This article, and hopefully those which will follow it on Sacerdotium, is an introduction to a series which will have to do with my personal antipathy for the majority religion in the United States: Christianity. I have chosen the term “antipathy” because I have found other synonyms to be too strong. It is not a “loathing” or “hatred” for the Christian majority. “Repugnance” was a close synonym, but again was too strong. Instead, the best word to describe it was “antipathy,” a term which I think captures the psychological aversion to and the emotional sense of being against the Christian cultural hegemony. What follows is a personal and truthful depiction of the internal anger and dislike for Christianity because of what can be best described as its hegemonic cultural role in the United States.

antipathy

[an-tip-uh-thee]
noun, plural antipathies.

1. a natural, basic, or habitual repugnance; aversion.
2. an instinctive contrariety or opposition in feeling.
3. an object of natural aversion or habitual dislike.

I was inspired to write about this topic based on a series of conversations I have had over the years with my close friend Adam von Friedeck, a citizen and ally of my micronation, who is also a Mormon. I have often asked him about the Church of Latter-Day Saints, and he periodically asks me about Buddhism. I have also shared similar conversations with many others, like my roommate, Mark—raised in the evangelical and charismatic church of Sovereign Grace Ministries—, and my close friend from Second Life, Pet Karu—a mystic Christian pastor and counsellor. This emotional “antipathy” often arose when discussing Christianity or religion in general, but I practised to transform this anger and frustration into a meditative practice to cultivate understanding and remove ignorance.

Full disclosure: I was not always successful. I often became angry and I often let that anger fester, instead of nipping it in the bud.

But, in my religion, the practising of the Dharma is a path, and I am still afloat in the Ocean of Samsara, so it would be wrong not to acknowledge that there were some setbacks.

This series of articles is intended to discuss this antipathy for a wide-ranging audience, but often couched in Buddhist terms. (like “practising the Dharma”) After all, I know I am not alone in this antipathy—and, ironically, I know that there are even some Christians who face it too!

First, however, I must describe my personal story and context, since this is very much a personal story and commentary. Then, I want to try to capture in writing the internal logic and reasoning of this antipathy by providing some notable examples from my own personal life. Next, I will address the topic of abuse by evangelicals, well-intentioned or not, and how good intentions are nice but not the complete barometer by which actions are measured. (This goes both ways.)

Finally, this antipathy is in many ways a tool for future development. I have often found that this anger and frustration can be transformed into a personal and social tool. It has been a tool, for example, by which I have formed my own independence as a young adult. It can also be a meditative tool for Buddhists to better understand and cope with the world around them—a world sometimes hostile to the sangha or often just ignorant of the Buddhist community. Finally, the last two elements of this “tool” of antipathy are social and political. Like conflict in general, this antipathy can be used as a tool for solidarity with other minority religions and to be used as a platform for future cross-cultural and interfaith work. But this does not mean that Christians are barred from the circle, because the following article addresses a wider picture of “Christendom.” (a concept some Christians still use!) Instead, this small series will finish with a discussion of breaking down monolithic “Christian” narratives. In part, I will have to address some denominations’ and theologians’ exclusive understanding of the term “Christian.” As an outsider looking-in, I will tend to lump together different Christian sects into the name “Christian,” but a few radicals speak fervently against this practice of lumping Orthodox, Catholics, mainstream Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, and some other fundamentalist and charismatic churches together. Understandable—given the incredible divergence in beliefs—but this antipathy is a useful heuristic device for religious outsiders and minorities AND a good political tool when “Christianity” is used as jargon by the Religious Right.

I have decided to write about my experience for a multitude of reasons. First, I think this sort of journalling is good practice for writing and for collecting one’s thoughts. It helps me to think more clearly and to express myself more coherently with others. Second, I am sure I am not alone in this antipathy. I think I have “sensed” it in other religious minorities like me. Third, I hope that others will connect my personal experience to other social phenomena to broaden my own social scientific awareness. Finally, if this personal commentary on my own life growing up as a Buddhist convert can be of benefit to anyone, I hope that it will help others who are struggling or who have struggled with these same emotions and sentiments and that it will help others of the “religious majority” to think about about their prejudices and assumptions.

