Literal Minded Atheism

Yeah, we do it too.

Yesterday, I posted an essay about literal-minded polytheism.  It’s likely to upset some polytheists (especially those who don’t read beyond the title), because they will read it as an attack on their belief.  Actually, what I had intended in the article was to bracket the question of whether or not the gods are “real” and talk about the criteria we use to call something “real.”  My thesis was that some polytheists (not all, by any means) have a very “disenchanted” way of talking about reality.  By “disenchanted,” I mean they define what is real in terms of it’s level of disconnection from everything else.

But of course, the same could–and should–be said about many atheists as well.  Disenchanted discourse is not limited to theists.  In the same way that theists insist that their gods are “really, really real,” atheists insist that the gods are “really, really not real.”  And what both sides seem to have in mind is a very objective–and hence, disenchanted–definition of reality.  The assumption that both theists and atheists make in these arguments is that objective reality–reality in which the observer is separated from the observed–is somehow more real than subjective reality.

Continue reading “Literal Minded Atheism”

Literal Gods Are for the Literal Minded: Re-Enchanting the Gods

“Really, really real”

Here and there in the tiny echo chamber that is the Pagan blog-o-sphere, I am once again hearing repeated the false dichotomy of archetypes vs. “real gods.”  As in, “My gods aren’t just archetypes. They are real…literal, distinct, independent gods.”

With the recent premiere of the series American Gods (which is awesome, by the way), I anticipate we’re going to be hearing a lot more talk like this–especially considering the influence the publication of the book American Gods had on the growth of Pagan polytheism.

Continue reading “Literal Gods Are for the Literal Minded: Re-Enchanting the Gods”

The Shame of Being a “Non-Practicing Pagan”

I remember when I left the Mormon church, I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I had been a less than perfect Mormon.  You see, when you leave the LDS Church, the people who stay start looking for all kinds of reasons why you left, reasons which have to do with your own moral failings.  They can’t admit that anything might be wrong with the Church, so something has to be wrong with you.

But I was a less than ideal Mormon.  I didn’t obey all the rules, I didn’t pray as often as I was supposed to, and so on.  Now I have the perspective and wisdom to recognize that nobody obeyed all the rules or prayed as much as they were supposed to.  Well, maybe somebody did.  But those people are scary.  And they’re also a very small minority.

The same is true of Pagans, I think.  I suspect that very few of us are practicing with as much consistency as we claim to.  And that’s okay. Continue reading “The Shame of Being a “Non-Practicing Pagan””

The Problem and the Promise of Paganism, and Why One Looks a Lot Like the Other

The Problem of Paganism

The question why I am “still” a Pagan implies that there might be reasons why I would not want to identify as Pagan any longer.  And there are.  I believe that Paganism has the potential to transform our relationship with the earth, with each other, and with our deeper selves—but a lot of the time, I cannot relate to other Pagans.

Continue reading “The Problem and the Promise of Paganism, and Why One Looks a Lot Like the Other”

Nothing to see here folks. Paganism is fine, really, just fine.

Paganism is not dying.  Paganism is NOT dying.  PAGANISM IS NOT DYING!

Why don’t you believe me?

People who are telling you otherwise (like He Who Shall Not Be Named at Patheos) just want attention.  Attention whores!

Believe me, Paganism is fine.  It’s just fine.  I mean, it’s okay.  Really. Continue reading “Nothing to see here folks. Paganism is fine, really, just fine.”

Announcing NaturalPagans.com

Today is the official launch of NaturalPagans.com!

Contributors are Pagans from a variety of backgrounds, but all of whom have adopted a naturalistic approach to our spirituality. We celebrate the natural world, cultivate personal relationships to the land, and follow to the scientific method. We embrace explanations of the world that rely on natural causes rather than supernatural ones, and we practice a healthy skepticism towards such topics as deities, spirits, and magic.

While we may differ from many other Pagans in our attitude toward the supernatural, we are another one of the many varied and vibrant Pagan paths under the Pagan umbrella. We invite all Pagans to join us in our efforts to use evidence-based solutions to create a just, healthy and sustainable world for future generations.
Continue reading “Announcing NaturalPagans.com”

Why Contemporary Paganism Deserves to Die

Does Paganism Deserve to Survive?

I don’t know whether contemporary Paganism is dying or not.  But it’s definitely changing.

Contemporary Paganism is being squeezed by the same social, economic, and technological pressures that all other contemporary religions are struggling with.  Generational differences with Millennials.  Economic inequality. The internet.

Which got me thinking, why are we bothering to struggle?  Why not just let entropy take its course? Continue reading “Why Contemporary Paganism Deserves to Die”

Pagan Reflections on Another Easter Passed

In spite of having left Christianity behind 17 years ago, I found myself at another Easter service this year.

I’ve been Pagan for about 15 years, but in recent years I have been drawn back to Easter and Christmas services … but not for the reasons you might think. It not because many of my friends and family are Christian.  And it’s not because of any residual or resurgent Christianity on my part.

It’s because of the Pagan-ness of these holidays.
Continue reading “Pagan Reflections on Another Easter Passed”

It’s been 50 years. And what have Pagans accomplished?

(Image courtesy of Mike Mason,  Pagan Pride UK, Nottingham, 2012.)

Happy Birthday Paganism!

Contemporary Paganism, as it exists today, began with the Counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Religious studies scholar, Sarah Pike dates the origins of contemporary Paganism to 1967, the year that Frederick Adams incorporated Feraferia and the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn was founded. That same year, the Church of All Worlds filed for incorporation as a the first Pagan “church”.

Which means that this year, 2017, is the 50th anniversary of contemporary Paganism! So let’s look back at what we have accomplished over the past five decades. Continue reading “It’s been 50 years. And what have Pagans accomplished?”

Eight Ways Pagans Can Celebrate Earth Day

For many contemporary Pagans, Paganism takes the form of a nature religion or earth-centered spirituality. According to Religious Studies scholar, Michael York, a nature religion is one that has “a this-worldly focus and deep reverence for the earth as something sacred and something to be cherished.” Not surprisingly then, Earth Day (April 22 this year) is a holy day for many Pagans. Here are some ways that we Pagans can celebrate Earth Day. Continue reading “Eight Ways Pagans Can Celebrate Earth Day”

Self-Deception is the Secret Sauce: A Response to David Pollard

Damn, I thought the Patheos controversy was cooling off. But I guess not.

David Pollard who manages, Nature’s Path, the UU-Pagan hub at Patheos, just posted an essay in which he attempts to defend his decision to stay at Patheos by attacking those who left.  I feel compelled to respond because, as the Executive Director of CUUPS, David has quite the bully pulpit from which to spread his attacks.* Continue reading “Self-Deception is the Secret Sauce: A Response to David Pollard”

Update on the Patheos Exodus

Patheos continues to struggle to reframe the narrative around the exodus of what is now more than two dozen authors from Patheos Pagan.  (About 16 active bloggers left Patheos and 20 current and former bloggers have requested that their writing be removed from the site.)

Most recently, I noticed two significant changes that had been made to public information sites related to this controversy. Continue reading “Update on the Patheos Exodus”

Dear Patheos …

Jeremy McGee
President/COO Patheos, Inc.

Dear Patheos,

We the undersigned former and current Patheos Pagan contributors hereby request that you remove our names, likenesses, and our intellectual property, including our writing, art, and images, from your site. We previously gave Patheos license to publish our writing, but Patheos is no longer the company that we contracted with. Continue reading “Dear Patheos …”

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