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A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:59 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete sodales omnes -

Here's a topic that may or may not interest the sodality. I was raised Episcopalian Christian, have always been in awe of Christ and of the Christian idea of altruism, but have also always felt drawn to other faiths, other mythical systems, and to a reverence for the earthly. It seems that Christianity is now as Paganism was during the years stretching from Constantine to Justinian - surviving as an older, scorned faith. On the other hand, Neo-paganisms are flourishing, with the Religio Romana prime among them.

So I wanted to ask: Can there be a Universalism or Ekumenism that allows Roman Religionists, Wiccan-ites, Christians, Muslims, Stoics, Epicureans, Mystics, Animists, Agnostics, et alii, to share their perceptions of Life's Mystery, of the Eternal, and of Right Conduct, without the friction and faction that make for violence? Can the world come to a Pax Ecumenicalis without doing violence to those same individual faiths and understandings? How would it work? Or would it simply be undesirable? I wondered what our various and enlightened group might have to say.

Quid censetis?


PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:01 am
by Q Valerius
Short answer: no.


PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 5:54 am
by Aldus Marius
Salve, mi Iohanne...

I think it would really depend on which individual Christians, Muslims, Wiccans et alii you could manage to get together on it. You just might be able to find the right mix of beliefs, tolerances, variances, and personalities to make a group like that work...for you, in your immediate circle. If your friendships cover that much territory, I salute you, and I'd love to conference with you guys!

But as a movement, as a wider occurrence...? Not likely. Too much human nature involved; and if you haven't noticed, the more of us there are in one place, the nastier we become towards one another. Nova Roma, early on, was teetering on the brink of becoming something really cool before a demagogue and a Machiavelli wannabe, neither of 'em a founder, decided they wanted their Roman politics to be as corrosive as the original... Crap.

It's very hard to maintain a thing like that once it involves people who weren't present at the creation. The spirit gets lost as people join the dialogue who are strangers to one another and who have not established some level of trust. That's for any organization. The ones built on dreams are especially susceptible to fragmentation, having been such wills-o'-th'-wisp to begin with.

And a religious society? Some of the tenets of the listed faiths are mutually exclusive, unless your members of those faiths agree on certain more-inclusive interpretations beforehand. Pro exemplo, as a Christian I am officially a monotheist. As a Pelagian (Celtic) Christian, however, I'm a little more open to ancestor-spirits, nature-spirits, genii loci and the like. And as a Roman, I've decided that if I want to call God "Iovi Pater", and He doesn't complain, then I will. I consider the Roman Gods to be aspects of the One God, and honor Them accordingly. Well, heck, now I've upset both the Christians and the pagans, nonne? But how many monotheists of any stripe would adjust themselves even that far? How many polytheists would buy it if they did? I keep getting run out of churches for dancing in the wilderness; that should tell you something.

Bene'st; that was the long answer. >({|;-)

In amicitia,

Gratiae actae.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:46 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete, amici -

Thanks for your thoughts. I guess one does have to distinguish levels at which such co-existence may or may not take place. The first paragraph of your response, Alde Marii, said it well: that it MIGHT happen, maybe, on an immediate, personal, relatively convivial level (but it's not terribly likely).

In a different thread, answering Aulum Flavium, you touched upon this same topic of co-existence:

I don't think having a different faith than the rest of the guys has to be an obstacle; just be ready to do a lot of explaining! If you're open to questions, if you respond with the aim of educating your commilitones and maybe broadening their horizons a little bit, and--above all--if you refrain from getting defensive, you should do fine. You may get a little bit of "He's kinda different, but he's OK!". Respect their beliefs, and inform them sufficiently so that they will know how to respect yours. When the evangelicals try to convert you, smile and let it pass. (Or tell 'em you have your present faith!) If it goes too far, report it as harrassment, because it is. But your best weapon in any of this is to show how being a Roman makes you a better soldier. That shouldn't be hard!

I think that goes not only for military training, but even for less-demanding workplaces as well.

