More Than Just Titles

A friend asked me to weigh in on Jeremy Christian.  I haven’t had the right frame of mind to weigh in on much of anything lately, but this is an important enough issue that it needs to be addressed regardless of how I might be feeling.

It would be a semantic pissing contest to ask whether Jeremy Christian is or is not a whole variety of things based on specific definitions.  I am sure there are Odinists who are distancing themselves, and declaring that Mr. Christian* isn’t a Odinist or a bigot or what have you.  Indeed, there are already some defending him; saying that a man who murdered people trying to stop him from harassing a Muslim girl wasn’t a racist.  He was just “proud of his heritage”.

I’ve also seen truly brilliant sorts go out of there way to play semantic word games over the issue, declaring him not a Heathen and not our problem.  These are the same people will have multiple arguments over weather Heathenry counts as a Pagan religion or not.  It’s one of the most tedious, foolish, and ignorant tactics I see.

Because it doesn’t fucking matter.  Heathenry has a problem with being used as a cover for white supremacy.  Jeremy Christian used the name of Odin to defend his actions.  I personally don’t think it matters if the dude identifies as a Heathen, an Odinist, or a fucking bag of door knobs.  He’s using the name of the Allfather as justification for harassment and murder; titles be damned, it’s now our problem.

If you want to be complacent?  Fine…but have the damn decency to continue being complacent when other people choose to get shit done because your apathy is not a mandate.

This is our problem….so what are we going to do about it?  I don’t know what’s next, but I do know that a laissez fair attitude won’t solve anything.
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*Am I the only one who things his name is ironic as hell?

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What in the What?!

Well, this is a thing.

me-are-famous

Yup….this is…definitely….a thing.   I guess?

A few things to whomever made this…ahem…piece of media.*

1) This is the most incoherent, mess of nonsense I’ve seen in a long time.  By ranking, it is somewhere between Wilton’s Loki book and Ken Hamm’s debate with Bill Nye.  I mean just look at it!  Blum is on there?  What, are you trying to warn Folkist Heathens against buying crappy set of runes from Waldenbooks in 1996?  Did you add Neil Gaiman in some half-assed attempt to SEO optimize this sucker?  What stopped you from posting the writer to “The Mighty Thor”‘s script?  Seriously, what am I even looking at?

2) How did I even make that list in the first place?  I’ve posted articles here eight times in the last two years.  I mean, yes, over the years I have had a good run with some solid ideas and content that I couldn’t give a quality proof read to if my life depended on it…but most of that was over two years ago.  Hell, if McNallen hadn’t gaffed so horrifcally over free-lance, militia Nazis in history?  I think I would have had two less articles to write.  Granted…none of my material has gone anywhere, but if you’re bringing me up at this point?  Then…well, that says a lot more about you then it does about me.

saw-afa-and-racism

Okay, I’ve made a few memes too…but does anyone besides me actually care about these things?

Seriously; if me posting on average of three times a solar cycle is this much of a problem for you?  That’s….really sad.

3) I don’t know what the point of this whole shebang was…but thanks for the extra web traffic and the inspiration to write something here.  Something tells me this was the exact opposite of your goal, but long term planning isn’t probably your strong suit anyway.


In other news, I have a Tumblr and that Tumblr has the ask me anything feature enabled.  If you have questions about anything pertaining to just about anything, feel free to ask them.

In the mean time, hope I see you all again before another pair of seasons pass.


*Of course, I am only speaking for myself; there are 9 other people up there whom all might have their own reactions to this.  From those I’ve encountered, most reactions are somewhere between “baffled” and “apathetically amused”.

Right Back At’Cha, Heathen Talk!

Recently, I found out that the folks over at Heathen Talk toasted me for some of the things I have written.  Specifically, it seems, for my (admittedly limited*) writing that has been done upon the topic of McNallen’s Metagenetics and calling it into question.

The toast comes up in Episode 5 of Season 2, if you’re curious.  The episode as a whole is also about McNallen’s Metagenetics, and has some interesting conversations about the subject.  They are, quite admittedly, biased on the subject.  There bias happens to match mine, just as long as we are being honest.  Fortunately, there is a pretty large chunk of science and basic logic backing up that perspective so this is a bias I am pretty comfortable with.

With that, there are a few things I need to say…

Josh: I must modestly object to being thought of as “maybe a little on the fluffy side”.  To be fair, however, I’ve been called far worse. 😉

Matthew: Your compliments are well appreciated, though paint me as a far better writer then I actually am.  As a point of clarification, I would say that I’m not actively trying to appeal to a reconstructionist perspective; I am trying to appeal to a philosophical and logical one.  Regardless of what sort of Heathen one might think of themselves, I think the fundamentals need much more consideration they they get.

Ben: Thank you so much for really digging into some of the flaws and errors of Metagenetics.  While I have sought to do the same, your background in genetics helped really weed out some of more particular inadequacies of the theory.  Also, the parallels between Metagenetics and Young Earth Creationists are incredibly on point in my opinion, and give me a new perspective to consider.

Thorin: You are correct; if you have them in your area, the place to be is DEFINITELY Sheetz.

In either case, thank you all for the kind words and good work on a good show!
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*Though, to be clear, there isn’t a lot you can reasonably say about  McNallen’s Metagenetics, because there are only so many ways of saying “This is Wrong”, “This is VERY Wrong”, and “What could move you to actively promote this rubbish?!”. 

Censorship of Criticism

Note: A lot of what I’m about to say was said better by one Robert “Movie Bob” Chipman back in November of 2014.  You can find his video, “Don’t Censor Me!” over at YouTube.  I highly recommend it, even though the content was created with gamer/geek culture in mind rather than the Pagan and Polytheistic spectrum.  Watch it or ignore it at your own leisure, but it is worth noting that he makes some points that aren’t relevant here, but are certainly part of a larger discussion.

The dialogues being had within certain Pagan and Heathen circles* have been charged lately (which is to say more charged than normal) and a good chunk of the critical dialogue has surrounded concerns of censorship.  While this is always an undercurrent to any conversation that contains criticism of any sort, it seemed to get a lot more leverage then usual after a bit of a debacle on Patheos.

freicarp

It’s hard to have a meaningful image of the Freicorp that isn’t kind of gross, so enjoy this picture of “Freicarp” instead.

The quick recap versions is that, in the fallout after McNallen’s infamous Freikorp statement, Steven Abell posted a reaction to the outrage entitled “Yes, Enough“.  He called out one of McNallen’s detractors in particular, (one with the title “Enough is Enough“) calling that personal an irrational extremest.  By contrast, he claimed McNallen was  a reasonable man who was constructive and able to work towards a common cause in spite of disagreements.  Now, considering that McNallen had just asked for a freelance Nazi role call, the idea that he was “reasonable” in any capacity was outright rejected by many.  A goodly number of these people called for Patheos to drop Abell and refuse to host his work in any capacity.  Others bristled at the idea of this, and called it as “censorship”.  Ever since this point, it feels, the conversation has been more charged and concerns of censorship are more frequently expressed.

Maybe I have a flawed perceptions or a timeline crafted in error, but that is certainly what things feel like at present.

sopapipa

Pictured: Something that could have ACTUALLY caused censorship.

In either case, the problem is that what we’re talking about is not censorship.  Not meaningfully anyway. It will meet the technical, word for word definition of censorship…but so does a mother telling their 7 year old child that they can’t watch hardcore pornography.  Censorship, as we talk about it today, usually constitutes government agencies attempting to strip someone’s free speech protections due to personal disagreements.  Alternatively, it can talk about a person or group of people attempting to systematically remove a person’s means of expressions along every conceivable vector, such as how political parties in the US sometimes go to great lengths to discredit and disenfranchise their critics.  Even then, though, the “end game” is taking a philosophy of suppression and crafting it into the law of the land.

So when a vocal group of Patheos’ readership advocated that the website drop Abell because it was suggested that Patheos shouldn’t be broadcasting someone’s half-cocked defense for some racist drivel? That’s not censorship in any practical or meaningful way.  As a matter of fact, trying to restrict someone’s ability to advocate for a third party to drop someone they find disagreeable is a form of censorship in of itself; it’s telling someone where and how they can protest that which they find objectionable.  Disallowing Patheos to “censor” Abell would be demanding that whomever owns Patheos not do what they want with their own website and servers.

bender-on-censorship

It doesn’t feel like a lot of the people that are outraged about these reactions and proposed consequences actually care what censorship is; it feels like someone they dislike has an opinion, and they’ve chosen to redefine censorship in order to continue to dislike them.

In short, Abell didn’t face censorship; he faced consequence.  He faced the reactions of others regarding his words, and to suggest that he shouldn’t have to is ridiculous.  He faced criticism for trying to redirect hostility and outrage away from a man who has crafted much of the platform that racists and bigots within Heathenry use to codify and defend their stances**.  This is what you risk by putting up an opinion, any opinion, in a public forum and asking people to listen to it.  That’s how things work, and if you want the free speech to express your opinion, then you need to allow others the free speech to tell you exactly how bloody stupid they think you are.

If Abell responds to this blog post, or any blog post I write, and says that I am an asshole whom no one should listen to and WordPress.com should stop carrying such drivel? That’s not censorship; oh, it’d annoy me and I’d respond…but I wouldn’t call his suggestion censorship because that’s not what it is.  In the same way, if Patheos chose to ignore those who called for banning Abell?  That also wouldn’t be censorship; that would be Patheos making a choice.  Their choice.

Longtime readers will know that I used to do work with Ryan Smith, a controversial social justice advocate within Heathen circles.  Particularly astute longtime readers will know that I do not work with Ryan Smith anymore, will never work with him again, and regard him as nothing more then a hyperbolic demagogue with a martyr complex who just happens to often be pointed at people whom I dislike more than I dislike him.  Suppose that, prior to our falling out, Smith and I had collaborated on a written project that I had published on this blog.  Suppose also that, after our falling out, I took that content down.  Or that I removed his comments, or links to his content.

Would that be censorship?  Of course not!  It’s my blog, and I don’t owe Smith a damn thing.  The opposite is also true.  If a radical Christian supremacist comes here and comments that I deserve to burn in Hell, me deleting that comment isn’t censorship either.  It’s my blog, and I’ll post upon it what I’d like.  I’ll take down what I like. It’s my space, and anyone who insists they get to call the shots in regards to my own, original content is gravely mistaken.

Now,  can people request I do otherwise? Of course. Do they have to be polite when they do so?  Nope! The final arbiter of what happens in regard to that content, however, is me.  That’s how free speech works.

Likewise, whomever Patheos does or does not give a soapbox to is their call.

cuck-search

This is what a Google Image search for “Cuck” yield…and it gets weirder the further down you go.  Seriously, whomever is behind PU?  Even if you are just trying to be provocative, I think there are better ways to provoke.

Recently, a WordPress blog  was created with a name of “Polytheist Uncucked”.  For those not in the know, “cuck” has become a term used by bigots and those with fascist-leaning viewpoints to describe people who don’t actively oppose their viewpoints.  The owner of the website in question has stepped forth to say that the name wasn’t intended to express solidarity with any of the aforementioned assholes, but rather to shock people into looking at Polytheism in a manner unburdened by lots of the baggage it gets from monotheistic ideals, politically correctness, and the superficial spirituality of many new age movement.  Do I think this manner of expressing that idea is bloody fucking stupid***?  Yup. Am I going to suggest that the website be taken down by WordPress because I think it’s a bloody stupid way to go about things?  Nope.

If someone does suggest this, however, is it censorship?  No…because EVERYONE gets to say what they want and gets to suggest what they want, and the people who actually own the platform get to decide what to do one war or the other.   If they appealed to the government to make it a law that such content not be allowed to exist, okay…that’s censorship (or at least an attempt at it). If a group of people get together to oppose PU, but do so by spreading deliberate disinformation and misrepresentation about what it does or does not stand for, that’s a form of censorship.  An honest reaction to their material as it stands, however?  A group of people attempting to reject that narrative as a whole?  That’s not censorship.

Paganism in general, and Heathenry in  particular, has plenty of legitimate problems. Inter-community Censorship, however, isn’t one of them.   We each get to embrace and reject what we choose, and we also get to embrace or rejects persons and organizations based on those choices.

