Seekers Temple
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Teachings of Seekers Temple

The New York Times called me to get my opinion, as a Pagan Priest, on the goings on with the Supreme Court.
I don't mind saying that as much as I lean Right, I don't want it to go too far Right. My fear is that if the court gets too far Right, and takes away any and all power of the Left to pull it back to the middle, the Christian element will become a danger to the Pagan Community.
Our courts should be based solely on the Constitution, but we all know they are not. The seats are filled with people who, like it or not, have Personal views. Too much, either way, is a very dangerous thing.
I have said for many years that all we need to bring back the Burning Times is ONE good speaker. With the firing up of the Right that has been seen because of President Trump, that speaker is just under the surface, and that is where he must stay. If he ever reaches the surface, we will see the Christians unbridled, and trust me when I say that they can be every bit as violent as the Communist Left.
Is there a balance? Yes, there is. And our founders gave it to us in the form of our Constitution. If only we will bother reading it.

Are We Allowed to Judge?


A favorite saying of many people is “Judge not, that ye be not judged”.  It is frequently quoted as a deflection when a person's faults are in question.  The impression is that we should never make judgments of what we see in others.  But is that true?  Should we simply ignore what we see?  Are we never to make judgments?  If we see something harmful to others, can we never point it out?  Is this the way, or is it simply a convenient saying that is being used in order to not face our problems?  I am persuaded that this statement is often misused.  That there are times when we must judge.  That there are times when it is appropriate to point out the faults in others and to have them pointed out in ourselves.  
 
Exercising discipline of any sort requires judging others.  Since such judgment is involved, some feel that we should rule out any sort of discipline.  They feel that people should just do what feels good to them at the time.  We are even told that judging and disciplining our own children is child abuse and that we should just let them make up their own minds as to their religion or sexual orientation or even what they want to watch, ware or eat.  Imagine the world we would have where there was no discipline and we all just do what we like with no consequence.  Sounds fun for a moment, but the end result is chaos as you can not truly understand.   
 
Correcting errors in teaching requires judging others.  Judgment is required to consider whether someone is teaching in error or indeed is teaching complete lies.  Since such judgment is involved, some feel that we should not speak out against those who teach error.  Imagine the world we would have were people taught complete lies and misunderstandings.  The end result is a world where truth does not live and where trust is a concept none can understand.  
 
To Judge Or Not To Judge, that is the question before us.  Perhaps the answer can be found in the very quote used for such a defense: “Judge not, that ye be not judged”.  They get this little saying from the Bible in Matthew 7 which reads “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”  
 
This saying is not meant to be a defense against guidance.  It is only the beginning of a good life lesson.  When they stop at “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, they miss the meaning of the very quote they are calling on.  The rest of it is the balance that teaches the very important lesson of taking a good look at yourself before you can see others clearly.  When we have done so, we are then able to judge and be of help to others who are overtaken by their faults.  
 
Remember the saying that transcends all religion:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  This applies to judging someone as much as it applies anywhere.  Before we can say to someone “There is a better path”, we should be on that path so that we know it is truly better;  Before we can say “Let me show you the way”, we should know what that way is.  
 
Many parents will instruct their children with “Do as I say and not as I do”.  That child learns by watching far more than they learn by instruction.  They will do as you do because you are their guide in life.  When people around you see how you live your life and what the result is, they will judge whether or not they want to end up where you are.  
 
On the flip side, think of this: If someone sees you doing something which could harm you, wouldn’t you want them to make that judgment and show you a better way?  But if you look at them, you want to also see they are on the path to which they are leading you and that it is a good path to be on.  You wouldn’t want to take advice about life from someone who seems to be in misery with their own life.  
 
So, as it turns out, we are not only allowed to judge others, but it is necessary to do so in order to keep ourselves honest about who we are.  Judging is not a destructive thing, but rather a tool that helps a community remain civil and honest.  Judging, when done with care and respect, can help people look out for each other and learn from each other.  It is a supportive way to give others and ourselves a life tune-up and keep us going smoothly down our path.  
 
I would offer one word of caution here: Giving advise, according to your judgment, does not mean forcing what you believe onto another person.  If a person will not hear you, then you have done your part and that choice is up to them to make.  
 
