PaganFM Prayer List,
Artist, Track, Album
Loreena McKennitt, Beneath a Phrygian Sky, An Ancient Muse
Lindi Lila, Gayatri Mantra, Sisters of the Moon
Kellianna, The Ancient Ones, The Ancient Ones
Gary Stadler, Fairy of the Woods, Fairy of the Woods
Gwydion Pendderwen, The Raven is Calling, Songs for the Old Religion
Heather Alexander, Sword and Staff, Merlin’s Descendants
Emerald Rose, Call me Home, Celtic Crescent
Featherscale, Galilee, Gypsy Heart
Frenchy and the Punk, Oh Jocelyne, Cartwheels
Celia, The Caregiver’s Song, For the Asking
Annwn, Triad, Anarchy & Rapture
spiral Dance, farewell Alexandria, Notes of Being
The Dolemen, Witches Reel, The Dolmen
With the case of Hobby Lobby vs American women somewhat behind us – Republicans having recently blocked an attempt to legislatively reverse a ruling by the Supreme Court, it’s interesting to see what Hobby Lobby – and their owners – the Green family, are really up to. We were told that this family simply wanted to live their religion – that they weren’t trying to control lives – they simply didn’t want to pay for abortion. Except that the medications and methods they were protesting haven’t been shown to cause abortions – but that’s another story.
But now, they are in another controversy. You see, they are trying to develop a curriculum for public schools that advances their own religious agenda. We all know that the Supreme Court has stated that it’s wrong for a school to indoctrinate children in religious views. It’s perfectly fine to teach a course on comparative religions, on the Bible as literature, and similar secular explorations of religious thought. What’s not right is to teach that a particular religious view is “correct” or “preferable to others”. In other words, a course may talk about the history of a religious text, it can even talk about what a religious text says. But it cannot be used to indoctrinate children – you can’t tell a child that a particular religious text is “correct”, or that if they don’t believe it, they will go to hell.
Enter Hobby Lobby and the Green family once again. The first book of their course on the Bible titled “The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact” purports to be a textbook that can be used in American Schools without fear of running afoul of our Constitution. But when the first few pages of this book were made public, it was obvious that such was not the case. This isn’t a secular look at the Bible, it’s, instead, a blatant attempt at religious indoctrination.
The Mustang Oklahoma School district had ordered the curriculum to begin use in August, but when the Constitutional problems were pointed out, creators of the program noted some problems and have delayed introduction of the text to January.
For a course on the Bible to pass constitutional muster, it can’t promote a particular religious view – it must approach religion as neutral. This would mean that the text would have to avoid doctrine – such as the Bible being inerrant, the actual existence or goodness of God. In other words, the course would need to treat the Bible as it would any other mythological text. This course fails.
Steve Green has publicly declared that his goal for the course is to show that the Bible is good and true, and that its impact on our society has been good.
But the course – other than Steve’s stated purpose of the course being for indoctrination – has problems.
Here are some examples that were posted on Patheos by The Friendly Atheist:
For one, the text contains many leading questions – one such being “How do we know that the Bibles Historical Narratives Are Reliable?” Such a question is not a question – it’s a statement. It implies that the Bible is historically accurate, and provides no room to question that position. The text then goes on to say that people studying the Bible and Biblical history have shown it to be true and accurate; however, this is not at all an undisputed position.
The text makes the assumption that historical artifacts mentioned in the Bible are there, just waiting for discovery; it does not even hint that these objects – such as the cup used at the last supper, Noah’s Ark, or the Ark of the Covenant may simply never have existed. Throughout the text, it is presumed that the Christian viewpoint of that book is accurate, and does not leave that position open for question whatever.
When the text examines stories in the Bible, it presents, alongside them, Evangelical Christian lessons that students are to take away. For example, in a section dealing with Exodus, the text speaks of God’s Presence, Promise, and Plan. Obviously, when using words and ideas such as this, the implication is that the God described in the text actually exists.
