The Yoga of Despair

This was a sermon or homily I recently gave at Beverly Unitarian Church, in Illinois, and First Unitarian Church of Hobart, in Indiana, on two consecutive Sundays. I began by showing the clip below, from the HBO series, The Newsroom. In the scene, a deputy director of the EPA is being interviewed by a news anchor.

I love that video. It’s funny, but it’s also accurate.  Except for the part about permanent darkness, everything the EPA director says in that video is true.

I especially get a kick out of the reaction of the producer, when the EPA director says, “The person has already been born who will die due to catastrophic failure of the planet.” And she says “What did he just say?!”

I had my own “what did he just say?” moment a few years ago. …

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The Avengers Won the War, But Lost the Argument: How Our Heroes Doom Our Future

This is not a review of Avengers: Endgame, but there are spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it and want to, don’t read ahead.

For those of you who haven’t seen it and don’t want to, the last two Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame are about a struggle between the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, the superhero team called the “Avengers”, and a villain named “Thanos”. Thanos believes that life has exceeded the universe’s carrying capacity, and he wants to wipe out half of all life so as to bring things back into a state of balance. Thanos explains his motivation in two conversations with the heroes: Continue reading “The Avengers Won the War, But Lost the Argument: How Our Heroes Doom Our Future”

The Wizard & the Prophet … and the Microbiologist?: 3 Visions of Our Future

It’s April 1946, and two men are standing on the edge of a field of dying wheat on the outskirts of Mexico City. They are looking at the same field, but they see two very different visions. Both look at a field stricken by stem rust, a condition largely unknown today, but which was responsible for millennia of famine and untold human deaths. One of them sees the potential to grow a strain of wheat resistant to stem rust, and thereby to feed billions. The other sees the need to drastically reduce the human population to within the carrying capacity of the planet.

The two men are Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, and they are, respectively, the Wizard and the Prophet in the title of Charles Mann’s 2018 book, The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World. Mann presents Borlaug and Vogt as archetypes, representatives of two different visions of humankind’s relationship with the natural world: the one viewing nature as a something to be bent to the will of humankind, the other viewing nature as something to which humankind must bend.

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Paganism Isn’t Where You Think It Is

Anna Walther is one of my favorite pagans. I say that because she consistently reminds me what being pagan is all about.

Most recently, it was in her essay, “Walking with my Dog is my Most Sacred Practice”. There, Anna explains that her most sacred practice involves no ritual paraphernalia, no casting of a circle, no calling the quarters, but simply walking through her neighborhood with her dog, Poe. Because she walks with Poe, explains Anna, she knows what phase the moon is in, when the trees are leafing and the flowers are blooming, when the birds and bats return, and what her neighbors are about. In short, she knows when and where she is.

“I experience a sense of place and belonging, when Poe and I walk through our neighborhood. I’m grounded, connected, and relating with intention to the human and more-than-human world around me. I’m aware that the very real world of spirits is here, right now, and not somewhere else, far away. This is it!, to borrow a Zen Buddhist proverb. To experience this world as radically alive, all I have to do is keep walking and pay attention.”

Amen.

Anna reminds me that being pagan is about being here, now.  But more than that, it’s about loving here, now. …

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Jesus & the Goddess: A Christo-Pagan Story-Ritual for Easter-Equinox

Since my wife is Christian, it makes sense to find ways to incorporate Christian themes into our Neo-Pagan celebrations. Easter tends to fall around the spring equinox (not so much this year), which causes me to think about the ways in which our two faiths overlap.

 I came up with this story/ritual after reading a small book called Jesus and the Goddess by Carl McColman. In this story/ritual, the children of God and the Goddess, Jesus and Magdala share three gifts with each other and with their parents. The gifts remind them that they have more in common than they had thought.  The story can be read by one person or performed by four people.

I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading “Jesus & the Goddess: A Christo-Pagan Story-Ritual for Easter-Equinox”

Review of *Godless Paganism* by Holli Emore

“… a beautifully-nuanced picture of today’s non-theistic Pagans. … At a time when many are being loudly vocal about what they call hard polytheism, Godless Paganism is refreshingly non-dogmatic. By telling their own stories, the writers show that just as in any religious/spiritual group, there are infinite shades of gray in both experience and practice.”

A version of this review was previously published in Witches & Pagans #35.

To read the full review, click here.

“Paganism Has Failed Us & We Have Failed the World” by Dayan Martinez (REBLOG)

Please go and read Dayan’s entire essay at Atroposian Musings.  Here is a short excerpt:

“…the [Pagan] movement has not prepared most people involved in it to step beyond their personal self-healing/comforting in order to grapple with larger issues….

…We are meant to be a healing balm for our ancestors and our modern cultures, going forward. We are meant to make peace with a tortured past so that institutions might be restructured. We are meant to be the chorus of the dead, for those beings that pass without notice. We are meant to give voice to those that yet remain, and affirm the relational bonds that weave the Immanent Divine.

With every calling of Mother Earth, great and bountiful Gaia, we are meant to assert the irrevocable obligations life makes upon life and all other beings of Nature. We are supposed to make kin with beings whose lives are our fortune and live in ways of mutual benefit. We are meant to teach this way of living–more than just a way of believing–to a world much in need of it. By creating little and grand rituals, we are supposed to reaffirm the belonginness due to every human….”

My Grandchildren May Never See A Monarch Butterfly

I have Monarch corpse pinned inside a shadow box on my bookshelf.  A few years ago, I found it dying and waited for it to die before taking it inside. One day, I will show the corpse of the Monarch to a grandchild and tell them the story of the Monarch’s multi-generational migration. And I will tell them that my generation and those before mine forgot the lesson of the Monarch.

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