Offended by a study textbook! 😲

Hi so i was reading a text book prescribed for a subject for my Bachelors of Community Services (social work), and in chapter one: Crisis, transition and community of the text book called Community Development In An Uncertain World by Jim Ife in the paragraph about spiritual crisis, one sentence i felt was offensive and is just another example of how people literate people are putting misconceptions into non-witch folk people’s heads. So the paragraph goes:
“Another aspect of this spiritual crisis is an increased interest in alternative religions, including varieties of new age beliefs and Paganism. In Many cases these can provide a sense of community, though often they are understood more in an individualist sense, in which meditation and introspection are more important that relationships”.

I understand many of us witches are solitary, however this is clearly saying we would rather shut out the world and community including family and personal relationships just so we can close ourselves in a room and meditate… Don’t get me wrong i love to meditate but if i didn’t have my close relationships or even you guys as my community i think i would go nuts and start talking to myself. It has been proven that people need other people to socialise with to survive. We are very social beings…
Let me know what you think… Am i overreacting? :woman_shrugging:

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I didn’t take that paragraph to mean anything about pagans or witches being closed off, selfish, or ignoring community. I think what it means in regard to being “individualist” is that each person’s path is individualized to them and their beliefs even when we come together as a community.

For example, look at all of us here in Infinite Roots. We are a large community with people of all backgrounds. Though we come together as a community to learn, grow, and find friendship, we all have our own paths that we walk as individuals. This isn’t saying that we would rather be by ourselves. It is simply saying that as a community, we don not hold everyone to our same standards of belief because we recognize that each person’s spiritual path is their own.

I hope that makes sense lol

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Me reading this part without the full context of the entire section/article, I take it to mean that with the alternative/pagan paths they are individualized, as Megan stated, and that the practitioner often sees meditation and introspection, or self-discovery, as more important than the relationships we build within a common community. A see a lot of problems with this statement.

First, the author is trying to make a single over, overarching statement apply to a term of religions that literally encompasses anything that is not of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). Hindu and Buddhist would technically fall into the pagan community by definition. Trying to define many different groups in one statement is dangerous and asinine.

Secondly, depending on which group of pagans you are discussing, some by very nature value relationships over individuality. When you look at Gardnerian Wiccans (structured coven with a defined path) or Hellenic polytheists (worship Greek gods/goddess), both are very community oriented.

Lastly, assuming that this is the only mention of paganism, by briefly bringing it up in a mildly negative tone, it will taint the image of pagans for those reading it. Instead of providing details on a neutral manner of what the religion/spiritual practice entails and why many choose it (connection with nature, spiritual realm, etc), it lacks creditability in my eyes.

Ok. I’m stepping off my soapbox now. :soap::package:

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I agree with this, meditation is a big part of my life & my practice but it’s not because I would rather close myself off from relationships. If anything my immediate relationships have gotten stronger than ever before & continue to grow as I continue to process & heal. It’s helped me curb my anxiety to where I can go outside my home rather than try to stay inside so much. I’ve never been more outside, connected to nature, or actually going to see a person or people than this since… I honestly can’t begin to guess the number of years, but it’s been a while.

I think it more means that it is part of people being more mindful of themselves, aware of themselves, what works for them, & their ability to look at themselves or quiet their mind is what helps us come together as a whole of individuals.

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@TheMuslimWitch
Well, let me start by saying everybody has their opinion, whether you believe or not is your choice. Remember, many people make these types of statements based on fear or ignorance.

Without reading the entire article, I can’t even try to make sense of another’s abstract concepts. I will say that Mr. Ife has the right to say what he wants, even if it’s based on untruth or manipulation of the truth.
Unfortunately he’s lumped us into a category that feeds his comfort, not ours.
I, for one, have the right to not subscribe to his interpretation of this matter. I will not be charged with or wear the mantle that has condemned us with generational superstition or fear.
Because you’re required to read this type of socially manipulative jargon for your grades? Do it, it doesn’t mean you have to adhere to it.
Life is a confusing bunch of bullsh#t. The trick is not to stand to close behind the manure spreader.
University is a means to teach and make you think. The fact that you presented it to us says that you are learning and thinking.
I’m proud of you honey.
Blessings and love
Garnet

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Thank you for your input. The reason i found it strange is as the book is about community development and earlier in the chapter it was talking about Christianity in specific which used to bring communities together and now its changed as a result of new spirituality paths… I felt they were singling out Pagan individuals and to see the way he subtly wrote about Christianity and then threw in Paganism just felt off… I am surprised they prescribed this book when social work is all about inclusion.

