Sunday, November 08, 2009

In US Air Force, Wiccans Outnumber Muslims

A friend passed on this column by political commenter Diana West, who notes in passing that there are almost as many Wiccans as Muslims in the American military--and more in the Air Force.

So far, I have not heard of any Wiccan dissatisfied with their military careers expressing themselves by killing their fellow service members.

Let's hope it never happens.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Copyediting Religion

Orthographic payback is a bitch.

For years--starting when I wrote for Gnosis in the 1980s--I was one of those pushing for the capitalization of the words Witch and Pagan when used to describe first, the followers of the new, self-consciously created polytheistic mystery religion and, second, Pagan as a more general term for both old and new polytheism.

When I wrote The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics in the early 1990s, I won the capitalization battle over "Paganism," but lost on changing BC/AD to BCE/CE.

It should be noted that some Pagan scholars prefer "pagan," either because they are English or because they see "paganism" as a way of being religion in which people of all faiths participate. For instance, making a pilgrimage to a saint's tomb is "pagan" in Michael York's view.

But now I am editing and laying out an anthology intended as a college textbook on world religions. And almost everyone has their capitalization quirks.

The writer on Judaism wants write not merely "Israel" but its full diplomatic name: "State of Israel." Oddly enough, she does not insist on "Federal Republic of Germany."

The writer on Mormonism wants to capitalize priesthood, as in Aaronic Priesthood, while all the other contributors lowercase it, e.g., Zoroastrian priesthood.

The writer on Islam has a whole capitalization list for me too. The Baha'i wants Baha'i Faith capitalized--which is fine--but also "faith" when it stands alone. And of course the expert on Christianity wants Church to be "up," even though that runs contrary to the stylebook, which specifies, for instance, "the early church."

And so on.

Unfortunately the The Chicago Manual of Style does not pronounce on all these issues (except "church"), sending me to other sources, such as the The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, in order to try to keep the book consistent.

Wouldn't it be easier to handle these issues in German, with its capitalization of all nouns, or in Spanish, which is, as we editors say, very "down style"?

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Religion of Beer

As "religion," beer predates Christianity and Islam. And it is back on sale in Iraq.

(In some areas, as I understand, the sellers of alcoholic beverages come from Iraq's dwindling Christian community. I do not know if that is the case here.)

Via Instapundit.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gallimaufry to Fill Space

Back from a week on the road to a full inbox and a desk covered with bills to pay, I offer a few links for your kind attention:

¶ Attention Kemetic reconstructionists: Don't let your temple-builders become anemic.

¶ A list of things that offend Muslims. Anyone want to try the Pagan equivalent? I think it would be a lot shorter. Piggy banks and Easter eggs don't bother me. Can you imagine Pagans rioting in the streets over the crappy remake of The Wicker Man and giving director Neil LaBute the Theo Van Gogh treatment? I can't either. We prefer to just make fun of it.

¶ This will go onto my must-see list: Jason Pitzl-Waters notes an upcoming movie about the philosopher Hypatia. An uncompromising Neoplatonist, from what I understand, she was murdered by a Christian mob after some bishop put out a fatwa against her.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seizing Symbols of Love

The Valentine's Day card that I bought for M. would be illegal to Saudi Arabia's Wahabi Muslims.

It would be an acknowledgment that women are more than a necessary evil, household appliances in veils. Maybe it's an incitement to polytheism too. Who knows?

In fact "red items" are a problem.

So if I had Saudi students and marked their papers in red ink, I would be inciting lust or something?

Aphrodite will not be denied.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Muslims attack Yazidis

Followers of "the religion of peace" attack members of a religious minority, the Yazidis of northern Iraq. (This is what you can expect from them if you do not follow a "religion of the book.")

Journalist Michael Yon recently visited a Yazidi village, where he was treated well.

I had been hearing about the Yezidi people who live in villages near Dohuk. Followers of an ancient religion, whose proponents claim it is the oldest in the world, there are thought to be about a half million Yezidis, living mostly in the area of Mosul, with smaller bands in forgotten villages scattered across northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey and other lands. Saddam had labeled the Yezidis “Devil Worshippers,” a claim I’d heard other Iraqis make, but no source offered substantiation. I wanted to know more.

(Thanks to MacRaven.)


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sex in World Religions & Other Updates

¶ First, here is a better version of the Pagan rosary story, "'Hail Persephone:' Pagans Retool the Rosary," which has a photo and also some of the rosary invocations.

Kimberly Winston's article was also mentioned at the GetReligion blog on religion and journalism.

¶ My recent post on Carlos Castaneda must have reflected the zeitgeist. "The Dark Legacy of Carlos Castaneda" by Robert Marshall treats him as "the 20th century's most successful literary trickster."

Castaneda was viewed by many as a compelling writer, and his early books received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Time called them "beautifully lucid" and remarked on a "narrative power unmatched in other anthropological studies." They were widely accepted as factual, and this contributed to their success. (Thanks, Jason.)

¶ Those mysterious Etruscans . . . seem to have led lives filled with varied sex. (Site probably NSFW, unless you are a classicist.) These images and texts reflect the upper rungs of Etruscan society, I suspect. (Thanks: 2blowhards.)

¶ In case you forgot, "all acts of love and pleasure" are definitely not Allah's rituals. In fact, nudity during sex invalidates marriage, says a high-ranking Islamic cleric. Some of his colleagues disagree, saying that nudity is permissible as long as you don't look at your partner.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Mysteries for our troops overseas

Shulawitsi, the Little Fire God, member of the Council of the Gods and Deputy to the Sun, had taped his track shoes to his feet. He had wound the tape as Coach taught him, tight over the arch of the foot.