Of course, you might disagree with that.  If you do, that’s your call.  If you disagree with it strongly enough, maybe you might feel the need to petition WordPress to remove my blog.  I would rather you didn’t, of course….but if you did?  And if you succeeded?  You didn’t censor me, because no one owed me a platform.

Just like no one owes you one.
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*By the way, representing Pagan and Heathen as wildly separate and incompatible terms is semantic nonsense…but that’s a completely different topic.

**Let’s not forget that time really did dignify Abell’s critics here; the true colors of the AFA have never been more apparent then they’ve been under Flavel.  He has made it quite clear that the line about “racial not racist” is about as poignant and meaningful as Donald Trump’s assertions that he love Mexicans because he totally held a fork near a taco salad.

***To clarify, I think using blatantly problematic language for the sake of shock value alone is stupid, and I think the relentless complaining some people do over what social justice warriors do is pretty misguided.  I think that this tactic is also going to mislead people, and one’s actual message is going to get lost in the hyperbolic nature of that tactic. By contrast, the idea that anything should be saddled with monotheistic perspective imprinted and shoehorned in by inquisitions and missionaries is pretty disgusting to me, and I can get behind anyone who wants to piss in that particular bowl of fruit loops.The title doesn’t feel like something that irreverently breaks down and eliminates preconceived notions in order to make us question the world, however; it feels like a title chosen to irritate and shock people, like a 12-year old who just discovered  the word, “fuck”.

The Illusion of the Undecided

EDIT (March 17th, 2016): A comment on Facebook pointed out that I didn’t link to John Beckett’s statement, so allow me to do so now for purposes of clarity and convenience.  Within Beckett’s work one can find links to Smith’s commentary on the Freikorp debacle, as well as Abell’s retort concerning it.  All three posts are on Patheos, and one could probably find more responses and reactions there.  For those who are super interested in all aspects of this, here is a link to the dude (Josh White) who first raised the objection over the Freikorp issue.  Between his articles (as well as my own reaction to the problem), one should be able to put together a timeline for the entire issue and form an opinion upon it as they see fit.  

When The Lettuce Man from “Of Axe and Plough”* put forth a response post to John Beckett’s declaration that Steven Abell didn’t need a voice on Patheos, I was pretty happy about it.  Not because I agreed with Mr. Lettuce (?) completely or because I have some grudge against Beckett; truth is that  I don’t have any strong opinions about Beckett and there was just as much for me to disagree with as there for me to agree with.

Well Done Indeed

A bit belated perhaps, due to a very busy work schedule and family life atm, but my appreciation for it remain.

That was still great in my book, because even where I disagree with him I felt that he was honest, reasonable, and kept the discourse fairly open.  Nothing was blatantly misrepresented to serve a pet philosophy or opinion.  What was there felt like his opinion as it stood, without a bunch of rhetorical palisades constructed to offer a defense from the arrows of criticism.  It wasn’t always nice, but it had integrity and that’s the king of discourse I really want to see more of.

In my opinion, Heathen perspectives have become dangerously linear in some of the worst ways.  What I feel we need is to develop discussions, arguments, and perspective…not line them up on the Olympian stand and choose which ones walk away with the Bronze, Silver, and Gold.  I think plenty of you know the kind of stuff I’m talking about, and the sort of poison they can concoct.

Originally, I was going to respond to the entire piece as a whole, but I realized that most of the things I wanted to say were pretty minor; quibbles that were little more then minor differences of opinion really.  I was, however, left with one dangling issue that was not minor.

Let me quote his post, for the purpose of clarity and expedience.

Characterizing wide swaths of Heathens as racist or as racist-enablers is doing one thing: driving the moderate ones away from your viewpoint. Nobody is going to change the mind of people like Stephen McNallen or Ryan Smith. They are zealots to their belief systems. The minds which need to be reached are the people in between the two camps. There are non-racist Folkish Heathens who feel personally attacked when people claim Folkish Heathenry is nothing but a smoke screen for racism. There are members of the Troth who want a middle-ground and a moderate way of doing things, but will dig in when unwarranted views and accusations are levied against their entire organization. These people will square their shoulders, lower their heads, and they will not move from their belief.

