Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 26, 2013 — 110 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.

maetreum sign large

  • As I reported this past weekend, the Maetreum of Cybele has finally won their property tax fight against the Town of Catskill in New York. So far, the only mainstream media (non-Pagan) outlet to report on this has been The New York Law Journal (registration needed to read the article), who note that town officials are “disappointed” with the ruling, and are weighing whether to appeal the ruling to a higher court. “[Attorney Daniel] Vincelette said town officials believe the primary use of the property is as a ‘residential cooperative,’ not for religious purposes. He denied that the nature of the group’s pagan beliefs has been a factor in the town’s opposition to the property tax exemption. ‘It was never ever a consideration or an issue at all,’ he said.” That statement seems rather laughable, considering the lengths the town has gone to fighting their exemption.
  • So, anybody read the New York Times lately? In an article about Teo Bishop re-embracing Jesus, reporter Mark Oppenheimer interviews T. Thorn Coyle, Amy Hale, and myself, about the story (and the meta-story, I suppose). I thought that, all told, it was a fair and balanced snapshot of the situation, and I’m pleased that we weren’t subjected to a Christian counter-point for the sake of “balance.” This being a New York Times piece, it has gotten a lot of commentary and links, including from a local Portland paper, and our “friends” at Get Religion. For those dismayed at the amount of attention this is getting, I encourage you to help build our community’s journalistic apparatus so we can have a bigger influence on mainstream journalism. Journalism isn’t something that just happens to us, it is something we can do.
  • Religion Clause points to a Japan Times article on the growing influence of Shinto in Japanese politics. Quote: “‘They’re trying to restore what was removed by the U.S. Occupation reforms,’ explains Mark Mullins, director of the Japan Studies Center at the University of Auckland. If it succeeds, the project amounts to the overturning of much of the existing order in Japan — a return to the past, with one eye on the future. [...] Many of the nation’s top elected officials, including Abe and Shimomura are members of the organization’s political wing, Shinto Seiji Renmei (officially, the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership — eschewing the word ‘political’ from the title) [...] Seiji Renmei sees its mission as renewing the national emphasis on ‘Japanese spiritual values.’ [...] Since its birth in 1969, Shinto Seiji Renmei has notched several victories in its quest to restore much of the nation’s prewar political and social architecture.” This is a story I’ll be paying close attention to in the future, and one that Pagans who are interested in Shinto should also note.
  • Religion in American History looks at Vodou in the early American republic, and finds more questions than answers. Quote: “Finding the place of Vodou in the early republic presents problems of definition and problems of sources and evidence relating to the practice of Vodou and the experiences of Dominguan migrants. In considering these issues, I stand by my interpretation of the evidence for Philadelphia, and now agree that Vodou may have been practiced in Dominguan communities elsewhere in the United States; however, there is much that remains unclear.” 
  •  Last week major environmental advocacy groups walked out of the climate talks in Poland, stating that there’s been a lack of progress on achieving a sustainable future. Quote: “This is the first time environmental groups have walked out of a UNFCCC conference. In astatement, the groups said they had grown tired of the conference’s gridlock over issues such as aid to help poor countries adapt to and mitigate climate change, as well as the apparent disconnect between Poland’s commitment to coal and its job as host of this year’s conference.” News post-talks described this round of talks as “uneventful.” 
Sylvia Browne and Montel Williams.

Sylvia Browne and Montel Williams.

  • Famous psychic and author Sylvia Browne died last week at the age of 77. A Gnostic Christian, Browne emerged as a popular figure in the 1990s and oversaw a vast media empire that included talk-show appearances, bestselling books, and luxury cruise ship experiences for fans. During her life, Browne came under fire from many who saw her off-the-cuff style as irresponsible, especially when it concerned life-or-death matters. Quote: “Although Ms. Browne often appeared on shows like ‘Larry King Live’ and was a regular guest on ‘The Montel Williams Show,’ much of her income came from customers who paid $700 to ask her questions over the telephone for 30 minutes. She was frequently taken to task by skeptics, most notably the professional psychic debunker James Randi. But the questions raised about her abilities did not damage her appeal as an author. She published more than 40 books, and many were mainstays on The New York Times’s best-seller list.” No doubt Browne’s legacy will continue to be debated, and depending on your beliefs, perhaps she’ll still want a say on what that legacy was.
  • An Egyptian statue that had been rotating, seemingly of its own accord, has been explained. Quote: “An engineer, called in to look at the statue, found that that vibrations from a busy nearby road were causing the 3,800-year-old stone figure to rotate. The convex base of the figure made it ‘more susceptible’ to spin around than the cabinet’s other artefacts.” Sorry, folks, maybe next time.
  • Indian newspaper The Hindu has agreed to stop using the word “primitives” to refer to tribal groups. Quote: “The ‘Proud Not Primitive’ movement to challenge prejudice towards tribal peoples in India is celebrating a major success after ‘The Hindu’, one of the world’s largest English language newspapers, pledged to no longer describe tribal peoples as ‘primitive’. Several journalists from renowned Indian publications have also endorsed the movement, including Kumkum Dasgupta of the Hindustan Times, Nikhil Agarwal of the Press Trust of India, and V Raghunathan of the Times of India.” Congratulations on this step forward in respect for tribal and indigenous peoples.
  • Should artists form their own political party? Maybe? Quote: “In the main hall, a Salvador Dali impersonator acted as the compere as figures from the arts world mounted a kind of pulpit to deliver short sermons on the state of the arts.” Just so long as they don’t elect Koons as party chair, I’m down.
  • The American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting just happened, and I know a bunch of Pagan stuff happened. I’m hoping to get some of the inside scoop soon. Stay tuned!

