My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.
The National Post discusses the “trouble with Mary” (specifically her virgin birth), and archetypes of belief that collectively influence us.
“Christ is born at the darkest time of the year. That’s not an accident. There are a lot of extremely complex ideas behind that. So here’s one: the redeeming hero emerges when the need is greatest. The hero is born not only when things are darkest but also when tyranny has reached new heights. There are dozens of examples like that which underlie the way these stories are constructed; they are stunningly profound and people relive them all the time.”
That quote, from psychologist Prof. Jordan Peterson, ties into his theory that belief is as “necessary as air and water” (and also echoes a point Pagans have been making during this time of year for ages). That everyone, no matter their philosophic orientation, holds onto core beliefs (because the universe “is far more complicated than we are smart”) to steer them through life.
American Indian columnist Dorreen Yellow Bird weighs in on the recent “Lakota Freedom” movement, and admits it is a good idea, but a good idea come too late.
“Means and his group have some points – perhaps 200 years too late, but they do have some points … We have, however, gone beyond those years. We have taken on the federal government as our government, too. That means the government also provides us funding and supplies for programs such as Head Start, housing, social services and so on – just like it does for the rest of the country … Finally, there the treaties. For the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Fort Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1886 provided land. True, the U.S. government took some of that land rather surreptitiously, but we were able to hold the line because of that legal document – a treaty. Those documents are important, shouldn’t be abrogated and should be taken seriously. Means and his group are seemingly out of step, but they remind us of our tragic history.”
The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel has printed an editorial from Jason Leopold that paints a chilling picture of Christian indoctrination at basic training camps.
“The Christian right has been successful in spreading its fundamentalist agenda at US military installations around the world for decades. But the movement’s meteoric rise in the US military came in large part after 9/11 and immediately after the US invaded Iraq in March of 2003. At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, soldiers on the battlefield have told disturbing stories of being force-fed fundamentalist Christianity by highly controversial, apocalyptic “End Times” evangelists, who have infiltrated US military installations throughout the world with the blessing of high-level officials at the Pentagon. Proselytizing among military personnel has been conducted openly, in violation of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution.”
Leopold says that much of the military evangelism is carried out by Military Ministry, who have gained unprecedented access to places like Fort Jackson Army base in Columbia, South Carolina. The question remains on how safe our Pagan solidiers (and other religious minorities) will be if this increasingly Christian military is left unchecked.
Coming back to the Green Bay Pentacle wreath controversy, Muskego Mayor John Johnson explains why his city won’t be dealing with the problems Green Bay now has.
“You have to be respectful of all religions and if you start putting one display up, you have to put up displays for everybody,” Muskego Mayor John Johnson said. “If you put up a Nativity scene and then a group asks you to put up a Hanukkah display or a display for the Muslim holiday, do you tell them no? You can’t.”
Always refreshing to hear from someone in Wisconsin who understands how to manage a Constitutional holiday display. In related news, you can now download the NPR program Here On Earth featuring interviews with Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox (who put up the Pentacle wreath in Green Bay) and Graham Harvey, professor of Religious Studies at the Open University, UK, discussing the Winter Solstice.
“This hour on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, Lori Skelton and her guests celebrate winter solstice, the longest night of a year with stories from different religions and cultures around the world.”
You can download the show, here (mp3 link).
That is all I have for now, may your celebrations of the returning sun be festive tomorrow.