Archive for December 12, 2014


troll dolls

I grew up in the ’90’s so this is my idea of trolls…what I have been dealing with are not trolls, but bullies. And “In My Day” there were no anti-bullying laws or anti-bullying movement- partly because when you went home, you were safe from the bullies (well, unless you had abusive parents or siblings!) because there was no Facebook and such. So instead of offing yourself, you were more likely to go play with your troll dolls. At least, that’s what I did.

My parents- and every other Important Grown-up, always told me and other kids to just ignore the bullies and they’d go away. Well sometimes it worked, but often it didn’t. Especially because I sucked at just ignoring them! Autistic kids are really easy to get a reaction out of, and we’re like bully magnets. Sometimes, when I was able, I even defended other kids who were bullied- often “fat” kids.

Oftentimes, the bullies were never punished because of “he said, she said” situations. Who started it? Who deserved what was coming to them? Was there something Darwinian about it, that weird, or awkward or weaker kids needed to be culled from the herd, and taught a harsh life lesson to conform, to “know their place”? People defending bullies often seem to think so.

Unfortunately I’ve found online Heathen groups to be pretty full of bullies, and a group I belong to has been accused of bullying behavior itself, based on calling out the policies of another group, and that they claim to have suffered repercussions for. I don’t speak for the group, I am just one individual, so I am waiting for the dust to settle and statements to be made by people in charge. Whether it’s a good idea for us to publicly identify groups that have membership policies we disagree with- I suppose can be a matter of debate- is live and let live a better policy? I don’t claim to always be in the right. It’s not always clear what doing the right thing is. I want to be clear that this blog is just *my opinions* about both religion and politics, and random other topics of interest, it does not represent any organization I belong to, religious or political, nor does the blog represent my own organization. I am not “obsessed” with race or racism, I have been writing about it a lot due to current events, and because the society I live in is pretty darn “obsessed” with race, even if it pretends it isn’t. Just because *you* don’t experience something, doesn’t make it not real.


December 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm 4 comments

Six Types of Atheists- Relevance for UUs & Pagans

Atheists, agnostics, skeptics, freethinkers and humanists- I identify loosely with several with those labels with the exception of atheist- in fact I feel atheists have a tendency to take over words for themselves which apply more broadly. The latest one is Pagan. Who has a “claim” to the word pagan? A messy question for another day! I see heathen get used, but usually in a more joking manner, and they generally aren’t aware of its use by Norse/Germanic pagans. What types of atheists make good allies for Pagans & UUs, and which types mesh well enough to even be included in UU & Pagan groups?

I came across this study- copy pasted it here, with some added commentary

How many ways are there to disbelieve in God? At least six, according to a new study.

Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who still observe some religious traditions.

“The main observation is that nonbelief is an ontologically diverse community,” write doctoral student Christopher Silver and undergraduate student Thomas Coleman.

“These categories are a first stab at this,” Silver told the website Raw Story. “In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types.”

Silver and Coleman derived their six types of nonbelievers from 59 interviews. We’re pretty sure we’ve spotted all six in our comments section.

1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic (often but not always activist type) Some friendly to religious liberals, others more broadly anti-religion

This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism.

They like debating and arguing, particularly on popular Internet sites.


They’re also well-versed in books and articles about religion and atheism, and prone to citing those works frequently.

2) Activist (generally also the intellectual type, some anti-religion/anti-theist, others are more like “faitheists” 

These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.

They tend to be vocal about political causes like gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals.

3) Seeker-agnostic- Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) many UUs, many Pagans- this describes me! Agnostic with a polytheistic worldview & an aesthetic/intellectual enjoyment of ritual & mythology. I feel that’s a more intellectually honest description, though I use polytheist for short. At the end of the day I feel I have more in common with them. 

This group is made up of people who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience.

Silver and Coleman describe this group as people who regularly question their own beliefs and “do not hold a firm ideological position.”

That doesn’t mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.

4) Anti-theist (sub-type of the activist) New Atheists, typically. This is the type that probably would *not* mesh well in a Pagan group, interfaith group, or a UU congregation! Ableist attitudes (such as “religion is a mental illness/neurological disorder” or “religious people are stupid” are disturbingly common.

