Tags: air force circle

goddess and god

Icelandic Pagans, Pagans in the Airforce and in College

Of Pagans and Sunny Skies
by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir, Iceland Review Online, Feb 26, 2010
"What I like about Ásatrúarfélagid is that it’s not just a religious association. Its purpose, among other things, to keep the old Norse traditions alive and reclaim our cultural heritage.

Its members also have a very open and tolerant attitude towards other cultures and religions with respect being one of their most highly-regarded values.
[...]
The reason I considered joining the association is because its members are active in preserving our real cultural heritage and keeping the old traditions and celebrations alive.

I say “real” because although Iceland has been Christian for more than 1,000 years, the Icelandic settlers believed in the old Norse gods and there is so much in our culture that originates in paganism.

For example, the names of the Norse gods, especially Thór, have remained popular through the ages. In Iceland, there is an abundance of names for both men and women that either begin or end with Thór. "
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Air Force Academy chaplain convinces Catholic League to end call for probe
By Electa Draper, The Denver Post, Feb 26, 2010
"The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has called off its Feb. 3 demand for a congressional probe of the U.S. Air Force Academy in response to a perceived insult to Christians.

League spokeswoman Susan Fani said the academy's Catholic chaplain, the Rev. Robert Bruno, has convinced league officials that positive steps have been taken to ensure the religious liberty of all cadets.

"There is no need for a probe," Fani said in a news release Tuesday.

Previously, league president Bill Donohue had objected to the academy superintendent's negative characterization of a large wooden cross left in mid-January at the school's new outdoor worship site for pagans and practitioners of other earth-based religions.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Gould had called the placement of a Christian symbol at an area dedicated for non-Christian worship as "destructive behavior" that would not be tolerated.

Donohue then issued a statement complaining that Gould's comparison of the cross incident to other acts of vandalism was "overkill" and "grossly insulting to Catholics and Protestants."

Gould said he has been working to establish a campus climate of religious respect for diverse faith traditions after a 2004 survey found that many cadets believed evangelical Christians were harassing non-Christians at the academy.

An Air Force task force reported in 2005 that it found no overt discrimination against cadets, yet the academy had failed to accommodate some cadets' religious needs.

Bruno, the first Catholic chaplain to work at the academy since 1991, persuaded the league that Gould had played a key role in fostering religious freedom for all, Fani said.
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Paganism met with mixed feelings at SU
By Rebecca Kheel, The Daily Orange, Feb 25, 2010
"Mixed reactions arose since Hudson was recognized as a chaplain. Hudson herself has only received positive feedback, but there has been an online backlash in comments sections of articles about Hudson's appointment. Other chaplains said it is too early to make a judgment about whether they agree with Hudson's appointment. Pagan students said they are thrilled and that this is one step in the growing tolerance on campus. Christian students said they understand the need for a pagan chaplain.

While she has personally encountered support, Hudson said she has seen the negative comments in online articles about her appointment, including one that suggested she eats bats. Some others said her appointment will make SU look unattractive to potential students. But that was to be expected, Hudson said."
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So you Really think you have freedom of religion? Guess again ....
by Karen Tate, LA Women's & Goddess Spirituality Examiner, February 24, 2010
"So you really think you have freedom of religion do you? Well, let me tell you if you aren't Christian, Jewish or Muslim, your religious freedoms only go so far. You're probably what's called a Tier Two religion and you don't have the same protections and rights of those members of Tier One religions.

I know when the Bush Administration was in office it was harder for tier two religious organizations to get non-profit status for churches. I know people were being discriminated against in custody cases, over jobs, in prison, and even being run out of town. Yes, today, in this country! We're not talking about in Africa where people are being run out of town by witch hunters who feel entitled because they believe the Bible gives them license to be intolerant or in India where women have been forced to eat human excrement if deemed other than Christian. We're talking right here in the good ole' USA. Read on and hear about the battle Wiccan chaplain Patrick Mccollum is waging for everyone who is not a member of a Tier One religion.
[...]
I believe we should all care because this is going to explode over the penal system and can affect every one of us. Patrick is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) over this issue. The defendants are claiming, “that certain ‘traditional’ faiths are first tier faiths and that those faiths were meant to have equal rights and protections under the United States Constitution, but that all of the other faiths were second tier faiths, and were not meant to have the same equal rights and protections under the United States Constitution as the first tier faiths.”

If this is accepted by the courts, it is a complete reinterpretation of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution and could allow the government, businesses, and individuals to deny you housing, work, or government benefits given to others simply because of your religion not being one of the “top tier” religions."

When pagans get our rights, everyone benefits
Starhawk, The Washington Post, February 11, 2010
"Rights are inconvenient things. We'd all probably like to reserve them for the good and deserving people and not have to fuss around when we stick it to the bad guys.

Problem is, who decides? And by what criteria? And how do we know the bad guys are truly bad, or that the accused are truly guilty? Those sorts of sticky questions got us the Bill of Rights and the concept of due process, for saints and sinners, for the accused who are innocent and those who turn out to be guilty. For if we deny due process to the guilty, we risk convicting the innocent.

