Updates: Sacred Paths Center, James Arthur Ray, The Winnemem Wintu, and Harry Potter

This Sunday, I have updates on some previously reported stories. Sacred Paths Center’s Fiscal Crisis: As I reported on Friday, Sacred Paths Center, a Pagan community center serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul area (aka “Paganistan”), sent out a message that they were in dire fiscal straits and needed over 7000 dollars immediately if they were to avoid closure. Now one of the SPC’s board members, CJ Stone, has been interviewed by PNC-Minnesota about the situation. “We were working from a membership model.

The Witchcraft-Obsessed Bush Administration

As George W. Bush’s administration fades away into history more details about its character are starting to see the light of day, perhaps some of the most revealing so-far come from former Bush speech-writer Matt Latimer’s new book “Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor”. Filled with embarrassing quips from George W. Bush and other top administration officials, it also seems to confirm a sneaking suspicion among modern Pagans that Bush and his administration had a unique obsession with Witchcraft and the occult.
Latimer writes that administration officials objected to giving author J.K. Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her writing “encouraged witchcraft” (p. 201): “This was the same sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged withcraft.” This newly-revealed “Harry Potter encourages witchcraft” attitude, along with Jim Towey’s misguided comments, the VA interpreting old anti-Wicca Bush quotes in order to make policy, and the snubbing of a Wiccan military widow (that Bush later apologized for) seems to confirm at the very least that Bush’s people (like the VA) either broadly interpreted his past anti-Witchcraft comments, or that conservative Christian attitudes towards minority faiths were pervasive. Considering the newly hyper-partisan anger among conservative “values voters”, it could certainly be read as a movement in turmoil over being removed from the access to the executive power they felt was their right.

Quick Note: Return of the Olympians?

It seems I’m somewhat out of the loop concerning what’s hot in the post-Harry Potter world of young adult fantasy fiction, because producer/director Chris Columbus (who directed the first two Harry Potter movies) is bringing a new series to the big screen, and this one seems more explicitly mythical (and dare I say “pagan”) than the “Potterverse” ever was. “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” follows the adventures of Percy (Perseus) Jackson, a son of Poseidon, who, along with some fellow demigods, goes on a series of adventures.

“Directed by Harry Potter veteran Chris Columbus, the film is a fantasy based on the first book in Rick Riordan’s popular series. In the story, a young modern-day boy named Percy Jackson learns that he’s the half-human/half-god son of Poseidon and embarks on a journey of adventure and self-discovery that also involves warring gods.” You can see the official film web site, here.

Harry Potter Haters

MTV reports on the upcoming documentary about Harry Potter fan culture “We Are Wizards”. Among the threads in this interesting-looking film is the opposition to Harry Potter by Christian conservatives, and the film features far-right conspiracy theorist Carol Matriciana as their voice.”The fans’ fight not just with Warner Bros. but also the religious right is also included, via occult researcher Carol Matriciana, who had made an anti-Potter film called “Witchcraft Repackaged.” “Her work has inspired a lot of Christian activists,” Koury said. “If doesn’t help anyone’s case if you’re going to show someone who rants and raves on either side, so I wanted her because she can make a sound argument.””If Matriciana is the “reasonable” voice of Christian opposition to Harry Potter, then it just shows you how far out of the mainstream these people are*. You see, her documentary “Witchcraft Repackaged” is sold by hate-literature mavens Chick Publications!”This video explains how Scholastic Inc., the largest publisher of children’s books in the world, is supplying Harry Potter materials to millions of schoolchildren.

Brunswick Board is Back in the News!

Some of you may remember our old friends on the Brunswick County School Board of North Carolina. Back in 2006 they tried to allow Christian groups to hand out religious literature on school campuses, a plan that was scuttled when Pagan publisher Llewellyn Worldwide told the board they would provide free books for local Pagans to hand out in schools.Brunswick County Board of Education considering Pagan books.”Board member Shirley Babson says she’s not afraid of potential lawsuits. She’s afraid of giving the appearance that the board approves of the literature groups would show the kids. “If I put something like this on the table, kids are going to say ‘Mrs. Babson thinks that’s alright. Mrs. Babson thinks that’s fine,’ ” Babson said.”Then, in 2007, the Brunswick Board petulantly threatened to ban Harry Potter books from their libraries in seeming retaliation against the Witches.