The Illusion of the Undecided

EDIT (March 17th, 2016): I 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.

optimism-demotivational-poster-1218321489

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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ISR_Loki

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

fries

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.

Three Card Monte: Freikorp Version

So, McNallen has said some stuff again that people have taken issue with.

Initially, I debated saying anything about it because talking about McNallen’s verbal maelstroms is like talking about how wet the ocean is.  I know my opinions on the man, I know what his track record says about him, and I’ve put my thoughts up here on more than one occasion.  Bashing my head against their wall that is his fan base is just a waste of my time, the material that I and others have written about him hasn’t gone anywhere, and I just see address his actions as a waste of time more often than not.

Diet RacismHe’s not really going anywhere new, and he’s not doing anything worth talking about either.  He exists, occasionally saying something ridiculous that only people with bigoted baggage seem to buy or defend.  As such, I typically tune him in the same manner that I ignore “Diet Racist” family members at Thanksgiving dinner.

The situation at hand, however, is different.

I actually didn’t even hear anything about McNallen’s Freikorp nostalgia until after the he already made a stance about how he wouldn’t apologize for it.  Strange as this may sound, I don’t find the Freikorp statement all that shocking.  Considering the source, at least.  While history’s last record of the Freikorps is their connections with the Nazi party of World War II, their unabridged history is much more varied and complicated*.  So while no one could be blamed for thinking that “Freikorp” means “Nazis Who Were Worse Than Whatever The Average for Nazis Is”, invoking them doesn’t necessarily mean one is talking about the ones that willingly joined up with Adolf Hitler during the days before the Night of Long Knives.  It just usually does.

Which is exactly why I wasn’t surprised; one of McNallen’s most common rhetorical techniques is to say something controversial that directly connects to a racist ideology, a pro-bigotry organization, and/or general Nazi sympathizing…but do it via terms and ideas that have scholastic back doors from which to make an exit when things get dicey.  All of the racist street credit, without any of the main-steam accountability.

Link_to_the_daily_mail_that's_a_paddlin'

By the way, the Daily Mail isn’t exactly where you want to go for reliable news accounts.  It’s where you go if you want to blame minorities for stuff and see invasive pictures of famous people.

So yeah, this is all par for the course.  At this point, the formula is so predictable that one can track things with a checklist.  A link to an article that sensationalizes a very legitimate issue in such a way that it blames everything on the minority du jour?  Check.  Some reference to this military group or that philosophy which will almost immediately be associated with a racist opinion but has a way to make a superficial argument about how it actually isn’t a racist statement?  Check. Condensing attitudes in the response to anyone who disagrees?  Accusations of straw-men made with indignant  outrage, all while using plenty on his opponents and labeling any criticism as people obsessed with being politically correct?  Presenting his stance as one that couldn’t possibly be racist because of some time where he apparently supported some other group in a situation that doesn’t quite have a direct parallel to the situation he is talking about?  Check, check, and check.  It’s a linear process that I don’t even comment on anymore because I know that contrary statements are exactly what he is looking for…but that’s another story.

More on topic, everything was par for the course.  It wasn’t until we got to he reason for refusing to apologize that I needed to call foul.  The faux-outrage was what I came across first actually, and the problems within that handful of paragraphs pale in comparison to a faux-reference to the “I Can’t Believe They’re Not Stormtroopers”.  How he managed to write something MORE problematic than an endorsement for freelance Nazi militias,  I can’t begin to comprehend.  I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so disgusted.

SecondLet me make something clear; anyone who knows McNallen’s track record, behavior, and professed philosophies isn’t going to be expecting an apology unless they’re  stupidly optimistic, optimistically stubborn, or stubbornly stupid.  Anyone who does fall into one of those categories, however, would be demanding that apology because Stephen McNallen said something horrifyingly in favor of a famously pro-Nazi military organization.  It’s not because he said people in Germany should be able to defend themselves.  It’s not because he offended someone’s political sensibilities; it’s because he just romanticized a military organization whose last known incarnation signed up to work with the Nazi.

Seriously, let me spell this out plainly: suggesting that people taking issue with bringing up Nazi military groups must just hate people who are “too white” is a childish, pathetic, and cowardly attempt to shift blame.  It’s a straw-man, and nothing more.  No one currently taking umbrage with McNallen is seriously, genuinely suggesting that the sexual assault is something that can be circumstantially allowed because the victims were “too white” to be concerned about.

