Paganism & Christianity - A Resource for Wiccans, Witches and Pagans

Adult
Rated 4.60/5 based on 11 reviews
In Paganism & Christianity, the Pagan Awareness Network’s Gavin Andrew examines the reasons why paganism has traditionally been reviled, uncovering some of the lesser-known aspects of Christian history. This concise resource explores Christianity's deep entanglement with European and Middle-Eastern indigenous beliefs, and reveals the basis for Christian attitudes toward modern paganism. More

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Words: 26,380
Language: English
ISBN: 9780987153609
About Gavin Andrew

What is PAN Inc?

The Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated (PAN Inc) is a not-for-profit educational association with members Australia-wide. It is run by a management committee whose members are drawn from a broad cross-section of the Pagan community. The Association is incorporated in the state of New South Wales, with sub-committees in other states of Australia. It has no formal ties with any religious body, but works in a proactive fashion, both within the Pagan community and as a point of contact for the public, including government and media organisations.

PAN Inc aims to continue as the Australian Pagan community’s most effective networking and educational body.

Our Mission

The Pagan Awareness Network Inc (PAN Inc) aims to:
Correct misinformation, raise awareness and educate the general public about Paganism and associated beliefs and practises in order to achieve religious tolerance
Foster the growth of the Pagan community through service

Brief History

The Pagan Awareness Network began in January 1997 when the Witches League for Public Awareness (Salem Mass. USA) withdrew their regional controllers. David Garland was the Australian representative and with the support of the coven he worked with, had already embarked upon the task of making the WLPA a registered organisation here in Australia when this happened. Rather than waste all the work that had already been done David decided to start a new group here in Australia and so came up with the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN).

It was around the same time that it was decided to register a Church (SOTEG) and to make PAN the educational arm of that Church, to save both time and money. PAN started out with a web site and information pamphlets that aimed to get the truth out there about what Pagans are and what they really do.

March the 23rd 1997 was the first Public Full Moon Circle PAN held and was very successful. These still continue every month in Seven Hills.

In the June of the same year, as part of SOTEG, the first public Sabbat was held, a Yule. This was a huge success and almost 200 people turned up as well as Channel 9.

On the 30th of September the Pagan Awareness Network split with SOTEG Inc and became an entity in its own right, incorporating on the 15th of October 1997 and officially becoming the Pagan Awareness Network Inc.

We have responded to many issues in the press and had most of our responses published. Hopefully we will continue to attract more of the positive media coverage that we received throughout 2003. We have an ongoing relationship with many reporters to keep the correct information about Paganism in the public arena.

2003 was a positively huge year in relation to media involvement and the general increase in the awareness of organisations like PAN; our membership base increased dramatically. It seemed that throughout 2003, not a month passed by without PAN Inc contributing to a news item, whether radio or print journalism, on a local, regional or national level. PAN Inc was involved with resovlving a religious vilification issue in Casey (south east Melbourne) and David Garland appeared on "A Current Affair" Ch 9 to make comment on the 'Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001Victoria'.

We have continued to maintain our political involvement; liasing with State and Federal Governments regarding issues that affect Pagans and to support and promote religious tolerance. In the past we have made submissions to State Attorney Generals on proposed legislation and changes to laws including the Witchcraft laws in VIC and Knife legislation and Religious Discrimination Laws in SA.

We will continue to lobby the State and Federal Governments to ensure the basic rights of Pagans in Australia are protected and or become recognised.

We have run many social events, an annual picnic, social BBQs and Ghost Tours. PAN successfully backed Pagan 98 in Queensland and 2002 saw us launch the first Pagan Pride Day in Sydney.

2003 saw us host our first of many winter gatherings: Hollyfrost which continues to be a resounding success. Aimed specifically at families wanting to celebrate the solstice together we made merry and feasted under the Yule tree in Western Sydney.

In 2004 PAN Inc took over the running of Magick Happens and we have run it since keeping to the tradition and the fantastic community spirit that Rowan started with this event.