Articles Planned:

  • My personal story
  • Why Antipathy? and How a few Well-Intentioned Abusive Evangelicals are self-defeating
  • Using this Antipathy: Start by Claiming your Independence
  • Using this Antipathy: Antipathy as a Meditative Tool
  • Using this Antipathy: Forming Interfaith, Minority-Religious Solidarity
  • Using this Antipathy: Breaking down Monolithic “Christian” Narratives

Caveats:

  • I do not completely vouch for the implications of everything I write, but I am willing to discuss them to hone my meaning. I caution against extrapolating meaning and applying to other contexts and other people. Life is complex and people are difficult to understand.
  • This series is not meant to place blame on Christians or any religious majority, but instead is my own personal discussion of my experience as a Buddhist convert. I may use the term “Christian privilege” or “privilege of the religious majority,” meant here to mean the same thing. But, as all/most conceptions of “privilege” go, this does not negate lack of privilege in other areas.
  • I do not avow that these articles will be high-brow. Those of you familiar with my more academic musings might be thoroughly disappointed. This is more of a think-piece.
  • I will only tolerate some abuse and trolling. Once I reach my limit, I will freely delete, block, and ban as needed—on whatever medium. Sorry.

 

About the Author

Gaius Soergel Publicola is the Sôgmô of the State of Sandus, a micronation in the United States of America. Það is the leader (Sacer Flamen) of the Collegium Sacerdotum, of which Sacerdotium is a publication. Soergel Publicola was raised in the Episcopal Church of America by a Catholic-raised mother and a Presbyterian-raised father, but rejected the faith at a young age. As a young adult, the Sacer Flamen decided to convert to Tibetan Buddhism in April 2009 after three years of searching for a religious path.
A month later, það founded the State of Sandus.

The feast day of Sandus’s patron saint, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, is coming up on 14 July. In this coming week, Sandus prepares to celebrate the feast day with prayers and to develop cultural traditions for the feast day.

FeastDay Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.png

About Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri or Catherine, the Lily of the Mohawks, was born along the Mohawk River at Ossernenon before she moved to Caughnawaga (‘On the Rapids’) in around 1656. She later moved to the Saint Lawrence River and to a Jesuit village of the same name, Kahnawake. Her Abenaki mother, Tagaskouita, was captured by the Mohawks and she eventually married the Mohawk chief of Ossernenon, Kenneronka. In her young life, since she only lived into her early twenties when she died in 1680, she was a victim of smallpox, an epidemic which ravaged Native American peoples. Both of her parents and a brother died as a result of the disease, and she was taken care of by her father’s sister and her husband.

Forced to welcome Jesuit missionaries into their village after a successful campaign by the French against the Mohawk, Tekakwitha converted to Christianity and shunned the social world and even an arranged husband. She eventually joined the religious community at Kahnawake in modern-day Québec, across the river from Montréal, and befriended a woman named Marie-Thérèse. Both wanted to become women religious, but were considered too young by the Jesuit priests, and so they continued to develop their close spiritual relationship together.

On Holy Week 1680, Saint Kateri’s health began to wane. She passed away on Holy Wednesday in the arms of her friend Marie-Thérèse. Her last words were, “Jesus, Marie, I love you.”

The villagers and priests who attended to her noticed her face, scarred by smallpox, had cleared and had become beautiful and white. She appeared to her sisters spiritual, including to Marie-Thérèse to whom she said that she was going to heaven.

Her sainthood is commemorated in both the United States and Canada. In Canada, she has been honoured at St. Francis Xavier Church in Kahnawake since 1684, where many have made and continue to make pilgrimages for Saint Kateri’s healing miracles. In the United States, she is honoured at a shrine near Fonda, New York, just down the hill from the site of Caughnawaga. In Canada, her feast day is 17 April, the date Tekakwitha passed away, but in the US her feast day is 14 July.