That’s before we come back around to ask what he even wanted the Freikorps to do, which is left disturbingly vague even after he defended his wistful desire to have them at hand.  Considering that, within the same breath, he labeled the Prime Minister of Germany a “traitor”, one could raise some very troubling and poignant questions.

Long Knives

Of course, that may just me being paranoid; I mean, he only referenced a collection of civilian military organizations who willingly signed up with Hitler and the Nazi party before the infamous “Night of Long Knives”.  And the reference was made before calling one of the most prominent political figures in Germany a traitor.  Sure would be silly for someone to read too much into that…**

Another troubling question I have is about why bring things up in this very problematic way.  If McNallen had stepped forward and made a statement how the German people’s agency and safety shouldn’t be comprised by  giving others political asylum?  I would have had no problem with that statement.  Hell, he could have even evoked expectation of hospitality and made it a perfectly Heathen-centric perspective.  Even if one disagreed with his conclusions, the statement would have been a far cry from provocative or problematic.  Demanding that police properly police a city where proper policing didn’t happen isn’t a controversial statement.  While I doubt the Daily Mail’s version of the story (because the Daily Mail has been caught exaggerating more than once), I think it’s obvious that something did happen and that the something was bad and that something should be done that prevents similar things from happening in the future.

The people who did the bad thing should be held accountable.  None of that is even slightly controversial.  He could have made an effort to unify people to address an issue that he saw.  The sort of thing that leaders are supposed to do.  No one seems to be questioning that.  People could get behind statements like that.If anyone actually, unironically is saying that the people in question are too white to worry about?

First

But uncontroversial, unifying statements don’t get you attention.  At least, not the attention McNallen seemed to want.  That would be why  he went for a dividing, Nazi-sympathizing, click-bait riddled, pocket-endorsement for street violence.

As I implied earlier, this isn’t about taking a stand against anything or anyone; it’s about making a reputation and getting attention. This controversy, in my opinion, was cultivated specifically so McNallen could make some sort of statement for white people.  He is castigating people for an argument that no one is making in order to dodge accountability for something horrible that he said; it’s about solidarity for White people.

Just please pay no attention to the romanticizing of Nazi militias that’s behind that curtain over there.  Only people who hate white people are going to look over there.

I guess what really blows my mind here is how stupid his statement is when you really think about it.  You see, I hang out with lots of the teaming masses that live within the horrifying depths of the social justice barracks.  Among these peers of mine I hear, on a consistent and unwavering basis, that sexual harassment is bad.  All of it.  In all cultures, in all circumstances, for all reasons, without exception.  It’s bad.  Done.  Print.  We’re finished here.  No rhetorical back doors.  No situational excuses.  It’s unacceptable for any reason.  No matter to whom, or whom they may be, or what the reasons are.  It’s bad.

 

McNallen asks for the return of “Stormtroopers Lite”…and then wants to have a fit when people call him out on that.  His comeback is to say that all these liberal people came out of the wood work to criticize him for…standing up for white people who don’t want to be raped?!  To quote one Benjamin “Yhatzee” Croshaw: “There is no middle finger big enough!

Middle FingerLet’s be uncomplicated and clear: Taharrush gamea is a bad thing.  I think using a big, scary sounding, foreign word to describe behavior that a lot of Americans call “Spring Break”*** is a bit dishonest mind you, but I’m certainly not going to quibble and suggest that playing rhetoric games makes it more acceptable somehow.  It’s wrong.  It’s bad.  Period.  Anyone suggesting otherwise is a fucking idiot.

On that note, anyone suggesting that McNallen taking the stance of “German people should be defended and able to defend themselves from danger” was the problem is also a fucking idiot.  The actual problem people just might have been that part where he could have easily said “Where are some militant Nazis when you need them?” and it wouldn’t have changed his sentence in the slightest.
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*Short version is that they (the Freikorp) were a cross between a mercenary company and a national guard.  That’s a pretty slap dash description of a collection of groups that have over 200 years of history in Europe, but it’ll suffice for our purposes.

**Yeah, I know; some of the Freikorps got targeted on the Night of Long Knives, and quite successfully at that (i.e. they were killed).  I don’t think those are the Freikorps he was talking about, however, and I have no reason to suspect so.  People who hang with the Odinic Rite and the Irminfolk and complain that people don’t care about white people have lost any benefit of even the most generous doubt when it comes to Nazi sympathizing.