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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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://coloradocelt.wordpress.com/ Benn MacSteven

    Jason I am curious about what suggestions you might have “to help build our community’s journalistic apparatus so we can have a bigger influence on mainstream journalism”?

    • thelettuceman

      You know, I was just looking at the list of the Pagan Newswire Collective bureaus for the country and I find that the Northeast is very underrepresented. That could be a start – getting more regional coverage.

      • http://sihathor.wordpress.com/ Sihathor

        As someone from the Northeast, I agree 110%.

        • thelettuceman

          I’m really disappointed in the lack of the regional ones, but I don’t know if I can commit to aiding in the construction of such a bureau. I do know it would have to be split up even more than a PNC-Northeast, for instance.

      • Placental Mammal

        That would explain… a lot.

        Personally I think it would be great if there were actual journalists in pagan media but I am not holding my breath.

    • Franklin_Evans

      Just in case: I am not Jason. ;-)

      Have a reliable revenue stream to be able to offer competitive salaries to qualified journalists.

      Sorry, that’s not a suggestion, it’s an observation. :-(

      • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        Hush, you, pagans aren’t allowed to make money.

        • Franklin_Evans

          :( That means I’m a very bad Pagan.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            …and by the logic of the strong contingent in the pagan community that poo-poo’s any attempt to keep one’s own ledgers out of the red, I must be one of the Best. Pagans. Ever! I can’t even afford to attend gatherings, and I’m probably going to have to run a donation pool to make it to the one I’m supposed to read at.

          • Franklin_Evans

            I would like to see a serious and ongoing discussion of the apparent hostility — meant as in both directions, with spiritual as well as mundane connotations — between Pagans and money. Jason? Anyone?

          • ELNIGMA

            Maybe you write that post :)

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’d be happy to talk about that.

  • Ellie S

    I’m kind of sad at Sylvia’s passing. I grew up with her readings on tv and read a few of her books. She wasn’t my favorite after my eyes opened to the world, but she was my first. Sending her family love!

  • thelettuceman

    What would a political organization look like if it takes a page out of a Jackson Pollock painting?

    …not much different from the current political climate, now that I think about it.

    • http://sihathor.wordpress.com/ Sihathor

      It’d be more colorful, at least.

  • ELNIGMA

    Sylvia Browne needed to reinforce her predictions were “for entertainment purposes only” also needed to keep predictions “entertaining” rather than hurt people like Amanda Berry’s mother.

    • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      Indeed. She gave a terrible name to the divinitory arts, and the hurt she caused people certainly outweighed the potential for good. Some people simply don’t deserve the exposure that they’re given, and she was one such person.

      • ELNIGMA

        When I thnk of her “legacy” I think of Berry’s mother smacking Browne down with her pocketbook in the afterlife.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I wonder if she saw this coming…

  • LezlieKinyon

    Salvador Dali for Office– that gave me the best fantasy of the week… but- given the surreal nature of politic these days, wouldn’t it be a bit *redundant*?

  • http://www.walkofthefallen.com Labrys

    The rotating statue thing made me smile. Back in about 1995, after I came out as pagan to my own family, we owned a replica bust of a sea god…it hung on a wall to the hallway, facing west towards the ocean. In front of it was a desk with a little shrine with the Catholic-venerated Mary, my first “goddess” was retained by me.
    We constantly found that the carved wooden Mary turned all on her own to stare at the hunky sea-god; it was of course, the vibrational rumble of huge log-hauling trucks down our road. But it gave us all many opportunities for jokes and giggles all the same!

  • Kullervo

    “I’m pleased that we weren’t subjected to a Christian counter-point for the sake of ‘balance.’”
    Are you kidding? Not talking to any Christians about a high-profile Pagan’s conversion to Christianity is nonsense. And it has nothing to do with balance; it has to do with getting the whole story.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I tilt toward Kullervo on this, though perhaps for different reasons. I certainly don’t want to see a bunch of Christians beating Teo up the way his fellow Pagans did in this space a while back. But it would illuminate Christian practice to have a calm interview with someone in a position to talk about how their church processes someone who has left and come back whilst following their own Will. I’m talking here about interest to a general audience, not necessarily to TWH readership.

      • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        I certainly don’t want to see a bunch of Christians beating Teo up the way his fellow Pagans did in this space a while back.

        He’s not pagan, anymore, ergo he has no “fellow pagans”, anymore. Please stop forgetting that he only said “maybe” to a potential future as a Christo-Pagan.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          See my answer to TadghMor.

      • TadhgMor

        Who was beating up on him? A number of people, myself included, are quite unhappy with the notion of Christians playing at being pagan, or the idea that we should somehow open up the term to their usage.

        But I didn’t see anyone actually express dislike or ill will towards Teo Bishop himself. He was clear, open and respectful about the whole deal, and willingly respected our boundaries and feelings on it.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I’m not being snarky, TadghMor, when I say I don’t think I can give an answer you understand. IIRC you didn’t grasp what I meant when I claimed you were saying “You don’t exist,” so I’m stymied.

          • TadhgMor

            I never said he doesn’t exist. I said he has no business in the community IF he is a Christian. I said I find the notion of “Christo-pagan” to be nonsensical, since you have two opposing understandings of the universe. You argued in favor of what looks quite a bit like hippy Christianity to me. I still fail to see how that qualifies them as “pagan” in any meaningful sense, but I digress.

            You see no boundaries, I see boundaries. I think how Bishop acted was the most respectful way to do it, by acknowledging those boundaries, without necessarily saying he fully withdraws from them.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            With all due respect, I strongly disagree with your contention that he has no business in the community if he is a Christian. I also don’t see how “Christo-pagan” is nonsensical, although I think that it is limiting and often holds a narrow meaning. There are and historically have been folks in our community who identify at least somewhat with Christianity, and there are aspects of Christian practices woven throughout a few traditions that most would consider to be Pagan in nature.

            If Teo had fallen in love with Krishna and started exploring Hinduism, would you hold the same opinion? And if not, why hold someone who is embracing aspects of Christianity yet still wants to retain ties to this community differently than someone who explored a different non-Pagan path?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            The most commonly used definition of ‘Pagan’ (including by non-Pagans) is “not Christian”.

            Using that definition, Christo-Pagan (as a term) is an oxymoron.

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

            And yet, most of us do not turn to non-Pagans to define Paganism.

            It may be hard for us to accept, but in usage where it counts–within our own community–Paganism has some blurry boundaries.

            I’d rather drink lukewarm tea with curdled milk than attend a Christo-Pagan event of any kind. But I don’t think our personal feelings are the yardstick here.

            In any case, I’m more interested in finding out what one man’s personal spiritual journey meets to him than I am in hashing out yet again where we’ll draw theoretical boundaries around a community.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Actually, we do, and frequently.

            We are constantly seeing the definitions of Paganism and witches being made by popular media (in fiction) and also in mainstream reportage.

            Then, of course, there is common usage and academic usage.

            If everyone has a different definition, then the word has no useful meaning in conversation.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            An oxymoron is simply a phrase juxtaposing two apparently contradictory words, but the phrase itself is not a contradiction in terms. “Jumbo shrimp” is an oxymoron but not a contradiction –prawns, a.k.a. “shrimp” in certain regional vernacular, can be relatively “jumbo” when compared to other shrimp, which is also a word for something very small. Or “The Sound of Silence” –arguably, silence is its own sound that is characterised by the absense of all other sounds.

            “Christopaganism” is clearly another oxymoron that, without a proper understanding of what it is, may appear contradictory, but ultimately it is not.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            So my terminology was valid. Regardless of the validity of the term, it is an oxymoron.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            Then how would you refer to someone who blends Paganism with a relationship with Christ? How do you reconcile your view with the fact that many people self-identify as Christo-Pagan?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Many people self identify as many things. Does not mean they are always right or using the terminology appropriately.

            How would I define someone who blends Paganism with a relationship with Christ?

            Probably in the same way that I would define someone who blends Paganism with a relationship with any other (demi)god.

            I see no need to make special mention of one god over many others.

          • TadhgMor

            What aspects of paganism are they blending? That is the issue. Others have stated what essentially seems like a form of New Age Christianity, and calling it pagan. That is fundamentally wrong to me. It’s style over substance.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            Take someone who believes that the Earth is inherently sacred, someone who has a polytheistic, interconnected view of the world, who perhaps holds animistic/shamanistic beliefs, and yet who is inspired and motivated by Jesus’ message and/or his teachings. Someone who is not necessarily in agreement with Christian doctrine or dogma, but sees Jesus as an inspirational figure who is worthy of modeling one’s life after, while also being in sacred connection with the natural world and its various gods, spirits, and forces.

          • TadhgMor

            Not all polytheists believe Earth is inherently sacred. That’s a large generalization which presupposes a New Age viewpoint.

            If that’s the case, why call yourself a Christian? If you call yourself a Christian, you clearly identify in some way with Christian doctrine, not just their demi-god.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I didn’t say that all polytheists believe the Earth is inherently sacred. Not all pagans believe the same things. But I think the concept is encompassed in what MOST people consider to be pagan values or aspects. Its not “a large generalization which presupposes a New Age viewpoint.” Again, arbitrary definitions. The idea that the Earth is sacred goes WAY beyond “New Age”, and such a reduction has a pejorative connotation.

          • TadhgMor

            I don’t think it does go way beyond New Age to be honest, not in the way it’s generally explained and discussed in pagan media and in discussions I’ve had with others. It seems inseparable from that general cultural milieu.

            That’s not to say there aren’t other ways of viewing it, and the sacral nature of our surroundings/natural forces is of course well supported both historically and currently, but the dominant concept seems to one associated strongly with the New Age movement and pantheist/monist views.

            Perhaps it’s inevitable that Wiccans and many eclectics and magic traditions based in Christianity, even if it’s non-orthodox forms, will ally themselves with sympathetic forms of Christianity. Certainly there is not the major contrast that I have with Christians. But I’ve not resigned myself to that fate yet, and I have no intention to.

