Monday, May 31, 2004

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, part 2

Apparently, I'm a late arrival at this particular meme party. Various people have been all over Hagerty's religion reporting on NPR before now. The gist: she lets her born-again evangelical values influence how she covers stories, and NPR administrators ignore her violations of their reporter's code of ethics.

"Daily Kos," the political blog, calls her a media whore.

This atheist is not happy either.

And there is even an anti-Hagerty entry at this church-and-state blog.

It sounds like a story for the guys at Get Religion, except that their views dovetail perhaps too well with Hagerty's to begin with.


A delayed reaction to Barbara Bradley Hagerty's NPR pieces

Two weeks after blogging about it, I finally listened to National Public Radio reporter Barbara Badley Hagerty's interview with the (mostly) teenaged Wiccans.

A thought struck me: Is Wicca still the only religion that requires a rebuttal? In this base, Bradley Hagerty goes to some teens at some big evangelical church in Colorado Springs for quotes about falling into Satan's clutches and that sort of thing.

Elsewhere in her series, someone outside that church discussed the Pentacostal Toronto Blessing, but it was still within an overall Christian context.

One non-rebuttal voice was the manager of Celebration, the leading New Age (for lack of a better term) bookstore in Colorado Springs. Twenty years ago, when Celebration was much smaller, that job was filled by the notorious MC herself. Originally, the woman who started Celebration, Coreen Toll, was highly skeptical about Paganism, being at the time pretty much of a "white light" New Ager herself.

To her credit, Toll, who started quite small (one shelf of astrology books and a rack of imported India-print dresses in one room of her house) and built the store up from there, later developed an apprecation of Paganism in its various forms (Ka-ching Ka-ching).

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Accommodating polytheists . . . and who else?

This commentary from USA Today got under my skin. When the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye won its court case a few years ago, I was pleased overall, although the "leaving dead chickens under bushes" part seemed pointless to me. A number of my students have cited the case in papers as evidence of the expanding boundaries of American religious freedom. Likewise, we have frequently discussed the Smith case, when the Native American Church collided with the state of Oregon, leading to new federal legislation . . . that was overturned as unconstitutional (see final paragraphs).

But, indeed, how far should courts go in the name of religious freedom? The part about beating the puppy to death as part of a shamanic ritual: from a detached (let's say Martian) perspective, is that any different than the Santeria sacrifice? But it bothers me so much more.

And don't get me started on people like this. I don't feel like cutting them any slack at all.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Joseph Wilson: A Craft Pioneer's Life

Joseph Wilson published one of the first American Pagan newsletters, The Waxing Moon, in the 1960s and through his correspondence with Robert Cochrane, established the "1734" tradition or current or call-it-what-you-will in American Craft. (Another version of 1734 history is here.

His spiritual autobiography is now appearing serially in The Cauldron, but you may read the whole thing online here at his Toteg Tribe site. I recommend it. American Paganism suffers from too much how-to in relation to the what-happened.

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Sunday, May 23, 2004

Virtually Troy

I still have not see Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom in the movie, but, meanwhile, some complex computerized reconstructions of the various levels of Troy can be seen online here. They are part of a web site, Project Troia, documenting collaborative archaeological work between the University of T´┐Żbingen and the University of Cincinnati.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Pagan Blogosphere

If you're reading this, you may be wondering where to find other blogs by Pagans. And the short answer is, there is no one place. But here are some suggestions:

The gigantic and professionally designed Witches' Voice web site has a blog section.

You can find some links at The Juggler, the collaborative Pagan blog.

Another site that rates blogs is Pagan Blogs of the WWW. Find yet another list here. And there is a somewhat outdated site here, although some links were dead the last time that I looked.

"A Witch among the Navajos" update

I have added a photo of Malcolm Brenner to his article "A Witch Among the Navajos," which I added recently to my web site. This humorous photo did not appear in the original Gnosis article, but it was taken about the time of the events he describes, outside the very trailer next to the chapter house in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Malcolm posts occasionally about his writing and life here

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Berkeley's Pagan Pride Parade

Some photos from the Pagan Pride parade, 15 May 2004, in Berkeley, California, are online. (Image-intensive pages will load slowly on a dial-up connection.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Blogging--and gardening--resume

Back from visiting a key North American cell of the International Tazi Conspiracy, M.C. and I are deeply involved (sore backs, dirty fingernails) in the frantic May gardening spurt imposed by Colorado weather, which goes from blizzard to summer in the blink of an eye.

One of this year's goals is to enjoy some hawkmoth watching in the fading light of dusk. Actually, that's a side benefit to having some of the Solanaceae with their white blooms in the night: Datura, Nicotiania, Hyoscyamus.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

More Wiccan History

"The Founding Fathers of Wicca," a graduate-school paper by Susan Young, currently at the University of Alberta, explores Aleister Crowley's liturgical and other influence on Gardnerian Wicca. It was published in Axis Mundi: A Student Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, whose article index is here. The paper is in downloadable PDF format, about 180 KB.

Paganism on National Public Radio

This week, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" program has been running a series on new religious movements, including Paganism. The initial segment, which includes an interview with J. Gordon Melton of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, can be heard online here.

