Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 20, 2013 — 61 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.

I want to begin this week’s edition of Unleash the Hounds with a quick announcement. Columnist Teo Bishop will be stepping down from his position at The Wild Hunt effective immediately. I sat down to speak with Teo personally on Tuesday, and we both agreed that his spiritual journey had changed his relationship with modern Paganism, and that it would be best if he concentrated his writing at his personal site, and on the Huffington Post. I count Teo as a personal friend, and I truly wish him the best in his journey, wherever it may lead him. I thank him for a year’s worth of thought-provoking and insightful columns.

Now then, on to the links.

Olivia Robertson

Olivia Robertson

  • First off, I have to say I’m hugely disappointed that Get Religion allowed themselves to write an utterly disrespectful post about the recently passed Olivia Robertson of the Fellowship of Isis. I had no idea that critiquing religion journalism included mocking the dead, and involving yourself directly in the story (thanks to a major conflict of interest). They call the Fellowship a cult, use scare quotes, and then try to excuse their behavior as an exercise in promoting better journalism. Get Religion, which once pretended to be interested in fair coverage for all faiths, has now degraded into a conservative Christian organ concerned more with press coverage of gay marriage and abortion than anything else. I will, from now on, treat Get Religion as a hostile outlet when compiling links.
  • Right Wing Watch profiles yet another Christian book that slurs modern Paganism as a pathway to Satanism, sexual hedonism, neo-Nazism, and demonic control. Quote: “I think my further descent into hell started with an occult sex ritual that I engaged in” with “a gay cabal of male witches,” where he had group sex with a man with “the head of a goat or ram.” There’s so much crazy material, they felt it deserved a follow-up post. If you want to see where communication between evangelical Christians and modern Pagans is damaged, look no further than this industry of destructive propaganda.
  • Is the Church of England doomed to extinction in a generation? One commentator argues that if it is, it only has itself to blame. Quote: “Among younger people the picture is different. Indifference diminishes, and is partly replaced by a belief that the church is actively malevolent. Whereas only 12% of the over-40s regard the church as a negative force in society, this proportion nearly doubles – to 21% – among the under-24s. This is almost entirely a result of the policies actively pursued by Lord Carey as archbishop of Canterbury and then passively continued by his successor, Rowan Williams.”
  • Was Thomas Jefferson a Unitarian? James Ford explores the question. Quote: “Jefferson had been raised an Anglican and retained a pew at his local Episcopal church to the end of his life. He, however, rarely attended services at that church. And his writings revealed his spiritual life had journeyed far from the wisdom of Canterbury. Both of the sometimes allies, sometimes enemies and by the end of their lives deepest friends, Adams and Jefferson wrote of their scorn for all things neoPlatonic, for every sort of priest craft, and, instead their admiration for applying reason to all things, including religion, and that religious sentiments were meant to be applied in this life as ethical principles.”
Carlton Gebbia

Carlton Gebbia

  • Carlton Gebbia, resident Wiccan on reality television program “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills,” is apparently fulfilling her quotient of requisite outrageousness and drama. Expect lots of ink on Gebbia in our witch-crazed pop-culture moment. Oh, and here’s a profile in People. So, expect questions about Wicca from the relatives this Thanksgiving!
  • Salon.com explores the complicated racial politics of American Horror Story: Coven. Quote: “For me, inclusion is paramount — inclusion in the zeitgeist, inclusion in the ongoing dialogue of pop culture, inclusion into whatever specific, fucked-up world is being created for the sake of entertainment. To me, “Coven” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” are similar in that, not only do they both openly and expansively acknowledge black people’s place in American history, they also allow for their black characters to get their hands dirty — even bloody — actively participating in that history at its most sordid.”
  • Author Sally Green is being heralded as the next Stephanie Myer or JK Rowling after she signed a million-dollar deal for a series of witchcraft themed fantasy novels. Quote: “The black and white witches in Half Bad are divided by rivallry but united in their fear of a boy called Nathan, who has ancestry on both sides and is “wanted by no one; hunted by everyone”. Green said she never really believed she could write, but after embarking upon the novel’s draft found herself “staying up until 2am just writing”. Penguin acquired the novel earlier this year and predicts it will have the Twilight effect for witches…”

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

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  • gary p golden jr

    “Right Wing Watch profiles…”

    really?

    This stuff reads like it is out of The Onion, not quite as good as Landover Baptist though.

    • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com James Bulls

      The thing that I find most amazing is not that people are saying the sort of things about which RWW is reporting, but that there’s so much interest and money in doing so. I wonder sometimes that the people telling these stories aren’t in effect some sort of bogeymen or tellers of scary stories for Christians.

      • Constant Reader

        Oh, they definitely are. Back in the 70s when i was a kid, it was Mike Warnke telling lies about his satanic involvement and people listened to his tapes like kids around a camp fire listening to ghost stories.

  • Carl Neal

    Farewell Teo, I hope you find what you need. Remember that you are always welcome in my circle.

  • Dana Corby

    Books like the one from quoted by Right Wing Watch are how fundamentalists justify reading porn.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Is the CofE going to disappear in a generation?

    Not literally, but I’d be surprised if many of the current priests ordained in their ministry would recognise it. The general synod had a vote today concerning the ordination of women bishops. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour and has paved the way for a final vote on the matter next year. Personally, I am not convinced they made the right choice.

    Are they ‘evolving’ for the sake of ‘staying relevant’ or because their traditions actually allow it? If the latter, that’s not really showing much integrity or conviction, is it?

    • thelettuceman

      I think the idea of an established Christian organization “disappearing” within a span of thirty or so years is a gross over-inflation at best of facts and rumor-mongering or scare-tactics at the worst. Who knows what will happen within the next thirty years in regards to wide-spread appeal. We could have yet another resurgence of Christianity among the general population, like the European countries and colonies (later the USA) had during the so-called “Great Awakenings”.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        There are those who believe that society as we know it will be gone within thirty years.

        I think a significant reversal in the popularity of the Church of England in the UK is pretty unlikely. The majority of society are very much secular. Apatheism reigns.

  • Charles Cosimano

    I must confess that I find Get Religion more and more a sounding board for Tmatt’s Orthodoxy and less a rational critique of journalism. It is one thing to have a blog that is clearly opinion, it is quite another to pretend to be upholding a standard of objectivity that is clearly not present.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Pity is, GR foreign-press columnist George Conger had a real journalism story to tell, which he botched with a lot of snark and a gratuitous catsuit shot of Diana Rigg (fetching but irrelevant). Will this liberal Church of Ireland bishop permit a church funeral service for a Pagan (or, as the press would have it, and “avowed” Pagan)? And should not the Irish Times have spotted this awkwardness and pursued it journalistically? I quite agree with Jason and Chuck’s characterization of GR.

      • Lyn Bilodeau

        I couldn’t agree more, Baruch. The potential underlying story is quite interesting — and as a lay scholar and pagan I would love to have explored it further. However, Conger squandered that opportunity in favor of deciding a position and inserting himself in the story to interfere in a pending funeral. (He’s also very dedicated at the moment to ensuring no one calls him for it in the comments.)

        For a blog that styles (or at least styled) itself as a journalistic watchdog, I find it mind-boggling.

  • DaBroad

    The second Right Wing Watch article is great – my favorite bit:

    “Sciambra first became interested in Nazism after acquiring a Nazi soldier’s hat
    after a German businessman paid him to beat him up and have sex with him
    on camera while dressed as a Nazi. But the hat ended up having a power
    over him: “Clothed in a relic of the past, the dead ghosts of buried
    degenerates could take over my body”…much like in The Simpsons episode
    “Treehouse of Horror: Hell Toupée.” “- See more at:
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/swallowed-satan-becoming-gay-nazi-porn-star-witch#sthash.npYPh5fg.dpuf

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

    Religion journalism in America as always had the same relationship with Christianity that political journalism has with the two-party system. Their primary job (and really their only job) is to impose a narrow frame on all discourse so that nothing is allowed to move beyond the parameters established by their Patrons.

  • harmonyfb

    American Horror Story

    Speaking of Pop Culture Pagan references, did anyone see Monday’s episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.“? They went out of their way to insult Heathens (not just the expected ‘Norse gods were aliens” bit, but actually taking a mocking tone which I suspect was snark aimed at the many Heathens who’ve written about their feelings on the Thor franchise). The plot also concerned a “pagan hate group” (the exact terminology used). It was very annoying, especially since there wasn’t any narrative need for either problematic bit.

    • Morrigan

      They didn’t insult Heathens, they told a story concerning a fictional group that is sadly based in reality. Norse mythology has been co-opt by numerous racist group over the decades. So much so that it has become a troupe in the community. The insult for Heathens is not that a television show used this example but that such groups exist.

      • harmonyfb

        You heard it very differently than I, because I heard serious snark about people who worship the Norse gods.

  • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

    I’d like to encourage anyone who was offended by the tasteless Get Religion post to express their disappointment and disgust (without profanity or name-calling, please) in the blog comments. The Get Religion editors and writers need to hear that this kind of behavior is noticed by the communities they target, and that it reflects poorly on them and their religious traditions.

    Blogs at Patheos own and are responsible for their own material, but the Patheos team does not endorse disrespectful behavior. We at Patheos hope that those who were offended by the post will critique it vigorously, perhaps creating an opportunity for better interfaith understanding — if not on the part of the writer, than at least on the part of the readers.

    • http://www.cernowain.com/ cernowain greenman

      I posted a comment that I thought was not offensive but did address the issues. It was removed by the blogger. So were some of Jason’s comments. “Get Religion” does not want the critique. Is there someone on Patheos I can write to? Thanks.

      • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

        Write to feedback at patheos dot com, and feel free to CC me at ckraemer at patheos dot com.

    • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Sadly, they deleted my initial comments, and several other comments by Pagans that were critical of the piece. Perhaps, since you are a Patheos channel editor/manager, they will allow yours to stand.

      • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

        Thanks for letting me know. This info will be going upstairs.

        • Rhalynn Blackburn

          A few minutes ago, there was a comment posted on this article at Get Religion, accusing the blog of using a picture of Olivia Robertson that was not part of public domain. The commenter requested that the picture be removed immediately to avoid any further action on the part of the picture’s owner, and provided a link. That comment has now disappeared, and the picture is still there. I find it disturbing on many levels, but most importantly because, 1) a supposedly credible journalist has stooped to this kind of low not only in his writing, but also in “stealing”, and 2) if you want to put your feelings out there, you should at least have the testicular fortitude to accept it when people disagree and call you out when you are clearly wrong.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

            If the owner of the picture reports the violation to feedback at patheos dot com, it will likely be removed. Patheos takes intellectual property claims seriously.

            I think the GetReligion writer is neither a journalist nor credible.

          • http://www.wildhunt.org/blog/ Jason Pitzl-Waters

            He’s a journalist, the problem is that he’s an advocacy journalist from within the Anglican Church that was recruited for that site. Now, I obviously have no problem with advocacy journalists, being one myself, but Get Religion, in their quest to only privilege theologically conservative Christian voices, can no longer find recruits easily from within mainstream journalism.

          • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

            The photo has been removed.

    • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

      Complaints have been delivered to the Get Religion folks via high-ranking Patheos staff. In keeping with GetReligion policies, comments on the post that focus on journalism and journalistic ethics (rather than religion in general) will be allowed to stand. Comments that focus primarily on religion should be directed to FB, other blogs, etc. Patheos Pagan will most likely not be posting a formal response to the post so as to minimize further unpleasant media attention during the family’s time of grief. I’ve spoken with Selena Fox, and we may pursue some coverage of Anglican-Pagan relations at a later time.

      • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

        But wouldn’t any comment that critiques GetReligion’s own journalistic handling of something itself be focused on ‘journalistic ethics’? Or, are we to assume that their policy means that critiques of other journalists are fine, but anyone writing for GetReligion itself is automatically beyond reproach?

        • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

          You would think, right? It looks like GetReligion isn’t adhering to its own policies — so, I agree with Jason, it’s best to simply consider them hostile at this point.

        • kenofken

          GetReligion doesn’t have the stones or the intellectual honesty to own up to their true intention, which is to have a one-way discussion. Plenty of blog owners who don’t want to engage contrary viewpoints, or just don’t want to do the hard work of moderation, eliminate their comment boxes entirely. Mattingly likes to pretend that he’s hosting a vibrant and focused give and take about journalism.

          In several instances, I have taken the time to write comments focusing on journalism, from the perspective of someone who had almost 20 years in the business and Master’s in public policy journalism.

          Because my posts didn’t blindly conform to his thesis of “persecution of Christians by liberal media”, they were automatically “off-topic.” In contrast, any asinine rant that echoed a conservative meme of any kind was relevant…

          Whatever it is GetReligion is doing, it has nothing to do with advancing the field of journalism.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            “GetReligion doesn’t have the stones or the intellectual honesty to own up to their true intention, which is to have a one-way discussion.”

            That is how I see mainstream interfaith, quite honestly.

      • Lyn Bilodeau

        Actually, that’s not true. They might should have been allowed to stand, but were not. :: sigh ::

        • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

          I have passed that on to the complaint department as well. I suspect the GetReligion editors are having a very bad day.