Our Sydney Full Moon Circles have run continuously since March 1997 never missing one, rain hail or shine and we now have several other circles running regularly around the country. In 2005 we also began running a training program to help support our Full Moon circles.

The association also has a number of subcommittees that run events, workshops and gatherings to ensure the diverse nature of the Pagan community is catered for.

We have continued to grow over the years to the point where we publish our own monthly bi-newsletter called The Small Tapestry and an annual called The Tapestry in house including printing.

The future promises to be exciting for PAN Inc and the wider Pagan community. With our members support, we will continue to deliver and grow as an association.



Reviews

Review by: Lee Morgan on July 07, 2013 :
This book does a great job of providing a much needed resource for Wiccans, Witches and Pagans'. It presents an overview of the history of the interaction between Christianity and Paganism in a way that is friendly to the pagan perspective, without being close-minded about Christianity. Whilst it is clear that Andrew sympathises with the pagan perspective (the book is stated as being aimed at pagans and witches) he seems to make an honest attempt to be even- handed, not shying away from mentioning the less than glorious elements of the pagan past as well as the Christian. As somebody with very little experience with Christianity or inter-faith dialogue I found the section on 'finding common ground' very helpful.

Whilst it is of course problematic to connect 'paganism' with the witchcraft hysteria and postulate a 'religious witchcraft' it certainly depends a lot on where you draw the line as what classes as religion. Whilst I personally see witchcraft of that period as reflecting animistic impulses but not organised paganism when you are dealing with what Andrew calls 'the ecstatic aspects of the medieval witch-cults, suggesting a direct connection with the numinous, or an immanent divinity' the line between such experiences and a kind of organic religious engagement can be very fine indeed. And I believe Andrews handles these nuances as well as can be expected in the format of a brief overview designed to provide a much needed educational tool to the pagan community on this subject.

I personally learned a number of things I did not know about Christianity and it's relationship with Paganism, and can't think of a better source for those sympathetic towards Paganism, or simply curious. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Peregrin Wildoak on Sep. 04, 2012 :
Despite going against the grain of the reviews I have seen, I am not universally impressed with this short book. It has a wonderful amount of secondary research, and the author obviously has read widely and makes some very good connections. However, I feel there is still an implicit misunderstanding of the diversity and subtleties of Christianity that mars the author’s intentions. At times it seems covertly hostile to what the author thinks is Christianity.

I cannot help wondering what this book would have been like with Christian input or co-authoring; if Mr Andrew had sat down with Christians to discuss each of the topics raised. There are good examples of inter-faith dialogues, such as Beyond the Burning Times. See also the recent podcast with the Pagan Federation’s Mike Stygal and John W Morehead.

I am not sure however, that such open dialogue was the intention of this book. The subtitle clearly states its audience is Pagan. So it seems its aims of education and information are all implicitly meant to be Pagan views on Christianity and Pagan-Christian interaction. The book achieves that aim in a limited sense and while it will mostly reinforce already existing Pagan views on Christianity, it will also provide new information and links. As an accurate reflection of the diversity of the Christian experience and its interconnections with Paganism, I do feel the book falls short.

As I read through the book I was delighted to discover some solid and deep reading, often linking through references to books and sources of high repute. Pagans and Christians will be enriched reading the references and links made by Mr Andrew.

Problems though are also apparent, starting with this definition of a Christian as someone who believes the following:

• That there is one god who is absolutely good and perfect
• That human beings are born flawed, sinful or evil, and are therefore incapable of having a direct, personal relationship with god
• That Jesus of Nazareth died to pay the price of all human sin; that he arose from the dead; and that through belief in him a personal relationship with God becomes possible. (there is no pagination in any e-version I downloaded).