          • http://www.walkofthefallen.com Labrys

            The problem with that is, some pagans perceive Christ (and one presumes, his Father) as just another deity. So a broad-minded polytheist could indeed say they still believed in Christ AND pagan concepts. Just because Christian dogma dismisses those pagan beliefs does not mean an individual necessarily does.

            Myself? I am on the skeptical edge and often say “Either all the gods are real, or NONE are real.” And yes, there are those in the pagan community who tell me I do not belong either. When the argument becomes over definitions of orthodoxy rather than examining the spiritual journey, something is lost, even if something is also gained.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            That is hardly a problem.

            If you follow the teachings of Christ, you are a Christian.

            If you acknowledge more gods beyond YHWH & Son, then you are a polytheist. Pretty simple, really.

            I used to be a monolatristic Christian – I believed in many gods, but venerated only the Triune godhead of Christianity. Things changed, but I still actually believe in their existences, even if I don’t venerate/worship/respect/like them.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            This I an in agreement with.

          • TadhgMor

            Yes, I would. Hindus have a community of their own, as do Christians. I do not see why we must water down our identity to serve the needs of people constantly shifting across boundaries. They have a right to do so, it’s their lives and practice. But honestly, they seem unreliable to me. People who follow every whim and fancy. I do not see why we should open up the identity to everyone that expresses some fleeting affinity with something that some of us might call pagan.

            Yes, there are plenty of people in paganism still holding Christian assumptions and Christian worldviews. Personally, that bothers me a good deal(if you’re going to stop being a Christian, you should not maintain so many Christian assumptions). But if you want to allow Christians in, then you are moving the boundaries and forcing out the other side. I know I am not the only recon/hard polytheist very uncomfortable with this movement by the community.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I don’t see it as watering down our identity. What I see is you trying to define our identity in an arbitrary and fundamentalist manner. I come from a tradition (Feri) where one of our founders identified as both a lifelong Christian and a Witch, and found no conflict there. In my training it was stressed to me that most Pagans “throw the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to ignoring or dismissing the Bible as a magical text. Is my tradition not ‘Pagan’ according to your view? Are we on the other side of your arbitrary boundary, do we seem unreliable to you? I find value in the Bible, and I find great value in Jesus’ message. And yet I’m a pagan and a polytheist just as you are. I don’t “worship” Jesus, but we’re pals and he pops up on my radar regularly, especially in my day-to-day activities, as I work with the poor and homeless.

            Gays have a community of their own. Does that mean as a straight person, I have “no business” in their community? Because as an ally to the gay community, I’ve been interacting with their community for years now, and I’ve always felt welcome. Nobody’s ever said to me that I shouldn’t be at Gay Pride Day because I’m not gay.

            Similarly, if someone who mainly identifies as Christian, but still believes in our principles and seeks communion (no pun intended) with our kind, I welcome them to a seat at the table. We need allies – we need all the allies we can get. We also need outsider perspectives BADLY in my opinion, and someone like Teo always provided that for me, both as a pagan and now as a Christian. This community often seems to me to be quite clouded by confirmation bias, and I greatly welcome outside perspectives and respectful critiques from people who understand who we are and what we’re about.

            Alienating people based on their religious beliefs makes us no better than any other group that does it. It is in complete contradiction to who we say we are as a tolerant and welcoming community.

          • TadhgMor

            You’re assuming all pagans practice magick. That is not the case.

            Would I define you as pagan? I don’t know. You’re certainly far flung from my path, and reflect a considerable amount of monotheist bias and assumptions. I’m increasingly convinced the term itself is useless for that very reason.

            Yes, it does mean as a straight person you have no business inserting yourself into their community. You can be invited, but that is quite different.

            You welcome Christians outside perspectives. Funny how that welcome seems to be less towards some within the pagan umbrella itself. Perhaps we should be trying to balance out internally before we start bringing in others?

            I don’t fetishize tolerance and inclusiveness for their own sake. They are valuable and worthwhile goals. But they are not ends in and of themselves, which often seems to be the case here.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I’m not assuming that all pagans practice magic. You’re the one making that assumption about my stance. Just as in my other reply, you’re making generalizations about my position and then trying to say that I’m the one making the generalizations.

            And I also wasn’t mandating “inserting” versus “inviting”. My point is that we should be inviting, just as the gay community is to straight allies.

            I don’t fetishize tolerance and inclusiveness either. Again, putting words in my mouth. But I see their importance and they are part of my personal values as well as the values of MOST in this community.

          • TadhgMor

            Your phrasing before implied it. I apologize for the misinterpretation.

            Why should we be inviting? What do we gain from letting Christians into our space? Especially non-Orthodox ones?

            It’s not solely about you. The community as a whole certainly seems to value inclusiveness for it’s own sake, particularly those in positions in media and festivals. I see no reason to value inclusiveness above identity. Nor do I see a contradiction in being respectful to others while also defining boundaries.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            My point is that we should be inviting, just as the gay community is to straight allies.

            Yeah, not so much as some might think.

