In her 2002 editorial on incarcerated Pagans Anne Newkirk Niven writes about the value of ministering to that population. She sensibly points out that such folks will not be confined forever and will at some point exit the system. Cherry Hill Seminary offers literature for incarcerated Pagans at a very nominal fee. *
Niven tells us that not all Pagans feel such ministry is worth the effort. But it is worth noting that the US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Since the 80s, incarceration in federal prisons has soared 800%. A great many of those who are confined were committing nothing that Pagans would view as an ethical violation: they were taking some form of illegal drug. And such policies are inherently racist. People of color are locked up in far greater numbers than those with fair skin.
I was just in a rather dispiriting discussion of sexual predation in the Pagan community, sparked by an interesting piece in the Wild Hunt. The article was good. which is more than I can say for some of the discussion that followed.
The piece was about the decline of nudity at Pagan events and the reasons for it. But much of the discussion shifted to the related but different issue of why many women felt uneasy or defensive when sky clad at such events. Despite all the energy and more than a little venom that accompanied that discussion, one important issue remained unaddressed.
I have always rejected the idea that TV, movies, video games and other forms of entertainment media cause us to become more violent. I believe that we can face imaginary scenarios without attaching ourselves to them and examine hypothetical situations in ways that encourage us to think.
When the whole Kenny Klein issue hit the news, I was appalled but not surprised. I had met the guy in New Orleans and been less than impressed, in fact i"d found him energetically filthy and obviously lacking in any moral sense. I thought thought "well, here at least is an issue that all Polytheists, Pagans, and Wiccans can staunchly stand behind: child abuse and molestation, sexual assault. coverups -- and anything that furthers those things is wrong." How naive I was and how incorrect.
Since the affair de Kenny hit the Pagan blogosphere I have been sickened by the number of Pagans and Wiccans who have come out publicly excusing these behaviors and moreover attempting to silence his victims. Just check out the wildhunt.com coverage for a sickening sample.
Every religious tradition stands in some tension with its society, legitimizing some things in terms of a larger eternal context, but in the process challenging others, sometimes deeply.As NeoPagan religions increase in America this same pattern is developing. This essay explores how the logic of Pagan religion leads us to question the legitimacy of some important contemporary institutions, particularly the joint stock corporation, and with this questioning, the way our society views the world.
More deeply than most religions, NeoPagans legitimize and honor the goodness of this world, the sacred immanence that shines through all things.Consequently, from a Pagan perspective living well in our world requires observing appropriate ethical and moral relationships.This insight cannot help but lead us to criticize attitudes treating this world as noting but a means for human ends.
Most of my friends are Pagan. If I were a member of a majority religion, this would be quite average. I go out of my way to find such friends, and this has served me well. Pagans don't judge me for what would be odd and quirky in average American culture: talking to land spirits, a fondness for discussing theology, and a willingness to embrace difference. All of these have been instrumental in my growth and healing, and in becoming a better person. I love my community and am deeply grateful.
And yet, I often find myself feeling frustrated when talk turns to politics.* This is not shocking I’m sure. And it would be easy to do what we so often do with our relatives, and just not talk about that particular subject. What is hard for me about this is that within the Pagan community, I have felt safe enough to allow my deepest wounds and secret places to be seen, and yet I may still be lambasted for holding an opinion that runs contrary to the majority. Should I do what I do with my family and set aside that part of myself? That would be hard. As with my spiritual path, my understanding of human behavior and history continues to grow. These are insights and understandings that I want to share and mull over with others, especially people who might not agree with my position. If my ideas will fall under the first challenge then they are not worth maintaining. But I don’t usually get to do that.