This is a succinct exoteric definition but takes into account none of the subtlety of progressive Christianity or depth of esoteric Christianity that Mr Andrew must have been exposed to in researching this book. Nor does it actually address the diversity of regular Christian thought in the real world. Eastern Orthodox theology has a different take on the myth of the Fall, the source of the second point, and therefore a much more nuanced view on human nature. When I quoted this definition on the Facebook page for the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, John W. Moorehead kindly pointed out that some evangelical Christians believe that humans can, from their own side, form a relationship with God. So the actual reality of Christian thought is far more complex that how Mr Andrew presents it. I did not know the latter fact, and John’s kind clarification of it is the sort of thing that happens when inter-religious conversations occur. In fact, it is well worth looking at this Facebook group for all sorts of things.
Mr Andrew’s discussion on the Trinity again displays a Pagan understanding of what Christians believe, a belief which he describes as “nominally” monotheistic on the account of the presence of three persons. The mystery of the Trinity as monotheism has been described so many times I find it hard to believe anyone of any reading would consider it only nominally monotheistic. From a hard polytheist perspective sure, but not from a Christian viewpoint. And this is where a lot of the problem with the book lies; Pagan interpretation on but a narrow slice of the Christian experience, rather than at attempt to let a diverse Christianity speak for itself.

The author’s intention to critique Christianity leads him to make a few errors. For example, he refers to views expressed in a personal interview with the Vatican exorcist as ‘established Catholic doctrine’ when of course they are simply views of one priest, not doctrinal statements. The fact that the interview concerns itself largely with how the exorcist is at odds with the Vatican over the new Rite of Exorcism, should be indication enough of the difference between an interview and official doctrine.

Mr Andrew spends a couple of pages early in the book recounting some truly awful actions and attitudes against Pagans by what Mr Andrew calls ‘hot temperature’ Christians; fundamentalists evangelicals and others. He does not however clearly spell out that these views and actions are not those of the majority of Christians, despite himself describing one of the Pastors involved as ‘controversial’.

Mr Andrew concludes this recount with the question, “What conclusions can be drawn from the evidence so far?” In his answer he states that ‘high-temperature’ Christians are “very likely to view pagans, especially Wiccans and witches, as spiritual enemies in a dangerously literal sense.” And maybe this is so, from the ‘evidence’ presented so far, but Mr Andrew goes on to opine that:

"At the other end of the spectrum, Christians from more moderate denominations (Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran or Presbyterian, for example, and moderate elements within Catholicism) can be less overtly hostile, but still view pagan spirituality as flawed, lacking theological depth, or an imperfect reflection of what Christianity embodies. This assessment is often based upon false assumptions and a lack of awareness of the growing field of pagan academic scholarship."

This is despite not even once discussing these Christians from ‘moderate denominations’ or their organisational viewpoints. Clearly then this is assumption on behalf of Mr Andrew, not evidence. Now he may be accurate in his assumptions, or he may not, but badly declaring the views of several Christian denominations in such a way is hardly likely to endear a Christian reader to his viewpoint, or further inter-faith understanding.

Mr Andrew tackles John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He sees this passage as implying a belief in a strict-parent figure and asserts “Christians use this passage to state clearly and unequivocally that their religion is the only true religion; and that all others are false, or at the very least imperfect.” Now all of this is very true of some Christians, but Mr Andrew seems ignorant of both progressive Christianity and general-in-the-Church viewpoints.

Marcus Borg speaks on this topic in this video from 40 minutes onward( see also http://magicoftheordinary.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/paganism-and-christianity-more-short-and-personal-views/).

Clearly there is a lot of different understanding of John 14:6 within the Christian community. And we are not talking about fringe or esoteric Christianity; Borg is a traditional Episcopalian theologian of impeccable background and credentials. Even the establishment Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, arguably the most influential Christian thinker of the 20th century, had inclusive views on the subject.

"…the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people [non Christians] are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.”Mere Christianity:

This is subtle, deep and complex and unless we think Christians view “God” as an old man in the sky, we become aware of a viewpoint where Christians can hold the tenants of John 14:6 and be open to other religions. Such a view opens a vista of possibilities for genuine inter-faith dialogue and understanding that could have been explored by Mr Andrew had he stepped beyond a narrow interpretation of scripture that few within the Christian community invest with any serious depth. Most Christian churches and those within the churches are concerned with their own faith, and are quite happy to leave the quality of the faith of others, or not, to God. The majority of Christians, like the majority of Pagans, are simply getting on with things.

