Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Synching on Syncing (a Synchroblog on Syncretism)

This month there is a rather quickly put together set of posts on the subject of Syncretism. This is a subject rather close to my heart primarily due to the fact that I have been falsely accused of such activity by people who have not even graced the doors of our church. Of course, the term "graced" is not one which would really apply to them I suppose.

As my consideration of the subject this SynchroBlog I would like to make a statement about a potential future arrangement near our church, and post a question.

Our potential future neighbors at church

Now it appears that next door to our church, in the same building, and sharing the same bathrooms, and having doors facing one another that the newest tenants to our building just might be a a rather large and famous school of witchcraft. This is nothing peculiar for our city of Salem, Massachusetts. The Pagan community is not a group we are either afraid of, nor antagonistic towards. We have many witches who are our friends. That is life in Salem with the loving heart of Jesus.

Now the Question

So, what would you do if your church was saddled up next to the world's largest witchcraft school? I am not sure that this is a definite, and I am not certain I have the answer to the question myself.

Perhaps some of you my Pagan friends might have some thoughts. Perhaps some of you my Christian friends might have some concerns. Perhaps some of you are just scratching your heads and saying, "wow." What's your take? WWYD? Uhm, that's What Would You Do? :-)

The other synchrobloggers so far:

• Matt Stone Master Chef: How To Cook Up A Personal Jesus
• Susan Barnes Our Uncomfortable God
• Liz Dyer Does Interfaith Dialogue Lead To Syncretism?
• Phil Wyman Synching on Synching Synchroblog on Syncretism
How to be a Syncretist by Ellen Haroutunian
• Steve Hayes The Man in the Moss
• KW Leslie The Syncretists I Have Dealt With


Sally said...

:-) I guess my response will not be a surprise.

Do we need to be afraid, NO!

Will this be an opportunity for creative dialogue? YES.

Will it be a challenge? YES.

What is not to like?????

I thought that we were called to be sent out, and to go to the ends of the earth, and to be salt and light. Why are we so concerned with being in holy huddles?

Sally said...

btw, if you can spare us a prayer right now that'd be great ( see blog)

Matt Stone said...

Well, its certainly and opportunity for Christian-Pagan dialogue!

Many years ago at a Mind Body Spirit Festival in Sydney the organizers, in their wisdom, put the Pagans directly across from our regular stand. It was really good for conversation, so I was dissappointed it only happened one year.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Sally,

I always like how you think. Thanks. It is a crazy world I have stumbled into.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Matt,

But doesn't talking to Witches lead to compromise and syncretism? ;-)

Susan Barnes said...

In my small corner of the world, Christians would pray that people got converted and the school closed down.

Thanks for the post, certainly makes one think.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Susan,

In my corner of the world people pray like that too. We've decided to think and act differently, but that doesn't mean we always know what we are going to do with what God has given us.

Bruce said...

Hmm, the holy people at other times and places are sometimes incensed with righteous anger (not selfrighteous anger) with jealousy for the glory of God. Others are cast down in despair. Others make peace with the situation.

How do I see it? Like Paul at Mars Hill, the Aeropagus. Live and let live maybe, possibility of disaster, possibility of God glorifying Himself among us in a marvelous way. Priceless though is keeping the gospel without syncretism, as the Apostles did, and keeping in relationship with those who know they are opposed to the gospel.

I still admire and respect you and yours, Phil.

Bruce said...

But the reason I wrote is that in a Marvel comic book story line out these days, the Viking god Thor moved the city of Asgard to a midwestern US plains town, something like Nebraska or South Dakota or Kansas or Texas, out in the outskirts. The appearance of Asgard looks like the picture you posted here. The people in town are "good Christian people" as they say. There are several churches in town, and someone said that they've got the devil beat by 4 to 1, obviously some of them are Catholic or Mormon or something. The townspeople wondered how they should relate to the new neighbors, and they decided they should treat them as good Christian people do, and show them hospitality, invite them to the town meeting and the ice cream social and stuff like that. Makes for a funny story, and food for thought too.

Beth P. said...

When my mother used to be asked the sort of of off-hand question, with a smile about someone who was acting up (me for instance)'whaddya gonna do with her/them'? She'd reply with a grin, 'keep her and love her'.

