Regulating Native Practices and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: While the final fate of New Age guru James Arthur Ray, who led a “sweat lodge” ceremony that ended up killing three people, remains an open question, others are working to put Ray, and others like him, out of business. Arizona state Sen. Albert Hale, a former president of the Navajo Nation, is sponsoring a bill that would allow the state to regulate any for-pay activity that claims to be a “traditional and authentic Native American practice.” “A measure proposed by state Sen. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock, would require the Arizona Department of Health Services to regulate individuals or businesses that charge people to take part in what are claimed to be “traditional and authentic Native American practices.” Violators would be subject to yet-to-be-determined civil penalties. Hale said the measure is a direct outgrowth of the incident last October in Sedona, when three people died after participating in what was billed by its promoter as a traditional sweat lodge ceremony.

Book Review: Wicca’s Charm

For background on my first impressions on this book and the author, check out these links from my archives:

Why Are We So Popular (09.08.2005)
Me And My Charms (09.20.2005)
“I wrote this book in order to foster better dialogue between Pagans and Christians.” – Catherine Edwards Sanders
Dialogue (from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)
1 : a written composition in which two or more characters are represented as conversing

2 a : a conversation between two or more persons; also : a similar exchange between a person and something else (as a computer) b : an exchange of ideas and opinions c : a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution
Catherine Edwards Sanders’ new book “Wicca’s Charm” succeeds as a dialogue between Christians and modern Pagans if you use the first definition (indeed, much of the book hinges on the conversations she has with Wiccans and Goddess worshippers) but fails, and is deeply flawed as a work that will heal rifts between conflicted parties, if you consider the second defintion. It is somewhat sad to see so earnest an author come so close to understanding our culture and ideas, but missing the mark. I have no quarrel with the author’s love of Christ, but her impression of our faith(s) is so removed from the context in which we understand them, that it is almost like reading about some alternate-reality version of Wicca. It makes me wonder if a full and rich dialogue about each other’s faith can ever be engaged between a modern Pagan and a Christian, even a Christian as liberal as Sanders.

Me and My Charms

Christian author Catherine Sanders has responded to my post on her book “Wicca’s Charm”. I felt the book was yet another (albeit kinder and gentler) evangelical criticism of modern Paganism complete with tips on how to lead people away from our faith(s) and back to Christianity. Sanders writes:
“The book took a long time to write and a lot of thought went into it. If you read it cover to cover, then I think we can have a constructive discussion about it. I wrote this book in order to foster better dialogue between Pagans and Christians.

Why Are We So Popular?

What is the allure of modern Paganism? Would you believe a Christian has the answer? The Edmonton Sun reviews a new book by Christian author Catherine Sanders that examines why modern Paganism is so darn popular. “Magazine journalist Sanders used a work assignment on the intriguing subject as a starting point to explore America’s growing interest in Wicca, a complex spirituality rooted in nature worship, gods and goddesses, rites, rituals and feminism. A Christian herself, Sanders asks whether paganism has flourished as a result of the church’s shortcomings in regard to nature, the environment and women.