Thoughtful Thor’s Day – Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy

When I first joined ADF I didn’t understand their belief in orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. What you believed wasn’t as important as what you did?  This confused me – how could I follow a ritual in which I didn’t believe? For a long time this was something of a sticking point for me. It didn’t make sense; didn’t feel right. In the past year or so I’ve finally come to understand what they mean (or at least my take on what that means)

How many times have I claimed to believe in something but my actions would seem to belie that claim. It would be the same as a union employee buying non-union products. If I were a union employee then wouldn’t I want to support other union employees? If I believe in freedom of religion and separation of church and state then I should make sure I don’t patronize businesses that try to blur those lines. Sometimes this is not a clearcut area such as the recent issue with Hobby Lobby violating the Affordable Care Act by refusing to cover women’s contraception. On the one hand as a privately held, family-owned company I respect Hobby Lobby’s desire to enact policies that support those beliefs. At the same time I do not believe employees should be denied certain protections because of the owners’ religious beliefs. Not an easy call to make (although I will admit to usually coming down on the side of the employee).

Having said that, while I might mock Hobby Lobby’s Christian bias, that has not stopped me from shopping there in the past. To be honest I admire the fact that they are so upfront about their beliefs. There is a sign right on the entrance to the store I’ve visited that clearly states they are closed on Sunday so their employees can worship with their families. If I am apposed to their beliefs then I shouldn’t shop there. If I do then I am giving lie to what I’ve stated I believe as well as supporting a company whose practices I dislike.

That example might be a bit convoluted. I wrote it and I’m not sure how clearly it expresses what I’m trying to say. I guess at it’s core orthopraxy is putting your money where your mouth is while orthodoxy can easily become nothing more than paying lip service to something. I can claim to believe in anything but if my behaviors don’t follow suit then my beliefs are so much hot air.

If I claim to be against racism and prejudice but laugh at jokes that rely on ethnic slurs and stereotypes what am I really showing the world? If I claim I am a Druid (or Wiccan or whatever) but never actually attend or conduct rituals or engage in any sort o spiritual practice then am I really a Druid? It seems to me that I’d really be some sort of poseur. To be perfectly honest I haven’t been very orthodox or orthoprax lately. That is something I plan to change. In a perfect world I would act “right” and believe “right” but right now all I care about is living “right” – at least right for me.

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