Rod Dreher, Strange Bedfellows, and Modern Paganism

I rarely agree with American Conservative opinion columnist Rod Dreher, not because he’s a “crunchy conservative,” but because his views on religion are so skewed by his evangelical-turned-Catholic-turned-Orthodox Christian worldview that he often comes off (perhaps inadvertently) as the worst sort of smug, triumphalist, man-of-God. The kind of guy who blames Haiti’s condition on Vodou, right after it’s rocked by a massive natural disaster and humanitarian crisis. “The kind of religion one practices makes a huge difference in how the community lives — for better or for worse. I suppose it’s at least arguable that the Haitians would be better off at the Church of Christopher Hitchens rather than as followers of voodoo.“
The kind of guy who calls Santeria savage demon worship (just like Vodou), who spreads unproven smears against liberal Catholics involving the taint of Vodou and polytheism, who joined the hilarious-in-retrospect freak-out over Hollywood “pantheism” (ie “Avatar” made a lot of money), and who never misses an opportunity to be “funny” regarding the beliefs of modern Pagans (it’s humorless and like Dungeons & Dragons). However, adversity makes for strange bedfellows and all that, there is stuff going down, a Pope has resigned, and the secular “nones” are rising!

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. The Associate Press reports that Angel Valley retreat in Sedona, Arizona, where the now-infamous and deadly sweat lodge ceremony led by James Arthur Ray was held, has settled a civil lawsuit brought by victim’s families and participants. The sum is not disclosed in the report, and there is no admission of liability by the owners of Angel Valley. The trial of Ray, who is charged with three counts of manslaughter, continues.

Rupert, Beliefnet, and Me

I just wanted to quickly note that I’m extensively quoted in a new column by Michael Triplett at the media-observing site Mediaite on the recent sale of Beliefnet by former owners News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch to the evangelical Christian investment group BN Media. I’m afraid I don’t have many glowing laurels to lay at Beliefnet’s feet. “The site itself, aside from a few of its blogs, was so watered down as to be completely uninteresting to those looking for something aside from bland platitudes and feel-good inspirational stories. As others have complained, the site seemed direction-less, purpose-less.”

Quick Notes: Witch Hunters, Anti-Pagans, and Getting Religion

Turning the Witch-Hunter into a Hero: Summit Entertainment, the company the brought you the “Twilight” movie adaptations, is branching out from vampires into the world of witchcraft. But we won’t be seeing sexy heroic witches, or even gothy bad-girl witches like in “The Craft”, instead the protagonist will be the witch-hunter. “Summit made a pre-emptive mid-six figures acquisition of The Last Witch Hunter, a Cory Goodman pitch that has franchise potential, and the attachment of Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. The protagonist is one of the last remaining witch hunters, a breed that keeps the population of witches and warlocks in check. They are about to repopulate in a major way unless he can stop them.”

Theology After Google and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: The Los Angeles Times covers a three-day conference about the future of American Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology. Entitled “Theology After Google”, the main focus was on how Christian churches need to change with the times, but there was plenty of food for thought for non-Christians interested in the future of religion. “The consensus: It’s a whole new world out there. Churches will ignore it at their peril. “I think things like denomination and ordination are part of the old system of control and domination that has to go,” [Pastor Doug] Pagitt, 42, said as he relaxed after the conference’s first day at the Theo Pub set-up for participants …