(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 13, 2008 — 1 Comment

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

A botanica, Centro Botanico La Santisma in San Diego, burned down on Saturday after a lit candle sparked a larger fire.

“A lit candle in a voodoo supply shop sparked a fire, destroying the San Diego store and damaging an adjacent taco shop. San Diego police Sgt. Ray Battrick says the blaze’s intense smoke caused officials to evacuate several homes in the Grant Hill neighborhood when the fire broke out early Sunday morning. Firefighters said the Centro Botanico La Santisma store was a total loss, with nearly $350,000 in damages. The store sold herbs, amulets and other items related to Santeria, voodoo and other religions.”

Luckily, no one was injured in the blaze. A chilling reminder to all Pagan and occult stores to be careful with candles, and to have a healthy fire-insurance policy.

Jay Clarke looks at the large variety of Samhain/Halloween events happening in Salem during the month of October. Including the Salem Witches Halloween Ball (not to be confused with the Cabot Witches Ball).

“On Nov. 1, the Day of the Dead, another massive party – the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball – also takes place at the Hawthorne and on the adjacent grassy Common ($150 per person). The Common, fittingly, is where some scenes of the popular Hocus Pocus movie about long-dead witches were filmed … Yes, Salem has real witches – more than 3,000 of them, who practice Wicca. They detest both the stereotype of wickedness as presented in the Wizard of Oz and the nose-twitching antics of Samantha in television’s Bewitched.”

I think “detest” is a somewhat strong term. I happen to love the “Wizard of Oz”, and find “Bewitched” (and the play/film that inspired it “Bell, Book, and Candle”) to be quite charming at times (especially Jack Lemmon as Nicky). Also, $150 dollars? Yikes! That’s a little too rich for my blood.

According to Arnold Conrad, the former pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport, non-Christians around the world are praying for Obama to win the presidential election.

“There are millions of people around this world praying to their god—whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah—that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens,”

Conrad made these remarks at a recent McCain rally in Iowa (before McCain ever arrived). This is certainly a shock to the Pagans and non-Christians who are planning to vote for the Republican, Libertarian, Constitution, or Green party come November. One can only wonder what will happen to Conrad’s faith should God let his “reputation” be harmed by an Obama win.

Are comic-book superheroes thinly-disguised gods for our modern age? Performance artist Justin Lamb seems to think so.

“I wanted to do a show exploring why superheroes and comic book culture have gotten so popular lately. I started researching it and started finding a lot of weird little similarities between superheroes and religion, which has a nice little nerd following of it’s own if you haven’t noticed. I wondered if subconsciously, do the things that attract people to these religions also attract people to these heroes.”

Perhaps Lamb has been reading “Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes”? Or he could just be a big Grant Morrison or Alan Moore fan.

In a final note, the New Statesman publishes an interesting examination of secularism, and recent attempts to push forward a watered-down “positive secularism” by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Pope Benedict XVI.

“To speak of positive secularism is to imply that there are two kinds of secularism, one good, the other bad. The supposedly good one, put forward by the Pope and his acolyte Nicolas Sar kozy, is a secularism that would allow politics to mingle with religions. One which would, for instance, turn a blind eye to sects and their actions, one which would accept that people be treated differently according to their faiths, one which would blur the frontiers between the public and private spheres. Sarkozy certainly knows a great deal about the blurring of the two distinct worlds whose separation has been France’s trademark for at least two centuries.”

Only one kind of secularism guarantees the rights of minority religions, and it isn’t the “positive secularism” envisioned by the Pope. Creating a “secularism with exceptions” sets us on a dangerous road where some are more equal than others.

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters