Tags: politics

goddess and god

White House Easter Egg Roll to Be Environmentally Friendly

White House Easter Egg Roll to Be Environmentally Friendly
Fox News, Monday, 08 Mar 2010
"This year’s White House Easter Egg roll will be eggs-actly what the bunny ordered. The environmentally concerned bunny, that is.

A White House announcement Monday said the eggs at this year’s April 5 roll will be made from paperboard that contains no wood fibers from endangered forests, is recyclable and features vegetable-oil based inks and a water-based coating.

What’s more, they’ll come in purple, pink, green and yellow and feature the stamped signatures of both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The eggs, produced and sold by the National Park Foundation, are given as a souvenir to all children under 12 who attend the annual roll. And if you can’t make it to the White House, the orbs are available online.

This year's theme for the roll is "Ready, Set, Go", part of Mrs. Obama's plan to promote health and wellness in the United States and combat childhood obesity."


White House Easter Egg Roll Honors 'Mother Earth'
by Tom McGregor, Dallas Blog (blog), ‎Mar 8, 2010‎
"For some Americans, Easter is a religious holiday to pay homage to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom they consider to be the Son of God. But for President Barack Obama, this is a day to worship the environmental pagan goddess of 'Mother Earth.' No word yet, on whether the government-sponsored pagan worshippers at the Air Force Academy have been invited to attend ceremonies at the White House Easter Egg Roll ceremonies this year.
[...]
Nevertheless, it hasn't been determined if every single ingredient to manufacture the eggs, comes directly from the United States, or perhaps China. If some portion of the green-friendly eggs were made in China, then Obama may have to cancel the 'Mother Earth' event, since Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) is pushing for legislation to outlaw the use of stimulus funds to finance environmental products that were not 'Made in America.'"


Air Force Pagans "Not Invited" to White House
by Tom McGregor, Dallas Blog (blog), ‎Mar 13, 2010‎
"In a stunning rebuke to the pagan worshippers at the Air Force Academy, President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama did not invite them to the eco-friendly White House Easter Egg Roll this year. Perhaps, the Air Force pagans do not participate in ceremonies to honor the environmental goddess of Mother Earth, which may explain the disinvitation.

In an e-mail response to the Dallas Blog, Pagan Priest Brandon Longcrier, who was featured in a Fox News article, had written, "No, we (the "pagan worshippers at the Air Force Academy") were not invited. Maybe next year ... and can we not get into whose holiday came first and where from? Christians have Easter, so let them have it and let them enjoy it for what it means to them. We have Ostara, which we celebrate at a different time and for a completely different reason. "Can't we all just get along?" ... Many Blessings to All ... Brandon Loncrier"

Comment written by Brandon Longcrier, March 14, 2010
For the record....I'm not a "Priest" and I we didn't expect to be invited to the White House. There are Pagans much higher up than me that I'd hope would be invited before I was. But I wouldn't turn it down of course. :O)

Brandon Longcrier -"
goddess and god

Box Office Pantheism, Islam and the civic state, The Lesser Path

Box Office Pantheism
ChristianityToday.com, March 5, 2010‎
"C.S. Lewis thought pantheism—the belief that a non-personal God and nature are one, that there is an all-inclusive divine unity—was more corrosive to Christianity than atheism itself.
[...]
A conventional love story bolstered by dazzling visuals, the film follows ex-Marine Jake Sully as he joins forces with the Na'vi, Pandora's natives, to defend their ecosystem—which is also their god, it seems. The blue humanoids revere all life, believing that each creature is interconnected and charged with divine energy. We see the Na'vi bowing and worshiping before the Tree of Souls, their holiest site. Eywa, an unseen female deity, holds it all together, responding to their prayers for protection against American mercenaries.

