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On Salvation and Werewolves

As a pagan, I have spent a great deal of time resenting the concept of “salvation”. I did not see a place for it in my cosmology; I did not perceive a fallen creation, or a need to expiate sins, and I had no fear of a supernatural damnation to meet me at the end of my life. (I have a number of canned rants on the subject that I can pop the lids off when appropriate, in fact. And have been known to do so to my own mild amusement in “theist”/atheist flamewars, just to demonstrate that a non-conservative-Christian theology is near-literally invisible.)

Of course, some years ago the Reverend Mark Morrison-Reed was the guest preacher at my church, and gave his brilliant “Dragged Kicking and Screaming Into Heaven sermon. That link is to the basic text thereof, but it of course varies when he gives it, and this video includes the line, “The lived experience of our faith had to precede its theological articulation”. And he speaks about the experience of initiation.

He is worth watching, by the way, though I know throwing a half hour of investment is no small thing. (I never watch videos people link in blogs either.)

So, yeah, that spoke to me. Pretty hard, all around – when I spoke to him after he gave it he commented, “I saw you in the pews. I saw you were with me.” And I was. I remember thinking about the threads of Kemetic theology that he was iterating there, like they were strings on a harp that needed to be plucked, and my own thoughts about the nature of the divine, and the necessity for the articulation of actual religious, transformative experience rather than dry declarations of principle.

I love that sermon so much, but I still didn’t give a lot of thought to the concept of actual salvation.

And then I started prodding at this werewolf thing. And there’s no going at the werewolf thing that doesn’t touch on the conceptual validity of Hell.

And that of course gets tangled up with soteriology right quick. Hell and the Devil and so on, and in ways that don’t actually get answered with the glib (and universalist!) comment I had in the stock quips bag: “If there’s a Hell to worry about then Jesus failed.” (The stock quips bag never had any “Not a Satanist/don’t believe in the Devil” contents, unlike many pagans.)

But Thiess was uninterested in the usual trappings of salvation, at least as far as we know. After all, he did not attend church, claimed not to understand it, but he was very concerned about the harvest, about the things stolen by the devil and squirreled away in Hell. Salvation was immediate, urgent, and about the process of regular living – embodied and about living in the world, not in a hypothetical next world.

The work of salvation, of rescuing from the silos of Hell, was never complete, but iterated year after year, several times a year, breaking out that which would be taken away and returning it to the community. That which is being saved is each life in the community, preserved for another harvest, and another, by the opposition to that which swallows up the work of farming and does not spit out a harvest.

There is no getting saved and having done with it.

And salvation is not something that one can put off into an afterlife. It is a part of the work of being here and now, that effort to expend a little more to step up and rescue something. A life. A seed. A moment. Not for some nebulous hereafter, but for the actual tomorrow.

Nor will they say “Behold here!” or “There!”, behold indeed the Kingdom of God is within you(plural).

Luke 17:21

3 comments to On Salvation and Werewolves

  • Crowess

    It’s always a rescue mission?

    • wyfwolf

      I mean, the concept of salvation kind of has to be, neh?

      I think one of the things I’m liking about the werewolf theology is that it provides an ontology for “saved from what, then?”

  • Tom

    Oddly, this reminds me of things like salvage where people rescue things from old houses that are architecturally interesting, but are being tossed away even though they can be repurposed in a new home or for some other kind of art. Also the entire idea of re-using materials that we’ve found that others have discarded.