And if we deny equal right to Pagans, because Pastor Jeffress interprets his Bible as saying his version of God doesn't like our religion--we put him and his church at risk as well. For tomorrow, some other pastor, priest, rabbi or imam might decide that the First Baptist Church of Dallas is anathema to their version of God, and drive him and his flock into hiding.
[...]
When we honor and respect the great diversity of faiths, we assure that our own doorway, too, will remain open. "
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goddess and god

Air Force Circle, Occult Specialist on Animal Planet, Haitian Voodoo, The Faith Instinct

A Shrine Of Our Times: The Air Force Academy Goes Pagan
Opinion: Editorial, Harrisonburg Daily News Record, February 3, 2010
"Apparently, Fox News reports, the USAFA has quite the contingent of tree and rock worshippers, and they needed a spot to mumble their mumbo-jumbo
[...]
No word on whether the Academy will provide goats for the animal sacrifice, although several herds of cloven-footed beasts are said to have fled the area. The “neo-pagans” will dedicate their stony shrine on March 10.
[...]
Far be it for mere mortals to doubt this coven’s spiritual sincerity. No one wants to get hexed or vexed, or whatever happens when Wiccans and Druids don their robes, serenade the owls and prance around their rocks among the Ponderosa Pines. Colorado, by the way, is also home to the Quaking Aspen, so the very thought of berobed witches and warlocks gamboling about the woods and warbling at the Moon may explain why the aspens are quaking.

No, a far more compelling interrogatory observation is why anyone, much less the academy, would take the “neo-pagans” seriously. The academy is, after all, a very serious place.

Or at least it used to be."


Respect Freedom Of Religion
by Eugene C. Buie, Harrisonburg Daily News Record, February 19, 2010
"It is unseemly to make fun of things we may not understand, particularly religions chosen and valued by others. That is not a strange thing to say in America where it used to be customary to honor and respect everyone’s “freedom of choice,” especially where religious beliefs and practices are concerned.
[...]
We steadfastly defend our freedom of expression. Additionally, we are offended by attempts to take this expression away from us. Do we now publicly ridicule this same freedom where others are concerned when they choose to worship gods that Christians or other religions do not accept?
[...]
This transcendent revelation of the “One True God” has competed with the Nature gods from earliest recorded history. Nevertheless, the Christian commission is to simply present the Gospel of Christ to be accepted or rejected. In the end, we all must decide whether to be a child of God or a Pagan or a godless secularist. But for now, we all are entitled to worship as we choose without ridicule."
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OU adviser hunts ghosts on Animal Planet
Gregory Maus, Oklahoma Daily, February 19, 2010
"Students in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication know Chris Borthick as an academic adviser, but he also works an an occult specialist for an organization whose exploits will be featured today on cable television.

Oklahoma Paranormal Research and Investigations will be featured in an episode of the Animal Planet paranormal anthology series, “The Haunted,” 9 p.m. Friday.
[...]
Borthick said his contribution to the group is to provide information on spiritual beliefs, in case the team encounters anything related to religions, such as Wicca or traditional American Indian beliefs."
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Myths Obscure Voodoo, Source of Comfort in Haiti
by Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times, February 19, 2010
"Consider a few facts. Voodoo is one of the official religions of Haiti, and its designation in 2003 merely granted official acknowledgment to a longstanding reality. The slave revolt that brought Haiti independence indeed relied on voodoo, the New World version of ancestral African faiths. To this day, by various scholarly estimates, between 50 and 95 percent of Haitians practice at least elements of voodoo, often in conjunction with Catholicism.
[...]
But Catholicism in Haiti, as too few journalists seemed to realize, is not more or less like Catholicism in a Polish parish in Chicago or an Irish one in Boston. It is a Catholicism in symbiosis with voodoo, a Catholicism in which saints are conflated with African deities and dead ancestors serve as interlocutors between God and humanity.

Prof. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, an expert in voodoo as well as a voodoo priest, likens the religious texture of Haiti to that of Japan. The same Japanese person, he said, will observe the Shinto faith for certain rituals, Buddhism for others, and will see no contradiction or mutual exclusivity.

“I’d tell reporters to go into the shanties and find the local voodoo priest,” said Amy Wilentz, the author of an acclaimed book on contemporary Haiti, “The Rainy Season.” “Voodoo is very close to the ground. It’s a neighborhood to neighborhood, courtyard kind of religion. And one where you support each other in time of need.”"
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The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures by Nicholas Wade.

Book Review: Tracing the genesis of the world's religions
by Anne Grant, Providence Journal, February 19, 2010
"Pagan agricultural festivals morphed into monotheists’ most sacred observances celebrating, for example, the exodus of Jews from slavery and the resurrection of Jesus. Wade explains how “this sense of emotional familiarity . . . makes one’s own religion feel so natural, whereas most other religions feel far-fetched or deluded.”

He reaches around the world, forward and back: cultures reinvent their religions to unify groups for survival of the fittest. He shows how sacred texts rewrote history with uplifting themes to achieve political and theological unification.
[...]
Wade concludes this landmark work by proposing that humanity’s faith instinct needs to escape rigid religious canons and “choose a sustainable balance between warfare and conciliation” to fit us for survival in a secular, global age."
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goddess and god

McCollum v. California, Bob Barr on Air Force Circle, Fundamentalist Christians, Etymology of God

Christian Right's attack on rights
Today's guest blogger is Dr. Barbara McGraw, Washington Post (blog), ‎Feb 17, 2010‎
"In "The Meaning and End of Religion," Wilfred Cantwell Smith proved that it wasn't until the late 19th century that the word "religion" developed the meaning it has today: the institutions of religion (e.g., Buddh "ism"). Before then, "religion" meant "piety" or "a system of beliefs." One can look up the word "religion" in founding era dictionaries and find that it had this broad meaning.