What all this amounts to, grumbled New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, is Cameron's "long apologia for pantheism," which has been "Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now." It's the spirit that animates such classics as the Star Wars saga and The Lion King, along with the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. Vatican Radio criticized the film for "cleverly wink[ing] at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium." Movieguide said the film "has an abhorrent New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes goddess worship and the destruction of the human race." The only clear religion in Avatar is White Messianism, scoffed David Brooks at The New York Times, since "the natives" need a white man, Sully, to lead their crusade."
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Islam and the civic state
Al-Ahram Weekly, 4-10 March 2010, Issue No. 988
"Every religion has its own genius for finding a universal meaning or value that serves to carve its niche in history. This genius might be inspired by the challenges it faces, by the aims it aspires to, or by the historical role it seeks to play. Islam appeared in a tribal and pagan environment, one characterised by the lack of a dominant religion and by the absence of an overarching political society -- an early Arabian without tribal protection had little chance of survival. Islam thus encountered a three-fold challenge: a crisis in creed in the face of prevailing paganism; a social crisis fed by prevailing tribalism; and a civilisational crisis in light of the backwardness of life in the Arabian Peninsula in comparison to the overwhelming superiority of neighbouring civilisations."
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The Lesser Path
by Lewis S. Rutherfurd, The New York Times, UDAIPUR, INDIA, March 5, 2010
"I encountered Father Lesser at the hotel buffet, where my dad had assembled his mutinous table, including his fiancé, her 20-something son, my agnostic wife and our three glowingly pagan children.
[...]
Father Lesser has become a genuine Indian holy man. He’s paid his dues. Everyone in Udaipur knows this, Christian or not. But I asked him what he thought a missionary could bring to India, with all its riotous, ancient religions.

“It’s a valid question,” he said, as we sat in his small, cluttered room at a Catholic high school. “But if I believe in Christ, he tells me to go and preach. He doesn’t tell me go and convert.”

As we spoke, the noxious traffic of urban India clamored outside. “For instance,” he continued. “You came here, and I must try and give you something of Christ. But there’s no compulsion. How can there be?”
[...]
He’d come to love Indian spirituality, he said, especially the poetry of Indian saints. They made him a better communicator, and a better priest, and so he wrote books about them.
[...]
“If you really want to live — you’ve got to relate to God, and you’ve got to relate to people,” he said. “You cannot live a proper life without these.” The worst sins were selfishness and pride."
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goddess and god

Pagan Chaplain Appointed, God hates hate, Pagan Avatar, POTUS on Religious Liberty, Pagan Families

First Pagan Chaplain Appointed at Syracuse University
By Rebecca Kheel, Virtue Online, 2/15/10
"Hendricks Chapel recognized Mary Hudson as its first pagan chaplain on Feb. 1, in line with its goal of being more inclusive of all religions on campus.

This is the first new chaplain since the appointments of the Buddhist and the historically black church chaplains and the 11th chaplain at Hendricks. As a chaplain, Hudson will work at Hendricks two days a week, sponsor community outreaches and be apart of the Chaplains Council.

Syracuse University may be only the second university in the nation to have a pagan chaplain, Hudson said. The only other one she was aware of is at the University of Southern Maine.

Hudson said she hopes her appointment will help the SU community become more aware and understanding of the pagan community. Although she said there is more awareness and respect than the past, she hopes the chaplaincy will help stigmas and stereotypes disappear."
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Aw, this is sweet.
Christianity should be marked by love, not hate
by Myles Ikenberry, Kansas State Collegian, February 15, 2010
"When St. Thomas Aquinas shaped the Catholic Church’s view of homosexuality, he believed that homosexuality was a creation of human beings, standing in direct opposition to the intentions of the Creator. Today we know that homosexual behavior exists not only in other mammals, but also in birds, reptiles, amphibians and even bugs.

Although the evolutionary reasons for LGBTQ are not fully understood today, when a man or a woman is born gay that is clearly not a defiance of God’s will.

Although Jesus never condemned homosexuality, he did condemn the persecution of the weak, the vilification of those who are different and the hatred of fellow human beings.

God doesn’t hate LGBTQ. God hates hate."
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Is "Avatar" too Blue for Oscar gold?
by Peter Keough, The Phoenix (blog), Feb 15 2010
"Adds the ever reliable John Podhoretz of the "Weekly Standard:" "Avatar is blitheringly stupid; indeed, it's among the dumbest movies I've ever seen [and he's seen his share -- he's listed "Cinderella Man" and "The Phantom Menace" as among his favorite movies]." And mainly it's dumb because of its "mindless worship of a nature-loving tribe and the tribe's adorable pagan rituals, its hatred of the military and American institutions, and the notion that to be human is just way uncool-at all seriously as a political document."

And then of course, there is its godless, anti-religious paganism, a theme that doesn't surprise Russ Douhat in "The New York Times." "...pantheism," he sighs, " has been Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now."