There will be no progress. It is easier to be an ideological demagogue than it is to be a moderate mediator. It is easier to remain an outsider and pass judgment on a group embroiled in a fight that has defined much of the foundation of modern Heathenry. But it does not do anyone any good.

I’ve heard concerns about the “moderate” and the “undecided” raised for quite some time.  Truth be told, I used to be one who raised those concerns myself; I used to think and speak to a perspective that said there had to be some moderation in tone, or you’re throwing these people out.

Let me tell you, I’ve found myself to be wrong.  There are practically no moderates out there, and the ones that exist are almost exclusively sheltered newbies.  For the most part, those we call “the undecided” have made a choice; they don’t want to choose, and you can’t make them.

PPar_Wights

Not saying that there isn’t a bit of paranoia around racism mind you, but again, I have seen that to be more the exception than than the rule.

They want to be oblivious to racism, even when it occurs within their own social circles.  They want to be free of the social obligations that would come with facing the problem head on, because they do not want to deal with the problem.  It’s not that they live in a world where they have no perspective with how race intersects; when faced with that knowledge, they turn away…because that is what they want to do.  It doesn’t effect them, so they choose to abstain from having a more meaningful opinion.

That’s not moderation, and it’s not a state of being unable to choose; it’s not wanting to choose, and the difference is profound..

It’s not like there aren’t example of this everywhere.  I mean, we’ve all seen this in the broader strokes of popular culture; Black men and women have been harassed, attacked, and/or killed without provocation by law enforcement professionals.  As soon as the accusation is rendered, a police story comes forth that paints it as self-defense or somehow justified.  Within a few days, however,  objective evidence throws the police version of the story out the window to such a degree that suspecting an outright lie is not unwarranted.  A very reasonable and logical objection can be made…and even then there are people who just won’t talk about it honestly or openly.  They’ll avoid doing so at all cost, because they don’t have any curiosity about what lies in the metaphorical Pandora’s Box.  They want a predictable, unchallenged, undemanding status quo.

Now, Heathens might have a different reason for adopting such an apathetic stance; the one I see come up most often is some appeal to respecting people’s privacy and not meddling.  I don’t buy that; we have Gods who demand courage and justice far more than we have powers that demand stagnation or ignorance.

While I am critical of this perspective, I’m also not going to demonize these people because I will say that doing so is counter-productive; on that, Mr. Lettuce, we agree.  I know some Heathens like this and they are, otherwise, good people.  People who have been some of my most loyal, stalwart, and helpful friends.  Some of the people for whom this description is apt have had their own traumas, circumstances, and situations which have led them to this perspective and why they are unwilling to leave their perspective.

However, while I’m not going to paint them as willful and hateful co-conspirators to the various racist nonsense that goes unhindered in many Heathen circles, I’m also not going to pretend that they’re just unwittingly ignorant either.  Anyone who wants to call those people out for passively enabling racist perspectives via their own apathy has perfectly solid, logical ground to render that accusation from.  This doesn’t paint them as some Nazi Monster or a KKK-thug…but it makes them akin to the thousands of people who watched Nazis or Klansmen run through their towns without being held accountable for their crimes.  Not a crime in of itself, but it’s a huge problem…and one that’s pretty disgusting on a lot of parallels.

Yeah, you don’t have to be racist to be Folkish…but how many groups of Folkists do you think are out there that put up with racists because, well, “we don’t want to cause problems, and he doesn’t threaten us with violence”?  How many groups of non-racists Folkists are out there who are going to be more willing to be respectful of controversial racist perspectives then they will be of controversial non-racist perspectives?  These are troubling questions, and they’re one that have been long overdue.

yggdrasilThere hasn’t been a sensible excuse to be Heathen and ignorant of the racism which surrounds us for a good, long while.  The worst statements of McNallen are easily found, with many Google searches turning up articles that not only list the statements he made but provide you the source where they got it from.  There are people with current and active connections within the AFA and with pro-Racism Heathen organizations**.  There are no shortage of bigoted authors spouting blood and soil rhetoric that depends on bad, debunked scholarship when it depends on scholarship at all.  That’s not even going into the groups like Odinic Rite, The Wolves of Vinland, or the Irminfolk…who outright put their racists stances on their sleeves.

