Cultural Appropriation & Misappropriation

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Cultural Appropriation & Misappropriation

Taken from another forum:

I am familiar with syncretic pagan traditions where people mix pantheons and practices from various traditions, perhaps making a Celtic style offering to an Egyptian diety, throwing some African drumming in with a Native American smudging, that sort of thing. That is what I think of when I think of cherry picking and UU does not do that. What they DO do is to say "lets take a look at this practice or teaching in this faith, and see what wisdom we can gain from it."

To me that is a bit different than mixing and matching teachings and practices, though to another, it may seem about the same.

UU is informed by other traditions, and uses the insight gained from them, but it does not use their deities and rituals to patch together a practice. It develops it's own ritual based on its own understandings.

And my response:

Ha, you should see my house! I have Buddhist buddhas and bodhisattvas mixed with Hindu devas mixed with Hopi and Navajo kachina dolls mixed with Zuni fetishes, with Christian paraphenalia thrown in for good measure.

Granted, I'm just one UU, not UU itself. But I know other UUs who are similar. And my spiritual practice is my own, but certainly adapted from what I've learned from other traditions.

Of course this all begs the question of cultural misappropriation and where one crosses the line.

Let me add that I think ideally we should have our own rituals.  But UU is almost devoid of rituals.  We have the lighting of the chalice, the child dedication ceremony, and the water and flower communions.  That's all.  For someone like me who likes, nay, needs ritual in my spiritual practice, UU by itself is a thin gruel.  Also, how does a religion's rituals come about, except by adapting the rituals of other religions with which it comes into contact?  Christian communion is obviously an adaptation of Jewish ritual, which was probably adapted from the "Pagan" cultures around them.

Otoh, I am aware of and concerned about a tendency to cheapen the sacred rituals of other cultures by using them without regard, and thinking that things and be "mixed and matched" without understanding their significance within the context of their native traditions.  And without commitment to ritual itself.  People's spiritual practices should not be co-opted for cultural "tourism."

So where is the line between cultural appropriation and cultural misappropriation?

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