Another huge problem with the course is that this is only the text. A good part of the material is actually presented online, and even if the book is redesigned to take a more neutral point of view, the Greens have control over the accompanying web sites, where a great deal more proselytizing and indoctrination might take place.
Given the case with the ACA, and with the blatant attempts at indoctrination of American Students into the Green’s brand of Christianity, it’s obvious that this isn’t a family that simply wishes to live out its own faith – they have a distinct purpose – that being to re-fashion America in their own image of what a Christian nation should be – to impose their religion on American students – in what Steve Green stated should be a mandatory curriculum for High School students, and to impose their religious views even on their thousands of workers.
This is not a good idea for America.
In other news, and something else that’s not good for America is this whole issue with kids fleeing gangs and possible death, at our Southern border. We’ve had some 50,000 – possibly 57,000 children – about as many children as there might be in a good-sized city – show up at our borders, seeking refuge from intolerable situations in their countries.
And what do we have here in America? A bunch of self-proclaimed patriots decrying the “invasion”. As John Stewart sagely noted though, dangerous invaders are usually able to reach the cupboard and pour their own cereal. But, that aside, we have alarmists on the right – like Phil Gingrey who is warning that these children will bring Ebola, Swine Flu, Duenge Fever and tuberculosis – that these children haven’t received basic vaccinations – that they are dangerous. Because he’s a physician, some conservatives lend particular credibility to Gingrey – forgetting, it seems, that he has actually pushed for legislation that would have eliminated some mandatory vaccinations here in the United States. Some went so far as to suggest that because these children are being housed in America, and because President Obama isn’t deporting them right away, and that people fear the disease these children may bring, that our President is a terrorist.
Here’s the thing – idiots like Phil Gingrey and Michelle Bachman – if there are any terrorists – are the terrorists. Gingrey is a liar – he knows better. He’s a medical doctor, and he’s telling people that they need to fear ebola coming from Central or South America – and that is a bald-faced lie. He’s trying to scare people with lies. The truth is that there is Ebola on Earth – in Sub-Saharan Africa. For folks who might be tempted to be alarmed by liars, I invite you to get a globe – or even a map of planet Earth. Near the center, you’ll see the Equator. Now, find the Atlantic Ocean – or more specifically, the South Atlantic ocean. Note what happens to be on each side? On one side of that ocean is South America – on the other is Africa. Next, we need to know how Ebola is spread – it’s spread by coming into contact with the body fluids of a person who has that disease, or a person who has recently died. Now, look again at your map or globe – and try to imagine a child in our hemisphere coming into contact with a person who is suffering from this disease in Africa. Please, don’t get confused by the size of the map – the closest point between Africa and the New World is between Brazil, and somewhere near Sierra Leone – at about 1600 miles. Over an ocean. Sorry doc, you may be a physician, but you know better.
And it was real interesting listening to Michelle Bachman talking about this problem on CNN – when asked about the children, she ignored them. They didn’t exist. Every time she was asked about the children, she spoke about adults – and the “invasion. We can’t give these children the hearing they are guaranteed by law, because we have adults at our border? In short, she doesn’t want to appear heartless, she just wants to be heartless. She won’t join the chorus of “not our children, not our problem”, she’ll just be the one voting to overturn the law that demands these children get a hearing so all those screaming “not our problem” will be happy they don’t have to deal with these diseased dirty kids. You know – like the good Christian woman she is.
It’s especially troubling when I hear of this crap from Catholics – people who are willing apostates from their own church. The Pope has said that these children deserve compassion – that they should be welcome where they turn up – because they are – children. Remember Christ? Remember when he said “Suffer the little children to come unto me and hinder them not”. Kids are our future, and if we nurture them, our future is guaranteed.
I’ve mentioned Ezekiel 16:49 before, but for the sake of Christians who haven’t heard it, it reads:
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” If there is a more clear case of poor and needy, I haven’t seen it.
And we Pagans are not free from helping out the poor and needy – I recall the story of Odysseus who posed as a beggar, and also Zeus and Hermes who, disguised as peasants were rejected everywhere until they came to the home of Baucis and Philemon. Zeus then destroyed that town, sparing Bauchis and Philemon because of their lack of hospitality.
