Where I went wrong: Virtual sacred space

Bid the invaders take the shoes from off their feet, for God is here within.

– Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

I’ve had an epiphany.  For some time, I have struggled to understand why certain hard polytheists seem to feel threatened by the very presence of non-theists in the comments sections of their blogs.  P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, for example, has been very clear that he considers it inappropriate for non-theistic Pagans come into his virtual space by commenting.  Each time I have read this, it just went over my head.  I didn’t get it.  I mean, it’s the internet, right?  Blogs are a public spaces.  If you want to have a private conversations, there are online forums where you can do that, where you can quite effectively exclude others.  That’s what I thought.

What I did not realize is that at least certain polytheists consider their blogs to be sacred space.  Sacred space is something that I understand as a Pagan.  And I respect it.  But for some reason, I had not considered the possibility of virtual sacred space.  (Welcome to the 21st century, John.)  This finally hit home when I saw a recent comment by PSVL on the Anomalous Thracian blog:

“… when non-polytheists keep coming into our spaces (which, speaking for myself and the Aedicula Antinoi blog, are virtual shrines to our various gods, and thus are sacred spaces to those gods and not just ‘public forums,’ thus conduct in them by everyone is expected to respect those gods) and telling us what they think, and by just stating it in our spaces …”

I read this, and I thought, “Holy sh*t!  I have tread on someone’s sacred ground.”  As a Pagan, I consider that to be … well, a sin.  I should not have been that surprised.  After all, PSVL’s blog is titled, “Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous” (emphasis added).  But, for whatever reason, it didn’t occur to me that e was being literal about it being a shrine.

The anomalous Thracian made a similar comment, analogizing commenting on his blog to coming into his house and sharing uninvited opinions.  That would be a violation.  After all, a person’s home is sacred space to them.

So what happens then is this: I, the naive non-theistic Pagan, wander into a virtual shrine to the gods, a temenos, if you will, mistaking it for a community meeting place, an agora.  My very “presence”, in the form of my questions or comments, no matter how carefully phrased, is a violation.  Polytheists for whom the space is sacred respond with the emotion one would expect in response to an act of desecration, while I just think they’re over-reacting to my innocent invitation to dialogue.  And then everything spirals out of control from there.

This explains so much to me.  I could never figure out why certain polytheists claimed they had been attacked, when I felt pretty confident that they were the ones doing the attacking.  But I had invaded their sacred space.  I had failed to show the respect that I would ordinarily show if the shrine were physical.  And, in the 21st century, the fact that it is a virtual shrine really shouldn’t make a difference.

Now, we can argue about the appropriateness or feasibility of treating a blog as virtual sacred space, in contrast to a more closed virtual space, like a Yahoo group.  But the fact is that PSVL, and I think Anomalous and others, do see their blogs this way.  And I sure as hell am not going to barge into someone’s sacred space and argue with them whether or not it is sacred.  While some polytheists I have interacted with recently may feel that I have more to apologize for, we can at least agree on this at least:

I have done you wrong, by coming into your sacred space uninvited and acting like I have a right to be there.  I apologize sincerely.  I apologize for not understanding this sooner.  I will not, in the future, be commenting on blogs of hard polytheists unless I first confirm whether comments of non-believers are welcome.

Having said that, I do wish that, if other polytheists feel that their blogs are sacred space, they would indicate this in some way (as PSVL has done) for anyone who happens to stumble upon their blog unawares.  Even PSVL might benefit from a more clear statement warning trespassers that they are on virtual sacred ground.  A clear statement that the comments of non-believers are not welcome would be most effective, I think.

I will continue to (silently) visit the blogs of polytheists, because I am interested and my own practice has grown from reading what they write, and I don’t think that constitutes a “presence” (tell me if you think I’m wrong about that).  I may comment on or even link to them sometimes here on my own blog.  And I will continue to comment on the blogs of those hard polytheists who do welcome comments from non-believers.  I sincerely hope that this may help avoid similar verbal conflagrations in the future.

  • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

    I agree, and yet I do not agree. Blogs ARE in public space; if one wants a blog that is not open to all (like the “agora” concept), then there are options to create blogs that people sign up/register to participate within. To expect everyone who “walks” into a public blog to censor themselves for the blogger’s comfort seems more than a bit narcissistic to me. I am an uncomfortable skeptical soft polytheist who seemingly “experiences” deities, and yet I certainly do not expect (not get) special welcome amidst other skeptics OR other polytheists.