The Founders held this broad view, often turning to John Locke as their guide, who said:

"[I]f solemn assemblies, observations of festivals, public worship be permitted to any one sort of professors, all these things ought to be permitted to the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers, and others, with the same liberty. Nay, if we may openly speak the truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither pagan, nor Mahometan, nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion." (emphasis added)"


Patrick McCollum, California and the Constitution
by Gus diZerega, Beliefnet.com (blog), February 18, 2010
"This kind of illegal theocratic bigotry and worse led to a court case that has been making its way through the courts for 5 years. Until recently the Dept. of Corrections argued both in court and publicly that they had been conscientiously seeking to determine the religious needs of their inmates, and accommodate them. They argued they have a "Fair and neutral policy" concerning prison chaplains and accommodating minority faiths. This includes determining the numbers of inmates with specific religious needs. Of course had they done this there would be no court case.

Now, in both testimony and deposition, they have admitted they have not applied any of the criteria that they claimed for five years to be following. As McCollum told me with regard to this claim, "They admitted that everything they testified to under oath was false."

Instead California is now arguing they do not have to take the wishes and needs of Pagan prisoners into account because they follow a "5 Faiths System." Five faiths count: Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Native Americans. The rest do not count as constitutionally protected religions!
[...]
What Can We Do?
Write the Governor of California. This is a federal case, so you do NOT have to be a California resident to make your views known. If California prevails, similar efforts will be made in other states.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

For the same reason write California's Attorney General.
Edmund G. Brown
Attorney General's Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

And write the Secretary of the California Dept. of Corrections.
Matthew Cate
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 
P.O. Box 942883 
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
916-445-1773
(I think this is the correct address)

State that you want a state-wide truly fair and neutral policy that includes equal accommodations of Pagans and other minority religions based on religiously neutral criteria."
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Pagan worship at Air Force Academy
by Bob Barr, The Barr Code (blog) February 17, 2010
"A few years back, when I was in the US Congress, I took the Army to task for permitting the practice of Wicca on its bases, including at Ft. Hood in Texas. After speaking with a number of officers and military leaders, and meeting with several former military who adhere to the practice of Wicca, I was convinced that a belief in or practice of witchcraft, was not necessarily incompatible with the good order and discipline essential to a military lifestyle. However, one might legitimately wonder just how far such tolerance should extend."


Barring religous freedom on base
by J. Adrian Stanley , Colorado Springs Independent (blog) Feb 18, 2010
"In a decidely un-Libertarian move, Bob Barr, the 2008 Libertarian Party nominee for president, former U.S. Representative and federal prosecutor, has spoken out against all the religous acceptance at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

In his blog, "The Barr Code," Barr states that the AFA's installation of a pagan worship circle is "truly hilarious." He goes on to state, "[I]f I were in the Air Force and was being commanded by an officer who practices hedonism as a religion (another part of the definition of “pagan”), and who dances around a circle of stones in the woods carrying a lighted candle, I would be more than a little worried about following him into battle."

That rant inspired commenter "Sean Burke" to quip, "As opposed to a belief that a great man in the sky produced a human son through virgin birth who can be consumed every seven days in the form of wafers and wine? The fact I voted for you in 2008 now embarrasses me."

According to Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who heads a pagan group on the AFA campus, the blog post has created quite a stir locally. There are well over 200 comments on the blog post."


Bob Barr: Libertarian In Name Only
catoismymotor, The Motley Fool (blog), February 17, 2010
"I did not like Bob Barr while he was in office as a Republican. I thought of him as a smug elitist bunghole, a slightly smarter verion of VP Joe Biden. Then he cut ties with his party. Later he joined the ranks of the Libertarian party, the one to which I belong. I found this encouraging. "Pehaps a zebra can change his stripes", I thought. There were signs in interviews that he had relaxed, become more embracing of individual liberty and the Constitution. After giving the man a chance and voting for him in the Presidential election, one he had no shot at winning, I purposly lost track of him. I had other things on which to focus.

Then today I found this tripe, this objectionable piece submitted by Mr. Barr to the local Atlanta paper. This is the old Bob Barr, the closed-minded, exclusionist hypocrite that I remember from years ago. To me after writing a piece like this he shows that he is no longer commited to Libertarian ideals, if he ever truely was. Shame on him. And shame on the party if they do not issue a statement seperating itself from the words of this man.

Read the article at the provided link and make up your own mind. Maybe I'm over reacting, but I think not."
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Creation Museum founder: US should take Genesis literally
OneNewsNow, ‎Feb 17, 2010‎
"ETERSBURG, KY - The founder of the Creation Museum says American Christians are losing the culture war because many of them now believe what he calls the "pagan religion" of evolution.

In what he characterized as a "State of the Union" speech from his museum in Kentucky, Ken Ham rebuked churches and Christian scholars who don't believe in a young Earth and creation in six days. "That's why we have such a weak church, why a church is not touching the culture," he stated. "[T]he church in our Western world needs to repent of compromise and get back to the authority of the Word of God and stand unashamedly on the Word of God."

Christians who doubt the truth of the Bible, he said, are losing the culture war. "Christianity in this nation is becoming outlawed more and more in various quarters," he noted, "and in fact Christians are now more than ever being openly mocked."

Ham argued that the opening chapters of Genesis are Christianity's foundation, so attempts to reconcile the Bible's teaching with evolution undermine faith in Jesus' divinity and resurrection.

The Christian apologist called for "a new Reformation to call the church back to the authority of the word of God." He also cited a need for "Christian leaders out there calling for this new Reformation.""
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Who is Allah?
The Bostwana Gazette, 18 February 2010
"Firstly, Allah is the name by which God is known to all Arabs, Christians and Muslims alike. The Arab Christians are known to call Jesus ‘ibn Allah’ meaning the son of God. Ask the Orthodox Christians of Iraq the birthplace of Abraham, the Coptic Christians of the Egypt of Moses, the Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land trod by Jesus Christ or the peoples of the entire Middle Eastern complex, the epicenter from which the shockwaves of revelation emanated, and they will attest to that ‘Allah’ is recognized as the proper name for what Western religions call ‘God’.

