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...]

Considering ‘Privilege,’ White, Wiccan, and otherwise. Part III: Occult and Spiritual Dimensions

So far I have written as a social scientist, one who has spent much of my life studying human societies, seeking reliable patterns and clear concepts better to understand our world.  But I am also a Pagan, and my outlook is decisively shaped not only by what I have learned as a traditional scholar, but also what I learned as a Wiccan, one who also worked for many years in an African Diasporic healing tradition, as well as shamanic work rooted in Indian traditions.  What I learned here takes my d … [Read more...]

Considering ‘Privilege,’ White, Wiccan, and otherwise. Part II: When the language of privilege works and when it does not

Part II argues the problems with 'Wiccan privilege' as a concept are rooted in the current abuse of the term in social and political analysis.  While the term has a narrowly circumscribed realm where it provides important insights, its expansion beyond this realm has led to considerable confusion and worse.  I use the example of 'White male privilege' to demonstrate this point, focusing on its analytical, moral, and political shortcomings.All else being equal, in America it is better to be b … [Read more...]

Considering ‘Privilege,’ White, Wiccan, and otherwise. Part I: Wiccan privilege

The deepest issues underlying recent arguments over ‘Wiccan privilege’ are rooted in equality’s relation to freedom. Freedom of any sort always generates inequality of some sort. What kind of equality matters and when? What kind of freedom matters, and when? Thinking clearly about equality and freedom is tricky, and this is the most difficult paper I have written for Patheos.The intensity and all too frequent venom I encountered in discussions over ‘Wiccan privilege’ dovetailed with other exp … [Read more...]

Looking to the future: Pagan religions in 50 Years

Gus diZerega

Pantheacon 2014 was unusual in the level of acrimony some Pagans raised towards others about a supposed ‘Wiccan privilege’.  I will soon have a article devoted to it here, but that is not this one.  Here I want to explore the kinds of changes in America’s Pagan religions that made it possible for some to bring this charge. For in the years to come these changes will only increase. Our future is a diversity dwarfing what we presently are experiencing.I will start with two basic observa … [Read more...]

Don Frew on saving Pagan lives, ‘Wiccan privilege’ and interfaith

Don Frew

The recent discussions here over what constitutes Pagan religion raised a number of issues with which Wiccan elder Don Frew has an unusual degree of experience.  Few if any NeoPagans have been more active than Frew in our interactions with the wider religious world.  Given that so much of our history is unavailable except orally, or in very specialized venues, I offered him an opportunity here to put some of these issues  into a historical and I think very interesting context. - Gus di … [Read more...]

What is Paganism? Part VI: The New Age and the Limits of Pagan Religion

Gus diZerega

Religious stories are about how we as a community can make sense of the ultimate context of our existence. I am not attempting to describe all possible basic religious stories, only those most relevant to our community.It seems to me what we call “New Age” religions deserve their own category. I am fascinated by how historically modern New Age religions are so closely intertwined  with NeoPaganism. At least in the American context they haveintertwined roots sending up vigorous shoots within a … [Read more...]

What is Paganism? Part V: ChristoPaganism and the Limits of Pagan Religion

ChristoPaganism is getting a lot of attention within our community, in part because it claims to combine two religious traditions considered irreconcilable. Does my analysis shed any useful light on the subject? From this perspective, what are we to make of ChristoPaganism?At the level of spiritual practice, some ChristoPagans report powerful and moving spiritual experiences.   I believe them. But what is ChristoPaganism’s relationship to Pagan and Christian religion? Is it identified with on … [Read more...]


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