Sweet Dionysos I have had it with this fucking bullshit.
John Halstead, self-described humanistic pagan, has written yet another blog post wherein he tries to be a gatekeeper of paganism, continuing on his awesome roll of hurting other pagans by acting like an asshole. (I’m not linking it. He doesn’t get traffic from me. You can Google search “Internet Paganism Is Not Paganism” + “The Allergic Pagan” if you want to read it.)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — I don’t give a shit what you believe or don’t believe; I don’t care if you’re atheist or monotheist or polytheist or monolatrist or henotheist or agnostic or whatever. Just don’t be a dick about other people’s religious or areligious practices, beliefs, lives. Just don’t be a dick.
Halstead waxes poetic about logos and mythos in his post; he accuses John Beckett of being on the road to fundamentalism and fanaticism (which…uh. what? have you READ Beckett?); he cherry picks some quotes from responses to his previous bullshit; he quotes Starhawk completely out of context; he refers to Alison Leigh Lilly to bolster his meandering argument (which alone makes me not want to read anything he writes, if he’s a fan of her, as I’ve been bullied by her in the past); most importantly, he makes very clear his ultimate point:
“Internet paganism is not paganism.”
That is to say, writing about paganism on the web isn’t really religion like how, you know, pouring libations or saying prayers or whatever it is that people do offline is religion.* (Or spirituality or “my path” or whatever you want to call what you’re doing that’s vaguely pagany.)
Oh, wow, it’s the Piety Brigade with another More Pious Than Thou post, except this time it’s coming from a rationalist! How refreshing.
Ok, dude. Halstead. Buddy. If writing about paganism on the web is not actual!paganism for you (whatever actual!paganism is), that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to consider your online spewing of anti-theist jerkish vitriol to be a religious act. No one is going to get mad at you for that!
But please, for the love of all the gods you think are to blame for 9/11**, speak for your fucking self.
I am so, so, SO tired of pagans telling the world what paganism IS or what it ISN’T; I am so, so, SO tired of this bullshit gatekeeping; I am sooooo tired of the Piety Brigade.
Because guess what? For me, internet paganism IS PAGANISM. This writing I do on this blog? It’s mostly a religious act for me. (Maybe not when I’m ranting like this,*** but most of the time? Yeah. It’s an act of devotion.)
The online shrines that I keep for the gods, the postings I put there, the reblogs? Devotional activity.
My Pinterest boards of devotional imagery? You guessed it — devotional activity!
The 8tracks playlists that I listen to, that I have collected in a “Songs for the Gods” collection? Yes, devotional activity.
The “Songs of the Gods” playlist I have on my Youtube? Devotional.
The weekly Otherfaith online get-togethers, or the conversations we have — all online — throughout the week? Devotional. Related to the Four/Four. Related to our faith, that we’re building, and a way for members of the faith to connect with each other.
Making Kiva loans? Devotional.
Reading certain pieces from certain blogs? Devotional.
Contributing to Deily? Devotional.
All these things and a shitload more, things I do exclusively or mostly online — devotional. Devotional. DEVOTIONAL.
And I know it’s the same for other pagans I know. I know I’m not the only one who lives their religious life partly online.
So, no. You don’t get to say that internet paganism isn’t pagany enough. You don’t get to deliver that judgment from on high. You don’t get to judge how other people live their religious lives as not good enough, according to whatever weird standard you’ve set up in your head as being The Standard.
No one is forcing you to live your religious life online. But just because you don’t do it, and can’t imagine yourself doing it, does not mean that others don’t do it or that if we do, we’re Doin’ It Rong.
And maybe if you really did care about emphasizing the value and agency of your fellow human — as, indeed, being a humanist would seem to indicate — you would stop trying to speak for the rest of us while you thrash and flail in a desperate bid to remain relevant.
*Do you want an actual quote as to what he considers real paganism? Here is one, verbatim:
Connecting with the land and it’s other-than-human inhabitants, celebrating the Wheel of the Year, worshiping gods, venerating ancestors, meditating, praying at your shrine, pouring libations, making offerings: these kinds of things are Paganism.
Which, you know, completely erases the existence of pagans who, in their offline lives, do things that are NOT THESE THINGS — and thus, we can assume, they are not really ‘doing paganism’. Unless we’re supposed to assume he’s including those folks and just didn’t bother to mention their practices or acknowledge the fact that people exist who emphatically do not do what he suggests as things that ‘are paganism’, buuuuuuut I can’t give him that much credit. He consistently demonstrates that when it comes to other pagans he does not know what the fuck he is talking about yet this does not stop him from trying to talk for us; I do not know why any of that would be different this time.
**You might think I showed admirable restraint when I didn’t rip THAT post of his to shreds, but in truth, I just did so more with more subtlety than I am usually wont to use.
***Though sometimes, truth be told, there is a sort of divinity in a good rant.