When pagans get our rights, everyone benefits

In his recent guest column for On Faith, Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress states that “the decision by Air Force Academy … Continued

In his recent guest column for On Faith, Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress states that “the decision by Air Force Academy officials in Colorado Springs to construct an outdoor space for the worship of pagan deities is an open invitation for God to send His harshest judgments against our nation.”

I’d like to point out to Pastor Jeffress that when the Air Force respects and safeguards the religious rights of minorities, we are all safer. Patrick McCollum, who has fought many of the key legal battles for the rights of Pagan soldiers and prisoners, says, “When Pagans get our rights, everyone gets their rights.”

Rights are inconvenient things. We’d all probably like to reserve them for the good and deserving people and not have to fuss around when we stick it to the bad guys.

Problem is, who decides? And by what criteria? And how do we know the bad guys are truly bad, or that the accused are truly guilty? Those sorts of sticky questions got us the Bill of Rights and the concept of due process, for saints and sinners, for the accused who are innocent and those who turn out to be guilty. For if we deny due process to the guilty, we risk convicting the innocent.

And if we deny equal right to Pagans, because Pastor Jeffress interprets his Bible as saying his version of God doesn’t like our religion–we put him and his church at risk as well. For tomorrow, some other pastor, priest, rabbi or imam might decide that the First Baptist Church of Dallas is anathema to their version of God, and drive him and his flock into hiding.

The Founding Fathers and Mothers grasped that principle. They themselves had suffered the pain of persecution by other Christians who didn’t like their particular brand of worship. Jeffress alludes to this when he quotes Dr. Joseph Story, who served on the Supreme Court between 1811 and 1845:

“The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less advance, Islam or Judaism or any other infidelity by prostrating Christianity but to exclude rivalry between Christian denominations.”

In the past 150 years, we’ve advanced to the point where Jews and Muslims are not generally called ‘infidels’, at least in polite society. The framers of the Constitution may or may not have been thinking of broad, religious tolerance–nonetheless, the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Not “Christian religion”, but religion, plain and simple. Only if Jews, Muslims, Pagans and infidels of all sorts can worship freely can Christians of all denominations rest secure that their rights, too are safeguarded.

Pagans are currently fighting for our rights on many fronts. Patrick McCollum is waging a legal battle with the State of California over the rights of Pagan prisoners. The State is arguing that only five faiths: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Native American, have a special standing that entitle their prisoners to a chaplain and religious services. McCollum and the Pagan prisoners are arguing that all faiths are entitled to equal consideration. If they win, they will secure rights not just for Pagans but for many other faiths and traditions.

“Goddess” is a metaphor for the great force of creativity and compassion that underlies existence–not so different from what many other religions call “God”. Pagans have a wide variety of beliefs and traditions, but we share in common a perspective that Goddess/God/Spirit goes beyond our limited human conceptions, that no one name or image or text or conception is big enough to define and contain Her/Him/That.

Jeffress is on shaky theological ground when he implies that God might punish the U.S. because of the Air Force’s provision of worship space for Pagans. I’m sure this is not what the good pastor intends, but his words could be taken to mean that God is about to use al-Qaeda as His instrument of divine punishment. That, I imagine, is what the followers of Bin Laden themselves believe, but it seems a dangerous line of argument to imply that terrorists and murderers of the innocent are, indeed, God’s holy warriors.

Myself, I believe that if God exists in somewhat of the form Jeffress perceives, he’s sitting up there on his cloud saying something like, “Go, Air Force! If you folks are building a stone circle for the Pagans, I know you’re going to be defending my people should they come under attack.”

But I don’t actually see God in quite that way. For Pagans, “Goddess” is a metaphor for the great force of creativity and compassion that underlies existence–not so different from what many other religions call “God”, and very similar to James Cameron’s conception of the linked, planetary intelligence of Eywah in his popular movie, Avatar. Pagans have a wide variety of beliefs and traditions, but we share in common a perspective that Goddess/God/Spirit goes beyond our limited human conceptions, that no one name or image or text or conception is big enough to define and contain Her/Him/That. Different faiths, different names for Goddess and God are like different doorways into the mysteries that go beyond words.

When we honor and respect the great diversity of faiths, we assure that our own doorway, too, will remain open.

For the Pagan Press on the Airforce Stone Circle, see:
http://wildhunt.org/blog/2010/02/more-on-that-air-force-academy-circle.html
Starhawk’s website:
www.starhawk.org
Starhawk’s blog:
http://Starhawksblog.org

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  • lepidopteryx

    Both accurately and beautifully stated, as always.

  • misterbumbles

    The Baptist pastor sees (or feigns seeing) everything in simple cookie cutter terms to match the general intellectual simplicity of his “flock” (an apt title).Most people, lacking a classical education or any sort of education at all, will embrace the “Jesus” version of the world because they culturally were born into by accident. I commend the AFA for having the courage to do this, smack in the middle of “godland” Colorado. Of course, the moral majority can’t say too much in light of the behavior of their icons, like Ted Haggard.

  • kiler616

    i’m a nihilist barbarian type who borders on cannibalism and likes to eat religious people because of the purity(or impurity) of the meat!…are my rights protected?…..i’ve got my eyes on this overweight nurse at work tonight who thinks Jesus is going to show up riding a horse down from heaven….talk about pure…and meaty too….can i start the fire…i love outdoor cookouts!

  • schnoodc

    Bravo. A beautiful op-ed. This is what freedom of religion is all about!

  • sperrico

    I’m constructing a circle of stones, approximately 360 feet in diameter. The stones, which I’ll be moving without the aide of hydraulic machines weigh sometimes as much as 2 tons. Anyone want to help?

  • Person11

    Thank you Starhawk for speaking up about your beliefs. Thank you again for a provoking essay, Starhawk.

  • mokey2

    Hey PP..I’m sure you’ve noticed the similarities-the yelling about ‘voodoo dolls’ and incessant spamming and utter vitriol..CCNL’s got a new handle. I think he got banned from too many threads and is back again.Same old arguments for the sake of arguing, sound and fury- signifying nothing, as always.Very well written article by Starhawk. Finally, some common sense.

  • ThishowIseeit

    My answer to Kiler616 ( Feb 11, 8:52 pm) is NO, because you don’t go by the Golden Rule, also called The Ethic of Reciprocity.

  • APaganplace

    And, so anyway, Yeal. Fundies. “Voodoo dolls?” That’s neither us nor Vodou.Who some will treat as “voodoo dolls” with talk like that is not people of the Goddess, not people of Earth religions, not ‘gays’ or mystics or ‘libruls’ or anyone you *keep thinking sticking some hatpins in will save you from something* are. You’re trying to use *us* for your “voodoo dolls” …thinking that if you hurt *us* …some ‘conflict will go away.’ And if you can’t handle even *thinking* about a poppet, hands off our Air Force.

  • mokey2

    That’s the cognitive dissonance that hurts my brain.People who claim that their version of Liberty is one that is somehow supported by punishing their countrymen who just so happen to not think like them are so often the ones that are willing to nuke someone else in the name of ‘national defense’.

  • lufrank1

    Bottom Line:

  • APaganplace

    Anyway. If we could have something sensible and substantive, here? People of Earth religions exist, we serve in the military with honor and sense and some kind of expectation that the below madness is not used by any random Christian or atheist to try to claim we’re not crazy enough to be part of the Air Force. Anyone?

  • member8

    “Shaky theological ground?” Since when did theology scrape and crawl its way up to being on shaky ground? Theology is the study of superstition…silly stuff men made up to dominate other men and all women. To give it the credit of being on any ground at all, shaky or otherwise, is far too generous. Modern religion is nothing more than warmed over mythology. Hooey.