            Radical politics aside, the “Ally” contingent of GBLTQA has really worn out its welcome, in recent years. You’ve even got trash like “The Ally Coalition”, a group for “straight allies” that pretty much writes about itself, and allies in general, as possibly the most important people to getting GBLT rights passed. Societies of the past, especially the pre-Stonewall era, that sought to gain a socio-politcal equality for GBLs (and sometimes, more rarely, the Ts) barely gave any mind to hets who sought to support them, because frankly, it’s not about the hets. Allies don’t need to be included, and a lot of people who thought it was a wise political move in the 1990s now realise that it was unnecessary and had a tendency to attract the wrong kind of “sympathetic” hets –but more importantly, it’s unnecessary, because it’s not about the hets. The other main civil rights movements of the modern era –Workers/Labour Unions, women’s suffrage, civil rights for African Americans (and ostensibly other people of colour, though the anti-miscegenation and segregating laws were mostly just enforced on African Americans)– these were movements that certainly didn’t reject the “allies” when they came along, but never sought to make the struggle itself a matter that included the “struggle” for the allies who were already in a privileged position.

            Christians are in a privileged position in Western society, there is no problem solved by including Christians in the Pagan community and its struggles that isn’t solved when certain pagan struggles are solved without including Christians. (I disagree with @tadhgmor:disqus though, Christo-pagans aren’t always indecipherable from new Age Christianity; and those who clearly are not have a unique place in he pagan community, argueably less of one than they’d have in the Christian community.)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            the “Ally” contingent of GBLTQA has really worn out its welcomeI take this as dismissive of the efforts of Unitarian Universalist congregations, mostly het, to earn “Welcoming Congregation” from their denomination. And of some other churches, also majority het, that are struggling towards the same thing at their own pace. BGLTs in my congregation have a quite different attitude, as did the leaders of the MCC congregation that rented the basement of my old church.I must dispute some of your historical claims. The ACLU and the Playboy Foundation were worthy allies when needed, as was the FDA once ACT-UP zapped them enough about ignoring AIDS. Ditto the insurgent psychologists who demanded in the face of old-guard reluctance an end to treating homosexuality as a disorder, and the lawyers who secured an end to sodomy laws and serious curtailment of DOMA.Of course, if some allies are getting too full of themselves, they need deflating. But that’s no grounds for divorce.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            You can take it any way you want to, but the fact remains that is has NEVER been about the hets, and when people add the A on the initialism as a means to “be inclusive of Allies”, they’re really just trying to make it about the hets.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            “Making it about the hets” has never been the intent of the congregational program I mentioned. IMHO you have let isolated negative examples distort your reality.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Except that I haven’t.

            Have fun with yourself, dear.

          • ELNIGMA

            you don’t know anything about his congregational program, and the only thing you’d look up is to try to insult it anyway.
            I also don’t know anything about it, but I’d have to try to think of stupider things than Pagans insulting the UUs for their famous inclusivity, tolerance, and hospitality.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            And *I* said anything about Unitarians… when?

            Cos I didn’t. You’re imagining things to be angry at.

          • ELNIGMA

            BD said “I take this as dismissive of the efforts of Unitarian Universalist congregations”

            If you weren’t, then okay.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            He can take it any way he wants, but if you’d actually follow the thread, you’d’ve seen that I was speaking very generally with the exception of one group: The Ally Coalition (which was started by a fashion designer and a rock band, not the Unitarians). Then he decided to take offence at me and defend the Unitarians for some reason I can’t figure out. If the Unitarians have done some sketchy things while preaching “inclusivity and diversity”, then they’d be included in the broad, general terms I was speaking in, sure — but if they’re as good as he seems to believe they are, then why is he taking offence? What does he get out of pre-emptively defending people I never called out?

            Look, I’m used to the fact that Baruch Dreamstalker seems to have some kind of personal problem with me, this isn’t the first time he’s decided to be offended at things I’ve never said and basically argue straw men at me. Don’t make yourself look silly by jumping in his wagon.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Your problem, Ruadhan, is a sweepingly scornful style that tars half the world. When someone calls you on it, suddenly you’re all, “Oh I only meant this little piece of it; odd of you to be so sensitive!”Fact is, yours are the word-games of a child, and you should get used to being treated like one.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Thanks for admitting you have it in for me. I will react accordingly.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I agree with you to an extent about the politics and issues around allies, but I don’t necessarily see it as relevant in the context that I speak of. In rethinking my own metaphor in the context of “Christo-Pagans”, they are more akin to bisexuals trying to be a part of gay or straight communities. Both the mainstream Christian and mainstream Pagan communities will reject them to an extent. I’m not saying that Christians should just have open access to Pagan communities. But I do think that there is a place and time for especially Christians who embrace aspects of Pagan philosophy and practice, and who identify to an extent with who we are and what we do.

            I think saying “there is no problem solved” oversimplifies both the intent and the results. As you noted, Christians are the privileged majority. They control the mainstream narrative. And the marginalization that Pagan groups and practitioners experience is mostly due to ignorance and stereotypes on the part of that privileged majority. The more people in that world that have a respect and understanding of our community, the more people that are willing to bat for us among their peers, the more people that can see the connections between the two paths, and have personal connections with people from our side, the better off we are in the end. I think in your criticisms, you’re dismissing the importance of allies. While allies may become unnecessary accessories in certain instances, in other instances they are absolutely crucial. I speak from personal experience, having been embroiled in a political fight for several years now in which the gains made by a marginalized community (the homeless) would have been absolutely impossible without allies. And I could write a book about the similarities between the dynamics in that fight and the marginalization and political issues that I see/experience in this community.

          • Placental Mammal

            Speaking of allies there’s also been the problem of so-called male feminists. I used to be much more open minded about the idea of male feminists until I learned about Hugo Schwyzer and similar men using feminism for exploitative purposes. Women don’t need that kind of “allie”.

