Monday, November 22, 2010

Slow Brain Drip and Blank Spaces

My blogging seems to have slowed down to a trickle. My family has been sick on and off for weeks and most of my energy has been dedicated to housekeeping and teaching. Additionally, I feel as though for the past three years my intelligence has been dripping out of my brain. Drop by drop, I become less interested and less interesting. Bit by bit I'm losing confidence in my abilities as a thinker. I suppose that's what happens after the doctorate is earned and real life sets in. I had a great deal invested in believing I was a smarty pants. Today I am far less convinced. The good news is that my entire identity isn't tied up in how clever I am. I love being a homemaker and a college instructor. My children and my students are funny and sweet, and they make me happy. I wanted to be brilliant but being maternal may be an even better deal.

I've also (maybe)temporarily removed the "Pagan" from my Plainly Pagan blog title. I'm still Pagan but the term is in the shop for repairs. One thing that may be happening is that I find that I don't feel that I share community with most Pagans in any way that is related to our shared Pagan beliefs. Part of that is because I'm not sure that I do share many Pagan beliefs with other Pagans. That's fine. Not being able to connect to their spirituality doesn't stop me from enjoying the words, wisdom, and friendship of Pagan friends. It just feels awkward for me to call myself a Pagan when I know that pretty much every single person will assume I mean something I do not. I like my words to facilitate rather than hinder understanding. Anyway...I've been working on those thoughts and I'll have to see where they go.

I also think that I'm thinking of my Paganism in the small p way these days. It has become an adjective rather than a noun. I don't think I am a Quaker-Pagan. I am a pagan Quaker. The adjective "pagan" modifies the noun, "Quaker". I'm also a feminist Quaker, a female Quaker, a maternal Quaker, a teaching Quaker, and a liberal Quaker. My beliefs are pagan because they are earth-centered, spiritualist, and pantheistic. (except when they are non-theistic and that's pagan too). But I identify with Friends. I'm not all that sure that they identify with me, but I have confidence that over time, I'll acquire a convincing Quaker patina.

That's all I have for now. *sigh*


Lone Star Ma said...

Howdy. Hope everyone feels better soon.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Hystery,

Interesting that you now consider yourself pantheistic when not inclined to nontheism.

As I recall, last year, you talked of panentheism.

I've continued my journey too.

Where I keep living is by faith in God in Buber's "I-Thou sense."

For me the heart of faith is ethics.

Glad to see you are finding such joy in your family and in teaching.

In the Light,


Morgaine said...

I read this last night. Of course you can classify yourself however you deem appropriate. Pagan with a big "P" or pagan with a little "p"; none of that really matters to me. You could be a Christian with a big "C" or a christian with a little "c". What I have found intriguing and worth a second, third and often fourth look, is the combination of intellectualism, irreverent reverence and scrupulous authenticity. I don't care how you classify yourself in the future, but I do hope you retain those qualities as they really are precious, rare and you speak for those who don't know how.

You may think things are dripping out, but some of us are lucky enough to be dripped on.

Blessed be, and happy living, Hystery.

Jeremy Mott said...

It's good to see you back again.
I hope you get to feel better and better. Remember that there is no demand that you speak, unless Truth demands that you speak. In any other case, silence is better.

As for pantheism and non-theism and
theism, I say to myself "What is the difference between these terms?" Didn't God introduce himself (or herself if you prefer) in the Bible by saying "I am Who I am." What could be more poorly
defined than that?
Jeremy Mott

Hystery said...

I'm sorry I didn't publish your comments earlier. For some reason, they were misdirected into my spam folder. Very annoying.

Lone Star Ma,
Thank you for the well wishes. We're working on it!

I've always considered myself a pantheist. And a panentheist. I can never decide so I cheerfully bare the tension. (Well, not always *cheerfully*) Truly it was just laziness that made me write pantheist instead of panentheist. I couldn't figure out if I wanted to add hyphens to the word panentheist (pan-en-theist) or not so I left it alone.

That's cool that you should bring up Martin Buber. I've been thinking of that a lot more lately. Martin Buber's writing has figured largely in my thinking in general (probably Dad's influence). I agree with you that the heart of faith is ethics. I have little actual concern for mythology or theology except as tools to reflect upon ethics. What we believe seems to matter very little relative to our capacity for ensuring right relationship with each other and with the world. I made the theme of ethics fairly central in my research and I think that this is part of the reason I've been so annoyed with Paganism as it presents itself lately. I see little concern with ethics and so much more on...stuff. Ritual, mythology, trappings. The same bothers me with Christianity. I guess I really am a very Protestant Pagan. This is especially annoying to me because I feel that Paganism is and can be particularly rich in this area especially as related to the relationship between environmentalism and social justice. But maybe no one should listen to me these days. As I said to my husband today, I'm having a flare up of elitism. (which makes no kind of sense given my own doubts about my own intelligence!)


"I am who I am" is perhaps my favorite statement in the entire Bible (again my father's influence). "Ah, the ontological statement..." he would say lovingly. I can remember my father really getting into that when I was a kid. It is amazing how seeing his excitement over that one phrase shaped so much of my life. He would probably be horrified to think he had that much influence.

Is there a difference between the terms non-theism, pantheism, and theism? Books could be written on the differences, but in the end, all those arguments would be merely notional. I have a lot of fun playing with the differences, but at my heart level, it doesn't seem to matter a bit. I will be what I will be. One thing I've enjoyed most about Friends is their ability to move me toward a wordless thea/ology.


Thank you very much for your words. I much prefer them to my own characterization of myself as a jackass. I really have felt awfully stupid lately. Maybe after I launch myself back into thealogical study, I won't feel so dull-witted. It could also be that I'm having trouble following arguments because I lose interest in them so quickly. I'm much less interested in reading things by people who are so confident that they are right. Ideas are like balloons. They are most fun when bounced gently between friends. Hold them too tightly and they just explode.

I'm thankful for all of you who have commented. You teach me so much.

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