There is no knowledge that is not power

(or) Learning and the Quest for Wisdom as Pagan Values

If the Abrahamic Faiths are the Religions of the Book,

then the Pagan Faiths must be Religions of the Library…

~An old, old joke about Paganism

It is not just that in order to become a Pagan many of us have had to amass, and/or read, a library of books or sites in addition to what other forms of learning we have had the privilege of having on our life journeys.  It is also the fact that in all of the Pagan cultures out of history we can see knowledge and wisdom and learning were much valued.

Of course, I am a bit biased on the matter of the value of learning.  I grew up in a house that, while not Pagan, was similarly devoted to learning.

“Ignorance means there are things you haven’t learned yet,

Stupidity means you aren’t able to learn.”

I grew up in a house whose walls were almost literally lined with words.  The house I grew up in was a split-level Ranch style house with the lower level being a sort of daylight-basement where it was half-underground so at about chest level to your average adult there was a shelf along several of the walls.  Above that shelf on many of the walls that would support them, were book shelves.  Books of all sorts, reference works and classics and various treasured novels both intellectual and popular in hardcover and paperback.

I grew up with a mother who had originally planned on being a school teacher and who had double-majored and double-minored in College… only to marry at a time when most respectable married women did not work outside the home.   I could ask that classic child’s question “Why….” all the live long day and my mom would either answer,  or if she wasn’t sure aim me at a dictionary or encyclopedia… often both because of course a child’s stock of “Why…”‘s is often much larger than even 5 average adults schedules can allow…

Once the Internet started getting navigable and usefully informative (to those of us in the general populace) sometime in the 90’s it was a boon to me… especially as informational and educational sites blossomed at the turn of the 21st Century.  While I am aware of its limitations, I consider the Wikipedia project to be one of the noblest endeavors of the 21st Century. I find it invigorating and exciting to live in a time where society is changing because of a new information technology… a time of change and transformation as big as Writing, or The Printing Press, or Radio.

I am sometimes surprised when, at local Pagan events or in online chats, I will bring up ideas from Psychology or (my own admittedly limited understanding of) Physics, or History, or any of a number of other subjects where my interests and reading and willingness to look stuff up have cross-polinated…. and then finding myself having to explain ideas like Entrainment, or Venn Diagrams, or Transference and Counter-Transferance, or the blossoming of the Spiritualist movement in the late 19th Century and the 20th Century Occult revival starting in the 1960’s as a continuation of The Great Awakening, or… well stuff that I am surprised not everybody knows about.

“Well, maybe my frame of reference is a little obscure…”

~Pax

The ancient societies featured Bards, and Skalds, and Law-speakers, and Philosopher’s and traveling Poets; all of whom had to memorize hundreds of books worth of material.  Our Pagan ancestors created great Temples and Store-Houses of Learning in the Philosophical Schools and the Mouseaum/Mousaion (a Temple to the Muses/University of which the Library of Alexandria was but one part) was a wonder of the Ancient World that has continued to inspire humanity down through to the present day.  Never mind the surprising technical sophistication of even the near Stone Age monuments, much less Greece and Roman technology.  Pagan Culture’s have always valued learning and wisdom, and I feel our Contemporary Paganism’s are striving in our own ways to do the same, this is why you see a LOT of Pagan content online and why we seem to be early and eager adapter’s of technology.

Unfortunately, Pagans have not always had a firm line between the categories of History and Folklore…  and between honoring and being inspired by our ancestral cultures and slavishly trying to recreate a world-view that is better adapted to the world of the 9th Century BCE than for the 21st CE…. and of mediating between our metaphysical beliefs and our understandings of the Hard and Soft Sciences.   We live in a world where it is becoming more and more common to be isolated from ideas and information that challenges our world-view as we ‘like’ and select certain articles and sites which results in your various media sites aiming only certain types of information in your direction; we also live in a world where discussion and cooperation and compromise are being replaced by screaming and rhetoric and ideology.  What can we do to balance these issues?

Listen.  Learn.  Read.  Be open to conversation and knowledge and ideas.