          • ELNIGMA

            I’ve a theory any group over 25 people probably has a jerk in it. If someone regularly slams entire groups of people based on their experiences with a few jerks, they’re going to mess up their lives.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            As many as twenty five? I would have thought the proportion would be higher.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            When I call myself a feminist, as I do, I understand the term to carry a standard of conduct, not just opinions.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            And that’s good for you. The point that @placentalmammal:disqus was making was that just because someone claims to be an ally of any sort doesn’t mean that they are. Words are cheap when one’s actions tell a different story.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I’m not assuming that all pagans practice magic. You’re the one making that assumption about my stance.

            Er… I can see why they assumed that you think all pagans practise magic when you said, ‘In my training it was stressed to me that most Pagans “throw the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to ignoring or dismissing the Bible as a magical text.’

            Why would some-one dismiss it ‘as a magical text’ unless they had an interest in practising magic? Without magic to be concerned about, one can dismiss the Christian Bible as a spiritual text, cultural text, as a text of great literary importance, but if magic is not one of one’s concerns, then it simply cannot be dismissed as a ‘magical’ text. Even in saying ‘most pagans dismiss it’, the natural assumption to be inferred from syntax is that the rest of the pagans simply don’t dismiss it’s value ‘as a magical text’ –not that the rest of the pagans don’t care one way or the other about magic.

            You say that @tadhgmor:disqus is putting words in your mouth, but I don’t see how they are. They’re moving on to the next step in logic from the starting point of things you’re saying.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            You both seem to be missing the point. Yes, some pagans have no interest in magic. We’ve already established that. But FOR THOSE WHO DO, some find relevance in Christian texts, concepts, aspects, whatever you want to call it. I was addressing my disagreement with the original statement here, which was that someone who engages in pagan practices and/or embraces a pagan mindset yet identifies as a Christian has “no business” in this community. I was point out why I disagree. Nowhere was I trying to make absolutist statements. I don’t care if you dismiss the Christian bible. I’m note saying it has to be relevant to you, or TadhgMor, or anyone. But I have a problem with anyone who thinks that those who do embrace the Bible has “no business” in the community, because in that you’re dismissing a whole lot of people who are quite relevant to our community, IMO. THAT was the point.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            No, I totally got your point, and without the system in the pagan community that privileges those who do magic, I think @tadhgmor:disqus would’ve easily gotten it, too. I only meant to explain why you might want to take care to choose your words more wisely. I apologise for not making that quite so clear.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I should also add that I don’t see “this movement by the community” as something recent. If anything, I think that our intolerance and hostility to Christian practices has only increased. The “movement by the community” is slanted in the direction of your views, not mine.

          • TadhgMor

            There are very many indicators which point the opposite way. You can look through writing by other recons and hard polytheists, some of them are much more eloquent than me, but the movement which is marginalizing us as a whole only exacerbated by this debate over Christians.

            Nor is my position simply hostility to Christianity, that is a straw man. My position is hostility to weakening the already barely tenable “pagan” identity by bring in Christians. They have a community. If we redefine ourselves in some vague “New Age” sense then all religious definition is lost. It’s simply another cultural movement to be defined and appropriated by others.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            If anything, I think that our intolerance and hostility to Christian practices has only increased.

            You know, I’ve been in and out of the on-line pagan community going on twenty years, and I really have to wonder a) how long have you, and b) if, somehow, you’ve been around about as long as I have, where are you hanging out? I’ve seen quite the inverse, in recent years. It used to be, around 1998/99, You could barely skim the threads on a pagan forum without seeing someone going on about “the evil Xtians[sic]“.and in 2004(?), when Drew Campbell left Hellenion for the Episcopal church, he did so very quietly, eventually issuing a private statement to Hellenion through a mutual friend –resulting in a shitstorm on Hellenion’s e-mail list, sure, but it was barely noticed elsewhere in the pagan corners of the Internet, because people just didn’t talk about people who left the pagan world to re-join the Christian one. Nearly ten years later, Teo Bishop is not only very pen about leaving ADF and paganism in general, it seems the offer he got to chronicle this on TWH is likely still in play –cos people are more accepting now.

            Hell, the now-defunct MysticWicks forum had a very prominent “Abrahamic paths” section (and PaganForum.com has since added that section to their own site), and you can barely stick a toe in the Tumblr #pagan tags without seeing at least a few people in the first few pages passing off what’s basically New Age Christianity as “Christo-paganism”.

            The fact that there are more pagans who are willing to accept Christians in our spaces does not mean that hostility is erased –I think people forget that the statement that people are “more tolerant or accepting” is a statement of relativity.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I’ve been in and out of the on-line community for going on twenty years as well, although I’ve admittedly spent much more time overall in the “real-life” community than on-line. The internet is a huge place; perhaps we’ve been hanging out in different neighborhoods. I know the incident you speak of re: Campbell, but I still feel overall that there is a hostile and fundamentalist attitude towards Christianity that is both more pronounced and more accepted than I’ve seen in the past. Maybe I’m just paying attention more than I used to, I don’t know, but I have an increasing discomfort with this kind of boundary-drawing and hostility. There is an arrogance and hubris to it that to me seems fresh. But again – this is only my experience. Your mileage may vary.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            “…there is a hostile and fundamentalist attitude towards Christianity that
            is both more pronounced and more accepted than I’ve seen in the past.”

