Paganism, Christianity and the Fear of God Syndrome

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Tansy Pat wrote a post yesterday regarding the compelling topic of the Christian God.  His post is reminiscent of things that I have had to deal with, being raised in a Roman Catholic family and then dealing with family members that went to the ‘ultra’ conservative side of Christianity.  This is also something a significant amount of pagans have to deal with, and ultimately also has other facets including feelings toward family, our Christian upbringings and all sorts of other pain and problems that make the entire topic a frustrating ball of crap.

Personally, I think it was awesome of him to bring up this topic.  I think it is something that needs to be talked about.  It takes a lot of guts to start thinking about and dealing with feelings and thoughts about a God that so many of us were taught at a young age to love and abide by.  Quite a few pagans I know get so angry about their upbringings that they never reconcile this.  Instead it becomes locked in their memories, where quite a bit of energy is needed to keep it locked, and lots of anger and negativity is thrown around in defense of anyone trying to suggest to them that they open it.

If people realized how much energy that they spend trying to avoid things and how much less they would use if they just dealt with their hurts, perhaps they would be more willing to dig into it and get it over with.

Sorry, just a short healer rant there.  But I digress.

Years ago, while trying to get a pagan group together in the town I lived in at the time, I came across a woman who would cast protective spells on her things.  She was very outgoing, and spoke often about different Gods and Goddesses.  However, when I approached her about the meetup I was trying to form, I got a very peculiar answer.

“I don’t want to get any other Gods mad at me”.  She replied.

When I pressed further, she changed the topic, and taking the hint I dropped it.  I found out later that her mother was a devout Christian.  And because she lived with her mother, she did a significant amount of work with her mother’s church.  So she was saying she didn’t want to get the Christian God mad at her for going to a Pagan meetup.

Her response to me was a clear and classic case of the “Fear of God” syndrome.  It is something that until recently I dealt with too.  And I think it is also the thing that Tansy Pat speaks about in his post:

When I feel my heart flutter, when I feel anxiety, when I encounter hardship, when my blood sugar drops suddenly and I am faced again with the reality of being diabetic…I have this ingrained urge to believe I am being punished by this god I no longer worship, that I have brought these things upon myself.

When we start getting called by other gods growing up, or when we realize we have gifts that no other playmate or friend has, we start to become torn.  Our heart and gut says we have to honor ourselves.  However that is quickly overridden by our minds, which tell us that doing something like that is “bad” and will push us towards the path of “hell”.  I think the ‘Shit happens’ joke was right when it classified Christianity as “Shit happens because you are bad”.  We get that slammed into our brains so much it becomes a part of our DNA.  And no matter how much we fight it or lock away our feelings about our past, the fear is always there.

Tansy speaks to how he started figuring out how to deal with this Fear of God syndrome in his next post, where he talks about starting to recognize the origins of the Christian God.  By doing this, the Christian God starts to fit in within his framework of Divinity and thus he becomes more comfortable with it.  That was huge.

I am doing my best to handle my own Fear of God Syndrome.  But unlike Tansy, I have to fit it into my own personal framework.  It doesn’t fit to me to look at the history of God, and that is OK.  For me, I had to recognize where it fit by my discussion with the Christian God when I was still forced to attend mass.

As a minor, I was still forced to go to Roman Catholic mass, and of course, take communion.  At that time I was already a full-fledged witch and working with the native spirits where I lived.  However, not wanting to be totally disrespectful, I recognized the importance of communion to the Catholic tradition, and thus said a prayer to the Christian God to remove the blessing associated with the host after I consumed it.  I did this every time I took the host.  And every time, the reply I got was a joyful feeling that I could keep the blessing, even though I considered myself outside of the Christian religion.

It wasn’t until more recently that I recognized what the rest of the message was.  By the Christian God’s allowance of my keeping that blessing, I realized the Christian God isn’t the type of God that most Christians today believe or pray to.  The Christian God is a loving, caring god that is higher on the stalactite spectrum and excludes no one, unlike what most of his believers say.  If you pray to him, he listens, and if you don’t, that’s OK too.  If you have to recognize what his historical origins are to accept him, that is awesome.  If you have to just look him as divinity as a whole and not use his name, that’s fine too.

What makes things uncomfortable around the Christian God are his believers.  99% of the congregations in the United States don’t have a true home for the real Christian God in their churches.  There are a few that get it; the “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented” group on Facebook, Pastor Rob Bell, who wrote the book “Love Wins” and immediately lost his congregation because of his writings gets it.  John Pavlovitz, whose blog “Stuff that Needs to be Said” has over 17,000 followers and over 18,000 Facebook followers also gets it.  They are the minority right now, but the movement has started to find a place back to what Christianity is supposed to be.

All of this recognition has allowed me to stop looking at Evangelical Christians with anger (although people like Kim Davis still get me in an uproar at times).  Instead, I look at them with pity.  If they knew the God I felt in that church all those years ago, perhaps they wouldn’t have so much anger and hatred for others.  Perhaps they would stop judging and start truly loving as they claim.

We as human beings are too individual to fit under one religion.  It was never meant to be.  We need to not be afraid to broaden our own horizons and find where we fit, where our soul can call home.  And we also need to be courageous enough to deal with the damage caused by trying to fit us into a ‘one size fits all’ belief system that truly doesn’t exist.   I believe doing both of these things is required for us to truly be free enough to worship our Gods and Goddesses with a complete body and soul.

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Author: Karlesha

I am a martial artist, historical fencer, yogi, runner, intuitive / empath, diviner and pagan. My passion is learning about myself, where I fit in the world and where I can do the most good.

5 thoughts on “Paganism, Christianity and the Fear of God Syndrome”

  1. I agree that every Pagan who was raised in a Christian environment needs to come to terms with the Christian God they left behind. Some are able to do it quickly, while others need more time. It took me years, but now I have an accord with that God. He understands that I don’t worship Him because I couldn’t, in good conscience, adhere to a faith whose followers are so intent on forcing their way of life and their beliefs on others.

    I had to come to that accord in order to fully focus my spiritual energy on the Gods of the Norse pantheon. Before I reached that accord, I felt torn in two directions because there was the fear of the punishment from the Christian God (instilled in childhood, as it usually it) and there was the trauma of potentially breaking an oath to one of the Gods I honor (which didn’t happen, but was still incredibly spiritually and mentally taxing).

    I don’t know if I will ever be able to stop looking at evangelical Christians with anger, but that applies to evangelicals of every faith. I will never be able to deny the fury that I feel when someone attempts to force their faith on someone else, no matter what that faith may be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find this post interesting. I thought I was the only Christian that acknowledged what you bring up. I am glad to find some common ground. If you had not hit the like button on my post, “Aj Is Going to Hell”, I would not have. Thank you for doing that.

    Like

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