As a saint, her patronage also includes the environment, Native Americans and First Peoples, orphans and loss of parents, healing, people in exile, and people ridiculed for their piety.

the Feast Day in Sandus

Sandus celebrates the feast day common in the United States on 14 July, rather than on 17 April as in Canada. There are no traditional activities in Sandus to commemorate the feast day, though this year preparations are being made for the first time. Since Sandus is not a Catholic country and the Εκκλησία of Sandus is ecumenical and non-denominational, however, efforts this year have been made to celebrate the feast day and to make cultural traditions for the holiday in the future since Saint Kateri is the Sandum patron saint.

The Sôgmô in þess capacity as Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotum has asked that Bishop Sisenna Melville prepare a devotional for the feast day and has requested flamines of the Collegium to celebrate the feast day, if it is part of their religious tradition. In Kremlum Sandus, the Sacer Flamen and the Bishop of the Εκκλησία will celebrate the feast day together with appropriately-themed food, praying and conducting a religious service appropriate for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, and celebrating the feast day with merriment and revelry for the Pure Lily of the Mohawks.

Various prayers, attached below, are to be recited on the feast day this year, and Sandus’s traditional three sisters (corn, beans, and rice—which replaces squash, common in Eastern Woodlands cooking), barley crêpes, and other treats will be prepared for the feast.

Sandus shares Saint Kateri as our patron saint with our friendly Francophone ally, the Republic of Saint-Castin, where her feast day is commemorated on 17 April.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Icon.jpg

An Icon of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Prayers

Litany of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Kateri, lily of purity, pray for us.
Kateri, consoler of the heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, bright light for all Indians, pray for us.
Kateri, courage of the afflicted, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of the cross of Jesus, pray for us.
Kateri, flower of fortitude for the persecuted, pray for us.
Kateri, unshakeable in temptations, pray for us.
Kateri, full of patience in suffering, pray for us.
Kateri, keeper of your virginity in persecutions, pray for us.
Kateri, leader of many Indians to the true faith through your love for Mary, pray for us.

Kateri, who loved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
Kateri, lover of penance, pray for us.
Kateri, who traveled many miles to learn the faith, pray for us.
Kateri, steadfast in all prayer, pray for us.
Kateri, who loved to pray the rosary for all people, pray for us.
Kateri, example to your people in all virtues, pray for us.
Kateri, humble servant to the sick, pray for us.
Kateri, who by your love of humility, gave joy to the angels,
pray for us.
Kateri, your holy death gave strength to all Indians
to love Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
Kateri, whose scarred face in life became beautiful after death,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

LET US PRAY
O Jesus, who gave Kateri to the Indians as an example of purity, teach all men to love purity, and to console your immaculate Mother Mary through the lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, and your Holy Cross, Amen.

Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Prayer to St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, our elder sister in the Lord, discreetly, you watch over us;
May your love for Jesus and Mary inspire in us words and deeds of friendship, of forgiveness and of reconciliation.
Pray that God will give us the courage, the boldness and the strength to build a world of justice and peace among ourselves and among all nations.
Help us, as you did, to encounter the Creator God present in the very depths of nature, and so become witnesses of Life.
With you, we praise the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Amen.

Holy founders of the Church in North America. Pray for us.

Prayer of Thanksgiving to St. Kateri Tekakwitha

God our Father, Whom Kateri Tekakwitha liked to call the Great Spirit (Raweni:yo),
We thank you for having given us this young woman as a model of Christian life.
Despite her frailness and her community’s resistance, she bore witness to the presence of Christ.
With her companions, she drew close to the elderly and to the sick.
Every day, she saw in nature a reflection of your own glory and beauty.
Grant that by her intercession we may always be close to you, more sensitive to the needs of those around us, and more respectful of creation. With her, we shall strive to discover what pleases you and endeavour to accomplish it until that day you call us back to you.
Amen!

The Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotum, the Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola of the State of Sandus, has published the annual speech for the Regifugia, the Sancta New Year. The speech is traditionally given in the third official, or “cultural,” language of the State of Sandus, which is Latin. Ante Ianuarium MMXIV (prior to January 2015), however, the third official language was Sancta, a constructed language unique to Sandus based off of Latin, French, and English.

Click here for the text of the speech in the three official languages of Latin, English, and French.