    Frankly, I find verbal conflagrations a sign of insecurity.

    • Bianca Bradley

      I am going to agree with you. I understand the not being rude part, but on the other hand saying, virtual sacred space is a nice way to shut up your detractors. I find that disturbing.

      • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

        Yeah, sort of a cheap way to end a disagreement. A bit like when disputing the proselytizing ways of aggressive Christians, they “clear/defend” themselves by claiming their religion obliges them by command to behave in such fashion. It does not address the actual issue/question; it merely asserts an exception to normal rules, and a religious exception at that.

        • Bianca Bradley

          I’m going to disagree with you on the Christian part though.

          I’m one of those odd Pagans, who has a lot of dialogue with Christians, most of which are described as fundamentalist. There is a context that you are missing in what they do. They are living their faith, even if they are annoying about it.

          • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

            I assure you, they are not reading all of their Bible. While they may be enjoined to share their “joy”…there are also sections telling them that “those who are not ill need no doctor” and that they might consider those”not against them to be with them”….and also thereby not in need of more nagging.

    • http://www.jonupsalsgarden.com Joseph

      I concur. A blog is, by its nature, a public forum and the fact that replies are allowed in the first place is an invitation to.. well… reply. If one wants to declare one’s blog a sacred space, then one can make it private, and if one doesn’t want to hear from those who disagree, one can turn off comments.

      But there’s a certain amount of disingenuousness by saying “Here’s my blog, out in public, that I want you to read, but I only want to get comments telling me how much you agree with me and how great I am.”

      • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

        I do think if one is too tender to bear even civil disagreement, then yes, a members only sort of blog might be best.

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    This makes a certain sense. In various forms of discourse certain utterances are allowed or disallowed, relevant or irrelevant, consonant or dissonant. On my blog, I enforce certain rules of decorum in the comments. It’s best when such policies are clear and public, but unexamined norms are norms all the same.

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    This makes a certain sense. In various forms of discourse certain utterances are allowed or disallowed, relevant or irrelevant, consonant or dissonant. On my blog, I enforce certain rules of decorum in the comments. It’s best when such policies are clear and public, but unexamined norms are norms all the same.

  • http://lokisbruid.wordpress.com Heather Freysdottir

    Some of that may depend on the Deity too – as a hard polytheist, I would say that my blog is a devotional shrine to Loki, absolutely, but I don’t know if I’d eject someone for espousing curiosity about the nature of the Gods on it – I’ve never had it happen, but I think that’s precisely because I consider my blog a devotional, and therefore is not a place for even me to comment on the behaviors of other Pagans or spirit workers (drinking game jokes aside). It’s a place to talk about Him, and because He is a Trickster God Who allows people to question authority, even His own, that so long as the tone was curious and respectful, that might be okay. It would most certainly NOT be okay for a commenter to cast aspersions on His character or Divinity as a member of the Aesir – I’d eject people outright for that behavior, to be sure. I’ve never really had an issue with either hypothetical though, and that’s probably because of the types of things I write about, and I’m okay with that.

    I also work out of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, so my tolerance may be higher than some other people’s, perhaps.

    • http://oneofamyriadfaces.wordpress.com Myriad

      … not to mention that Tricksters have this paradoxical ‘Sacred lack of the Sacred’ thing going on :). That being said, my blog is a kind of “Sacred space”, too. But I welcome people with different opinions or practices in the comment sections. If I feel my sacred space has been violated I just won’t approve the comment :)

  • http://lokisbruid.wordpress.com Heather Freysdottir

    Some of that may depend on the Deity too – as a hard polytheist, I would say that my blog is a devotional shrine to Loki, absolutely, but I don’t know if I’d eject someone for espousing curiosity about the nature of the Gods on it – I’ve never had it happen, but I think that’s precisely because I consider my blog a devotional, and therefore is not a place for even me to comment on the behaviors of other Pagans or spirit workers (drinking game jokes aside). It’s a place to talk about Him, and because He is a Trickster God Who allows people to question authority, even His own, that so long as the tone was curious and respectful, that might be okay. It would most certainly NOT be okay for a commenter to cast aspersions on His character or Divinity as a member of the Aesir – I’d eject people outright for that behavior, to be sure. I’ve never really had an issue with either hypothetical though, and that’s probably because of the types of things I write about, and I’m okay with that.

