A Few Quick Notes

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First off, some of you may have noticed that I was interviewed for an Associated Press article concerning the decision by Marshall University to allow excused absences for Pagan holidays (which I blogged about previously).

“By specifically including pagans, Marshall is taking an important step toward recognizing the validity of their beliefs, said Jason Pitzl-Waters, an authority on paganism who edits the Wild Hunt Web site, a blog about religion, politics and culture. ‘That’s part of the struggle for modern pagans,’ said Pitzl-Waters, a pagan. ‘Even though modern paganism has been in the public since the 1950s, a lot of people still see it as a rebellious teenage activity, not necessarily something you do as a religious observance’ … ‘What binds [modern Pagans] together isn’t our theology, necessarily,’ Pitzl-Waters said. ‘What binds us together is a sense of communal practice and togetherness.'”

I’d like to thank AP reporter Tom Breen for making me seem (somewhat) coherent, and for including me as a source alongside such luminaries as Ronald Hutton and Helen Berger.

In other media-related news, it seems that the ever-popular culture site Arts & Letters Daily has linked to professor Mary Lefkowitz’s pro-polytheism L.A. Times editorial “Bring back the Greek gods” (which I briefly mentioned last week).

“Prominent secular and atheist commentators have argued lately that religion “poisons” human life and causes endless violence and suffering. But the poison isn’t religion; it’s monotheism. The polytheistic Greeks didn’t advocate killing those who worshiped different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided the right answers. Their religion made the ancient Greeks aware of their ignorance and weakness, letting them recognize multiple points of view.”

With this nod from The Chronicle of Higher Education (the organization that runs/hosts the A&L Daily site), can we hope that more polytheism-boosting articles and editorials from prominent academics will soon appear?

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Day of the Dead (which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd). Quite a few stories are popping up on the newswires concerning the holiday. The L.A. Times reports on how the syncretic holiday in Mexico is now incorporating Halloween into the mix, Minnesota Public Radio talks about the how the holiday is celebrated, and the OC Register highlights Day of the Dead celebrations in San Juan.

“The library kicked the festivities off with Mariachi performances at noon, with the entertainment continuing throughout the day. Performances by Aztec Dancers helped illustrate the events roots, Garza said. “It added a nice spiritual touch because it’s from the ancient Aztec’s that the day started,” she said.”

Be sure to also check out Chas Clifton’s post (with photos) on Day of the Dead altars set up at Colorado State University (where he teaches).