Just a few quick quick news notes to start off your Wednesday.
Absent Christian Soldiers: Remember that story a couple weeks ago about a Christian group in Dorset, England who were going to hold vigils outside a pub in order to “combat” a Pagan moot (social gathering)? Well, it turns out they didn’t show up.
“A Pagan moot in Bridport last week went ahead without any trouble after a planned Christian demonstration never materialised. [...] Despite the Christian group announcing to the press they expected “a high turn out” no one showed up at the venue on the night.”
That’s right, not a single Christian prayer warrior braved the elements to do some anti-Pagan praying. Instead, triple the number of Pagans who usually attend showed up, and they raised some money for the Dorset County Hospital’s Kingfisher Ward. Obviously Pagans meeting in pubs and donating to charity is something that should be stopped, and I’m shocked that these Christian Soldiers who have vowed to halt “evil” failed in their quest.
The Blessed Ex-Satanist: Maybe those Christian Soldiers should take a page from the Blessed Bartolo Longo, a Catholic lay-leader who had once joined a “Satanic” group in Italy during the late 19th century. Once converted, he had no qualms about acting like a jerk around the people he used to hang out with.
To prove his new-found commitment to Christ and His Church Bartolo even attended a séance. In the midst of it, he stood and raised a medal of the Blessed Virgin Mother and cried out: “I renounce spiritism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood.”
See? These are the kind of people who don’t get invited to the cool spirit-invoking parties. As for the article itself, the author seems to be unsure if Longo was “New Age,” “pagan,” or a “Satanist.” But I suppose such distinctions matter little if you believe they are all going to the same place.
We’re All Neo-Pagans Now: Former Wild Hunt guest contributor Lee Gilmore, author of “Theater in a Crowded Fire: Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man”, writes an essay for the University of Southern California blog The Scoop on modern Paganism. Entitled “Boy Wizards, Green Living, Blue Aliens: We’re All Neo-Pagans Now,” the piece touches on our growth, treatment in the media, Patrick McCollum’s court case, and the “allure of magic and witchcraft” in popular culture.
“In the broader culture, Paganism remains comparatively small in numbers, but influential in terms of the broader cultural trends it embodies. The definitive number of American Pagans remains elusive, but reasonable estimates place the number between 750,000 to 1.2 million, or possibly more. Religious censuses like the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape survey often lump Pagans in with “Other/New Age” faiths, thus missing the extent to which the values that typify Neo-Paganism are increasingly found in other arenas.
The allure of magic and witchcraft— whether in practice or in fancy—also bubbles up in cultural phenomena like the “Harry Potter” franchise and the new Wiccan subplot in HBO’s “True Blood.” There is also a growing cultural turn toward “green spirituality” in which individuals and faith communities strive to value ecological sustainability and to seek harmony between nature and the sacred. And while it may seem like old news, the widespread and ongoing fascination with the romantic, pantheistic world of “Avatar“—along with its sequels in the offing—is also part of this important cultural trend.”
In her closing, Gilmore notes that reporters would “do well to take a closer look at Paganism, and other minority faiths,” a sentiment I heartily agree with. Be sure to read the whole thing, she has some incisive analysis, particularly of the McCollum case.