The Sacer Flamen will give the speech and its associated rite at þess private residence in Kremlum Sandus Province later this evening.

The Sancta New Year is I Martii mensis (1 March) in imitation of the ancient Roman calendar established by the second legendary king Numa. The Regifugia marks the last day of the Sancta year, when the Sôgmô gives the speech on Sandum activity in the last year in Latin. The Matronalia, which is held on I Martio, is a festival dedicated to Juno Lucina and to mothers, a holiday similar to Mother’s Day celebrations in Sandus, and also marks the beginning of the new Sancta year. Both festivals are based off of Roman festivals but, like all imitation, are uniquely Sandum. They speak more to Sandum values and concerns than to Roman history, exempli gratia the date of the Sancta Regifugia has been moved ab XXIV Februario (from 24 February) ad XXVIII Februarium (to 28 February).

collegiosacerdae_flag

The Sacer Flamen, the Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola, has announced the creation of a new sodality in the Collegium Sacerdotum (College of Priests) which is intended to represent and to serve Christians in the State of Sandus. The new sodality, the Sandum Ecclesia (ἡ Ἐκκλησία Σανδῆς), will be led by Sandum citizen Sisenna Melville as bishop, who has been charged with creating a synod for the Church in Sandus and with officiating major Christian holidays in the Sancta calendar.

The Sacer Flamen has appointed her on the Feast of the Epiphany in recognition of her charitable service to Sandus and in recognition of her acceptance to Princeton Theological Seminary, which she intends to pursue in the coming academic year. She has been granted access to major State media, including the Sacerdotium, with the hope of sharing news about Christian holidays in Sandus and commentaries on the Christian faith. Melville has become the fifth member of the College and has been granted the rank of flamen.

The Ecclesia has been charged with being an ecumenical church in the State of Sandus. The Bishop, though a Presbyterian, will execute functions related to all Christian faiths and sects. The Ecclesia will lead services in recognition of Lent, Easter, and Christmas, as well as other Sandum Christian holidays such as Pioneer Day and the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who is the patron saint of Sandus.

Sodalities, as confraternal groups, were established in a by-law adopted by the Sacer Flamen on XIX Iunii MMXIV (19 June 2014). They are organisational groups which meet within the structure of the Collegium and which are charged “with a focus.” The Ecclesia’s focus is Christianity in the State of Sandus.

The Sacer Flamen, Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola, has added the monthly Tibetan Buddhist holy days to the calendar of the Collegium Sacerdotum. The addition means that, to a certain extent, a fourth calendar will be exercised in the State structure of the State of Sandus, in addition to the Gregorian, Sancta, and Administrative calendars. The holy days are numbered by the day following the New Moon. So, as the Full Moon for Ianuarius MMXVI (January 2017) falls on XXVII Ianuarii (27 January), then XXVIII Ianuarii (28 January) will begin the last month in the Tibetan calendar. This practice is the opposite of the Administrative Calendar’s reckoning, since the Administrative Calendar begins instead on the Full Moon.

The holy days are:

  • 8th: Medicine Buddha Day, dedicated to Sangye Menla
  • 10thGuru Rinpoche Day, dedicated to Padmasambhava who introduced Buddhism to Tibet
  • 15th: Amitabha Day (Full Moon), dedicated to the Buddha of longevity and awareness of the emptiness of phenomena
  • 25th: Dakini’s Day, dedicated to the feminine spirits of the Dharma
  • 29th: Dharmapalas Day, dedicated to the protectors of the Dharma
  • 30th: Buddha Shakyamuni Day (New Moon), dedicated to Siddhartha Guatama

In addition to these holy days, the Collegium already celebrates the four major Tibetan Buddhist holidays of Lösar, Saga Dawa Düchen, Chökhor Düchen, and Lhabab Düchen. In amending the Tibetan Buddhist calendar practised by the Collegium Sacerdotum, það has added a fifth Tibetan Buddhist holiday to the calendar which has been so far neglected: Chotrul Düchen, or the Festival of Miracles, held on the fifteenth day of the New Tibetan Year. Lösar, or Tibetan New Year, will be held on XXVII Februarii MMXVI (27 February 2017) this year. Chotrul Düchen then will be held on XII Martii (12 March).