***Just to be clear, that’s not me being permissive of sexually predatory behavior that has an anchor in a foreign culture, because that’s shit unacceptable on every parallel no matter where one happens to be.  What it actually is, however, is me me calling out my own culture for pretending that we’re somehow above that same shit when it happens on an annual basis and we collectively turn a blind eye.

A Moment of Sincerity

Over the last year, I’ve wrestled with two demons when it comes to writing.

The first was the fear of going off topic, for fear of being disingenuous in how I was presenting my topics and thoughts.  I realized at some point that the topic wasn’t nearly and important as the passion behind the writing, and that issue more or less solved itself.  I mean, it’s not exactly difficult to create blogs to cover additional topics if that ever actually became a problem, so why worry about it?  The important thing to do was to write, and to write with passion.  Everything else, with one notable exception, would figure itself out.

That notable exception was the average taken between my heart and mind.

If the presence of memes, throw away visual gags, and groan-worthy puns didn’t clue people in, humor is my favorite linguistic tool.  It’s how I recenter and refocus, perhaps how I even mentally endure at time.  I try to keep myself laughing because, in part, I know what it’s like to have nothing left to laugh at.  I’ve known my own lows and sadness with intimate familiarity…and I’ve seen friends and loved ones down at lower levels then I have ever know.

Fuck DeVito 5

Not that I stopped enjoying the jokes, mind you…here’s an oldie but a goodie!

If you have even an ounce of empathy, witnessing such pain can be devastating…so you do what you can to stop it.  In my case, I was pretty good at making people laugh.  Laughter can take a common person and make them feel like a king…or take a king and remind them of the slings and arrows of commonality.

The phrase ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ is well known, but ultimately false.  Laughter is pleasant, but it fixes nothing; it leaves everything as it was before.  What is can be, however, is a powerful treatment for what is wrong in our heart and souls…for while it’s the chemotherapy that often destroys the cancer, it’s a warm bedside manner that has saved many people from letting themselves be destroyed in the process.  Yet, sometimes it still ends up being all for not, with the metaphorical doctors and nurses being witness to a success the patient never lives to see themselves.

I make jokes about many of these things because I’m trying to get people to laugh along side me.  I’m trying to be the change I want to see.  As of late, however, I find myself cracking more and more jokes that I can’t get myself to smile about.

If I can’t make myself laugh on the sidelines, what are chances I’m going to bolster the folks on the front line?  I couldn’t make heads or tails of the situation, especially when the people I’m trying to bolster are staring the terrors of bigotry, shame, and mortality right in the eye.

My “Drafts” folder on WordPress is 105 strong at present, and I’m relatively sure that well over half of those were started during the last year of relative radio silence.  I’d try to write my thoughts on something…and I couldn’t finish them.  Usually, I’d only get a few sentences in before I just ended up staring at the screen and shutting down the file.

Baby Evie Rose - At Birth

Also it goes without saying that real life comes first.  This picture may be dated, but I think it still explains (one of) the reasons why pretty succinctly.

I had passion for the topics…but not for anything I could say about them.  I still, then as now, care about Heathenry, and ditto for matter of social equity, human dignity, theological/philosophical integrity as well.  The problem became that  couldn’t shape that passion into something I felt could be expressed.  Not in the right way at least.

I ended up spending a lot of time work behind the scenes, as much as was possible, on stuff for Heathens for Social Justice.  I helped more social, private discourses as long as best I could, trying to allow both sides to hear each other and give people a chance to really examine their thoughts.  I worked on my personal writing projects, whose topics were much more self-serving in scope*.  When it came to free lance work, I’ve been working on the creation of make shift studio to do voice work within.  All the while, I was doing more to refocus my own, personal, devotional practices**.

In short?  Self-care.  I wouldn’t have called it that at the time, but it remains true that this is what I was practicing a form of.  Yet, even though I’ve done well in terms of remaining busy and productive, I still feel miserable.  I am angry, and it’s anger that is raw, blistered, an unfocused.  It’s all an inarticulate, existential mess and it’s not helping anything.

Am I back?  Don’t know; I’ve had more success writing something over the last two days then I had in a while…but that’s not the first time that’s happened either.  Maybe just admitting, out loud “I’m pissed as hell” will help my dumb, occasionally strophic pride get over itself.  Perhaps time will tell.  Maybe this blog isn’t how I express myself going foreward, and maybe I’ll end up finding a new vehicle.  For the moment, I have no exact clue.

