The Law of Mother Earth and other Pagan News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 13, 2011 — 83 Comments

Top Story: The Guardian reports that Bolivia, one of the countries hardest hit by global climate change, is planning to pass a law that would enshrine a list of rights held by nature. Called “The Law of Mother Earth” (la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra), it seeks to establish “a new relationship between man and nature” according to Vice-President Alvaro García Linera.

Evo Morales receiving the blessing of the Aymara priests.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

The Guardian notes that the law is partially inspired by an “Andean spiritual world view,” resurgent since the election of Evo Morales, the first fully indigenous president of Bolivia. In addition, Bolivia is pushing to have similar rights enshrined by the United Nations as well, just in time for Earth Day (aka International Mother Earth Day).

The UN debate begins two days before the UN’s recognition April 22 of the second International Mother Earth Day — another Morales-led initiative. Canadian activist Maude Barlow is among global environmentalists backing the drive with a book the group will launch in New York during the UN debate: Nature Has Rights. “It’s going to have huge resonance around the world,” Barlow said of the campaign. “It’s going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta.”

The Bolivian initiative already has backing from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, though it doesn’t seem likely many highly industrialized 1st-world nations will be joining up any time soon. Will climate crisis start to turn more countries towards an ethos of “wild law”? If it does, Bolivia will seem prescient. You can read the entirely of the new law (in Spanish), here (accurate translations welcome from anyone who has free time on their hands).

The Danger of Feminine Pronouns in Prayers: The New York Times reports that the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have accused Catholic theologian and nun Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson of violating church doctrine in her 2007 book “Quest For the Living God,” issuing a 21-page critique (plus introductory remarks) and recommending the book not be taught in Catholic universities due in part to her suggestion of using female imagery for God.

The passages drawing the harshest admonishment, however, concerned Sister Johnson’s proposal that feminine as well as masculine imagery be used in prayers referring to God, a recommendation that has been debated and rejected by the bishops before. Still, the book persisted, “all-male images of God are hierarchical images rooted in the unequal relation between women and men, and they function to maintain this arrangement.” Wrong, the bishops said: If the Gospels use masculine imagery, it is because divine revelation would have it that way. [...] Dr. Tilley, the Fordham theology chairman, described that argument as “approaching the incoherent.”

This fear of non-male pronouns isn’t isolated to the United States Bishops, baptisms using gender-neutral formulas for the Trinity were ruled invalid back in 2008 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the organization formerly known as the Inquisition), and in the “Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church” the current Pope opined that “I am, in fact, convinced that what feminism promotes in its radical form is no longer the Christianity that we know; it is another religion.” In short, calling God “she” or “her” (or even “it” I suppose) is tantamount to neo-paganism. Let’s not forget the PR fiasco that was the investigation of American religious sisters. As the New York Times piece puts it, the Catholic Church wants to put “the study of the male and female aspects of God [...] substantially off-limits.” It seems the risk of a Christian Goddess (other than Mary) emerging is too great to tolerate having students even think about God as a woman.

Marketing the Gods: With the Marvel Comics-inspired “Thor” movie coming out soon, religion e-zine Killing the Buddha features an essay by Eric Scott (a Wiccan and second-generation Pagan) about encountering Mjolnir at Wal-Mart.

“The truth is, I looked at the toys in my hands and I saw the result of millions of dollars of development and thousands of hours of manpower, put into something bearing the name of a god, my god, and it had nothing to do with me. Their Thor was a god forgotten by all except the few quiet geeks who read his adventures in Journey into Mystery andThe Mighty Thor for forty years. It wasn’t that they meant to upset or unsettle me; they simply realized that people like me were too few to matter. It’s impossible to think of a story about Jesus like this, not written to pander to or irritate Christians, but simply not considering them at all.”

I’ve praised Eric’s writing at this blog before, so let me simply say that the whole essay is worth a read. He also has a short story, “Reaching for Da’at”, up now at Caper Literary Journal.

The Danger of Vodou in Haiti: Two recent article look at anti-Vodou violence and hysteria in Haiti, a phenomenon that is responsible for killing over 40 Vodouisants that we know of. First, the Independent in Ireland gives an outsiders narrative, showing the fear that comes when tragedy is blamed on an innocent through accusations of “voodoo”.