    I also work out of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, so my tolerance may be higher than some other people’s, perhaps.

    • http://oneofamyriadfaces.wordpress.com Myriad

      … not to mention that Tricksters have this paradoxical ‘Sacred lack of the Sacred’ thing going on :). That being said, my blog is a kind of “Sacred space”, too. But I welcome people with different opinions or practices in the comment sections. If I feel my sacred space has been violated I just won’t approve the comment :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

    I read a lot of religious blogs, not just Pagan blogs. My general practice is to stay out of the “insider” conversations – if I’m reading an Evangelical blog, it’s not my place to voice an opinion on Calvinism vs. Arminianism (though I do have one). I may offer a general comment from an interfaith perspective, and if I see blatant misinformation about Paganism (or for that matter, any other religion) I’ll speak up. Other than that, it’s their sandbox – challenging their foundational beliefs would be rude.

    On Pagan blogs, I tend to assume I’m one of the insiders unless it’s evident I’m not. I don’t hesitate to ask questions and make comments I think are relevant. But if I think someone is simply wrong, I’m more likely to address that on my own blog. Which I’m getting ready to do tomorrow…

    That said, while “Under the Ancient Oaks” is mine, I keep it as an agora, not a temenos. Respectful debate is always welcome. In five years (first on Blogger, now at Patheos) I’ve only had person abuse my hospitality.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

    I read a lot of religious blogs, not just Pagan blogs. My general practice is to stay out of the “insider” conversations – if I’m reading an Evangelical blog, it’s not my place to voice an opinion on Calvinism vs. Arminianism (though I do have one). I may offer a general comment from an interfaith perspective, and if I see blatant misinformation about Paganism (or for that matter, any other religion) I’ll speak up. Other than that, it’s their sandbox – challenging their foundational beliefs would be rude.

    On Pagan blogs, I tend to assume I’m one of the insiders unless it’s evident I’m not. I don’t hesitate to ask questions and make comments I think are relevant. But if I think someone is simply wrong, I’m more likely to address that on my own blog. Which I’m getting ready to do tomorrow…

    That said, while “Under the Ancient Oaks” is mine, I keep it as an agora, not a temenos. Respectful debate is always welcome. In five years (first on Blogger, now at Patheos) I’ve only had person abuse my hospitality.

  • http://earthskysea.wordpress.com Changeling

    I basically agree with you. If someone puts a note on their blog informing me that it’s a sacred space dedicated to his/her god(s), I probably wouldn’t comment at all. But I also would tend to think of a blog as a public space unless there’s something to identify it otherwise.

  • http://earthskysea.wordpress.com Changeling

    I basically agree with you. If someone puts a note on their blog informing me that it’s a sacred space dedicated to his/her god(s), I probably wouldn’t comment at all. But I also would tend to think of a blog as a public space unless there’s something to identify it otherwise.

  • thalassa

    I have some problems with the idea of blogs as private sacred spaces for only like-minded inquiry. And here’s why–for the most part they *aren’t* posted as private blogs or on private message boards and forums with (mostly) exclusive readership that shares a similar world view. They are blogs on public wide-spread pan-Pagan sites. If you post a blog at Patheos Pagan or Witches and Pagans, you are giving tacit permission to the Pagan community at large to read and comment.

    When blogs are hosted on public, third-party sites that cater to a diverse audience, an author doesn’t have the privilege of saying “but I wasn’t talking to you other people, only to my people, that think as I do”. If any blogger only wants to preach to the choir, then they should create a private page, with a private blog that requires approval or invite and their opinions won’t be challenged. Not matter how much some bloggers treat them as such, blogs aren’t a private journal or a private forum…they are a public gallery, and therefore open to public criticism and scrutiny.

  • thalassa

    I have some problems with the idea of blogs as private sacred spaces for only like-minded inquiry. And here’s why–for the most part they *aren’t* posted as private blogs or on private message boards and forums with (mostly) exclusive readership that shares a similar world view. They are blogs on public wide-spread pan-Pagan sites. If you post a blog at Patheos Pagan or Witches and Pagans, you are giving tacit permission to the Pagan community at large to read and comment.