  • dwooddell1

    Starhawk has written a wonderful support for freedom of religion. Our country is a place for all, not just the christians. My own path may not be my neighbor’s path, but that does not mean he is not entitled to his belief. The Air Force has long been known to be a hotbed of Christianity — fine for the christians, but not so fine for others. It is high time for the military to either support all faiths, or support no faiths at all. “All men are created equal” was not just a throwaway line in the Declaration of Independence.

  • member8

    For those who think the pagan religion is wacky, take a look at the mormon religion. Modern DNA science disproves the tale spun by the illiterate, convicted fraudster of Palmyra, NY. And catholicism…are we truly supposed to believe that a factory-fresh wafer and a shot of Mogen-David REALLY turns to actual flesh and blood in our stomachs? Gimme a break.

  • Person11

    I found this commment interesting:”So, anyway, *no,* ‘Concerned Christians,’ the worship space at the Air Force Academy isn’t there to do ‘witchcraft,’…”Why not? Someone else’s use of their freedom of religion might include what they call ‘witchcraft’.” not like some kind of place for ”voodoo dolls’ as people who defame Vodou claim Voudou is about.”I assume that’s not what they do either, but if someone did want to make those, it wouldn’t be the Christian’s or another religion’s right or business to disrupt the activity.”It’s the Fundies screaming that a circle of rocks is *idolatry* … and they’re the only ones who ever brought an ‘idol’ there.”If someone wants to be an ‘idolator’ that is their RIGHT under Freedom of Religion No one is given protection from never feeling offended by someone else’s beliefs (or lack thereof).

  • revbookburn

    Excellent piece. It was an advocacy for liberty, not the supremacy of any one belief system. 5 Stars.

  • coloradodog

    Well put.I never knew Jeffress or The First Baptist Church of Dallas before, but after reading his Fred Phelps ideas of Christianity, he did indeed become an “anathema to my version of God” Unlike him, however, I think my “anathema” should have the right to practice his religion and to free speech just as we should to counter his ignorance.The FOX NEWS Huckabee Christian sect is always so ready to denounce the religions and lifestyles of others as if their God has deputized them to poke their noses in others’ business to help Him judge and condemn. Like the majority of Muslims who remain silent in condemning their murderous terrorists, the majority of Christians remain silent regarding the outrageous hatred spewed by Jeffress and Phelps.

  • DwightCollins

    what are the rights that you are fighting for…

  • potaboc

    As someone else commented, spirits have no gender. I will say, though, that although it would be grammatically correct, something grates about referring to God as “it”.

  • freemarketer

    the author writes:I find it somewhat odd that none here except the author tend to care what the God of Christ says about himself and us…that would be his Word in the Bible, and his intended relationship with his created beings. At least those who care what he says should speak up for their own beliefs in his Word. That would be the 10 Commandments that he “is the one God, and that he sent his son for believers to hold that truth forever.” Otherwise, Christians hold little in the way of absolute truth to believe in.Thank you for this article and consideration for absolute truth in his Word.

  • MI-Sooner

    Ah, a common sense approach to practicing religious beliefs. I agree with Starhawk that when Pagans are allowed at the table, then everyone benefits. Including this atheist. Too often we label something without taking time to understand it which for the most part is alright. I don’t have time to study all the different religions which I won’t be joining anyway. I don’t want to debate my atheism either. Accept each one for what they bring to the world and get on with life! We have more in common than that which seemingly divides us. There are too many good things in life to enjoy without the divisive nature of religious one-ups-manship dragging us down. Live long and prosper!

  • clsvail

    Oh, brevity, where art thou? Must other pagans be so verbose? Pithy doesn’t work?Last time the righteous pagan-haters, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, knocked on my door, I said “No thank you, we are all pagans here.” I thought it was lovely.Keep it simple and short, so maybe the Southern Baptists can understand and retain the message, however brief and briefly.

  • WestTexan2008

    Religious pluralism in the military is much more complex than most people truly understand. Some thoughts:Religious practice in the military is often a balance or tension between ‘good order and discipline’ on the one hand and ‘first amendment rights’ on the other. Example: Pagans have the right to worship, but to do so ‘sky-clad’ (naked) would compromise unit discipline – a compromise can be reached.Worship can be conducted in a formal or ad-hoc manner; however, to have a formal worship, there needs to be a chaplain or authorized lay person to lead the service. This chaplain or lay person must be recognized and licensed by an ‘endorsing agent’ – somebody or a group who can officially speak for the denomination and say that this leader is doing their denominational things ‘correctly.’ One of the problems with paganism is that their beliefs are very eclectic; thus no one person or group speaks for the entire body; thus no endorsing agent – no chaplains or lay leaders. Also, many pagans are ‘sole practitioners in that they worship alone without the guidance of a religious leader.Pagan worship has been a feature of military worship, particularly among female members, for many years. The post commander of Ft. Hood had set aside an area for Pagans back in the early 1990’s and the Marine Corps went to great lengths to allow Pagan/Wiccan worship at boot camp and beyond. Drill instructors received several hours of training in religious pluralism, including paganism. Chaplains receive training in accommodating all worship, including Pagan.It is actually much more complex than this, but space prevents a comprehensive treatment of the topic.

  • schaeffz

    The Hebrew God, when asked, gave the name “I AM”. God never gives a gendered self-reference. God created humans “in our image”. The Christian sense of God’s essence is “Love”. What else, really, needs to be said? “I AM LOVE”, God, or any diety worth considering, says. What then is the essence of any “religion” for those of us who chose to believe is such, or of “ir-religion” for those who chose to not believe in such? It is clear that a core essence of high order animals, possibly epitomized in humans, is a core ability to “love”. It is likely that most of the Founding Fathers did indeed consider freedom of religion to be limited to Christians and probably Jews. But we know that Jefferson and Franklin, being the most ir-religious, likely thought more broadly of this. And in any event, the Constitution is wonderfully vague and does not necessarily fix the mindset of its writers in time. It’s words are indeed in most respects fit for any time (and place for that matter). That includes obviously today, with our current mindset.

  • HCBerkowitz

    APaganplace, apropos Athena, are you aware that the U.S. Army Intelligence branch insignia is a head of Athena, and the term is widely used (e.g., Athena Information Architecture)? :-)Yes, it would be great should this become a place of communication. Following up on magic vs. stick, one of the freedoms of religion is the freedom to have your own idiots. I fondly remember one rather demented would-be Pagan Pope telling me that he was going to cast a fireball on me, getting his spirituality confused with his Dungeons & Dragons. As he made his intricate gestures, I walked over (maybe a touch of Zen Bushido here?), grasped his arm, and spun him into the first half of a judo throw. He complained that I was interfering with his spell. By this point, I was really trying to stop laughing, but explained that I was merely helping the cosmos reflect his energies back on him, by helping his arm move in the direction he seemed to want it to go. Eventually, he had the wit to realize that I could, at any time, drop him on his head. Unfortunately, some of the Pastor’s ilk may have, already, been repeatedly dropped on the head.WestTexan2008, excellent observations. MOPP4 chemical protection and skyclad just don’t go together. At its interfaith best, the military chaplaincy can be supportive and nonjudgmental. The “Four Chaplains” giving their lives to save others is much more of an ideal than Jeffress.