When I was thinking about writing a piece for Pagan Values Month, I was originally thinking of either Hospitality or Community as my topic and I was reminded of the folk-tales of Gods or Culture Heroes who go abroad in the world disguised as mortals/regular folk, how they go amongst the humans and reward or punish their hosts depending upon their treatment.   The Gods (Divine, or The Good) are, or can be, present in any person … or book, or idea, that we encounter so why not be open to them.

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3rd Annual Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month June 2011

The following announcement/invitation went out on the event FB page

“Friends,
We must not be afraid to discuss the values and virtues and ethics we have discovered in our contemporary Pagan faiths. There are enough books on rituals and spells and prayers to last us a few generations… lets start writing works on confronting poverty and hunger from Pagan perspectives. Let us set aside the fear of prejudice, and the once glamorous but now tattered and worn mantle of the outsider and the rebel, and take pride in ourselves and our faiths, in our works and lives and worship and in our Pagan communities and our larger communities.

You can learn more about the event by going here, http://paganvalues.wordpress.com/about/

When you get your contribution written/recorded and posted in June put a link to it in the comments stream here. Tags such as “PVE2011” and “Pagan Values” are also encouraged.

If you feel so moved, please share this event with any and all you feel would like the opportunity to share with the global Pagan community.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart”

I also welcome contributors to jump to the Pagan Values Blogject page for the 2011 announcement and share links/intention there or in the comments to this post.

Peace,

Pax

Rekindling the Sacred Fires

“In the light of truth,

and in the warmth of love,

We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”

~ Chalice Lighting from1st Unitarian Church Orlando

Dear Friends,

I ~may~ be a bit of an absentee blogger for the next few weeks as I look and write and practice and work and Work towards Imbolc.

I am working on an Imbolc ritual for a group of Pagans.  I am doing it, primarilly, out of obligation.  I said I would do it and so I will.  We should keep our word, both when it is convenient and when it is not; that is the path of integrity, and why we should be damn careful about promising or volunteering for things!

It’s not that they are bad people, its just that the group itself has become incredibly hidebound and cliqueish and self-satisfied and convinced of their own glorious golden energy-ness.  New people with new ideas, experiences, and education, could not possibly have anything to offer this group they are just perfect… at least as they seem to see it.  So I have pulled back from my involvement with them, and Imbolc will be my last entangelment with the group.

It is ironic that this Feast of Rekindling and celebration of New Beginnings will also be, at its heart for me, a blessed release… but I suppose it is appropriate that for me the time between Samhain and Imbolc is sort of The Cross-Roads of the Year…

We celebrate the Honored and Beloved Dead at Samhain when according to the lore the walls between the worlds are at their thinnest, then we turn to celebrating the Honored and Beloved Living at Solstice…

… Of course some Traditions, including Heathenry Celebrate the Honored and Beloved Living AND Dead at the Solstice, or near it…

Samhain is, for many, a spiritual/religious New Years based on the old (and increasingly suspect historically) idea that the Celts celebrated the New Year on Samhain.  (Whilst suspect historically, this is nonetheless valid, but lets cop to our innovations and inspirations shall we?)  For me the New Years will always be the Winter Solstice, hard NOT to think of it as a Major Sabbat and as the Turning of the Year when you spent most of you life to date someplace where you see 4 hours daylight on that day and know undeniably that the days will get longer…  one kind of thirsts for sunlight and Spring in that sort of situation…

Now we are moving towards Imbolc and I am trying to write a Rite that will express my Witchcraft and Honor the Gods and especially Honor the Holy Tides of this Sabbat and celebrate and Honor Brighid.  This is a challenge as, due to an early experience with The Morrigan, left young Witchlet Pax more than a little wary of the Celtic Gods… so I have been doing a lot of research and am STILL debating with myself after 3 months as to whether I want to do a Witches Circle or a more generally Celtic/Druidic inspired Ritual am trying to write an invocation to Brighid…

I had asked a number of trusted folks if they would help, only the Fabulous Jonathan got back to me… but I am doing the right on my own, for a group of people with whom (with only very few exceptions) I will not likely be willing to Circle with again, nor break bread…

And yet even with the mixed feelings I have about this coming Imbolc, I am working on it as best I can.  I am thinking and writing and meditating on it and going to to the best I can for this Holy Day… not only out of obligation, but if this is the ONLY real chance I am to be allowed to give my best for this community, that once meant so much to me to be involved, then I will give them my BEST…for both myself and for The Gods.