One thing I do know is that I haven’t actually gone anywhere.  My radio silence was not a true void, but simply an indication that I just needed to puzzle some stuff out for myself.

Ad Hominem Attack

On the plus side?  Since I’ve been gone, someone came up with the Logical Fallacy Referee meme…which is bloody genius.  Expect my return to be heralded by little winged football refs playing horns midst otherworldly beams of light.

Until the shape and time of my return to writing is more firm then a melted creamsicle, however?  I’m here.  If you have a questions, comments, criticisms, or just particularly delicious recipes?  I have the “Ask me Anything” open on my Tumblr, so feel to go wild with it if you are so inclined.  I’ll be posting anything worth responding to both here and on said Tumblr.

In the mean time? Leave a light on for me; I’ll be back sooner or later, in some form or another.
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*My more geeky blog has a series of three~four articles in different states of repair talking about how I think Wizards of the Coast can make hard-control/counter strategies viable once again without making them the only strategy worth building around.  Gods only know when that one will be done, but I’ve got a bunch of prototype cards put together that I am very proud of.  I also occasionally debate a rant about how Mages in Hearthstone are utter bullshit.
**I would never call this blog an exclusively devotional act of any kind.  By the same token, I feel that demanding people pay attention to the reality of situations regardless of how they feel about them is (at least for me) par for the course of being Lokean.  As such, the inability to write anything has left me feeling like a rather poor Heathen as of late.

Life, Chaos, and Tumblr

A couple of quick things…

1. I haven’t gone anywhere.  I am not going to stop writing.  Life has just been too busy to write the material I want to write at the level of quality I want to write it at:  My responsibilities include a two year old toddler and an eight year old grade-school age child, and those are the sorts of entities that just need to be prioritized over a lot of other things.  My current job has me working in group home environment with those who have IDD spectrum disorders seven days in a row…and while that comes with seven days off in a row, that means there are a lot of adult responsibilities that get shifted into that one week and time is at a premium.

While I know that my work is absolutely coated in spelling and grammar errors, that’s not the metric by which I am measuring quality typically: I want my content to be on point.  When I wrote about my thoughts on Folkism and Metagenetics?  A lot of research went into that, because I wanted to make sure that before I got critical I knew exactly what I was talking about.  When I offered my own ethical code in response to my issues with the NNV, I made sure that this was material that said something I could be proud of.  When I post something here, it’s very rare that it’s something I haven’t put a lot of time, research, and consideration into.  Perhaps in some of my earlier material, when I had absolutely no audience to speak of and the stakes (such as they were) felt non-existent, I was willing to be a little more careless.

That’s not where I am now; a lot of people have read my work, and a lot of people will probably to continue to read my work.  While I do try and improve my content in terms of it’s spelling and quality of form, it’s the quality of material that I’m just not really willing to budge on.  That could mean there will be very little in terms of content written for quite some time, and I don’t like that at all…but I’d rather write a small amount of amazing material then a decent volume of mediocre nonsense.

2. There is just a lot of nonsense happening all the time, and it makes it hard to know where to start: There is a bit that Lewis Black does where he talked about how it’s tough doing comedy when there is so much going on.  While I wouldn’t call my work here comedy, I will say that I feel like it’s tough talking about the affairs of the day in any sort of informed, timely matter when there is so much going on.

When Heathens United Against Racism fractured and broke apart, it was a lot to think about.  When the Black Lives Matter groups started getting criticism from a lot of pockets in Heathenry, there was even more going on.  All the while, there was the legal case involving Mark Stinson and that was also a lot to consider*.  When that case finally resolved, there was even more to consider.  All the while, the heads of the AFA and the Troth have hardly been silent, and many of there statements could have crafted entire volumes of commentaries, reflections, and musings.  How about that Icelandic temple that had to close its doors to the public because there were some American Heathens who just were unwilling to let Icelandic Heathen be able to practice their own faith without showing them how to do it “right”?  That was a can of worms too…

…and there is just so much going on that keeping track of it all feels almost impossible.  There is just so much to say, and not nearly enough hours in the day to say it all.  Combined with my time crunch, it’s made it hard to even know where to begin.  This is also to the side of all of the stuff I just want to write because it comes to mind and I think it would make an interesting point of discussion.