This year, ahead of the New Tibetan Year, the Sacer Flamen will release the projected calendar of Buddhist holidays, including all Tibetan Buddhist monthly holy days.

The Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola, Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotium, has given the Sancta Oration for the Regifugia MMXV (2016), completing the annual tradition of the Sandum people. The Sancta Oration was so named since it was previously the only formal speech given in the constructed language of Sancta, on the occasion of the Regifugia. The speech this year was given in the Latin, following the State of Sandus’s decision to remove the Sancta language as the third official language of Sandus, the so-called “cultural language,” and to restore it with Latin.

The Regifugia is a Sancta cultural holiday derived from the Roman festival of the Regifugium. Though the two holidays hardly overlap, either in purpose or in date, the name has been used to refer to the fleeing of the old Sancta year in a view similar to modern Anglophone views about “Father Time” and “Baby New Year.” The Regifugia commemorates the Sancta New Year with another festival, the Matronalia, which commemorates Juno Lucina — Juno of the Light — who is the matron of mothers, child-birth, and child-rearing. In a pop cultural sense, she is the one who gives birth to the Sancta “Baby New Year.”

Read the Sancta Speech in Latin, English, and French, here: Sancta Speech 2016

 

The Sacer Flamen of the Collegium Sacerdotium, Gaius Soergel Publicola, has concluded the most extensive calendrical reforms to the Sancta calendar in years, ahead of the new Calendar year on I Martius (1 March). The last changes done to the calendar were in 2012, when new holidays were established. In 2015, the State of Sandus restored the primacy of the Gregorian calendar as the dating basis for the State of Sandus’s administrative calendar, though the Sancta calendar still serves an important function as the basis for administrative weeks.

In total, fifteen new Sancta holidays have been added, the dates fixed for two new festivals — the Sementivae and the Feriae Micronationum, and the dates have been changed for fourteen holidays. Of Sancta holidays which were ludi under the Roman Empire and Republic, they have now been either significantly reduced or have been completely removed from the calendar, in line with the Party’s November 2015 Party Congress decision to institute ludi in Sandus on a monthly basis.

Most of the festivals that were added concern minor deities, while some noticeable holidays have now been added. For example, on the Ides of September (Idus Septembres), a new festival has been established to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, or Jupiter the Best and Greatest, marking the first Sancta holiday for the king of the gods. In addition, the first fast on the Sancta calendar has been declared, the Fast of Ceres, on IV October (4 October).

The names and titulary deities of the kalendaenonae, and idus have been added to the calendar — and the names of each of them for their respective months have been translated into Latin, following the previous administrative year’s decision to replace the third and cultural official language of Sandus from Sancta to Latin.

Reference was made by the Sacer Flamen of the Collegium to several seminal texts in the study of the history of Roman religion in order to add, rectify dates, and change dates for the calendar’s Sancta holidays.
John Schied, “The division of time: calendars, rituals, regular festivals,” in An Introduction to Roman Religion, translated by Janet Lloyd (Indianapolis, IN, USA: Indiana University Press, 2003), 41-56.
H. H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Ithaca, NY, USA: Cornell University Press, 1981).
Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price, “The calendar,” in Religions of Rome: Volume 2 — A Sourcebook (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 60-77.

In the future, work might be done to expand on the work done by the Sacer Flamen in his role as custodian of the calendar and with powers inspired by the comitia calata, particularly looking towards Greek poleis and the Roman Imperial period: of which only two festivals are celebrated currently in Sandus, the Dies Natalis Soli Invicti and Athena’s Day (Khalkeia). As well, pursuant to the Sacer Flamen’s sovereign power to recognise the civic deities of the Collegium Sacerdotium, some holidays were abandoned and removed from the calendar.

This reform comes after the Sacer Flamen added a series of new Christian holidays to the Sancta calendar. Work still needs to be done, however, on adding Tibetan Buddhist holidays to the calendar. Reforms done to the calendar need to be completed by XXIX Februarius (29 February) of this year MMXV.