Hospitality is a huge part of just about every religion, and when we can’t show hospitality to children, we have, in my humble opinion, devolved as a nation. The only real borders on Earth are man-made, and we have, seemingly, devolved to primitive tribalism – or rather, something worse – because many tribal cultures have room for hospitality. We are, rather, letting fear and greed be our guides. We are better than that.
PaganFM Almanac, July 17, 2014
Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for July 17th, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of www.drstandley.com.
Today is Thursday, July 17th, 2014 and it is the 198th day of the year.
The waning gibbous moon is in Aries and the Sun is in Cancer.
The Moon will enter its fourth quarter on Friday, July 18th at 10:08 PM.
The Moon will be void on Friday, July 18th at 11:18 PM and will enter Taurus on Saturday July 19th at 10:10 AM.
The Moon will be void on Monday July 21st at 6:53 AM and will enter Gemini at 6:21`PM.
The Sun will enter Leo on Tuesday July 22nd at 5:41 PM.
The Moon will be void on Wednesday, July 23rd at 5:04 PM and will enter Cancer on Thursday, July 24th at 4:56 AM.
On this day, July 17th in 1938, Douglas Corrigan, born Clyde Grace Corrigan, aka “Wrong-Way” Corrigan, took off from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, ostensibly headed west for a cross-continental flight. Twenty-eight hours later, he landed in Dublin, Ireland. Corrigan, an ordinary Joe, was an aviation mechanic with a passion for flying. He had been part of the ground crew with Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis, and dreamt himself of someday crossing the Atlantic solo. Unlike Lindbergh, whose custom-made plane incorporated the finest aviation technology that money could buy, Corrigan’s plane was described by the reporter who interviewed him upon his arrival in Dublin as “the most wretched-looking jalopy”. It took Corrigan eleven years to cobble together his plane, and when he finally did so aviation authorities refused to authorize his requested trans-Atlantic flight because they hardly believed the rig was air-worthy at all never mind capable of crossing the Atlantic. So with permission to fly west, back to California from New York, Corrigan took off and promptly flew east, into history. Officials sent Corrigan a 600-word telegram detailing the laundry list of regulations he had broken, which given the price of trans-Atlantic messages at the time likely cost almost as much as Corrigan’s plane. The officials were obviously pilots themselves, though – Corrigan’s “punishment” was that his pilots license was suspended for 14 days, just long enough for him and his plane to return to the USA by ship. “Wrong-Way” Corrigan arrived just in time to attend a ticker-tape parade down Broadway in his honor, after which he picked up his reinstated pilots license and flew home – west, this time.
July 18th is National Caviar Day, caviar of course being the salt-cured fish eggs of certain members of the Acipenseridae family, the most prized of which is the Beluga Sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea. It’s OK, you go right ahead – I’m holding out for National Junk Food Day, July 21st.
On July 19th in 1692, on Gallows Hill, just west of Salem, Massachusetts, five women were, as specified in the Death Warrant signed by Magistrate William Stoughton: “…to will & Command you that upon Tuesday next being the 19th day of July between the hours of Eight and Ten in the forenoon the same day you Safely conduct the said Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Suzann Martin, Elizabeth Howe & Sarah Wilde from their Majesty’s gaol in Salem aforesaid to the place of Execution and there Cause them and Every of them to be hanged by the Neck until they be dead and of the doings herein make return to the Clerk of said Court and this precept and hereof you are not to fail at your peril and this shall be your sufficient Warrant given under my hand and seal at Boston this 12th day of July in the fourth year of Reign of our Sovereign Lord and Lady William & Mary King and Queen…”
These five joined Bridget Bishop, and would themselves be joined by thirteen others in the following weeks. All convicted during the Salem Witch Trials.
