Archives For Parliament of World Religions

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Over the past six months, Witchita State University (WSU) quietly renovated and expanded of its Grace Memorial Chapel. The pews and small altar were removed to give the interior worship space the flexibility to cater to a number of various religious traditions. More specifically, WSU wanted to accommodate the needs of its growing Muslim community. According to WSU President Jim Bardo, the chapel was originally gifted for use by the entire university community, regardless of “creed and race.”

Although work began in May, the renovation was only recently announced, setting off protests and backlash from predominantly alumni and off-campus locals. A taste of that backlash and the ensuing public debate can be found in the comment section of the Bardo’s Facebook announcement. Due to these protests, the community decided to hold a Friday evening service called “Prayers for Support,” and one local Pagan community stepped forward to help.

Bruce Blank said, “I felt it was important for Pagans to have a voice in assisting healing for Inter-faith community.” Blank belongs to Ma’at’s Temple of South Central Kansas. The group submitted a prayer for use in the multi-faith service. The prayer began, “As from the Infinitely Vast to the Infinitely small – We are all part of the Center…”  The Pagan presence were so well-received that chapel administrators invited Blank to participate a “future symposium at W.S.U. to represent pagan perspectives on inter-faith issues.”

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9780374291372Alex Mar‘s long-awaited book, Witches of America, is now available for purchase. In this book, Mar includes both her research into Witchcraft practices and her personal experiences interacting with a number of modern Pagan communities. A Harvard graduate, Mar is best known for her 2010 documentary film American Mystic.

An excerpt from Witches of America is published in New York Magazine. In this short segment, Mar details the preparation and experience in her first Feri circle. She writes, “Just a couple of hours ago, this was the living room of a conservative New England family, complete with grand piano, love seat, and plush Oriental carpet— but all that’s been moved aside for our intended use of the space this weekend.”

To date, a few mainstream news sites have published reviews including NPR, whose reviewer found “the cultural research aspect of the book more engaging than Mar’s personal journey.” While no Pagan writer has published a review yet, there have been some rumblings and expressions of concern from within the collective Pagan communities. Several Pagan bloggers have indicated that they will be reviewing the book soon. Look for those reviews over the next few weeks.

Mar’s book Witches of America was released Oct. 20 and published by Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

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cuupsThe Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans has announced the results of its September board election. The new trustees include: Angela Brown as VP for Development; Catharine Clarenbach as VP of Ministerial Relations; Debra Gilbert asSecretary; and Peter Dybing as VP for Membership.

VP Communications J. Hildebrand said, “The Board thanks all of the members who took the time to vote and speak their conscience. Member commitment to the organization is honored.

In addition, CUUPS members voted to “stand in solidarity with the Unitarian Universalist Association” with regard to two global issues: social justice and environmental protection. The two new organizational statements support the UU’s “Commit2Respond statement on Climate Change” and “Showing up for Justice” #BlackLivesMatter.”

The environmental justice statement simply “affirms and supports” that which is expressed in the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. The #BlackLivesMatter statement begins, “The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Inc., affirms the intention of all members and friends to be in solidarity with those seeking justice and an end to violence…” and offers suggestions on further steps to take within this effort.

In Other News

  • Michigan Pagan College Fund has just announced that it has two new sponsors. Coventry Creations and the Candle Wick Shoppe have together pledged $500 a year to the fund. According to the organization, 100% of all money raised goes directly to the students to not only help them “go to college, but also graduate.” The Michigan Pagan College Fund was initially “established by the Midwest Witches Ball and Witches of Michigan” after the Tempest Smith Foundation (TSF) closed its doors in 2014. Organizers didn’t want to see this monetary support disappear and took up the reins when TSF disbanded.
  • Everglades Moon Local Council of Covenant of the Goddess has announced that its Samhain podcast is now available for download and listening. The organization creates seasonal podcasts to help bring its expansive Florida-based community and membership together. In addition, the organization has announced the opening of registration for its “Turning of the Tides” festival held annually in December in south Florida. The event is open to anyone wanting to get to know the local EMLC community. The festival will be held Dec.11-13. Register online from now through November.
  • God & Radicals, the paper journal, is due out soon. Editors announced that this first edition will be “120 pages and contains the work of writers and artists from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, 32 Pagans, polytheists, witches, magicians, environmentalists, Druids and activists.” The forward is by Peter Grey of Scarlet Imprint. Writers include “Silvia Federici, T. Thorn Coyle, Nimue Brown, Jonathan Woolley, Margaret Killjoy, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, James Lindenschmidt, Lia Hunter, Max Oanad, Lorna Smithers, Christopher Scott Thompson, Al Cummins, and more.” The journal will be available in mid-November.
  • With the Parliament of the World’s religions now over, many people will be posting and sharing Parliament reviews, reflections and writings.The Wild Hunt will be doing our our post-Parliament wrap up and reflections in the coming days. But kicking off such work is blogger Annika Mongan at Patheos’ Born Again Witch. In the post titled “Overwhelmed by the Parliament,” Mongan writes, “I look out of the window as we ascend over the salt flats and ponder how to write about the Parliament. And that’s when the tears come. They take me by surprise, for I am not someone who cries easily. And they keep coming.”
  • Similarly, Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary’s PWR delegation discussed their experiences on Tuesday’s edition of the Pagans Radio Tonight show Nature Magic. Fox talks to a number of people about why they attended, what the weekend meant and what they are bringing back with them to their daily lives. This portion of the show began at 8pm, which is approximately half way through the program.

That’s it for now! Have a nice day.