Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 9, 2013 — 13 Comments

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

Fox News contributor Liz Trotta: "such disregard is deeply rooted in the extraordinary creeping paganism."

Fox News contributor Liz Trotta joins the paganism-as-slur chorus: “such disregard is deeply rooted in the extraordinary creeping paganism.”

  • I guess I should take this as confirmation that I was on the right track with my recent article on the world “paganism” being increasingly used as a slur. Political snark-blog Wonkette notices all the “pagan” talk too, most recently evidenced by Fox News Analyst Liz Trotta. Quote: “The only place where “paganism” seems to be making real gains, of course, is in wingnut rhetoric. In the good old days, it was “secular humanism” that was supposed to be taking over, but in recent years, these guys seem to be warning more and more about “paganism” — by which they seem to mean almost anything they have a faith-based excuse for disliking […] Fundies have always worried about anything they think might be occult or witchcraft — consider the freakouts over Harry Potter — but now the fear of a pagan planet seems to be increasingly seeping into garden-variety wingnut discourse like Trotta’s […]  It’s hard to get a sense of just how widespread this nutty “the pagans are coming” meme is, but it’s definitely out there.” The question for us capital-P Pagans is: how do we respond to this growing trend?
  • So, what happens when Christianity religiously dominates a state in Hindu-dominated India? Well, apparently you get Satanists. Quote: “Christian groups in India’s northeastern state of Nagaland are working to quell the rapid growth of Satanism after reports that thousands of teenagers from churches had taken up devil worship in recent months. The Vatican’s Fides news agency recently reported that more than 3,000 young “worshipers of Satan” have been identified in Nagaland’s capital of Kohima alone.” If you give people two choices, and only two choices, God or Satan, it seems inevitable that those unhappy with the Christian God will turn to his opponent. This is what happens when religious ecosystems are critically disrupted. 
  • Is the secular West heading into “a galloping spiritual pluralism?”Columnist David Brooks seems to endorse that future, one paraphrased from Charles Taylor, author of “A Secular Age.” Quote: “Orthodox believers now live with a different tension: how to combine the masterpieces of humanism with the central mysteries of their own faiths. This pluralism can produce fragmentations and shallow options, and Taylor can eviscerate them, but, over all, this secular age beats the conformity and stultification of the age of fundamentalism, and it allows for magnificent spiritual achievement.” Would modern Paganism be one of those achievements? 
  • The Fast Co.Design blog does a feature on the approval of the Thor’s Hammer for Veteran’s grave stones and markers. Quote: “To most of us, Mjölnir might bring to mind Jack Kirby’s trippy Marvel Comics Asgard, a rainbow-striped city of no fixed point in time. Or it might make us think of an armored Chris Hemsworth bellowing as he smashes his hammer down on Captain America’s raised shield. But it’s also a symbol that represents virtues so profoundly felt that two men lived and laid down their lives for it in service of their country. Great symbols resonate deeply within all of us, but each to our own unique frequency. That’s what makes them more powerful than even Mjölnir.” Yes, I’m quoted in the article. There are some things I personally would have changed, and I’m sure a Heathen representative from an organization like The Troth could have done a better job, but I think the piece overall is positive and sympathetic.
  • The Colorado Independent has an in-depth piece up about the murder of Tom Clements, head of the Colorado Department of Corrections, by former inmate Evan Ebel, and how the policy of long-term solitary confinement without re-integration may have damaged Ebel’s mental stability beyond repair. Quote: “’Forty-seven percent of these guys are walking right out of ad-seg into our communities,’ Clements told me in 2011. ‘Forty-seven percent. That’s the number that keeps me awake at night.’” I mentioned this case back in May due to revelations that Ebel had listed himself as an adherent to the Asatru faith. 
Graphic via The Globe and Mail.

Graphic via The Globe and Mail.