    When blogs are hosted on public, third-party sites that cater to a diverse audience, an author doesn’t have the privilege of saying “but I wasn’t talking to you other people, only to my people, that think as I do”. If any blogger only wants to preach to the choir, then they should create a private page, with a private blog that requires approval or invite and their opinions won’t be challenged. Not matter how much some bloggers treat them as such, blogs aren’t a private journal or a private forum…they are a public gallery, and therefore open to public criticism and scrutiny.

    • http://paganlayman.wordpress.com Soliwo

      “If you post a blog at Patheos Pagan or Witches and Pagans, you are giving tacit permission to the Pagan community at large to read and comment.”

      I agree, but I would not hold personal blogs to same standards. Many polytheist blogs are public so new people can find their way to certain gods. John, this is a very thoughtful article, and I am glad you are moving beyond the controversy and remember the important questions.

      • thalassa

        I mostly agree with that–I was a bit unclear with which blogs in particular I was addressing. I agree that personal blogs are private space–but I don’t agree that a blog hosted by Patheos or Witches and Pagans, etc qualifies as “a private blog” as someone’s livejournal does. And I think that aspect of netiquette is the problem here–I think its really the responsibility of both the reader AND the writer to know the audience of the site they are on. If Galina Krasskrova is posting at Gangleri’s Grove (or Sannion on his personal blog here on WordPress), its one thing…their personal sites/blogs caters to a particular audience of (more or less) like thinkers (as does mine, or HP’s, etc). Sure, other people can show up and check it out to see what is going on, but for the most part, its the author’s private domain–they “own” the place (in the admin/author sense), and they are well within their rights to control the flow of conversation (I’ve been more than happy to do this upon occasion on my own blog). But, when someone is publishing their work on a magazine’s blog, or at an interfaith website, etc…no, I don’t think that same expectation exists.

  • http://daniellesuniquestory.blogspot.com Danielle

    I haven’t gotten into any blogging debates since I was a new mom- and my child will be 6 tomorrow. But if I did, I would take apart their comment sentence by sentence and answer it respectfully and truthfully in my own blog. Even if they deliberately insult me. “You’re this”! I will respond, if true, Yeah, I’m that, so what’s your problem? This only happened once on my current blog, as it’s kind of boring.

  • http://daniellesuniquestory.blogspot.com Danielle

    I haven’t gotten into any blogging debates since I was a new mom- and my child will be 6 tomorrow. But if I did, I would take apart their comment sentence by sentence and answer it respectfully and truthfully in my own blog. Even if they deliberately insult me. “You’re this”! I will respond, if true, Yeah, I’m that, so what’s your problem? This only happened once on my current blog, as it’s kind of boring.

  • http://ladyimbriumsholocron.wordpress.com ladyimbrium

    Interesting point, and I think I can help clarify for people wondering why such a public place would in fact be sacred space. I have to go back to my upbringing in the Catholic church, so bear with me. Or remove this comment, if it is in fact unwelcome. Most of the churches I have seen where i live stay open. Some do not even have locks on the doors. They are open for anyone who wishes to enter. This does not mean that these places are not sacred places. There are certain things which are not permitted inside the walls and certain groups of people who may be welcome to observe or take physical shelter but not participate in rituals. The rules are often complex and offer plentiful opportunity for offense- even though the offense is rarely deliberate. I think, based on John’s argument, that the same might well be said of some blogs. Interesting. I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      I like the analogy.

  • http://ladyimbriumsholocron.wordpress.com ladyimbrium

    Interesting point, and I think I can help clarify for people wondering why such a public place would in fact be sacred space. I have to go back to my upbringing in the Catholic church, so bear with me. Or remove this comment, if it is in fact unwelcome. Most of the churches I have seen where i live stay open. Some do not even have locks on the doors. They are open for anyone who wishes to enter. This does not mean that these places are not sacred places. There are certain things which are not permitted inside the walls and certain groups of people who may be welcome to observe or take physical shelter but not participate in rituals. The rules are often complex and offer plentiful opportunity for offense- even though the offense is rarely deliberate. I think, based on John’s argument, that the same might well be said of some blogs. Interesting. I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      I like the analogy.