Mr Andrew spends a chapter examining Christian scripture and what it has to say ‘about Pagans’ and concludes:

"A cursory examination of the Bible reveals that Christian doctrine is fundamentally, completely and irrevocably opposed to paganism, Wicca or witchcraft in any form, and anyone who practices them. It is also important to note that Christians tend to view polytheism as a kind of spiritual adultery or prostitution – a concept which has its origin in a literary metaphor employed nearly three thousand years ago by a cuckolded Hebrew writer."

Once again, there are misunderstandings here. The Bible, let alone personal interpretation, is not Christian doctrine so this statement is incorrect. Doctrines vary from church to church, some are more Biblically based and some include extra-Biblical traditions. The final sentence I think would also not reflect many Christian’s views on polytheism, since many are trying hard to love first and foremost, including polytheists. Many Christians I know would find this view both inaccurate and offensive.

Mr Andrew often reproduces common views within the Pagan community concerning Christianity without unpacking or critiquing them. An example is the view that “early Christianity plagiarized ancient pagan spirituality.” I have heard this a lot, and it is really a very limited notion as plagiarism implies a conscious theft, imitation or appropriation. In terms of any religion’s development, they nearly always build upon and interact with the existing religious forms.

For plagiarism to occur ‘the early Christians’ would not only have to been a discreet, unified body, which they were not, but also a self-identified, self conscious religion already, who then chose to take from existing Pagan religions. They were not and did not . Christianity was formed within a cultural and religious environment that we now call Pagan and was influenced by this environment, though it is of course arguable it was more influenced by its Jewish parent. In any case, plagiarism does not come into it.

Mr Andrew’s review of both the early modern witch hunts and the history of modern Neo-Paganism is very good, and he has engaged well with modern research and academic views. He traces the history well, and there is little to fault here. The only issues I think are his wording, when he talks of “witchcraft indigenous to Europe and the Middle East”. There was no religious Witchcraft indigenous to Europe. There were a few surviving medieval Pagan remnants, the stereotypical image of the diabolical witch placed over fears of witchcraft (which exists worldwide) and folk magical practices, often called ‘cunning craft’.

We cannot retroactively combine these factors and place over them our conception of modern religious Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. Nor can we, as Mr Andrew seems to do, rely on the influence of cunning craft on contemporary Paganisms and the assumed ‘shamanic’ practices within records of a few witch trials to provide a solid lineage in anything other than folk and/or high magical practice.

As Professor Hutton as described, Wicca’s lineage is magical, not religious; the religious components being the truly modern and revolutionary aspects. He describes how modern Paganism came about by the ‘filtering out of non-Christian elements’ within ‘streams of heritage’ that had preserved or adopted Pagan elements. This included cunning craft where the practitioners often saw themselves in opposition to the evils of witchcraft and which was, according to Hutton, the least relevant of factors in the development of modern Witchcraft.

Mr Andrew’s misunderstanding of, if not antipathy towards Christianity comes out in these words:

"The concern over the state of one’s relationship with God lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Despite the very many altruistic (and noble) statements about love, charity and forgiveness in the New Testament, Christianity would seem to be at its core a self centered religion: the point of faith, of repentance of one’s sins, of obedience to God’s sovereignty, is to achieve eternal life in the presence of God."

This ignores countless acts of selfless love, charity and dedication shown each day by thousands of Christians. It makes a mockery of an ex-colleague of mine, a nun, who for years risked her life helping the poor and oppressed in Latin America. It also shows a complete misunderstanding of the salvific action of Christ; once we are in relationship with him, saved by him, our only task is to maintain relationship with him. We do not have to ‘do’ anything else; we do not need to purify ourselves, transform ourselves, only be open to his love and direction.