“When cholera killed Dieufort Joesph’s neighbour last year, the 25-year-old feared for his young family’s safety. But the threat didn’t come from the disease. It came from the panic that spread through the narrow streets of Gonaives in north-western Haiti. Within days the rumours began — Mr Joesph had used voodoo to kill the girl. The quietly spoken market porter explained that for some of his neighbours, this meant he and his family must themselves be killed.”

Joseph, who hopes to move to new housing soon, acknowledges that the shack he currently lives in will most likely be burned down due to the accusations of malefic magic. Meanwhile, Haiti Libre reports on the first anniversary of the Haitian group “Religions for Peace,” formed in part to help counteract anti-Vodou violence.

Euvonie George Augustin, a great servant to the Confederation of voodoo and representative of the voodoo within “Religions for Peace”, explained that these attitudes “are the result of a lack of civic and religious education”. For her, the intolerance is a major source of violent behavior and calls on all Haitians to unite to change society, adding that “the next government must be able to rely on the participation of all sectors of the national life to be able to transform its campaign promises into reality.”

It seems that many eyes will be on incoming president Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly to help quell religious violence in Haiti, but will Protestant missionaries engaged in a zero-sum game of conversion allow him to turn down the anti-Vodou rhetoric?

When Will the AFA Be Accountable? Right Wing Watch wonders at what point the American Family Association will take responsibility for the increasingly extreme statements from Bryan Fischer, their Director of Issues Analysis, radio host, and blogger.

“So we know that when Fischer says that Native Americans deserved to be wiped out, African Americans rut like rabbits, and Muslims need to convert to Christianity, he absolutely believes it, even if the AFA later changes it. [...] The AFA cannot place a disclaimer on Fischer’s bigoted rantings claiming that his views do not reflect the views of the AFA and, at the same time, keep editing his posts in an effort to distance the organization from his bigotry … especially not when they are also giving him two hours a day to spout that same bigotry on their radio program. The AFA either needs to own up and take responsibility for the relentless steam of bigotry that pours from the organization’s Director of Issue Analysis and most prominent spokesperson or cut ties with him altogether … because, frankly, the only way the AFA can legitimately claim that Fischer’s bigotry does not reflect the views of the AFA is if the organization actually stops giving him the platforms from which to spew that bigotry.”

Fischer, for those who haven’t been keeping track, claims the Establishment Clause only applies to Christians, that Native Americans are mired in alcoholism and poverty because they won’t all become Christians, and believes the environmental movement is a stalking horse for Paganism. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those are some of the milder opinions he seems to hold. I’m curious at what point does conservative Christian rhetoric cross a line to where even supporters turn away? Perhaps Right Wing Watch will finally find the answer.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.facebook.com/OberonWhitethorn James Russell Rusty Broach

    Well in honesty if your Catholic you worship one god whom is a male. So yeah I can understand their point of view here, if the worshiper doesn't like it they can join another faith.

    • Sarah

      Except that there is evidence that many of the words used for God in the original languages of the Bible are not specifically male. Some of them are said to indicate both male and female. I knew a minister once who led a prayer calling to father/mother God and he did mean the Christian one. I'll agree that the current perception is that the Judeo-Christian God is male but I think they are being ridiculous in barring discussion.

      • Shallot

        I was at a Catholic university about ten years ago, and my theology professor specifically pointed out the feminine connotations that were lost in time and translation. We once spent an entire session hashing out a gender-neutral interpretation of the Christian Trinity (God the Creator instead of God the Father, for example). It softened a lot of barriers I'd had towards Christianity. Now I'm wondering whether the Catholics have pulled back sharply in the last decade, or if I managed to find a radically liberal teacher in a dusty corner of the Bible Belt.

        • http://jakejackson.wordpress.com Skye

          Yeah, well Benedict XVI hasn't been / isn't going to be very liberal any time soon.

      • Fire

        Father/Mother God is a term used by the Christian Science Church.

        Sarah wrote:

        "I knew a minister once who led a prayer calling to father/mother God and he did mean the Christian one."