  • YEAL9

    Once again:When you get done worshiping and dancing at the new AF Academy’s pagan temple, continue your worshiping and dancing at the Garden of the Gods Park, a Registered National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs.And pagans love the earth and celebrate Earth Day with vim and vigor. “Earth Day at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center will be celebrated in April this year. The festivities begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue until 3:00 p.m. Earth Day activities and programs are free and open to the public. Some of the activities to enjoy include Native American Dancer Performances, live birds of prey from Pueblo’s Greenway Nature Center, children’s craft activities, and nature walks.”Air Force Academy, 20 minutesCripple Creek for some gambling (no Baptists allowed), 50 minutesOlympic Training Center, 15 minuteswww.gardenofgods.com/If only voodoo dolls could end conflicts!!!

  • persiflage

    ‘Spirits do not have biological gender.’I’m pretty sure mine does, but I only speak for myself.

  • cmarshdtihqcom

    It was hard getting population to grow in spite of famines and droughts, harsh climates and wild animals, epidemics and diseases, and very annoying of all, primitive but constant warfare.

  • YEAL9

    From Wikipedia- an update on Starhawk’s religion:”Wicca (pronounced [ˈwɪkə]) is a Neopagan religion and a form of modern witchcraft. It is often referred to as Witchcraft or the Craft[1] by its adherents, who are known as Wiccans or Witches. Its disputed origins lie in England in the early 20th century,[2] though it was first popularised during the 1950s by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant, who at the time called it the “witch cult” and “witchcraft”, and its adherents “the Wica”.[3] From the 1960s the name of the religion was normalised to “Wicca”.[4]Wicca is typically a duotheistic religion, worshipping a Goddess and a God, who are traditionally viewed as the Triple Goddess and Horned God. These two deities are often viewed as being facets of a greater pantheistic Godhead, and as manifesting themselves as various polytheistic deities. Other characteristics of Wicca include the ritual use of magic, a basic code of morality, and the celebration of eight seasonally based festivals.There are various different denominations within Witchcraft, which are referred to as traditions. Some, such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, follow in the initiatory lineage of Gardner; these are often collectively termed British Traditional Wicca, and many of their practitioners consider the term “Wicca” to apply only to these lineaged traditions. Others, such as Cochrane’s Craft, Feri and the Dianic tradition, take primary influence from other figures and may not insist on any initiatory lineage. Some of these do not use the term “Wicca” at all, instead preferring to be referred to only as “Witchcraft”, while others believe that all traditions can be considered “Wiccan”.[5][6]”

  • YEAL9

    You can join Starhawk’s group at http://www.reclaim.org“Reclaiming is a community of women and men working to unify spirit and politics. Our vision is rooted in the religion and magic of the Goddess, the Immanent Life Force. We see our work as teaching and making magic; the art of empowering ourselves and each other. In our classes, workshops, and public rituals, we train our voices, bodies, energy, intuition, and minds. We use the skills we learn to deepen our strength, both as individuals and as community, to voice our concerns about the world in which we live, and bring to birth a vision of a new culture.”

  • APaganplace

    Yeal: “”Recommended by Starhawk:”WitchVox””Well, *that* information’s a bit out of date, at least if you’re interested in trying to find a ‘reference’ or necessarily understand your neighbors from the home-page. Still a good site, and with good people running it. I still check the news feed out pretty much daily: the only thing for those not familiar with Paganism to take as a caveat:In a time where everyone’s got their own blogs and stuff, the articles on the home page have taken on the character of a general soap-box. This means minority views and, err, ‘interesting theories’ and a lot of newbies’ contributions really tend to predominate. The Pagan community as a whole *values* this kind of thing, but it may not shed much light on what the baseline consensus may be, if you go looking for some easy notion of ‘what Pagans are all about.’ Just so you’re aware: that front page tends to be biased toward what may be *novel* to us. (Sometimes I think if I see one more newbie-written article saying, ‘Pagans don’t respect men cause they worship the Great Mother! I read it on the Internet!’ I may yark. It’s like, ….meet some people, kids. 🙂 ) Should put paid to any notions we’re a conspiracy out to take over the world, though. 🙂 I do often reflect that anyone trying to figure us out from that home page might find themselves quite bewildered, though.

  • HCBerkowitz

    In response to the polite question of Thomas Paul Moses Baum, “Do you really think that all of creation or whatever you wish to call reality is just an “accident”?”Sir, you really ask two questions. One is about creation, and one is about the continuing relation between humanity and an interactive deity. I do not have the arrogance, or the training in current cosmology, to speak intelligently about the first physical creation — in cosmological terms, the singularity that preceded the “Big Bang”. Sometimes, I’m reminded of the response attributed to Augustine of Hippo when he was asked what the deity was doing before creating the Heaven and the Earth:”Devising a Hell for those who would have the audacity to ask such questions.”I don’t have a problem with what Jefferson and others called the “watchmaker god”, who created, and then stepped aside. A much more subtle theory, which I don’t dismiss out of hand, comes from Pierre Teilhard du Chardin, SJ. His concept was drawn from the Genesis idea of God making man in his own image, but phrasing it in evolutionary terms: the first living cells were pre-Edenic and at his “alpha point”. He postulated that God intended Man to evolve to an “Omega Point”, at which time he would truly be godlike.Now, to answer the second part, yes, I do consider the development of the world essentially random, accidental or man-driven. I have had no personal experience of a conscious and personal deity, although I certainly have had experience of spirituality shared with living beings, and perhaps the Earth itself. I apply Occam’s Razor: if an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent deity wanted my communications, why should she make them so obscure? Why should such a powerful being want prayer and punish if it doesn’t get it? I can, however, experience unconditional love from my cat, so maybe I can more easily believe in Bastet than an Abrahamic deity.Meanwhile, until God suggests we do lunch and have a chat, I intend to be responsible for my actions and lead the most ethical life I can.Rather than ritualized prayer, I see transcendental communication in service to others, being true to myself, and pursuing truth. In the laboratory, in the hospital treatment room, and at my easel, I feel very close to what Maslow called self-actualization, and others, such as Rudolf Otto, might call a experience of the holy. Victor Frankl called it Man’s Search for Meaning, and survived Auschwitz with it. For me, that doesn’t need to happen in structured religion. In my UU congregation, we facilitate one another’s individual search for truth and right action, as well as mutual caring.

  • APaganplace

    Anyway, sorry to throw so many posts up at once, here: JJ/’Mastermind.’ I can see how your own ‘church’s experiences as a prison religion suddenly mean Pagans aren’t the bad guys to you for once, but actually…””So, Besides pointing to the JUDGEships in charge of recognizing Pagan religion in Prisons and outside by proving that ALEXANDER THE GREAT was the {Pagans] Son Of Man; and that Jeshua as son of man was in conflict as 2nd in line that “”While certainly there should be religious freedom in prisons, no, Paganism doesn’t consider Alexander to be our ‘Jesus’ or anything like that, as amusing as it may be under the circumstances of our national debate, that the ‘greatest general in history’ was queer and Pagan.He’s not, however, considered to be an exemplar of modern Pagan values. Nor actually in some way trying to supplant Jesus or something. So we’re clear.

