A Rose is a Rose

(But Only if It's a Rose in the First Place)

By Kaliane

Eclecticism is all well and good, and it's probably even proper if you feel no great bond with any one religion. I'm somewhat eclectic myself, in both spiritual and mundane terms. Let's think mundane for a second shall we? My home is an eclectic jumble of class and tack, the antique and the new, the useful and the defunct ... basically all appealing/cool/inherited/meaningful/treasured gifts. "Decorating" this way does NOT give me the right to walk into someone else's home and remove the Edwardian saltshaker from their cruet set & call it an incense holder, or take the carver chair from their dining set because it'll look imposingly throne-like in my hallway. Nor does it give me the right to take photographs & measurements of something crafted carefully and lovingly overtime, discard the 'silly/boring stuff' like structural integrity & suitability for purpose, draw up plans for cheap mass-production, and sell shoddily-made particle board replicas as the geniune article. Eclecticism is not supposed to be an excuse for laziness and arrogant thoughtlessness: not a one of us has a 'right' to steal & distort selected bits & pieces of someone else's living tradition to suit ourselves. If you want to incorporate elements of some cultural tradition, have the respect and personal integrity to go to the source wherever possible - and have the respect to have properly researched your own traditions first. The source rarely lives in an expensive California retreat, nor does it commonly publish through Llewellyn. The source is/was quite often living in socially and geographically isolated poverty, and the religion is/was intimately interwoven with the daily struggle of getting food on the table. That's where most religion is born, folks: in the quest for survival & meaning in a sometimes harsh world - and we have no right to swoop in and nick a pretty bauble off someone else's table just because we're bored withour own stuff. If we truly can't go directly to the original source, it's our responsibility to research as much as we can from as many secondary sources as we can, and to be open to corrections and new angles or information from others who've done their homework.

He is talking about the word "karma"...nothing more, nothing less. He's talking about what the word means, what it means within the belief system that coined the word.

On to 'semantics'. It's simple. Words have power. Words are powerful. Words have meaning. Words are meaningful. Sloppy, careless usage diminishes the usefulness of words for their intended purpose -
communication. Effective communication relies on words having specific, commonly accepted definitions. The wider & more disparate thegroup with which we are attempting to communicate, the more important it is that we retain our view of the core meaning of each word. When we adopt words from other languages, we are beholden to use it as intended - that IS, after all, WHY the word was adopted rather than translated. I'm a tad confused over the willful carelessness with which words are treated by somepeople who practise spellcraft and suchlike: if the real meaning of a word is unimportant, what then is the value of canting aloud to the Gods? I'm also thoroughly bewildered by the notion that insistence on correct terminology is an infringement of anyone's right to believe whatever they want to. If effective communication of your ideas and beliefs is not your goal, why on earth are you participating in a discussion? Verbal precision is necessary and in written media such as chat channels and discussion lists, where all other cues are absent (scent, touch, body language, vocal tone, regional accent), verbal precision is even more necessary than usual. If we will not make the effort to understand & be understood, we may as well be trilling 'tay inna wind, tay inna wind' and stop pretending we give a rat's about anything outside our own heads.

Essay Copyright 1999 by Kaliane. This article may be distributed freely, so long as this notice remains and the article is in no way edited from it's original form. No fee may be charged for the distribution of this article in any form without consent of the author.

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This page last updated 9/12/98