3. I am on Tumblr, and you might want to follow me there: If you actually like some of what I have to say?  You may want to follow me on Tumblr.  I have the ask feature enabled, so anyone with some random questions for me can feel free to send them my way.  The content I post/repost on there is a lot more of the “whatever is on my mind” and “this is neat/funny” varieties, so know that the topics are less “Heathen” and more “Harrison, who also happens to be Heathen”.

Interested parties should just check for me over at Tumblr.  While I am committed to keeping my material full of quality and research here, Tumblr is more or less for my opinions, so you’ll probably see a little more from me there.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish some articles soon and have something for you all to read before long.  In the mean time, just know that I’m still around….life is just busy!
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*Some may feel it cheap to talk about Stinson’s issues as if they were matters of public concern; I disagree with this suggestion.  Stinson took time out of his life to write/compile his views on Heathen ethics, put them together in a well edited and proofed PDF, and then placed them on a digital platform (JBK’s website) where they could be easily and rapidly distributed.  So when he makes an ethical blunder that directly relates to some of the very few Heathen values that almost everyone agrees upon?  The community as a whole gets to comment just as much on Stinson as Stinson was able to comment on the community.

Heathen Ethics, Part 9: Accountability

Talking about how things went down at HUAR, as well as how things are going forward with HfSJ, made me reflective about something that’s a cornerstone of Heathen ethics, but rarely gets brought up as such.   You see, there are many important keystones in Heathen ethics, and many of us have a great degree of familiarity with a vast assortment of them; we know about how upholding your word is important, how one needs to have a strong understanding of honor, “we are our deeds”, and so forth.

Critical to these, however, is accountability; the ability to be responsible to and for the consequences of your actions.

That it’s rarely talked about in Heathen circles is rather bizarre, because it ends up being the philosophical cement that holds many of our other ethical bricks together.  It’s within the sentiment behind the “Cattle Die, Kinsmen Die” stanza, because how well can our triumphs be remember after our death if we couldn’t also take responsibility for our mistakes in life?  It drips from the “Lay of Loddfafnir”*, for every piece of advice that directly speaks to consequence is indirectly speaking about accountability as well.  It can be found in the margins of the Nine Noble Virtues (both versions), the Nine Charges, the Six Fold Goal, and in the Ten Guiding Tempers that I wrote myself.

Of course, one way to not need to have to account for yourself is to not be a jackass in the first place.

Of course, one way to not need to have to account for yourself is to not be a jackass in the first place.

Did I intend it to be there?  Honestly, no…but that’s sort of a demonstration of how fundamental it is; an ethical perspective which does not, by accident or design, consider accounting for one’s self simply cannot function.  At such a point, it can no longer even be considered ethics; it’s just long-winded braggadocio with a pretension towards moralizing.

Now, accountability is one of those things that’s pretty easy to explain, but understanding it isn’t the problem or how it’s determined; it’s having the strength of character to act upon it that’s key.  In many ways it is the shadow that is cast by the light of honor, and it is just as ineffable as it’s counterpart.  Perhaps more so: while it can be hard to figure out the right action is in a given situation, figuring out how to repair things after you’ve already messed up can feel absolutely impossible.

Surprisingly, accountability can be hard for us, as Heathens, to deal with.  While we have strong, ethical obligations in matters regarding honor and frith, we also regard the recognition of an individual and their accomplishments as a healthy thing.  Additionally, many of us have an excessive amount of Christian baggage, which can lead to some very dour ideas about how shame interacts with consequence.  All of this is to the side of simple lapses in judgement, and incorrect assumptions about who or what is to blame.

Regardless of what gets in the way, however, there are times where the onus will be on us to make amends for the actions we have taken.  It’s about as certain as death and taxes.

Accountability is, by it’s nature, a personal thing, and how each person goes about it needs to be something they determine for themselves.  The only thing that I will say I feel is ironclad, from a Heathen perspective, is that accountability cannot be practiced exclusively towards other Heathens.  If one gives only Heathens the respect afforded by accountability, then we are not truly accounting for ourselves; we are accounting for the perceptions of others and making sure our little club stays well attended to.  It becomes a situation devoid of meaningful morality, turning instead into a game of perception and public relations.

That’s not laying the foundation for good ethics, and it’s certain not honorable.

Again, this is a personal thing; it is up to each individual person, Heathen or otherwise, to decide how they account for themselves in social situations.**


*Stanzas 111 to 137 of the Havamal.
**I’m intending to revisit this topic again later; for the moment, I’m putting this out there in the hope of encouraging discussion.