In short, we are saved by faith not works. Christianity, and every single Christian I have spoken to, does not see a ‘big brownie counter’ in the sky, where our good actions are counted up against our bad ones. This is a childish view of Christianity and Mr Andrew’s words are a classic example of the ideas that prompted C.S. Lewis’ famous remark that people as an adult often criticise Christianity based on what they learnt of it as a child, not as an adult.

My friend the nun did not need to do any of her dangerous actions on behalf of others; she was already in deep relationship with Christ. She did them out of love. And it is love which motivates countless acts of Christian compassion daily. Mr Andrew does not seem to understand this, nor that it is love which motivates many Christians in their evangelical work towards members of other faiths, or no faith.

Mr Andrew’s work is sadly sometimes marred by unfortunate skills in either presentation or logic. Take for example this paragraph which comes after the previous one:

"The desire for eternal life implicitly suggests a terror of death, of darkness, of the chthonic. Jesus Christ is worshipped as the one who has ‘overcome’, ‘conquered’, ‘gained victory over’ these realms. To many pagans, this desire to triumph over mortality also implies repugnance towards organic, sexual, mortal life. Such deep-seated aversions may explain the Christian fear of witchcraft in particular, and its ancient associations both with life and fertility on one hand and with the chthonic, otherworldly realm of the dead on the other. Many traditions of pagan spirituality are underpinned by an awareness of mortality."

Aside from missing the point of Christ’s victory, the structure of this paragraph is worth examining. First we have an implication of a what eternal life means for Christians, an implication from Mr Andrew himself, without reference to sources. Next we have a Pagan response to that implication which introduces more implications on what Christians think and believe, again not based on any sources. Finally, all these introduced implications are used as a possible explanation for the Christian fear of witchcraft and the realms of the dead, whereas the fear of (and persecution of alleged) witchcraft and the realms of the dead are near universal phenomena, not solely Christian.

Fortunately, Mr Andrew finishes the book on a positive note describing some of the common ground between Christians and Pagans. However, overall the book has too much misunderstanding for it to be a real asset in Christian-Pagan dialogue. As an information source for Pagans on the Christian religions it has some merit, but really is too narrow and too uncritical to be of any use besides reinforcing already held ideas.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Gede Parma on May 29, 2012 :
"Gavin Andrew has created an absolutely necessary resource for the globally-emerging contemporary Pagan community. We are a people with such a convoluted history and our survivals, revivals and recreations in the post-industrialist information age are often considered to be hopeless anachronisms lacking in the 'required' authenticity which measures valid spiritual or religious phenomena. Andrew clearly communicates how this is not so, and after establishing this basic premise begins to analyse the earliest ideological differences and divergences between Christianity and Paganism as they were then, as they transformed, died and re-emerged (for the most part in the case of Paganism) and as they exist today. We are then guided very simply from the garden-bed of these conflicts and the articulation of how Paganism and Witchcraft are reviled and accursed in Biblical Scripture into a transparent account of history, ideology and theology as pertains to the discussion at hand. This vital work also opens discussion on how to critique Christian commentaries and criticisms of modern-day Paganism and Witchcraft as well as advice and guidance on how to open healthy interfaith dialogue with our Christian peers without entering the realms of coercive proselytising. Ultimately this straight-forward and accessible work is not only a highly-credible resource for Pagans, but I also believe that it would benefit Christians yearning to reconcile with Pagans. My only criticism is that the book is not longer."

- Gede Parma, Craft teacher and author of Ecstatic Witchcraft, By Land, Sky & Sea and Spirited: Taking Paganism Beyond the Circle.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: mark townsend on May 25, 2012 :
Before I say anything, allow me to make a confession (but not THAT kind). I’m a Christian Priest. However I’m one who’s the privilege of spending much time among people of the Pagan paths. And what really hits home when I am with them is their sheer love of life! They express their connection to the land, respect for living things and reverence for the gods in a far richer way than I have been used to as a fellow seeker from another tradition. Yes, like other religions, Pagans use ritual and ceremony, but not in a dry and formal way. And yes they have beliefs and moral codes but they do not allow these to rob them of their humour or their humanity. Unlike parts of the Christian world, Pagans are generally far from being dis-connected, dreary and sober. They see no reason why they cannot bring all that it means to be human into their way of life – the spiritual, emotional, creative, practical and even sexual. I have often said that we Christians could learn far more about life from our Pagan sisters and brothers than vice versa. The problem is that we are often on non-speaking terms, or worse. What we need is a ‘lifting of the veil that separates’ - something that points out the differences with hard hitting honesty and accuracy, yet also with fairness and a genuine hope for mutual understanding. And here’s a book that does just that.

