(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 26, 2007 — Leave a comment

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

The Pagan law enforcement and emergency personnel organization Officers of Avalon is sending out a call for donations to their Avalon Cares Relief Project in order to assist those affected by the recent California wildfires that have destroyed over 1,400 homes, and evacuated nearly a million people.

“As our members are Pagan professionals in the emergency services, we’ve had a lot of people on the ground in the affected areas from the start. I’m starting to get reports on what has been affected and where help might be needed. I encourage you to do the same. If you know any one who has needs as a result of this disaster, please write to us and let us know … Once again, we’re showing the world what Pagans can do. Yet we must stick with it. We need you all to continue to donate what you can. If you can’t donate money, donate your time to volunteer efforts. Do your own fund raising events to help us in this disaster relief effort. Open your doors to the displaced. Give blood. If you’re a Pagan in the emergency services or related fields, join us at Officers of Avalon and help us help Pagans.”

Officers of Avalon has has 501 (c) status (so your donation is tax-deductible), and 100% of the money collected by the Avalon Cares project is going to the relief effort in California. Donation links can be found, here.

For those of you who have been following the story concerning the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ controversial plan to limit religious books for prison libraries to an approved list (currently on hold due to massive protests), some recent information has come to light thanks to a Freedom of Information request put in by one of my readers. According to the FOI document sent to me, there are no records of outside consultants, or fees paid to outside consultants.

“In reference to your request for the names of consultants, fees paid to those consultants, and the invoices related to those fees, there is no information responsive to this request.”

This seems to back up claims by the American Academy of Religion that no members of its organization were involved in making the lists. It also looks very likely that the BOP was “misstating” when it said they relied on experts to make the lists. Which raises the vision of BOP bureaucrats making the lists by doing Google searches. These facts should make for interesting background when the lists return in 2008.

Mary Lefkowitz, professor emerita at Wellesley College, has an editorial up in the L.A. Times endorsing a return to polytheism, specifically, a return to the Greek pantheon.

“The world, as the Greek philosopher Thales wrote, is full of gods, and all deserve respect and honor. Such a generous understanding of the nature of divinity allowed the ancient Greeks and Romans to accept and respect other people’s gods and to admire (rather than despise) other nations for their own notions of piety … Ancient Greek religion gives an account of the world that in many respects is more plausible than that offered by the monotheistic traditions. Greek theology openly discourages blind confidence based on unrealistic hopes that everything will work out in the end. Such healthy skepticism about human intelligence and achievements has never been needed more than it is today.”

I dare say this is a call for a return to traditional values that most Christian conservatives aren’t really expecting!

For those who loved “Pan’s Labyrinth” by Guillermo Del Toro, but thought it was too “cheery”, the acclaimed director is planning to tackle H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”, an essential tale in the ever-popular Cthulhu Mythos.

“…it will NOT be next on his list. It is still possible that a studio has finally agreed to a deal … it looks very good that GDT will soon be in monster heaven soon, thanks to Don Murphy’s Angry Films, and Susan Montford, who will be on board as producers, and an as yet unnamed studio. At one point the film was being looked at by Dreamworks/Paramount and Warner Bros., but looks like Universal may be the frontrunner now.”

The film adaptation was co-written by Guillermo del Toro, and a review of it is posted, here.

Finally, in Witch School news, the small town of Rossville, Illinois (the new home-base of Witch School) held a town meeting for those worried by the recent influx of Pagans. But rather than controversy, Robert Kurka, professor of theology and church in culture at Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln called for tolerance and co-existence.

“About 150 people from Rossville, Hoopeston and other parts of the county attended the event that was open to the public. Kurka talked for more than an hour about the history of Wicca religion and the ideas behind it and compared the beliefs to Christian beliefs, showing how the two differ. Kurka encouraged the mostly Christian audience to treat the Wiccans in a Christian way, by welcoming them to the community as they would anyone else.”

This seems to have somewhat surprised the Witch School members in attendance, who no doubt feared an anti-Pagan fire-breather had been sent to rally the faithful.

“It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be more ‘We have to get rid of these people’ attitude. I was pleased to know it was more friendly,”

So it look like Rossville is coming to terms with its new Pagan neighbors, though it remains to be seen if Rossville will ever become the “Salem of the Midwest” as some hope.

That is all I have for now, have a good day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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