Secondly, the Arabic translation of the Bible refers to God as ‘Allah’, but the Western Christian with his deep rooted prejudice against the Muslim will do everything to deceive the poor African Christian by feeding him false information to turn him away from his true religion towards the worship of a man-God. Does it mean that Arab Christians also worship a pagan god or that their Bible encourages them to do so?

Thirdly, The 72 Jewish scholars entrusted to translate the Septuagint chose to translate ‘Elohim’, the most encountered name for God in the New Testament, to ‘Theos’. ‘Elohim’, ‘Eloah’, ‘Eloi’, ‘Eli’ sound like and linguistically match ‘Allah’ in form and meaning. These Biblical names are in Hebrew, a sister language to Arabic and Aramaic. So it would be expected for words which have the similar meanings in these languages to have a similar phonetic sound. For instance, ‘shalom’ in Hebrew and ‘salaam’ in Arabic both mean peace.

What is not recognized by Christian and Muslim purists in the land of revelation is the generic Westernized name, ‘God’. This term is completely and absolutely foreign to the untranslated, foundational scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and the Qur’an. It simply does not exist in the foundational manuscripts of any of the three Abrahamic religions. Not even a single word can be found which can be transliterated to ‘God’.
The word ‘God’ is of uncertain origin. It may have arisen from the Indo-European ‘ghut’ with underlying meaning of that which is invoked or the prehistoric German ‘guth’ as a distant ancestor (from which modern Germanic ‘gott’, the Dutch ‘god’ and the Swedish and Danish ‘gud’ are derived). Lots of maybes. No matter how the origin of the word is traced, the name ‘God’ is of Western and extra-Biblical construction, and the historical origin and meaning are uncertain.

Consider names such as Shim’own Kipa, Yehowchanan, Iakobos, Matthaios. Who is to say that these transliterations of the Hebrew and Greek are not the correct names for the Biblical Simon Peter, John, James and Matthew? Are they correct only in their English form?"


Online Etymology Dictionary
"god
O.E. god "supreme being, deity," from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. Du. god, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- "that which is invoked" (cf. Skt. huta- "invoked," an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- "to call, invoke." But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- "poured," from root *gheu- "to pour, pour a libation" (source of Gk. khein "to pour," khoane "funnel" and khymos "juice;" also in the phrase khute gaia "poured earth," referring to a burial mound). "Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound" [Watkins]. Cf. also Zeus. Not related to good. Originally neut. in Gmc., the gender shifted to masc. after the coming of Christianity. O.E. god was probably closer in sense to L. numen. A better word to translate deus might have been P.Gmc. *ansuz, but this was only used of the highest deities in the Gmc. religion, and not of foreign gods, and it was never used of the Christian God. It survives in Eng. mainly in the personal names beginning in Os-."
goddess and god

AFA Worship Circle, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Love Spells, Lupercalia

Gotta have a sense of humor.
Inside the AFA worship circle
by Rich Tosches, Colorado Springs Independent, February 11, 2010‎
"The new Wiccan, Druid and Earth-centered religious worship circle on a mountaintop at the Air Force Academy is equipped with a propane gas hookup for the ritualistic soul-healing fires — just like the worship circles a thousand years ago, when the High Priestess of Babalashadan would stand by the fire and cry out in an enchanted voice, "Lagaz atha cabyolas," which means, literally, "OK, who brought the marshmallows?""
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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
by John Mulderig, Catholic News Service, 12 Feb, 2010
"For the film -- like the children's novel on which it's based -- is set in motion when its hero, mildly troubled New York high school student Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), discovers his true identity as a demigod, offspring of the Greek sea god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Sally (Catherine Keener), his affectionate, but perfectly ordinary human mother.

Some will take this mingling of contemporary reality and ancient myth as no more than a literary device, and a useful means of introducing youngsters to the deities of Mount Olympus, whose figures crop up constantly throughout the canon of Western literature. For others, it may represent an attempted revival of pagan ideas with the potential to confuse impressionable kids."
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Mystical, magical: Learn lore of love spells and potions
by Elizabeth Harrison, Great Falls Tribune, MT, February 12, 2010 ‎
"From herbal elixirs to love spells, the world is full of folklore, superstitions and spells claiming to ignite the fires of love and turn the popular Valentine's Day phrase "Be Mine" into reality.

"Even people who are suspicious of magic will often do superstitious things to attract love," said Lance Foster, a Helena-based anthropologist specializing in traditional folklore practices."
[...]
While love spells are not necessarily bogus, casting them is considered immoral in the neopagan religion, Wicca.

"It's real, but it's really against the Wiccan religion to affect someone," said Lady Nytewind, a high priestess with the Billings Mountain Moon Circle pagan group. "You're messing with someone else's karma, and that's not ethical."

Nytewind said doing work to ask for more love in your life is acceptable, as well as healing spells.

"Like healing a broken heart," she said. "As long as you're not trying to influence someone else."
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Valentines Day: The Real Story
by Jeremiah McDaniel, KHTS Radio, February 12 2010
"The History Channel reports that the decision to celebrate Valentines Day in the middle of February was an effort to Christianize the pagan's Lupercalia festival.

The festival, which celebrates the official beginning of spring, was a time for purification. Romans cleaned their houses and sprinkled salt and spelt, a type of wheat, throughout their homes.

"Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus."