Gavin Andrew‘s Paganism & Christianity is an astonishingly well researched book that leaves no stone unturned with regard to the turbulent relationship between these two great traditions. And, without any false promises or watering down of either tradition, it offers both a new kind of glimpse into each other’s worlds.

However, before I continue, one thing I would like to say (as an ‘aside’ from a Progressive Christian reviewer) is that, while the author clearly focuses on traditional Christian beliefs, and is therefore quite right in asserting that the hallmarks of a true Christian are generally understood to be the belief in one perfect God, a sinful humanity, and Jesus as a sacrifice for sin, there are a growing number of Christians who do not necessarily subscribe to them. Many Christians of the more Progressive wing would probably challenge all three, but especially the literal blood sacrifice of Jesus’ death.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book from start to finish, and there were areas that stood out as having a special significance. Within the section on the Occult and the Church’s tendency to fear Pagan ritual as ‘Black magic,’ the author makes an assertion that I have often made - Christians can be very good at ‘black magic.’ Of course most of them would not see their prayers of intercession in this light, but when one comes across examples of Christians holding “prayer warrior meetings” to direct their intercessions “against the enemy” (often Pagan groups representing that enemy) then what else can one call it? Gavin Andrew details a scenario where a particular Christian group even rejoiced over the dreadful bodily trauma and pain they believed their prayers had caused a particular Pagan whose influence they were worried about. Even if their prayer and the person’s illness were not literally related, what else can we call the intention of this but black magic?

I connected powerfully to the section on the Old Testament, and the use of modern biblical scholarship that proves how the influence of various early Hebraic communities - which had vastly different theological understandings and religious practises – made their way into the first five books of the Bible, the Torah. This is something that we clergy all learned back in seminary, and every Christian ought to be aware of, but few are. Following on from that, Gavin Andrew proves how Judaism was not originally a strictly monotheistic tradition, but emerged out of polytheistic religions; and that Christianity is still not really a strictly monotheistic tradition, but Trinitarian. The Trinity is a surprisingly organic and flowing doctrine when properly understood.

Other exciting areas covered are the following:

• The reality of the deeply mutli-dimensional early Christian church, not all of which saw Jesus as the God-incarnate of later orthodoxy.

• The surprising links between early Christian ritual (which was often ‘sky clad’) and modern Wicca.

• The chilling accounts of the terrible mediaeval period of witch hysteria.

The book concludes with a chapter called ‘Finding Common Ground,’ where the author highlights three main areas of potential commonality between the two traditions. The first is, surprisingly, within the theology, and in particular ‘incarnational theology.’ After asserting that many modern Pagans believe in the immanence of the divine within nature, which usually takes the form of either Pantheism or Panentheism, Gavin Andrew rightly alludes to the growing number of Panentheistic Christians, and also that the whole notion of the Incarnation of Christ implies deity and humanity enmeshed. I (with my Progressive Christian friends) would suggest that Jesus Christ – the part literal / part mythic incarnation – is a symbol of what is true for all people, and indeed all things.

The second point of commonality is philanthropy and, while pointing out the many worthy modern pagan charities, the author pays due respect to the long history of Christian charity and service. Something which he asserts that pagans generally admire and, if they do top, ought to.

And the third point Gavin Andrew makes is on ecological awareness and concern for the environment. Tapping into both the more positive passages of the Hebrew Scriptures and the poetry of the medieval ‘honorary pagan’ St. Francis of Assisi, Gavin Andrew shows how creation centred spiritualty has been a long (and, sadly neglected) area of Christianity. Clearly this must be one of the most obviously places for Christian and Pagan to work together for the common good.

