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.

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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.

Heathens for Social Justice

HfSJAs some of you may or may not know, I used to be an administrator over at Heathens United Against Racism.  I am no longer there, because the powers that remain there have decided to stop practicing what they preach.

On the fan page, they’re terming it a “internal restructuring“.  This is an understatement akin to calling a raging inferno a “sudden reaction to molecular agitation”.

You all know me; I’m not prone to name calling, but I don’t shy away from demanding accountability either.  On that note, the people who are currently running HUAR are people who are refusing any sort of meaningful accountability or transparency when it comes to their actions.  Not to the bylaws they helped write and voted in.  Not to the communities that they claimed to care about.  Not to the religion that claim to practice.  Nothing.

What you, the reader, do with my opinion regarding HUAR is completely up to you.  For those curious?  It is my strong and firm suggestion that anyone who believes in social justice in any meaningful way, shape, or form shoukd have nothing to do with HUAR whatsoever.  They’re not interested in fighting the good fight; they just interested in talking about how racists are bad, without actually having to involve themselves in any meaningful way.

HUAR has gone from being a force trying to make positive, social change within the broader Heathen community as well as the world at large…to a social club for people who wish to voice toothless complaints about bigotry.

The truth is they aren’t what they say they are.  Not anymore, at least.  I was the only cisgendered, heterosexual, white male removed from my position.  Of the nine people kicked out, eight of them were either apart of the GLBTQ+ community, ethnically non-white, or both.  Make of that what you will…but I will tell you that I find it incredibly telling of HUAR’s current motivations and priorities.

If that sounds like something you want to deal with?  More power to you.  However, it’s important that everyone gets a fully informed perspective about the organizations they’re looking to align themselves with…and you’re not going to get an honest discussion about HUAR from the people who currently run it*.

The administrators kicked to the curb over this ordeal have started new projects, to pick up and continue to carry the torch that HUAR once held.  Loosing HUAR hasn’t destroyed us; it is out belief that the lack of us has destroyed HUAR.  In either case, look us up under “Heathens for Social Justice” and “The Yggdrasil Assembly“.

In either case, that’s it for HUAR.  Feel free to ask any (constructive) questions below that you may have regarding the matter; I’ll answer anything asked to the best of my ability.


*But don’t take my word for it!  If you want to know why HUAR does not deserve your trust, look to documentation that showcases the words of the current administration for yourself!

Semi-Public Conversations: The Bar Exam

I find myself at a familiar bar.  If the bar has a name, I don’t particularly need to know it.  The address and part of town the bar is in are, similarly, inconsequential.  All I know is I’m not drinking anything with a kick; I don’t avoid alcohol all together, but it doesn’t always agree with me…so I usually don’t drink unless it is a special occasion.

Wait, is this a special occasion?  I doubt it somehow.

Well, anything is a special occasion if you want it to be.” he says, reading my mind as he hops up onto the stool beside me.  “Haven’t seen you here for a while.

“I would think you haven’t seen me much of anywhere at all.” I reply, somewhat gloomily, into my coffee.  Coffee, as a term, could be used loosely in this instance; the liquid in my cup was probably more milk than coffee.

Feh,” he says dismissively, with a gesture to match, “You don’t need to see me for me to see you.  That’s not particularly complicated and you know better…so why submit to guilt that you don’t need?

“Does anyone need guilt?”

He shrugs, “I’m not sure Catholics would be able to operate without it.”  A grin crosses his face as the words escape his lips.  He look at me as he takes a sip from a wine glass filled with an amber color liquid.

“With or without the ‘U’?” I ask with a smirk that I don’t quite feel, but I can’t quite stop.

Both!” he says, and the chuckle bleeds into his words a bit.

“So you’re trying to tell me that my lack of spirituality isn’t a problem?”

