- Reminder: We are in the midst of our second annual Winter Pledge Drive! If you value this blog, its mission, and its content, please consider making a donation to keep The Wild Hunt open, ad-free, and updated daily. Spread the word, and thanks to all who have donated so far!
Just a few quick news notes for you on this Saturday morning.
Canadian Polygamy/Polyamory Case: For the past few months I’ve been covering an upcoming case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada that will decide if the practice of polygamy should be considered a criminal act (as it currently is). That trial will hear opening arguments on Monday, and the Vancouver Sun gives a run-down of case’s history, the players on each side, and what the arguments will be.
George Macintosh — the amicus appointed to argue in favour of polygamy — will come out with guns blazing: The anti-polygamy law, which was enacted in 1890 and revised in 1954, was “aimed at defending a Christian view of proper family life and was employed in the state’s cultural colonization of aboriginal peoples.” His opening statement, filed in advance, says Section 293 “is based on an assumption that polygamy is a practice uniformly associated with harm; essentially, that it is ‘barbarous’. The law is based entirely on presumed, stereotypical characteristics, is not responsive to the actual characteristics of the particular polygamous relationships, and has the effect of demeaning the dignity of practitioners of polygamy.”
While the case will give a large part if its focus to polygamy, Canadian polyamorists also have a stake in this ruling, and many polyamorous families have filed affidavits in support of changing the Criminal Code.
She says the polygamy law “places us in a moral dilemma as parents who have raised children to be law-abiding citizens.” It has meant their children have had difficult conversations with their friends and friends’ parents about their family triad. Their children “love and respect us as parents and know that our relationship is supportive and loving, but we have trouble explaining why our breaking that law is fine but such things as underage drinking and recreational drug use have never been tolerated in or around our home.” Duff is a pagan and her Wiccan priest has declined to perform “polyamorous handfastings.” (A handfasting is a ceremony in which participants are symbolically joined by having their hands bound together with a ribbon.)
Attempts to have the government reveal if they think polyamory falls under their definition polygamy have been rejected by Chief Justice Robert Bauman, meaning that if the attempt to decriminalize polygamy fails, we’ll have no way of knowing if polyamorists would be targeted by law enforcement along with members of FLDS. Pagan clergy in Canada who have the right to legally marry couples, while generally supportive of polyamory, will not perform polyamorous handfastings lest they risk breaking the law. We’ll keep you posted as this case progresses.
Christians Leaving the Fold: Christianity Today features an article by editor Drew Dyck, author of “Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . .and How to Bring Them Back”. In it, Dyck explores the growing number of “nones”, those who claim no religious affiliation, and whether these “leavers” are gone for good. He also mentions that many are leaving Christianity for “alternative spiritualities.”
A sizable minority of leavers have adopted alternative spiritualities. A popular choice is Wicca. Morninghawk Apollo (who renamed himself as is common in Wiccan practice) discussed his rejection of Christianity with candor. “Ultimately why I left is that the Christian God demands that you submit to his will. In Wicca, it’s just the other way around. Your will is paramount. We believe in gods and goddesses, but the deities we choose to serve are based on our wills.” That Morninghawk had a Christian past was hardly unique among his friends. “It is rare to meet a new Wiccan who wasn’t raised in the church,” he told me.
In the CT article, as he did in a previous article I mentioned on this blog, Dyck, like many of his contemporaries, feels the problem lies with being “exposed to a superficial form of Christianity that effectively inoculated them against authentic faith.” While I don’t agree with the superficial/authentic line of reasoning for the problem/solution of Christian leavers, I do give Dyck credit for his willingness to engage with my criticisms in the comments of this blog. If Christianity in the West solves the “leavers” problem, the answer will no doubt lay more with the ideas of clear-headed thinkers like Dyck instead of the political anti-Pagan string-pullers like David Barton (or at least, one would hope that’s the case).
Pagan Hunters: In a final note, I’d like point out an editorial at PNC-Minnesota by Nels Linde that explores hunting from a Pagan perspective, and interviews three Pagan hunters in the process.
“For most Pagan hunters, hunting is a deeply personal, individual, and often solitary experience. Common to all the Pagan hunters I talked to was the idea of sharing this bounty of the woods with others. Whether with family, friends,or community, the tribal nature of sharing the fruits of the hunt is deeply embedded in the human psyche. All felt their experiences while hunting were not coincidences, or solely the result of their skill as hunters. Some spiritual presence was felt. They felt the animals in some way ‘gave’ themselves to them, in offering, and for their family’s sustenance. None practiced the often used technique of large hunter groups ‘driving’ deer from the woods at full run to standing shooters. Pagan hunters feel the chances of wounding a magnificent animal using this method was too risky and disrespectful. They feel they are rewarded for honoring the sacred nature of the deer hunt with full freezers.”
It’s a fascinating look at how modern Paganism resacralizes activities in our lives, and how their experiences go far beyond simply hunting for sport or meat. The whole thing is well worth reading.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!