And there's a lot more where this comes from. You got to wonder where these guys get the time to spread their lies and half truths about Obama's health care reform policies."
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Presidential Proclamations: The Chief Executives On Religious Liberty
by Rob Boston, Americans United (blog),
"George Washington: “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.” (Letter to Touro Synagogue, Newport, R.I., August, 1790)
[...]
John F. Kennedy: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.” (Speech to Greater Houston Ministerial Association, Sept. 12, 1960)"
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A New Political Theory Research Program For Today
by James Poulos, First Things (blog), ‎Feb 14, 2010‎
"As instructive as it is to trace the logic of Sade, Emerson, Freud, and others into the post-Foucauldian territory we frequent today, and as worthy a task as it is to reemphasize the natural character of the traditional family, both these sides of the family debate seem to me to miss something essential: a special aspect or character of the family that is non-natural. Typically, those who defend the family on natural-law grounds are happy to further demonstrate the compatibility of the nature-based approach with a supernatural one, wherein the authority of the traditional family results from the imposition of sacred order upon the natural substrate or raw material of biological necessity on the one hand and possibility on the other. But the question of whether that imposition is soft or hard is an important one; at least some commentators, particularly on the left, will not tire of pointing out the potentialities, in Christianity, particularly, for a sacred order that imposes commanding truths against certain aspects of the traditional family. The pagan, republican, quintessentially Roman family — as Tocqueville took a moment to hint — runs fundamentally contrary to the typical sort of family lived and theorized by natural-law Christians.

There are a variety of ways in which this is so, but, at the same time, it’s clear that certain aspects of pagan familial virtue are not exactly incompatible with the Biblical sacred order that can check or overcome their excesses and pathologies — just as the Biblical order imposes powerful interdicts, not to be confused with taboos, against the kind of violent desires that, to the morbid fascination of the ancient Greeks, deconstructed and destroyed the identities of family-bound individuals. Above all, for individuals in families Biblical order interdicts two kinds of pride, which combine and culminate in aristocratic nobility: pride in the unity of bloodline and virtu. Nonetheless, Biblical order has been unable to destroy both pagan familial order and the residual pride in family identity and family accomplishment that persist, especially among ‘real Americans’, to this day. It is not too much to suggest that Biblical order, in practice, has been unwilling to destroy these things."
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goddess and god

Witch vs Green Party, Gods' Robes, Pendle Witch Camp, NZ Pagan Festival, Margot Adler, Hindu Pyre

Witch's poll hopes dashed after rejection by Greens
South Devon.co.uk Herald Express, February 13, 2010
"Ms Goldsmith said she had hoped to represent Torbay on green issues.

She said her lifestyle as a 10th generation hereditary witch was is in tune with the party's politics.

Ms Goldsmith describes herself as a female Shaman — Shamanka or wise woman — who practises the ancient arts to help students on their spiritual journey.

A Green Party spokesman did not make any comment on Ms Goldsmith's recent membership application.

He said: "Sarah Goldsmith resigned from the Green Party in May 2008. The South Devon Green Party will shortly run a selection process to find our general election candidate for the Torbay constituency.

"That candidate will champion our party's goals to preserve public services, restore the NHS, and create jobs to address the recession.""
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Gods’ robes marry tradition and innovation
By Tien-ying Hsu, Taiwan Today, 02/12/2010
"The robes worn by altar statues in Taiwanese temples are something to see, delicately embroidered with ancient Chinese characters or nature themes to accentuate the specific blessings that the gods offer.

Tim Chou, heir to a local traditional embroidery business based in the southern Taiwan County of Chiayi, has come up with unprecedented applications for these “gods’ robes.” One of the most striking is his design of tiny versions of the robes to protect and identify the paper-made lucky charms that pilgrims take home after worshipping a deity. These talismans are small and easily lost, especially when entrusted to children. Over time, one may also forget the specific blessing associated with a charm."
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Bewitching plans for 400th anniversary of Pendle witch trials
By Jon Livesey LancashireTelegraph.co.uk, 10th February 2010
" A YEAR-long programme of events is being proposed to mark the 400th anniversary of the trial and execution of the Pendle witches.

Adrian Lord, the man behind Pendle Witch Camp, wants to organise the series of events to take place in 2012.

He has offered to chair a committee aimed at securing funding for the festivities and coming up with ideas."
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Morrinsville prepares for pagan invasion
By Ali Ikram, 3news.co.nz, Thu, 11 Feb 2010
"Morrinsville will play host to the fourth New Zealand Pagan Festival, starting Friday.

Official statistics show that thousands of Kiwis follow the pagan way of life.

Nightline met with a member of the Order of the Oriental Templars, a secretive group that once counted infamous British occultist Aleister Crowley amongst its numbers.

