So there’s a lot of talking about Teo Bishop, Christian-cum-Pagan-cum-Christian. On reading of Mr. Bishop’s realization, I thought, “Good for him.” Finding one’s way in the world can be difficult, and for those of us with a spiritual bent, finding a path that clicks really, really helps.
What’s kind of funny is that this is a big deal. The vast majority of Pagans today didn’t start out that way, so conversion into Paganism is pretty much the norm. Moreover, I have started at least three separate and distinct Pagan paths in my life thus far, and calling the beginning a naming or a dedication doesn’t make it any less a conversion. I really doubt I am alone in that; conversions within Paganism are also pretty much the norm.
As a side note, moving from one Christian denomination to another is not a conversion. I myself was received by the Episcopal church from the Roman Catholic one; the same Episcopals whom Mr. Bishop is rejoining were the last Abrahamics to hold my soul in their care. One does not convert from one Christian denomination to another, because in a very real sense, they are the same religion. We often liken the “Pagan umbrella” to the many varieties of Christianity, but there is no comparison. One must convert from Heathenry to Kemeticism, but one can be received from Baptist to Methodist. Big difference, that.
The difference, of course, is one of community. Pagans, even ones far more different than the most far-flung Christian sects can be, hang out with each other. We are few in number, and prefer to company of other uber-minority religions to those of the Abrahamic ones, since we’re less likely to be judged . . . odd. Mr. Bishop may have, like myself, undergone any number of conversions within that broad Pagan umbrella without disrupting that, but by returning to Christianity, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to spend a little less time contributing to the Pagan community. That loss is being mourned, perhaps preemptively, but it is mourning nonetheless.
I haven’t actually seen any angry reactions, but anger is part of the process. My own faith is no less certain than it was before he became more certain about his own path. I understand that there is a deep feeling of loss here, but I’m not so much committed to being a Pagan than I am committed to walking the correct path in this moment, so I consider his decision inspirational. I can only hope to be as confident in my own spiritual future.