Archives For Pagan Alliance Festival

Just a few quick news notes for you this Sunday.

A Hindu Education: While there are a growing number of Hindu temples and house of worship in the United States, it can still be hard for American Hindus to find a place to practice their religion. Even more frustrating is when there is a local temple, but its teachings don’t line up with your own beliefs. Religion News Service reports on how some Hindus are getting together to provide religious education for their children, mixing tradition with views that can be more progressive than is found in some temples.

Manjusha Kulkarni (center left) and other moms play the role of Brahmin or priests, while their children, the untouchables, stand at the edge of the room during a lesson on caste. The self-organized Bal Kendra group teaches Hinduism from a progressive perspective. RNS photo courtesy Santa Monica Bal Kendra

Manjusha Kulkarni (center left) and other moms play the role of Brahmin or priests, while their children, the untouchables, stand at the edge of the room during a lesson on caste. The self-organized Bal Kendra group teaches Hinduism from a progressive perspective. RNS photo courtesy Santa Monica Bal Kendra

“At a Hindu temple, the religious leaders might be defensive about an issue like caste, said Manjusha Kulkarni, the executive director of South Asian Network and one of more progressive parents in the group. Kulkarni says she never enrolled her daughters in a formal religious education program because she had bad experiences at temples. One priest, for instance, told her that women shouldn’t work outside the home, Kulkarni recalls. After Hurricane Katrina, another priest dismissed her five-year-old daughter’s questions about suffering.”

It’s an interesting article, not only because it illustrates the diversity within American Hinduism, but because it shines a light into a situation that may soon be true of modern Pagan faiths as well. There’s been a lot of talk about building temples, community centers, and houses of worship for our community, but it’s inevitable that such institutions, even at their most broad-minded, won’t please everyone. To a certain extent, no matter how much infrastructure we end up building, we’ll always embrace a hybrid of home-based grass-roots teaching alongside more formal attempts at religious education and collective worship. For more on Hindu-Pagan relations, please see my entry on our joint PantheaCon panel.

The Sights of the Pagan Alliance Festival: Photographer Greg Harder, a member of PNC-Bay Area, has posted a photo-set from the recent 11th Annual Pagan Alliance Festival in Berkeley, California.  The 2012 Keeper of the Light is T. Thorn Coyle, pictured below, during the parade.

Thorn Coyle, photo by Greg Harder

Thorn Coyle, photo by Greg Harder

You can see more photos, here. Here’s a video of Lady Yeshe Rabbit performing at the event. Here’s another video, shot by the folks from Oak Myth Masks, who seemed to enjoy the experience.

A Polytheist’s View: Inspired by my recent post about Pagans and Jesus, and my rebuttal to a Catholic blogger’s “praise” of ancient paganism, author and scholar P. Sufenas Virius Lupus provides a lengthy meditation on Christianity through a polytheist lens. Here’s just a short excerpt of a very smart, must-read, essay.

Ancient Roman bust of Antinous. Hadrian age (AD 117-138), National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Ancient Roman bust of Antinous. Hadrian age (AD 117-138), National Archaeological Museum in Athens

“I find myself arriving at the following conclusion. I am a polytheist (and an animist) because I find that these viewpoints best describe my own experiences to me, and they are the framework in which I can best understand and use those experiences toward productive ends for myself and for many (though not all) others. Yes, I love my gods and I love that they have been a part of my life: that is the very basis for my experiences. But when understanding myself theologically, this is the position I find myself in, and I think it’s a good one. My viewpoint on the gods tends not to invalidate their possible existence in other religions, thus I am very happy to concede that Iao Sabaoth, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Allah, various angels and saints, and a number of other divine beings exist; I still worship and interact with a few of these from time to time, to varying degrees of success, and some of them have had transformative and powerful influences on my own spiritual development and experience over the years in the past, which I do not wish to ever forsake or invalidate. However, I’m under no obligation to think of these deities in the same manners as those who are members of religions who consider these deities to be the “only” deities in existence. Gentlidecht, as well as the practices of many other people that I respect a great deal as spiritual colleagues and co-religionists, do not have difficulties with the beings of these other religions, and some of the practices and ideas that arise from them; but, they’re still polytheists, at the end of the day. While monotheists’ own theologies within their religions are perfectly valid for themselves (unless they actively harm others, which they do far more often than all of us non-monotheists would prefer), I will not by any means grant them a validity outside of that relative validity; even the best-intentioned among them would do more than that for me, and I’m fine with that.”

Really, go read the whole thing, you’ll be glad you did.

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