Then too as painful as my association with this group was, and as near as it came to causing me to give up on a lot of things, it not only taught me some valuable lessons, but led me to involvement and friendships and much healthier associations that I would not have found without them; so I will celebrate the Sabbat and ballance my accounts with them… paying the coin as the Traditional Witchcraft folks say…

Peace,

Pax

PS- New links have been added to the Online Resources and New Books to the Suggested Reading…

A Response to a Comment…

Dear Friends,

The interactive nature of a blog is sometimes a fascinatingly time delayed thing.  I recently received a comment on my post Musings on Flag Day, Religio Americana, and the Power of Words from the 2009 International Pagan Values Blogging event, that has spurred a lot of thought and this particular post…

Pan wrote

“I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws”.

I have found what you said to be horrifying! In Germany, during the 1930’s and 40’s, a law required all Germans to report the whereabouts of any Jewish acquaintances, friends, or neighbors so they could be taken off to death camps and killed. Failure to do so meant violating a law.
Do you actually think that people should obey all laws on the books? Please comment on this.

PAN, A PAGAN IN LOUISIANA

Well, first off Pan, thanks again for your comment!

Next off, I feel the need to ask if you really feel that there is a law on the books here in the United States that honestly compares to those of Nazi Germany?

The most obvious and, admittedly knee-jerk, response I have is to grumble that we aren’t in Nazi Germany of the 30’s and 40’s for Goddess sake!   We are in the F***ing U.S. of A, as Joe Biden might say…

You are making an excellent point though, and it deserves a well thought out response.

To start, please indulge me in a recap of the relevant part of my former post, both for the other readers and to frame out some thoughts I’d like to develop in my response….

I was attempting to compare and advocate for the use of America’s Creed, written by William Tyler Page in 1917 in response to a patriotic writing contest, and adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 3rd 1918, as among other things, a useful liturgical piece for Pagan observances of U.S. Civic Holidays…

America’s Creed

“I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”

~William Tyler Page

I think that the Creed is preferable to the Pledge of Allegiance, authored by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and modified over the years.  As currently recited by U.S. school-children daily, by Tradition not by legal requirement, the Pledge goes…

The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

As I wrote at the time…

Actually though I am a little dis-satisfied with the Pledge, and not for it’s outright monotheism, although that does rankle a bit!

It seems to me that as an oath or statement it binds me to the Flag and the Republic, but not to my nations core values.  Now the Pledge does discuss the ideas of Liberty and Justice, but only as presumed and inherent qualities of the nation, not as the ideals or goals of the nation.  The Pledge assumes that the Republic is always enacting Liberty and Justice for all, which while it is our goal, well, we have not always succeeded.  We can look at the history of the United States and through lenses like the Civil War, and the Trail of Tears, and even the Iron Jawed Angels, we can see that our Nation continues to struggle towards perfecting the union. The pledge seems to ignore our continuing stuggle  in favor of a jingoistic “My Nation Right or Wrong” attitude that to me seems at its heart terribly un-American.

(to delve into the patriotic post-Bicentennial patios of my youth…)

Side Note:  I rather love the observation I have heard that “My Country Right or Wrong!”, is rather like saying “My Mother Sober or Drunk!”: one simply has some deep and natural preferences in the matter!

I think that the Creed is a preferable oath/statement to the Pledge because it discusses the nature of our Nation in depth, its structure, the ideal of the U.S. as a participatory government, it invokes the potentially sacred aspects of our Nation and its ideals having been objects of sacrifice, the ideal of being truly representative of the governed; and the Creed invokes the National ideals of justice and equality, and freedom and humanity

This last one, humanity, is important.  Humanity as in humane, being marked by compassion and sympathy and consideration for others; AND characterized by or tending towards a humanistic culture.  With the word “humanistic” we are getting into some meaty and philosophical and historical territory so I will quote the Merriam Webster dot Com entry for it…

1 a : devotion to the humanities : literary culture b : the revival of classical letters, individualistic and critical spirit, and emphasis on secular concerns characteristic of the Renaissance
2 : humanitarianism
3 : a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason

If you are a student of history, even an amateur one such as myself, you will notice that despite being first coined in the 1830’s many of the Renaissance and Enlightenment ideas that were swirling around our Nations founding are packed into that little word.