  • Gaddy

    Personally, I think anyone taking this approach needs to take proper precautionary measures if they truly insist that their public blogs are sacred spaces. But I find your respectful epiphany to be a very positive way of approaching “The Other” in our little universe of non-christian spirituality.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Thanks.

  • Gaddy

    Personally, I think anyone taking this approach needs to take proper precautionary measures if they truly insist that their public blogs are sacred spaces. But I find your respectful epiphany to be a very positive way of approaching “The Other” in our little universe of non-christian spirituality.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Thanks.

  • http://www.witchesandpagans.com Anne Newkirk Niven

    John, you’ve given me some excellent ideas on how we may be able to avoid future storms of this nature on PaganSquare. Your suggestion poses some atypical questions in terms of technical “noticing” of (unbelievers not welcome) to the general public in an open blogosphere, but both your flexibility of thought and the clear sincerity of your intentions to change have been noted and are greatly appreciated.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Thanks. That means a lot.

  • http://www.witchesandpagans.com Anne Newkirk Niven

    John, you’ve given me some excellent ideas on how we may be able to avoid future storms of this nature on PaganSquare. Your suggestion poses some atypical questions in terms of technical “noticing” of (unbelievers not welcome) to the general public in an open blogosphere, but both your flexibility of thought and the clear sincerity of your intentions to change have been noted and are greatly appreciated.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Thanks. That means a lot.

  • thalassa

    I mostly agree with that–I was a bit unclear with which blogs in particular I was addressing. I agree that personal blogs are private space–but I don’t agree that a blog hosted by Patheos or Witches and Pagans, etc qualifies as “a private blog” as someone’s livejournal does. And I think that aspect of netiquette is the problem here–I think its really the responsibility of both the reader AND the writer to know the audience of the site they are on. If Galina Krasskrova is posting at Gangleri’s Grove (or Sannion on his personal blog here on WordPress), its one thing…their personal sites/blogs caters to a particular audience of (more or less) like thinkers (as does mine, or HP’s, etc). Sure, other people can show up and check it out to see what is going on, but for the most part, its the author’s private domain–they “own” the place (in the admin/author sense), and they are well within their rights to control the flow of conversation (I’ve been more than happy to do this upon occasion on my own blog). But, when someone is publishing their work on a magazine’s blog, or at an interfaith website, etc…no, I don’t think that same expectation exists.

  • http://anowlandtheatre.blogspot.com/ fathergia

    And now I hope you’ve realized how stupid it is to waste literally hours on online flamewars.

    Moving onto the virtual sacred space, I am a polytheist myself and *I* have difficulty understanding it but whatever. After doing some reading myself I decided to get my feelings out yesterday (http://anowlandtheatre.blogspot.com/2013/06/i-dont-care-well-except-i-do.html) and have basically decided that we need to realize that we aren’t having intrafaith dialogue, but rather interfaith dialogue.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Ouch, way to rub it in.

      I agree with you about the inter-intrafaith distinction.

      • http://anowlandtheatre.blogspot.com/ fathergia

        That comment was more for both of us. I have wasted disgusting amounts of time on internet debates and arguments that really just make me go ‘Unless this is in person, it is a waste of time.’ That comment was for both of us, trust me on that :P

        • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

          :)
          I deserved it.

        • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

          Having said all that. I do think the discussion is important. As John Beckett pointed out in a recent post, these discussions may be our contemporary version of the council of Nicaea: “The intellectual foundations of modern Paganism are being debated here and now. There is no formal gathering and no creeds will be issued, but the outcomes of these debates will affect what we and our spiritual descendants believe and how we will practice for generations to come. Are you sure you don’t want to participate?”
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2013/06/and-im-back.html

  • http://anowlandtheatre.blogspot.com/ fathergia

    And now I hope you’ve realized how stupid it is to waste literally hours on online flamewars.

    Moving onto the virtual sacred space, I am a polytheist myself and *I* have difficulty understanding it but whatever. After doing some reading myself I decided to get my feelings out yesterday (http://anowlandtheatre.blogspot.com/2013/06/i-dont-care-well-except-i-do.html) and have basically decided that we need to realize that we aren’t having intrafaith dialogue, but rather interfaith dialogue.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Ouch, way to rub it in.

      I agree with you about the inter-intrafaith distinction.

