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Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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The Atlantic Attacks Pagans

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In a shocking display of vitriol for the pages of an old and otherwise respectable mainstream magazine, The Atlantic ran an opinion piece titled The Return of the Pagans which makes numerous outrageous claims about both ancient paganism and the modern manifestations of paganism. The op-ed's author, David Wolpe, contrasts paganism with monotheism and repeatedly expresses his opinion that monotheism is better in every way. 

Every paragraph is a new wtf. Starting off by claiming that Trump is pagan because of his crass displays of wealth, the article only gets more disturbed from there. The entire article is a series of untrue and offensive statements about paganism.

 The Atlantic article is available on MSN's mirror site here: 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/the-return-of-the-pagans/ar-AA1m0hy5?

Pagan and Heathen leaders and thinkers have been alerting their social media following to the Atlantic article and encouraging response and refutation. One such leader is Robert L. Schreiwer, head of Urglaawe, the organization for the study and practice of the Old Ways of the Pennsylvania Deitsch. On researching the author of the Atlantic article and discovering Volpe's connection to Harvard, Schreiwer posted, "I wrote a protest note to Harvard Divinity School for having him as a Visiting Scholar. I would hope that the School would not embrace his bigoted perspectives." 

It is unclear if Wolpe is still going to continue at Harvard, according to a recent Dec. 8th news story on CNN, which said he had resigned from the university's Antisemitism Advisory Group. According to the CNN story, the background to both Wolpe's appointment and his resignation is the reaction on college campuses to the Israel-Gaza war. Given that his resignation took place earlier this month, it would be reasonable to think that The Atlantic may have invited him to write an opinion piece to provide his perspective on his resignation. Instead, he chose to use The Atlantic's platform to attack a smaller religious minority. 

 You can read the CNN story here: https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/08/business/david-wolpe-harvard-antisemitism/index.html 

 The Pagan online news site The Wild Hunt published an article by Manny Moreno in response to the Atlantic article. 

You can read The Wild Hunt article here: https://wildhunt.org/2023/12/editorial-the-atlantic-publishes-another-attack-on-pagans-where-are-pagan-voices-in-its-pages.html?

There is a Patheos article by Jason Mankey in response to the Atlantic article.

You can read the Patheos article here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2023/12/the-return-of-the-pagan-scapegoats/? 

The Atlantic previously ran a much more fair and accurate look at paganism in this story from 2019 The Many Faces of the Occult by Emily Buder about the film Pagans by Iqbal Ahmed. The film itself is also a pretty accurate look at paganism, despite the scary aesthetic of the opening visuals and music. It amplifies the voices of pagans themselves talking about their individual paths. At only ten minutes long, it's well worth watching.

You can read Buder's story and see the film Pagans here: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/604084/pagans/ 

The Atlantic also carried a fair and accurate account of the heathen religion Asatru in its article from 2015 Big in Iceland: Paganism by Uri Friedman. 

You can read Friedman's article here: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/11/going-pagan/407821/ 

The Atlantic has a lot of readership, name recognition, respect, and trust. That's one reason Wolpe's rant against paganism was so shocking. It's also a good reason not to let it go unrefuted. It's time to be loud.

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.

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