It always seemed to me that Rome went a long way toward achieving a tolerant plurality while keeping their own Religio intact for centuries (and beyond!). That's the beauty, for me, their centralized but flexible and inclusive sort of polytheism. But then politics and liberation will challenge that: Religion as battle standard; eg, the Jews would not follow the Imperial rules, and to sustain the political situation, Vespasian and Titus and company felt compelled to crush not only the rebels but their sustaining religion (at least as far as destroying the Temple in Jerusalem).

Sometimes it seems that there are two poles in religion - the revealed TRUTH pole and the pole of elusive NUMINOUSNESS....

Ut dicit Horatius Piscinus noster, "Vadete in pace Deorum".

PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:22 am
by Titus Iulius Nero

It was my understanding that the Unitarian Universalist Church is the major group in our times that is moving for the unity and 'ekumenism' as you have called it.

Vale optime,
T. I. Nero

Re: A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:00 pm
by Horatius Piscinus
Salve bene mi Iohanes

Valerius Claudius Iohanes wrote:Can there be a Universalism or Ekumenism

Short answer, contrary to our Valerius Scerio, is yes. For any who hold faith in the spiritual there can only be one ultimate, universal, mystical, sublime, spiritual reality, no matter how we may arrive there along the path of our life journey.

Valerius Claudius Iohanes wrote: Can the world come to a Pax Ecumenicalis without doing violence to those same individual faiths and understandings? How would it work? Or would it simply be undesirable?

You said you were raised Episcopalian Christian. I was raised in a polytheistic tradition. I never think of myself as pagan really - not a term we considered ourselves - but certainly outside the Judeo-Christian-Muslim traditions. I did spend about 18 months at a Roman Catholic school under the protection of a priest; that is, not as a Catholic and one protected from overzealous nuns who had insisted on trying to beat their religion into me. Every day began with a Franciscan nun praying, "God curse all heretics, pagans, and Jesuits." In reply to your question, coming from my background, how do you suppose someone like John Hagee appears to me when he preaches that "Tolerance is a sin" and says that "We are in a cultural war," specifically refering to the Episcopalians as the enemy of his congregation? Or, forget Baptists condemning Episcopalians, there was that Franciscan condemning Jesuits. Christianity is itself so exclusionary and divisive that it fractures into competing sects. That same exclusiveness is at the root of your question. You did not ask if it is possible for Shi'ite and Sunni to live side by side in harmony, but rather whether there is ONE something that all could agree to.

You say that you have always been in awe of Christ. Well, I have no problem with Jesus and the teachings that had been put into the mouth of his figure. The myths about Jesus as a messiah or as a christus just follows themes that had long been in that part of the world, and the stories of miracle working was nothing new or exclusive to Christianity either. As Celsus asked, why should we accept that our stories are only myths and that your myths should be borne as though historically true. The Jews will accept that Jesus was a rabbi. The Muslims accept that Jesus was a prophet of Allah. But even Christians, in the early centuries, could not agree on the nature of Jesus as a Christ or what that meant. You are not speaking the same language as John Hagee. I for one cannot tell if you follow the same religion as he. But then further, you are not speaking the same language as Judaism or Islam and yet all three are from the same general religious tradition. Then you wish to enter a dialogue with those of us who came from entirely different traditions, who perceive the universe in a very different way? :D

This brings to mind a meeting I once attended, at a Unitarian church, between Lakota Sioux and wiccans who called themselves "pagans" but who none the less still thought as Christians. Well, not quite fair, as a couple of the wiccans did understand the Lakota's perception. And then you said:

Valerius Claudius Iohanes wrote: Sometimes it seems that there are two poles in religion - the revealed TRUTH pole and the pole of elusive NUMINOUSNESS....

In truth there is no such dichotomy, but once again you are speaking in the language of your religious tradition, of a "revealed" truth, with whatever implications that has in your tradition and would not in other traditions.

I say that the answer to your question is that it is possible for everyone to come to some understanding, for we are all led eventually into the same reality. And where you ask how such could ever possibly work, I would have to conclude that it would first require that we begin by examining our common notions and from what axioms we each proceed in our individual traditions. More importantly, if you understand the difference between belief and faith, if we can have mutual respect of one another's faith, as we have always tried to promote in this sodalitas, then it is possible for people of faith to hold dialogue on their common experiences for it is really there that all the distinctions really break down - the distinctions being only the inadequate attempts of humans to explain an experiential presence of the divine.