It is not reasonable to be in the dark, in this day and age, unless you have been without an internet connection for the last ten years. We have Heathens who celebrate the integrity,  resilience, and forthrightness of Thor and Tyr, but hide behind socially acceptable accuses to not confront an obvious problem.

I do not think Mr. Lettuce is entirely wrong, mind you; it is, indeed, easier to be a demagogue then it is to be a moderator.  The thing is, sometimes a moderator isn’t what you need.  You can’t moderate a discussion between two groups of people when one of those groups is unwilling to consider the matter.  You can, of course, bring the moderator to the confrontation…but what that person is going to be able to do when one “side” isn’t willing to actually discuss anything is minimal at absolute best.

Sometimes you need a moderator, and sometimes you need someone to be willing to get up on a soapbox and flyte some people.  Sometimes you need to call nonsense out for what it is.

At one point he says “by shutting down and blatantly mischaracterizing, or misrepresenting either position, we’re disenfranchising the people who need to be reached in order to make progress”, and I can see why someone would feel that way; I mean, why WOULD you want to misrepresent someone’s position?  Yet, I feel we need to ask the opposite question of “when have we given too many benefits of too many doubts?”.  When has their been enough stuff in recent memory to admit and acknowledge that their is a problem that something needs to be done about?  When is it okay to tell these faux-moderates “stop making excuses and do something!”.

That’s just when we consider these faux-moderates by themselves, too.  What happens when take their purposeful isolation and compare it to the issues suffered by Persons of Color, those who are neurologically different, and/or GLBTQ+ persons within Heathen spaces.  There are people who get harassed, insulted, bullied, mistreated, and outright threatened by certain entities and philosophies in our faith.  I don’t feel it’s fair to take these maligned people and tell them “Hey, we’re sorry about what these people are doing to you…but we need to really be considerate about how we approach this topic, because they’re some people over here who don’t think it happened and we don’t want to make them feel unwelcome or maligned…you know…like you just did.  And still do.”

I don’t give a damn about the moderates, faux or otherwise.  At least in so far as their perspective is concerned.  If they’re going to get up off their ass, and get with it?  Great!  However, I’m not wasting time of trying to explain to them that which is bloody obvious.  I’ll engage them if they ask.  I’ll explain and defend my own viewpoint as needed, and I’ll listen to theirs in turn if offered it.  However, I’m not going to dumb down the problem so they don’t feel bad.  I’m not going to pat them on the head and say “yeah, racism is complicated” and just pretend it’s okay that there willing to let people within our faith get terrorized because it would demand difficult things from them to acknowledge it.

Bigots Bumpersticker

And that’s when we’re taking them at face value too…which, in some cases, is a mistake.  Some people are just racist enough to be apathetic, without being racist enough to be outright malevolent.

Racism in Heathenry is a thing, and it’s a big thing.  It is a thing that’s so big that I honestly don’t believe someone if they tell me they don’t know what I’m talking about…because if they’re not lying to me, than they are lying to themselves.  I’m not going to go out of my way to come down on them, but I’m also not going out of my way to excuse them either.  I’m not going to pretend that people sitting around, not doing anything because they don’t want to cause a problem or get involved over this nonsense is just something done out of ignorance.  It’s a choice, and it’s a bad one, and it’s one that no one forced them to make.  It’s also one they can choose to change at any time.

And if they don’t choose to change it?  That’s still a choice.

With all that being said, I need to quote Mr. Lettuce again because he put something into words that resonates quite strongly with me….and could most likely apply to just about every opinion I’ve expressed over the last few years.

Is this an unpopular opinion? Yes, it is. It isn’t a quick fix for today’s instant-gratification seekers. It necessitates hard work, and blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not a fix that can be made in a month, a year, or even a decade. It may not even be one which can be made in a generation. But it’s the realistic position. Heathenry is a religion based around right action, not right belief. So we all need to go and do in order to see the Heathenry that we wish to realize come to pass.

While I would have quibbles that right actions cannot occur with right belief, that’s a pedantic philosophical question for another time…and the rest of it is perfectly on point, and it’s the core of why I appreciated the post so much. It was an admission that things are not what they should be and that to make them what they should be is going to take a lot of work and a lot of time.