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

        Yes–precisely. (Of course,some of the original words used for "God" in Hebrew are also plural in number, and all branches of the religions of That Book have been ducking and weaving on acknowledging that one for quite some time.)

        Of course, there's also the Genesis account that specifies that God created man in his (and by a pretty clear implication, her) own image: male and female created he them. You'd think that would be a little tougher to explain away… but apparently not.

        It is a clearer implication in some translations than in others. (I wonder why. Surely, no political considerations could have been applied?)

    • Rhoanna

      Except that's not entirely accurate. What's notable about the bishops' pronouncement is that it's a new development, as the article makes clear. Discussions about pronouns for God, or hir gender, had been acceptable in Catholicism. Even the Catechism of the Catholic church includes such dicussion:

      "God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. the language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. [...] We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father."

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        The sentence "He is neither man nor woman" succinctly expresses the incoherence of the Church's position.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      "Well in honesty if your Catholic you worship one god whom is a male. So yeah I can understand their point of view here, if the worshiper doesn't like it they can join another faith."

      On the one hand it might look like Catholics are just being inconsistent and trying to have it both ways. But there is a logic to this. In fishing terminology it's called "playing the fish". You give the fish some line and let it tire itself out, then you reel it in. If the fish starts to resist too much while you are reeling it in, you give it some more line until it gets tired again. Repeat as necessary. The important thing is that the fish stay on the hook. "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Mark 1.17

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

        Well, I suspect the inconsistency is based on who you're asking: scholars or politicians. Catholicism has both. But it does seem quite clear that there is an element of cynical suppression of Biblically-justified inquiry at work.

      • Pagan Puff Pieces

        But they used nets.

  • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

    it seeks to establish “a new relationship between man and nature”

    Which is wonderful. Women, however, are still invisible. Really, would it be so difficult to say, "between humans and nature"?

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

      because in this case "man" is gender neutral. This is something we've kind of lost in the english language, but in the older Germanic form there was "man" and "Mann". One meant a Man or the Male gender, and the other simply stood for Mandkind/Humanity in a gender neutral way. English speakers have simply combined the two into "man" and thus it can refer to both the gender and the general population. So when you read on older document saying that "all men are created equal" or something like that, it's literally using the general, nutral meaning of the ancient word and thus referring to everyone.

      no need to feel left out because you are a woman, you are a member of the race of "mann"

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        In modern English there really is no justification for the old argument that "man embraces woman". It just aint so. There are instances where anything other than "man" is klunky sounding, but this certainly isn't one of them. And even in those cases one has to question just how much weight should be put on aesthetics.

        And, besides, language is not static, nor is it handed down from on high. Human beings are constantly tinkering with our languages, and we (both consciously and unconsciously) alter language to reflect our values, beliefs and experiences.

        The example that you use, NorseAlchemist, actually works against you. History has made it very clear that the phrase "All men are created equal," was not inclusive of women. In fact, it was not even intended to be inclusive of all men.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        I second Apuleius. People who are serious about gender inclusiveness have avoided the generic "man" for some time — decades in my case — and feel on firm ground to criticize those who use it for gender-exclusive language. I always try to transpose to a verbally smooth expression in replacement of the generic "man" both to fit my own seriousness about my words and as an example to those who can benefit from one.

        • finnchuillsmast

          'Humanity' is a pleasingly smooth word.

      • Ursyl

        That would be why women had the right to vote from the start of the American experiment, eh?

      • Nick_Ritter

        That's not exactly accurate, but the gist is there. "Man" in early Germanic languages does indeed mean something like "human", not necessarily "adult male." The term for "adult male" was "wer", as opposed to "wîf", meaning "adult female."

        The distinction is exactly the same as Latin "homo" and "vir" vs. "femina".

    • Fire

      Well, The Doctor, uses the terms stupid apes. After reading the news, sometimes I'm not sure that he's far off with that.

  • Fire

    "one of the countries hardest hit by global climate change, is planning to pass a law that would enshrine a list of rights held by nature."

    Okay, I'm predicting the Christian Dominionists will be having a hissy fit over this.

  • Om.

    "la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra" translates as The Law of the Rights of the Mother Earth.

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

      Am I the only one wondering why Father Sky is being left out of all this?

