Today's blog will be a brief one, as my daughter has a same day surgery procedure tomorrow and I have a lot to do today, but I read an interesting blog by Jason Mankey discussing his views on interfaith work which he ended by saying that he prefers to focus on building within the pagan community rather than working on interfaith outside it.
By definition interfaith work is rooted in looking for common ground between diverse religions. Ideally it goes beyond tolerance and nurtures acceptance and the acknowledgement of commonalities. For my own part I think understanding and tolerance are the first step we need to achieve before we start working on anything more grand. With so much work left to do in even getting people to understand what reconstructionism really is, I worry about putting the cart before the horse by emphasizing the common ground we share with other groups.
Interfaith of all sorts is a something I find to be very important, not only so I can learn about other traditions but so I can give a voice to mine. I see interfaith work as a chance to educate others about my beliefs and traditions, whether those others are monotheists or other pagans. The goal of education is simply to spread sound information to dispel the fear and mistrust that comes from ignorance. Whether people like what I do, or agree with it, is inconsequential to me if they can come to a place of understanding and tolerance similar to what I have for them. And I think that interfaith work, sharing what I really do and why, is essential to the long term success of the both my own community and a wider, diverse pagan community.
For reconstructionists, especially, I think its vital for us to get out there and have a voice. We are a minority within the minority, often misunderstood, maligned, and mocked, and that will only change if we actively work to change it. Ignorance doesn't go away on it's own; ignorance must be changed through action, both the effort of the speaker to teach and the listener to learn. If we don't make that effort, if we don't try, and just remain within our own insular communities then nothing changes. As part of that we also have to work on being more tolerant of those we disagree with.
As a follower of the traditional views about fairies, that viewpoint deserves equal time and respect too. Without a voice the old understandings are lost under the crush of new opinions and trends. And while it may be much easier to be silent, it is ultimately far more expensive.
In the spirit of this, and more widely of my intent to serve my Gods and spirits, I am going to be fairly busy this year at events and conferences. I'm speaking at Connecticut Pagan Pride's Beltane event in April, at ADF's Wellspring event in May, a Morrigan retreat in Massachusetts in June, Connecticut's Pagan Pride Day in September and the Changing Times Changing Worlds conference in November. I'm excited to have so many opportunities to meet people and talk about things I'm passionate about.