      • http://anowlandtheatre.blogspot.com/ fathergia

        That comment was more for both of us. I have wasted disgusting amounts of time on internet debates and arguments that really just make me go ‘Unless this is in person, it is a waste of time.’ That comment was for both of us, trust me on that :P

        • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

          :)
          I deserved it.

        • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

          Having said all that. I do think the discussion is important. As John Beckett pointed out in a recent post, these discussions may be our contemporary version of the council of Nicaea: “The intellectual foundations of modern Paganism are being debated here and now. There is no formal gathering and no creeds will be issued, but the outcomes of these debates will affect what we and our spiritual descendants believe and how we will practice for generations to come. Are you sure you don’t want to participate?”
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2013/06/and-im-back.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/stifynpemrys Stifyn Emrys

    I think different people have different levels of tolerance for opinions and/or beliefs that differ from their own. For me, it has a lot to do with civility, but it also has to do with context: I look at the Internet as a sort of public forum – as long as you’re civil and respectful, I have no problem with diversity of (and conflicting) opinions. However, I think perhaps some view various spaces on the Internet more like a temple. The former deal more in the realm of opinion; the latter more in the realm of what participants believe to be concrete truth. Of course, I wouldn’t go into a church or synagogue and communicate in the same way I would in a forum setting. That would be rude. The difficulty, I think, lies in knowing how the blogger/group administrator views the online space in question. I think it’s the responsibility of that person to be clear on the matter, and it’s the responsibility of those who visit such sites to pay attention. I wasn’t personally aware that some bloggers on a diverse site took the second view: because the overall nature of the site was diverse, I assumed diverse opinions would be welcomed throughout. When some bloggers made it clear they weren’t in certain quarters, I decided to withdraw from those spaces out of respect for their personal space. I can express my views in my own space and in more forum-type settings where diverse opinions are tolerated or encouraged within the bounds of civility.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stifynpemrys Stifyn Emrys

    I think different people have different levels of tolerance for opinions and/or beliefs that differ from their own. For me, it has a lot to do with civility, but it also has to do with context: I look at the Internet as a sort of public forum – as long as you’re civil and respectful, I have no problem with diversity of (and conflicting) opinions. However, I think perhaps some view various spaces on the Internet more like a temple. The former deal more in the realm of opinion; the latter more in the realm of what participants believe to be concrete truth. Of course, I wouldn’t go into a church or synagogue and communicate in the same way I would in a forum setting. That would be rude. The difficulty, I think, lies in knowing how the blogger/group administrator views the online space in question. I think it’s the responsibility of that person to be clear on the matter, and it’s the responsibility of those who visit such sites to pay attention. I wasn’t personally aware that some bloggers on a diverse site took the second view: because the overall nature of the site was diverse, I assumed diverse opinions would be welcomed throughout. When some bloggers made it clear they weren’t in certain quarters, I decided to withdraw from those spaces out of respect for their personal space. I can express my views in my own space and in more forum-type settings where diverse opinions are tolerated or encouraged within the bounds of civility.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kapple6364 Kenneth Apple

    I guess I just value the dialogue, the give and take of ideas so highly I hadn’t really thought about how that might really piss people off. That’s one of those things I tie up with Christianity and hoped to leave behind. Even as I say that I realize how silly it is. Don’t get me started on Martial Arts debates or Star Wars vs. Star Trek or…..well everything. Sigh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kapple6364 Kenneth Apple

    On the other hand, as my wife says, “You’re calling their baby ugly. You can’t call someone’s baby ugly — no matter how right you might be.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/kapple6364 Kenneth Apple

    On the other hand, as my wife says, “You’re calling their baby ugly. You can’t call someone’s baby ugly — no matter how right you might be.”

  • http://www.joandefers.com Joan Defers

    This is what passwords and other secret handshakes are for.

  • http://www.joandefers.com Joan Defers

    This is what passwords and other secret handshakes are for.

  • http://daoineile.wordpress.com Eddie

    Again, I like this post…quite a lot. I’ve got a lot of thoughts, and I hope you don’t mind me rambling a few at you…

    My blog here on WordPress acts as a type of virtual sacred space, and I post stories of my gods and spirits on the WP blog. One of my friends runs an e-shrine for our gods and spirits on tumblr. Those are both sacred spaces. And I love talking to people and answering questions, but if someone came to either of those blogs and began saying that our gods aren’t real, or that we’re mistaken about the nature of our spirits – I’d be pretty frustrated and tell them to leave or just block them outright.

