Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup) September 28, 2012

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.

Ronald Hutton
  • The Somerset Guardian reports on a Clutton History Society meeting, featuring a talk from historian Ronald Hutton, author of “The Triumph of the Moon:A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft.” Quote: “After the summer break Clutton History Society resumed its monthly programme of talks in September with a visit from Professor Ronald Hutton, of Bristol University’s History Department, who gave a talk entitled Village Witchcraft. Appropriately the audience were spell bound with the professor’s informative and very interesting talk. Professor Hutton is a notable authority on early modern history, folklore and pre-Christian history.” For more on Hutton, here’s the scholar explaining how Puritans ruined our fun. We’re still awaiting the broadcast of “Britain’s Wicca Man,” a documentary about Gerald Gardner hosted by Hutton.
  • At Forbes, conservative Christian commentator Bill Flax admits that the United States isn’t a Christian nation (albeit with a number of caveats). Quote: “America wasn’t founded as a Christian nation and many of our beloved Forefathers sadly were not, yet America was largely comprised of Believers. Liberty allows us to worship freely or not at all per conscience. America was never meant to be theocratic or homogenous religiously, but Christianity has always been indelible to our social fabric.”
  • AlterNet interviews  Nancy L. Cohen, author of “Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America,” about why “sexual fundamentalists” still hold such much political power, despite shrinking as a demographic (in essence they’ve slowly entrenched themselves into the Republican base and presidential nominating process). Quote: “The secret to understanding American politics right now is to understand how these extremists are less popular yet more powerful than we imagine. The GOP platform is a good object lesson about how sexual fundamentalists operate within the Republican Party. The delegates that ended up at the convention are the most extreme of the Republican base. The people who were elected to be on the platform committee are the most extreme of the extremists. That’s how you end up with a platform that says not only no abortion with no exceptions, even for rape, but also includes a lot of junk science that says it’s proven women become depressed from abortion or that there is fetal pain.”
  • For those of you who’ve enjoyed the recent back-and-forth in our community concerning belief and religion, historian Kelly J. Baker, author of “Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930,” centers on the perennial question of ‘They don’t really believe that, do they?’ Quote: “If I, the person who studies “weird” or “exotic” religion, will assure them that these people don’t believe, then maybe they can rest easy. I cannot assure them. And, if I am being truly honest, I really don’t want to. Instead, I emphasize that this “belief” is materialized in every prophetic utterance, billboard proclaiming the date of the end, online discussion of reptoid encounters, and each weapon purchased for the possibility of race war.” 
  • Boycotts are awesome when we do them, and terrible when other people do them.
  • Ke$ha’s new album is about magic! The first single is called “Supernatural”! She had sex with a ghost! Quote: “It’s about experiences with the supernatural, but in a sexy way. I had a couple of experiences with the supernatural. I don’t know his name! He was a ghost! I’m very open to it.” So, yeah, that happened.
  • A Republican polling firm has found that 69% of hunters and anglers support reducing carbon emissions to combat global warming. Perhaps proof that climate change isn’t a partisan issue, and that denialists are increasingly out of step with the people they say they represent?
  • Naomi Wolf defends her new book “Vagina” at Slate.com. Quote: To Wolf, criticism of her choice to couch that information in hippie-dippy terms like “The Goddess Array” has also been used to suppress discussion of female sexuality. The concept of “transcendence,” she says, is based in a long literary tradition, and though it “can be seen as a mystical term, it’s also a clinical term.” She is not actually “making a claim for some dimension of reality that exists outside of the brain.” Instead, she’s calling on the gods in a literary attempt to push back against 5,000 years of human history, in which the vagina has been “demeaned, debated, debased, and stigmatized,” she says. “I chose the phrase ‘The Goddess Array’ flippantly, I suppose, because it’s like, ‘fuck you.’ Seriously!” The coinage was an attempt to “carve out a space for women where they feel a radical sense of self-respect,” she says. “Is that coinage working for everybody? Obviously not. But if you have a better word for radical female self-respect, please tell me, because it does not exist.”
  • BBC on the Druids.
  • Killing your religious disciple is not OK.
  • US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe rejects calls for anti-blasphemy laws, saying that freedom of religion and freedom of expression are inseparable. Quote: “The inseparable freedoms of expression and religion are important not for abstract reasons […] when these freedoms are restricted, we see violence, poverty, stagnation and feelings of frustration and even humiliation.”
Star Foster
  • In a final note, farewell to Star Foster, our Pagan Portal Manager, who’s leaving Patheos to concentrate on her new life in Paganistan. Quote:  “So this is my last post for this blog. My fond farewell. I need to focus on something other than Paganism for awhile, or at least Paganism at large. My personal practice has suffered, and needs some tender loving care. I won’t completely disappear. I might do a story or two for the PNC. One day, I might even blog again. But I’m going to be silent for a long while. I need that desperately.” Thank you for all your work Star, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of you!