  • APaganplace

    And, while I’m at it, if I can chime in here, too: (Hi, Thomas. 🙂 ) “”In response to the polite question of Thomas Paul Moses Baum, “Do you really think that all of creation or whatever you wish to call reality is just an “accident”?””Inasmuch as we’re talking about *Paganism,* it’s important to remember that Paganism, while we have many myths of ‘Creation’ and in general *love* science and related cosmology, we actually typically *don’t* believe that some authority over daily life or even the ‘fate of one’s soul’ *depends* on ‘knowing’ the origins of the Universe. While, certainly, the arguments-from-My-God-Is-The-Creator-and-Creators-*Own*-You of many *monotheists* *against* our rights and views can be refuted with science and logic, this doesn’t mean that *our* faith is based on these kinds of claims. We actually tend to start where we are and look on these things with appropriate wonderment and discernment. New scientific facts or conclusions about human or the universe’s origins therefore just don’t tend to provoke the same kinds of religious crises or battles-against-science from us. Neither does ‘God’ have to be defined in the traditional terms and conditions of the eternal atheists-v-monotheists debate. Those terms and conditions and definitions and ‘givens’ tend to be just binary processing of Christian claims about ‘God’ (whether ‘he’ exists or not) in the first place.

  • APaganplace

    OK. JJ. No one has ‘cursed’ you. Never mind any judges. You need to calm down, here.

  • HCBerkowitz

    “Pulling the wool over the “Mastermind” is Impossible!”Nor necessary, considering the wool content present in the woven words. Now, bringing this back to the Air Force, it might be of interest to them, simply to find a mode of instantaneous transport from a hill in Colorado to a courtroom in California.Pagans are by no means the only spiritual groups not to be exercised about Sodomy, a Biblical concept if I ever heard one — although the Canadian government does have an answer to the long-asked question of what they did in Gomorrah. Again apropos of military factors and going back to Sodom, there was a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, on April 1 if I remember correctly, about “Case report of extreme dehydration and hypernatremia in a young woman of Mediterranean origins,” later identified as Mrs. Lot, and going to show one must take seriously the protective rules for fighting on a WMD battlefield.

  • barferio

    I’m afraid I have to go in the other direction. Instead of allowing pagans and whomsoever to have religious places paid for and supported by the taxpayer – in an effort to prevent the christianists from stopping everybody else – I’m more interested in the idea of removing all religious support by the taxpayers.This means no christians, no pagans, no muslims, no pastafarians etc. You can worship or commune with or whatever it is you do with your god or gods on your own time, on your own dime.

  • mwpalmer

    Along with MEMBER8, I would like to recommend taking a look at the Mormon religion. But when you do, go to mormon.org or http://www.lds.org. MEMBER8 appears to be a rather unreliable source of information.Certainly, it makes more sense to learn about Wicca from a Wiccan than a detractor.

  • ThomasBaum

    misterbumblesYou wrote, “Most people, lacking a classical education or any sort of education at all, will embrace the “Jesus” version of the world because they culturally were born into by accident.”Do you really think that all of creation or whatever you wish to call reality is just an “accident”?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • APaganplace

    Hey, HCBerkowitz. 🙂 “”APaganplace, apropos Athena, are you aware that the U.S. Army Intelligence branch insignia is a head of Athena, and the term is widely used (e.g., Athena Information Architecture)? 🙂 “”I’ve seen it, actually. She does have a long history as a symbol, not placed there as ‘religious expression’ in terms of who chose them, but I do hope Her spirit’s honored there, anyway. :)””Yes, it would be great should this become a place of communication.””It’s a little hard when we spend so much time dealing with people who see anything by members of other religions and start attacking those religions rather than discussing the topic. These are people who really want to see everything America stands for taken away. We Pagans are just someone they want to use for bogeymen and want to keep our real selves out of sight where they can claim we’re monsters or whatever. “”Following up on magic vs. stick, one of the freedoms of religion is the freedom to have your own idiots. I fondly remember one rather demented would-be Pagan Pope telling me that he was going to cast a fireball on me, getting his spirituality confused with his Dungeons & Dragons.””Heheh. Fireballs. What would you say, There certainly *are* plenty of flakes out there claiming their lunacy is Pagan (The ‘Pagan Pope’ probably should have been your first clue about that kid or whoever. 🙂 There are some *idiots* in Paganism, far more who simply don’t know the first *thing* about Paganism. Mr. Wizard there would clearly fall in the latter category, even if he *could* throw fireballs. 🙂 ) The fact is, a lot of our attackers, and would-be ‘debunkers’ of darn near anything tend to *claim* we believe in *their* kinda D&D/television view of what magic is *supposed* to be, use that for a ‘straw man and claim we *are* those flakes. In terms of *religious* matters, one of the most important things to understand about a Pagan/Wiccan view of *magic* is that it’s first and foremost about ‘perfecting intent.’ The whole magical thing (though actually I’ve seen far more than my share of pretty spectacular stuff, …I have my own set of funny stories about would be witch-*hunters,* in fact,) is mostly about *learning to treat the experience of the world and your own consciousness as things which actually interact and interpermeate, rather than being viewed as some kind of mechanistic thing to be ‘judged’ from outside. It teaches *ethics of consciousness,* not throwing D&D spells around. What the martial arts call ‘chi’ certainly works, though. (We really try not to throw people on their kiesters just for being idiots, though. 😉 *muffled laugh.* 🙂 Ahem. 🙂 )

  • YEAL9

    Recommended by Starhawk:”WitchVoxThe Witches’ Voice is an incredible user-posted network dedicated to sharing news and information about Witches and Witchcraft. Everything from articles to want ads, plus listings events and classes in hundreds of cities. See

  • APaganplace

    “”Oh, brevity, where art thou? Must other pagans be so verbose? Pithy doesn’t work?””Keep it simple and short, so maybe the Southern Baptists can understand and retain the message, however brief and briefly.clsvail “”Well, we do try. Certainly, I tend to be among the verbose ones: part of the problem here is that is with so many things relating to reason and religions people don’t know of, or in fact are actively trying to demonize or obfuscate, Well, it’s very easy to be brief when trying to *confuse* the truth, or ‘label’ someone. Obviously, Paganism is not ‘simple’ from the point of view of someone else’s adversarial preconceptions.For those who actually care to understand, it often means we have to go on back into the construction of someone *else’s* misconceptions. Of course, it’s all very simple and living and spiritual to *us,* but to say, a Christian, they’ll be, “But… Religion is about a book of laws and authority figures and arguments from ‘revealed texts! You aren’t religion! You must be… Really in it because we believe ‘sin’ is a ‘fun and tempting and empty thing that everyone would want to do indiscriminately and constantly unless they were scared out of it!”Our detractors can refer to whole complexes of thought like that with some facile little reference, and claim to ‘define’ us. Just like when Christians pray for terrible things to happen to some city, most Pagans know just what we’re saying when we say, “I’m just gonna go stand over here while you get the return on that, preacher,” or… Wince and facepalm. Most familiar with Wicca will know you’re referring to everything we may have learned about the Threefold Law without saying even a word. 🙂 So, sometimes brevity isn’t what’s called for. Not that it doesn’t have its place. We’re in a somewhat unusual position as a minority religion in this scenario. Many of us know how to ‘speak christian.’ As well as our local vernaculars. That doesn’t happen too often.

  • APaganplace

    But, hey, JJ, maybe there’s a little hint from all your ‘research’ of today: Though some have gone to great effort recently to teach you otherwise: Believe it or not, once upon a time, human history was made by lots of people who *didn’t* fixate on *you* or on your ‘Not, not, not being Gay!’ Might help sort you out, there. 🙂

  • YEAL9

    “Starhawk: The Pagan Pat RobertsonScroll down past all the non-topic items below to see more and go to

  • YEAL9

    For those interested in Starhawk’s books:The Beginner’s Guide to Wicca Dagra Perkisian Dynasty Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics: The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit In The Rhythms Of Nature Exploring The Pagan Path: Wisdom From The Elders Modern Pagans: An Investigation of Contemporary Pagan Practices The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess Truth or Dare: Encounters With Power, Authority, and Mystery The Twelve Wild Swans Dance

  • APaganplace

    Why, yes, Yeal. Starhawk is an *author.* Authors have an interesting way of writing *books.* If you don’t mind so very much. If you’re done cutting and pasting the Internet to this comments section, like you’re the only one on the planet who can Google and quote Wikipedia, there’s a certain issue here that could *possibly* merit some discussion among serious-minded Americans. Thank you.