Lionel Snell was dressed like an accountant on holiday. He's what's known as a 'chaos magician', and while he's used to people thinking that's a bit odd, so are a lot of things.

"Where I come from in England, there were these people who would meet in a temple where there was a field surrounding it where dead bodies were buried, and they'd kneel down in front of images of human torture and degradation and pretend to drink human blood and eat flesh," says Mr Snell.

"That, word for word, is an accurate description of a Church of England ceremony, but it complete misses the point.""
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Author, Margot Adler, to discuss paganism at Pacific
The Record, February 09, 2010
"STOCKTON, CA-- Margot Adler, an author and correspondent for National Public Radio, will lecture about paganism in America at 8 p.m. next Tuesday at the Long Theatre at University of the Pacific.

Adler is a practicing Wiccan. She is author of "Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today," a book considered by scholars to be an authoritative guide. Her most recent book is "Heretic's Heart: A Journey through Spirit and Revolution."

Adler's lecture, "Paganism: Religion, Not Superstition," is part of Pacific's Colliver Lecture Series on religion.

The event is free and open to the public. Adler will conduct a book signing after the lecture. For more information, visit www.pacific.edu."
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Hindu healer wins funeral pyre battle
By Jerome Taylor, The Independent Religious Affairs Correspondent, 10 February 2010
"In the end they decided that Mr Ghai’s wishes to burn on a pyre enclosed within a large structure but open to the elements was not forbidden by the Cremation Act 1902.

In summing up his judgement Lord Justice Neuberger ruled: “Contrary to what everyone seems to have assumed below, and I am not saying it is anyone's fault, it seems to us that Mr Ghai's religious and personal beliefs as to how his remains should be cremated once he dies can be accommodated within current cremation legislation."

The landmark ruling paves the way for anyone in Britain – be they Hindu, Sikh, religious or non-religious – to opt for an open air cremation as long as they can find a crematorium which can conduct the cremations without falling foul of the strict environmental and public health regulations surrounding the disposal of bodies. Currently no such facility exists although the expectation is that some orthodox Hindus will hope to build one soon."
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Polish Nationalists oppose St. Valentine’s Day
by Gazeta Wyborcza, Polskie Radio S.A., 10.02.2010
"Posters saying “F**k Off Valentines, Noc Kupaly OK”, designed by Niklot, a nationalist organisation, have appeared on the streets of the Baltic city of Szczecin.

The organisation wants Poles to abandon the foreign tradition of celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day and go back to their roots, i.e. pagan rites.

Niklot claims that Poles should observe the Kupala Night, a Slavic fertility holiday traditionally celebrated on 23-24 June.

On Kupala Night young men would jump over the flames of bonfires and girls would float wreaths of flowers often lit with candles on rivers, attempting to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river.

Niklot, which opposes the mixing of cultures, languages, nations and races and considers revenge to be the basic right of every man, and is frequently accused of propagating fascism.

“We only refer to tradition, not radical ideology,” Ireneusz Woszczyk from Niklot has said, denying the accusations.

The Helsinki Federation for Human Rights claims that city authorities should wage war against the organisation and check if it has violated the law by pasting anti-Valentine posters with nationalistic slogans."
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goddess and god

The Wild Hunt: Is The First Amendment for Monotheists Only?

Is The First Amendment for Monotheists Only?

 Jason, The Wild Hunt,  on Jan 29th 2010 at 4:00 am,

A case coming before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could end up having major legal ramifications for all religious minorities in the United States. Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum has been fighting for years to overturn the State of California’s “five faiths policy”, which limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents. While McCollum has suffered setbacks in his quest, with a California federal district court ruling in early 2009 that he had no standing to bring his suit, he recently gained support on appeal from several civil and religious rights groups who argue that his case should be heard.

“McCollum’s central claim strikes at the heart of the rights and freedoms that the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and Title VII were designed to guarantee. A state policy that classifies on the basis of religion (or any other protected ground) epitomizes disparate treatment that is properly subject to challenge by a member of the excluded group.” – From an Amicus Brief submitted by Americans United For Separation of Church and State, The Anti-Defamation League, The American Jewish Committee, The Interfaith Alliance, and The Hindu American Foundation

While decisions made so far have focused only on whether McCollum has standing as a taxpayer or non-inmate to bring his suit, a new Amicus Curiae filed by the National Legal Foundation, on behalf of a conservative activist organization called WallBuilders, argues that McCollum has no standing because modern Pagans aren’t guaranteed the same Constitutional rights and protections as Christian or monotheist citizens.