This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.

“Anti-theists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental,” the researchers wrote. “The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions.”

Anti-theists are outspoken, devoted and – at times – confrontational about their disbelief. They believe that “obvious fallacies in religion and belief should be aggressively addressed in some form or another.”

5) Non-theist (Apatheists, functionally agnostic) my partner falls in this category

The smallest group among the six are the non-theists, people who do not involve themselves with either religion or anti-religion.

In many cases, this comes across as apathy or disinterest.

“A Non-Theist simply does not concern him or herself with religion,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “Religion plays no role or issue in one’s consciousness or worldview; nor does a Non- Theist have concern for the atheist or agnostic movement.”

They continue: “They simply do not believe, and in the same right, their absence of faith means the absence of anything religion in any form from their mental space.”

6) Ritual atheist (secular Buddhists & Jews, UUs, some Pagans?) Alain de Botton- Religion 2.0

I suspect for a lot of sci-fi/fantasy/comics & games fandom, fandoms can function as surrogate religions for the ritual atheists. Music & sports do as well.

They don’t believe in God, they don’t associate with religion, and they tend to believe there is no afterlife, but the sixth type of nonbeliever still finds useful the teachings of some religious traditions.

“They see these as more or less philosophical teachings of how to live life and achieve happiness than a path to transcendental liberation,” Silver and Coleman wrote. “For example, these individuals may participate in specific rituals, ceremonies, musical opportunities, meditation, yoga classes, or holiday traditions.”

For many of these nonbelievers, their adherence to ritual may stem from family traditions. For others, its a personal connection to, or respect for, the “profound symbolism” inherent within religious rituals, beliefs and ceremonies, according the researchers.

(Problem is I couldn’t figure out where a non-theistic path such as Buddhism would fit in- though I suppose it would depend on the kind of Buddhism. By secular Buddhism I mean the practice of meditation & some philosophy without the belief in karma & reincarnation. )

December 12, 2014 at 5:06 am 9 comments

How/What Did You Learn About Race?

A while back I wrote a “racial autobiography” about my experiences growing up and how l learned about racial and ethnic identity issues. I would like to challenge other pale-skinned folks- white, Caucasian, European-American/Canadian, or heck even European to write their own such autobiographies. Because when I talk with you about these issues, I know where I’m coming from, and what I’ve learned, but I’m not sure about you. Many of our friends/relatives/neighbors of other ethnic backgrounds have had to confront their skin color and ancestry on an almost daily basis, but we have the luxury of ignoring it. In fact, we’re often taught to deliberately ignore it. This makes it really hard to understand their experiences, and we probably never will on the same level that they do, but even just examining our own history and the messages we have picked up on. Remember the focus is on you and your history, your family, neighborhood etc. It seems in all these racial discussions that you want to talk about how Poor Whitey’s perspective is being ignored. OK, well here’s your chance.

If you don’t want to share your specific age, give us an idea of the time period in which you were growing up

When did you first learn about race?

What was the cultural/ethnic/racial makeup of the town/city/neighborhood(s) you grew up in?

Were there other divisions, such as class, occupation, religion, etc. that were significant? How did those affect you?

Were any of these divisions present in your family?

What were you taught about your family’s history- how recently did immigration happen? What countries did your family originate from?

Were some parts of your heritage more emphasized, or proud of than others? Were there parts you were taught (implicitly or explicitly) to be ashamed of?

Did the things you learned about race in school (history, culture etc) differ from what you learned at home?

Overall, how were people from the group you identify with portrayed in history books?

Were you taught to ignore racial slurs and comments, to confront them or to simply change the subject when it was brought up?

Did you have any personal, familial or cultural expectations factor in to who it was appropriate for you to make friends with, date, marry, adopt, do business with, where to buy/rent a house, etc.? What clothes to wear, how to style your hair, gender roles, type of music you listened to, food you ate/cooked, what occupations and forms of education were considered appropriate for some people in your community and not others? How have these expectations differed in different places you have lived?