      • Vanye

        Perhaps its because very few people feel the Sky Father is being abused in the ways that Mother Earth is?

        Many of the pagans I've met feel uncomfortable with the Sky Father, being too close (in their minds) to the view of the Christian god, and perhaps that has a bit of an influence on it as well.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          A sufficiently (literally) global view of Mother Earth sees the atmosphere as part of Her skin. And it certainly is being abused — greenhouse gases, ozone depletion and fallout (not just from Japan at the moment; fallout from surface nuclear tests is still up there, coming down on us all the time).

  • Andras Corban-Arthen

    "God is our father; even more, he is our mother." Pope John Paul I, about a month before his sudden death, 33 days into his papacy. Makes one wonder what might have been…

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Yeah, I remember John Paul I. After he died a friend of mine quipped, "I wonder if the next Pope will be named George Ringo I?"

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        A reporter friend suggested "John Paul John Paul" for a successor inspired by all three predecessors.

        I liked how JP1 handled the birth of the first test-tube baby: First welcoming her into the world, and then raising the question if this technology was necessary.

    • saffronrose

      I remember a quip that said something like God finally cast Her vote, and brought him home. I hope not–I think he might have made a more modern pope than his successors.

      • Sue

        Ratzinger's a nightmare that's for sure – right back to the dark ages IMO

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    When I first read "The Gaia Hypothesis" I never dreamed I'd see in my lifetime the rights of the Earth as a living entity become national policy anywhere, let alone part of UN politics.

    • Fire

      Don't worry. As long as the Security Council has a veto, it won't.

  • Amanda

    I have a Jewish friend who's told me that in the original Hebrew, God is referred to as either male, female, or both, depending on the "aspect" of God one is referring to (if God is taking on a masculine or feminine role). He said that the "correct" view of God is that it is above and beyond the human concept of gender, and gendering God is just a way for our puny minds to understand God, or something like that.

    But yeah, this is Catholics we're talking about, and my Jewish friend even admits that Judaism has some room for improvement on this.

    As for la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, this sounds a lot to me like Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic, which was written in 1949, with just more of a spiritual spin put on it. I wish more people knew about it. It's way better, IMO, than The Gaia Hypothesis. Leopold practically invented the modern science of ecology.

  • Yvonne Rathbone

    That's good to know about Johnson. I have her "Quest For A Living God" and have skimmed it. I'm always a little wary of Christian authors not knowing whether to treat them along the spectrum from hostile to my very existence to just amiably misguided about the supposed superiority of their own religion. But if the Bishops don't like her work, that's definitely a point in her favor. Especially given the fact that her ideas do indeed descend from orthodoxies within the Church, the fact that the Bishops feel threatened means she's at least doing something interesting.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Jennifer, I share your curiosity but am somewhat optimistic. I've seen in my lifetime the law of the USA adjusted to fully include urban voters, then Blacks, then women and now (still in process) BGLTs. Though the injustices rectified were deep, the enduring adjustments of the law proved to be marginal and primarily consist of inhibiting traditional discrimination under color of law. (I qualify with "enduring" because the de facto pro-tem federal seizure of Southern election boards under the Voting Rights Act was not, by any measure, marginal.) I am therefore optimistic that "wild law" will also be a matter mostly of adjustment, in part because there are living people whose folkways already incorporate "wild law" and can serve as models. The (hopefully transient) shock to the system will be the notion of treating such folkways with respect instead of contempt, but that was part of the previous legal (r)evolutions too. (For the latest, see Scalia's dissent on the abolition of anti-sodomy laws.)

    • Jennifer Parsons

      The only issue I have with your examples is that they are all of other human beings– people who established their "personhood" after long campaigns of shocking said system. And their shocks were done in a way that people were easily able to identify. If anything, the opponents of agitarors for Blacks, urban voters, women ,and the sexual minority community invariably had the word "unnatural" used to deride them and their demands. Even when more legal rights were attained for animals, it was by humanizing their suffering.

      I have no idea if this can be done by the law at all– at least by secular law in a country like the United States. I know very little about the worldview of the Andes people that influenced Boliva's law, but even the most peaceable and well-meaning society has its own members' best interests at heart.

