(Pagan) News of Note

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My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

Raymond Ibrahim, editor of “The Al Qaeda Reader”, discusses the new movie “Beowulf” in The National Review, and complains about Hollywood’s pro-pagan and anti-Christian stance.

“By now, the oft-recurring negative portrayals of Christianity in major Hollywood movies have become hackneyed and predictable. The recent rendition of Beowulf only reinforced this trend. The same subtle depictions and motifs present in movies from decades past were once again present, a favorite being the attempt to try to depict pagans as “open-minded” and “free-spirited” peoples, or, quite anachronistically, as medieval counterparts to the modern, secular, liberal. The idea being that pagan peoples – unencumbered by the suffocating forces of Christianity – were/are happy, passionate folk, able to live life to the fullest.”

To prove his point he cherry-picks a handful of pro-Pagan (and pro-Muslim) films spanning several years (including “Excalibur” and “The 13th Warrior”). But his argument falls apart when you stack up the recent number of Christian-positive films (“Evan Almighty”, “Amazing Grace”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “The Passion of the Christ”, and “Millions”) against his “pro-pagan” selections. If Hollywood has an idealogical stance, it is whatever stance that will make them the most money.

Aspen, the famous skiing resort, is suffering from a lack of snow, so this year (like last year) they are calling on some extra help to get the flakes started.

“In Aspen some locals are praying to the Norse ski god Ullr in hopes of bringing some of the white stuff. Last year Whistler-Blackcomb did it and they had the most snow they’ve had in many years. And this year they are off to a great start. Danny Brown, one of those who has lit fires in Aspen, told the Aspen Daily News it is a way to pool energy and draw snow. One of the largest Ullr fires in recent memory was created last week by Brown and three other locals. It was an all-day and most-of-the-night ritual that brought together a small group of ski bums for some good times and laughter, and plenty of collective wishing for the element that truly binds them — snow.”

Will they get better results than Georgia’s Governor?

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? That is the question posed to the Pagan-friendly Unitarian Universalists in South Carolina.

“Unitarian Universalists often are asked at this time of year whether we celebrate Christmas – which we do. The next question is always, “Why?” … Christmas offers Unitarian Universalists an opportunity to celebrate with customs and meanings derived from many faith traditions. No one knows the actual date of the birth of Jesus, but the time just after the winter solstice was originally chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations of the return of the sun and, with it, the promise of renewal of the days of warmth and light that follow. Earth-centered traditions such as Wicca and American Indian spirituality also honor the solstice, as does the Hindu festival of light and in some respects, the minor Jewish festival of Hanukkah.”

So the answer is “yes”, but not in the way you are thinking.

Santa: Christian or Pagan? The Chicago Tribune asks the experts!

“Many anthropologist types see Santa as a modern descendant of Thor, the avuncular, bearded pagan god of thunder who soared through the air in a goat-drawn chariot from his home in the north and swooped down chimneys toward his favorite element: fire. So Santa must be pagan, right? Not so fast. Many others believe Santa was inspired by the 4th Century bishop Nicholas of Myra, the youngest bishop in the history of Christianity. The son of a wealthy merchant, his generosity and soft spot for children earned him sainthood. His memory came alive every year when he delivered presents on the eve of his feast day on Dec. 6. So Santa is a Catholic or Orthodox Christian?”

The ultimate answer? That in America he, like many Americans, came from Protestants but is now thoroughly secular in nature.

A New York school principal who was accused of using school funds and resources to hire a Santera, has agreed to step down from her position.

“A New York school principal has admitted using city funds to pay for a Santeria ritual at the school. Maritza Tamayo, in a settlement with the board of education, agreed to accept a demotion to teacher for the rest of the school year, The New York Post reported. She would then resign next summer.”

Perhaps the ritual to remove “negative energy” worked in ways she didn’t expect.

In a final note, today is World AIDS Day, and two Pagan bloggers have already posted commentary in honor of the day. The Pagan Prattle reports on the pernicious “cures” being spread by con-men. While many of these come from the developing nations, Homeopaths in London are spreading dangerous misinformation too.

“…the Society of Homeopaths are holding a conference in London next week featuring the work of Peter Chappell, who also claims he can make an immediate impact on the Aids epidemic using music encoded with his Aids remedies. “Right now,” he says, “Aids in Africa could be significantly ameliorated by a simple tune played on the radio.” Damningly, contemptibly, not one single person from the homeopathy community has spoken out to criticise this lunacy.”

Meanwhile, Hrafnkell at A Heathen’s Day looks at President Bush’s over-reliance on Christian religion to “solve” the global AIDS crisis.

“I think this is outrageous. It’s fine for Bush to have his religion and to practice it, and to believe in whatever God he wants. But to tell us followers of one particular deity are the key to victory in anything is to take an official, not a private, stand on religion, and that is a violation of the separation of church and state. He wants to throw money at these “faith-based” groups – Christians all.”

The World AIDS Day site has some suggestions on how to spread awareness of HIV and AIDS on this day. Worried about past sexual and drug-related activities and haven’t been tested? Why not find the nearest testing resources.

That is all I have for now, have a great day.