Friday, August 26, 2016

The inconsistent recon

With all the brouhaha about the AFA lately, I noticed a curious inconsistency in the negative posts and comments. Thinking back on it, it seems to be a pretty common thing that I never really noticed, at least enough to articulate. Specifically, people are quick to use the "that's not how our ancestors did it!" card when it's convenient, but then they turn around and use "but we're a modern religion and need to keep up with the times!" card when it's not.

One of the things about reconstructionism is that it is a methodology, not an end unto itself. Perfect reconstruction is obviously impossible for a whole variety of reasons, not least of which are an imperfect record and the fact that we live in a post-industrial post-Christian society rather than a subsistence-level agrarian pre-Christian one. But nonetheless, reconstructionism allows us to do the best we can in restoring the religious and cultural values of our ancestors, given those limitations (and many others).

Take, for example the recent screed from Heathen Talk, posted by Josh:
It is 2016, this shouldn’t even be an issue, we should be living in a more enlightened world. 
Okay, fine. So we're supposed to judge everything based on modern mores and ideas about what society and culture should be like. But what's this?
We know that in some heathen cultures homosexuality was a thing that happened and wasn’t grounds for ostracization. We know that men and women performed roles and duties that were outside of the culturally normal gender roles. Hell, we even know that the “traditional” family in ancient heathendom didn’t look like the modern “traditional” family. So what exactly are they regurgitating here? It isn’t based on a reconstructionist method of Heathenry, that much is clear. 
Are multi-generational families the modern thing that the
ancients didn't do...?
Woah, woah, WOAH! You just got through telling us that "this is 2016" and "we should be living in a more enlightened world." Why are you then turning around and trying to invoke reconstructionism and the way things were done more than a thousand years ago to make your argument?

But even worse, and setting aside the less-than-stellar scholarship on display here (which Lucius Helsen pointed out brilliantly earlier today), there's a self-contradiction even within the self-contradiction. Did you spot it? Let me highlight it for you:
We know that men and women performed roles and duties that were outside of the culturally normal gender roles. Hell, we even know that the “traditional” family in ancient heathendom didn’t look like the modern “traditional” family.
...or the ancient thing that moderns don't do? 
So. In telling us that there were a few minor exceptions to culturally normal gender roles, Josh is admitting that there were culturally normal gender roles! And in pointing out that there were differences between traditional families a thousand years ago and today, he's admitting that there were traditional family structures!

The mere fact that there might have been a few exceptions to these rules does not serve to undermine the fact that those rules did exist. And the fact that we, as modern Heathens and Asatruar, have not yet fully actualized those norms across our collective society does not mean that that's not something towards which to strive. And the AFA has stated that it chooses, as an organization, to support those normative rules; not that it wants (or somehow could) force that decision on everyone. The AFA chooses to promote traditional values, even if it can still be tolerant of occasional deviations from that norm, just as it was in the days of our Heathen ancestors.

You know, using a reconstructionist approach to a practical issue.

But... I thought this was 2016, and we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened world.

But... I thought that we're supposed to be using a reconstructionist method of Heathenry.

But... I thought this was 2016, and we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened world.

But... I thought that we're supposed to be using a reconstructionist method of Heathenry.

But... I thought this was 2016, and we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened world.

But... I thought that we're supposed to be using a reconstructionist method of Heathenry.

But... I thought this was 2016, and we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened world.

But... I thought that we're supposed to be using a reconstructionist method of Heathenry.

But... I thought this was 2016, and we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened world.

But... I thought that we're supposed to be using a reconstructionist method of Heathenry.

But... I thought this was 2016, and we're supposed to be living in a more enlightened world.

But... I thought that we're supposed to be using a reconstructionist method of Heathenry.



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