      How will non-human entities speak for themselves, be represented in the laws, when humanity can barely understand them? The only way I can see is through scientific observation and experimentation; everything else would have to count as Personal Unverified Gnosis.

      Of course, I'm just unraveling a thread here; I clearly need to read up on the concept of wild law.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Moving beyond categories of humans is not so unlike my earlier examples because at least in some cases the benefitting cohort was not classified as human before the reform. That being said, it would indeed be harder for the USA than Bolivia to apply indigenous wisdom to the law because indigenous peoples here are so brutally marginalized.

        Scientific orientation is all well and good — it's served me very well — but I think for most people what's needed is a spiritual awakening to the sacredness of nature, the wonder of the interconnected web. That's something that comes to each person as it will, or not at all.

        The UN proceedings should be interesting.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    "… re-institution of the prayer for the conversion of the Jews to be said at the Good Friday liturgy …"

    WTF?
    HFS!
    ZOMG.
    JTDC.

    • http://vsf.blogs.com/ Victoria Slind-Flor

      you can read all about it here: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/inde

      Even though I am no longer in communion with Rome, as we say, I find this incredibly embarrassing, insulting and terribly damaging to interfaith relationships.

      • saffronrose

        My jaw dropped several feet when I read your comment–I agree with what you have just written. Incredibly bad move, but I was afraid when Ratzinger was elected, that the Catholic church would be moving backward in time. I didn't think about this particular move then.

        And they wonder why people are leaving/not joining in droves? No one else does.

      • paosirdjhutmosu

        …What.

        "When we Christians offer this prayer, we are not showing contempt for Jews, but love. Loving our neighbors means wanting what is best for them, and we know that what is best for the Jewish people, in the long run, is incorporation into the Body of Christ: membership in the Church, which offers, in the sacraments, the sure means of attaining salvation. If we failed to pray for the conversion of Jews, that would be a sign of our indifference or worse. "

        I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds this simultaneously creepy-sounding and patronizing.

  • Don

    Why is the Earth a "mother?"

  • Don

    You gender-essentialist bastard. Are women only baby factories to you? Hm?!

    (Before someone flips, this is in jest…)

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      I didn't see that coming. But I was all prepared for you or someone else to throw Zeus giving birth to Athena and Dionysos in my face. Zeus is a freak. A Superfreak.

      • Don

        Honestly, I didn't even think of those examples. I'm a bad pagan.

      • Jennifer Parsons

        Didn't Zeus only give birth to those two because he was essentially a substitute womb, though, or do I have my sources crossed?

        • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

          Yes, Zeus cheated. He could not have done it without Semele in the case of Dionysos and Metis in the case of Athena. But in both cases he still "bore" the children himself, and at least in Dionysos' case there are traditions that explicitly call both Zeus and Semele the mothers, plural, of Dionysos.

      • http://witchesandscientists.blogspot.com Gene

        True, but let's not forget "The Hand of Atum". Atum pleasured himself to create other Gods and Goddesses. Or else he spit them out or blew them out of his nose, if you don't prefer NSFW versions.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Don, the anthropological fact is that indigenous peoples (including our ancestors) overwhelmingly elect to image the Earth as female, no doubt for the reason Apuleius alludes to. Some of this imagery may go back so far as to precede the discovery of paternity. No one is obligated to adopt this imagery but one would be a real outlier to do otherwise.

      • Rev

        I'm a Kemetic Pagan, and a follower of Geb, the ancient Egyptian god of the earth. He is very enthusiastically male. I get extremely annoyed constantly hearing about "mother" earth, and I know I'm not the only one.

        • Jason Pitzl-Waters

          Well, for the Bolivians, who wrote the document in question, the earth is Pachamama (Mother Earth). If Kemetic Pagans want to write a similar statement, I'd have no trouble with them invoking Geb.

          • Rev

            Good for them. I'm still annoyed that the earth is ONLY EVER referred to in female terms, by pagans and non-pagans alike. I am not just talking about this document, I'm talking about every environmental discussion ever.

          • grimmorrigan

            You believe the Earth is Male, other believe it is female. Why are you annoyed that most people feel the Earth is female?

