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One who recognizes the history and power of Jewish and Christian theology, while understanding the deeper roots of nature-based polytheism. The one-ness described in the former is demonstrated in the latter
When I am asked to describe my own religious affiliation, I usually respond that I am a Judeo-Pagan. Aside from my satisfaction at the chuckle this term often elicits, I use it for three reasons. First, I was born a Jew. On my father's side we trace our family back to the mid-15th century, but since ours is historically a matrilineal race, I draw my heritage from untold generations through my Eastern European forbears on both sides. It is important to note that, unlike many religions, Judaism is considered a nationality, traveling through blood and history, and binding a person to her people, not by ritual, but by descent. I am a Jew, not because I practice Judaism, but simply because I am.

My second reason for defining myself this way is that all Americans, for good or ill, live under the Judeo-Christian umbrella. The pentateuch of Moses and the new testament of Jesus underlie our culture, and whether or not we choose to observe their rituals, these book permeate our society in ways that cannot be ignored.

So where does the Pagan part come in? Somewhat surprisingly, my recognition of nature-based polytheism comes directly from my early religious education as a Jew. There is a prayer, called the Shema, that is part of almost all Jewish liturgy. In it we call on our people to hear this central message: That which we worship, that which answered Moses' query by saying, β€œI am that I am,” is One.

When I learned this as a child, it began a life of questions and answers. We were taught not to speak a name for the power that holds the universe together. As Carlos Casteneda's Don Juan suggested in my later reading, when we seek to define all that is, we inevitably leave something out. So here's this disembodied voice, on a rugged granite peak in the desert of Sinai, calling itself the great what-is, and saying that it is singular.

If, to use more common terms, God is All, and if that same God is One, how can anything not be God?

Another lesson from my early religious training describes three types of faith. The first is total acceptance of what has gone before. The second is acquired through intellectual processes. The third, and strongest, is that which has come through soul-based questioning and bone-deep experience.

For me, the truth that lies at the center of all being cannot be found in any one building, or with any single system of belief. The search for the unnameable occurs seven days a week, and in every place. Every word we speak, whether in the silent stillness of a Christian church, at the bimah of a synagogue, or behind the wheel of a fast-moving car, is prayer. Hear it: We all are one.
by Random Dancer August 06, 2008
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