A View From the Cheap Seats

P.O.’d Pagans

The best of the pagan/wiccan replies to my column on tolerance:

Dear Rich,

I just finished reading your diatribe of July 18th regarding the stupidity of Wiccans. I realize that part of your point was to speak of the limits of tolerance however I’ve never seen it gone about so poorly. You totally missed the mark and opened a different issue altogether. I am choosing to address that one.

I assume you are Christian? Amazing that you would see no irony in this. Let’s see if I have this right.

You believe a woo hoo spirit appeared to a virgin and for all practical purposes raped and impregnated her in the name of God; (sounds rather like the same reasoning the priests use on the altar boys…”but she said she liked it…” ) and after some fantastic adventures, she gave birth to this bastard child in a barn. He grew up to perform miracles and developed quite the following of groupies and fans but the Pagans and the Jews decided he was too powerful so they arrested him, filleted him ‘Passion of the Christ’ style, and tacked him up on a cross. Once he was dead, they put him in a crypt but he rose from the dead, absolving all the sins of the world by doing so, and now he’s waiting for you up there in heaven — if you’re good enough — or even better, he’s coming back to whisk you away and leave all those who aren’t putting their check in the wicker basket every week behind to face a fiery eternity of torment. Serves them right! you think, with self-righteous smugness.

But the Wiccans are the stupid ones. Wow. Wow! I say!

So — why is it that there are no records supporting any of this Christian mythos? The Jews and the Romans of the day were expert record keepers. You’d think that somewhere there’d be some tiny little scrap of evidence to support this whopper of a story! But there isn’t. There is no record anywhere of the life, the crucifixion, or the resurrection of one Jesus of Nazareth — Oh — NAZARETH??? How interesting that the city of Nazareth wasn’t established as a city until well into the 1st or even 2nd century!

Hmmm… no record of the young boy teaching the elders of the temple, no record of the overturning of the money changers, or the water to wine hocus pocus at the wedding in Cannan, no record of the loaves and fishes event on
the Mount…not to mention that the Sermon of the Mount was found in it’s entirety in the Dead Sea Scrolls which pre-date Jesus’ alleged life by 800 years. There’s no record of the darkening of the skies and the renting of
the temple veil while the body hung splayed on Golgatha…uh oh…no record of any place named Golgatha either. And that thing about Barabas? No record of any Jewish tradition of releasing a prisoner at Passover, and no record
of a prisoner named Barabas. No mention in a diary, in a scroll, in a public document ANYWHERE. None. In fact there’s more evidence to support the existence of freaking King Arthur than there is this guy! Who’s looking stupid now?

Wiccans are a Nature based spirituality that honor the Earth and all life as sacred. That would be the Earth that ALL of us from EVERY religion lives on; the Earth that patriarchal, monotheistic religions are destroying with their wars and their greed and their ideas of dominance and granduer all based on the foundation or a ridiculous fairytale … and while I am not Wiccan, I find it fairly easy to see where the stupidity lives. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone make such a fine case against themselves as you have with this piece of writing.

Had you substituted any other minority or religion in each place that you put the words Wicca or Wiccan there would be a virtual poop storm to deal with and your job would probably be on the line. You obviously lacked the courage to do that so, let’s see if you have the courage to print this?

I doubt it.

(Editor’s Note: the author of the above letter – who says she “is not a Wiccan” – has an e-mail address that starts with the words ‘SwampWytch’. You may now draw your own conclusions.)

Rich,

This letter is in response to your editorial dated 7/18/07 in which you attempted to make the point that tolerance is something that is separate from the opinions that one expresses about a given religion. You further imply that particularly in America we should be entitled to an opinion that we may express while remaining free from accusations of intolerance. In theory, this distinction makes sense. In practice, it proves to be fraught with problems.