According to theholidayspot.com, "in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day and set its observance a day earlier, February 14. He proclaimed February 14 to be the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine.""
goddess and god

Rerspect Religious Diversity, or Don't, New Pagan Literary eZine, Egyptomania

This is great! It made me want to stand up and salute!
At the Air Force Academy, it's all about respect
by Lt. Gen. Mike C. Gould, U.S. Air Force Academy superintendent, 2/3/2010
"The Air Force Academy is not the first Air Force institution to accommodate Earth-centered religions and we won't be the last. However, at the Air Force Academy the issue of religion is far greater than accommodation, it's about religious respect.

The mission of the United States Air Force Academy is to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation. We are dedicated to creating a learning and training environment where cadets can realize their highest potential regardless of their religious or other beliefs.

Cadets learn that to succeed as an Air Force officer we must be able to support and respect the people who we lead, serve with and fight alongside even if they do not share our personal beliefs.

Cadets learn that every service member is charged with defending freedom for all Americans and that includes the freedom to practice a religion of their choice or to not practice any religion at all.

Cadets learn that it is a great honor and privilege to wear the uniform of our armed services and serve to protect freedom, to include religious freedom.

On graduation day, the same day as they are awarded a commission as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force, they will take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

At the Air Force Academy we focus and will continue to focus on respect for human dignity to ensure all personnel respect the spirit and intent of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is our common duty as members of the United States Air Force."


Stone Simple: Texas Pastor Can't Grasp The Basics Of Religious Liberty
by Rob Boston, Americans United (blog), February 8th, 2010
"What is it with these guys? They just don’t get one of the fundamental features of America life: When it comes to religion, you get to make your own decisions, and you get to choose.

Does your religion teach that homosexuality is a sin? Then don’t check out books that portray homosexuality in a positive light from the library. Does your faith frown upon Pagan rituals? Don’t attend any. It couldn’t be any simpler.

But understand that you have no right to make personal decisions about religion for anyone else. And understand that your bigotry and intolerance stands in opposition to the values of our First Amendment.

Rev. Jeffress, I have a news flash for you: Americans have the right to choose whatever religion they want – or reject them all. They have the right to change their minds, too. They have the right to blend elements from several traditions into their own personal faith.

They also have the right to think you’re all wet.

I believe the right of religious liberty is one of the most important and valuable things about America. I’m sorry Jeffress doesn’t agree. Every time I read a column like Jeffress’ recent screed, I am reminded of why the work of Americans United is so important."


Ah, scare quotes.
Chapel: a subordinate or private place of worship: as a : a place of worship serving a residence or institution b : a small house of worship usually associated with a main church c : a room or recess in a church for meditation and prayer or small religious services

Pagan 'chapel' at Air Force Academy
by Chad Groening, OneNewsNow, 2/8/2010
"The retired officer adds that the military at large has already recognized these groups. "There are witch covens at various military installations that are supported by the military chaplains corps, and that's something that a non-discriminatory chaplaincy has to do," he says.

So Maginnis concludes that the under the circumstances, it is probably appropriate for the Air Force Academy to provide a place for these religions."


Opinion: Air Force Academy Recognizes Paganism: Independence Day or Halloween?
by Michael Terheyden, Catholic Online, ‎Feb 5, 2010‎
"Lt. Gen. Mike C. Gould informs us that the recognition of paganism is an expression of the highest respect and dignity toward others; that it serves and protects our freedom, including religious freedom; and that it supports and defends the Constitution of the United States. So how come I do not feel assured?

Well, one reason is that earth-centered religions are classified under neo-paganism, the new-age revival of a loose collection of ancient European pagan religions and witchcraft.

Paganism and witchcraft are not equal to the major religions of the world. I believe that it largely died out throughout much of the world because, based on the idea of “survival of the fittest,” it was not the fittest.

In general it was violent and blood thirsty and mired in superstition and magic. It was seemingly unable to provide the glue necessary to maintain a healthy culture and society.

It is true that others have the right in our country to believe what they want, and we should defend that right, but it is another thing altogether to treat every belief as being equal when they are not.

Consequently, it does not seem competent or rational when the Air Force Academy, one of the premier training institutions of our military, equates neo-paganism with the major religions of the world and claims this is, somehow, indicative of tolerance and respect."
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Eternal Haunted Summer - Pagan Songs and Tales
An ezine dedicated to Pagan poetry, short fiction and reviews.

Eternal Haunted Summer: Rebecca Buchanan
By Wolfen Moondaughter, Sequential Tart News, February 8, 2010
"ST: How and when did you find yourself on a pagan path?

RB: I started down this rather round-about path in college. I had been a devout Catholic all through childhood and into early adulthood — but the more I was exposed to history, women's studies and religious studies, the more I began to question that faith. Pogroms, crusades, the Inquisition, et cetera and so on. Plus the fact that I could never be a priest, which seemed horribly unfair.

Thanks to all those women's studies and religious studies (and mythology and literature) courses, I eventually discovered Goddess Spirituality. But I never really felt at home there, either; too much like "God in a skirt." So, I turned to my oldest love: mythology. I was very surprised to discover that people still believed in, worshipped, and experienced all those old Gods and Goddesses. It was a world-altering discovery.

See, folks: don't let your daughters get an education! It will only lead them astray!

ST: Tell us about your particular branch of paganism.

