I hadn’t planned on posting today. But the Awen isn’t flowing on the full-length essays I’m working on and I have numerous random thoughts. So rather than staring at the screen and dropping a few lines on Facebook, here’s an unplanned edition of Nine Things I Think. Only I have more than nine things to talk about, so this post is titled Eleven Things I Think.
1) I’ll be one of the headliners at the 2020 Florida Pagan Gathering Beltane event, Wednesday through Sunday, April 22 – 26. This is actually the third time I’ve been invited to the Florida Pagan Gathering. The first two times I had to decline due to previous commitments. I appreciate their persistence, and I look forward to spending a few days with everyone there.
They’ve asked me to lead three workshops. One of them will be “I Like It Here – Why Do I Have To Leave,” a new workshop based on the Interlude in Paganism In Depth. I haven’t decided on the other two, but at least one will be a new offering.
2) The header of this blog says “musings of a Pagan, Druid, and Unitarian Universalist.” That’s what Christine Kraemer and I came up with when I moved to Patheos in 2013, and it’s still true. I identify as a Pagan, I’m a member of two Druid orders, and I’m an active member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
But I write as a polytheist. Or more precisely, an ancestral, devotional, ecstatic, oracular, magical, public, Pagan polytheist. If you expect my theological blogging to be as inclusive as my UU sermons you will be very disappointed.
This hasn’t been a big deal for a while. We fought some nasty battles in 2015 and mostly came to an understanding. But I’ve had some private complaints recently, and while I’ve addressed those privately, there may be others who are thinking the same things.
If you’re a non-theist, a monotheist, or a pantheist, know that I respect your beliefs and that you’re welcome in my virtual home and at any public event I lead. But my blogging is about my spiritual journey, which is unapologetically centered on the worship of the Many Gods.
3) I’m not ready to write my year-end review yet, but 2019 has been a difficult year. I’ve had work stress, health issues, house problems, and difficulties in organizations that are important to me. I haven’t said much because others around me seem to have it worse.
When asked about this in prayer I got an immediate answer: “you’re living in Tower Time – what do you expect?” It wasn’t said callously, just matter-of-factly.
I’ve tried not to lean on people who I know are hurting just as much or more than I am – they already have their hands full. But I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to do that.
This much I know – none of us are going to get through these trying times alone.
4) Paganism In Depth – the On-line Course went far better than I expected. I got even more signups than I thought possible, and from a very experientially-diverse background. That presented its own challenges – I had to try to not go over the heads of the beginners, while not boring the more experienced folks. Based on the post-class survey, I think it went about as well as could be expected.
The class is set up to be on-demand. If you missed it, you can sign up and take it any time. I’m no longer reviewing homework, but I am available for any questions related to the class.
There will be a new on-line class early next year. Look for an announcement sometime before the Solstice.
5) I’ve seen another round of comments about keeping politics out of Paganism, so I want to make my position clear. What I do here is religion. Religion is not only theology and ritual and interacting with the Otherworld. Religion – good religion, anyway – also has a this-world component. How do the deities you worship and work with inspire you to live? How to do you manifest Their virtues, and promote those virtues in this world? How do you live respectfully with the many other persons with whom we share the Earth?
Politics – particularly the partisan politics that dominates our society – is no substitute for devotion. But even the most pious devotion is no substitute for being an engaged citizen.
I do both. Most of my blogging deals with the Gods, magic, and our experiences of them. But when I feel the need to say something political, I’m going to say it.
6) I’m disturbed by those who insist on ideological and political purity, especially those who say that if a candidate doesn’t have the “right” position on all the issues, or if they once supported something objectionable, they won’t ever vote for them.
I like the meme going around that says “politics isn’t marriage – it’s public transportation.” You don’t have to wait for just the right one. If you can’t find a bus that goes exactly where you want to go when you want to go there, you don’t stay home. You take the one that will get you the closest.
7) However, this is primary season. This is the time to shoot for the moon, to argue for your political wish list… and to weed out candidates who won’t be strong enough to win a general election.
The field for the Democratic nomination for President is still far too large. I had hoped it would be down to six or seven by the end of the year – that’s not going to happen. Those who know they’re not going to win are trying to stay in the media light – they’re running for Vice President or a cabinet position or to improve their position for another run in 2024 or 2028. I wish all but the top few would do the right thing and drop out, but the kind of ego it takes to think you should be President of the United States doesn’t lend itself to admitting defeat.
8) I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren. I want a President who’s a true progressive, who will approach issues thoughtfully and compassionately, and who will restore dignity to the Presidency. There are others I could be happy with, but Warren is my first choice.
She’s slipping in the polls, although until people actually start voting I’m not sure how much the polls really matter.
I do know Wall Street does not want her (or Bernie Sanders) to be President. They’re pushing Biden – and now also Michael Bloomberg – as a “mainstream” alternative, as a return to the Obama years. I want a progressive, not yet another center-right old white man.
Mainly, I want a candidate who will inspire the people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but who stayed home for Hillary in 2016. Turnout wins elections.
9) But after the primaries are over, I will support the Democratic nominee no matter who they are, even if it’s (Gods forbid) Joe Biden. Any Democrat would be better than four more years of Trump.
And I’ll support Democratic candidates for Congress, Senate, the state legislature, and every other office up for election. Good government requires more than a good President – it requires good, honest, progressive people at every level.
To be clear: I have no great love for the Democratic Party. At the end of the day they’re in the pockets of the rich just as much as the Republican Party. But how they govern is significantly less evil, and so I vote for them.
10) Don’t come into my spaces with “both sides” bullshit. Especially don’t do it if you’re arguing that racists, homophobes, TERFs, and Nazis just want to be left alone to do their own thing in peace. We saw what that looks like in Charlottesville.
In the words of James Baldwin “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
We can agree to disagree about the number of Gods, the meaning of life, or what happens after death. We can hold different positions about tax rates, centralized vs. decentralized government, or public approaches vs. private approaches and still be friends.
But if you want to argue for white supremacy and racial separation, that LGBTQ peoples’ marriages are invalid, or that trans people don’t exist, we cannot agree to disagree.
There are sides. I have chosen mine, and if you claim “there are very fine people on both sides” then you’ve chosen the other side.
11) I’m glad we live in a world where extravagant beauty exists.
This wedding piece from Vogue came across my Twitter feed yesterday. It’s titled The Brides Wore Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera at Their Wedding at Ashford Castle in Ireland. The first thing that caught my attention was the contrast of one bride in the dark green velvet cloak and the other bride in a traditional white gown. The story and the rest of the 52 pictures are just amazing.
Twitter estimates on the cost ranged from high six figures to well over a million dollars – there were the inevitable comments that the money should be “given to the poor.” But I think we need castle weddings and cathedrals and sports stadiums and other things that cost too much but that show us what can be done, even if most of us will never do them.
This is a story of great privilege – beginning with both brides hitting the genetic lottery. Cathy and I had a very nice church wedding on a very tight budget that didn’t strain our finances or the finances of our parents. I wouldn’t have been this extravagant even if I could – it’s just not me, and it’s certainly not Cathy.
But I’m glad things like this exist in our world. At heart, I’m a democratic socialist who has no desire to live under Soviet-style communism. I don’t want to eat the rich – I don’t want to tax them into pedestrian lifestyles either. I just want to tax them to the point where everyone has enough.