blogging psa

Jan 23, 2009
Just a note to let you know, faithful readers, that I've done some shuffling around of accounts associated with this blog for personal reasons (ie, I clicked on the wrong authorization link sometime a long time ago and finally got around to fixing it. I obviously have too many e-mail accounts).

I don't think it should actually change anything on your end, but if you've been following this blog using Blogger's tool and it suddenly vanished, or anything else like that, well, that's the reason, go ahead and put it back in.

Outgrowing? Really?

Jan 12, 2009
It seems everyone who is anyone is still exploding over the end of deo's shadow and, more importantly, deo and Mandy announcing a conversion to atheism. And since part of the reason you start a blog is to stake out your own little soapbox to say whatever you want, I see no reason why I shouldn't contribute (although I certainly don't consider myself "anyone" of note).

Here's the thing: I've tried to read their relevant blog posts, and I just can't. It causes me too much emotional anguish. Possibly some would say that this makes me one of those people who is just in denial about their true rationalist nature, but that's not it at all. Quite the opposite, really.

It's all this talk of "outgrowing" that gets me first. However well meant, and however well it may describe personal journeys, it's condescending. Just like the conversion story, it's a cliche that carries more baggage than most people probably intend it to. Mostly, though, it's just condescending, and I've been paring condescending crap out of my life for a while now. Good-bye hardcore feminist blogs, political opinion columns...and atheist conversion stories.

Just like Jeff at Druid Journal, I am Pagan not in spite of its irrationality but because of it. And this is not in contradiction to my scholarly self: The more I learn about my brain and my culture and the world I live in, the more that irrationality seems to be supported. Discussions filled with anecdotes about why magic does or does not work seem to me to miss the point. The Universe, left entirely unobserved (if that were even possible), does not make sense. We, as living, thinking, spiritual beings, can make it make sense, with physics, with anthropology, or with religion. All of these things make sense in different ways. You can't travel to Mars with anthropology, but you can't talk to the Martians with physics. And I don't want to say there are things in this world you can't do without religion, because there's a quality of mind that atheists have, too; and I don't want to call it spiritual, because that has all the wrong connotations, but it's what gets you through three o'clock in the morning on the longest night of your life, and what carries the conversation at three o'clock in the morning when you're surrounded by friends and don't want to go to bed. And that thing, whatever it is, is important. It needs to be acknowledged, and spoken to.

I have a secret to tell you: I've never had an earth-shattering Mystery Religion Moment. I've had many small ones, but never That One that so many people seem to have. So that's not why I'm Pagan, either. It isn't because I was raised in it, or because I want a comfort zone of undemanding spiritual fluffiness, or because I'm immature enough to believe in magic (please, dear readers, read that last clause as full of sarcasm, because it is). I believe that the gods are real, although I cannot pin down a definition of "real" that works in that sentence. And I believe that I owe them something.

No, modern Paganism is not really very like ancient Paganism, nor could it ever be. I don't know that I could ever spill enough pixels on how much I dislike the idea that ancient Paganism is the authority for everything we do. No, modern Paganism is most often not rational or scientific. There is nothing wrong with rational and scientific, but that is not what we do. We do that stuff that happens at three o'clock in the morning, and we do it the best we can with a little history and a little imagination and a framework someone patched together about a century ago, because there is nothing wrong with irrational either, and we need it, too.

I celebrate myself and sing myself

Jan 3, 2009
One would like to demarcate clearly the boundaries of the self. In fact, no essential self lies pure as a vein of gold under the chaos of experience and chemistry. The human organism is a sequence of selves that succumb to or choose one another. We are each the sum of certain choices and circumstances; the self exists in the narrow space where the world and our choices come together.

--Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

I want to print this out on a poster and put it on the wall I look at when I wake up in the morning. I want to write it in little gold letters on something I see every day. I don't know what it is about our lives, our culture, or our brains that make us think any other way, but we are not a single pure entity covered up by layers of distracting crap. We are what we are, at any given moment, doing whatever it is that we do. If I change the way I think, if I shake off old ways of being, if I improve my lifestyle and do everything I want to do, I won't be any more myself. I'll be a different me, when I change, as I always will. But I am myself right now.