There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.
- I’d like to start by saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to those injured, and the families of those killed, in a senseless theater murder-spree that occurred in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th at a Midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. I’d like to appeal to the divine within us all, that we avoid conspiracy theories, or using this tragedy to win an argument, and instead focus, at least for now, on those who are existing in a world of pain, fear, doubt, and uncertainty. As someone who believes in magick, I believe in the power of symbols, and Batman is a powerful symbol of overcoming great personal tragedy to become a force for peace and justice. Let this moment sow the seeds of justice, strength, and a resolution to build something better from the wreckage this one man has created.
- American Jails magazine has just released its most recent issue, featuring an article by Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum on accommodating religious diversity in prisons. Quote: “The most common bias to overcome is the dominant religious lens factor or DRLF, a process whereby observers compare other religions to their own. If it looks like one’s own faith, then it is assumed to be good and likely legitimate; if it does not, then it is suspect or wrong.” Check it out!
- Attorneys for the deadly power-tripping “Secret” teacher James Arthur Ray, currently in prison following his conviction for negligent homicide after leading a fatal sweat lodge ceremony in 2009, are asking for a new trial or an overturning of the conviction with prejudice. Amazingly, they are trying to shift blame from Ray himself, to his corporation. How’s that for ethics folks! We’ll keep you posted on further developments.
- An update to my Rick Warren faith/morality forum-centered post yesterday, the Obama campaign has released a statement saying there will be no joint pre-debate appearances, including Warren’s proposed event. I suppose this could change depending on various factors, but this is a positive development. Perhaps Obama agrees with the sentiment expressed by Jacques Berlinerblau at The Chronicle of Higher Education, that Warren has “done enough”.
- The Pew Forum has released a comprehensive break-down of data from a survey of Asian-American’s religious lives and experiences. PRRI notes that “Asian-Americans have been largely responsible for the growth of non-Abrahamic religions (especially Buddhism and Hinduism) in the United States.” A majority (63%) of Asian Americans believe that many religions can lead to eternal life, and only 29% say that there is one true faith. 41% believe in ancestral spirits, that jumps to 67% among Buddhists.
- Angela Sanford, a Wiccan who killed Joel Leyva in what some media described as a ritualistic sacrifice, has had a request for a reduced sentence denied. Sanford has been sentenced to 20 years under a plea agreement, her story was recently dramatized on the show Fatal Encounters.
- The Pagan community has been in the process of having a debate/discussion over the issue of obesity. It started with a post by Peter Dybing, and has been raging ever since. Notable responses have come from Star Foster, Iris Firemoon, and Kitsune Yokai at the Fat Pagan blog, with Margot Adler, Crystal Blanton, and Shauna Aura adding their voices in the comments of Peter’s blog. The most recent commentary on the question of health and obesity comes from T. Thorn Coyle: “There is some real dialogue, some hurt feelings, some anger, and some derision. Bottom line is this: we all have ways in which we do not walk our talk. Bottom line is this: we cannot know what another’s life looks like on the inside, by observing it from the outside.” As this conversation no doubt continues, I hope we can steer clear of judging bodies, and instead focus on building a more supportive community for everyone.
- At The Revealer, Alex Thurston writes about syncretism in Islam within the context of Mali and the destruction of Sufi shrines. Quote: “The alternative – and the greatest challenge to Ansar al Din’s program – is not to assert Islamists’ hidden love for the things they say they hate, but to assert the reality, the desirability, and the possibility that there is more than one way to be a real Muslim. Timbuktu in 2012 is not Mecca in 630. African Muslims are Muslims, full stop. And the loss of shrines in Timbuktu is a loss not only for world civilization and for locals, but also for Islam.”
PNC-Minnesota recently published two interviews, one with M. Macha NightMare, and one with Lady Yeshe Rabbit, who will be appearing at Sacred Harvest Fest. Quote: “I am bringing an open mind. I am interested in learning and sampling from you all the regional flavors of your community. I am bringing my own classes and rituals that I will be leading. One is a project that has been dear to my consciousness, called American Sabbats. It is looking at the secular, bank holidays of this country and their history, and the amount of energy that is generated within them. How the energy of those holidays, which many of us celebrate in addition to our Pagan holidays, might be channeled toward the greater good of our country. There are many changes needed in our country in order to be healthy. I am curious to go and sample what the opinions and thoughts are of all of you who have a unique experience of America from your vantage point in the Midwest.”
- The US Dept. of Justice is supporting Native American inmates in their quest to have a South Dakota ban on using tobacco in religious ceremonies lifted. You can read the DOJ’s supporting brief, here.
- Nicholas Campion, author of “Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions,” shares an excerpt of his book at HuffPo’s religion section. Quote: “The ancient zodiac signs survive in the modern West because, uniquely, in an age of aggressive consumerism, media-overload and scientific materialism, they encourage people to reflect on themselves and their inner worlds; their hopes, fears and secret motivations. In mass culture, astrology replaces the remote scientific language of relativity and light-years with stories of love and luck. In an era when we are now aware that we live on an insignificant planet on the edge of a minor galaxy, astrology restores each individual to the center of their own cosmos. According to its practitioners it provides a sense of personal meaning and purpose and, sometimes, a guide to action. Both astrology’s advocates and its critics find rare agreement on this point. This has nothing to do with the truth of astrology’s claims, but it does explain its survival in the 21st century.”
That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.