On July 20th in 1944, Adolph Hitler got lucky. A bomb, hidden in a briefcase secreted beneath a conference table in his Wolf’s Lair command post at Rastenburg, Prussia exploded during a meeting. Thanks to the myopia of one Colonel Heinz Brant, who had shifted the case in order to get a better look at the maps being studied, the assassination attempt did not succeed. Hitler, though injured, was not one of the four persons in the room who died as a result of the explosion. Over the next few days the occupants of that room had a better survival rate than the rest of the Nazi high command – some 7,000 persons were arrested, interrogated (which in Nazi is pronounced “tortured”) and over 5,000 died, many by their own hands. It would not be until almost nine months later that der Fuehrer would join them. None too soon…
July 22nd is International Pi Approximation Day, selected as the 22nd day of the seventh month in honor of a classic Pi approximation, 22 over 7. Pi is the mathematical constant representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is an irrational number and therefore somewhat sinister – it cannot be represented exactly by any ratio of two integers, and its decimals neither end, nor settle into a repeating pattern. Of course one cannot discuss Pi without a tip of the slide rule to the Indiana State Legislature, which in 1897 through Bill #246 attempted to ordain mathematical truth via legislative fiat by proclaiming the value of Pi to be 3.2. While the bill failed to pass into law, it is perhaps noteworthy that the bill also was not defeated – its consideration was merely postponed indefinitely. No word yet on what Indiana considers an apropos definition of “indefinitely”.
Finally, on July 23rd in 1996, the US women’s gymnastics team, competing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, won the USA’s first-ever gold medal in women’s team gymnastics. Kerri “Spark Plug” Strug, America’s last competitor in the last event, the vault, injured her ankle during an unsuccessful landing on the first of her two attempts, with a “pop” that was plainly heard in the auditorium – of course it helped that the auditorium was filled with thousands of Americans conveniently holding their breath. Strug stepped up (no pun intended) and attempted her last vault, on a badly-sprained ankle, this time to a solid, perfect two-footed landing, after which she collapsed. Her 9.712 score was enough to clinch the gold for team USA, and she was carried to the medal podium in the arms of her coach. Faster, higher, stronger perhaps – but don’t forget “tougher”.
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for July 17th, 2014.
I’ve had a lot of things on my mind again this week. I’ve been reading a few books – things by Gerald Gardner, H. R. Ellis Davidson, and others. And I’m really looking at my own faith. Obviously, doing this show, I’m certainly and solidly Pagan, and sometimes I wonder what that means. I’m looking at the new Catholic Pope, and I see a man who I respect deeply – he’s not afraid to stand up to, and against, tradition. He’s not one to put the rule of law in front of humanity and compassion, and this must be causing quite a stir among more conservative Catholics. Having grown up Catholic, he fills me with a comfortable sense of warmth regarding my own heritage, and, honestly, had he been Pope when I made a decision to abandon that church, I might not have. He demonstrates, in my mind, the essence of any spirituality.
At the same time, I’ve been dealing with some other issues in my own life – with family, friends, acceptance and tolerance. And I’ve also seen other Pagans demonstrate startling levels of intolerance. It comes down, really, to the difference between liberalism and conservatism.
Someone asked last week why it seemed that a person can’t be a conservative and a Pagan at the same time. And I’ve been wondering what that really means. Is it really possible to be politically liberal or conservative and to be a Pagan at the same time?
I think that part of the problem is that the words “liberal” and “conservative” are not fixed in meaning – they change as people change. Certainly, “conservative” has changed in meaning since the 1980s when it was really taken over by the Christian right. Obviously we can’t be Christian and Pagan at the same time – without changing the meaning of both Christian and Pagan. Sure, there are some who have blurred the lines with Christo-Paganism, but such people are certainly not accepted as Christian by any Orthodox Christian faith as in any way legitimately Christian. Rather, these people have redefined the words “Christian” and “Pagan” and created their own syncretism to suit their own purpose.
But is American conservatism really relegated only to the Christianl (Or Jewish) perspective? Well, let me ask you this: “How many conservative political leaders describe themselves as anything but ‘Christian’?” Seriously look at our Congress, and find a member of the GOP who is not Christian. Really, even the Democratic party is predominantly Christian. Keith Ellison was our first Muslim member, but remember that Islam is still an Abrahamic religion. Ellison was followed in 2008 by Andre Carson in a special election.
