The biggest thing on my mind lately related to this blog is my standing with ADF at the moment. Not that the Org cares so much, but I’m deeply considering my place within it. I am burdened by questions that do not have easy answers. ADF has been a big part of my life for almost a decade…This post has been a long time coming, a few years I would say. I have long pondered whether being a part of this particular Org is a benefit and this post is about choosing not to ignore the questions that have arisen.
After having detailed some of my concerns with the study programs to those who oversee them no reply came. It’s not this alone that is upsetting me about my affiliation with ADF these days, but it certainly does not help. My overall concern is that ADF is, or is becoming, the very thing I depise in large Orgs of this sort. Eventually the Office and Overseers of large Orgs don’t care about the average member. Is paganism perhaps not well represented by large Orgs?…I’m beginning to think that the idea of Orgs built to hold Pagans beneath an immense canopy of relateable philosophies is an erroneous endeavor. Perhaps Paganism is best understood locally and via small personal cells of like-minded persons.
But then I also ask myself if Pagans do better when affiliated with a large Org. Do we need the power of a large Org to protect and further the goals of Paganism in our modern day? Does the meer existence and membership with Orgs as large as ADF insure a political power that Pagans may be without otherwise? Does my membership in ADF say anything of relevance?
Another post of mine Contemplation of Continuance had me writing a bit about what thoughts cause me to re-up my ADF membership every year. I’d thought I’d ask those same questions again in light of my current mindset…
This post tends to be tough on ADF. And I don’t necessarily mean it to be that way. I’m not ranting on what ADF is or has become, merely on my place within it and where I am on my Pagan path these days.
Have I grown as a religious person because of membership? I can honestly say No here. I have not been challenged by my activity and membership for a few years now. Does there need to be a constant state of growth…no, but what good is being a part of something if it’s only my money that an Org has. Being that ADF cannot get it’s act together in terms of Study Courses, I see no other way to answer this. The bigger question should be if I think ADF should even try to better it’s programs…this is one of the things I’m wrestling with.
Is ADF an organization that does good? Um..I’m not sure. The Groves within ADF certainly address the local Pagan communities need in a way. I’m not sure that it’s doing good by being so obviously elitist in it’s theology and ordination process, however. I’ve had the sense from the very beginning with ADF that it was the home of snobbish academics, even experiencing it directly..and that feeling has only grown through the years. So I think I’m on the fence with this question. I think perhaps the philosophy of ADF is good; Open ritual, academic honesty, reconstructionism curbed by modern culture. Is it enough to keep me passionate about my membership?
Have I learned? I think I’ve learned in spite of belonging to the Org. Not good…not good at all.
Is ADF fun? No. It’s getting to be a chore. This very debate that I’m having with myself about the benefits of being or not being a member is an example of that. At this point in my ADF career I am almost ashamed of calling myself a member. When I say I’m an ADF member that instantly says to people that I’m probably one of the those scholarly tight ass Pagan types that can’t practice anything unless there’s some archelogical evidence for it. I get that…I really do.
I’ve heard stories of other members having a rough time of the programs as well and leaving to pursue other avenues of study and ordination. For me it’s not ordination at all cost, or by the easiest means possible. I’ve been a Pagan for all of my adult life, and I’ve never thought that an Org can declare a person clergy…that is up to the Community itself not to an Org thousands of miles away.
In the time it took me to type this up and ponder what my ongoing affiliation with ADF means I’ve come to the realization that perhaps it is time to sever my time with ADF, that maybe I have learned all I can during my stay and that I am actually excited by the prospect of being out from under it’s canopy. I’ve thus sent an email to the ADF Office resigning my membership and await confirmation.