        • paosirdjhutmosu

          I'm also a Kemetic, and find it odd hearing about "mother Earth". It took me some getting used to to look at the earth as a father and the sky as a mother, and even now, it's a bit odd, considering the other folks saying "mother" earth. Harder to get around than seeing the moon as a god instead of a goddess. (That transition was quite easy— transition, because I started off as an eclectic Pagan devoted to Hathor and gradually drifted into Kemetism.)
          However, I can also see why a lot of other cultures seem to refer to the earth as a mother. It leads me to wonder why Geb is a god and not a goddess. I wonder if it has something to do with the climate of Egypt and the role of the Nile. As long as nobody says "Mother Geb", and tries to pass that off as Egyptian/Kemetic I'm cool with that.

      • Rombald

        There are pagan cultures that do not have a Mother Earth. Rev gives the example of ancient Egypt. Another is Shinto – the sun is female, and there are other gods and goddesses, and minor deities of localities, but there isn't really an overall figure, male or female, for the earth. It has crossed my mind if this is is part of the reason why Japan, despite being pagan, is not environmentally friendly.

        Also, the concept of mother earth exists even in the Bible – there's the passage in Job – "naked we return unto the womb of the mother or all things". I don't know whether that was borrowed from a pagan culture, but I once read an IB Singer novel, in which the Jewish readers couldn't understand that passage, because they had no mother-earth concept.

        • Rev

          Excuse me? Japan rated #20 on last year's Environmental Performance Index. That's out of 163 countries. The Japanese recycling system is extremely efficient. Less than 20% of their solid waste goes to landfills; compare that to the United States' 70%. Japanese 7-Eleven's are switching to LED lights and solar power. Solar-powered vending machines are being installed around the country. Reusable bags are catching on, as well. I could keep going, but I don't have all night. Yes, more improvements could still be made, but "not environmentally friendly"?

          Also, in Shinto, nature itself is sacred. Rivers, trees, mountains… they ALL have spirits. No "overall figure" is necessary.

          • Rombald

            Well, I live in Japan. Maybe I was too clearcut with my "not environmentally friendly". There are good and bad points, but it does not offer strong support for the claim that Abrahamic religions are responsible for the environmental crisis, etc.

            It is true that Japan's recycling system is good. It is also true that a lot of the country is forested, and it has more wildlife than most densely populated countries.

            On the other hand, there is an obsession with unnecessary construction. Rivers, even in rural areas, are culverted in concrete. It is difficult to find coasts without concrete tripods. There is a control freakery in the attitude to nature (although I wonder how much of this is due to the fact that nature is more hostile here than in many parts of the world). That's not even starting on whaling, destructive fishing, and the insatiable demand for tropical timber, and use of rare animal products in crafts, medicines, etc.

          • Rombald

            Anyway, I was mainly just giving an example of a paganism without a mother earth (or a father earth, for that matter).

  • http://jakejackson.wordpress.com Skye

    The Thor movie really pisses me off, especially as a Thorsman. I don't want to see my patron God portrayed in such a way. What ever happened to his epithet "Deep Souled One"? I predict another drunken brawler portrayal. The sad thing is that I will probably end up watching the movie anyway.

    • Bubba C

      As both a Thorsman & a major comic book geek, I have no problem with this movie (Marvel has always treated Thor as an awesome hero).

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

      None of the previews I've seen have made him look like a drunken brawler, though let us be honest and admit that Thor did get into his share of drunken brawls.

      I'm a folkish Asatruar, and I personally don't have a problem with this Movie or the Merchandising that's going with it. I read the article by the guy who found the Hammer in the toy aisle and was offended, and frankly it seems that the root of his issue was more the capitalistic nature of the toy, rather than any true slight towards our Gods. Thor certainly hasn't complained to me about feeling slighted, and I still find it laughable that the writer complained about plastic toys (which I'm sure some lucky children will receive, and perhaps in a time of need call upon our gods for aid through them, awakening them to our ancient way) but says not a single word anywhere about them giving The Gatekeeper a "race lift." I myself shall wait and see how that turns out, with judging, but the fact he doesn't mention or complain about that, but will rail against a toy, shows me he cares not for the Gods, but only about the money.

