Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I am proud to call myself a Pagan. I take the term quite literally, not from the aberration of its meaning placed on it by others. A pagan is simply one who lives in the country ways.

Oh, sure, you can say, “I too am a Pagan; I don’t live in a city”. But do you practice the country ways?

When you travel daily through your country life, do you take time to admire the trees, the flowers, the clear sky and the sun? While passing along the country paths do you say hello to brother bird, Mrs. Woodchuck, little hopper rabbits, friendly doe and young, strong horses, and even Sir Snapping Turtle? Do you see them as fellow residents of your area or are they a nuisance to you?

I was enthralled by the “Paganism for a New Age” course. I have studied Druidism, Celtic Shamanism and I was raised in the Native American ways. I have always been interested in the concurrence of beliefs of various religions, sadly what are known as pagan religions. This course showed me the similarities and the coexistence of belief systems that occurred all around the world, created by their own impetus. Isn’t it a wonder how many different tribes, clans, or nations of people could come to the same conclusions without interactions across continents? Yes, the names may be different, the styles slightly askew, but if you look deep into the theological meanings of the elements of the religions you will find common threads, common ideas, common beliefs.

I believe in cosmic consciousness. I believe the universe to be nothing more than the amalgamation of all our knowledge, and thus far, the universe is growing.

Now, however, I am afraid. We see fundamentalist religions growing around the world. We see intolerance taking place, we see even cousins fighting each other over simple interpretations of the same dogma. Fortunately, their attention is primarily within. However, even in the United States the polls indicate that 70% of registered voters want our President to have a strong belief in his or her faith. What they neglect to mention is that it had better be a mainstream, Christian faith.

What would happen if a Druid were elected President? Would he or she be allowed to truly practice their religion? I think not; after all, this country was founded by PURITANS, people that insisted that religion be practiced in a one PURE way.
My ancestors are Celtic and Native American. They all practiced country ways but never called themselves pagan. I am sorry for that, yet it was hard enough for them to admit the native American heritage, let alone their religious beliefs.

What did happen when the Native Americans practiced their pagan religion? One only needs to look back barely a century ago when the Ghost Dancers were certain that the ancestral spirits would return to help them regain their tribal lands. First the Ghost Dancers were banned from practicing their dances, yes, only a dance. Eventually out of fear, the Ghost Dancers were slaughtered, killed in their homes on “safe” reservations.
I believe that the numbers of people that practice the country ways, the people that practice a pagan religion, are growing. I meet more and more people that are questioning the ways of organized religions every day. That is the main reason we need to be fearful, our numbers are growing.

Look back in history or look in today’s newspaper. What do you find? People who practice religions that are out of the mainstream, or are not exactly in accordance with the pure teachings of the Torah, the Koran or the Bible, are banned and frequently killed. The Shias and the Sunnis illustrate this perfectly. They kill each other.

I learned a great deal from the Paganism course and I look forward to learning more from the seminary, but as a Pagan, I remain fearful. The fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims all scare me.

They’re going to kill us again, you know.

Rev. David Schankin


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