Something to Think about, 
from the priest of Seekers Temple  

 

The Christian "Persuasion"
 
From the mouths of preachers, followers, and pamphlets left on your doorknob alike; we are exposed to the "Word of God" in which they inform you of the following...
1. If you have not found god, you must and you will burn if you do not.
2. If you have found god, you must obey his rule or you will burn.
It can get pretty annoying to those of us who have made it clear we are not one of them. Unfortunately, since its conception, Christianity has been focused on growing their religion without much regard for others around them. Many a pagan have fell victim to the all too common tactics used by modern Christians that haven't really changed much over the past 2000 years. Some Pagans even leave the religion and find themselves right back where they started. Historically speaking, Christians have been doing the same things for quite awhile.
The first is the most popular... extortion. Extortion is the act of obtaining something through means of force and threats. For a historical example, look no further than the Christianization of Iceland. Beginning in 980 AD, Iceland was sent several missionaries who sought to spread the declared word of god among the Norse Pagans who occupied the large island. After extremely unsuccessful attempts, the new Christian Norwegian King "Olaf Tryggvason" sent a Christian by the name of Stefnir back to his homeland of Iceland to convert them, in which he was accounted to have destroyed sanctuaries of "heathen gods" and became an outlaw under the eyes of angered Pagans. After this unsuccessful attempt, he sent Thangbrand who also reported his failure to convert. Aggression building, Olaf then began cutting all trade with Iceland (halting their economy), taking Icelanders living in Norway hostage(whom of which he threatened to kill if they didn't convert) and sent more missionaries. Eventually, a priest named Thorgeir Thorkelsson was given the responsibility to decide if Iceland should convert. After contemplating, he decided that Iceland would become Christian under conditions that private worship would still be allowed (which was later banned by the church). Through this measure, means of weakening economy and threats of war brought more faith than the words of Christ ever could.
 
The second is by mass promotion and peer pressure. Apostle Paul is extremely noted for starting this, especially in areas like Greece. Under his travels, he preached an all-inclusive religion that attracted many lower class people like criminals, slaves, peasants, etc. "So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28" Considering also, many of these slaves and low-class people were under the rule of Pagan leaders. With a large percentage making up that category, this allowed the ability to put pressure on leaders and rulers alike. Once Christianity was accepted, fury and aggression could be displayed upon Pagans and effectively be purged by the massive population who were now bearing the cross.
The third is by subterfuge. In regions like that of Germania, kings, and rulers often bore the responsibility of being the medium between the people and the gods (Also by means of priests and priestesses). Knowing this, missionaries and the like often misrepresented Christ and often had him added among pantheons (evidenced by Thor's hammer with crosses found by archaeologists) by kings and nobles who would then push it on the common folk. Through this, Christianity was made palatable to people by drawing similarities. Jesus was formed to resemble a warrior who approached his death both eagerly and fearlessly. Similarities were drawn between Woden and Christ. Pagans, unlike Christians, had no reason to exclude a god and in doing so had Christianity become the dominant religion under their noses who had no qualms about banning their cultural gods once in power.
 
So, how do these historical examples apply to us today?
 
We still see extortion. After all, one major bargaining chip for Christians is the promise of eternal damnation if you do not accept their god. We may also see this in our own families who would be/are angered by the thought of us being Pagan and may look down or even disown us. Their religion does not allow for other gods besides their one and although the modern law does not allow them to kill us anymore, we can still see their barbarity practiced in places like Africa today. Public aggression is still the norm, like churches targeting temples or posting hateful bible quotes on their social media to incite hate. Politicians still campaign to keep their cities, counties, and towns Christian by means of discrimination.
 
We still see mass promotion and peer pressure. This has a lot to do with friends, neighbors, and family who are eager to spread their message and hope to get it to someone. Saying no to the church member who rang your doorbell may earn you a door-step choir next time. The "Christian nation" folk stands at the ready to inform you how many people are Christian and "how could it be wrong if the majority of your country hears the word of god". Without trying to get EVERYONE to be them, how would they have gotten this far? "Be it rapist, murderer, mechanic, doctor, etc....you are all equal under God, come to us!"...HOGWASH! Many people who have low self-esteem will be attracted to this measure with a need to fit in.
 
We still see subterfuge.
"Just because you're Pagan doesn't mean you cant celebrate Christmas" they will say, who WANT you to be part of their celebration towards their god, rather you know it or not.
"You can still worship Jesus" they exclaim, knowing full well you will have to make the choice between him or them one day. Maybe if they can get you to hold onto him a little longer, you'll change your mind.
"We are friends/family and I just want you at church, you don't have to be there for religion" they whisper, but for some reason never come when you ask them to see your place of worship. They will be busy or not have time.
 
Still true today, the Christian "Persuasion" looms over our heads as they did in days of old.
 
Will you be steadfast? Or will you fall victim to the very things our ancestors did?
 
Something to Think about,
from Justin C,
student of Seekers Temple.

The Slow Decline and Discrimination of Pagan Religions: 
A Brief History
By Justin C, 
Student of Seekers Temple

To begin this journey, we begin in 306 AD Rome when Constantine began his reign. Until Constantine, Rome was almost entirely Pagan having many temples, altars, and other sanctuaries dedicated to Pagan gods across the city. Baptized on his deathbed, Constantine not only became the first Christian emperor, but he also decriminalized Christianity. Unfortunately, it was also he who put into place some laws like prohibiting the construction of new Pagan temples and later ordered the destruction and plundering of some(Most notably the Temple of Aphrodite in Lebanon, and the murder of Eunech priests in Egypt). Very little pressure was placed on individual Pagans at this time. Paganism itself was not illegal but was slowly being shown regulation handed down by an Emperor.