I could say so much more, but let me conclude with this: ‘Paganism & Christianity’ is a brilliant resource for any Pagan or Christian who genuinely wants to better understand the relationship between these two great traditions. It will not be a comfortable read for some; especially Christians who are not prepared to look critically at their own religion’s history. Some of Gavin Andrew’s responses to the claims made by certain voices from within the church about Pagans are hard-hitting, but I believe necessary.

In fact the book oozes a clear hope that it might be useful as a means for inter-religious dialogue and mutual understanding. Let’s hope that will be the case.

Mark Townsend, author of Jesus Through Pagan Eyes
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Dragonfly AnnieLiz on May 01, 2012 : (no rating)
This book is a wonderful resource for those of us questioning Christianity and its traditions. It is factual and concise and easy to read. Thank you Gavin Andrew.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Pat Fraser on April 05, 2012 :
This book should be on the required reading list for all Pagans. Very informative, and factual! I will be recommending this book at Grand Coven. It is a must have for instructors as well as students!

Bravo!!!! Gavin Andrew, well done.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Debbie Booth on Feb. 04, 2012 :
A wonderful eye opener to pagans about the Christians. Well done Gavin I would highly recommend this book to any pagan.
Continue to excellent work on being a great author...
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Lauren Greyseeker on Jan. 26, 2012 :
This book is a wonderful tool for pagans, wiccans, and witches who wish to know more about the origins of the ongoing culture clash with christianity. Gavin has produced a well-written and thoroughly researched resource that gives an unbiased overview of the reasons for this clash, as well as some constructive techniques for combating negativity from people of other religions. Thank you Gavin!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Barb Santos on Jan. 20, 2012 :
Really enjoyed reading this concise e-book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is new or relatively new to Paganism or Wicca. It will give you an idea or better idea about Christianity and Paganism. It's always good to research and know facts before deciding on becoming a Pagan or Wiccan.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Krista Rados on Dec. 21, 2011 :
“This is what the LORD says: …For the customs of the people are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.” (Jeremiah 10:2-4)

At one time or another most pagans will have said, “Christian holidays are all pagan in origin!” In fact I count myself as one of those who have made this triumphant declaration - and right now, as Christians around the world are decorating Yule trees, it would seem like a fair statement.

Yet how many of us can claim to have delved into the origins of this culture clash? How many have made the effort to read the Bible, explore ancient texts or read the works of modern-day academics in order to better understand the dynamics of the pagan-Christian relationship?

Gavin Andrew of the Pagan Awareness Network has done just that in his new book ‘Paganism & Christianity’. Throughout, he asks (and answers) the questions many pagans and Christians have long avoided or glossed over. Of particular interest to me is the overarching question - why is it that so many Christians criticise Wicca, witchcraft, and other forms of pagan spirituality? Is there really any justifiable reason for this condemnation?

It is refreshing then, to read a book that considers the common roots from which modern paganism and modern Christianity arose, without casting aspersions about who has more right to what. Instead of legitimising pagan practice by simply championing their pre-Christian origins, Gavin Andrew takes a methodical approach to exploring how both paganism and Christianity have affected one another over the course of history.

Nevertheless, this book does not shy away from revealing the lesser known and sometimes darker aspects of Christian history. For me it is certainly interesting to remember that Christianity did not develop in a cultural vacuum, nor did it emerge as a fully formed religion. When treated as such, it is easier to understand how modern-day Christian attitudes may have developed from an identity crisis borne of the deep historical entanglement between polytheism and monotheism.

‘Paganism & Christianity’ also invites pagan readers to reflect on our own history in this wider context and challenges us to acknowledge the evidence that modern paganism has, in turn, appropriated many of the elements of Christian ritual magic practiced in the Middle Ages. Accepting this is something I have personally struggled with in the past and clearly Gavin Andrew has gone to extreme lengths to investigate and support these claims. As such, the book is filled with end-notes and citations from a wide array of sources.

The presentation of this meticulous research has given me a greater awareness of the challenges facing paganism as it continues to find its place within our culture and society. It is therefore liberating to gain a better understanding of the historical facts so that we may move forward from a position that reinforces our own identity as that of religious victim.

Even though ‘Paganism & Christianity’ is an educational resource, it is far from being a dry, intellectual tome. I found the book to be pithy and honest. Gavin Andrew doesn’t hold anyone’s hand while presenting the results of his research. I quite enjoyed his candid and hard-hitting response to some of the claims made by Christians about paganism. Yet neither does he fall into the trap of vilifying the Christian faith.

As such, a strong focus of this book is to work towards helping pagans communicate with Christians in an open and constructive way. There is much to be said for clearing the air, and it seems to be the hope of this book that free-thinkers on either side will use this resource to help build bridges between what has traditionally been seen as diametrically opposed worldviews.

After all, wouldn't it be nice if one day pagan and Christian families could openly celebrate Christmas and Solstice together?
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Krista Rados on Dec. 21, 2011 :
“This is what the LORD says: …For the customs of the people are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.” (Jeremiah 10:2-4)

At one time or another most pagans will have said, “Christian holidays are all pagan in origin!” In fact I count myself as one of those who have made this triumphant declaration - and right now, as Christians around the world are decorating Yule trees, it would seem like a fair statement.

Yet how many of us can claim to have delved into the origins of this culture clash? How many have made the effort to read the Bible, explore ancient texts or read the works of modern-day academics in order to better understand the dynamics of the pagan-Christian relationship?

Gavin Andrew of the Pagan Awareness Network has done just that in his new book ‘Paganism & Christianity’. Throughout, he asks (and answers) the questions many pagans and Christians have long avoided or glossed over. Of particular interest to me is the overarching question - why is it that so many Christians criticise Wicca, witchcraft, and other forms of pagan spirituality? Is there really any justifiable reason for this condemnation?

It is refreshing then, to read a book that considers the common roots from which modern paganism and modern Christianity arose, without casting aspersions about who has more right to what. Instead of legitimising pagan practice by simply championing their pre-Christian origins, Gavin Andrew takes a methodical approach to exploring how both paganism and Christianity have affected one another over the course of history.

Nevertheless, this book does not shy away from revealing the lesser known and sometimes darker aspects of Christian history. For me it is certainly interesting to remember that Christianity did not develop in a cultural vacuum, nor did it emerge as a fully formed religion. When treated as such, it is easier to understand how modern-day Christian attitudes may have developed from an identity crisis borne of the deep historical entanglement between polytheism and monotheism.

‘Paganism & Christianity’ also invites pagan readers to reflect on our own history in this wider context and challenges us to acknowledge the evidence that modern paganism has, in turn, appropriated many of the elements of Christian ritual magic practiced in the Middle Ages. Accepting this is something I have personally struggled with in the past and clearly Gavin Andrew has gone to extreme lengths to investigate and support these claims. As such, the book is filled with end-notes and citations from a wide array of sources.

The presentation of this meticulous research has given me a greater awareness of the challenges facing paganism as it continues to find its place within our culture and society. It is therefore liberating to gain a better understanding of the historical facts so that we may move forward from a position that reinforces our own identity as that of religious victim.

Even though ‘Paganism & Christianity’ is an educational resource, it is far from being a dry, intellectual tome. I found the book to be pithy and honest. Gavin Andrew doesn’t hold anyone’s hand while presenting the results of his research. I quite enjoyed his candid and hard-hitting response to some of the claims made by Christians about paganism. Yet neither does he fall into the trap of vilifying the Christian faith.

As such, a strong focus of this book is to work towards helping pagans communicate with Christians in an open and constructive way. There is much to be said for clearing the air, and it seems to be the hope of this book that free-thinkers on either side will use this resource to help build bridges between what has traditionally been seen as diametrically opposed worldviews.

After all, wouldn't it be nice if one day pagan and Christian families could openly celebrate Christmas and Solstice together?
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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