Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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On Holiday Tokenism and the Christmas Borg, or: Where's a Suicide Bomber When You Need One?

Let me tell you about the Yule that I considered becoming a suicide bomber.

Now, I'm as gay as the next guy but, for reasons that I won't go into here, I'm no fan of gay men's choruses. My housemate at the time, though, regularly attended concerts of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus: more, I suspect, for the social opportunity that they offered than for the “music.” So I wasn't surprised to see, while bringing in the mail at the end of a November back in the 80s, an invitation to that year's TCGMC Christmas concert.

It wasn't until I read the description of the concert that I started thinking about explosives.

I can't remember the title of the concert, but the stated theme was: “Moving from the darkness of the Winter Solstice through the lights of Hanukkah to the true illumination of Christmas.”

There's so much wrong with this theme that it's difficult to quantify, but underlying it all is its triumphalist religious Darwinism. That lying old story has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, down the long years.

And they thought they were being inclusive. The sheer cluelessness of it all—and the fact that this atrocity was being perpetrated by gay men on other gay men—just makes it that much more offensive.

Well, I didn't buy the suicide vest and (of course) I didn't attend the concert. But I can, nonetheless, tell you (why are these things so bloody predictable?) exactly of what that program consisted.

For the Winter Solstice, a secular Christmas carol of some sort. For Hanukkah, a medley of old Yiddische tunes guaranteed to include “Dreidel.” Then the gaggle of Christmas carols that everyone had really come to hear.

Hey, all you organizers of “Holiday” Concerts out there:

Do us all a favor and ditch the pretense of inclusiveness, OK? Leave the Solstice, Hanukkah, and (these days) probably Diwali and Kwanzaa out of it: we really don't want to be absorbed into your (geekery alert) Christmas Borg, thank you very much. If you want to do a Christmas Concert, just be honest and call it a Christmas Concert, OK?

But don't try to tell the rest of us that we're being included when we damn well know that we're not.










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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak Thursday, 03 December 2020

    Hehehe ya well. I still cherish your Pro-Dea Solstice Song book. Drag it out every year. Merry Yule!

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 07 December 2020

    I was astounded to see a copy of it on sale on Amazon a while back. Nice to know that they're still out there!

  • Jamie
    Jamie Thursday, 03 December 2020

    Mr. Posch,

    I guess I just don't get triggered by Christian tokenism like you do.

    My take on it is this: Christians will always celebrate Christmas. A "Holiday" concert was never intended to appeal to devout Pagans. It's more geared to cultural Christians who seldom go to church, and atheists who like the beautiful traditional music.

    Besides, I believe that including a few pieces of music from outside Christian canon actually helps to promote religious tolerance. I think that it's more prudent to pick our battles. I don't mind saying ,"Merry Christmas". I don't care that the money says, "In God We Trust". Let the Christians put their tree and the Nativity in front of the Town Hall.

    I care far more about the enforcement of laws which protect us from job and housing discrimination.

    Besides, I worship Mithras (among many other deities). As far as I'm concerned, they've got the right day, just the wrong God. "Merry Christmas" is just easier than "Have a happy Dies Natalis Solis Invicti! May Mithras grant you strength and honor!"

    We can agree to disagree. I personally wouldn't mind being assimilated to the Christmas Borg.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 07 December 2020

    Jamie, are you familiar with Rosemary Sutcliff's teen novel Frontier Wolf? The protagonist/hero is himself a young Mithraist, and Midwinter's Eve features prominently in the narrative. It's one of my own favorite Yuletide reads.

    A Mithraist buddy of mine calls every December 25th to wish me a happy Mithrasmas. The same to you!

  • Jamie
    Jamie Thursday, 10 December 2020

    Mr. Posch,

    You're the best.

    Thank you for providing us with such interesting and humorous articles. I always look forward to reading them!

    I will absolutely check out Rosemary Sutcliff's book. I appreciate the recommendation.

    May the Stone-born God bless you and yours, this day and all days.

    Like I always say: "You can't spell 'Christmas' without Mithras!"

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 03 December 2020

    I am blissfully clueless. When I want seasonal music I go to YouTube and listen to Weird Al Yankovic singing Christmas at Ground Zero and the boys from Glee singing Baby It's Cold Outside.

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