            That makes sense, if you think about it. As acceptance grows, the voices of dissent grow louder.

            We can easily parallel it with the increase in volume of Christian fundamentalism with the rise of religious pluralism and increasing secularism.

            This hostility comes, at least in part, from territorialism. a niche has been carved out for Paganisms and there are those within the umbrella who dislike the encroaching into their ‘territory’ by the religion that they have deliberately ‘othered’ themselves from.

            My personal issue is a largely pedantic one. I like concise terminology and dislike meaningless and redundant words.

          • Placental Mammal

            “If Teo had fallen in love with Krishna and started exploring Hinduism, would you hold the same opinion?”

            Hinduism is not the dominant religion of Western society, much less a revolutionary monotheist one.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            Hinduism is the dominant religion in the East, is arguably monotheistic*, and is every bit as dominating, oppressive, and patriarchal as Christianity. Is it your position that we should only be hostile and intolerant towards Western dominating, oppressive, patriarchal religions, and not those coming from the East?

            * Q: Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic?
            A: Yes

          • Placental Mammal

            There are many Hindu dominations both in and outside of India that do not regard a head God as representative of all gods, and you do not seem to get that what we call Hinduism now is much more diverse than is portrayed in Western mainstream media. This isn’t to deny there aren’t problems in India, of course, Hindu fascism and fundamentalism most certainly exists.

            “Is it your position that we should only be hostile and intolerant towards Western dominating, oppressive, patriarchal religions, and not those coming from the East?”

            Red Herring, Complex and Loaded Question fallacies. You are being misleading and disingenuous. Other than the fact that most societies are patriarchal to begin with you’re missing the power issues here, and most mainstream like TWH and Witches & Pagans are written consciously and unconsciously with Western pagans in mind, and it’s not like Christians like Mr Bishop here are in similar positions of Coptics in Egypt, and so on, where the power situations are different.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I get that Hinduism is more diverse than whats portrayed in mainstream media. But that could be said for all religions. I’m not being misleading and disingenuous…. I’m painting the exact kind of broad stroke that you are about Christianity.

            I not missing the power issues here, but I also don’t think it applies specifically in Teo’s case. According to Teo, he’s still considering himself a polytheist at this point, which means that he’d be rejected by mainstream Christianity just as much as you or I. I don’t seem him gaining a huge burst of privilege overnight simply because he’s reading the Bible and going to church again. If he renounces his pagan path, starts to claim that the Christian God is the one true God, and returns to a monotheistic view of the world, then my position will obviously change regarding privilege and power. But I’ve been following the Christian response to Teo’s journey, and I see a whole bunch of criticism and intolerance towards him coming from that camp as well.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Are you serious?

            The aftermath of British Colonialism still affects India to this day. The fact that so many US companies are outsourcing their call-centres to India as a means of cheap labour is evidence that a Neocolonialism is in effect.

            Hinduism without Western colonialism isn’t anywhere near comparable to Christianity.

            Furthermore, it’s completely irrelevant to the discussion. This is derailment.

          • Alley Valkyrie

            I agree about colonialism, but that doesn’t negate the oppressive nature of Hinduism. Especially in terms of the oppression of women. Quite comparable to Christianity, of not worse than.

            But I agree its irrelevant, and I’m more than willing to stop here.

          • Genexs

            If a person leaves Christianity and joins Paganism, will that person get an interview in the NYTimes?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I’m not holding my breath. Maybe the precise question is, “If a former Mouseketeer…”

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

            I’m not sure your personal judgement that “Christo-Pagan” is nonsensical should act as a final arbiter of who is or isn’t Pagan. I’m not sure it’s possible to have a final arbiter, and I’m not interested in having it be any single person… despite my own strong distaste for that blend (which has only ever been served up bland and flavorless when I’ve been around).

            Also, given the fact that Teo apparently received death threats from Pagan readers, I think we can take it as a given that there were Pagans who were less than gracious about his spiritual evolution. Sad, but sadly unsurprising. As were Get Christian’s disrespectful comments.

          • TadhgMor

            I was unaware of the death threats. That’s truly surprising to me.

            I’m not anywhere near the final arbiter, but I’m not going to bow down to some fetishized inclusion for the sake of inclusion. If you’re a Christian, you have a community. You have no business in mine. Hippy New Age forms of Christianity are still Christianity. I’m staking out that position because I think it needs to be said. Most likely, judging by the movement of the pagan community, I will lose on this issue in the long run.

          • Genexs

            I had not heard this. Is there documentation?

          • ELNIGMA

            “Teo apparently received death threats from Pagan readers” whoever did that is a dirtbag.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Also, given the fact that Teo apparently received death threats from Pagan readers…

            Source on that? Cos I see people say this, and yet no-one links back to even just claims on his blog.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’d like to hear more on this one, too.

            I can’t say that I am surprised, but I feel that something as serious as this needs exposure.

          • Genexs

            Yes, if someone has information on this, I would hope it would be soon forthcoming.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            IIRC Jason shut down comments on Teo’s original post because of hostile comments that included death threats.