“The true historic meaning of “religion” excludes paganism and witchcraft, and thus, does not compel a conclusion that McCollum has state taxpayer standing … paganism and witchcraft were never intended to receive the protections of the Religion Clauses. Thus, in the present case there can be no violation of those clauses … Should this Court conclude that McCollum has taxpayer standing … this Court should at least acknowledge that its conclusion is compelled by Supreme Court precedent, not by history or the intent of the Framers.”

These statements, while certainly not representative of modern-day understandings of the Religion Clauses, have been seemingly welcomed by the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), as the amicus gives no indication that they are missing consent from the defense.

“Wallbuilders files this Brief pursuant to consent from Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants and pursuant to the accompanying Motion For Leave to File a Brief Amicus Curiae.”

Indeed, instead of rejecting such a blatantly discriminatory  amicus, according to McCollum, in a statement sent to The Wild Hunt, lawyers for the CDCR have argued from the beginning of this long legal saga that there are two “tiers” of religion in America.

“I originally sued on behalf of myself and Pagan inmates as their chaplain, but about a year later several inmates joined the lawsuit.  Together, we claimed that it is unconstitutional for the state to deny the Pagan inmates their religious rights, their religious materials, and their religious services.

During the course of the case, the CDCR, other related defendants, and the Assistant Attorneys General who represents them have argued before the court that Pagans are not deserving of equal civil rights as are provided adherents of the preferred faiths.  In one of their first arguments to the court, the defendants said 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.”

The bold claim in the WallBuilders’ amicus that modern Pagans have no Constitutional claim to protection under the Religion Clauses is the plain-speaking truth behind the more nuanced claims of faith “tiers” or “traditional” faiths made by the CDCR’s legal counsel. The brief reveals, in the words of McCollum, the “real culprits” behind this long struggle.

“I was told by a wise person early on in my legal battle with the CDCR and the other defendants that in every civil rights case the true nature of those opposing the civil rights of the injured parties would eventually rear their ugly heads, and that it would then become crystal clear who was actually calling the shots on their side and what their objective was.  Yesterday with the filing of this most recent brief, I think I can safely say that the real culprits have clearly shown themselves in full form — and that their goal is to tear down the religious freedoms of all faiths, except a privileged few,  to create a theocracy of privilege similar to the one that spurred the discriminations and abuses on account of religion, which prompted the American founders to form a new nation with liberty and justice for all–a new nation free from such coercion.

If the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should decide that this line of argument has any validity, it could send a shock-wave through the legal community, casting doubt on any number of legal cases that now ensure the equal protection of religious minorities. This case, fought for so long, and simply to keep a Wiccan from possibly getting a paid chaplaincy position, has already created a “two-tier” religious system for incarcerated Pagans in California. Guaranteeing that some faiths are more equal than others.

In the face of these recent developments, McCollum calls for modern Pagans and their allies to speak up against this injustice.

I think it is now time for our community, and also for people of good will in other faiths and religious communities of conscience to respond to this outrageous position in support of continued discrimination by a governmental agency.  The safety and security of every minority faith community in the country is in danger when arguments like these are thought to be credible by anyone.

We all need to write to Jerry Brown, the California Attorney General, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mathew L. Cate, the Secretary of the CDCR and let them all know our outrage.  And if you are a Pagan or Heathen, then we must also demand equal treatment, equal accommodations, equal access to our religious items for institutionalized persons, including prison inmates, and equal access to paid Pagan chaplains.”

It seems increasingly clear that arguments in this case over “taxpayer standing” has been something of a red herring, obfuscating the true history of this legal odyssey by McCollum and the Pagan inmates he is fighting for. This is about civil rights and our religious freedoms, not just a chaplaincy job in a prison. One can only echo McCollum’s sentiments, that the time to speak out is now. The time to stand behind and support McCollum is now.

You can be sure that I will continue to follow and report on this case, and that I will make more information and documents regarding this appeals process available as I have them.

