McCollum Speaks and other Pagan News of Note

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Top Story: If you’ve been following the legal saga of Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum, who is fighting to have California’s discriminatory “five faiths” policy overturned, you’re going to want to listen to Anne Hill’s hour-long radio discussion with McCollum concerning the case.

“Today I sat in for my friend and colleague Peter Laufer on his Sunday morning KOWS radio show, which gave me the opportunity to interview Patrick on the air about his case. If you have not educated yourself about the case and what is at stake, now is your chance to listen to Patrick explain it in his own words.”

If you aren’t already outraged by this case, you may well be after hearing this interview. You can listen via an audio stream at Anne’s site, or download an MP3 of the entire discussion. For my complete coverage of this case, click here.

In Other News:

Starhawk in Milwaukee: OnMilwaukee interviews Pagan activist and author Starhawk on the occasion of her visit for a series of talks and workshops at a local Unitarian Universalist congregation.

“When I talk or give workshops I try to provide a sense of hope or empowerment regarding what can be done on a personal level, so we’re listening and learning how to be an advocate on a larger level. And how to make our voices heard. But most of all, we create ritual and sacred space and hopefully people walk away feeling like they had a lot of fun.”

Starhawk also discusses her new children’s book, and why connecting with the natural world is important. For a regular dose of Starhawk-related content, check out her personal blog, and her ongoing participation as a panelist at the On Faith site.

Entering the “ex” Industry: After mentioning professional “ex” William Schnoebelen (he’s an ex-Wiccan/Satanist/Mason/Mormon/Vampire) in Saturday’s post about vampires, I’ve come across another looking to get into the “ex” business, Kristine McGuire, who’s releasing a new book entitled “Escaping the Cauldron”.

“What would prompt a woman who had been a Christian for twenty-nine years to abandon her faith and embrace the occult; becoming a witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years?  Escaping the Cauldron: What You Should Know about the Occult details the personal journey of Kristine McGuire and how God restored her to faith in Jesus Christ. The book also examines the current upswing of interest in the paranormal and its effect on Christians. The first book in the Escaping the Cauldron series, this book will give the reader insight into the occult from the vantage point of a former insider.”

McGuire’s “hook” is that she wasn’t a Wiccan, but was instead a “Christian Witch” and ghost hunter who has now seen the light and is going steady with Jesus. In all honesty, McGuire seems like a nice enough person. She doesn’t tell giant lies about Pagan faiths like Schnoebelen and other “ex” authors do, but she’s yet another person hoping to sell her experience with the occult, and parlay that into speaking engagements and, I assume, a career as a professional “ex”. I do question her assertion that she was an “insider” to our culture, as it seem rather plain from her writings that she stayed on the margins, but perhaps that’s just copy to sell more books. Oh, and her site disables right-clicking and copying text, which is really annoying, and isn’t the protection against copyright infringement some seem to think it is.

James Arthur Ray Update: The New Age guru who led a “spiritual warrior” sweat lodge that ended up killing three people, and who is now in custody after being charged with three counts of manslaughter, claims that he’s broke and can’t pay the $5 million dollar bail.

“Despite misconceptions perpetrated in the media, Mr. Ray is not a man of significant assets and certainly not the millions reported in the press,” his attorneys wrote in documents obtained by The Associated Press from the court. The documents are now officially sealed. Ray himself has touted his wealth and success in numerous media interviews and on his Web site, including an estimated $10 million in revenue in 2009 and a seven-figure advance for his book, “Harmonic Wealth” that hit the New York Times Best Sellers List in May 2008.

The article points out that Ray’s company “James Ray International” is not listed as an asset, and it’s very likely he could be using the business as a shield for the sizable wealth he claims to have amassed (and now claims doesn’t exist) over the years. Whether a judge buys the “poor Ray” argument and lowers his bail remains to be seen.

Bible Study: In a final note, Kentucky is moving to join Texas and Tennessee in establishing guidelines for elective Bible literacy courses in public schools. While supporters of the new guidelines say it would teach the Bible as a “historical document”, and would not proselytize, comments from sponsoring lawmakers paint an entirely different scenario.

“Sen. Elizabeth Tori, R-Radcliff, told co-sponsors Boswell and Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, that “an angel was sent down on your shoulders” prompting “you to put this bill together.” “I‘ve said for many years that until we put God back into our households, things in society will not change for the better,” Tori said. “Your bill is the first step to that change.” The measure passed 12-0, but comments by the bill’s co-sponsor, and other senators prompted concern from a few committee members.”

Personally, they can have their elective “Bible literacy” courses so long as they also institute an elective “Classics literacy” course that would teach kids about Homer, Plato, Socrates, Greek history, and other enriching topics. These would be taught as “historical texts” naturally, and I doubt it would lead kids to become polytheists, or major in philosophy. In fact, didn’t restoring the classics to the curriculum used to be a conservative action item? I guess that was before Bible fever hit the movement.

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