Quick Notes: Murph Pizza, Foreclosures, Chas Clifton

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Just a few quick news notes for you this Sunday morning.

Interview with a Pagan Anthropologist: PNC-Minnesota interviews Murph Pizza, a local Pagan and cultural anthropologist specializing in religions and American religious cultures, about “Pagan culture” and what common ground our diverse religions contain.

I make the argument in my thesis that yes, we do have some bottom, base line Pagan values. If you talk to Pagans, they have this weird cultural thing that we just disagree on everything and we’ll never agree on anything. That is really not true. We really are more alike than we realize. We seem to have a cultural habit of denying when someone says, “Well don’t you kind of share the same values?”, we say . “No we are all different, and we like that”. Interestingly, one shared Pagan value is the celebration of diversity. Diversity is one of the things it is hard to be unified about because, well it is diversity! <laughs> The fact that we are negotiating that we are sort of the same people and yet maintain our differences, values, paths, practices, etc, is a real interesting tension. I think it keeps the movement viable. It is frustrating when you are in it, but we need to remember that kind of tension keeps us living and breathing as a culture and a religion.

There is another shared value in that there is a genuine love of place, and of the planet. How it is expressed is where the diversity really hits. Some people become politically or socially active, like SuSu does with Coldwater Spring, or some people mya just keep it in their back yard. How it is expressed is different but there really is a shared sense that this spinning ball of mud is fantastic and it is all we have got. Let’s teach the next generation to keep it around. So that is just a couple of shared values. This shared divine sense of place and insistence on our diversity.

Pizza, who wrote her thesis on the Twin Cities (aka Paganistan) Pagan community, is in the process of having the work published as a book. I would recommend reading the entire, fascinating, interview.

Foreclosures in the Pagan Community: LA Pagan Examiner Joanne Elliott, who’s been doing an excellent job covering local Pagan-oriented stories, reports that Ed Fitch, Gardnerian elder and author of several influential Pagan books, has lost his home due to foreclosure.

“The place is stripped,” Ed Fitch reported on Tuesday of his Orange County home of 31 years as he showed off the empty rooms. He was not without a little nostalgia, though. “I raised my kids here, had a lot of pets,” he said. Then he laughed, “Had a lot of parties – pagan parties, the best kind!”

Fitch will be moving to Texas to live with his eldest son. Many have been hard hit in Los Angeles, though some, like Pagan performer Marguerite Kusuhara, have been able to modify their mortgage and remain in their homes. I suspect that these stories could ring true for many Pagans throughout the United States, as they try to save their homes in this economic crisis.

The Letters From Hardscrabble Creek: I’d just like to quickly note that Pagan academic Chas Clifton’s blog has been hitting on all cylinders the past couple weeks, and you should head over there if you haven’t lately. Covering Pagan chaplaincy issues, an American goddess, and several posts dealing with Pagan scholarship and the back-and-forth over Ronald Hutton’s “Triumph of the Moon” (and the new critique “Trials of Moon”), the results have been engaging to say the least.

“No topic is ever “closed.” Historical works—which is how Prof. Hutton would describe Triumph—are not holy scriptures. New thinkers and new generations bring new scholarship and new interpretations. But what Hutton has done is establish a standard. Anyone who challenges his conclusions (and given that ten years have passed, he has challenged some of them himself, I expect) must do at least as much in-depth research as he has done. They can’t just snipe from the sidelines. Rhetoricians talk about “invented ethos,” by which a speaker or writer displays their qualifications to engage a topic: I have studied such-and-such at this or that level. I have done such-and-such. I have experienced such-and-such. (“Invention” does not imply falsification in this context.) It is that level of ethos I see lacking in his critics—so far.”

I plan on exploring the ongoing Hutton/Trials of the Moon controversy/debate in more detail on this site soon, but until then, Chas’ blog is a good place to start your journey.

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