That is the core of my response, Pan, because in your comment you are taking the last line out of the context of the rest of the Creed.  You can’t do that with oaths, or with history, or with patriotism.  You can’t take the obedience to the law out of context of the fact that our goals and ideals as a Nation are to create laws that are Just, that are Humane, that encourage Equality and uphold the ideal of Freedom.

In my short response to your post I said,

“Depends on the law, is it Just? Is it Fair? Is it Reasonable? Does it mesh with the ideals of our Nation?”

I don’t think we automatically have a right to ignore or disobey a law we do not agree with despite that the experience of driving on U.S. Interstate Highway’s might lead us to believe that many of our fellow citizens and drivers believe otherwise!   In the United States we have the right to stand up in protest and Free Speech.  We have the right to work for the change of laws we consider truly unjust.

If a law is truly unjust, we can work to change it.  If the system is broken We The People can work together to fix it.

Peace,

Pax

So there’s this guy at Church sometimes, and I am a little weird-ed out by him…

Dear friends and readers of all sorts,

Today’s post is, well complicated, and says some things that may be uncomfortable to read or to think about or discuss, but it’s something I have been wrestling with as of late… so here goes….


“Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal religion.”

That’s one of the things one often hears when U.U.’s are trying to explain our religion to others.  This is usually followed up by a discussion of the Principles and Sources.  But the U.U. faith was born out of the complex intermingling of (very) liberal Christianity from Unitarian and Universalist streams of Christianity over the last 200 or so years,  and intermingled in the 30’s through the 50’s with  Humanism, then the U.U. faith was born in the 60’s and was then invigorated in the 70’s and 80’s with the influx of Paganism.  We U.U.’s are a complex new people with some very diverse and ancient roots.

But, Christianity is there, sometimes waiting to be dealt with.

I am not the only Pagan to be wrestling with the big C lately, there were some rather virulent comment streams over at the Wild Hunt that led Jason to institute a Comments Policy…  Cat at Quaker Pagan Reflections has mused a bit on Christian ways of viewing history through a rosy lens…. and Kayliegh at Kalisti: An Apple in Pandemonium recently mused about the persistence of ancient Paganism despite Christianity’s coming to power in ancient Rome

For YEARS I have been decrying the knee-jerk anti-Christian bigotry one sometimes hears or sees expressed in Pagan community spaces.  Over all, when it comes to those Pagans who can’t stop talking about their Christian pasts or upbringing and especially who cannot let go of or move past anger or grievance with Christianity, I have to agree with Cat Chapin-Bishop,

“But when you take the time and trouble to write, not of your encounters with the gods, nor even of your personal journey from Christianity to Paganism (for I note that most of the offenders on this one are ex- but not post-Christian) to give me news bulletins about how uniquely terrible the religion of Christianity is, perhaps I may be excused for wondering how much room you have in your spiritual life for your own gods, if you must spend so very much of your time howling at the gods of others?” ~ Cat Chapin-Bishop from her post Turning our Backs on Jesus: a humble request

Of course some of this is influenced by the fact that I wasn’t churched as a kid.  My family prayed at the holidays but there wasn’t really any serious involvement with Christianity or a particular denomination.  So I came to Witchcraft and Paganism with as clean a slate as it is possible to have living in a dominantly Abrahamic culture.