Vale et vade in Deos, mi amice

Re: A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:27 am
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete Sodales -

Thanks for the responses, all. Horatii Piscine, thanks for your long and thoughtful response.

I do hope that in the years left to me here I myself can come to a better understanding of how people in other traditions experience the presence of the divine. In fact, I've never been a fan of Christian exlcusivity or its claim to be the sole arbiter of spirit and divine truth. That just never made sense to me. In fact, after my education, it seemed to me that Christianity was, itself, a religion of various borrowings, a real patchwork quilt. That was one of the attractive things about it: a unity emerging from the life of people, but expressed in forms new and old.

It's good that, although mutual respect is hard to come by, our sodality manages it pretty well.


Re: A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:57 pm
by UrsusofUNRV
Valerius Claudius Iohanes wrote:Salvete sodales omnes -
Can the world come to a Pax Ecumenicalis without doing violence to those same individual faiths and understandings? How would it work? Or would it simply be undesirable?

I am afraid we in our own time already see stirrings of a great "Clash of Civilizations" between the West and Islam. I know it is not politically correct to offer any criticism of the Islamic world, but the fact is the more or less secular West has values that are not compatible with Islam as many of its adherents want to practice it. We see the frictions already in Islamic communities in Europe. As more failed states in Africa and the Middle east occur along the lines of Somalia, I am afraid we'll see even more violence.

Admittedly a lot of the friction is not religious, but social, economic and political frustrations hiding under the guise of religion - but then isn't that always the way?

In the United States mainstream Protestant religion is dying, to be replaced with a fanatical and charismatic movement that is opposed to every other religion; they do not even have respect for Catholics as fellow Christians. They too wish to establish a theocracy, although they work through legal and political means rather than through violence.

Therefore, honestly I am very doubtful we will see peace in our time. But if there is to be a clash between those who want a theocracy and those who want a secular democratic West, I know which side I am on. >({|:-)

Re: A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:05 am
by Caeia Julia Regilia
I'm not sure I know exactly what you mean by ekumenism, but if it means that all religions should be blended into incoherent mush (which I think would look fairly New Age IMO), absolutely not. To me a big part of the beauty of Paganisms is that we DON'T agree. Norse say the world was created by a cow licking salty ice, not remotely the same as what Romans or Christians say. Some say we reincarnate, some say we become ghosts, some say death is the end -- these ideas are different, and I'd hate to see the whole thing boiled down to nothing. Trads each have their value, and they should remain separate.

I don't see any problem with DIALOG, we can talk to anyone, anywhere at any time. Sharing ideas is the essence of Via Deorum -- our spiritual ancestors were philosopers and scientists questioning everything. We debated what a soul, what is a God. So why do we fear a meeting of the minds?

Cogitamus Omni, ergo viviamus!

Re: A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:02 pm
by Valerius Claudius Iohanes
Salvete -

I thought the following should be posted here, in this old thread. It's a remark by our Sodalis Lucia Livia Plauta about an assertion by another Sodalis of ours, Cnaeus Cornelius Lentulus, on how our old friends (?) at Nova Roma should approach religion.

Posted by: "L. Livia Plauta"
Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:14 pm (PST)

Salvete omnes,
I think this text by Lentulus should be put on the [NR] wiki somewhere. It is of vital importance.


[from Lentulus:]

We Nova Romans are officially without truth-ideology. Roman religion does not have a theory of "unique truth", and the Nova Roman state, just like the old Roman state, is theologically neutral while in practices being exclusively polytheist. This means that there are obligatory religious practices from the part of the state that are directed to various Deities, but the state religion does not have an official definition of what these Deities are, how many they are, are they ultimately just aspects of one single Divine Supremacy, or all are individual and separate spiritual beings, are they all from the same spiritual material, or some of them is more god, some less etc... Official Roman religion does not concern itself with these questions: this is how there is no dogmatic theology. This is why we in Nova Roma can not have an ideology about truth. Our culture, our religion is of different nature."

Re: A Larger Ekumenism?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:45 am
by Primus Aurelius Timavus
That's why the Romans, with a couple of exceptions, did not fight religious wars.