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Thank you and you have a good point about learning and thinking. I for one, have been taught both my my family values and multicultural community and upbringing that regardless the faith, culture, etc., that we are to respect and treat others as we want to be. I don’t know about ignorant people such as that author, however i like to be treated kindly without judgement as do most others. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and that’s fine as it is what makes us diverse. There’s a reason i chose social work as it is supposed to support and bring all different types of people within the community together through differences :heartpulse:

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I agree, it does seem kinda a “jab in the side”. I would prescribe to @Garnet’s advice and get through it for your grade. Now, if there is a discussion portion along with the reading… This is where I would thrive. I would push everyone to question their preconceived notions about all religions and not just blindly following like sheep.

I understand why they would have a section covering religion in a social science class but I think there should be more effort made to be more inclusive. Did they at least discuss the 3 mainstream religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) at the same level? I would be a little more forgiving if they covered those at the same level of detail but not other religions/spiritual paths, after all it’s estimated that 4.3 billion people in the world practice one of these three (Religion by Country 2022). What most people in these mainstream religions fail to realize is that they make up barely 55% of the world’s population, and that makeup is changing rapidly as more and more people are “awakening” and returning to “the old religions”, or pre-Christianity.

Sorry, I’ll step off my soap box again. I like religious discussions because it allows me to point out the lopsided education that occurs, at least here in the states, regarding religion and spiritual choices.

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That’s how I interpreted it too.

I’ve found my community here but I do like to take time alone to for meditation and introspection, and for me and my mental health sometimes that is more important than sharing those aspects with others. I don’t think there’s anything selfish in prioritising your needs.

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I stand behind this statement & it was a hard lesson learned.

@TheMuslimWitch, I understand that you have to read the book for your courses. & I agree with @Garnet that you should do that but take it with a grain of salt because well, you are a practicing Muslim & a practicing witch. One textbook shouldn’t strike you to give one up for fear of reciprocation from something else. However, it did get you thinking & usually that’s the point of “higher” education, to get your wheels turning.

Part of being mindful & aware is knowing your limits & taking the time you need for yourself. No one else is going to do it, so sometimes purposely carving out that time is necessary regardless of who you are or your spiritual practice.

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Exactly this.

I also feel that it’s important to mention that whatever comments we are going to have here will be one-sided and without context because we haven’t read the rest of the textbook. We are basing our thoughts solely on one paragraph so while you can take our thoughts into account, you are the one that will have full context to put all the pieces together. I’m not sure if I get any sort of undertone from the paragraph other than what I already stated but I appreciate the input of others here as well. :heart: A community can make a better witch, that’s for sure!

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To me, it sounds like yet another way to misunderstand the path and make it sound like the very important internal work that we have to do is selfish or totally self-serving when in fact, it is essential to being better to each other.

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I think it is an insensitive overgeneralization. At the same time there is some truth in the idea that many of those who turn to the craft are experiencing some sort of crisis, trauma or struggle. It sometimes seems to draw those who feel powerless.

But the suggestion of the sentence is that those who have an interest in alternate religions are experiencing a spiritual crisis. Some perhaps are. Not all.

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I don’t think that’s what it’s saying. I think what they’re saying is that often when someone is in a spiritual crisis they may turn to alternative religions and paths as a way to find themselves again. Which I mean, in my experience, that tends to be true.

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You will no doubt form your own conclusions about how “inclusive” social work is… like everything else, there are good ones and bad ones.

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Very true…

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@TheMuslimWitch I believe that however you have taken this text in your coursework, many others most likely are too, and everyone will “deal” with the impropriety of it in their own ways. You opening up to this coven is perfect for you to gain our insight, but also opening up to others in your life where you value their opinion would be good as well. I feel like there are many of your classmates who either agree with or don’t think about what it says at all — which could eventually change for them as they grow and learn, but whatever background, history and perspective they have today has not led them to question or discern this text in the same way.

I do know that history is written by the victors, and often times books specifically for education and our textbooks are not always peer reviewed or written by the best candidates. It’s important that you expose yourself to the indoctrination of others who are not as open minded nor have your same perspectives so you can practice and are thoughtful about how you interact IRL with those who feel justified in their own thoughts and feelings and treat them as truth - these are often people who not just think of these beliefs as their truth but the one everlasting eternal truth with wisdom — which as I can see you already are aware there are those like this and we all know that this kind of empiracle truth just isn’t the case. Bravo!

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