I was, as a Pagan and a Gay man, wary of the more radical and angry elements within Christianity but I also had dear friends who were Christians through whom I could see that there was goodness and decency to be found within the core message and practice of that faith if not in the words and actions of some of it’s loudest proponents and largest organizations.  It was after reading Bishop John Shelby Spong‘s excellent books including Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, that I could acknowledge that had my life taken other directions I could have happily become a Christian.  Reading that book was, at the time, a truly revelatory experience for me as it not only opened my eyes to the detailed history of the Bible as a text/tradition.  It also opened my eyes and heart to a true understanding of how one could actually be a Christian and live a life of love and decency and compassion actually engaged with the Teachings credited to Jesus.  Sadly, despite a number of both dear and decent friends who are Christians, I had somehow always viewed them as the rare exceptions.  Especially in the face of the angry and narrow and hateful words and actions of so many many prominent Christians observed over the course of my lifetime.

Lately, I am realizing that a part of my spiritual journey in the moment is to explore my relationship with Jesus and his teachings. They from one of the Seven Sources of Unitarian Universalism after all, and have had some influence on contemporary Western culture as well.

This has been highlighted again and again for me in the last few months at moments in the services at F.U.C.O where a particularly Christian hymn is sung or where Christian teachings are being referred to in the Sermon.  The need to explore and meditate on my relationship to Christ and Christian teachings was brought to the surface most strongly at the Solstice Service that the Pagan group at church Mystic Grove sponsored, it’s actually something like the 10th annual Solstice Service, but it was only recently taken up by the Grove, it was originally started by our previous minister!  Gotta love a U.U. church!

Anyway, the Winter Solstice…

Somehow, in the busy rush of the Season, and with everything going on I had missed out on the fact that the Service was being held in our Fellowship Hall and not the Sanctuary.   (Reasons of tradition and logistics at work there, although it’s gotten to be such a big event there is discussion of getting the Sanctuary for next year…)  So I turned the corner into Gore Hall and saw that the Service was in the Fellowship hall and not the Sanctuary and at first I felt a disappointment.   This disappointment kept getting deeper…

As I realized it later, that disappointment mingled with the general stress of the Holidays, and the stress of being my first Holiday season after the break up with The Big Guy, and somewhere along the way that sinking mood plumbed into some of my emotional depths… to where I have, over the years, stuffed a lot of anger and resentment over a lot of things…

At the time, all I knew was that I was seethingly angry!  Full of opposition and resentment, I could not look across the courtyard to the Sanctuary without feeling a simmering resentment that Solstice was in Gore Hall (despite my later, confirmed, intellectual knowledge that there were probably good reasons of Tradition and Logistics for this…) and NOT the Sanctuary.  I was in NO head space for ritual or services, and so I left and went over to the R.E. building to help set up for the potluck and the Solstice  Bonfire Vigil.

I ended up having a good time that night, but I also knew I had to do a lot of thinking about that night.

Not a few days before I had thanked Reverend Roberta for her lovely sermon and how it had given Christmas to me as a religious holiday as a U.U., yet in the face of this strange dark and mercurial mood I was wrestling with I decided to forgo Christmas Eve Service.

It took some time for me to un-knot and untangle my feelings and thoughts, but I realized that I had pushed aside but not actually faced or dealt with my  feelings of resentment and anger at Christianity and how some of it’s more fanatical branches attitude towards other religions and towards some segments of the population; and even more anger at how the more liberal branches don’t ever seem to me to be nearly loud enough in their condemnation of the bigotry and intolerance being perpetrated just as much in their name and their Gods name as in the name of the more fundamentalist and Talibanesque branches of Christianity….

In setting aside these strong feelings and opinions over the years, as “not fair” or “not worthy” or …something…, I wasn’t allowing myself to really feel the anger and the upset, I wasn’t really letting it go I was just stuffing it away somewhere where it could sit and fester and lurk within my mind and heart.

If there’s one lesson I have learned in the last few months as I have thrown myself back into spiritual practice and meditation like a drowning man for the shore, it’s that if something comes up, be it a thought or a feeling or whatever then you need to BE with it for a while before you can truly let it go.  There can be something very important in those fleeting thoughts and feelings.

So I have been thinking about my own ambivalent feelings about Jesus and the Churches that have come from his teachings, the Unitarians and the Universalists had many things quite  right even before some of them joined into this sea-changed something rich and strange that is Unitarian Universalism, in my humble opinion.