  • APaganplace

    *facepalming.* *laugh.* OK, you file those charges, JJ. But they *gotta* let the TV cameras in. :)We’ve heard crazier accusations from Evangelicals. Much to the same effect, actually. But this would make good entertainment. 🙂

  • APaganplace

    I didn’t mean “file those charges by spamming *here,*” JJ! 🙂

  • APaganplace

    Also, Yeal, that’s not the *topic,* that’s someone’s inflammatory *opinion* about the *writer* that you already spammed us with before at least once on this thread. You seem to be good at cut and paste… Scroll *down* if you are expecting a different answer after doing the same thing over and over. Between JJ’s theological *Tourette’s* and your obsessions, *of course* it gets noisy here. Making it worse won’t help. Unless of course, it’s not *communication* you want, here?

  • Heerman532

    Have you ever seen the Air Force Academy?It’s in Colorado Springs.You know how much effort it would take to make a circle of rocks?Very darn little. Because the whole area is rock. In fact, it would be easier to just dump a truckload of dirt pretty much anywhere, and it would ‘instantly’ be ‘surrounded’ by rocks.That doesn’t sound like too much of an imposition on the Academy to me.

  • nashvillemykl

    I know little about Paganism, or about Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or any number of other religions for that matter. But, I have to find it funny that a group of people who worship images of a dead man hanging on a cross, and symbolically consume his flesh and blood as part of their ceremonies and rites have the cojones to look down on Pagans.

  • pgr88

    I think “Starhawk” is just trying to get her name on some new missile or ABM system…

  • Garak

    “Dallas pastor…” You know what’s coming as soon as you see that. Frak his god and his followers.

  • willandjansdad1

    Based on the common occurence of church bus accidents, it’s obvious that God hates Christian youth groups.That statement is just as bogus as the pronouncements of Mega-church plate passers and televangelist con artists against “unbelievers”.What an evil God most Christians worship.

  • captn_ahab

    Apaganplace wrote:”mean, fo course, the Founding Fathers were kinda ‘retro,’ too… That’s why they call a lot of that stuff about freedom and democracy and symbolism, ‘Neoclassicalism’Little things like that, Ahab. 🙂 You are a little confused both about religion and Neoclassicism (there is no “neoclassicalism”).Neoclassicism is a movement in art and architecture. It has nothing to do with religion or politics. If you want to believe that the gods need offerings to be placated or that the sun won’t rise if the gods are not offered a human heart….. so be it….Little things like that, apaganplace 🙁

  • US-conscience

    If this wasnt so sad, I’ld laugh.If this wasnt so funny, I’ld cry.I’m laughing and crying at the same time.

  • APaganplace

    Sorry bout that bit, Thardman, You’re not being altogether unreasonable, but we do seem to be saying ‘You’re all nuts!’ because I happen to be standing between what appear to be a sociopath and a schizophrenic. :)””Neoclassicism is a movement in art and architecture. It has nothing to do with religion or politics. “”And, of course, art and architecture and symbol never in any way reflect religion or politics?

  • thardman

    Just to clear up something…When I use the word “superstition”, what I mean is that particular belief in a sort of cause-and-effect relationship which has no demonstrated actual cause-and-effect sequence. For example, if I were to say “because of (a), therefor (huge class of things, but all sharing the quality of ‘bad’, or ‘undesirable’)”, there’s no causality and in fact it might be like saying that if you go for a walk without an umbrella, you might get wet. That may be true, but you might get wet less because you were unprepared for a cloudburst, and more because someone dumped a bucket on you, or you fell into a lake. Nonetheless, you failed to take an umbrella and you did get wet. The superstitious mindset, as I use the word, remembers the “prophecy” and has experienced the result, but does not discern between actual causation (caught in a rainstorm with no umbrella) and comparable results with no linkage (fell in a lake with no umbrella).It’s not exactly insane, but it also isn’t logical, to place the credit on the “prophecy” — “you will go out without an umbrella and will end up all wet” — as the causal force. It’s technically referred to as “credulity”, I seem to recall.

  • Nymous

    Jeffress is a nasty whack job and a good argument for the Second Amendment. Hopefully he’ll shut up and go drink some koolaid.

  • APaganplace

    Any more reasons you’d like to propose how queer Pagans should be kept from intelligence traffic analysis, CCNL, or are we just the wrong side of some ‘abstraction’ of yours? Would you like some more ‘superstition?’Or would you rather just keep spanking the contents of your tighty-whiteys and saying it harms someone else? 🙂

  • ZZim

    “””Good article. No reason why we shouldn’t have a little stonehenge at the academy.A henge isn’t that difficult. The AF Academy can do better than a few boulders. If cut stone is too expensive then there’s no reason not to build a wood henge.Well, probably not gona be many folks around for summer solstice anyway.

  • APaganplace

    “”My point was mostly that it doesn’t matter _which_ religion anyone follows, if they take it too dang seriously,””When I need to know who’s taking what too ‘dang’ seriously,’ I’ll know where to go, then. Now, we’re going to give our troops a nice, and free-to-taxpayers-some-say-don’t-include-Pagans a place to gather and pray.If you don’t mind do very much. And in this place, we’re going to try and *not* scare the mundanes into notions that ‘Earth Religion’ is ‘trivial’ or ‘evil’ Just cause some dude or other on the Net wants to harp on the notion all day. Dig?

  • APaganplace

    No, ‘Yeal,’ that’s not ‘more,’ that’s the same thing I already told you you’d spammed us with before. You and ‘Thardman’ seem to have something in common, here:Apparently you think injustice will become justice if you yammer on interminably with ad hominem attacks and claim it’s someone else who’s ‘off topic.’Maybe that washes with Christians, I dunno. But not around me. Would you rather I go away so you can claim I ‘chickened out’ or say ‘You never stop talking when I tell you to! This means you don’t know about your own religion, unlike me!’ Whatever. There *is* a topic here. Noise doesn’t change that.

  • APaganplace

    Can’t help but notice you boys, …none of you, ever actually answer a point. Just repeat yourselves as though said points were never answered. I’m guessing that if you can type, you’re not ‘deaf.’ What would you like?

  • tjhall1

    Our military is being destroyed: Bug worshiping and men sodomizing and fellating each other are now in the norm. Homosexuality is a filthy, disease-ridden practice explicitly condemned by God.We are doomed.

  • Ombudsman1

    Starhawk?STARHAWK?Seriously? C’mon. I had to check the date wasn’t April 1.

  • Ombudsman1

    “Yes, her name is Starhawk, Ombudsman.”I’m laughing because it isn’t her name. To quote an infamous group of people, *show me the birth certificate*.If she wants to be taken seriously, she should use her legal name. Plus, it’s hard to believe an adult mind would call themselves “starhawk”. It’s like somebody read some bad science fiction and that was the name of a minor character.I mean, c’mon.

  • mlincoln1

    Look at some of the comments below! Good night, some of you people are off your meds!

