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...]

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...]

What is Paganism? Part IV: Interfaith Recognition

Gus diZerega

In many ways, the most convincing evidence supporting the definition of Pagan religion that I have discussed in this series is traditional Pagan peoples’ reactions when they meet modern NeoPagans in interfaith work.A few years back it was trendy in some Religious Studies circles to argue that NeoPagans were so different from indigenous and African Diasporic religions that we should not all be lumped together as "Pagan." Enmeshed within theoretical categories decisively shaped by secular a … [Read more...]

What Is Paganism? Part III: Pagan Religion from a Historical Perspective

Gus diZerega

As is well known in our community, the term “Pagan” was not initially a religious one, and when it took on a religious meaning, it was in contrast to “Christian.” Over the years it has gradually solidified to refer to religions that are not Abrahamic and not Buddhist. Hindus seem to go in and out depending on the writer and the context. So at first, it seems to be a catch-all in historical terms, a kind of linguistic wastebasket into which religions not granted equal status with the “great” ones … [Read more...]

What is Paganism? Part II: A Spiritual Taxonomy

Gus diZerega

Biology arranges all of life in taxonomic ranks based on what are believed to be important similarities.  The term mammalia is a class, the class of all mammals. Within this class there are orders, such as primates. Within the order of primates there are families, such as hominids. Within a family there are genuses; if we follow the line leading to us, within the hominid family our genus would be Homo. And within the genus there are species, as in our own narcissistically named Homo Sapiens.  S … [Read more...]

What is Paganism? Part I: The Basics: Religion, Spirituality, and Stories

Gus diZerega

I was recently involved in an intense discussion arising over an article linked from The Wild Hunt. The article complained about a friend’s statement describing Paganism to an interfaith audience, and I responded by defending him. After that the discussion took off in the direction of “Who is a Pagan and how do we know?” I continued until, in my judgment, we were getting too testy. Best to stop.But most of the issues discussed were important.Afterwards I realized I had accumulated what co … [Read more...]

Faultlines Book Release, and Why Pagans Should Work with Other Religions

Fault Lines

Last month, my new book Faultlines: the Sixties, the Culture War, and the Return of the Divine Feminine was published by Quest. Clicking on the title and linked web page give a pretty good sense of what it discusses, as does a post I just put on PaganSquare. Auspiciously, the date of publication was my birthday, but I was on the road from then until a few days ago, without the peace and quiet to write much. Now that I am back home, I want to focus here at Patheos on the book’s implications for P … [Read more...]

A Personal Note on Abortion

Gus diZerega

My previous columns have all given theoretical arguments rebutting claims that women should not have final control over deciding whether or not to carry a fetus to term. I argued that respect for life could not justify such claims, that the pre-existence of entities seeking birth or rebirth could not do so, and that there are no very firm grounds in the Bible to consider a fetus a human being. These columns also demonstrated the leadership of the pro-life movement is not pro-life in any coherent … [Read more...]