    However, on my Patheos blog, I’ll be firm in my stance (my gods and spirits are real, and I won’t be patronized for holding that belief), but I expect people to have and voice differing opinions. My Patheos blog is not a shrine. It’s where I dialog and post thoughts and ramble. I’ll still be irritated if I feel offense is being offered towards my spirits or me (saying something like, ‘you’re delusional’ will cause me to block someone immediately), but it’s a fundamentally different space than the e-shrines.

    As for some comments saying that such spaces should be private – I disagree entirely. It is not so hard for us to behave in certain ways in different spaces, in real life; it is not so hard to do so online. I could keep a private blog about the Four Gods…and then no one would know about them. Keeping a virtual sacred space is important to me, as someone whose practice has a lot of focus on technology and the internet.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Eddie:

      Thanks for your thoughts. Not rambling at all. I can definitely appreciate the distinction between private blogs and community blogs, like Patheos. I’m not sure how Patheos might respond to a blogger who wanted their Patheos blog to be sacred space. The trespass I refer to above happened at PaganSquare. And I think there may be a discussion about this topic there soon. However the site administrators choose to address it, out of an excess of caution I will be doing my best to respect the desires of the blogger, regardless of whether I personally feel that they have put their virtual shrine in a good place.

  • http://daoineile.wordpress.com Eddie

    Again, I like this post…quite a lot. I’ve got a lot of thoughts, and I hope you don’t mind me rambling a few at you…

    My blog here on WordPress acts as a type of virtual sacred space, and I post stories of my gods and spirits on the WP blog. One of my friends runs an e-shrine for our gods and spirits on tumblr. Those are both sacred spaces. And I love talking to people and answering questions, but if someone came to either of those blogs and began saying that our gods aren’t real, or that we’re mistaken about the nature of our spirits – I’d be pretty frustrated and tell them to leave or just block them outright.

    However, on my Patheos blog, I’ll be firm in my stance (my gods and spirits are real, and I won’t be patronized for holding that belief), but I expect people to have and voice differing opinions. My Patheos blog is not a shrine. It’s where I dialog and post thoughts and ramble. I’ll still be irritated if I feel offense is being offered towards my spirits or me (saying something like, ‘you’re delusional’ will cause me to block someone immediately), but it’s a fundamentally different space than the e-shrines.

    As for some comments saying that such spaces should be private – I disagree entirely. It is not so hard for us to behave in certain ways in different spaces, in real life; it is not so hard to do so online. I could keep a private blog about the Four Gods…and then no one would know about them. Keeping a virtual sacred space is important to me, as someone whose practice has a lot of focus on technology and the internet.

  • thelettuceman

    John,

    While I do not believe that someone like you and someone like I will ever really see eye-to-eye, and probably will end up talking over each other, I definitely don’t want to ever come off as being exclusive to what you have to say. I personally don’t believe that “Paganism” is so small that we can’t disagree without being disagreeable. I try to operate under the general auspices of hospitality whenever I’m posting at any single site and, while I’m a bit snarky or sarcastic, I feel that I tend that line very well.

    After all, you never know who your visitor (or, in this case, person who is commenting) is.

    And yes, I realize that this is my first time posting here, but I sort of went off the deep end on my own blog and I feel like I’m still needing to set the scales.

    So thank you.

  • thelettuceman

    John,

    While I do not believe that someone like you and someone like I will ever really see eye-to-eye, and probably will end up talking over each other, I definitely don’t want to ever come off as being exclusive to what you have to say. I personally don’t believe that “Paganism” is so small that we can’t disagree without being disagreeable. I try to operate under the general auspices of hospitality whenever I’m posting at any single site and, while I’m a bit snarky or sarcastic, I feel that I tend that line very well.

    After all, you never know who your visitor (or, in this case, person who is commenting) is.

    And yes, I realize that this is my first time posting here, but I sort of went off the deep end on my own blog and I feel like I’m still needing to set the scales.