When did I say that?  Of course it’s a problem!” he retorts, his tone now a bit more acidic, “Shame and guilt aren’t going to get a lick of anything done however.  Pondering is all well and good, but an excess is just putting a boat on dry land and wondering why you aren’t getting anywhere.” A hand that edges between gentle and firm slaps the back of my head.  “You know that…but you aren’t acting on it.  That is a problem.

I pause.  “So you aren’t offended?”

A bit, just not by any ‘attendance’ issues.”  he says, in a tone that suggests irritation, but doesn’t quite commit.

“Okay, than by what?”

He turns on his stool after setting the cup down.  The look is firm, though not unkind.  “You’re back tracking.  You’re writing less.  Your praying less.  You center is, ironically, anywhere but you actual center.  You can do better than this…and you’re not.  Ennui isn’t the problem…it’s when you roll over to it and accept it.  That is…that’s offensive.  That’s distasteful.” he faces forward.  “Pray or do not pray…your heart and soul cast that nature of your devotion even when your thoughts do not.  It bothers you far more when you fail; when you do nothing about that is when it begins to bother me.

“Seems like an easy system to abuse.” I quip.  He gives me a look.

Try it.” he replies, in an extremely even tone.

I clear my throat a bit.  “I’m not intending to…I just.” I pause, collecting my words.  He sips at the mead absently.  The sentiment is hard to even put to thought, much less to language.

This…is still new territory to you.  I get that.  You’re learning how to sort your thoughts, your heart, and your soul in entirely new directions.  Your entire being, for that matter.  The discoveries aren’t exclusively spiritual; they’re coming from every corner of your identity.” he swirls the drink in its glass absently as he speaks. “There is nothing wrong with that.  Any of that.  There isn’t even anything truly wrong with being unable to understand it all of the time…especially at this point.  However…what is wrong is being satisfied with how unsatisfied you feel.

I nod, absently.  I sip my coffee, and then look at the ceiling.  “It’s just hard balancing out everything…coming to a proper understanding of things…”

He shrugs.  “Let me help with that.” he says, casually, “What are the issues?

“Well, where does working for a better more inclusive Heathenry stop being spiritual and start being selfish?”

He looks at me.  “When you start doing it for yourself and your own reputation you idiot.

I pause.  “That was a dumb question.”, I concede.

It won’t make my top ten, but it’s closer than you’d probably be happy with” he says with a thin smile.

“Okay…what happens if I write too much about subjects of social justice?”

He sighs.  “Why on Earth are you pretending you’d give a shit about any of their stupid opinions…anyone who would actually be bothered by that isn’t someone you’re apt to care about.”

I pause again.  “Top ten?”

His expression is blank, but his eyes are dancing at some private joke. “Stop taking yourself so damn seriously…it’s preventing you from doing anything worth being serious about.

I nod to myself.  It’s the best advice I’ve gotten in quite a while, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at that.

He finishes the glass and stands up to leave. “I’ve got work to do…and so do you.” he says simply.

I pause.  “Then…where are you going?” I ask.

He turns around to look back at me.  My smile is still rough around the edges, but it’s not so forced as it was before.  He grins. “See…now was that so difficult to grasp?”

Why I Am Not an Heathen (Though I Kind of Wish That I Could Be)

Truth be told, I feel quite the same way about the Heathen spectrum of faiths as the author does…and I have for some time. Interested to see where Part 2 goes.

Pagan Church Lady

This (long) post has been a long time coming.  I’ve referenced my feelings about personal background and development in some other articles and have been spending a lot of time trying to explore myself in relation to the modern Pagan movement and Heathenry.  Although the title was inspired by Bertrand Russel’s piece “Why I am Not A Christian” I won’t, as he does, seek to deconstruct the idea of a particular deity.  I will, as he does, explain why the values expressed in the religion in question do not fit mine, and why that leaves me in a difficult place.

Let me begin by explaining that I’ve had a love for the Aesir and Vanir since childhood.  I first read of them in children’s fiction when I was four or five and rapidly advanced to reading more adult storybooks about them.  Later on I discovered source material like the Eddas…

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