          • Placental Mammal

            I was under the impression that Teo shut down comments in both his TWH posts and his personal blog a few months before his conversion announcement.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I hadn’t heard that. I’m going on what Jason said in a comment stream a few days ago.Hey, no more Thessaly!?

          • Placental Mammal

            I see. Well I’m afraid I missed them, the threads must have gotten deleted pretty quickly.

            Death threats are illegal whether online or off and I advise collecting evidence and giving them to law enforcement.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Where’s that comment?

            Direct links to comments are in their timestamps (“a day ago”, “twelve hours ago”, etc…)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            If you know how to look it up, you are free to do so. You’re the one who seems to be motivated.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Eh, I was just checking for comments on bishopinthegrove.com, and he’d allowed them up until mid-October. I didn’t care enough to read them or read his posts for an explanation of why he’s shut down comments just after finding Jeebus behind he couch, but his comment shutdown was more recent than you recall.

            That said, blocking comments around that time still doesn’t mean anyone has ever threatened to harm or kill him. Remember, this is the same guy who found himself in a personal crisis of shame and regret over participating in a circle rit at his local PPD over a year ago cos he suddenly just realised that a circle effectively “creat[es] and Us and Them”. From where I sit, the man has invested a lot of personal identity points into being WAY too sensitive to things around him. Do I believe some people left hostile comments? Sure, but “threatening” is a very specific kind of hostility, at least as defined by most laws, which is probably the easiest way to define what counts as “threatening” in the sea of “hostility” with any amount of objectivity. I’m not going to assume that he’s gotten anything but hostile comments just because he’s shut them down, I know better than to assume.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Why this lust for documentation of this claim? What major issue hinges on it? Teo can be sensitive as all get-out and still know the difference between snark and menace.

          • Placental Mammal

            Personally, regardless of my feelings about Bishop himself let’s just say as someone who has had threats of violence against me before years ago I really regret not saving them and printing them out, especially because of how volatile I later learned this person was who sent those threats to me.

            Less personal-Well, I’d still like proof, even though I think even if there weren’t threats I suspect it’s unlikely it’d be as awful as what women deal with online on a frequent basis.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Were you witness to that, or was it hearsay?

          • Genexs

            Thanx Baruch.

          • ELNIGMA

            “you have two opposing understandings of the universe” aka a paradox in an often paradoxical universe.

            If someone can figure their way through that, and wants to do it, and isn’t doing any harm to anyone by doing so, good for them.

        • Genexs

          This incident reminds me of a sad event from a number of years ago. The cover of a well known alternative health magazine (I think it was East/West Journal, but I’m not sure) featured a picture of a fellow (with an in depth article inside) who claimed to have somehow cured himself of HIV-Aids. At the very same time this zine was arriving at health-food stores and magazine stands–his obituary was posted in the NYTimes. There was some much deserved hand-wringing in the health community at the time.

          On a lighter note, in order to cheer myself up I often like to see things through the filter of grade-B horror movies. This incident reminds me of a line form the movie “The Stepfather”, where the identity shifting main character answers a telephone by saying “Who am I know?”

  • TadhgMor

    I wanted to ask why the GetReligion writers thought a Christian commentor would be necessary for that NYT piece, which let’s be honest, has nothing to do with Christianity per se and everything to do with the journey to it.

    But I forgot the last columnist (our great “friend”) banned me for daring to ask him questions. So someone else should ask, politely, for this columnist, who hopefully is more honest and less of an authoritarian, to explain his logic. I’m genuinely curious.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Regret for lack of Christian comment was sort of a GetReligion reflex. They claim to advocate balanced journalistic coverage, and their first test of balance is whether both sides of any issue are plumbed for quotes. They beat the tar out of any coverage of gay marriage or abortion that doesn’t include some bishop or Baptist going tsk-tsk-tsk. So it would be odd for a GR columnist to say, “They didn’t consult any Christians but the coverage is balanced anyway.”

      • TadhgMor

        Yeah, I can see that based on what I’ve read of them.

        But I want to see them justify it logically themselves.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “Many of the nation’s top elected officials, including Abe and Shimomura are members of the organization’s political wing, Shinto Seiji Renmei…”

    Interesting. A political wing for a religion and a major ‘EDC’ potentially moving towards a theocratic position.

    I am not interested in Shinto itself, but this has a lot of potential.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      OK, I’ll admit the possibility of a bit of prejudice on my part — I was born in 1941 — but the whole thing makes me a bit queasy. Shinto was the spiritual driving force of the Japanese Empire in the first half of the 20th Century. Perhaps I’m being inconsistent, not burdening Roman Reconstructionists with what Rome did 100 generations ago but feeling otherwise about what Shinto did three generations ago. YMMV.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        And secular capitalism is destroying the global ecosystem.

        We can find negatives in everything.

        Of course, I am not saying this will be a good move, but it will be interesting. More so, since it seems to show a rejection of Christianity, which is almost always a good thing.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I’m guessing you’re a lot younger than I if you can toss off World War Two as “finding negatives.”In any event, Christianity is a minority religion in Japan. Not one single Japanese Christian need become Shinto for it to enjoy a demographic rebound there.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            My grandfather fought in WW2, in South East Asia. (One of many who lied about their age to enlist.) I have heard some terrible things.

            However, World War Two pales into insignificance compared to the threat of ecosystem collapse, which is what we are potentially facing.

            I am certainly not going to blame WW2 on Shinto, though.