A kind a loving God would NOT send anyone to Hell.

Jesus need NOT have been divine in order to bear his God’s Message.

Christ’s teachings, of love and compassion are much more to the point of Christianity than any literal bible verse.

As far as I am concerned the only Word is Love, and everything else is a story or an allegory or a metaphor; so I guess I would have been a VERY liberal Christian had my life taken another path.  If I would have gone to Christianity.

Yet still, I find myself feeling a little awkward about my own feelings and thoughts about Christianity.  In a lovely and thoughtful post recently, Cat reminded folks that many if not most of those Christian ancestors of ours converted at the point of a sword.  As a Pagan and a history buff and as an intelligent person I cannot deny the sad simple fact that one seldom discussed aspect of the history of the spread of Christianity is that it is a centuries long history of genocide against any and all who dissent or disagree or who stood in the way of whatever The Church and then later The Churches wanted.

Pagans and Christian Unitarians and Christian Universalists, all good heretics all in a row…

At the same time I must in fairness and honor admit that Christianity also brought us Bach and C.S. Lewis and Shakespeare and the U.S. Constitution and so many, many, wonderful things along with the baneful.  One cannot, and SHOULD not, ignore the contributions of Christians in the efforts to end slavery, encourage women’s suffrage, stand up for civil rights, and to stand up for GLBT rights, to stand and fight for the separation of Church and State and Religious tolerance…

Lately, as I mentioned above, there have been some virulent and extreme and in some cases breathtakingly bigoted and hateful comments about Christianity made on some of the Pagan blog comment streams.  Folks making sad and disturbing jokes about killing “ash-zombie’s”  (as in Catholics observing Lent), and others who have discussed the evil and bigotry of Christianity and how Jesus and Jehovah are false Gods and Islam and Christianity are false religions… you know the exact same sort of stuff that they whine and freak out about when OTHER religions say the same sort of things about THEM?

So I spoke up…with only a touch of my usual (and in some circles and Circles infamous) zen-like calm…

“Wow,
Thanks ______ and ____________!
This whole comment thread has it all!
Ignorance (in behavior if not in education) and hatefulness and bigotry!
The complete dismissal of the validity of another religion.
The complete dismissal of the divinity of another religions god.
Even casual jokes about killing other people because of their religious beliefs!
Could you two PLEASE go vomit forth your hatred and bigotry elsewhere?
Thanks again,
Pax”

(Can you believe that people have called me, ME, reactionary?!  I should turn the marrow in their bones to boiling lead…*)

So anyhow after a LOT of heated back and forth drama of the type that has erupted all to often on that forum lately someone asked…

“Pax, I don’t know much about you. I wonder if you’re chagrined, though, that your post opened up another of the running battles that, frankly, are getting kind of old here.”

And I responded…

Dear ____,

You ask…
“Pax, I don’t know much about you. I wonder if you’re chagrined, though, that your post opened up another of the running battles that, frankly, are getting kind of old here. ”

Yes, yes they are getting old.

Though I am not a Wiccan, I have chosen to base my faith and life as a Witch in large part on the ethical and moral teachings to be found within Doreen Valliente’s Charge of the Goddess. I strive to live a life of Beauty and Strength, Power and Compassion, Honor and Humility, and Mirth and Reverence. I strive and struggle, all the blessed time, to follow Her law “Love unto all beings…’ As She counsels in (what I personally consider to be) Divinely inspired poetry, I strive ever towards my highest ideals letting nothing stop me or turn me aside.

I would LOVE to not have this sort of thing going on here.

But when I see people making casual jokes about killing “ash-zombies” meaning Catholics and other Christians observing Lent (comment mercifully deleted, I would like to think because of my request); when I see people making casual comments about how Christians are all deluded or evil or hypocrites, or how Jesus and Jehovah are false Gods (which puts the Jewish people where exactly I wonder…), or how or how anyone who believes otherwise is also deluded or a fool…

How can I NOT stand up?