      Are we as the Muslims, to scream and shout when our gods are given image? Will you riot in the streets and declare death to the non-believers? This is not the ways of our people, nor of our gods. This movie is art, not blasphemy, these toys are things that may lead new generations to our ways, not things to be cursed. Let these toys be the idols of our generation, let us take this movie as a small tribute to our gods if it is good, and ignore it if is bad.

      • Fire

        As a Modernist Asatruar and Pagan Liberation Theologist, when it's time to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war will be when the non-believers declare death on us.

        NorseAlchemist wrote:

        "Are we as the Muslims, to scream and shout when our gods are given image? Will you riot in the streets and declare death to the non-believers?"

        • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

          Fire, I will join you when they declare death to us, but this is a Movie, not an attempt by Christian, Jew, or Muslim to wipe us from the face of the earth.

          The simple fact is that if we wish to prove ourselves honorable, just, and noble people as followers of the Northern Gods and Goddesses, we must act with maturity and wisdom. So what if they have made plastic images of what they think our gods look like and sell them? Do you think the craftsmen of our ancestors who carved the images of our gods gave them away for free? So what if their image isn't what your image is? So what if they make a bit of money off of a toy that looks like one of our Gods or their weapons? It matters not to the Gods. They have not come down and plagued the movie with problems, nor have the lain divine wrath upon those that have bought them.

          You think the Gods are angry at this capitalism? I think they rejoice in it. They certainly never complained when our ancestors got rich. I don't think they will become angry just because some corporation has created merchandise about a movie that is loosely based upon our Gods. And if they do, well, they don't need us, their children, rioting in the streets. Unless, of course, you think Thor isn't God enough to smite those he wants too.

      • http://jakejackson.wordpress.com Skye

        Yes, but then again I really have no problem with a different race for Heimdall because that doesn't change who he actually is, as a God. I guess I'm just overly defensive when it comes to Thor, it's not that huge of a deal, but it still doesn't sit right with me.

        And as for the amount of drunken brawls: I like to keep in mind that the mythology was written by skalds, who in all probability held Odin and his poetic mysteries in higher regard than Thor. As we can see in the lay of Harbard. (I was always a bigger fan of Alvissmal, myself)

        Anyway, none of this was intended to offend and I'm truely sorry if I did bruise anybody's ego.

      • Sarah

        I think you read a different essay than the one linked. The one I saw was lighthearted, humorous, and yet contemplative – a glimpse into a thought-process, not a rant or "railing against" anything by any stretch. Honestly, I think you read what you wanted or perhaps what you expected to read and not what was written.

        • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com NorseAlchemist

          No, I read the same one, it just came across differently for me than it did for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

    "It’s impossible to think of a story about Jesus like this, not written to pander to or irritate Christians, but simply not considering them at all."

    Not impossible at all, Eric, I knew plenty of Christians who felt their views of their god were excluded/ignored by "The Passion of the Christ".

    • grimmorrigan

      Yup. I know a few who thought the whole thing was a snuff film made to generate anger, much like passion plays did in the Middle Ages. They criticized the lack of message and focus on teachings and the shift from Promise to Fullfillment that Jesus represented to them. No single piece of media will be all thigns to all people.
      I can only wonder. With so many folks upset with Thor's new movie, how many are upset with how "Adventure's In Babysitting" presented him?

  • http://godsrbored.blogspot.com anne johnson

    It's kind of a shame that we will all be in the Summerlands two thousand years from now when the blockbuster movie will feature Armageddon Jesus (he of the comic books) and his Terrible Swift Sword.

    The way Eric Scott feels about Thor? That's how I feel about mining in Appalachia. It's like the people there don't exist at all — the only thing important is the fuel.

    • saffronrose

      I agree with you about coal mining ANYwhere. Lots of songs out there about coal mine deaths and destruction. "Clean" coal, my foot.

      • Fire

        As opposed to safe nuclear energy?

        saffronrose wrote:

        "I agree with you about coal mining ANYwhere. Lots of songs out there about coal mine deaths and destruction. "Clean" coal, my foot."