  • maxdashu

    Contrast the claim that founding fathers intended US to be a Christian nation with the facts: Article 11 of a Treaty with Tripoli, ratified unanimously by the Senate under John Adams’ presidency, states explicitly:

  • marctrain1

    I wouldn’t want to insult Starhawk or pagans, but I have to ask do you have any idea how difficult it is for many of us to accept some of the things that are now being touted as acceptable these days. When I grew up I had never heard of such a thing, so it is a little hard to wrap my mind around the Airforce accepting this.In the name of tolerance I would hope that if I tolerate your need to worship whatever it is you worship you will tolerate the fact that for some of over 50 it will take some time to get used to this.

  • APaganplace

    Also, Marctrain, that is about the most respectful implied request I think I’ve heard on this board these many years. *bows* Whatever can be done to honor it.I kind of thought that was the purpose of this interfaith board to begin with. 🙂

  • marctrain1

    Apaganplace, again I’m not trying to put you down, but here me out. I never knew this was an actual religion. Where I grew up everyone was Protestant, with a couple of Catholics and Jews thrown in. I never actually heard that anyone in modern times was a Pagan. So it is news to me. And to be perfectly honest I equated in with satanism. I was wrong on that as I have now read.So I am trying to understand. This is just not something that existed on the farmlands where I grew up in the ’60’s. Hell we thought unitarians were odd where I came from.

  • tjhall1

    Our once mighty military is now worshiping bugs and will soon openly allow males to sodomize and fellate each other in their barracks.God help us all.

  • thornegp2626

    Trying to relate the Founding Fathers with Pagans is ludicrous!

  • micron26

    When little cults (e.g. Paganism) and big cults (e.g. Christianity) make a mockery of superstition (e.g. religion), reason and progress are the real winners. Keep at it, folks!

  • HCBerkowitz

    Given that the same Air Force flew the F-104 Starfighter, and the Army and Marines only recently retired the MIM-23 HAWK, is Starhawk really that farfetched?No reasonable designer would put 50mm cannon on a broom, however. The recoil would be excessive. No, in the Real World, they fly MQ-1 Predators firing AGM-65 Hellfires, which does sound rather like Jeffress.Marctrain, some Unitarians have worked very hard to be considered odd. Please respect it, or see Unitarian Jihad. Bug hunters? Of course…there has been some distinguished work in entomology by military epidemiologists. But, tjhall1, when did Vishnu issue an order against fellatio? Is it prohibited only when homosexual?

  • captn_ahab

    Perhaps next time there is a drought in Colorado, Ms. Starhawk can lead a rain dance dedicated to the raingod to end the drought.

  • sanitycheck1

    I’m offended that my tax dollars support any form of worship. “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

  • jeffc6578

    Sounds like Robert Jeffress would have us live in his version of a bastardized Christian theocracy, ala Taliban.

  • Freestinker

    Contrary to the clear and wise advice in our Constitution, the government has sponsored a minority religion in a transparent attempt to justify it’s sponsorship of the majority religion. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Surely there are plenty of churches of every possible stripe in Colorado Springs to accommodate the Cadets religious needs? Why are taxpayers obliged by law to support someone else’s religion when there are plenty of private options already available?

  • mhoust

    Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress is both a bigot; and a closet jihadist. People like him froth at the mouth for the return to the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials to give them the opportunity to torture and murder in the name of their so-called god. Not one iota of difference between his ideology and Al Qaeda’s.Kudos to the USAF, and the Academy for constructing this structure as an all faith’s outdoor service area; and not a single faith restricted one.

  • papafritz571

    When the good Reverend gives up his well appointed church and the great wealth he accrues for dispensing God’s word, then he can have an opinion about Pagans, Atheists, or other cults. He is merely protecting his personal earnings by protesting any other type or God-worship that may take hold and deprive him of money he believes should come to him.The Air Force Academy has been accused of harassing and forcing the Cadets who are schooled there, to accept Christianity and those who resist are being ostracized. This is what probably lead to a Pagan ritual site. The Academy doesn’t give a horse’s toot about Paganism, they just need cover for their evangelical efforts in garnering new converts. The American religious communities have been insidious in their efforts to invade our government processes, sneaking in the back doors of Congress promising our worthless leaders eternal salvation if they only do the church leaders bidding.

  • gimpi

    What a breath of fresh air after the stale and obsessive musings of Pastor Jeffress last week. Starhawk shows a profound understanding of the fact that no one’s rights are safe if someone’s rights are threatened. If Pagans can be discriminated against, if they aren’t equal before the law, then ANY religious group can be discriminated against, and no one is really equal before the law. That is so fundamental (no pun intended) that I am constantly surprised how often it is missed. If people following Starhawk’s path can be denied worship facilities, people following Pastor Jeffress’s path can be denied their facilities. It’s only a matter of time and opinion. Our rights are only secure when they are secure for everyone. I offer kudos to Starhawk for understanding that. I have only sorrow for Pastor Jeffress, that he doesn’t.

  • thardman

    ‘apaganplace’:Now I recognize you from UseNet.I remember how many in the pagan community said that you were the worst possible public relations person for the faiths. The first law is “first, do no harm” but you are so mad that you don’t even recognize your madness nor the harm that you do. If anyone’s coming after you, it’s probably pagans outraged at the idiocy you fling hither and yon.That’s okay. It’s coming back to you thrice.Keep in mind folks: pretentions to faith are no excuse for going off your meds and devolving to the point where you are barely worthy of a good scoffing.I’m done here. So is anyone who intends to try to give positive representation to faiths outside of the “Big Five”. l8rs, Taelyn, you batty boob.

  • APaganplace

    “”Wow, with all of the madness and hatred spawned by a decision to allocate time and space to a VERY peaceful Earth Religion, I cannot imagine the frolics that will result if the military ever recognizes Asatru.;)Posted by: thardman “”Don’t let anyone think Asatru is a ‘violent religion,’ as some want to either claim it is, or pretend it is, for their own purposes. Most of the Asatru and other Heathens I’ve met are actually farmers, believe it or not. . I believe they’re recognized by the military, though, even if they can’t yet be buried on military graves under their own sacred symbols. After a decade-long struggle, those who go with the pentacle have recently been able to have the dignity of not having their religion erased or over-written on their own military headstones. (Some people really just don’t want *that* interrupting their associations of monotheism with patriotism, I suppose.) Honorable and practical folks, in general, actually. A somewhat different branch of the Pagan revival: in discussing theology and practice and the like, it’s easy to confuse the two. Not to mention with a lot of people the Asatru and other Heathens most certainly *do not* approve of. Scuffle over quite a bit, actually. Most of the people used to try and give Asatru a bad name aren’t even what you could call a ‘splinter group of Heathenry,’ …more a splinter group of the Aryan Nations, and the “Church of Jesus Christ Christian” who say Odin and use Nazi symbols a lot cause they think even right wing Christianity’s too Jewish for them, even if their ‘message’ is no different. Hard not to be confused, but that’s not Asatru. Most of them are no more polytheist than the Pope, never mind anything like a *culture.* Just a *gang.* Just so everyone’s clear on that.

