their head. That is an argument completely aside from whether or not pop culture magic or new gods are part of a viable practice, and shouldn’t be included in such discussions.
1 – “reasonable discussion on an important topic” – Dver in a comment to Aine, here.