• Some days I pray for silence, some days I pray for soul, some days I just pray to the god of sex and drums and rock and roll. Jim Steinman, performed by Meat Loaf
    "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)"

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Other Blogs

  • Just a quick note
    I’ve updated my bio page with a link to Les Cabinets Des Polytheistes, where my story “Spine of the World” is published (and in which people can play Spot The Netjer if they are so inclined), and my less-specific webspace Suns in Her Branches, which is broader than this space (which is specifically for reconstructionist-derived […]
  • Opet article is up
    And can be read here.Filed under: Patheos Links
  • Opet is coming ’round again
    And the Emboatening Crew is once more celebrating by making Kiva loans. You’re all welcome to join us. (My monthly column in Patheos Pagan is about Opet and charitable works, and will be going up tomorrow assuming nothing goes wrong.)Filed under: Festivals, Uncategorized
  • The Art of Being A God
    It’s interesting having one foot in reconstructionist religion and one foot in religious witchcraft, for a lot of reasons. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately is the shape of how the gods appear within the context […]
  • Mythopoeia
    Continuing with rambling on the topic of my exploration of pagan movement history, another critical concept: mythopoeia. The word means, literally, “myth-making”, and it is one of the near inescapable traits of at least the origin points of pagan religions. […]
  • 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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