RB: I am a member of Neos Alexandria, a syncretic Greco-Egyptian group which takes the ancient city of Alexandria as its model. The original Alexandria, founded on the Egyptian shore of the Mediterranean, was a cosmopolitan city, rich in faith and culture and learning (famous library; ever heard of it?). I emphasize nature and the arts in my practice, so I am particularly devoted to Deities such as Artemis, Gaea, Helios, Selene, Eos, Hermes, Apollo and the Muses, and Hekate."
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Geoffrey Clarfield: 2500 years of Egyptomania
by Geoffrey Clarfield, National Post (blog), February 08, 2010
"It is most likely that Herodotus visited Egypt and interviewed Egyptian priests in their temples. His researches persuaded him that most Greek gods were borrowed from Egypt (exceptions being Poseidon, the Dioscuri, Hera, Hestia, Themis, the Graces and the Nereids). Having witnessed the festival of the Goddess Isis, he also mentions that the Greek custom of ritual cleansing before entering a sacred precinct after having sex was adopted from the Egyptians.

Herodotus and a growing number of later Greek, Hellenistic and Roman writers on things Egyptian could not read the hieroglyphics and papyrus manuscripts of the ancient polytheistic religion of the land of the Pharaohs. Thus, their understanding of Egyptian religion and thought was somewhat distorted. Nevertheless, they were so impressed by the order, magnitude and apparent wisdom of Egypt that — despite the originality of classical Greek culture — many Greeks assumed that their own brilliance had its origins in Egypt, thus giving birth to a tradition in Western thought that has never really died out, which assumes ancient Egypt to be the source of all science, wisdom and righteousness.
[...]
Renaissance luminaries such as Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficiono and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola believed that their author, Hermes Trismegistus, had been a wise Egyptian, connected in some way to the God Thoth, who had predicted the coming of Christ. (Although the great Renaissance literary scholar Isaac Casaubon definitively showed that the writings were not ancient, fragments of the Hermetic writings were found among the Nag Hammadi manuscripts in Egypt in 1948, suggesting that they were at least in existence at the end of the second century AD.) Despite the Renaissance rediscovery of Greek and Roman humanism, Renaissance scholars, like the Greeks before them, could not completely shake the belief that their civilization was somehow descended from northern Africa.
[...]
Kemetic Orthodoxy is a form of worship of the Egyptian Gods, which is now a recognized religion under the laws of the state of Iowa. Another official group worships in Wisconsin, while a third group that is largely African American worships the Gods in Brooklyn. When interviewed, one of the worshippers remarked that “I was drawn to the religion since the age of nine. I still remember hearing in Sunday school about how evil and bad the Egyptians were and I would be so angry at that!”"
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goddess and god

Spiritual Warfare

US Air Force Academy accommodates cadets with Earth-centered faiths
by Sundeep Matharu, TopNews United States, Feb 2, 2010‎
"The decision to provide service area for cadets following Earth-centered faiths has largely been based on findings of a 2004 survey, which reported that the cadets of the school – which has worship facilities for Christians, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims – faced harassment on religion-related matters.

However, noting that there has been no notable sign of resistance at the academy, Father Jonathan Morris has termed the new worship area decision as a “politically correct cowardice by bumbling bureaucrats.”

Father Morris further added that “behind the smoke and mirrors of the supposed high demand for 'Earth worship prayer circles' is a small group of activist atheists in America who seek first to water-down and then to abolish the name and face of God from the public square.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. William Ziegler, the Cadet Wing Chaplain at the academy, said that “freedom to practice our religion of choice” should be defended for all religions."


On Being a Spiritual Warrior
by Gus diZerega, Friday February 5, 2010
"We Pagans do not regard embodied existence as a problem ultimately to be overcome, and have little difficulty pushing back against religious bigots and moral monsters when given a chance. Landing solid blows in whatever form the contest takes can be supremely satisfying. Seeing spiritual cowards (like "MM" in a previous set of comments) retreat in disgrace feels good. And there is the danger.

Alas, I think the Buddhist caution is not without weight. The excitement of battle, with lines clearly drawn, the support of allies and the adrenal rush of anger and righteousness are addictive. They are also dangerous. All this speaks the language of Power, and when isolated, Power depends on differentiation between the one who has it and the one who doesn't. Battle isolates Power from other contexts, for one either prevails or one does not. Other issues are set aside until later. In battle Power is all that counts, and so those addicted to Power thrive in battle. This is as true in battles on a blog as in physical battle in Iraq or Afghanistan, although the immediate stakes in the latter are far higher for all concerned.
[...]
We will sometimes fail in our efforts to keep our hearts open, even if we otherwise prevail. Certainly I sometimes do. Even those who win wars are wounded by them. This is true for societies and equally for the individuals in those societies. So we should be gentle with ourselves when we fall short of our goals. We need to remember that those who made it possible for Buddhists to have another chance with their path were not perfect, but they created a big improvement over what would have been the case if they had not tried to strive for a better world.

At the same time, we need to keep in mind what I regard as one of the most important Pagan insights: that at the deepest level there is an underlying harmony, and that we manage best when we can act in keeping with it. Can we remain aware of this larger context in which Power exists? The more that we can the more our struggles against those who would destroy us will pave the way for a better world for ourselves and those who come after. The more we can, the more power will be a blessing than a curse."
goddess and god

Arrest in Sweat Lodge Deaths, Christians Desecrate Circle, Witch-hunters kill family, Wicca Class

James Ray Arrested in Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths
by Lee Ferran, ABC News, Feb. 3, 2010
"Controversial spiritual leader James Arthur Ray was arrested today and charged with three counts of manslaughter connected to the deaths at a Sedona, Ariz., sweat lodge in October.
Beverly Bunn and Sidney Spencer say spiritual guru pushed participants too far.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest in a statement on its Web site.

"With the arrest of James Ray, Sheriff [Steve] Waugh hopes the familes of the three victims will now have some measure of closure to this tragedy," the post said.

Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman died following a ceremony in the sweat lodge led by Ray on Oct. 9.

Bond was set for Ray at $5 million, the sheriff's office said.

Ray's lawyer, Luis Li, called the charges "unjust" and said that Ray would be proven innocent. "
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Christians Desecrate Wiccan Religious Site at Air Force Academy
by Michael Leon, Veterans Today Network, February 3, 2010
"Evangelical Christians are at it again. The proselytizing only-through-Christ bunch have now taken up desecration of non-Christian religious sites: Not Jews this time but Wiccans. What the hell goes through the minds of these evangelicals who think they can tell other religions—at a military academy no less—what to believe? At their core, evangelicals who despise pluralism are infantile."


Christians Desecrate Pagan Site at Air Force Academy
by Gus diZerega, Beliefnet.com (blog) February 3, 2010
"I was wondering how long the new Pagan site would last without incident given the number of Sauronic folks in Colorado identifying themselves as Christians.

Apparently not long.

I hope those responsible are prosecuted to the full extent possible and if cadets or military officers, given dishonorable discharges as betraying their oath of service. Since their word is worthless, their presence in the service is a risk to all decent people."
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'Witchcraft' vigilantes kill family
by Ügen Vos and SAPA, The Citizen, February 4 2010
"JOHANNESBURG - Police have promised to make an example of a group of vigilantes they say butchered an entire family because they believed their elderly grandmother was involved in witchcraft.

Nokitani Tshemesi, 65, and her three granddaughters were stabbed to death with an assegai in the Eastern Cape village of Ntshingizi early Monday morning. The youngest victim was 10 years old.

Their three suspected killers are appearing in the Mqanduli Magistrate’s Court today.

Police say killings motivated by allegations of witchcraft remain a serious problem in the province, and they want to send a strong message that this was not acceptable.

“We are talking about the safety of women and children, because they are vulnerable to these kinds of crimes,” said police superintendent Mzukisi Fatyela.

“We will take them to court to teach them a lesson, so that others who may do that must know the law will take its course, and punish them.”

Police sniffer dogs were roped in to help find some of the family’s blood-stained clothes, and police have also recovered the assegai used in the horrendous crime.

Police arrested two men, aged 33 and 27, for the crime on Tuesday night.

Yesterday morning they pounced on a third suspect, aged 22, when he returned to his home. Fatyela said the arrests were made thanks to a tip-off from the local community.

Police have ruled out robbery as a motive. Says Fatyela: “The family who was murdered was very poor. She (the grandmother) was accused of witchcraft… she was accused of killing someone (with witchcraft).”

Earlier this month, an 81-year-old woman was stabbed 50 times and had her throat slit near Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal, after her neighbour accused her of witchcraft. Police say the man had convinced himself that the elderly woman was behind the death-by-witchcraft of two family members. "
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Course explores wicca religion
Nanaimo News Bulletin, British Columbia, February 03, 2010
"Anyone interested in exploring the wicca religion is invited back to class.

The Temple of the Green Cauldron is offering Introduction to Wicca, running Wednesdays from Feb. 17 to March 14 at the Harewood Activity Centre, 195 Fourth St.

The course is for those interested in exploring the wiccan or pagan path. The class will cover basic skills and knowledge needed for anyone new to the craft or wishing to brush up on old skills.

Some of the topics will include the history of witchcraft, the Wheel of the Year cycle of the Earth’s seasons, magick and spell craft, ritual construction, divination, meditation and others.

Classroom time will consist of 36 hours of instruction and hands-on practice with an opportunity for assistance.

The class is a community service provided by the Temple of the Green Cauldron and is not for profit. The registraton fee of $80 covers the textbook, class rental and printing.

A limited number of seats are available to those experiencing financial hardship. Class size is restricted and the fee is due before classes begin.

A registration form is available at www.greencauldron.org/workshops/intro_to_wicca/2010_reg.pdf.

For further information, please e-mail info@greencauldron.org or telephone 250-758-8332."
goddess and god

Cross found at Air Force Academy Circle, Pagan Church Zoning dispute, Lancaster mayor

Cross found at Air Force Academy's Wicca center
By DeeDee Correll, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2010
"Reporting from Denver - The Air Force Academy, stung several years ago by accusations of Christian bias, has built a new outdoor worship area for pagans and other practitioners of Earth-based religions.

But its opening, heralded as a sign of a more tolerant religious climate at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., was marred by the discovery two weeks ago of a large wooden cross placed there.

"We've been making great progress at the Air Force Academy. This is clearly a setback," said Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the academy. He is founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and has often tangled with the academy over such issues.
[...]
The reaction would have been stronger, Weinstein said, if another worship center had been involved. Had a swastika been placed in the Jewish center, "heads would be rolling," he said."
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Church advocates claiming prejudice
by John P. Boan, Times-Georgia, Feb 2, 2010
"Appearing at the Carroll County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night, a number of residents spoke in favor of a conditional-use permit for a church near Bowdon, claiming the Planning and Zoning Board’s past recommendation of denial stemmed from unconstitutional prejudice.

Robert Crowe asked the board to approve a conditional-use permit for use of his 33-acre tract as a Dragon Hill Retreat STAR (Sacred Tribe of the Ancient Roots) Grove, allowing it to be used in activities of the Church of the Spiral Tree, an “ecumenical pagan church.”

The request itself was made by James and Rita Middleton, both members of the Church of the Spiral Tree. As part of the activities of the church on the property, the permit would allow storage buildings that have been used as temporary residences on the property to remain as such.

Crowe said he is Native American and he practices certain pagan rituals that by definition are rooted in an “earth and nature-based religion.”