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.

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12 responses to “Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)”

  1. I can hardly express how heartened I am that that United States is mounting a full-throated defense of freedom of speech at the UN. As one commenter over at GetReligion pointed out, the views of Jesus in Christianity (an aspect of God) and Islam (a human prophet of Allah) are mutually blasphemous. The religious must learn to live with other people’s blasphemy.
    Freedom of speech arises from a hard-won political conclusion: Even though some speech is unquesionably despicable, you never want to put the right to squelch it in the hands of the state. Never.
    Defenders of free speech are not unaware that speech can lead to action, and some action is unlawful in any setting. On the contrary, it is the power of speech that makes it so precious. It is part of our human heritage that we dare not surrender to any government — even a friendly one, because governments come and governments go.
    Most of our Moslem brethren live with a paradox: They are a local majority and at the same time a global minority. They live surrounded by a social environment in which anti-Islamic blasphemy would be unthinkable. But that environment is embedded in a global milieu that is quite otherwise. Christians are in the same situation and weren’t always cool about it; the smoke of a thousand martyrs once wafted across Europe.
    At present the rage of the religious must be contained by secular means. Perhaps, in the fullness of time, religious dampers on that rage will develop. One may only hope.

  2. I would be happier with a full throated philosophical defense coupled with a threat to leave the UN entirely if such an idea were adopted. However, those in strange parts of the world where they think that such a thing would matter do not understand that the UN has no power to legislate anything. All it can do is make proposals that are either accepted or rejected by the individual nations and are not binding outside of that. Only the Security Council has the power to take action and that can be simply vetoed.

  3. Happily, the Security Council doesn’t usually get into this stuff. It’s the General Assembly and the Commissions that can get goofy. Hence the need to repeat to a commission on human rights what Obama already said at the GA.
    As for the US staying in the UN, without us they might try something really offensive to our core national interests, and we wouldn’t be there to veto it. It’s also in our national interest to attend the quality of proposals that might one day become the foundation of international law.
    Since some people want world government, one plausible evolution path for the UN is to become a global federation, and we want to influence the nature of that federation in our favor. IMHO we can do that better from the inside than the outside.

  4. Why influence what we can ignore? The folks that want global government are not going to get it because it is really in no nation’s interest. And the General Assembly can get as goofy as it wants. It can’t do anything but produce hot air.
    The argument for staying in the Security Council has merit. The Russians walked out in 1950 for a time and did not get to veto the Korean War resolution. International Law only exists on paper. As Mike Royko once wrote, no one ever got a ticket for violating international law. The offended party has to win the war first.

    What I see as likely would be a repeat of the SPEECH act of 2010. The UN General Assembly adopts a version of the proposal and Congress passes a law forbidding any US court from upholding it. Foreign speech restrictions are already unenforceable in the US and I would see a reaffirmation of that coming. In fact I am thinking the bill will be introduced in the next Congress which will pre-empt any attempt at enforcement in the US. The benefit of that is that US ambassador to the UN can simply say that the US cannot agree to any such action as it violates US domestic law, in effect throwing a nuclear roadblock in the path of any foreign prosecutions. In fact that would be reason why the US would be really unlikely to sign any treaty to enable the law because the First Amendment already blocks it and the courts have ruled that no treaty can override the constitution.

  5. I think the veto on the security council is a bad thing and should be abolished.

    I also think that any of their mandates should be enforced.

  6. The story about hunters and anglers is good news. Hunters tend to be conservative, but perhaps global warming gets harder and harder to deny the closer you are to nature, and in order to be a good hunter you have to pay close attention to nature. I know a few old gardeners and birdwatchers, and none of them are climate change deniers. They can see the evidence with their own eyes. Plants flowering at the wrong time. Birds showing up that aren’t supposed to live this far north. Things like that.

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