By Mike Gleason
Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and Christian in Dialogue, by Gus diZerega and Philip Johnson
Lion Hudson, 0745952720, 208 pp., 2008
This book is going to make everyone uncomfortable, and that is a good thing. It will force both Pagans and Christians to confront what they think they “know” about the other side of the debate. Neither side is composed entirely of “virtuous” or “nasty” individuals.
Gus diZerega (a Third Degree Gardnerian, with a Ph.D. in Political Theory) and Philip Johnson (a liberal Christian) engage in a give-and-take dialogue on topics ranging from the nature of spirituality to nature, and on to Paganism, Christianity and the Culture Wars. There is an abundance of courtesy evident throughout this book. The dialogue shows that it is possible to be on opposite sides of this divide and still remain civil while considering the other side’s position.
Of course, Mr. Johnson’s positions do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of all Christians, just as Dr. diZerega’s do not represent all Pagans (or even all Witches). Regardless, these two gentlemen show the best of their respective belief systems.
It is impossible to read this text without encountering ideas that force you to look at your own beliefs. Whether that confrontation leads you to change your thinking is irrelevant. The examination is the important aspect. This book should be read by every Elder (Pagan and Christian), every Priest (ditto), Priestess and Minister.
I hope, and expect, that it will lead to some interesting discussions at inter-faith gatherings. Such discussions should lead to better understanding and more tolerance among members of such groups.