Did you only find out about some of these “unwritten rules” after you “broke” them? Did you face any consequences for breaking these social rules?

Did reading and/or answering any of these questions cause strong feelings? Describe your feelings.

What is racism- how do *you* define it? (I keep seeing people say X isn’t racist- but Y totally is!) So what’s racism? Are there different kinds of racism? Is racism always intentional?

December 12, 2014 at 2:29 am Leave a comment

Black Lives Matter Responses

Crystal Blanton’s call for a response from Pagan & Polytheist communities has been met with many statements from organizations & individuals listed here on the Wild Hunt blog. I’m happy to add any further statements from people of any tradition, ethnicity that are anti-racist and specifically that this about the lives of Black/African-American people. I’m proud to see organizations I’m a member of of, like ADF and Heathens United Against Racism, come forward at this difficult and divisive time and stand up for what’s right. I’m disappointed by the statement given by the Covenant of the Goddess nationally- which was much too generic in nature, and I don’t blame Ms. Blanton and her coven for resigning from CoG. I’m not a member of CoG but I have attended many of their rituals over the years, and have been grateful for them providing rituals in local, bus accessible, handicap accessible locations (which a lot of other Twin Cities Pagan groups *do not*!) I’m hoping that the Northern Dawn Council, our local CoG chapter will write & release a better statement. (Shall I get off my duff & join?)

There are also some incidents going on with mistreatment of American Indians- in particular Corey Kenosh, a 35-year-old unarmed man who was killed by police. I don’t want to steal the thunder from the Black community, but this needs to be acknowledged as well. American Indians are a smaller group, and many people aren’t as aware of the American Indian Movement. I’m originally from Montana- where “No Indians” signs on stores were once as common as “Whites Only” signs in the South.

Here’s an Open Letter from LGBTQ organizations on the Bisexual Organizing Project’s website

A Commitment to Realignment & Resignation– by Crystal Blanton

Caer Jones- gets into an explanation here of what’s wrong with the CoG statement, and writes her own.

These events are showing me, more than ever how huge the gulf of understanding of racial issues is between Black and white Americans. I am seeing many of my fellow white folks who are getting it, but just as many who are not, though it is hard, please folks we need to educate the people who don’t get it. Some of them won’t listen, but some of them will. One great first step you can take is by reading the book the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, if you already haven’t.

Personally I have not said much as I’m trying to focus on getting over depression and finding a new job. Information & emotional overload does not help with that. I still care about what’s happening, but sometimes you have to take care of yourself first before you can deal bigger problems!

Here’s also something my Dad wrote on Facebook:

“I think we need to get beyond recent specific incidents that allow critics to pick through facts of the case to try and demonstrate that racism was not a factor. We need to look at the larger problem. Our society continues to be animated by subtle and not subtle racist attitudes.

People of conscience no matter their faith system must be aware of the many strata of racism in and around us and find ways to witness against it. Few things are more difficult. It must begin with self awareness and, well, transcendence. If we are afraid to speak out then we must ask ourselves why. We must be willing to risk social consequences. We must be courageous.

Within any meaningful faith system we can find wisdom and truth that can inform us. And maybe we can employ beliefs unique to our own faith that can motivate like minded folk to acknowledge the greater truth that has seemed hidden from us.

Citizens, believers, cannot easily reach the right conclusions with no outside help. So faith groups can help by offering training; by giving participants insight about what is happening around them; and suggesting specific actions they can take.

Grand juries can fail to indite but that is a technical legal process. I doubt anyone believes those officers INTENDED to commit murder. But in the mix of things going through their minds at the moment they pulled the trigger or choked the victim was race in the equation? I think it is difficult for any critical thinker to say NO!
Now that state bodies have ruled limited as they are by facts and law, the federal Justice Department can ask did these officers as individuals and as part of the law enforcement collective violate the civil rights of these men? We can hope and expect that the answer will be yes. But then we cannot just move on and wait until the next injustice presents itself. No matter the answer we are called to continue the struggle against institutional white racism.”

(Virtual hug) Thanks, Dad!

December 12, 2014 at 12:42 am Leave a comment


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