If I am able to hear Thursday's segment on Wicca live, it will be picked up from KRCC's repeater somewhere on the highway around Wagon Mound, New Mexico.

That's right, the notorious M.C. and I are going on the road for a few days. Blogging will resume around the 19th.

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Read 'The Policeman'

The creation of the blogosphere has given us new, unofficial ways of getting information. We can watch the television news about the fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, for instance, and then read one Iraqi's personal response to it in a blog like Riverbend's.

For another "behind the walls" perspective, this time on our loyal ally Saudi Arabia, visit The Religious Policeman. (No, that's not his picture at upper right.) His take on life in the non-magic kingdom is a useful antidote to all the official coziness between the House of Bush and the House of Saud.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Greek Pagans battle for their rites

Followers of traditional Hellenic religion are becoming more visible, notes The Independent in this story.

Georgios, a distinguished lawyer with a turquoise ribbon in his hair to signify the circle of life, cannot see where the credibility problem lies. "The ancient Greeks invented logic, science, medicine and philosophy and built the Parthenon," he says. "Are you telling me they didn't know what they were doing when it came to religion?

No doubt the upcoming Olympic Games and, possibly, the meeting of the World Council of Ethnic Religons upcoming in June have something to do with this move for religious freedom.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Folk religion means ignoring the art critics

Robert Ellwood, one of my favorite and most-readable historians of religion, has a new book out, Cycles of Faith, a sort of lifespan-development theory of how the major religions of the world grow, develop, and change.

Christianity he places in the Folk Religion phase, when although still vibrant, the religion is no longer organically connected to the sources of political power and to "high culture" generally.

Today, although plenty of third-rate and derivative art is produced and although such artists as the early twentieth-century symbolists have drawn from alternative esoteric strands of spirituality, art based on the dominant religious traditions that could be called original and distinguished is miniscule."

The 19th century, Ellwood notes, had its "revivals" -- Gothic Revival, Byzantine Revival. But in the 20th century, "high culture" no longer depended much on religion for inspiration. Even church architecture, after a Modernist phase, seems to have drifted into lassitude.

Into this atmosphere comes Image: A Journal of the Arts & Religion

Image's manifesto: One of the legacies of the modern era has been the secularization of culture. For much of the twentieth century, the belief that God is dead, or at least inaccessible, has stripped a great deal of religious vision and wisdom from the modern imagination. Most of our leading critics and thinkers have been skeptical of, or indifferent to, artistic expressions of religious faith.

A culture is governed by its reigning myths. However, in the latter days of the twentieth century, there is an uneasy sense that materialism cannot sustain or nourish our common life. Thankfully, religion and art have always shared the capacity to help us to renew our awareness of the ultimate questions: who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.

They are trying, but I think that Ellwood may be right.
Do visit The Juggler, a new collaborative Pagan blog with a strong group of contributors. I have put a permanent link on the right.
Trojans, anyone?

I have always wondered why sports teams and condoms were named after the Trojans too, but these guys do it so much more lucidly.

And the word is that the movie totally ignores the gods. What's the point without that essential flavor of human futility that the Olympian backstory adds? But the Notorious M.C. has been commenting on how buff Brad Pitt is looking these days, so maybe we will see it anyway.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


I had started a letter to a friend in England that mentioned, among other things, the annual return of the broadtailed hummingbirds on April 16. (They then had to endure two snowstorms, but that is the way of the hummingbird). There are no hummingbirds in Europe, but apparently there once were, millions of years ago: a fossil has been found.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Wicca and the Navajos

Continuing my uploading of essays and papers to my web site, I have now added one of my favorite pieces of Pagan autobiographical writing, Malcolm Brenner's "A Witch among the Navajos," which originally appeared in 1998 in Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions.

Far too much Pagan writing is either advice-giving, instructional, fiction, or something else: There is a definite shortage of well-written "creative nonfiction" such as Brenner supplies here.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Bull-leapers, then and now

Archaeologists -- but not some goddess-worshippers -- generally accept that Arthur Evans basically invented the popular conception of Bronze Age Crete, the "Palace of Minos," the Cretan Labyrinth, and so on. (More Bronze Age archaeology resources here.

But the famous fresco of the "bull leapers" is in all the art-history books, and the combination of (mechanical) bull + barely clad girl is still potent, as this site (not safe for work) attests.

There is a paper waiting to be written here. . .
"Bless that pet"

Ship of Fools, the (mostly Anglican) Christian humor e-zine, collects humorous captions of liturgical pet-blessing under this introduction: "Animals used to get sacrificed by priests, but in these liberal times, they get blessed up instead."

And speaking of Anglicans, this blog, by a female Episcopal seminarian, gives me a chuckle, insofar as I was raised a Broad-to-High Church Episcopalian myself, until I bailed out at age 15. She writes that she is "one year closer to being ordained a priest."

It's funny how Episcopalians speak of ordained women as "priests," i.e., as honorary men. Perhaps the word "priestess" carries too many connotations of flickering flames, tinkling cymbals, diaphanous costumes . . . and erotic Paganism.