Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finding God with Dan Brown and Wikipedia

I wasn't seeking a religious awakening when I read Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" a few years back.  In fact, my only reason for reading the book was due to it's long running appearance on the New York Times bestseller list.  A book with a description that expressed solving a murder in the Louvre did nothing for me.  My reason for reading this book was simply to try to understand why so many other's had read it.

After reading "The Da Vinci Code," I think I somewhat understand the book's mass appeal which I believe is that people are generally hopeful beings and "The Da Vinci Code," although fictional does present a wistful "what if" scenario.  I was raised in a born again, Baptist environment although I do not embrace this faith now as an adult.  Along the coarse of the plot in this book (as well as in Dan Brown's, "Angels & Demons"), the origins and varieties of early faith are explored.  (This, too, may account for some of the mass attraction to this literary work).

In particular, I was attracted to the description of Paganism and learned that pagan did not translate to godless heathen.  Instead, it was clear within this book as well as through outside references that pagans are very much god-aware.  While in the Army, a close friend explained his faith in god as "dog spelled backwards".  I don't think I could ever become atheist.  Foolhardy or not, I want to believe that there is more to the scheme of things.

In my quest for knowledge, the first step in this modern age is to Google everything.  Thus, I Googled, "Pagan" and Wikipedia provided the starting point.  I read this information with zest.  As stated within Wikipedia:
The term pagan is from the Latin paganus, an adjective originally meaning "rural", "rustic" or "of the country."  As a noun, paganus was used to mean "country dweller, villager".
Paganism certainly provided a good initial fit with my life experiences - a rural upbringing on a dairy farm (also a Great Grandmother who was a "half breed").  I had long felt that my "church" was in the open under nature; quite simply, my sense of worship would consider a walk with Mick the Wonder Dog being a more rewarding and fulfilling venture than any worship I have ever experienced sitting in a church pew.  I place a high value on accessing nature and consistent with this value, I have dedicated full web pages on to local parks that I frequent.

For once, it seemed that I was on track to discover that I was not alone in connecting "God" to "nature" to the exclusion of derived (man inspired) religions such as Christianity.  One of the things that I was not fully comfortable with was the notion of "pagan" as a "catch all" for anyone not belonging to one of the big three:  Judaism, Christianity or Islam.  As described within Wikipedia, there are many variations to paganism.  For example, polytheism (a belief in more than one God) is one of many different flavors of paganism, but not all pagans (including this pagan) subscribe to polytheism.  In matching my beliefs with the varieties of paganism, I stumbled on Pantheism.  The following is a key excerpt taken directly from Wikipedia:
Pantheism is a word derived from the Greek (pan) meaning "all" and the Greek (theos) meaning "God". It is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent God, or that the Universe (or Nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, or anthropomorphic god. Pantheism denotes the idea that every single thing is a part of one Being ("God") and that all forms of reality are either modes of that Being or identical with it.
I recall many years ago, reading M. Scott Peck's, "A Road Less Traveled" and as Mr. Peck moved toward his conclusion of man being framed as god-like, I wondered (or likely misunderstood) that what Mr. Peck was saying between the lines was that we should all celebrate being part of God.

This is the perspective that makes sense to me.  It combines both humility in knowing that you are only but a small piece of the whole (God), but at the same time the perspective is exceptionally empowering in the knowledge that you are (a part of) God and with it a huge sense of responsibility and awareness in regards to contributing to something greater than yourself.  There is much comfort in knowing that I am G, a pagan pantheist.
Well we all shine on.  Like the moon and the stars and the sun
John Lennon, Instant Karma

Shine On