  • APaganplace

    As much as possible, anyway: it’d take some effort even for someone who *wants* to know to distinguish what’s up even *without* people trying to actively confuse and defame. One thing I think Pagan traditions of whatever origin share, though, as relates to the military and all this, is some manner of sense of honor and a faith that the coolness of the Universe manifests in many different forms. We have our pacifists, such as Starhawk, and we have others who will fight. But we don’t need to turn the rest of the world into imaginary ‘devils’ to bypass some ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ commandment or twist it into ‘Now Thou Must Kill.’ People do tend to be confused on these issues: among our many Gods are certainly Those who teach us about and support us in, ‘War.’ I know it seems paradoxical to warlike ‘Religions of Peace,’ …but actually, knowing of ‘Gods of War’ is a big reason we’re so *peaceful.* So many monotheists use *martial metaphors for *everything.* ‘war on this, war on that, Culture war, spiritual war,’Most Pagans who fight have some kind of notion one does *not* call on the Blackwing *lightly.* Never mind have to say someone’s the ‘Devil’ if you disagree with them.Personally, I think our general ideal ends up kind of like Jedi with more singing. 🙂

  • APaganplace

    “”Why are taxpayers obliged by law to support someone else’s religion when there are plenty of private options already available?Posted by: Freestinker “”We may have crossed posts, there, since they were only four minutes apart, Stinker, but I’d just gotten finished saying that this circle of stones *did not* cost the taxpayers a dime. Unlike certain other edifices nearby.

  • ViejitaDelOeste

    Why is there so much spam on this post?

  • mont9744

    Next Month the Air force is going to start a project to Mount Dual Caliber 50MM machine guns on Pagan Flying Brooms so they can help the Gays blow away the enemy.

  • APaganplace

    “”Why is there so much spam on this post?Posted by: ViejitaDelOeste””Cause a lot of Christians hate us, and a lot of atheists think we’re an easy target? And cause a lot of crazy people spam *everywhere?* 🙂

  • thardman

    Beg pardon: “Taleisin” and spelling variants thereon.You got kicked out of every discussion on Paganism all over the internet.And now you come to plight your troth to madness and chaos, here.If you were capable of it, you should feel ashamed.Trust me, we all feel very ashamed FOR YOU.If the Xians think you’re representative, no wonder they think Pagans are all nuts.Get thee hence, mouthpiece for Loki.

  • APaganplace

    Wrong number, Thardman. Wrong gender, even.

  • APaganplace

    See what I mean, here: “”Pssst. Secret: Ye mentioned The “Air Force” “”Yes, JJ, this is because the *topic* relates to the *Air Force* Academy. You of all people should value our American right to free association, but there actually is a topic here not-involving-you.

  • ZZim

    Good article. No reason why we shouldn’t have a little stonehenge at the academy.

  • APaganplace

    “”Good article. No reason why we shouldn’t have a little stonehenge at the academy.Posted by: ZZim “”Well, it’s a little more like ‘A couple of circles of extra boulders some people of Earth religion could sit on or gather in,’ but the Astronomy department seems to have had a hand in the design. Could be aligned to something, but hey. If all the satellite feeds go down, at least they’ll know what day it is. 🙂

  • thardman

    To the person who felt the need to enlighten me about Asatru, thanks, “but I already knew that”. I was being facetious. Seriously: a couple of years ago, I was running for elected office in Montgomery County, MD. Somehow I had got my hands on the “Gangs In Schools Survey”. See also my blog posting about In summary of that, The question asked in the survey that seems to me to be most openly weird?”[H]ave there been any reports of occult-type activities among students in your school during the last year (e.g., dabbling in satanism, witchcraft, odinism, etc)”You might as well ask “have there been any reports of religious recruitement activities among students in your school during the last year”. Or, “have you identified the unbelievers and heretics”.Just say “no” to gangs, just say “no” to racial extremism and hatred, and also just say “no” to intolerance of religion.Seriously, if folks want to worry about the “occult”, as in “hidden and secretive”, they’d be better off looking into “cause stalking” networks. While hardly as bizarre as certain widespread writers to the net suggest, such things do exist and almost certainly they have their sights set on “alternative religion” no more or less than they have their sights set on tracking paroled sex-offenders.

  • APaganplace

    “”To the person who felt the need to enlighten me about Asatru, thanks, “but I already knew that”. I was being facetious.””I thought so from your name, Thardman, but.. Careful of taking such things for granted, here. Most of those who want to call us all evil or whatever may occasionally be *persistent,* but aren’t exactly known for either reading comprehension, a sense of humor, or much of an attention span. 🙂

  • YEAL9

    APaganplace exists as we all do with all the guarantees of the great nation of the USA. But on the other hand, APaganplace does not have a degree in World History or does she? If not, she should reference her statements.

  • Freestinker

    APaganPlace wrote: “We may have crossed posts, there, since they were only four minutes apart, Stinker, but I’d just gotten finished saying that this circle of stones *did not* cost the taxpayers a dime. Unlike certain other edifices nearby.”————APaganPlace,Somebody paid for the land. Somebody paid for the construction of the shrine. Somebody will pay for it’s maintenance. And that somebody is we taxpayers! Why can’t religious people pay for their own shrines with their own money without picking the taxpayer’s pocket?

  • wbuffalogal

    You think we might be better off (and make more sense) if god were spelled with two o’s?

  • HCBerkowitz

    To Thomas Baum,Really, I’m glad that you have a spirituality that works for you. As long as you don’t insist that your view should supplant mine, FOR ME, we have no problem. As long as there are equal opportunities for all (or no) religion at the Air Force Academy, again, there’s no problem. It’s when one gets preference, there is very much a problem for the good order and discipline of the military.I do agree that Colorado Springs does have alternate facilities not associated with the Academy (or Peterson AFB, Shriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain AFS, etc.). The military chaplaincy does have a role in locations where there are no other facilities, and one can argue that there’s a professional education role in having cadets work with chaplains.Colorado Springs, incidentally, is an incredibly beautiful place. It also hosts hot-air ballooning festivals, which are also visually impressive — although I shall never forget the time when I was rushing to the airport there after giving a seminar, and a 110′ Everready Bunny floated over the road.

  • coloradodog

    When are good “Christians” going to denounce the filthy hatred spewed by the likes of Jeffress and Fred Phelps?

  • ZZim

    “”Circle of boulders? Weak.””Maybe if the site proves popular they will make some improvements.

  • Sam888

    “When are good “Christians” going to denounce the filthy hatred spewed by the likes of Jeffress and Fred Phelps?”We have been, all along. And Pat Robertson and his ilk too. I know it’s hard to believe, but “Christians” of that sort are actually the minority. They’re just louder.

  • marctrain1

    I think this has been a healthy conversation for the most part. I learned enough that I don’t find Pagans threatening. I also see that amongst yourselves there are some internal tensions which actually makes you seem like a much more mainstream religion. Kinda like the little old ladies at church arguing over the potato salad at a church supper. You guys are alright.

  • APaganplace

    Yeal’s creative history hour. There wasn’t even *nationalism* in most of Europe before Christianity came a long Yeal, never mind it being ‘fascist.’ Fascism as you are trying to cast us as is authoritarian and anti-pluralistic, your article there is just someone trying to scapegoat ‘Paganism’ as though it were as authoritarian and monolithic as Christianity is known to be.The persecutions of the people fascists targeted and still target didn’t begin when some Nazis ‘rejected Christianity. They go all the way back through the history of Christian hegemony. Appropriating or misappropriating a few Pagan symbols for some xenophobic agenda does *not* make someone Pagan. Or Paganism, particularly the Neopaganism, synonymous with ‘fascism.’That’s just someone trying to displace responsibility for what happens when they try to combine religious authority with the state and inflame people to fear or ‘sacrifice’ others in their midst. What *fascists* reject are Enlightenment ideals of pluralism and humanism, rule of law, human equality, diversity, and liberty. Kind of like certain Christians with a poor understanding of history here today. Running around trying to intimidate everyone into obeying their ‘ultimate authority.’ The topic is, after all, about our freedom. Some people are trying to say we shouldn’t exist.

