Beacons of Light: Paganism and Evangelism, a Personal Revelation

Had a fun conversation with one of my students today. Apparently it does not take much effort to piece together who I am in school with who I am on the internet.  Well, duh.  I do not exactly hide who I am nor do I hide what I am:  a Pagan. That little fact kicked off the fun conversation – though it was awkward in a few places.

One of the more interesting questions that was brought up circled around the concept of evangelism of one’s beliefs. During the conversation, we both realized that we were approaching the topic from different vantage points and quickly stopped the discussion. For a “proper” discussion to take place, we both knew we needed a similar area of understanding and footing where definitions were concerned. We settled on the premise that evangelism is the act of telling others about your religious faith whether that be openly (where you make the first move in the process) or somewhat veiled (where you do not volunteer the topic of belief until the interested party broaches the point). With a quick agreement on that, we continued along our conversational path.

I noted that hardcore, open evangelism by some of the Christian paths was a major factor for my seeking a different Path that would be a better “fit” in my life. I remarked that I did not get into the perspective of evangelizing my own beliefs, but that I was more than open to discussing such with others. And then she hit me with a combo-punch I never saw coming.

What about your podcast?  Your Blog?  Your social media presence?  You talk about your faith there – isn’t that open evangelizing?

Shit. Bulls-eye. You nailed me right between the eyes with that one, sister. Took it right on the chin. If I was not going to evangelize my faith and beliefs – there would be no “From the Edge of the Circle” podcast; there would be no “From Within the Circle” blog site. A little further along the conversation, as I felt my position slipping slightly over this revelation, she threw me an entire aircraft carrier to use as a life raft.

Its really the difference in how and why you evangelize that sets you apart from those folks.

As I clambered aboard the USS Aircraft Saved My Ass, I could see the entire issue through her eyes. All of us in the Pagan Podcasting community, and those of us who write Pagan blogs, articles, and books – we are trying to tell the world how our faith helps us through these times. How our faith provides us comfort when the rest of the day was so shitty. We do that for those people who are searching for something that might provide them with that same comfort, that same sense of personal ease, that same feeling of “this is home, this is tribe.” In a way, its a similar notion of why the survivors at the end of Mad Max leave fires burning in the night after they make it to Melbourne. Those fires are lighting the way for Max, showing him a beacon of hope in the darkness of that post-apocalyptic Australia. Others will see that beacon as well, and follow it to what has become a thriving and surviving community of survivors. We are not trying to shove our beliefs into anyone’s face – we are simply trying to be one of the many beacons of light for those seeking for that sense of hope, community, and tribe.

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6 Comments

  1. I have no argument with this post, and I totally agree with your student that the how and why make all the difference.

    As a matter of definitions, I say that evangelizing is letting other people know about your religion (leaving the fires burning for those who want or need to see them), while proselytizing is aggressively seeking converts (using that fire to blind or bribe or burn people into joining you).

    1. I second John on this notion. I never actively seek converts, why would I? I merely seek to let others know that I exist.

      We will survive and thrive. I don’t know if my particular faith will survive the next 200 years, but I know that the worship of the gods WILL,

  2. I don’t see what you’re doing as Evangelising, because it has to be sought out. You don’t put it under peoples windshield wipers or knock on doors, or buy time on broadcast TV. If some one wants your podcast they have to go to libsyn or iTunes, and will be clearly told/warned/welcomed of it’s spiritual slant. Also I would say my impression is that it’s primarily targeted to folks who are already Pagan. Despite this, you clearly state on occasion that if the listener isn’t Pagan, it’s perfectly OK to stay non-Pagan.
    This doesn’t look like Evangelism to me at all.

  3. Actually ya’ll…if you read the post, you will note that we were not working on a textbook definition of “evangelism” but rather on an agreed definition of the term. Under that agreed definition, my work through podcast episodes and blog postings does fall under the evangelism term. Instead of getting hung up on a prescribed definition of a term, the two of us worked towards common ground – agreed on a definition that we could both us – and then carried on in the conversation with the agreed-upon definition.

    Its really great to talk with people outside of the Pagan community, who spend the time to locate that common ground – particularly when they realize that their conceptual definition of a term does not match up with that of someone else.

  4. .sure, and I don’t mind folks of any religion writing, doing podcasts, or anything of the like about their religion, or way of life. As long as they are not trying to convert me, then cool. We do learn so much from walking a mile in another shoes.

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