As we reach the close of 2007, it is time to stop for a moment and take stock of the previous year. When you look at (and for) news stories regarding modern Paganism (and related topics) every day of the year, you can sometimes lose focus on the larger picture. So it can be a helpful thing to look at the broad strokes, the bigger themes, the events and developments that will have lasting impact on the modern Pagan movement. What follows are my picks for the top ten stories from this past year involving or affecting modern Pagans. 10.
The media has remained fascinated with Ellwood “Bunky” Bartlett, a Wiccan who won a 33 million dollar jackpot in September. Last week a story hit the wires that Bartlett was going to open a “real-life Hogwarts” school for Witches, leading some to think the newly-rich-Witch was going to follow in the footsteps of online establishments like Don Lewis’s Witch School or Oberon Zell-Ravenheart’s Grey School of Wizardry. Today, Bartlett appears in the papers again, to clarify what his post-lottery Pagan plans are.”Ellwood “Bunky” Bartlett … would like to clear up a few misconceptions about his plans for a “witch school.” Yes, he’d like to start a pagan seminary.
That lighthouse of religious tolerance Tucker Carlson, conservative pundit and host of “Tucker” on MSNBC, has shared his theological views on modern Pagans once again. This time he has described the religion of Wiccan lottery winner Ellwood “Bunky” Bartlett as “Satanic”.”You’re saying basically the U.S. government is subsidizing some kind of devil worshiper, Satanism … That’s perfect.”For those with long memories, you may recall that Tucker’s disdain for Wicca is nothing new. Back in 2005 he had Christian author Catherine Sanders on to discuss her book “Wicca’s Charm”. “According to a 1986 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals, they are in the eyes of the First Amendment anyway practicing a real religion …
So lets say you run the biggest religion and spirituality web site on the Internet, and you decide to run a cover-story on a Wiccan who just won the lottery. What supplementary articles do you pick to run with the Associate Press story? What Neo-Pagans believe, and a collection of Pagan prayers? Sounds good, but how about we balance that out with an anti-polytheism article by conservative Jewish “intelligent design” proponent David Kinghoffer? “…idolatry, polytheism, and witchcraft are really just three manifestations of the same error – to which, interestingly, Hebrew gives no name.
My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.The Record takes a look at the spread of Santeria in the ranks of Major League Baseball, and interviews Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen about his public devotion to the Orisha.”If you see my saints, you’ll be like ‘Golly, they’re ugly … They’ve got blood. They’ve got feathers. You go to the Catholic church, the (saints) have got real nice clothes. My religion, you see a lot of different things you never see.”The article lists MLB players Los Angeles Angels pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera, and the White Sox’s pitcher Jose Contreras as active adherents to Santeria, while Cincinnati Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez and Chicago Cubs infielder Ronny Cedeno have reportedly “experimented” with the faith.