  • ThomasBaum

    HCBerkowitz Part IIYou then wrote, “Why should such a powerful being want prayer and punish if it doesn’t get it?”Some look at “prayer” in a lot of wrong ways, some are: a wish list, telling God what to do, trying to brown-nose God and the list can go on, prayer can and should be to help us change where needed and also to look at things “differently” when needed.Two examples: Abraham and Moses, did they change God’s Mind or did God, in God’s Way, bring something out of them that they may not even have known was in them?You then wrote, “I can, however, experience unconditional love from my cat, so maybe I can more easily believe in Bastet than an Abrahamic deity.”We speak of “unconditional love” and “conditional love” but God is an actual “Being of Love” as in Love is not an attribute of God, conditional or unconditional, but is God’s Very Being.You then wrote, “Meanwhile, until God suggests we do lunch and have a chat, I intend to be responsible for my actions and lead the most ethical life I can.”As I have said before, “It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows”, as far as “repenting” that is taking responsibility when we sin, do wrong, screw up or whatever one wishes to call it and we all do, at least I have.You then wrote, “Rather than ritualized prayer, I see transcendental communication in service to others, being true to myself, and pursuing truth.”If “ritualized prayer” becomes nothing but rote than it is no more than spewing out words, what I refer to as “pre-fab” prayers, one of which is the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer, to me is exquisite if one actually prays it rather than just says it.When I make a reference to “pre-fab” prayer, I am not being derogatory, quite the contrary, I am trying to point out two things, one, the “pre-fab” prayer should not just be “spewed-our” but should be thought about and two, we should pray in our own words also.I look at God’s Plan in not only God becoming One of us but in God extending an invitation to us to be active participants in God’s Plan of Salvation not only for All of humanity but for All of creation.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • APaganplace

    “”I think this has been a healthy conversation for the most part. I learned enough that I don’t find Pagans threatening. I also see that amongst yourselves there are some internal tensions which actually makes you seem like a much more mainstream religion. Kinda like the little old ladies at church arguing over the potato salad at a church supper. You guys are alright.Posted by: marctrain1″”Heheh. We do often sound like that, don’t we? At least you needn’t worry we’re a conspiracy to take over the world. 😉 Some people do want to claim all the paths under the ‘Pagan’ umbrella term are a ‘cult’ (to make us sound scarier: to get people to sign away their own rights, for instance,) but the growth of ‘Paganism’ is actually something much more organic. In America, at least, we’re certainly very American: this is where we did our growing, and haven’t suddenly become foreigners or anything. 🙂 🙂 Thardman’s kind of path takes a different approach than those you’ll mostly hear from here: but, in person we can all get along just fine, generally.There are some longstanding debates which make it easy to get off on the wrong foot amid the general storming about at us. The Internet certainly has a way of amplifying disagreements. But there’s also a lot of friendship between our paths: the existential ‘stakes’ aren’t as high when you’re not out to convert the world or avoid going to Hell for being ‘wrong’ on some point of history or whatnot. So, as I can hear a priestess of mine saying, “Well, at least we’ve shown we’re not afraid of drowning in words.” We all tend to love scholarship and debate and stuff. 🙂 It’s kind of complicated to look at from the outside. It can be a little hard to circle the wagons without getting too much of a siege mentality, is all. But there’s also a lot of friendship between us. It’s good to hear from you, as well, Marc. We hear so much of this *mania* out there directed at us that it’s good to hear from some sensible neighbors. 🙂 Same goes for you, Gimpi. :)To me, that’s what all this talk is about, on this topic, actually… Not the ones who’ll hate or dismiss us anyway, but those who can see fellow Americans in us. Cause this kind of issue isn’t just *about* us: there are a lot of forces out there seeking to divide Americans against each other, and the debate is really about whether or not *any* of us have unalienable rights, or if certain religious authorities are allowed to decide who ‘doesn’t deserve’ them. That kind of thing never seems to stop with the *first* group they want to cast as scary or unimportant or silly. So, thanks, guys. It gives me a little more hope for America when we hear more from you. 🙂

  • ThomasBaum

    HCBerkowitz Part IYou wrote, ” I’m reminded of the response attributed to Augustine of Hippo when he was asked what the deity was doing before creating the Heaven and the Earth:”Devising a Hell for those who would have the audacity to ask such questions.””Some may be surprised to find out that God did not “devise a hell”, per se, but did leave it in our power to build our own hell.God has a Plan that ultimately ALL will be in God’s Kingdom but nevertheless we are responsible for our life whether we or not we accept that responsibility during our lifetime is up to us.You also wrote, “Now, to answer the second part, yes, I do consider the development of the world essentially random, accidental or man-driven.”I believe that God knew exactly where, when and to whom I would be born, I do not believe that it is an “accident” as to when, where and to whom I or anyone else was placed, so to speak.You then wrote, ” I have had no personal experience of a conscious and personal deity,”I have.You then wrote, ” I apply Occam’s Razor: if an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent deity wanted my communications, why should she make them so obscure?”First off, even tho God-Incarnate was a Male, God is not a Male, a Female or an It but is a Being of Pure Love.God Is God and I’m not, but for one thing if God could be “put into a formula” as some wish it were, there would be absolutely no reason for “Faith”.God was anything but “obscure” in letting me know about the Reality that God Is but God also did not lay out for me exactly how I am to do what God chose for me to do.I do not know why God chooses the people that God chooses, but as it says, God will see them thru and I, for one, thank God for that.

  • APaganplace

    “”APaganPlace,Somebody paid for the land. Somebody paid for the construction of the shrine. Somebody will pay for it’s maintenance. And that somebody is we taxpayers!””Among whom are we Pagans, if you can’t remember. Mind if we use a hilltop no one else is? And some boulders that had to be moved *somewhere* anyway?Also. We’re *Pagans.* Tending the land *is* part of our religion. And… It’s *stones.* What maintenance do you think it needs? 🙂 Not a good place to pick on. Everything that would have been an additional cost to the taxpayers *was* paid for by Pagans. In fact, the space that had *previously* being used (some brick patio somewhere, if I recall correctly) was closed *because* of maintenance issues.

  • ThomasBaum

    HCBerkowitzYou wrote, “Really, I’m glad that you have a spirituality that works for you. As long as you don’t insist that your view should supplant mine, FOR ME, we have no problem.”I don’t look at what I say here or in person as spirituality or religion and it doesn’t matter to me what anyone else believes or disbelieves, that is up to the individual person.I was chosen to speak therefore I speak, where and when I can, whether here or elsewhere.You then wrote, “As long as there are equal opportunities for all (or no) religion at the Air Force Academy, again, there’s no problem.”I was never at any of the Academies but I was in the service and even tho, except for in basic training if I remember right, I never spoke with a Chaplain or went to any service, I did have the availability to do so especially when overseas when no other service was available except for the military ones.Theoretically speaking, your comment about “all (or no) religion” does not stand up for the simple reason that “no religion” is very much one of the “options”, it is not an equalizer.I have no idea just how many “religions” there might be in the world but “practically speaking” if there was a “chaplain” for all of these “religions” there could possibly be no room for anything else, think about it!There is the “real” world and there is the “perfect” world, the real world is real and the perfect world is not.You also wrote, ” It’s when one gets preference, there is very much a problem for the good order and discipline of the military.”It has been awhile since I was in the service but when I was, no one was “forced” to attend or not attend services whether overtly or covertly and if that is happening anywhere now in the service it is totally wrong.As far as “good order and discipline of the military”, we should not lose sight of the fact that the “military” is made up of people not just “expendables”.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.