      • TadhgMor

        Something tells me, based on my attempt to raise the issue with the author, that the Get Religion folks are either unable or unwilling to se it from any perspective but their own.

        The author has called my disagreement a “matter of taste”, which I find quite offensive, and I’m a recon, I can only guess how people closer to Robertson in belief might feel. But to call such derision “a matter of taste” fundamentally ignores the concerns expressed by many of us here. It’s belittling.

  • kenofken

    I don’t know when Get Religion was ever an interfaith enterprise. It must have been a long, long time ago. In the past couple of years, I have never seen even a pretense of fair or balanced writing from them. They have ALWAYS deleted every comment that did not parrot their wounded Christian dominionist party line. It is essentially the Patheos protege of World Net Daily. If they want to be like that, and if Patheos wants to give them a voice, that’s fine, but let’s drop the fiction that they are somehow fostering a responsible and broad discussion of religion and media.

    • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

      They are definitely outspoken conservatives. It would be great if Patheos had a left-leaning blog with a similar focus, but we don’t (yet).

      • kenofken

        My main beef with it is not that they have a shrill partisan bias. It’s that they refuse to acknowledge that and insist on pretending that they’re hosting a serious conversation about the intersection of religion and media. It’s nothing of the kind, which is too bad, because it’s an interesting topic. It’s a facade which serves as a culture war sniper’s nest for one sad and angry little man.

        I also don’t have any respect for blog authors who host comment sections which allows no viewpoints but their own through “moderation.” No matter how cogent and civil and relevant to the topic at hand a comment may be, if it conveys any viewpoint remotely contrary to Mattingly’s views, it’s rejected for being “off-topic.” In addition to serving as an outlet for gratuitously hateful material, Get Religion contributes nothing to the advancement of Patheos’ mission or to it’s own purported reason for existence.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          I isn’t just one man, though. This level of disrespect is almost endemic.

          Does anyone know if the new pope has reverse Benny’s refusal to acknowledge any ‘Pagan’ religion as valid? If the Catholic Church will be part of interfaith with a Pagan presence?

          • kenofken

            I don’t think Francis has addressed the topic in any detail, so I would have to assume the Catholic position on pagan religions has not changed. While it’s a valid concern, I think the issue of journalistic ethics and fairness within one blog at Patheos is much more on the scale of a proximate solution than changing Rome’s attitudes about anything.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I agree that the smaller issue is the more immediately solvable one. However, that is treating a symptom more than the cause.

            Obviously I think that dealing with the quite disgusting matter of disrespect is optimum, and it seems that there are many people dealing with it.

            I am simply looking at the bigger picture.

          • TadhgMor

            He did meet with the leaders of some South American syncretic faiths I think. Not quite acknowledging them as valid, and they’re all partially Christian in belief, but it’s a step.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I will reserve my optimism, I think.

  • Franklin_Evans

    Since there may still be some arbitrary moderation going on there, here is what I just (attempted) posted on Conger’s piece.

    Mr. Conger:

    My views are my own, though I do assert a personal understanding of the Christian mindset that includes a very strong affection for the Christians in my life.
    My point is short: The theological conflicts within Christianity have long since been taken over by political and cultural expressions that themselves too often have no bearing on the religious roots of those conflicts. Throughout history — of our Western civilization — one thing has always been true, and your essay bears clear earmarks of it: Those conflicts look to external scapegoats, and deflect the intensity of them onto the chosen targets.

    It is also true that I and my siblings-in-faith in modern Paganism both currently and in those past traditions we look to are the most frequently chosen targets.
    There’s plenty of hostility on both sides, I have no doubt. I’ve lost count of the fellow Pagans who are also ex-Christians, who bear emotional (and sometimes physical) scars from their families and former congregations. At some point — and I caution my fellow Pagans that this is not a journalistic mandate — we need recognition on both sides that fueling that hostility is at best a short-term panacaea with only destructive consequences in the long-term. If not as a journalist, perhaps as a private person you might consider that when you choose to phrase yourself using pejoratives and epithets.

    Some of our honored elders have expressed this recognition from “our” side, notably Selena Fox. We are imperfectly pursuing this as a group, but we are pursuing it. We ask for something similar in return.

    Respectfully,
    Franklin Evans
    Pagan, private citizen, local social activist

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      That recognition will not be given. If it is to had at all, then it must be taken.

