[identity profile] compatriots.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] the_animist
My immediate family attends a Baptist church. They are unaware of my differing spiritual beliefs, and were I not sick right now I would be preparing to leave for day three of the church's mission conference with them. Earlier today I picked up one of the little booklets that has information about the attending missionaries and began to flip through it, and a page titled "What is animism?" caught my attention. Here is a link to the article online.

Any thoughts? I'm a newbie to the animist community admittedly, but have yet to run into anyone who views life as "everything in the universe as warring against each other to become the deity or king of the hill." Granted this article is talking about cultures where animism is the dominant belief, and beliefs are certainly different between cultures. Not that everything in my universe is happy dancing through fields of flowers with other spirits, but I'm not concerned with tricking them in order to fight my way to the top of whatever spiritual mountain.

I am just mildly curious if any of you had this warring view on life, or anything to say. Being stuck at home has left me bored and itching for something to talk about, hah, so forgive the lack of pressing questions or serious thoughts in this post.

- Teagan

Date: 2010-02-24 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] animist.livejournal.com
Something to keep in mind is the use of animals in Christian allegory. Not just more contemporary things, like the Narnia Book. In the Bible, sometimes animals represent important people, like Jesus as the the Lamb, or aspects of God, like the Holy Spirit as a Dove. The Evangelists themselves are shown as animals at times: St, Luke as an Ox, St. Mark as a Lion, St. John as an Eagle. In none of these cases, are we being told to worship the animal as an idol. Instead, the animal's rich meaning speaks in a simple symbol what would take a book to explain in detail. The art of the early Christian church is rich in meaningful animals.

I believe Animism is in part a way to understand things beyond a literal meaning using animals. I do not believe it is a worship of animals. I believe my totem animal, the wolf, is like an angel or spirit guide. My animism arose spontaneously out of a time in my life that I was an Atheist, and has stayed with me as my faith and understanding grew. I was a Buddhist for a while, and then was "grabbed" by the Holy Spirit while visiting a church out of politeness (and with no intention of conversion). I'm a Lutheran now.

This is just my perspective. I hope it's giving you something you may find useful. Take care!

Date: 2010-02-24 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] animist.livejournal.com
I should have noted that Jesus is both an important person and an aspect of God in the Bible. :)
From: [identity profile] animist.livejournal.com
This may be of interest:

http://animist.livejournal.com/300516.html

Date: 2010-02-24 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] white9-fox.livejournal.com
The pamphlet is Christian crap, per usual. The only thing they really got right is the quoted definition, and amongst certain people even that definition is a bit outdated.

The "warring" situation would be amongst certain tribes/species/groups of beings, rather than every single one like this is saying.

Baptist church isn't the best place to find information outside of Baptist Christianity (not saying that you DON'T know that, but that the members of the church probably don't). That's like going into a Toyota car dealership to ask about UK military jets.

Date: 2010-02-24 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
That is a seriously Euro-centric screed that smacks of the chauvinism of 19th-century anthropology. Even without the spiritual elements, it's an incredibly outdated perspective.

Date: 2010-02-24 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] animist.livejournal.com
That's kind of what I assumed the pamphlet would be, which is why I didn't follow the link before posting my reply. :) Personally, missionaries were a big reason I stayed out of churches so long!

Date: 2010-02-24 01:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moonvoice.livejournal.com
It is a worldview that sees everything in the universe as warring against each other to become the "deity" or "king of the hill."

Wow, even the dictionaries of the world don't support this definition; it's certainly never one I've come across until I heard the idea that 'everything has a soul' could be possibly reinterpreted as 'and then goes to war with each other.'

The article is kind of (I'm making a vast understatement here) ridiculous. Yes, some animistic cultures are more warlike than others, the same goes for non-animist cultures as well.

But there are plenty of cultures where animism fosters intense pacifism, harmony and sustainability (the like of which we don't actually see in many non-Indigenous and non-Animist cultures at all); the Anutans of Anuta Island, many many different cultures in Indigenous Australia, the Shinto in Japan. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Animism is, of itself, a neutral belief system; 'everything has a soul.' What that 'everything' consists of is open to interpretation, but overall, as it stands, 'everything has a soul' means nothing in terms of war or peace - because it depends on how we choose to engage in that belief. Even an animist surrounded by contradictory or conflicting land spirits need not be warring or trying to be 'king of the mountain.'

There are animist cultures that go to war. There are some that don't. That's true of any belief system; it comes down to the individual, more than it does the actual neutral belief system itself.

/ramble.

Date: 2010-04-12 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hengruh.livejournal.com
I never heard of anything like that either.

They got it all wrong.

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