        • saffronrose

          Yeah, that illusion. While I think coal mining is an evil we can do without, the destruction caused by either the Chernobyl or the Fukishima reactors is much farther reaching, for decades and generations. The Fukishima reactors were much more modern and equipped with more failsafes than the Chernobyl ones, but Japan is a much smaller country than the surroundings of Chernobyl. Having that area uninhabitable for decades and generations, with the attendant spread of effects will be a great strain for Japan, even as other areas are affected.

          That's two nuclear disasters within 70 years for them.

          • Fire

            Well Chernobyl had the advantage of happening in the Soviet Union. I was shocked as all get out they even admitted that Chernobyl had occurred.

            I'd be more accepting of surface coal mining in the Western United States if we actually had a government that would make them do proper repair and restoration after the extraction was done and not let them weasel out of it after the coal removal. leaving the land scarred and damaged.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    "Fischer [...] believes the environmental movement is a stalking horse for Paganism."

    Actually, I think it is, without evangelical effort on anyone's part. It just happens.

    • grimmorrigan

      The whole " Don't crap where you eat" concept is a valid one in terms of the terrestial and spiritual world.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Not irremediably, Rombald. In many instances the collective "man" can be replaces with the word "folk." Having the same single syllable it can retain the rhythm of the phrase of which it is a part.

  • Ursyl

    So when I was taught in CCD and in the adult ed conversations after Mass that God is beyond gender, I was being lied to?

    I've even been told that in recent years. Is that deity beyond gender or not?

    Clearly not.

  • Eric Scott

    As before, I am very grateful for the mention. This has been kind of a whirlwind week for me.

  • saffronrose

    Re: The Danger of Feminine Pronouns in Prayers

    The New Oxford Revised Standard Bible's 2010 Fourth Edn. has removed all the gender neutral or feminine references to YHWH, according to one comment I read. I had decided I needed a decently scholastic bible for reference, and the only one I was interested in was the one Prof. Tolkien had worked on (translations, I believe). I purchased The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Augmented Third Edition, New Revised Standard Version. My friend the Classics scholar and IT journalist pronounced it full enough of the various Apocrypha that are often not included. The linguistic notes are very thorough in their explanations of original meanings of certain controversial words and phrases.

    How can you say something is very dangerous, such as feminine nouns in prayers and feminist thought, when you have so little regard for those who produce those things?

    It's like saying that St. John's Wort is drug-free–if it works, then the active ingredient(s) is/are drugs. It is more accurate to say that it is not a synthesized medication. Either something has power, or it does not.

    Women obviuosly have the power to scare those "wall-guarded old men" who are working the letter, not the spirit of the Law that radical peace-nik laid down 2000 years ago.

  • Bev

    My hubby is from Honduras and has done some semi-official document translation (into Spanish) for the city of Philadelphia said he'd give translating "La Ley" a shot later tonight when he gets home from work.

  • Daniel

    This really doesn't surprise me in terms of Catholicism, which has a long history of hypocrisy, bigotry, as well as crimes against humanity. This is the same Church the burned people at the stake, destroyed cultures, and, of course, goes on a diatribe against homosexuality while simultaneously hiding child molesters and condoning it on all levels of leadership! It surprises me there hasn't been a case brought before the UN regarding the leadership's atrocities/crimes against humanity. Furthermore, their misogynistic views are another sticking point that needs remedying. The list goes on.

    As for Mother Earth–no problems there :)

  • http://www.edgetocenter.com Sarah Twichell

    Readers have probably noticed this already on another Pagan Newswire Collective blog, but just in case, here's a translation of Bolivia's proposed law: http://nature.pagannewswirecollective.com/2011/04

  • Fire

    You can also 'fish' with poison and dynamite. That kind of fits with the methods you've enumerated below.

    That's the problem, some people don't follow the rules of fair chase when fishing. Those people shouldn't be allowed to fish.

    Apuleius wrote in response to: "But they used nets."

    "Playing the fish" was not part of the repertoire of early Christians, who were not big on subtlety. Their style of interfaith dialogue was more in-your-face (smashing idols, cutting down sacred groves, that sort of thing).

  • Jennifer Parsons

    Excellent, Sarah! I should have thought to check No Unsacred Place. Thanks for the link.