Especially believing in the power and Power of Words, to touch and transform minds, and hearts, and to touch and transform the very atoms and cells of all the worlds; when I see people wielding words of anger and encouraging the worst sort of casual bigotry… with the sort of jokes and comments that, were they directed at Pagans on a Christian forum would (and frequently do) result in outrage and apoplexy…

How can I NOT stand up against these things?

… Even as I wrestle with my own ambivalence about Christianity…

Peace,
Pax

A lot of evil has been done in the name of Christianity over the centuries, and a lot of evil has been done by Christians.  Does this truly balance the good done in the name of Christianity and by Christians.  I believe so.

I know that even as militancy and extremism and fundamentalism run rampant in both Christianity and Islam, I know and can see that there are also Christian and Islamic people of decency and open-mindedness and tolerance and compassion and faith standing up against these tides.

There is good and bad in every faith, in every person.  There is good and evil done in the name of all Gods at some point or another, people of every faith have done wrong unto another in the name of their faith or with the conviction that their faith somehow justifies it.  I know these things and try my best to stand against intolerance, and ignorance, and hatred when I am confronted with them.

Yet still, there’s this guy at Church sometimes, and I’m a little weird-ed out by him…

Peace,

Pax


* A fairly obscure reference, for those not familiar with him, to the improving works of Sir Terry Pratchett

Goings on at Cherry Hill Seminary!!

Dear Friends and Pagani,

I hope, fervently, to someday pay off my student loans, get myself a  Bachelors (4 year degree) to add to my Associates (2 year) and eventually take classes with Cherry Hill Seminary.

They are an organization currently holding Seminarian classes on a variety of topics of use and interest to those seeking to work within ministry within the Pagan faiths.  You can read more about their Mission, Vision, and Values here.  In my searches to add them to the sidebar—> —> —>

I came across this address by the outgoing President of the Seminary which, I think, hi-lights the work of and need for this organization!

Peace,

Pax


UPDATE 01/19/2010
So Jaime over at Witchful Thinking posted an excellent overview of some of the many benefits of Cherry Hill getting professional Accreditation! (here)

Prayers & Work for Haiti…

Dear Friends and Pagani,

As you doubtless know a 7.0 earthquake has hit the island nation of Haiti.

(Stories on CNN, The New York Times, and New Jersey(dot)Com’s coverage of Wyclef Jean’s calls for donations to the Haitian charity Yele, on his Twitter feed)

In the midst of my everyday and my crazy schedule, my heart has been going out to the people of Haiti and I am trying to figure out how best to help.

I am particularly sympathetic to this issue as someone from Anchorage, AK.  The 1964 Good Friday Quake‘s devastation is something every Alaskan school child studies.  While I now live thousands of miles away, I also live with the knowledge that what historical records we have of the tectonic activity of my hometown says that there is a large earthquake every 20 years or so.  Anchorage is nearly 20 years overdue…  so my prayers and sympathies are very much with the people of Haiti.

When I have the chance I hope to take a candle and a card to the Haitian Consulate here in Orlando, which has a large Haitian population.

In the meantime I will donate what little I can to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s earthquake relief fund (here) and for the moment am just spreading the word.

(more info on the UUSC at their site, and on wikipedia)

There is also an evolving discussion of the different avenues of donation going on at the relevant article on the Wild Hunt.

It is through there that I also found a list of Green Charities operating on the ground in Haiti, if you are as minded of long term aid as well as short term relief you might consider donating to them as well.

A Witches Prayer for the Haitian People

I Pray to You oh Mighty Mother and Forceful Father

I respectfully call out unto All the Holy Powers of the Universe,

Please let all of Your Love and Compassion and Blessing to bear,

On the Island and the People of Haiti in this time of pain and suffering,

May the Holy Powers of Air inspire them and help them to communicate with their far flung families,

May the Holy Powers of Fire warm them and bring the healing of bodies,

May the Holy Powers of Water quench their thirst and bring the healing to their hearts,

My the Holy Powers of Earth feed them and lend them strength,

Blessed may You be,

Blessed may they be,

So mote it be.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart


An Update…

Shortly after posting this I received an e-mail from PeaceNext, the social networking site of the Parliament of The World’s Religions, with a link to a CNN(dot)com list of charities working to aid the nation and people of Haiti…