I take issue with the editorial for the simple reason that you choose as an illustrative example a religion that on the face of it seems easy to insult (and make no mistake about it, you were insulting), with apparently few consequences to yourself in terms of readership, literary reputation, and career. Your actual opinions of any religion aside, I cannot help but wonder if you would have dared make the same point by selecting one of the more mainstream, Abrahamic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Had your opinion been that Judaism is a stupid adherence to legalism and foolish dietary restrictions, would you have expressed such and risk accusations of anti-Semitism? Would you have ever implied that the New Testament story of a man nailed to a piece of wood and come back from the dead reads like a low budget zombie movie script? I somehow doubt it, because in doing so, you would incur the wrath and rejection of many of your readers and suffer consequences to career and reputation. It IS possible to express opinions of religions in a public forum-and such opinions may even be separate from tolerant or intolerant actions where those religions are concerned. However, consequences in terms of angry outbursts and accusations of bigotry typically result because religion is a subjective, emotional, and highly personal experience for most individuals. You may feel that you have neatly sidestepped such consequences in this case with your hypocritical choice to insult Wicca-which (like other Pagan Religions such as Druidism, Asatru, or Egyptian/Greek/Celtic Reconstructionism) is at least based on cycles, seasons, and other natural rhythms of the earth rather than mythic stories that have little in the way of historical and scientific evidence or support. Until you show a willingness to do the same with the sacred cows of other religions, I am frankly not impressed. Perhaps tolerance also encompasses a publicly respectful attitude about someone’s religion because you know how you feel when someone else insults your own cherished religious beliefs. Alternatively, equal-opportunity satire of religions, such as that characteristic of the television show South Park, could have more effectively conveyed your thesis about tolerance in this case.

For these reasons, rather than focus on tolerance, I would advocate for an emphasis on respectful dialogue and communication among all religions and about religion in general, which by its nature is subjective and tied to belief rather than evidence. Resorting to taking opinionated shots at the worthiness of a particular religion in a public forum (even in service to another objective) seems counter-productive and arbitrarily disrespectful and discourteous.

Drake Spaeth, PsyD

Lady Liberty League

I just read your article on the Wiccan faith. Now, before I continue, know that I do not consider myself a “true” Wiccan, as I do not follow all of the beliefs. I was, however taught that all gods are one god by different names, so in that respect, I have taken small bits of various religions or faiths and decided on something that I feel is true.

I was taught much of the Wiccan faith growing up, and do feel that some of the beliefs are true. What needs to be understood is that Wicca is an individual’s religion. Everyone who follows it takes from it what they will and goes from there. Not everyone is into the chants, rituals, dressing up, or anything else.

I personally do not do any of the above, but have chosen to take the belief that nature is the earthly equivalent of a god(dess). What is there that is more pure or perfect? I hope that you can agree with me on this point. Nature is the basis of the Wiccan/Pagan faith, not crazy dancing around a fire or sacrificing goats to a heathen god.

Simplicity is what they strive for. Wicca, historically, is based off of the Pagans of ancient times, which, if you follow history through, gave birth to Catholicism. Whether you choose to accept it or not, this is the way history flows. There are many earth-based religions, and if you choose to say that Wiccans are stupid, is that not the same as saying that the Native Americans are stupid too?

They also followed an earth-religion until the White man came and told them that they were wrong. Wicca is far more wide spread than you might think; many choose not to speak out because they are so afraid of being judged. When I went to a private high school, there were rumors spread all across the school that I was a crazed lunatic who liked to sacrifice small animals and burn things. This is, by no stretch of the imagination, true, yet this is the way society looks at something that is different.

We are taught to fear what we do not understand, but we are also taught that understanding something makes us enjoy or like it, and when society looks at something with a closed mind, who wants to be the one being looked at?

I know how hard the pressure can be to not be racist or judgmental, and I respect the fact that you are willing to speak out about your views, but before you jump to a conclusion about Wiccan being a “Dungeons and Dragons” religion, maybe do some reading? Learn about what you’re talking about before you speak up. All you do is look ignorant.

Siobhan M.

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. Isn’t drawing your own uneducated conclusions what got you sucked into
    this mire in the first place? Since when does an email address chisel
    anything in stone? Wicca is not synonymous with Witch, Druid, Asatru or
    any other Pagan religion any more than Baptist or Catholic are
    synonymous with Christian.A Swampwytch can be anything from an herbalist to a
    Voodoun Priestess — or merely a wink, or an affectionate nickname. Once
    again…wipe that egg off your face.

    Comment by Tia — October 5, 2007 @ 10:36 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: