A major set-back in finding deeper awareness and understanding in an individual's faith is giving honor, undivided attention, and energy (oftentimes in the form of money) to role models within the community as though they are the heroes of the faith. In general, the role models in question are not bad or evil, their intentions are good, and their actions have the potential for spreading positive change. However, they are often raised to the level of superstar and followers appear to very nearly (or actually) worship these often overrated role models. If we truly want to move forward in our faith, we need to start recognizing who the real superstars are.
Nearly everyone has heard of at least one example of the "Christian" evangelist that captures the attention, hearts, and wallets of large audiences. Said evangelists become famous in the eyes of their audience, and are the stars and role models of the faith. That is, until they are exposed as being con artists (some followers remaining faithful even then). That is not to say they were never sincere in being Christian or what they preached, but that they abused their position for personal gain. Yet even when a Christian evangelist is pure in intentions and does not manipulate or otherwise harm their congregations, he or she is still merely a member of the faith.
The problem here is that any evangelist (whether a con artist in disguise or the real thing) is not a superstar. The only superstars in Christianity are God and Christ (one and the same depending upon denomination). Some denominations will also look to apostles and saints as stars and heroes. Evangelists, priests, pastors, and the myriad of Christian leaders, however, are nothing more than spokespersons who are meant to inspire the people to stay devout and remind them of the many teachings of the faith. When they are placed in a position that elevates them to the same or greater level than God, the teachings of Christ and the theology of Christianity are lost in translation.
Books Do Not Equal Miracles
In Wicca and several other minority faiths, the stars are authors. Considering that many Wiccans and Wiccans-to-be are distanced from others of the faith (usually a matter of geography or concerns of discrimination) authors easily become one's best friend. The internet is filled with information, but so many online communities and websites portray Wicca as a fantasy role play game that it becomes nauseating to sort out the facts of the faith from the words of people who think Wicca is the cosplay of Charmed, The Craft, Harry Potter, and a variety of fictional witchcraft worlds. Books, then, become trusted sources immediately by comparison.
Of course, not all books on any faith are created equal. Give a book deal to a hungry writer, a few awesome sounding credentials that cannot be proven, and a book of any quality will manifest. The truth of the matter is that even the best of books (those filled with real experiences, fully researched material, and backed by the community) will still, at the very least, be riddled with the personal beliefs and opinions of the authors. Sharing those opinions are great, yet "witch wars" have been fought over said opinions because of the simple misunderstanding that the author's words were not, in fact, gold. So much faith is placed in our authors that the opinions of those authors become gospels in the faith and the differing "gospels" clash more often than not, causing confusion at best and hate, discrimination, judgment, and violence at worst.
Books are the backbone of fundamental learning in Wicca, yes. They are not, however, the end-all-be-all of the faith. Bottom line: The superheroes of our faith are not the ones who write of their knowledge they have gained thus far on their path, but the Gods, Goddesses, and other spirits who we resonate with and guide and protect us every step of the way no matter what religion we choose to claim. Authors, good and bad, are and will always be our equals with the opportunity to share their knowledge with us.
Personal Heroes vs. Gods
In Buddhism, the problem is slightly different. Surely those who have attained enlightenment and become known as Buddhas are deserving of superstar status. After all, if one's aim is to do the same, then those are the role models that should be honored. The problem comes in when the Buddhas are mistaken for Gods. The Buddhas were once humans who attained the ultimate level of awareness and understanding. They were not born Gods. Godlike, maybe, but the Buddhas are not God.
When such a misunderstanding occurs, the path to enlightenment is obscured by self-doubt. If one believes the Buddhas to be Gods, then how can a mere mortal human reach enlightenment? Defeat in a single thought. Recognizing the Buddhas as superstars is only effective when one takes the time to truly understand who they were, who they are, and what lessons they bring to guide you to where you want to go.
Real Superstar Examples
Speaking in general terms outside of any one particular faith, some superstars exist even without the belief in intelligent design. The Earth that has formed in such a way to allow life to blossom and for our very existence to take place may also be regarded as a superstar. In that sense, the entire Universe that moved about and came to be as it has that allowed this insignificant, small solar system to produce such a planet is worthy of superstar status. The energy composing matter that still boggles our minds (even with amazing advancements in science to discover the smallest level) is the make-up of everything. Without it, there would be nothingness. Pure nothingness. Now that is a real superstar!
Having fellow humans that we admire as heroes and role models is great. We do not have to get rid of the red carpet and reduce everyone we ever hear of to a level of irrelevance. However, when it comes to matters of faith, if we want to get the most out of our paths, we need to remember who the superstars of those paths are. In the same way we would turn to the top newscaster for pursuing a journalism path or the greatest actor in fulfilling a theatrical dream, we need to turn to the real superstars of our faith if we want to find true awareness and understanding in our chosen spirituality.
Wiccan Author Celebrities - Rant about the overemphasis placed on authors by Wiccans. (Caution: Some language used may be offensive.)
Do Buddhists Believe in God? - Answers to students' questions regarding the lack of mention of God by the Buddha.
© 2011 by Evylyn Rose
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