Here’s a few quick news notes to start off your Monday.
The Passing of a Poet: The New York Times has posted an obituary of poet Janine Pommy Vega, who passed away on December 23rd due to a heart attack. Vega was an intimate of several Beat Generation writers, most notably Peter Orlovsky, who was once her lover. Among the Goddess community, she may be most famous for her 1997 book “Tracking the Serpent,” a memoir and travelogue of “pilgrimages to sites of female spiritual and temporal power.”
Following on this touchingly understated tragedy is the book’s spiritual turning point: a near-fatal car crash. During her months of convalescence, she happens on a book about the female images of the ancient Celts: the owl-eyed goddess, the mother/protector, the huntress in her antler mask. She responds to their Jungian echo of millennia of creative female voices; they symbolize her fight to put her broken mind and body back together. They are also the seed of her travels. “As I read into the early-morning hours,” she recounts, “an owl began calling at my window. Slowly the idea coalesced of making a pilgrimage to the ancient sites . . . I needed to reaffirm something in me that felt ripped apart and empty.”
Thus begin years of introspective journeying. Vega visits the ancient sites where the goddess was worshipped: Glastonbury, Silbury, and Avebury in England, the high hills of Ireland, the shrine of the Virgin in Chartres Cathedral. She studies Vedic myth in desolate Himalayan temples, explores the earth cults of the Andes, participates in a yage ceremony in Peru, where believers coax visions from the potent, peyote-like hallucinogen ayahuasca. Fascinated by the survival of these ancient, poetic faiths in remote agricultural regions across the globe, she becomes both scholar and mystic — a Boddhisatva seeking an image of herself among the ruins.
New York Times Discovers the Green Dragon: The NYT’s Green blog looks in on the growing evangelical Christian backlash against environmentalism, referencing the fear-mongering “Resisting the Green Dragon” video series. According to “green dragon” promoter Calvin Beisner, Christians who support environmental causes, and admit the reality of global warming, “probably did not understand the science,” and that Christian “creation care” is “infected by the false worldview and theology of secular and pagan religious environmentalism.”
“Mr. Beisner, a former professor of theology and a ruling elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, argued that the science is still unsettled on whether greenhouse gases are warming the climate and that projections of dangerous human-driven warming in the future are flawed and unreliable. But an “Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming” on the Cornwall Alliance’s Web site urges all evangelicals to accept that recent global warming is natural and that mankind is incapable of altering the climate.”
We’re incapable of altering the climate! God is in control! All who say differently are secularists or Pagans! Never mind the fact that humanity has been altering the climate for thousands of years, or that major climate change skeptics have been doing about faces recently. Even if you happen to believe that climate change has little or nothing to do with humanity, to audaciously endorse that we do nothing, that we continue as if everything will work out, is to turn a blind eye to the damage climate change is already doing to the world. Every inane joke about blizzards and global warming (refusing to distinguish weather from climate) simply reinforces how uniformed we truly are, and how insulated most of us are from the problems these changes in the climate are causing.
Who’s Invited to Benedict’s Interfaith Pilgrimage? In 1986 a massive interfaith gathering convened by Pope John Paul II was held in Assisi, Italy in order to foster peace and dialog between different faiths. Since then the yearly event has become something of a political football within Catholicism, loved by the Catholic left, and often reviled by the Catholic right. The current Pope, since his days as Cardinal Ratzinger, has been a vocal critic of the gatherings. In 2005, most likely spurred by false rumors spread by an Italian journalist saying the Franciscans allowed “African animists to slaughter chickens on the altar of the basilica of Santa Chiara, and American redskins to dance in the church,” (a rumor shamelessly repeated by Rod Dreher) Pope Benedict XVI removed autonomy from the Franciscans of Assisi. Now, with the 25th anniversary of the gathering approaching, Benedict says he’ll be attending “as a pilgrim” and is calling for “all men of good will” to attend.
Celebrating World Peace Day on Saturday, Benedict said that he would travel as a pilgrim to Assisi in October, inviting Christians of other confessions, leaders of other world faiths “and, ideally, all men of good will, to recall the historic gesture sought by my predecessor and to solemnly renew the commitment of the faithful of all religious to live their own religious faith as a service for the cause of peace.”
So now we get down to it. Who, exactly, will be attending? How many polytheists, animists, and non-monotheists will be in attendance? Will any indigenous religious leaders show up? What about any of the Pagans serving as trustees for The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (Andras Corban-Arthen, Phyllis Curott, and Angie Buchanan)? Would they be allowed to come if they wanted? Could they rub shoulders with the pilgrim Pope? Will the man who predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic Church’s main enemy this century, and that native populations were “silently longing” for conversion truly allow himself to be on equal ground with other non-Christian religions? I’ll be paying close attention to this issue, as we approach October.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!