Constantius II, continuing the works of Constantine, began enacting numerous anti-Pagan laws that included up to the death penalty for things like attending sacrifices and worshipping idols. Firmicus Maternus, a convert to Christianity, urged to the Emperor, "Paganism, most holy emperors, must be utterly destroyed and blotted out, and disciplined by the severest enactments of your edicts, lest the deadly delusion of the presumption continues to stain the Roman world" and "How fortunate you are that God, whose agents you are, has reserved for you the destruction of idolatry and the ruin of profane temples." Christians, although still outnumbered, began vandalizing, destroying, defacing, defiling, and pillaging ancient Pagan temple, tombs, and monuments. Although he encountered some resistance from governors and magistrates, it was mostly passive. However, he did not do away with some Pagan things like the College of Vestal Virgins(The group who cared for the sacred, ever burning fire of Rome), and he himself was deified by the Roman Senate after death.
Julian, educated by Hellenists and co-emperor since 355, ruled from 361-363 AD. A true pagan Emperor, he witnessed the assassination of his father, brother, and other family members by guards of the Imperial Palace under Constantius. Under his rule, he allowed religious freedom and attempted to restore Roman Religion as the driving force of the Empire. Other notable actions include the reinstallment of the Altar of Victory. Julian, as told by Sozomen, did not allow any injustice or insult done unto Christians. However, Christians were not allowed to study ancient authors. "Let them keep to Luke and Matthew, Julian was quoted. Julian himself saw Christianity as completely incompatible with syncretic Paganism and made the implication very clear that the partnership between Rome and Christian Bishops was now at an end. He was thought to have been killed in battle by a spear, to which Christianity developed a myth stating Saint Mercurius killed Julian in later years. 
Fast forward to 382. Emperor Gratian began reinstating anti-Pagan laws (most likely influenced by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan). He ordered the confiscation of possessions from priestly colleges and ordered the Altar of Victory to be removed once again. He also declared all temples and shrines to be taken by the government and their revenue to be directed towards the Royal Treasury. 
Valentinian II, continued anti-Pagan laws and also added to them things like prohibiting Pagans from visiting temples, denied the request to restore the Altar of Victory, and refused to restore income to the Priestly Colleges.

Theodosius, beginning in 381, presented the harshest Pagan laws compared to his predecessors. He criminalized magistrates who refused to enforce anti-Pagan laws and destroyed some Pagan temples. The infamous "Theodosian Decree" forbade once again the visiting of Pagan temples, abolished remaining Pagan holidays, extinguished the sacred fire of Rome, and disbanded the Vestal Virgins. When he became emperor of the whole empire in 392, he ordered the killing of Pagan priests and the destruction of any idol, object, or place of reverence for Pagans. This became an official war on any traditional religious practice, and anyone caught was put to death and their property confiscated (Even for small familial rites). It is thought he also banned the Olympic Games, considering the last recorded one was in 393.
Theodosius's policies were proceeded by emperors like Arcadius, Honorius, Theodosius II, Marcian, and Leo I. They continued to increase penalties against Pagans due to Pagan support being among Roman nobles, senators, magistrates, imperial palace officers, and other officials. This implies that Paganism still had many followers. Paganism continued to be carried out in secret, as implied by the existence of Theodosian Code 16.10.24 (Which outlines the recognition that some people were just pretending to be Christian). Some Christians even converted back to Paganism, with even more laws being enacted upon apostasy. By this time, Pagans began voicing their resentment (Ex, Eunapius, and Olympiodorus), to the point that they blamed the Sack of Rome in 410 to the empire being under Christian governance. Non-Christian writings found themselves in bonfires, with Christians threatening to cut off the hands of anyone who dare copy them. Saint Augustine of Hippo used his congregation in Carthage to smash all symbols of Paganism they could lay their hands on.

In 476, after the fall of the Western Empire, Pagans attempted to revive the old rites. Magister Orientem Illus, revolted against Eastern Emperor Zeno and raised his own candidate named Leontius to the throne. With hopes to restore temples and ancient ceremonies, many Pagans joined in the revolt against Zeno. Zeno captured both of them 488 and had them executed. Following, Zeno instituted many more anti-Pagan laws. Many Pagans, disillusioned by the failed revolt, became Christian or pretended to be, to avoid persecution. 
Under Pope Gregory, I, the holy sites and places once used to worship Pagan gods were now appropriated by Christianity. "Let altars be built and relics placed there so that the Pagans have to change from the worship of demons to that of the true god".
As far as the ancient Roman Empire goes, the line stops here as no more laws and regulations could be enacted because the ultimate punishment for a Pagan would be death. From here on, the virus of Christianity would continue to spread through Europe, and eventually the rest of the world to which Pagans would be placed under the same persecution.
May we learn from this, and may it never happen again.
May the gods bless us all.

 

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