A Pagan’s Guide to the Oscars

I have a confession to make, I love award shows. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the pomp and pageantry, maybe it’s the idea of a shared cultural experience, maybe I’m just drawn to fabulously wealthy people giving each other statues. Whatever the reason, barring a few exceptions, if there’s an award show on, I’m generally watching. So it’s a given that I’ll be tuning into the 82nd Annual Academy Awards tonight. So as long as I’m doing that, why don’t we examine the nominees from a Pagan perspective.

A Few Quick Pop-Culture Notes

For those of you who like to keep track of Pagan and occult themes in pop-culture and the arts, I’ve got a few goodies to share. First, online magazines Right Where You Are Sitting Now and Dangerous Minds profile a new short (7 & 1/2 minute) film by Brian Butler entitled “Night of Pan”.

“‘Night of Pan’ is a seven and a half minute film featuring film auteur Kenneth Anger and actor Vincent Gallo. The film has been screened in various versions internationally – Beijing, Lisbon, Cannes, Athens, Rome, Berlin and elsewhere, but never in Butler’s base, Los Angeles. In the film, Anger, Gallo, and Butler depict an occult ritual that symbolizes the stage of ego death in the process of spiritual attainment.”

Child Sacrifice in Uganda and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: The BBC leads with a story about ritual child-killings in Uganda, saying that the problem may be more widespread than previously thought. At the center of this investigation is former witch-doctor turned anti-sacrifice campaigner Polino Angela, who claims that he himself sacrificed children, including his own son. When he returned to Uganda he says he was told by those who had initiated him to kill his own son, aged 10. “I deceived my wife and made sure that everyone else had gone away and I was with my child alone. Once he was placed down on the ground, I used a big knife and brought it down like a guillotine.”

A Few Quick Notes

I just have a few small items to share this Sunday before we gear up for the year-end count-downs and retrospectives, starting with SF Gate columnist Mark Morford, who argues that all the discussions about pantheism in “Avatar” are besides the point, what it’s really about is “alien porn”. “But wait, we haven’t hit the best part yet. Because in this movie, you don’t merely get to fantasize about the Other from afar or even just indulge in interspecies sex. You get to literally become one of them … Behold, the ultimate in guilty colonialist fetish fantasy epic porn filmmaking, ever.

Hollywood’s Rampant Pantheism

The New York Times conservative columnist (and blogger) Ross Douthat seems like a fairly smart guy, but he tends to lose his cool whenever his theological buttons (he’s Catholic) get pushed. Remember his “living in Dan Brown’s America” freak-out from May? Now he’s wound-up again over James Cameron’s new CGI opus “Avatar”, and how it’s symptomatic of a deep-rooted commitment to pantheism amongst Hollywood’s elite. “It’s at once the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, and the Gospel According to James. But not the Christian Gospel.