When, in my childhood fears, I'd ask about boogey-persons stealing me away at night, she'd say 'they'll soon bring you back'.

Her responses made me feel safe and loved. Her gentle humor about the value of me and the value of fear and the value of worry, allowed me to face the world with less angst about anything really being able to hurt what's real and true.

Just some off-hand thoughts, from the outfield.

Anonymous said...

Phil - A marvelous, horrible situation. Marvelous because it is an opportunity for people to be stretched and learn and grow - horrible because it is an opportunity for people to be stretched and learn and grow :>)

Beth, I love what your mom did and the way she knew how to instill peace - it reminds me of Jesus. And it reminds me that a lot of the reason we act so "un" Christlike is because we are so fearful. I am sick of being a fearful Christian!

my contribution to the synchroblog is finally up

ellen Haroutunian said...

Invite 'em to dinner? I love Beth's response - is there anything that is really able to hurt what's real and true?

Yewtree said...

It depends which witchcraft school it is. If it's the Correllians, I'd give it a wide berth.

As a Wiccan myself, I'd have to ask, what exactly do you mean by "witchcraft school"? I can't really give my reaction without knowing.

As a Unitarian, my response is: it'd be pretty cool if Hogwarts was next door to my church (and I don't think the other Unitarians would mind at all).

Anonymous said...

I'm with Yewtree on this one. I'd also just note that I'm personally one of those people who is not convinced that a "school" setting is the appropriate approach to learning witchcraft. A sort of apprenticeship like certain trades have might be more appropriate. But what I've seen of most witchschools, that's not what they're going for.

Other than that, I'd just say pretend your State Farm insurance and be a good neighbor. If they need a hand with something, offer to help. If it's appropriate and necessary to do so, offer to compare schedules of upcoming events in an attempt to avoid both groups having large events at the same time. It's little things like that that can make a huge difference, in my experience.

-- Jarred.

Sabio Lantz said...

I'd take classes. Only way to learn is to participate to the degree you are comfortable. But indeed there is a risk. Ask your friends, they can help you see your own weaknesses.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Bruce,

I knew I would make it to comic book hero status someday.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Beth,

I am more concerned that people might respond with your mother's towards me. I already know they ask, "What are we gonna do with him?"

Peace atcha!

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Gracie Liz,

Marvelous and Horrible - I like it. I like it a lot.

Pastor Phil said...


Invite them to dinner? But I'm not sure how to cook a Witch. :-)

Oh - hahahaha. A little turn of play makes for good fun.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Yewtree,

I may need you as a consultant! Thanks.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Jarred,

I follow you on the school setting feeling. My sympathies tend toward things more organic and anarchic. :-)

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Sabio,

Hmmmmmm...I was actually hoping to teach the classes.

doh! Just kidding.

Steve Hayes said...

I'm with Yewtree on this one -- it depends on what you mean by "witchcraft". See for example my post on Witchcraft, mob justice and hypocrisy. But that is far removed from the Harry Potter style of witchcraft that you seem to be talking about. But is someone really planning to start up a Hogwarts-type operation next-door to you? Are you serious? Are they?

Steve Hayes said...

You might also like to check thisd article -- not the same as a school of witchcraft, but in the same ballpark, as it were. And this response is also quite interesting.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Steve,

I am not kidding, and they certainly are not. But this is not a Hogwarts startup if it happens. It is a well established online school with a serious presence around the world.

Beth P. said...

Hi Phil--
The answer to your question to my comment is still te same, 'keep 'im and love 'im'!!

Pastor Phil said...

Adding to the previous notes: The group is Correllian.

cern said...

Just a thought..... if you were looking for a building to plant a church in Salem and one came up next to a witchcraft school, would you go for it? Regardless of the answer, the follow on question would be 'why?'

I don't think you'd have a problem with it somehow Phil. But the follow on question would still apply. :)

Even if the witchcraft school IS the one people have expressed concerns about (and I fully understand their reservations) I'd still say it could be a good experience. It would be a challenge regardless of which witch school ;) But it would also be an opportunity to explore dialogue, and that, at least for me, would make it interesting. :)



Pastor Phil said...

Hi Mike,

I'm with you, but this does make for a good exercise in considering our opinions, and increasing our listening and learning - doesn't it?

Peace bro,

cern said...

Most definitely. :)