    So thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kapple6364 Kenneth Apple

    Just saw this sight: which is an e-shrine and doesn’t allow commentary. Which feels to me like it works much better for this than an open blog.
    http://www.northernpaganism.org/resources/books.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/kapple6364 Kenneth Apple

    Just saw this sight: which is an e-shrine and doesn’t allow commentary. Which feels to me like it works much better for this than an open blog.
    http://www.northernpaganism.org/resources/books.html

  • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode (@thesilverspiral)

    I don’t allow anyone I want to come in and write whatever they want all over my real-world sacred space. If I consider my blog a virtual sacred space, I’d put the same limitations in effect, and moderate or restrict comments (or at least write a page explaining my blog’s comment policy.)

    • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode (@thesilverspiral)

      I don’t allow anyone WHO wants to come in… that is.

  • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode (@thesilverspiral)

    I don’t allow anyone I want to come in and write whatever they want all over my real-world sacred space. If I consider my blog a virtual sacred space, I’d put the same limitations in effect, and moderate or restrict comments (or at least write a page explaining my blog’s comment policy.)

    • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode (@thesilverspiral)

      I don’t allow anyone WHO wants to come in… that is.

  • Bianca Bradley

    I am going to agree with you. I understand the not being rude part, but on the other hand saying, virtual sacred space is a nice way to shut up your detractors. I find that disturbing.

    • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

      Yeah, sort of a cheap way to end a disagreement. A bit like when disputing the proselytizing ways of aggressive Christians, they “clear/defend” themselves by claiming their religion obliges them by command to behave in such fashion. It does not address the actual issue/question; it merely asserts an exception to normal rules, and a religious exception at that.

      • Bianca Bradley

        I’m going to disagree with you on the Christian part though.

        I’m one of those odd Pagans, who has a lot of dialogue with Christians, most of which are described as fundamentalist. There is a context that you are missing in what they do. They are living their faith, even if they are annoying about it.

        • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

          I assure you, they are not reading all of their Bible. While they may be enjoined to share their “joy”…there are also sections telling them that “those who are not ill need no doctor” and that they might consider those”not against them to be with them”….and also thereby not in need of more nagging.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    Nicely said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    Nicely said.

  • http://wytchofthenorth.wordpress.com Beth

    For what it’s worth, as a hard polytheist I greatly respect your willingness to recognize this and you are certainly welcome to read my blog. I have tried to stay out of the recent drama as much as possible and try to keep drama off my blog in general, but then my own approach to blogging is to simply talk about my experiences with Odin and the other gods and spirits who are part of my life. Particularly since as a godwife I have been the victim of community insensitivity myself over the years, I don’t see it as my place to tell anyone else how they should see their own gods (or lack thereof) or what their approach to religion ought to be, as this is something everyone needs to discover for him/herself. The only behavior I would take issue with on my blog is the deliberate starting of drama (by means of name-calling and “you’re deluded”-type statements) and anti-Odin sentiment (of which there is plenty in paganism).

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Thanks Beth! I do appreciate that.

  • http://wytchofthenorth.wordpress.com Beth

    For what it’s worth, as a hard polytheist I greatly respect your willingness to recognize this and you are certainly welcome to read my blog. I have tried to stay out of the recent drama as much as possible and try to keep drama off my blog in general, but then my own approach to blogging is to simply talk about my experiences with Odin and the other gods and spirits who are part of my life. Particularly since as a godwife I have been the victim of community insensitivity myself over the years, I don’t see it as my place to tell anyone else how they should see their own gods (or lack thereof) or what their approach to religion ought to be, as this is something everyone needs to discover for him/herself. The only behavior I would take issue with on my blog is the deliberate starting of drama (by means of name-calling and “you’re deluded”-type statements) and anti-Odin sentiment (of which there is plenty in paganism).

  • http://www.jonupsalsgarden.com Joseph

    I concur. A blog is, by its nature, a public forum and the fact that replies are allowed in the first place is an invitation to.. well… reply. If one wants to declare one’s blog a sacred space, then one can make it private, and if one doesn’t want to hear from those who disagree, one can turn off comments.

    But there’s a certain amount of disingenuousness by saying “Here’s my blog, out in public, that I want you to read, but I only want to get comments telling me how much you agree with me and how great I am.”

    • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal

      I do think if one is too tender to bear even civil disagreement, then yes, a members only sort of blog might be best.


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