(Pagan) News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 8, 2008 — 3 Comments

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

It seems our troubled economy is sparing no-one. The International New Age Trade Show has canceled their East coast show for 2009 (the West coast show is proceeding normally), citing concerns over the “current worldwide economic situation”.

“In light of the current worldwide economic situation, we’ve decided to postpone the INATS East show until 2010. By waiting out these hard times, we feel we’ll be better able to provide the buyer attendance that is crucial to exhibitor success. It’s always our goal to provide the optimum situation for both buyers and exhibitors. With the holidays upon us and the predictions being made about retailer slow-downs, we feel it is in our exhibitors’ best interest to postpone at this time.”

So much for that “one decimal point”. Will Pagan festivals and conventions also see postponements, cancellations, and moves to smaller venues as the world tightens its collective belt? After all, it’s hard to buy trinkets and take time off work when you’re barely making ends meet. Thanks to Juliaki for tipping me off to this developing story.

We aren’t the only ones noticing that Republicans have lost the non-Christian vote.

“For Republicans, the news only gets worse. Not only is the country becoming less White Anglo, it’s becoming less rural, and perhaps even less religious. Meaning, in political terms, less Christian, specifically less Protestant. Most Catholics voted Democratic Tuesday. Jews and Muslims mostly voted for Obama. So did that still small but growing minority—mostly Asian-American—raised in the Buddhist or Hindu traditions. So, in all likelihood (the exit polls don’t get into these areas) did those who were raised as Christians but now consider themselves New Age, neo-pagan or simply indifferent. Every year, there are more of these folks, fewer of the stereotypical traditional American—the rural, white Protestant whose ancestors have been here for generations. Every year, the country gets more diverse, more metropolitan, more cosmopolitan, even a bit more secular. In the process, it gets less Republican.”

The strategy of doubling-down on conservative Christianity may have seemed like a great idea thirty years ago, but in an increasingly religiously pluralistic society it can cost you elections.

Speaking of the Obama victory, I’ve rounded up reactions from some notable Pagans, including Thorn Coyle, Starhawk, Deborah Oak, Hrafnkell, Cat Chapin-Bishop, Erynn Rowan Laurie, and Judith Laura. Meanwhile Pagan authors Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Edain McCoy have sent out a call for spiritual protection for our 44th president.

“We have been made aware that a clear and present danger hangs over the head of Sen. Barrack Obama. Unfortunately, we still live a country where many are taught to hate and fear others based on nothing more than the hue of their skin. Our community mobilizes all the time to send healing and protection to others, and we hope you will join us in a multi-faith magickal effort to keep Barrack Obama–and his family–safe from harm as he transitions into the role of our President.”

They are asking for focused workings at Yule/Midwinter and on inauguration day. Also, while technically not a Pagan, I think Nobel-winner Wangari Maathai eloquently puts forth a prime concern among many Pagans looking towards the next four years.

“If there is one thing I would personally wish of Obama, it would be to fight for the environment. I would urge his administration to help Africa protect its forests and to adapt to the changing climate. We know that Africa will be very adversely affected. The post-Kyoto protocol negotiations are ongoing, and forests must be included as part of the solution. I hope America will support that.”

Here’s hoping that global warming and the environment is at the top of his priority list, for all our sakes.

Though the Halloween interview season is over, that hasn’t stopped New Jersey monthly from interviewing local Pagan shop owners and the editor of the forthcoming “Thorn” magazine.

“For those who want to explore paganism in relation to modern culture, Thorn Magazine, will make its debut this month. Editor Chip O’Brien said it’s the only one of its kind in the northeast. He hopes this Matawan-based publication and website will ‘illuminate the joys and complications of living ancient paths in the wired era.’”

Nice to see a reporter actually scour the state looking for Pagans to interview, though overall points have been deducted for not fact-checking claims that Wicca stems from “ancient Egyptians and Celtic lore”. Still, a generally decent overview of the Pagan business community in the state.

In a final note, it looks like all sorts of litigation of interest to modern Pagans will be in our future. South Carolina is going ahead with their controversial “I Believe” license plate design, Bill O’Reilly is gearing up to fight the Christmas Wars once again, and the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, has decided to include religious displays after all.

“Yesterday’s Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent reports that the proposed policy that would have allowed only secular displays on government property has now been changed. By a vote of 8-4, Council added language stating that the U.S. Supreme Court has approved combined religious and nonreligious displays, and that city officials, at their discretion, may permit these as well as purely secular ones. Before final passage, Green Bay’s city attorney will study the new language.”

You can click here for a quick overview of the whole sordid religious mess caused by Green Bay’s mayor and city council because they want to place a plastic baby Jesus on their building (litigation is already pending). Also, keep an eye out for news of the the Supreme Court case Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, which will hear arguments on November 12th.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Chas S. Clifton

    It’s not really the INATS “West Coast” show because it is held in Denver.I attended in 2007 and 2008, and there was a lot of complaining about the drop in business between those two years.Don’t people want magic and woo-woo during hard time?

  • Erynn

    Wow, thank you for linking to my comments on the Obama election. That’s quite the crowd you have me associated with there. *bows, palms together*

  • urbanhellenistos

    actually, rural people have historically voted Democratic. (Says the urban Socialist.) Think about it: the Democratic party in the south, very dependent on slave labour — it was a Republican, Lincoln, who sealed the end of slavery. The Great Depression affected rural people the hardest, who were still a dominating population at the time, and kept electing FDR. Jimmy Carter, farmer, and (so far) the best democratic president in my lifetime. Bill Clinton grew up in rural Arkansas, poor, and went to college on scholarships (and unlike Palin, his rural Midwestern accent is genuine); aside from his wife’s pro-corporate influences, he’s actually a pretty hardline Democrat. John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, proudly rural and proudly Democratic.The Democratic party in the U$ didn’t start really attracting urban peoples until smaller localised Democratic parties took a nod from the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist parties being urban in nature (though I must point out that there is a HUGE difference between taking minor influence from X because it’s something that works, like Democrats adopting Labour Unions from Socialists, and being X; there are so many reason that Democrats are not Socialists that I can’t even turn on Fox News without getting a migraine). This fate was sealed when, in the late 1970s, Republicans began appealing to Evangelical Christians, “plain folk” and anti-intellectuals — three groups who, historically, have also been largely rural; Reagan successfully painted Carter as an “out of touch stuffed-shirt intellectual” in the 1980 campaign, sealing the first genuine recession since the Depression — forget the fact that Carter, who came from a rural background and simply got a good education, better understood the “plain folk” than his 1980 opponent, a former Hollywood actor born and raised in Los Angeles.The fact that Amerika is becoming less rural has nothing to do with it becomming more democratic with this election when one considers that, historically, Democrats have been rural.