Relevant Documents:

goddess and god

Harry Potter Museum Display, Italian Anti-crucifix Judge, Festival, Politics, History

A Magical Display At UAB: the science and medicine of Harry Potter.
By Christina Crowe, Black & White Birmingham's City Paper, January 21, 2010
"This small museum, housed on the third floor of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Lister Hill Library, will host "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine," January 25 through March 5. Sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, the exhibition highlights the writings of 15th- and 16th-century physicians, scientists, and scholars that author J.K. Rowling studied to create the basis of magic in the seven Potter books.
[...]
The exhibit will attempt to illustrate how the magic taught at Rowling's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is partially based on true Renaissance traditions that played a role in the development of Western science. These include alchemy (an ancient practice focused on attempting to turn base metals into gold, which created the basis for modern inorganic chemistry), astrology, and natural philosophy (the study of nature and physical science that predated modern natural sciences, such as physics)."
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Italian anti-crucifix judge loses office
The Associated Press, January 22, 2010
"ROME -- An official of the watchdog body for Italy's judiciary says a judge who refused to hear cases because there are crucifixes in the nation's courtrooms has been effectively barred from continuing in his job.

For years, Judge Luigi Tosti has insisted religious symbols have no place in courtrooms.

Nicola Mancino, vice president of the self-governing The Superior Council of Magistrates, told state TV Friday that Tosti has been taken of the professional rolls of Italian magistrates, essentially removing him from office.

Mancino says it's not up to the watchdog body to decide on the merits of Tosti's opposition to courtroom crucifixes. But Mancino said magistrates removed Tosti from office because he even refused to hear cases in a courtroom where the crucifix had been expressly removed to meet his objections. "
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Pagan Festival Prepares to Celebrate 25 Years
by Jamie Freeman, Examiner.com, Seattle Paganism Examiner, ‎Jan 17, 2010‎
"The Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Wicca, founded in 1979, decided to throw a little festival back in 1985 to celebrate the return of Spring. Now, 25 years later, the festival has grown to include more than 300 attendees from all around the world. The festival takes place at Ft. Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State over Easter weekend. 2010 will see the festival Thursday April 1st through Sunday April 4th.
[...]
Over the years, the festival has gained many traditions including: a blood-curdling adult right of passage in the bunkers; a row of Shrines to each God and Goddess present at the mysteries which is attended by a Priestess or Priest of that Godform; and a trek down to the sea to give honor and thanks to the Goddess Demeter as they did over 2000 years ago.

This year promises to be extra special, as each participant will get an opportunity to interact with a different Olympian on an intimate level. The schedule has been changed to include a "flash from the past" presentation with pictures and memories of previous years, and an 80's dance party.

The staples of the festival will still be present, including a variety of merchants, delicious and plentiful food including Vegan fare, a talent show, educational workshops, a healing shrine, and an auction of wonderful items. All proceeds support the church in their many ministries, including hospital and prison ministry. Funds are especially needed to complete the dining hall and gathering space at the church in Index, which threatens to be shut down if the project is not completed during the alloted time in the permits."
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Supreme Court, Corporations, and Nihilism
by Gus diZerega, Beliefnet.com (blog) January 23, 2010
"The Supreme Court's ruling allowing corporations to spend as much money as they want influencing elections is a horrifying example of how conservative sociopaths differ from any Pagan perspective, and why ALL religious people should do everything in their power to undermine and eventually reverse this insane ruling.
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That "conservative" "justices" Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy (neither word really applies to these men) could make such a ruling demonstrates the moral nihilism that hides under the mask of all their babble about "original intent," "strict construction," "the constitution," and "morality." Conservatism today is the most subversively un-American doctrine this country has ever had to face since the arguments of the Confederacy.

Five disloyal so-called Americans have broken their oath of office and done all they can to destroy our increasingly fragile democracy. I hope justice will eventually prevail not only on this issue, but also on their standing in history."
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What objects say about our times
By Simon Schama, January 22 2010
"The answers we get from objects, then, depend crucially on the questions put to them. The danger is using them instrumentally, as validations of prior notions – derived from other sources – of what this or that period might have been like. Arriving at such a likeness of a time, the Germans called this Zeitgeistgeschichte – the revelation of the underlying spirit of the age. The historian-through-objects needs to be on guard against simply fitting found objects on to that template and then hailing them as evidence of its particular character. Objects interrogated with an open mind for ways in which they might do the opposite – namely, defy the classification of an “age” – can confound. When, in the late 1880s, the Hamburg art historian and iconographer Aby Warburg went to the fluttering drapery of Botticelli’s female figures in “La Primavera”, what he discovered was a survival not of rational but visceral, irrational Dionysian-pagan body language. If you had a mind you could do the same thing with, say, the famous carpet ornament of the early Celtic Bibles, which can as easily be read as a grafting of pagan fecundity fetishism on to the Bible as something designed from the beginning for Christian reverence.

Not that this means that historians can’t narrate from the evidence of images. I own up to dabbling in this myself. It’s just that such objects can’t be marshalled as unproblematic distillations of some past moment, as if fired in the alembic of time, without a cautionary awareness of the complications of the circumstances of their making. Pictures or decorative objects are the accumulated deposit of many social transactions, not all of which necessarily converge in an agreed use or meaning. An artist or artisan works to commission, but possibly his own muse, or his own compulsion to arm-wrestle his masters, alive or dead, can tempt him to override the conventions of the job. Hail Rembrandt, all praise to thee Picasso. Perhaps the finished result pleases the patron or the society for which it was made or perhaps not. If not – and we can all think of examples: Bernini’s clock towers for St Peter’s, Richard Serra’s tilted arc that bisected a downtown New York square – then that disconnect between social expectation and the work itself makes the finished thing atypical rather than typical of the cultural consensus it was summoned to embody."
goddess and god

Pagan Customs in Islam, Pagan Customs in Haiti, Witchhunts and Politics in Theaters

Saudi Princess: The Shi'ites Injected Pagan Customs into Islam
by Saudi Princess Basma bint Sa'ud bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, Middle East Media Research Institute, January 22, 2010
""The Sunnis mark the Day of 'Ashura by fasting, in accordance with the teachings of their Prophet. They [mark] this holy month [of Muharram] by fasting, and by benefiting from the merit and internalizing the lesson of [this month]. In contrast, we see our brothers in some of the other Islamic sects [i.e. the Shi'ites, marking the Day of 'Ashura by] running around hysterically while screaming and shouting, as though they do not know that Allah commanded [us] to keep our voices down, even while praying...
[...]
"These [Shi'ite] disciples take to the streets by the thousands and scour [their own flesh] with chains and sticks. They spill their own blood in the name of [Hussein] – the Martyr of Islam, the grandson of the Prophet and the Master of the Youth of Paradise – whose teachings made no mention of these despicable customs of [self-] flagellation. [In fact, these customs] are among the ugliest and most primitive pagan rites banned by the Prophet.

"Thanks to the sound nature with which God has endowed us, and from our reading of the Sunna and of the history of the Prophet's family, we know that these rites are all pagan customs that were injected into Islam, [and which are] like a sword that divides our ranks, our teachings, our identity and our beliefs… so that we cease to be one nation, as our Prophet commanded us, and do not live in peace, which is at the heart of Islam…""
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'God has shaken' Haiti due to voodoo: pastor
by Ted Colley, Surrey Now, January 22, 2010
"Haiti's religions, both Catholicism and voodoo, are legacies of its colonial past. Europeans wasted little time in killing off the indigenous population, then importing African slaves to provide cheap labour. Those unfortunates brought their religions with them, but those beliefs were suppressed by their Christian masters. Forced to adopt the religion of the slave masters, the Africans melded their old beliefs with Christianity and created voodoo.

It is common practice among some Christians to label any religious belief not their own as satanic, devil worship. They aren't satanic, of course, they're simply not Christian. Neither, to my mind, are Dennison's words."
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Paradise Gets Serious with Miller's Witch-Hunt Classic
by Michael C. Moore, ‎Gig Harbor Life, Jan 20, 2010‎
"Jeff and Vicki Richards, the husband-and-wife brain trust of Gig Harbor’s Paradise Theatre, have decided they like to get serious once a season.

And it doesn’t get much more serious than “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s take on the Salem witch hunts of the 1690s. The 1953 drama was the notoriously vitriolic Miller’s response to the “witch hunts” of his own time, the anti-Communist campaigns fronted by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

“Actually, Miller wasn’t called up (in front of McCarthy’s Senate “investigating” committee) until a couple of years after he wrote (the play),” said Jeff Richards, who’s directing the Paradise production that opens Jan. 22. “But a lot of his friends already had been, and many of them had been blacklisted.

“It was a real political hot potato,” Richards said."
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Rewriting the Avatar script, George Bush-style
by Bella Counihan, Sydney Morning Herald, January 22, 2010
"To start we'll need to change some of the main characters. Forget making the US General a slack-jawed, cigar-smoking Texan who is impatient and quick to invade the alien world of Pandora. Let's make the US presence on this alien planet a hearts and minds mission to help the local Na'vi people. Build some schools, some roads, some hospitals, maybe bring some Western governance? And the rest of the rank and file US marines? Well, they're a bunch of good ol' boys just doing their jobs in the face of ever present danger the best they know how.