I don’t know if you agree with my perspective, Mr. Lettuce.  You probably don’t, and that’s alright.  It’s alright because we’re both in it for the long haul…and that is, at the end of the day, what counts the most.
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*Note to self: ask him where he got that name.  Probably an interesting story
Asapope**A few people have been going around saying that a few sentences about racists not being welcome in the AFA (on their website) means the AFA isn’t racist.  Many chapters of the KKK say the same stuff.  HUAR, as it stands today, says it stands for inclusion but it kicked out almost all of the GLBTQ+ members of it’s admins.  Deeds count more then words.
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Spiritual Drifting

I talk about being a Hard-Polytheist from time to time, but mostly in passing.  This is not completely accidental, honestly.  It has little, if anything, to do with the social stigma in unironically believing in a model of divinity that doesn’t have anything to do with crosses, moons, or Stars of David.  It’s also doesn’t have really anything to do with shame in the Gods I believe in, because if I was trying to have all my views on Loki pass unnoticed I’d probably have talked about him a lot less*.

CAUTION-POOP-DANGER-624x829

Like this…only plastered over the inside of my own skull.

No, the truth is I don’t talk about it much because I’m really really crap when it come to devotional praxis.  Like, craptacular.

I was raised virtually without religion of any kind.  I don’t mean atheism, either; religion was negative space in my world view until my teenage years.  My mother was vaguely Christian, my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother were both pretty obviously Catholic, and my Dad has once gone to a Catholic school for a few years.  Both my parents had a pretty bad taste in their mouth for organized religion, however, so they weren’t keen to introduce me to any of the same and seemed to make the conscious choice to let me come to my own conclusions.

This was a commendable ideal, even if they had some missteps later on when I started poking at Wicca and they both lost their minds for a time.  The upside was that I came in to religion and philosophy without the taint of personal bias, Christian or otherwise,  hanging off my every thought and idea.  There was no conversion guilt or internal barriers to have to wear down or work around; all I needed to do was think, read, and study.

The down side is that when it came to interacting with all this reading and pondering, I had no idea what I was supposed to actually do with any of it.  I knew what I wanted to pray towards, and I knew how I felt about the entity in question…but it felt like I talking into a phone that wasn’t hooked up to anything.

People gave me advise of course.  One of my least favorite was the avocation of meditation.  Oh it was a good idea and everything, but I want you all to know how much bloody fun it was learning how to meditate with an attention spectrum disorder.  Advice on “clearing your mind” sounded akin to “use this broom to clear the sky of all that blue”.  I eventually figured it out, but it’s only after thirty years sitting around trying to think of nothing that I actually got anywhere.

It’s not like I stayed at this awkward phase forever; the stuff I’ve written should speak to at least some of that.  Still, it was a very long and frustrating time, and I spent a lot of it completely confused and muddled.  So when it comes to talking about my own ideas on how to act on religious practice in a meaningful way, I feel like it should be literally anyone but me initiating that conversation.  This is low self-esteem or any similar nonsense; this is a pragmatic respect for the subject matter.

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When optimism doesn’t work, I use sarcasm and dark humor.  Either I forget why I was pessimistic in the first place, or I am amused enough to no longer be bothered by it.

Writing on a blog is presenting yourself as a form of authority on something, no matter how politely or humbly the material is presented and delivered.  As such, I feel I have no business on being an authority on pretty much anything when it comes to the nuts and bolts of devotional practice.  While I stumble in my own practice, I’m okay with that because I’m supposed to be stumbling.  There is some combination of frustration and joy when it comes to proceeding into a realm where you have no idea what the hell you are doing.  Every single thing you can poke with a stick becomes an adventure, and everything you discover belongs to you in a personal and satisfying way.  I’ve had moments of sublime, perspective shifting euphoria from exploring such metaphorical vistas.  Ineffable, untranslatable things that have altered how I’ll see the world for the rest of my life.The problem is that even trying to express my view points, ideas, and experiences always feels underwhelming.  Whenever it comes time to write about the spiritual and the divine, I get two paragraphs in before the gulf between my feelings and the words I’ve chosen to express them with becomes too much to bear.  I hit a writer’s block so immediate and dense that I turn back…because suddenly forgotten what I was trying to say in the first place***.

So….consider this post an attempt to change that, by slapping myself with a font-based glove as I attempt to push myself forward.

As I’ve said more than once, I genuinely hate it when all I have to offer is holding people to account for themselves and their dishonest rhetoric.  I don’t mind that role; I’ll even say I’m proud of it in a somewhat disappointed way**.  What I truly detest is when that feels like all I have to say at a given moment.  Not that it would harm the blog; I could probably have a nice little amount of pocket change if I monetized it and wrote nothing but click bair articles about Metagenetics and what not…but I would hate that.  I want truth and integrity; not just an obnoxious fight where the people I personally agree with take less shots than the people I disagree with.

When it comes to the spiritual disconnect I experienced and still experience to this day, I know I’m not alone.  I know that I am not the only person to have emerged, wide eyed and baffled, from the tangled ideas of the broader Neopagan movement(s) to come to Heathenry…only to become ever more baffled by a new panorama stuffed to the brim with a lack of context or perspective.  I know I’m not the only one who has ever tried to empty their mind of all distracting thoughts, then become distracted by the idea of removing all distraction, and then finally get a headache as their brain become a paradox riddled chamber of failure.  I know that I’m not the only person to have been given a slate so blank you can barely tell that it even is a slate whilst simultaneously being possessed of a spiritual hunger so gigantic in scope that you are about ready to eat that blank slate just to see what happens.

Also, I know that I’m not the only person to overcome it.

What I want to do is talk about that; what it’s like to seek, not knowing quite what you are looking for, but know the shape and feel of it when you’ve never seen it.  Trying to identify that which has no language that can quantify it.

That’s what I’d like to write about, and I think there are some people who would like to read it.  If you have an idea for an article, or a question related to your own struggles, feel free to post it below.
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Though I really do need to come up with more Heathen memes of worth sometime soon…

*On that note, I haven’t said anything about Loki in particular because I haven’t had anything new to say on the subject.  I have no interest in beating a dead horse.  My points are still out there, they really haven’t been meaningfully addressed in any sort of salient way.  Every now and again I admit to having a thought or two, but nothing really meaningful or demands to be said; just a couple of jokes that could be made at the expense of a few idiots du jour, and that seems to be remarkably boring.  I will say that I have one article I’ve been kicking around, in regard to people who think it’s really funny and telling when chaotic things happen to worshipers of Loki.  I haven’t had the words in my head to put that one down yet but, for the moment, “Oh fuck off; bad things happen to everyone and at least I recognize a deity who knows the terrain” would serve as a pretty accurate reader’s digest.

**If you truly love the truth, you’ll defend it…but you also hate that the truth needed defending in the first place because it’s the bloody truth; it should have the entire world as a defender.

Credit Where It’s Due

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Less Freikorp; More Fried Food

As I continue to watch the ripples expand outward over the Freikorp debacle (I’m waiting for someone to call it “Freigate”, or something equally ‘inspired’), some interesting things have been coming to the surface.  One of the more interesting, to me, was someone pointing out whom actually started the rallying cry to hold McNallen accountable in the first place and that they didn’t get enough credit for doing so.

So let’s fix that.

I don’t listen to Heathen Talk much at all, nor do I know the people over there.  I don’t know there take on things, how much I would agree or disagree with them, or anything else.  I’ve seen some indications that, collectively, I would disagree with them on a number of issues though none of the would be deal breakers.  Regardless, what I can say with certainty is that one of the people over there, Josh, brought attention to this problem before anyone else, and he took the hits for the expression of his opinion harder then anyone else.

So credit where credit is due; thanks for being the first one to call foul and to ask people be held accountable for their words when it comes to this issue.  If you end up reading this, Josh, just know that I’m thankful that you had something to say because it helped us all become aware of something that desperately needed to be called out.  Muckraking is an unpleasant, heavy burden…but one that’s desperately needed.

Well done.  Hope we (both Josh specifically and Heathen Talk collectively) get a chance to chat at some point.