Wednesday 13 May 2015

Celebrating Planet Earth: Pagan/Christian Conversation

One of the reasons I am a Pagan rather than a Christian is that I revere nature - I feel most in touch with the divine when I am somewhere with the sky above me, the earth beneath my feet and trees around me. But, when I read Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian ConversationI discovered some Christians feel that way too. I learnt about a movement called Forest Church, which worships outside in nature just like many pagan groups.

But, although there are a lot of similarities between Forest Church and Druidry, there are also differences.  Forest Church members and  pagans both see deity in nature - they just don't both see the same deity (or deities) in nature. Forest Church members are still Christians, they worship Christ rather than, say, Herne, Cernunnos or Gaia or any of the many deities honoured by polytheistic pagans. This has led to a few tensions between the two religious groups.

Celebrating Planet Earthhas the subtitle First Steps in Interfaith Dialogue and is about Pagans and Forest Church members meeting, celebrating together and discussing what they have in common to try to overcome those tensions. The book is edited by Denise Cush, Professor of Religion and Education at Bath Spa University, and evolved out of a weekend "conversation" held at the Ammerdown Centre near Radstock, in Somerset.

The contributors to Celebrating Planet Earthare leading figures from British Paganism and Forest Church as well as academics in the field of comparative religion. Authors who wrote chapters - and who attended the conversation - include Philip Carr-Gomm, Graham Harvey and Philip Shallcrass (Greywolf). Between them, they discuss ways of integrating aspects of Pagan and Christian traditions.

Publisher Moon Books says on its website: "Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation explores the similarities and differences between these two paths. It will appeal to Pagans and Christians and students interested in making connections and bridging the divide. Issues are discussed from an academic view point with practical emphasis on personal spirituality and ritual practice."

I found the book thought-provoking. It also made me want to find out more about Forest Church. Although I am a Pagan rather than a Christian, I do count Christ among the deities I respect, and I would be interesting in experience ceremonies that honour him out in the wild woods rather than stuck inside a church building.

Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation: First Steps in Interfaith Dialoguecan be ordered through Amazon.

Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation: First Steps in Interfaith Dialogue

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