The Ink Well: Exploring the Depths of Communication

An author and editor looks at how we use language to communicate with other Pagans and those outside our community.

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Stifyn Emrys

Stifyn Emrys

Stifyn Emrys is an editor and author of eight books. He has worked as a columnist, blogger and educator. He has written both fiction and non-fiction works, including "Identity Break," "Feathercap," "Requiem for a Phantom God" and "The Gospel of the Phoenix."

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Hobby Lobby and Religious Beliefs

The Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case, allowing closely held for-profit businesses to deny access to contraception based on religious belief, opens up a huge can of worms. Or two. Or perhaps more.

The implications are widespread. For one thing, the court's ruling means the religious beliefs of the business trump those of the employee. The ruling was somewhat narrow in that it only affected businesses in which five or fewer people hold at least 50 percent of the stock, but it was still significant in that it essentially granted rights previously reserved for people to business entities.

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Predators, Sacred Space and a Call to Maturity

How do we want to present ourselves to the world? How does the world at large view the Pagan community, and are we happy with the way people see us?

These questions have circulating for years, and often the answer is something like, “Why should we care what they think? All they’re going to do is judge us anyway - and they’ve already made up their minds.”

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Cultural Appropriation or Creative Expession?

I opened up my Facebook account today and was greeted by a long discussion focusing on cultural appropriation, vis-a-vis belly dancing. It appeared to be based on a Salon article titled "Why I can't stand white belly dancers."

The first thing that struck me was the confrontational nature of the headline: It wasn't belly dancing performed by white people that the author couldn't stand, it was the belly dancers themselves. If this doesn't put people on the defensive, I don't know what will. Then again, it's part of the inflammatory nature of online "journalism" these days, which uses hot-button language to increase the number of hits. (Full disclosure: I'm white, but I'm no belly dancer, and belly dancing isn't something I go out of my way to watch.)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • valkyr dragonborn
    valkyr dragonborn says #
    as an amateur American "bellydancer" this article both astounds and disgusts me- noted professional Middle Eastern artists, musici
  • Literata
    Literata says #
    I appreciate your points about the impossibility of achieving purity. Like Carol Christ, though, I can also see the author's persp
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    I was intentionally careful with my wording on the parody point: I wrote that it was "one" key question rather than "the" key ques
  • Ruth Pace
    Ruth Pace says #
    lol - yeah, I too was wondering about that article and commented on it. I reminded the author that the dance (and the Arabic word
  • aought
    aought says #
    Randa Jarrar is also forgetting that "white" people were originally from Africa and migrated to the north, losing their skin pigme

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Wiccanate Privilege: What Now?

There's been a good deal of conversation online about the term "Wiccanate privilege" the past few days, and I think it illustrates the importance of choosing our words carefully when communicating important issues - especially those that others might find sensitive or take personally.

I have to admit the phrase rubbed me the wrong way to some degree. Whenever this happens, I ask myself why, and my attempt to answer that question usually starts with establishing definitions. When I looked up "Wiccanate" in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, it told me, "The word you're looking for isn't in the dictionary" and advised me to try another spelling (the top three suggestions were "wagonette," "white and" and, disconcertingly, "witch hunt"). It came as no surprise when the word failed to show up, as it seemed like one of those terms coined for the sake of convenience or because nothing else quite seemed to fit.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Nova
    Nova says #
    Woops somehow I doubled post they really need to consider some edit options.
  • Nova
    Nova says #
    I agree that the minority word does need to be heard and I understand that when someone gets offended or a bit tired of one thing
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Rather than trying to create a universal Pagan ritual for pan-Pagan events like Pagan Pride Day, how about we celebrate our divers
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    That seems like a very sensible idea to me.
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I agree! But our community just isn't big enough for this to be realistic. However, as stated above, I'm sure happy to take turn

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Us vs. Them

Us: “We just want security. We want the right to believe as we see fit.”

Them: “Sorry, those things have been outlawed.”

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Interfaith Dialogue in a Polarized World

At PantheaCon, I ran into someone with whom I'd had a disagreement online. This point of contention was a hot-button issue for me, and my reaction to it had been too quick and strident. When I met the person in question, our meeting was cordial, and I don't even think he recognized me. I left things alone, but when we crossed paths a second time, I confronted the situation directly and apologized for being too blunt. Because my "hot button" had been pressed - inadvertently - I had barreled ahead without finding out more about his take on the situation.

After a 10- or 15-minute conversation, we parted ways, having interacted cordially, but not having addressed the issue upon which we disagreed. He mentioned that we should do so at some point, and I agreed. In honesty, I doubt either of us will change the other's mind, but do we really need to? It's fine to be open to learning about another person's perspective without feeling obligated to embrace it as our own.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks for this helpful piece, Stifyn. Would you had been at the discussion in the CoG suite of "Wiccanate privilege" in interfai
Pagan Culture and Experience: Definitions and Practice

Who gets the right to define you? To label you? Is that right solely your own, or does it belong in some measure to the culture with which you identify? I've considered this question for a long time, and I've concluded that there's no easy answer.

I've long been an advocate for the principle of self-identification: If you choose to identify yourself in specific terms, who are others to challenge it? But things really aren't that simple, are they? What about frauds who have ulterior motives for adopting a label? What about people who don't really understand what the label means?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Samaire Provost
    Samaire Provost says #
    Nope, not at all awkward, Steve
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Not awkward at all, Samaire. I'm sitting right across the table from you!
  • Samaire Provost
    Samaire Provost says #
    Well isn't this an awkward meeting
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Thanks, Joe.
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    This is some of the best work I've seen on the topic.

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