Mazie Hirono, from Hawaii and Hank Johnson from Georgia are both Buddhists, and are both Democrats. Kent Conrad, Walt Minnic and Pete Stark were all Unitarian Universalists – and, again, all Democrats. Pete Stark, later came out as the nation’s first open atheist.
But most in Congress today are Roman Catholic, Baptist and Methodist. These three Christian faiths make up more than ½ of our representatives in Congress.
Earlier in our nation’s history it seems there was more room for religious diversity. While some like to point to the talk of God among our founding fathers, not all were Christian as the word means today. Many will point to Thomas Jefferson, arguably the most important of our founding fathers, but his view of Christianity was radically different from what evangelical Christians would promote today. Most of Christianity today has a role for clerics – people who are in charge, people who lead. Churches have ministers. But Jefferson was an anti-cleric. This isn’t simply non-denominational, but anti-authoritarian in religious views. He didn’t believe that an individual had the right to tell another who or what God was. Our religion, and our relationship to the Divine are up to us.
Many people have described many of our founding fathers, like Jefferson and Franklin more as Deists than as Christians. But the thing is that if you look at these religious views, there would be no room for them in the Republican party today.
So, certainly, to suggest that there is room in Congress, or our political parties for religious diversity is not entirely true. And this is especially true among conservatives. There is very little room for any diversity of views. We do have the Log Cabin Republicans, who support many of the ideals of conservatism – limited government, strong defense and such, but in their own party, they are often marginalized. The GOP will accept their votes, but when it comes to advancing the cause of their own civil rights, they are typically on the losing end. Why? Quite simply it’s because the predominantly Christian GOP falls back on the Catholic and Evangelical view of homosexuality.
I guess that I’m not saying that it’s impossible for an individual with conservative leanings to be a Pagan; rather, what I’m suggesting is that it would be difficult for a person who isn’t a more traditional Christian to gain any traction in a political campaign in the Republican party. In fact, the only recent Pagan that I can remember in recent days who was elected to public office in the GOP was Dan Halloran, whose faith as an Odinist wasn’t brought up until after he was elected.
But again, there is still a difference between being liberal or conservative and being a member of a particular party. I’m pretty much an avowed liberal – and the reason is this: I see the purpose of society as to elevate the individuals who constitute that society. I think that the individual is benefited when society is benefited. When we don’t leave another behind, we all grow. I think that some liberals can twist that, or go overboard – this has happened in schools where “No child left behind” becomes something more like “No child gets ahead”. But, in general, where society is there for the improvement of all, we all do better.
Conservatism, on the other hand, as it is today, speaks more to individualism – where each is expected to make his or her own way, and there is an almost irrational fear of helping out someone else. This is where the idea of “entitlements” becomes instead of a reference to something that is justly and legally owed, to a pejorative for someone “taking advantage of the system”.
Where both liberals and conservatives want to be able to defend our nation, they have very different views. Liberals see the way to peace as to recognize that when needs are met, there is less competition for resources. Liberals want a military that is strong enough to defend our nation.
Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to be of the opinion that “their problems are theirs -unless they affect us”, and they want a military that is strong enough not only to defend the nation, but to take on the entire world if necessary. The goal isn’t so much defense, but almost invincibility.
Liberals believe in personal liberty – that is what liberty that can be had for the individual, without abolishing a rule of law. Conservatives tend to look at liberty for groups. This is the case when it comes to the recent Hobby Lobby and religious liberty cases – the liberty of the group is more important than the liberty of the individual.
These aren’t hard and fast rules, but they are things the way I see them.
And I don’t mean to say that one can’t be conservative and Pagan at the same time, but I do think that when we claim adherence to a faith, we ought to understand the morals and the duties of that faith. What does that faith say about family, about hospitality, responsibility – what are the virtues espoused by that faith? And then look to our political parties and see if what they are advancing meets the virtues espoused by our faith. If they don’t, maybe we need to look elsewhere.