I have a couple of different ideas for posts about religions rambling around in my head right now, including one compairing the heathen reclaimationists to the Christian fundamentalist, so there may be more of these posts in the future.
What I wanted to talk about now is the calling to a pagan god, and how it seems to differ from calling to Sky-daddy god (thanks tons of atheist blogs, I'm stealing that because it bugs me to call him "God" like he's the only one).
There are certain similarities to how certain pagan gods call you. Odin's followers are hounded for months by dreams, and have Odin show up over and over in quiz show answers and other random events. He's a god of warriors and kings and his approach is pretty much that of a warrior king. You will pay attention to him. There is no discussion.
Now, I belong to a subsect of paganism that believes that gods call you, you do not call them. You can try, but gods are kind of like cats, it won't always do you any good. If a god shows up on your life there is a reason, they want you to do something or your need is so great that it got their attention. So Odin shows up and shortly thereafter I do end up in a series of very trying situations that required me to be a lot stronger than I thought I could be. I needed to be a warrior, and I felt better with him at my back. That's what faith is after all.
So, here we have the idea that gods show up when you need them or when they want you to do something. You get the feeling of faith and such that religion gives you.
After you get called you learn about said God, how to worship said God, converse with them. It's a honeymoon period. Sometimes you realize that this god isn't for you, or sometimes the god just dumps you. It happens sometimes. Or you realize that it will be a short-term relationship. Some pagans god hope all over the place.
Compair this to the way sky-daddy gets followers. Fron what I keep reading these seems to be more of an ah-ha moment. One moment the person suddenly sees this god in their life. Just like that. After this very sudden discovery you go through the honeymoon period, but you are discouraged from saying "gee, you know I don't think this is the right god for me". In this case you have a whole other element you don't have in paganism, you have peer pressure. You have a whole bunch of other people who are telling you that this is the god for you, you're just not trying hard enough. Oddly enough some of these people like to compare their relationship with their god to a marriage. I'm suprisingly OK with this, I sometimes compare my relationship to Odin as a marriage (I joke that he's the only man in my life, though that is a lie even on the level of other Gods, after all, I have his old buddy Loki hanging around. But he is very close to me).
In any relatonship you have to fit together. Even with your god, because this is a relationship you will spend a long time in. In Christianity they seem to rarely leave room for the idea that not everyone is going to fit with their god. I know as a pagan not everyone is going to fit with the gods I worship. It happens. My gods know this, after all, they are gods. They willlet you go if you're just that unhappy, and more than likely wish you luck on your journey (hell, so will I, I just want you to be happy). So why won't the christian religion give you that lee-way? What if you are unhappy? What if you get called by another god? What then? You go to hell? Why? Because your god gets ticked off? OK, that's just strange. Why doesn't your god understand that sometimes people won't be happy in one of his three religions?
This god calls people suddenly and won't let them go, like a very clingy teenager. I haven't talked to their god on a personal level, so I have no idea how much of this is the followers, but man it's strange.
So, I'll leave you with that for now. Gods call people in different ways. And they sometimes ask radically different thngs of their followers, and give different things in return. So why won't some religions recognise that there are different gods and different callings?