Jewish leaders speak about the need to protect trans lives. Native Americans protest the appropriation of artifacts from their culture. And Chinese and Taiwanese scholars mourn the loss of a Confucian philosopher from among their number. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment on faiths and religious communities from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Recently I saw Spotlight, the movie. Set in 2001-2002, the film chronicles how the Boston Globe's team of investigative reporters revealed the pattern of child sexual abuse rampant among Massachusetts' Catholic priests — and the Boston Archdiocese's systematic cover-up.
Early on, the film gives us psychotherapist Richard Sipe. He's been braving the Church's opposition and documenting this pattern for decades. He cites one aspect of the problem's origin: the secretive atmosphere surrounding priests' sexual activity.
Sipe estimates that, at any point in time, about half of all priests are engaged in a sexual relationship, despite their vow of celibacy. Given the film's timeframe, Sipe's "metric" indicates that 6% of all priests are molesting children. With further research, Sipe later revised that figure to 9%.
Recently I also read Margaret Starbird's book, Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile (Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2005). Another of her books on Mary Magdalene, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, was a central, inspiring resource for me back when I was writing The Woman's Belly Book.
Starbird presents a convincing argument that Jesus, being Jewish and according to Jewish custom, would most likely have been a married man. His partnership with Mary Magdalene as wife, consort, and colleague would have testified to the wholeness, and sanity, of creation.
Starbird links the Church's 12th-century rule of priestly celibacy with its denial both of Mary Magdalene's relationship with Jesus and of the Sacred Feminine:
In the aftermath of scandals involving Roman Catholic priests, people are now, for the first time in centuries, seriously asking, "What else did they forget to tell us?" Because the current crisis of confidence in the Catholic hierarchy is directly related to this hierarchy's dissociation from the sacred feminine, the relationship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is entirely relevant to the problem. Enforced clerical celibacy, after centuries of devaluing the feminine half of creation, was mandated in 1139 when an edict by Pope Innocent II forced married priests to abandon their wives and children. (p. 150)
Absent Magdalene, insanity arises in a multitude of forms.
Spotlight shines the light on one form of insanity: Nearly one in ten Catholic priests have engaged in sexually abusing children.
Lesson 2: How to Recognize the Warning Signs of an Unsafe Group.
The intent of this post is to contribute to the discussion on how to have a safe community.
Recently the pagan community has been discussing this topic as a result of publicity over the arrest of Kenny Klein, a news story summarized here: http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/allegations-emerge-after-pagan-author-charged-with-possessing-child-pornography.html
Some posts by pagans and heathens either in reaction to the news or about how to have a safe community:
Do I Have to Have Sex to Be a Witch? http://www.witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/thea-s-inbox/let-s-talk-about-sex.html
The Community Reacts to Kenny Klein http://www.witchesandpagans.com/pagan-studies-blogs/witch-at-large/my-take-on-the-kenny-klein-affair.html
Evil Thrives on Secrecy http://www.witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/gael-ur/evil-thrives-on-secrecy.html
Abuse creates spiritual taint (contains some foul language) http://krasskova.weebly.com/blog/a-conversation-with-kenaz-filan
There are some legitimate traditions that have hierarchies, and there are some traditions that reserve certain secrets and mysteries for higher levels of the group. Because there are such traditions, it’s hard to tell from the point of view of a prospective student whether the existence of levels and secrets indicates an established tradition or a means of dangling a carrot in front of the student to get student to keep doing what Bad Teacher demands. If one of the things student is expected to keep secret is that Bad Teacher is getting sex from student, that’s a clue that things are not well....
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....
Do I have to have sex to be a Witch/Wiccan?
The first person who wrote me with this question was a young woman. Much of what this woman had read about Wicca resonated with her, but she was a survivor of sexual abuse, and she was afraid to pursue study of Wicca because there might be a “requirement” to have sex—something that terrified her, given her history. I assured her that she absolutely did NOT have to have sex to be a Witch or Wiccan.
There is a pervasive myth floating around on the Interwebs and elsewhere that Wiccan rituals are loaded with sex. The rumor is fed, I suspect, in part by ignorance—we’re Witches, so we must be doing something naughty, right?—and in part by fundamentalists who enjoy portraying Wiccans as participating in orgiastic rituals for the glory of Satan. It makes me wonder whether the fundamentalists are more offended because they think we’re worshipping the devil or because they think we’re enjoying ourselves having sex....
The Pagan community is going through a period of upheaval around the issue of sexual predators in the community. It's not an easy topic and as the shock of recent events falls away, we're left with a question of, "What do we now?" In a recent discussion on Pagan Musings Podcast, I suggested that one action the community could take involves documenting situations where non-consensual sexual activities have been reported. In such cases, it can devolve into a he said, she said scenario, with neither side able to conclusively prove what happened. When this occurs, its important to have a process in place that protects everyone, while still allowing for the possibility that the offending person made a mistake, as opposed to consciously doing something offensive. By documenting such situations, it makes it easier to track what is happen and do something about it before it blows up into an even more harmful situation than it may already be. Actually, this process of documentation can apply to any type of infraction that occurs at a pagan convention or festival, but it does require that people organizing the event be willing to take on the task of documenting whatever has occurred, keeping it in a database, and also sharing it with other organizers and leaders in the community. This may seem like a lot to take on, but I think it would also help to cut down on behavior that is harming members of the community.
Recently I was reading Romancing the Brand, which is a book about marketing. However, there's an interesting rule in marketing and customer service: The rule of 3. The way the rule of 3 works is if you hear about an issue, person, problem, etc. from 3 different sources, then you take it seriously because it means there's a problem. If we were to apply this rule of 3 to our community, through documentation and through the understanding that an issue shouldn't be buried or ignored if it continues to happen, what this would allow us to do is effectively monitor situations before they got out of hand. The rule of 3 provides enough verifiable information that we can't continue to put our heads in the sand and ignore what's happening. The rule of 3 also establishes that a pattern of behavior is happening and not being changed, even though concerns have been expressed....