Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beyond the Pall (Part 4) Dancing in the Battle Zone

Three silver knives were stuck in the turf at my friend's gravesite. They were evidence that someone hoped to keep his spirit from tormenting them from beyond the grave. After the death of my friend the Witch, Pagans from near and far had divided into friend and enemy status. I care little for the battle lines of men, and prefer to befriend everyone while carelessly navigating the battlezone. Someone was crucified millennia ago for dancing in the battlezone. He sat with drunkards and religious leaders, came to break down the partition between Jew and Gentile, and the cross He bore is still my model for action.

Similarly I don't respond to superstitious fears. Silver knives, incantations, or chants seem powerless to soothe the demons of bitterness or fear in our own hearts. Those personal sins are the real ghosts of which we should be wary.

So as the battlelines were drawn. I ignored them. Pagan stood against Pagan, and of course Christians joined the fray as well. There are Christians who have a need to mention eternal torment to those who are not Christians at every possible opportunity. These pitched their tents on the side of Hell, and lobbed their morter in my direction. They believed that I was somehow compromising my faith by not emphasizing Hell during this season of my friend's death. Once again I danced in the militarized zone, and let the bombs fall around me.

Witches and occultists were accusing other Witches of being Satan worshippers. Of course, Witches don't believe in Satan, and so it looked more like a politically motivated accusation. At stake was licensing for Tarot Reading, and Psychic Readings in the city of Salem. If one group could make another look bad, perhaps it meant more money, more customers for them during the tourist season.

Meanwhile Christians made similar accusations of Satanic worship. I wondered quietly if such unfounded accusations against Neo-Pagans (which is a broad category including Witches, and Wiccans) were a way for the Christian church to develop a much needed visible enemy. A visible enemy gives us a more adventurous message, and maybe even an upperhand in fundraising.

Having been asked to speak at, and/or create workshops for Pagan events, I met with Witches to discuss upcoming teachings. I passed my ideas through them, and they were excited about these lessons on the Christian message which I was preparing.

During this time the battlezone became more active.

I have seen Witches lie about one another, and I have seen Christians lie about one another. I have seen Witches posture for position for personal gain, and I have seen greed in Christian leadership too. I have seen Witches dishonor those among their spiritual family who pass away, and I have seen Christians speak ill of the dead as well.

I have seen Christians who have chosen to speak the truth even if it cost them, and yes I have seen Witches do the same. I have seen Christians act mercifully toward those who do not deserve mercy, and I have seen Witches do the same.

Often my little world of Christianity prides itself in being the model of ethical behavior. I am not sure that we can honestly wear those shoes, because they do not always fit us. Instead I think we are called to dance gracefully in the battlezone.

We are called to avoid choosing sides in personal struggles for the sake of loving all people. We are called to navigate the places of strife with the words of peace. We are called to help the defenseless in the moment of their greatest need, and to cease throwing stones even when stones are deserved. We are called to speak words of truth even if those words defend non-Christians, and call Christians to repentance. I believe that this is what dancing in the battlezone looks like, and I believe we are all called to such a ministry.

Unfortunately, even Christians are saving their silver knives to join the fight instead of dancing in the battlezone.

To read parts 1-3:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Anonymous said...

I've seen both too Bro. It's worth remembering that those who miss the mark are being human, even if they think they're presenting the spiritual. There are lots who show their human weaknesses. Sometimes it seems difficult to work through ones own to dodge the pitfalls of them. That is where those dancing steps come in real handy. :)



Pastor Phil said...


Thanks for being someone who wears dancing shoes.

David said...

What a great poetic picture of how we should live.
That's very well put Phil.

(from someone who has been accused of dancing jigs on poop decks)

IZenBet said...

i think it comes down to what my brother spoke of at an african american church while presenting on his trip to chile...he said he has to get up and humble himself daily, resign himself to remember who he serves and be "death to self" ( he describes himself as easily being a jerk/bastard). making that decision is a daily task, right from wrong, whether pagan or christian.

Pastor Phil said...

I knew you were a dancer David.

Pastor Phil said...

Yep, we is all jerks.

agent wife said...

Wow, thank you for your honest assessment and the call to love and rise above the raucous noise to follow our true call of love. I really appreciated your comments about the real things to fear- not superstitious symbols and objects, but the bitterness or fear within. With our charismatic side, we saw a lot of knee jerk reaction against Harry Potter or other "dark manifestations" and I have started wondering if that was of the Spirit or flesh. Are we not told we could pick up snakes, drink poison...? Thanks.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Agent Wife!

It was such a blessing to have B out here. You know, I've always loved snakes. :-) Guess I still do.

Sally said...

Phil- God is in these words- thank you for being a dancer- thank you for standing where so many won't go...peace and blessings


Pastor Phil said...

Thanks Sally,

I sure hope we get to meet face to face in August.