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Other Blogs

  • Opet Again
    Just popping in to remind everyone that with the Opet season upon us again, the Emboatening Crew is still rolling to support Kiva loans. (My office renovations are going well if slowly, so who knows if that means I’ll get more work done when they’re done.)
  • CowOfGold Moving
    An update on my previous post: Cow of Gold will have a new home here when the maintainer has a chance to put up the site again (with some revisions, apparently).
  • Minor Call for Nerdy Action
    I know I’ve been profoundly absent for a while – my research stuff has gone a bit by the wayside – but I wanted to bring something to people’s attention: The Egyptian mythology/symbology resource “Cow of Gold is hosted on Wikispaces, which is Going Away. Not all of the pages of Cow of Gold are […]
  • Hills of the Horizon: The Past is Another Country
    The problem with extrapolation from history is that nothing is testable. The evolution of a religion over time is not a predictable and easily comprehensible thing, where we can look at a point in time and say, "It was like this then, so it would be like that now." The process of deciding what needs […]

Scope of Discourse

I see a lot of conversations about echo chambers, sometimes. People surrounding themselves only with people who agree with them and reinforce their worldview. And I’m well aware that I do that too – I get my news, and a lot of my interpretations, from people I know. And I don’t spend a lot of time with people who hold positions I find repulsive because, well, … that’s not really a good time.

Every so often, though, I get shocked. I see someone who I thought of as far more politically active than I am comment that they were getting all their politics filtered through a particular pagan subcommunity, which they’ve just learned doesn’t know everything and isn’t right about everything. Or I see someone making an argument that can only be formulated in total ignorance of the development of feminist theory and the feminist movement since 1975. (I mean, not everyone knows someone who can explain the perspective from which Trump is more appealing than Sanders to certain people in economic distress, but surely most pagans know people who aren’t just like them in some way? Who have other interests?)

I wrote about this a little back on PA, mostly about reading broadly in theology, but my theological work depends on me knowing how religion works as a category. And I stick to theologians I like, theology bloggers I like, that echo chamber, but I’m still following that breadth. My reading at Gods and Radicals is informed by the fact that I follow Steven Brust’s blog, and occasionally he posts about Marxist theory. My theologies of kingship, community, and perspective on being foreign are heavily informed by my time in the trenches on the fringe of the feminist blogwars about sex work, trans experience, and kink. I have more of a life than is encompassed by a reductionist perspective on religion, in which only the very narrow palette of “who is like me” is allowed to inform my thinking.

I see people fretting about finding a co-religionist to date or marry – people who are going well beyond “someone who accepts that I’m pagan” and into “my specific denomination of my specific pagan religion” and I find myself worrying, because that’s deep into the echo chamber. (I used to joke the closest I’d ever come to dating a co-religionist was a Methodist. We agreed on a lot of things.) This turning inwards isn’t healthy, this sense that only the ones who are most like us are legitimate to interact with.

If we look to the example of ancient religion, in many places we see diversity – not just polytheistic diversity, but different cults of individual gods. Greek philosophical schools argued about underlying theologies and right behavior. Empires imported and exported theologies. People swapped ideas with their neighbors and trade partners. Some practices thrived, some struggled.

Monocultures die in plagues. Ideological purity throttles itself. I’m watching it happen in the evangelical Christian community, and I’m watching it happen in pagan discourse. It’s the same thing.

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