Those sentences open Tony Hillerman's Dance Hall of the Dead (1973). I read them probably in the early 1980s, back when the Santa Fe-based author of mystery novels was largely a cult favorite in the Southwest. Cruising down US 666 back then, you would watch your rear view mirror for Officer Jim Chee, who in my imagination does not look like Adam Beach.

After those two sentences, I was hooked.

I picked up a copy of Dancehall of the Dead today along with some other paperback thrillers (Elmore Leonard, Patricia Cornwell, Carl Hiassen) at Hardscrabble Books (appropriate name, eh?) down in Florence. Two old ladies were discussing Hitler, whom they seemed to think had been born a Jew. (Where do they get this stuff?)

When I finish the books, they will go into a box for Operation Paperback.

Operation Paperback collects books (and some magazines) for American military personnel in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. You register with them, and they give you a list of recipients who will turn share the books.

To pacify local members of the "Religion of Peace," who might otherwise blow a gasket, there should be no pictures of scantily clad women, so be careful with the motorcycle and lowrider magazines if you are mailing to certain countries. (The Web site will explain.)

US Highway 666 is no more, of course. Certain wacko members of the "Religion of Love" lobbied the feds to change its number, lest they be forced to drive on the "Highway of the Beast." Sheesh.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sacrificing sheep in Jerusalem

Cambridge University classics professor Mary Beard recently suggested that today's Hellenic Pagans were inauthentic because they did not sacrifice animals.

Set aside the Pagans for a moment. What about Jews?

A small but controversial movement in Israel wants to revive Temple-based religion, including sacrifice.

The present-day Sanhedrin Court decided Tuesday to purchase a herd of sheep for ritual sacrifice at the site of the Temple on the eve of Passover, conditions on the Temple Mount permitting.

The comments on the article pretty well represent a spectrum of Jewish religious squabbling, from the ultra-orthodox who think that the state of Israel is an affront to their god, to those who think that sacrifice is "cruelty to animals" and those who think that it is not, to those who just want to kick the Muslims off the Temple Mount. Oy vey!

Via Mirabilis.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Piglet is in trouble again

click this picture for moreNo, Kanga has not mistaken him for Baby Roo and is trying to give him a bath.

It's certain Middle Eastern Muslims again who have it in for A.A. Milne's character.

A blogger in Qatar reports that images of Piglet are being censored from children's books. Follow the link for photos of the evidence.

Next step, perhaps: stern imams will thunder in their Friday sermons: "Do not even think of a cartoon pig, or you will be damned!"

The censored Piglet is the colorized, Disney-fied version. The Piglet in the graphic here, however, is based on Ernest H. Shepard's original 1920s pen-and-ink drawings.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Odinist, the Muslims, and a footprint

A British Odinist won a significant court battle against managers who tried to fire him in the name of "multiculturalism." (Scroll down to "Odinist Wins Landmark Trial in England" or try this link instead for the full document from the Odinist Fellowship.)

What are the facts of this case? Many of you will be surprised, as I was, to learn that, increasingly, employers with a large proportion of Muslim staff are being obliged to set aside rooms in the workplace for Muslim prayers, and to allow their employees to take time away from their duties to engage in these prayers. At the Mail Centre where Donald worked, there was just such a room, which was designated as a "Multicultural Room". That is important, because never, at any time, did the Royal Mail claim that the Room was solely for Muslim use, or that non-Muslims might not use it for their own purposes.


One noteworthy feature of this story is that the anti-pagan persecution was not being directed by Donald"s Muslim colleagues, with whom he had no real problem at all, but by a clique of managers, all of them white British, who are dogmatically committed to pursuing their own perverse programme of "multicultural diversity". These managers were absolutely and unswervingly convinced that a trivial action, like placing a plastic chair by a sink, could be viewed as nothing other than a premeditated insult to Islam.

Additional comment from the UK's National Secular Society. Interesting comment thread at another British blog.

Via Yvonne Aburrow's roundup of British Pagan news.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Religion of peace' attacks dogs, education, liquor, etc.

We worry about people "hoarding" too many dogs. Not in Muslim areas, where having any dog apparently makes you worth killing.

From Thailand, for instance:

Buddhist monks have been beheaded, Buddhist teachers slain, and leaflets distributed around Buddhist villages warning that raising dogs and drinking alcohol are offensive to Muslims.

That makes me a target on three counts, at least. How comforting.

Cross posted to Nature Blog.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Leaving the meat uncovered

Sheik Taj Din al-Hilaly, Australia's senior Islamic cleric, explains rape and how women serve Satan:

“If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park, or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, then whose fault will it be, the cats, or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the disaster.

I just felt that I needed to share that. Pagan cat-owners, please don't be offended.

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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Aphrodite Will Not Be Denied

. . . as evidenced by this story from an Associated Press contributor in Beirut.

In an incisive bit of analysis, Lebanese sociologist Dala el-Bizri, a resident of Cairo, says male-dominated societies are to blame for making women cover up. "When the condition of women on the street is unnatural, the demand for vulgarity and nudity increases," she says.

"Come to me once more, and abate my torment;
Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me
All I long for; Lady, in all my battles
Fight as my comrade."

That's not one of singer Haifa Wehbe's lyrics (that's Haifa on the right), but rather the last verse of the ancient Greek poet Sappho's invocation to the goddess Aphrodite, as translated by Elizabeth Vandiver. Is the imagery too warlike? Well, one Muslim critic called such performers "weapons of singing destruction."

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Thursday, July 10, 2003

Saddam's Goddess Art

How does Saddam Hussein appear in a Pagan blog? Simple--he or one of his accomplices ripped off the art of Jonathon Bowser, who works with images of the feminine divine, to illustrate a novel published over the Iraqi dictator's name and found in one of his presidential palaces.

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