Currently, as I am reading through Breisach’s “Historiography” – I’ve come to the chapter on Christian Historiography. One of the issues with the precept of Christian Historiography was centered around the perspective of lineage. Breisach notes that much of early Christian Historiography efforts were focused on how to shoehorn the Christian timeline in with such favored writers as Homer. The answer was to imply that Homer borrowed thematics wholesale from Moses, and thus establishing Moses as the predecessor. However, that’s sliding off into a tangent from my point – albeit, a rather interesting slice of historical perspective.
Lineage is something we, as human beings, tend to hold in high esteem. The Tea Party fanatics tend to point to a direct line into the ideals of Jefferson through thematics within the often over-quoted “Federalist Papers” – as well as ties to the overly-esteemed governing philosophies of President Ronald Reagan. The greatness of a sports team is related to its lineage of championship teams and the players who played on those teams. Individuals trace their family histories back generation after generation, seeking to find links to the infamous individuals shrouded within our history or linked to a particular event in time. We Pagans do it as well. We seek lineage through to the Past. Wiccan covens, and various Pagan systems hold their histories high, showing a tracing back to some prominent figure within their respective belief systems. But does any of that really matter?
Let’s dig into the Tea Party fanatics for the start. The Tea Party movement heralds its roots as the primary motivator for its governing philosophies. Essentially, these links become the core root of their beliefs, the desired guiding principles of their political movement. Could the political movement known as the Tea Party achieve similar goals without its historical claims? Certainly it could. The desire is to utilize the historical claims and ties as a way to when the on-the-fence folks – people who see the philosophy as valid, but do not desire to be lumped in with a bunch of wild-eyed fanatics. The linkage provides that safety net to show others that its not just a bunch of people pushing an extreme political philosophy, but a renewed vigor in what was started within Jefferson’s writings and applied earlier in the Reagan administration. In a way, the linkage is utilized more as a shield from the movement’s critics, rather than a guiding principle. There’s certainly a degree of debate over how accurate the Tea Party’s interpretation of both Jeffersonian and Reagan-esque principles really is. (Another tangent from the point here)
The desire to seek lineage through sports teams and individuals is a little easier to perceive. In both cases, there is a desire to show that the current position of the team (or individual/family) is a manner of predestination. Looking back through the history, the link is found that once before this team was one of a long line of champions – therefore, its merely fate that the team is at the apex of its particular industry again. The quirkiness of the inventor in the family tree can be utilized as a helpful explanation of the “strangeness” of the various members of the family tree – desiring that personality traits are passed from individual to individual. The linkage here shows a pattern, provides an explanation – in essence, provides permission for events to be “just so” for today. In a sense, the same concept of “permission” applies to that of the religious pattern of lineage. We seek a trace element back to so-and-so someone, to show that the group or tradition that we are utilizing for our own faith is correct. That the lineage allows us to pull on the cloak of “correctness” and “know” that this is “the way” of doing things.
Honestly, I understand the need and desire to find links and lineage…how each provides a measure of comfort, and explanation. Even when the explanation is twisted around, and links are fabricated from nitrogen and oxygen molecules and presented as whole cloth. There’s a strong sense and need for validation within the human race and its collective histories. But why do we require some form of validation in what we do? I continually hear and read about folks saying that other Pagans should be doing this or that – simply because it is *the way* that such things are done.
There’s tradition, there’s linkage, there’s lineage — and then there’s doing what feels right and appropriate for yourself. Most of my personal rituals have no set pattern to them. I do the things that I feel are right for the moment, and appropriate for the time within my heart. For people practicing in this way, I’ve heard terms such as “lazy” and “rude” thrown around as descriptives by those impressed by lineage and the such. I’ve never understood the desire to be insulting about people who do things differently than yourself…but I did take the time to try and understand the “why” of that emotion. I only wish more people would do that…perhaps such a working methodology could go a long way towards relieving the acrimony that is built up between…I can only hope, and continue being who I am and practicing as I feel is appropriate for me. Understanding the need for lineage and linkage has let me step away from the fight in a peaceable manner…and like Lennon stated so long ago: “All we are saying…”