The Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Future of Religion

The Parliament of the World’s Religions, held from October 15-19, in Salt Lake City, was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life. For 5 days nearly 10,000 people gathered in Salt Lake’s enormous Salt Palace, virtually all of us as serious practitioners of our religious paths. With few exceptions all of us also appeared to accept paths other than our own as well worth walking.Over 50 religions were represented. Among modern NeoPagans (as I use the term) Wiccans were joined by … [Read More...]

Swastikas and the Stars and Bars as Symbols

    ( This column recapitulates the basic points about the swastika and Confederate flag made in my most recent Witches & Pagans piece, but with a different focus, some different information,  and a complementary but distinct conclusion. )_______After the Charleston murders right wing media and politicians attempted to seize control of its interpretation. In response I wrote moral revulsion was the ultimate corrective to the totalitarian mindset. It and not intellectual ar … [Read More...]

Probing the Depths of the Charleston Murders: a Pagan perspective

The racist terrorism that killed so many in Charleston this past Wednesday was followed almost immediately by the extraordinary efforts of leading American ‘conservatives’’ to redefine what had just so clearly happened. As they did, they revealed the inner soul of their movement and, as I hope to show, demonstrate how people can ultimately degenerate into defenders of evil in the name of virtue.The shooting had barely ended before FOX News was suggesting the crimes reflected a “war on Christi … [Read More...]

Caitlin Jenner, the Duggars, and Us

Caitlin Jenner and the ‘Quiverfull’ of Duggars are perfect symbols for the profound cultural changes tearing this country apart. In their very different ways they represent an epochal shift from a culture predicated on firm, inviolable and hierarchical boundaries, a culture that no longer fits the world we live in, to the birth of one where national, racial, sexual, religious, economic, and ecological boundaries are increasingly open and ill defined and hierarchies relatively flat. The Duggars re … [Read More...]

The Language of Power and the Language of Care

  A new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary appeared in 2007. New editions add some words and subtract others. This time the pattern in both deletions and additions  was troubling. And not just for Pagans.The big losers were words about religion and nature. The 2007 dictionary dropped words such as ‘acorn’, ‘beaver’, ‘colt’, ‘dandelion’, ‘doe’, ‘ferret’, ‘goldfish’, ‘hamster’, ‘ivy’, ‘pasture’, ‘sycamore’, ‘violet’, and ‘willow’. The trend continued in the 2012 edition with ‘cauliflower’ … [Read More...]

The spiritual gifts of Wicca do not stop with Wiccans

Wicca and similar NeoPagan traditions have already helped humanity far out of proportion to our small numbers. We have disproportionately strengthened two spiritual insights essential to humanity’s future: the sacredness of the feminine and the sacredness of nature. In the absence of a appreciation for both, our society faces increasingly dark times, times even darker than those we are currently suffering.The crisis of our timesAs with every society, America has always presented a p … [Read More...]

Why monotheisms are so violent. And why the best monotheists are not.

Violence in the name of a monotheistic religion once again has captured the world’s attention. This time it was committed by killers acting in Islam’s name. Columnists and politicians who should know better claim something supposedly unique to Islam is responsible. This malign misdiagnosis gets two central points utterly wrong.First, there are over one billion Muslims in the world, and the great majority are not violent. Second, while there has been considerable violence by some Muslims in th … [Read More...]

A response to Niki Whiting’s review of my book, Faultlines

Replying to reviews with which an author disagrees is in many ways a waste of time.  Reviewers and other readers bring their own preconceptions and biases to whatever they encounter, just as do authors.  It is no surprise two people will read the same book and emphasize different dimensions of it, both possibly different from what the author tried to emphasize.  But at a minimum a review should give the reader a reasonable idea of what the book is about. I was disappointed that Niki Wh … [Read More...]

Environmentalism and Pagan religion

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Pagan community here.The greatest conflict between most thoughtful Pagans and modern society is our relationship with the other-than-human world.  The reason is simple.Modern society limits the moral universe to other human beings. A tiny fringe suggests expanding moral standing to include the “right kinds” of animals. Everything else is a to … [Read More...]

Polytheism, Emergence and the One

Patheos has had some ‘intense conversations’ about polytheism.  Some radical polytheists claimed only their position could coherently be called polytheistic. Others, and I was one, denied this was so. A great deal of discussion centered on past and present Pagan practice, but little focused on the actual nature of polytheism. Recently Christopher Scott Thompson did an excellent historical and philosophical analysis of the relationship between polytheism and monism.  My post complements his, comin … [Read More...]