Lots going on today, so I’m going to weigh in briefly on each item of interest.
Labeling Anders Breivik “Christian”
Christians are up in arms over the labeling of Norway killer Breivik as a “Christian terrorist” and I admit I find the phenomenon fascinating. Pagans are continually upset when some whack job who has some tenous tie to our communities gets labeled as an occult killer and the names of our religions smeared with their crime, so I have a little sympathy here.
What I do find interesting is that by labeling Breivik a “Christian terrorist” it implies that Christianity is considered a) dangerous and b) other. This otherness is a relatively new thing in my eyes. Maybe it’s because religion as a whole is being looked at askance by the public?
I grew up in a religious culture that promoted spiritual warfare. This culture changed the entire direction of my life as I was pulled from school and left to an unsupported, unsupervised, isolated self-education. While other girls tried to figure out how to capture the attention of boys, I tried to figure out how to get my hands on books I needed. I can never pretend that this culture doesn’t have real consequences, particularly as it endorses a man who may one day be the president of this country.
Alison Leigh Lilly speaks for a section of the Pagan community when she washes her hands of the whole matter. I disagree that Pagans are “going to war,” as I stated in her comments section(it’s hard to find but here is a link), but rather they are saying that this sort of rhetoric and behavior is unacceptable. To “lay siege” to Washington in any sense is inappropriate and dangerously close to treason. Which is why in Georgia I’m talking to progressive Christians, and will be contacting a Muslim interfaith group today, to gather and positively state that religious freedom means you can be religious, tolerant and be a good citizen. I assume there will be hummus. Not very war-like and I’m disappointed to see it construed as such.
I don’t apologize for being patriotic. When I step into the polling station I am no longer Pagan, but a citizen, and vote accordingly. Yet that doesn’t mean that I don’t reverence the land I live on and the country to which it gave birth. You don’t have to care when someone attacks your Gods. When they attack your rights. When they declare warfare against your country. You can not participate. You can choose not to vote. You can choose not to participate in anything that has a history of oppression or genocide (good luck with that). You can choose to limit your involvement to criticism, but know that your criticism isn’t a contribution in and of itself.
On a more constructive note, the Hail Columbia project has a Facebook page and a website is underway. It’s goals are to provide resources for Pagans creating interfaith events in their state, perspectives on Pagan patriotism and on American expressions of Paganism, including an online shrine to Columbia. The best way to respond to violent rhetoric is not with violent rhetoric, not with passive dismissal, but with positive demonstrations of character and values.
Is George Washington a Hero-God?
Gauis Julius Caesar, Augustus, Herakles, Romulus, Remus, Antinous, and other mortals have been deified after death. Like ancestor veneration, hero cults work on the idea that the honored dead watch over us, and intercede for us. It’s called apotheosis and it’s a very old Pagan idea. Wicca has this in the concept of the Mighty Ones or Mighty Dead.
So in the process of discussing the Hail Columbia project, I brought up George Washington. Surely, had Paganism evolved unfettered Washington and other important figures from American history would have their own hero cults? Surely America has a wealth of native protective spirits we can draw on without appropriating First Nations culture?
I was surprised to learn this has been a subject of interest in the Hellenic community, albeit a controversial one. So I’m curious, do you think there should be a hero-cult for George Washington? Do you call on and venerate cultural heros in your practice? Who do you think is worthy of apotheosis?
Make it pink! Make it blue!
So, on a whim, I said I’d dye my hair blue if the Patheos Pagan Portal page on Facebook reached 1,000 “likes” by Lammas/Lughnasadh. I did not imagine that goal would be reached in a little over 24 hours. I certainly wasn’t expecting that. So the weekend after Lammas/Lughnasadh I will set aside time, and perhaps enlist the aide of a friend, and bleach out my brown hair and dye it a smurfy blue. Pictures will be posted. Even if my hair falls out, pictures will be posted. Thanks for boosting the page likes! You all rock!