Friday, December 21, 2007

The War on Christmas and Discrimination

So last night I caught NBC's War on Christmas update.

I dunno. I don't have a TV, but I was in a waiting room and it was on. I can't remember what station it was. Anyway. I was a little perturbed because they were talking about Green Bay, Wisconsin and they did not mention once the pentacle issue there. (I can't find the clip on their website, though I found it last night and wrote them a letter about it too!)

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, apparently a few days ago Green Bay, Wisconsin's city council decided to put a nativity scene on top of the city hall, but the mayor said anybody else who wanted to add their own religious symbols to the display was invited to do so Circle Sanctuary, being local, stepped up and offered a pentacle wreath. It was added to the display and shortly thereafter taken down in the dead of night and destroyed by some random person who is, apparently, still at large. (The nativity is undamaged) Circle Sanctuary immediately moved to replace the pentacle but the city council then had another meeting and voted to retain the nativity but put a moratorium on any additional symbols.
You can find more details at

So yea, NBC said, and I roughly quote "The nativity above city hall in Green Bay Wisconsin will stay because the city council voted tonight to keep it there." With NO mention whatsoever that they voted at the same time NOT to allow anything else until further discussion. So they had a meeting last night (while the news was being broadcast) and I'm not sure of the results of that. According to what I've read, it was just a bunch of people voicing their opinions and no decisions were made. Whatever all that, the nativity remains above the entrance to city hall, under which anyone who goes there for any sort of business is forced to walk (and be slapped in the face with how they are abnormal if they don't revere it) and no additional symbols have been put up. So, of course, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State jumped in the fray and there's now a lawsuit pending.

It's really rediculous how these things happen. I bet it will be reported by the mainstream media as "Green Bay Wisconsin forced to remove Nativity or face lawsuit" rather than "Green Bay Wisconsin mayor faces lawsuit for showing preferential treatment toward the majority religion."

Honestly though, I don't think the Mayor and the City Council mean to be assholes. I think they acted hastily and should have had all these meetings before they started putting up religious symbols. They admit as much themselves in the stories if you read them closely. They said "Hey, we're going to let people put whatever they want up." and didn't set down any guidelines for it. So the question arises, what if other religions want to put up displays for other times of the year?

I found this discussion about the subject
Fellow Pagan blogger at the Wild Hunt has also been following this issue.

Of course, this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. It just so happened that Circle Sanctuary was involved this time and Rev. Selena Fox & Co. are media whores. They make sure everyone knows what goes on with them- to their credit and often to the benefit of Paganism as a whole. (They were deeply involved in the quests to allow Pentacles on gravestones in military cemetaries). A smilar incident took place earlier this month in New York.

I am really tired of hearing about the war on Christmas. There is no war on Christmas, it's a war against religous hegemony. The reality is that many of the symbols people associate with Christmas and many of the traditions people associate with Christmas are Pagan or secular. They've been around since before the birth of Christ. They have been observed independant of as well as alongside Christianity for centuries, and they are enjoying a resurgance under the new Pagan movement. The tree is not JUST a Christmas tree, it is also a Yule tree, or a Solstice tree. Nobody insists on calling it that in the public eye. We are happy to call it a Holiday tree so as to include Christinity in the tradition, even though the trees have nothing. NOTATHING to do with Christianity, Christ or the observance of the birth of Christ. Some of the very religions that are screaming now once condemned Christmas as a Pagan holiday. I don't care if polititions talk about opening gifts on Christmas morning, because that's what they do. They don't have to call them Holiday presents if they're Christmas presents. I don't call my Yule gifts Holiday presents. I call them Yule gifts if they're for the Pagan folks, and Christmas gifts if they're for the Christian folks, and Holiday gifts if I don't know. It's just common courtesy not to make assumptions. You know.

Ergh. I'm ranting again. I'll stop now.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On Ron Paul

Never in my life have I seen a candidate so enthousiastically endorsed by the Pagan community. I had originally thought it was just local. At Pagan events "Ron Paul, Ron Paul", I go to visit my Pagan friends and "Ron Paul, Ron Paul." But lo, it's all over the internet too.

Here are some examples:
An Open Letter to the Pagan Community and at the Pagan Temple Blog, and RitualMagick's Pagans for Ron Paul

While I'm pretty confident that I (sadly) know politics well enough to know that this guy is going to go roughly nowhere, it sort of disturbs me that Pagans should so strongly through their support behind this guy. Granted, most of the really enthousiastic folks are male, but not all. Now Ron Paul may have more Pagan-friendly stances on things, but they aren't exactly woman friendly and he seems to think the Earth is badly in need of overpopulation. What else could a man with FIVE kids and SEVENTEEN grandkids who adamantly opposes abortion and supports legislation that says life begins at conception? Think about what this means; to end a pregnancy even at less that four weeks- when you're dealing with nothing more than a bundle of cells- could be considered murder. Forget about the hard won morning after pill. And IUDs could theoretically be outlawed as well because they prevent implantation, but not fertilization. What is conception? Is it implantation or fertilization? I don't know! What I do know is that outlawing abortion is dangerous and wrong. For someone who claims to believe in medical freedom and personal responsibility, this is quite the oxymoron, isn't it? Where are all those extra, unwanted babies (especially the drug addicted and handicapped ones) going to go? Who is going to support the families who end up with one too many kids to support? What about those women in abusive relationships who are repeatedly impregnated as a control measure. You think I'm making this shit up? It's very real, I assure you. Pregnant teenagers are the worst of our problems when talking about abortion. And let's not miss the biggest point of all. The last thing our Mother Earth needs is more human children. The human population is estimated at 6.6 billion and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. That's rediculous, and unnecessary. What do we need all those people for? Of course, I would like to see artificial means of conception outlawed before I saw abortion outlawed. But I care about the Earth and you should too. Have two kids. If you can't, adopt. If you want more, adopt. What we need is adoption laws that aren't so weird and convoluted and biased toward Christianity.