      • Franklin_Evans

        I trust that as a statement of your local reality. It is false where I live. Shrug.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          It is a generalism. There are those in various locations who will refuse to acknowledge any form of Non Christianity as a valid form of religious practice/belief.

          Rather than relying on the goodwill of bigots, we must strive for betterment of our social situation.

  • Franklin_Evans

    Well, Mr. Conger saw fit to remove more than two-thirds of the posts that were displayed only an hour ago, including mine. I want to publicly post that one removed post from Ms. Kraemer had a reply on it from me which, while not intended as such, did look like I was chastising her for her post.

    Ms. Kraemer, I apologize. Good intentions don’t excuse bad writing.

    • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

      I didn’t take it that way. No worries!

      • Franklin_Evans

        Thank you.

  • TadhgMor

    I believe I may have bothered the poor man. His last response to a long post of mine was “no”. To which I said “No to which part?”, which he deleted. I was excessively polite even.

    I’m screen capping all of this, and I intend to take this directly to his editors or Patheos if I must. I suggest others do the same.

    • Franklin_Evans

      Well — intending here both sarcasm and facetiousness, if that’s even valid :D — my experience of America’s cousins across the Pond is of two categories: the ones who tend to go a bit overboard under our First Amendment protections, and those who leave as confused about how it works as they were when they arrived.

      I’ve not met any journalists from Over There, the Islands or the continent. I’d be skeptical of any claims that they get even academic exposure to How Things Work over here.

      • TadhgMor

        I could see that. But on a journalism blog, if someone makes a long post with numerous points and you respond with “no”, then delete any attempt by that poster to ask for clarification? That’s pure cowardice. He cannot respond, so he’s using his powers to make it seem like I never called him out. That’s massively dishonest, and worse so on a site that is supposed to be about journalism.

        It’s not really a “free speech” argument as much as it’s a petty abuse of power. I mean, he could just as easily leave up my request for clarification and not respond. But he won’t, he deletes it so he looks better in the exchange, rather than looking like what he is, a coward dodging points.

        The idea of a “comment policy” goes out the window when you delete two comments like “No to which part?” and “Excuse me did you just delete my comment asking for clarification?”. I’m sure he deleted the last one, because I called him a dishonest coward since it’s clear being polite will get me nothing. He might as well know what he is.

  • TadhgMor

    That f***ing **** banned me. That petty, fascist Christian piece of sh*t banned me for daring to try and get him to actually respond to my points.

    On a site about good journalism. I just. I can’t even. I put so much effort into maintaining the most polite tone possible.

    • kenofken

      It reflects on him, and Patheos if they continue to host writers like that.

      • TadhgMor

        Is Patheos actually aware of his behavior? I mean that is nonsense. I know I’m a pretty caustic person but there was nothing there worth deleting. I’m sure he banned me for the last comment I made, but that came in response to two previous deletions of a simple request for clarification after that coward shut down debate and refused to engage any viewpoint but his own.

        Apparently using damaging stereotypes is fine, but pointing them out violates the comment policy he created in his head.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          My experience of Terry Mattingly on GR (under another screen name) is that he has difficulty admitting he’s wrong or has made a mistake.

          • TadhgMor

            Well I just sent something in his “contact” form, so we’ll see. He was not the author, and I hope an appeal to journalistic ethics might work.

            But I am not confident. If you employ a writer like Conger who uses offensive stereotypes as his “hook” and then ignores criticism over it, who writes the entire piece about “purity politics” in Anglicanism even though the blog is about journalism (why would the Irish Times ever play the sort of purity games he wants? It’d be ridiculous), yet still gets it published despite it’s clear lack of value to a conversation on journalism. Well, that suggests this is simply what they do, rather than an outlier.

        • kenofken

          I would assume Patheos has heard about it based on what Christine Kraemer mentioned below, and I suspect more than a couple of folks here have written the editorial/complaint department there. If you haven’t, do. I need to as well. Do they care enough to do anything? That remains to be seen. I hope so, but I won’t bet the rent on it. Once Christian dominionists and culture war hacks start to get the run of a religion site, it’s usually the beginning of the end.

    • Franklin_Evans

      I suggest adopting the ironical view that what you experienced was a Pyrrhic defeat* — where the “victor” has only succeeded in damaging himself.

      * Yes, that’s a deliberate rip-off of the cliched Pyrrhic victory. ;)

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol
    • NoBodE

      Thanks for sharing.

    • kenofken

      Doing what celebrities do best. Yahweh keep him!