  • The Pew Forum analyzes Canada’s changing religious landscape, noting the growing of “other” religions and those who claim no religious identity at all. Quote: “The number of Canadians who belong to other religions – including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity – is growing. Collectively, these smaller religious groups account for more than one-in-ten Canadians (11%) as of 2011, up from not quite one-in-twenty (4%) in 1981. In addition, the number of Canadians who do not identify with any religion has been rising rapidly in recent decades, going from 4% in 1971 to nearly a quarter (24%) in 2011.” You can read my article on Canada’s census data, here
  • The Lancashire Constabulary has apologized after The Police Pagan Association acted on several complaints regarding allegations that Paganism might somehow be involved in a rash of “horse slashings” in the area. Quote: “We are aware that comments made to the Lancashire Evening Post recently suggesting that Pagans may be linked to attacks on horses has caused some offence. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who has been offended; this was certainly not our intention . The comments made are not a reflection of the views of Lancashire Constabulary as a whole. Lancashire Constabulary encourages an open and inclusive culture and celebrates the diversity of our workforce and communities.”This is not the first time that allegations like this have surfaced, and so far no mysterious cult or occult practitioner has been caught bothering or harming horses. It seems to come down to sensationalism and superstition. 
  • There are lots of reasons to not like the new “The Lone Ranger” film, but Tonto not being a Christian certainly shouldn’t be one of them. Right? Quote: “The new “Lone Ranger” film has been a critical and box office disappointment, but the fact that the Indian character “Tonto” is not a Christian has upset some Christian conservatives.” Also problematic: evil businessmen and daring to mention that our country slaughtered Native Americans. As I said, this is film is problematic for all sorts of reasons, but daring to show non-Christian faiths as heroic or positive shouldn’t be one of them. 
  • A challenge to Selma, California’s fortune telling ordinances was dismissed on ripeness grounds because the plaintiff never bothering trying to go through the process of getting a license. Quote: “In Davis v. City of Selma, (ED CA, July 2, 2013), a California federal district court dismissed on ripeness grounds various challenges to the city of Selma, California’s ordinance which requires “Fortune Tellers” to obtain a license in order to provide services within the city.  Plaintiff, a spiritual counselor, initially sought a business license under the Selma Municipal Code (“S.M.C.”), but never completed the application process because it was too restrictive.  Instead she sued claiming violations of her rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments and RLUIPA.” In legal matters, process is important, and if you don’t follow that process, your case can fall apart overnight. 
  • Suhag A. Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation analyzes the recent high-profile decision regarding yoga being taught at a public school, and whether that violated the separation of church and state. Shukla notes that what was being taught had all Hindu elements removed, and truly was free from religion. Quote: “While I haven’t read Judge Meyer’s ruling yet, media accounts indicate that our position is in consonance with his. Yoga is rooted in Hindu tradition, he reportedly said, but the “yoga” taught in Encinitas was stripped bare of all cultural references and even the Sanskrit names for poses, rendering it non-religious. I would go further to say that such asana based courses should not be called yoga. They are immensely helpful, and schools should embrace them, but yoga means so much more.”HAF has been on a campaign to “Take Yoga Back” and remind people that the practice did spring from Hindu religious culture.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “The Pagans are coming!”
    Yes we are. And?

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

    Nagaland Fun Facts:

    The percentage of Baptists in the Indian state of Nagaland is higher than in Mississippi (or any other U.S. southern state).

    The percentage of Christians in Nagaland is 50% higher than in England.

    Nagaland is home to a variety of Christian terrorist groups, the largest of which calls itself “National Socialists”.

    • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

      the Isak-Muivah wing of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM): officially on ceasefire with the government but still armed and campaining for a “Greater Nagalim for Christ” (including parts of Assam and Manipur), in 2010, they blocked for 65 days two essential supply roads to the neighbouring state of Manipur (Hindu/Animist majority) … their original ideology was a crude puritanical mixture of evangelicalism, nationalism and (today not important anymore) maoism; they received (receive?) support from China, Pakistan and from the religious right in the US … even weirder is the National Liberation Front of Tripura which is basically the armed wing of parts of the Baptist Churches in Tripura, they have successfully converted hundreds of villagers at gunpoint and – according to some reports – do finance their “struggle” by selling homemade porn movies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Liberation_Front_of_Tripura

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

        The maoism aspect might still be important. It is very likely that in addition to getting aid and support from both American evangelicals and the Pakistani ISI, the Christian terrorists of Nagaland also receive assistance from the People’s Republic of China. Christians and Maoists have a history of cooperation in Nepal, for example, against their common enemy: the Dharma.

        • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

          in case of most contemporary Maos in Nepal not the Dharma per se, but the normative state-Hinduism (up to 2008, all non-Hindus were de-facto 2nd or 3rd class ccitizens), it is quite common that people identify there as Maobodi (“Mao-Buddhist”), especially among supporters of the smaller NWPP but also among the mainstream Maoists … a couple of years ago, the Maos postponed a national day of protest in respect of an important traditional festival of the Kiranti people in Eastern Nepal … and since the mid-1980ies, Maoism is more an obstacle when you want to get help from China

  • Deborah Bender

    My flippant reaction to Christian Conservative handwringing about creeping paganism is that if these commentators call everyone who is in favor of sexual freedom and having a good time as a pagan, and identify themselves as the organized opposition to pleasure and nonconformity, that looks like good advertising for paganism and bad marketing for conservatives.

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

      I’ll drink to that.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        L’chaim!

  • Genexs

    “The Creeping Paganism”? Was not that one of the early Hammer horror movies in the ‘Quatermass’ series? No, wait, that was “The Creeping Unknown”. Oh, I’ve got it: “The Crawling Pagan”, the movie with Forest Tucker about the eye creatures that…darn, no, that was “The Crawling Eye”.

    But seriously, there’s a number of cases were people mesmerized by the various outlets of Right wing media have felt compelled to violent action (such as the Knoxville/UUA Church shooting). There clearly seems to be uptick in anti-Pagan rhetoric.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      It obviously means that numbers are up from ‘fringe’ to ‘minority’.

      • Genexs

        Yeah, and we are on their radar.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Well, they need to get the kicking in whilst they have numerical superiority. It shouldn’t be long before they lose that.

  • Crystal Hope Kendrick

    I thought the article on Mjolnir was well done. Thanks to the Fast Co. Design blog for writing such a sensitive and positive piece.