Now it's all very fun and exciting to talk about freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, etc. However, this guy is talking about pulling out of the UN. All I can say is, "What the fuck?". You don't just pull out of the UN. The UN is about international cooperation. Does he have a plan, something to replace the UN? No. He just wants to be isolationist. That's not a Pagan value at all. We are the world (to quote an old and rather annoying song that will now, unfortunately be stuck in my head for the rest of the day now that I've typed it.) and there are some issues in the world that cannot be solved without cooperation. He talks about the environment, which we as Pagans have top on our lists of issues to care about, but real environmental impact is beyond a single nation. We need to cooperate with other nations to protect the Earth. They are our brothers and sisters, we cannot just turn out backs on them and we can't make a difference without them!

Finally, the idea of educational freedom is great and fantastic. He wants to abolish the Department of Education and he wants us all to build and send our kids to private schools. Great. Who is paying for that? Oh yea, $5000 tax credits (but he wants to abolish income taxes, so what taxes exactly are we talking about?). But private school is $20K plus a year. And he's a huge proponent of Homeschooling. Well, guess what, so am I! But I don't have time to do it and I would starve if I quit my job to do it. (You all that do it, Kudos to you!). So now we have no federally funded public schools, they're entirely under the state's financial umbrella?(I guess that's okay if you're not from Michigan) Or are we doing away with public schools altogether? I agree with him. Public schools are failing our students. But there has to be a better option.

Finally, he wants to lift a bunch of firearms bans. Okay, great. I support the right of sane people to have guns and I agree that the current gun laws are pretty much bullshit. They are too restrictive in one way and not restrictive enough in another way. We need background checks. We do not need to lift all laws. That's silly. Guns are silly. I hate guns. They are loud and inelegant. Yet you can get arrested for an atheme.

In summary. I think Mr. Ron Paul lives in fairyland. Just because we are Pagans, doesn't mean we have to join him there.

But don't listen to me. You need to decide for yourself.
Be sure especially to check out

Unfortunately, we all have to vote for the lesser of evils and he may well be it. But do vote. Democracy is a Pagan ideal. It honors our Gods to engage in it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Hanukkah

I would like to take a moment to wish all of my Jewish friends (like my brother-in-law and my buddy of the bees- he knows who he is!) a blessed Hanukkah. This day honors a very important period in both Jewish and Pagan history and we Pagans would do well to remember it. You see, about 2200 years ago, Jerusalem was ruled over by Greece. Greece was a Pagan country at the time, of course, and they considered the Jews to be heretics and atheists- and trouble makers. They put severe restrictions on Jewish practice. Antiochus IV outlawed Judaism outright. It is true that this isn't typical of a Pagan society, but Antiochus did it.

Part of this "get rid of Jews" project included the take over the Second Temple in Jerusalem and sacrifice a pig (you know, unclean) on the altar. I have been told by Jewish co-workers that they also installed sacred prostitutes. I am not sure I believe this part either, of it was added later to make it seem worse to modern ears. Sacrificing an unclean animal on an altar of the Jewish God is bad enough. Trust me.

So anyway, the story goes that the Jews rose up against the Greeks and routed them from the temple and basically baracaded themselves inside. There was no getting supplies from outside for awhile because the Greeks were out there and they were pissed. The Jews wasted no time cleansing and reconsecrating the temple, but they found that there wasn't very much consecrated oil available for the eternal flame. Apparently the Greeks had taken or defiled the stores on hand and only one container remained sealed. They lit the menorah anyway. The menorah continued to burn for 8 days while the priests worked busily to prepare more. (My Jewish co-worker, the same one who says there were prostitutes in the temple tells me that the Greeks were outside the temple trying to get in and they were fighting them off for 8 days, which is why they couldn't get more oil. I don't know if this is true or not, but it's certainly more exciting than the Wikipedia version!)

Hanukkah is not the celebration of the battle or the victory. This is an important distinction. It is the celebration of the rededication of the temple and the miracle. It is a time for Jews to celebrate the victory of light (the Torah) over darkness (*cough*Paganism) and a time for us to remember that Pagans weren't always the victims in history that we modern Pagans like to claim them to be!

Of course, I'm not all about my view and being fluffy. Some people don't agree with me, and that's cool. Here is a completely different take of the whole situation, and a few more...

And here's some more history to chew on, for geeks like me
All of this is rather combattive, yes, but I like my history that way.
I want to know how they uncircumsized themselves.