Definition: Syncretism is the combining of different, often seemingly contradictory beliefs, while melding practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merger and analogizing of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism also occurs commonly in expressions of arts and culture (known as eclecticism) as well as politics (syncretic politics).
Ok, now that I have defined it, what does it actually mean and why am I blogging about it?
This popped up (and it doesn’t matter where) and had me thinking again about who I am, where I am and what I believe. It is Sunday the 12th of March and I am feeling particularly lost today. As I kicked R1 out of the apartment this morning so that I could have a day to myself, and quiet descended I heard the church bells ring out. They are probably electric ones, but still they drew me into a memory of the bells ringing when I was young and we went to church. Those were the hand drawn ones and I still remember the bell-ringers. I also remember when it was finally made electric too.
I had a traditional religious upbringing and the usual rites and rituals. It was not something that sat particularly well, even at that age and I would question everything. Therefore I made a point of learning as much as I could about every other sort of religion – “good” and “bad”. Ultimately they all share a common factor, and that is to do unto others as you would have done to yourself, and love one another. Simple really.
So I lived my life with this view of syncretism. The idea that there is an all inclusive way of doing things – if it can be done with religion, then it can be done with pretty much anything.
Except today I am feeling a little lost. A little to one side because I haven’t really taken a side. Well that is how the world will see it I suppose. Syncretism is sort of sitting on the fence. It’s going “I like this idea, but this idea has merit, and so does this one, and this one…” and it chooses them all and ends up on the little island in the road watching as the traffic swirls past.
This isn’t about religion. I am happy with my middle-of-the-road, sit-on-the-fence status when it comes to religion. I really do believe that we all choose something to believe, even if it is in nothing. Atheism is the belief in nothing, Christianity in Christ, Buddhism in Buddha, etc. Humans are wired to believe, even if it is in nothing. But this blog isn’t about religion.
It is about me choosing syncretism as a way of life and finding that maybe the middle-of-the-road, sitting-on-the-fence has led to fewer friends than I would have liked. I live my life my way, I do the things I need to do, when I need to do them. But I am alone more often than not because others do not understand the inclusiveness of my nature. It is hard to grasp why I can be open about things that feel socially wrong.
Some of my posts on here are whinging, and full of self-pity. Some (in the future) will be confronting about lifestyle choices. Others will just seem pointless. Yet all have one thing in common, they encompass my life which is open to the extreme. I do, and will combine, seemingly opposing beliefs because in my head it simply works.
For example, I believe in God. Christianity is the religion I will place on a census form. I also believe in Paganism. Also, that the two are not mutually exclusive. On top of that, I think that polyamory is a sensible approach to relationships when handled with honesty and openness. There are at least 3 conflicting beliefs right there, yet all sit quite comfortably in my head and actually in my world. I am well aware that this does not work in others and that is why I more often that not, end up sitting in the middle of the road watching traffic go by.
Who am I? I have chosen to embody a life that truly encompasses syncretism as much as possible – from my religious choices right down to my intimate choices. I am slowly learning to allow that same freedom for my children and that is harder than it sounds, and in so doing I am gaining a freedom. Freedom for me is the ability to choose, and even though the choice may seem to be random and careless to the outsider, I know that I have weighed the risks and decided that the consequences are worthy of the chance.
Syncretism allows me this choice. Taking into account my last paragraph that must mean I know that the consequence is less friends, and more time spent watching traffic go by. On days like today it is hard. Yet this is not for me to share either, not physically. I need to work this out in my head, know where I stand and come back fighting tomorrow. A deeper understanding of who I am, leads to one more step of fighting my anxieties and fears.