Crowe said the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Board recommended denial of the request on Jan. 26 simply because the proposed church would promote activities and beliefs to which the members of the board were opposed. According to the minutes of that meeting, there was much discussion about the events that take place on the facility as part of the religious ceremonies, though much of the debate dealt with the housing units on the property, as they were not properly zoned as residential.

“It seems obvious that this refusal to let a group meet and practice their chosen spiritual path is based primarily on personal prejudices, as observed in the board members, and as such deserves absolutely no place in this public forum,” Crowe said. “The board spent most of their time at that Tuesday meeting asking for clarification of the word pagan and generally questioning the morality and ethics of Mr. and Mrs. Middleton.”
"
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Lancaster mayor stirs religious controversy
by Sid Garcia, Los Angeles News, abclocal.go.com, February 01, 2010
"LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- A Muslim group is fighting back after Lancaster's mayor claimed the city is a Christian community. They said that his remarks violate the constitution's guarantee of the separation of church and state.

"What I am attempting to convey is that we are a Christian city," said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris.

The mayor was at the San Bernardino County courthouse in Victorville, where he is trying a case Monday. In his state of the city address last week, he described Lancaster as a Christian city in front of an audience that had more than 100 clergy.

"We are a growing Christian community and don't let anybody shy away from that. I need Lancaster residents standing up and saying we are a Christian community and we're proud of it," he said in his speech. "
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goddess and god

Wicca in the Air Force

Pagans get worship space at academy
AirForceTimes.com, Jan 31, 2010
"The Air Force Academy will add a worship area for followers of “earth-centered religion” — pagans — with a dedication ceremony scheduled for March 10.

A stone circle located on a hill overlooking the Cadet Chapel and visitor center will join Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist sacred spaces at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, a pagan who worked with the chapel to create the circle, said he did not encounter resistance to the idea.

“There really haven’t been any obstacles for the new circle,” he said in an Air Force news release. “The chaplain’s office has been 100 -percent supportive.”

Longcrier said earth-centered spirituality includes traditions such as Wicca and Druidism. Wicca is the largest religious group in the Air Force after Christianity."


Respect healthy for different faiths
By Erik Holmes, AirForceTimes.com, Sunday Jan 17, 2010
"Servicewide, about 80 percent of airmen in 2008 identified themselves as Christians to the Defense Manpower Data Center. Nearly 17 percent gave no religious preference, and about 3 percent listed non-Christian faiths. Less than 1 percent — 0.68 — said they considered themselves atheists, those who do not believe in God or any deity.

By comparison, 76 percent of the U.S. population told the Census Bureau that they practice Christianity. Roughly 13 percent stated no religious preference, and about 10 percent identified themselves as religious but not Christian. Again, less than 1 percent — 0.71 — listed themselves as nonbelievers.

In the Air Force, Wicca — witchcraft — is the largest non-Christian faith, with 1,434 followers. The breakdown of other religious minorities: 1,271 Buddhists, 1,148 Jews, 678 Muslims and 190 Hindus."
goddess and god

U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel Adds Outdoor Worship Circle

In more cheerful news:
Academy chapel to add outdoor circle to worship areas
by Staff Sgt. Don Branum, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs, Posted 1/26/2010
"U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy chapel will add a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions during a dedication ceremony, which is tentatively scheduled to be held at the circle March 10.

The circle, located atop the hill overlooking the Cadet Chapel and Visitor Center, will be the latest addition to a collection of worship areas that includes Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist sacred spaces.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, NCO in charge of the Academy's Astronautics laboratories, worked with the chapel to create the official worship area for both cadets and other servicemembers in the Colorado Springs area who practice Earth-centered spirituality.
[...]
The stones that now form the inner and outer rings of the circle once sat near the Visitor Center, where the chance of erosion made the rocks a safety hazard. The 10th Civil Engineer Squadron moved the rocks to the top of the hill in spring and early summer. Once finished, the circle will also include materials from a smaller circle that Sergeant Longcrier briefly set up in Jacks Valley.
[...]
The Academy's chaplains have supported Sergeant Longcrier's efforts every step of the way, the NCO said.

"There really haven't been any obstacles for the new circle," he said. "The chaplain's office has been 100-percent supportive."

"Every servicemember is charged with defending freedom for all Americans, and that includes freedom to practice our religion of choice or, for that matter, not to practice any faith at all," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) William Ziegler, Cadet Wing chaplain. "Being in the military isn't just a job -- it's a calling. We all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and that means we've all sworn to protect one another's religious liberties. We all put on our uniforms the same way; we're all Airmen first."

The presence of diverse worship areas reflects a sea change from five years ago, when reports surfaced alleging religious intolerance at the Academy. Sergeant Longcrier became Pagan shortly after arriving at the Academy in 2006 and said he believes the climate has improved dramatically.
[...]
Earth-centered spirituality includes traditions such as Wicca, Druidism and several other religious paths that, while relatively new, trace their roots to pre-Christian Europe, Sergeant Longcrier said."


Air Force Builds Worship Space for Wiccans
by Daniel Burke, Religion News Service, Friday January 29, 2010
"The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado will set aside a worship space for followers of "Earth-centered" religions such as Wicca and Druidism, according to an Air Force news release.
[...]
The Air Force has been accused of allowing evangelical officers to openly proselytize and pressure cadets of other faiths. In 2005, the Air Force issued new guidelines pledging to "accommodate free exercise of religion and other personal beliefs."

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who worked with academy officials to create the space, said in the news release, "there really haven't been any obstacles for the new circle. The chaplain's office has been 100 percent supportive.""