What about the much criticised Iraq and Afghan war lingo from the film? No more "shock and awe" and "pre-emptive attacks" yelled out by the brutish General in the original. These would be replaced by words like "freedom", "duty" and "mission accomplished."

But it still just doesn't smell conservative enough. These blue people, the native Na'vi, they need some tweaking don't they? How about instead of them being in tune with nature, intelligent warriors, let's give them a bit of an edge. A bit darker maybe? Let's never let them speak English fluently, only stammering recognisable words between the snarls. A bit cruder. More alien, less human. Vicious and backward with no regard for human life or otherwise and observant of a primitive religion. Blindly territorial and unreasonable. I mean, all the Americans want to do is to some minor scale precision mining to help the folks back home drive their cars, what's all the fuss about? There's no dealing with the savage natives in this version.

We also need to change the portrayal of the Na'vi's animist Godess-based religion. A Christian movie site reviewer was particularly disquieted by the Na'vi's worshiping of a "false goddess". He said "the humans in Avatar are all presented as unbelievers. It’s as if humans have no God while every Na’vi worships Eywa the goddess. The reality of life on earth is that there are millions of Christians who worship a loving and compassionate God." So clearly all this Pagan worship won't do. Maybe when Jake Sully cavorts with the Na'vi, he could spread a little God around? After all, a little proselytising never hurt anyone."
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goddess and god

Frog Dancing, Horse Weaving, and British Politics

Dancing, frogs and midsummer madness
By Ashley Milton, www.telegraph.co.uk 13 Jan 2010
"Nine adults and five children danced around a decorated wooden cross, pretending to be frogs. It was still almost daylight - despite being midnight - and the rotten herring and dill schnapps from supper was still juggling around at the top end of my digestive tract. I felt like an extra in The Wicker Man. Andreas, my big Viking friend, saw my dazed expression and smiled. "So, what do you think of midsummer in Sweden?"
[...]
The festivities take place on a Friday and Saturday in June (in 2010 it will be the 25th and 26th), but with the Swedish summer not really beginning until early July, the term 'mid' could leave you wondering where the first half of the summer went. The celebration itself is thought to be pagan in origin; a cause to rejoice at the end of a bitter winter and the birth of a new season, a good harvest and better times.
[...]
The Midsommarstång, a symbol of fertility, is a wooden cross from which two wooden circles are attached to each side and allowed to dangle freely. The whole structure is firmly dug into an upright position and then wrapped in silver birch branches.
Depending on the time and effort given to making it, it may resemble a proud British maypole or a bedraggled hangman’s noose.
[...]
The highlight of the evening came at midnight. The entire ensemble moved towards the midsommarstång. Holding hands they walked slowly around the pole, as they picked up speed they started singing and dancing ... about frogs.
“No-one knows why,” laughed Andreas. “The next verse is about pigs!” "
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Police probe pagan link to horse weaving
This Is Western Morning News, UK, January 13, 2010
"POLICE believe a bizarre outbreak of horse mane weaving may be the work of a secretive cult of pagan worshippers practising a form of white magic.

The strange practice has broken out in fields in Devon and parts of Dorset and Somerset.

Nearly 20 animals have been singled out for the bizarre treatment over the past three months in Hemyock, Culmstock and Clayhidon, the Culm Valley and Exeter.

Officers initially believed the horses were being marked for theft by organised criminals – until they realised none of them disappeared.

Now they think white witches who practise "knot magick" are using the horses to help them cast spells.

Pagan gods are thought to have a close connection with horses which adds strength to spells that incorporate the animals.

PC Jeff Howley, neighbourhood beat manager for Cullompton, said: "At the moment we do not know of any motive for the plaiting to start with we thought they were being marked for theft but that is clearly not the case.

"One motive from research by Dorset police who are also investigating a number of cases is that it may be a pagan ritual.

"It is hard for us to judge at the moment but any speculation will have to be considered."

Although the braiding does no harm to the affected horses, owners are becoming increasingly bemused and concerned."
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'Witch' set to stand in general election
by Raymond Brown, Cambridge News, UK, 13-Jan-2010
"Magus Lynius Shadee, who calls himself the King of All Witches, hopes to cast a spell on voters and steer them away from the traditional parties.
[...]
Mr Shadee plans to open an occult centre and claims to have conjured up a demon in Cambridge's Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Hills Road, as the News reported.

Now he has contacted the city's returning officer and plans to stand in the election, expected to be called by Gordon Brown in May.

He said: "This is an opportunity to change people's lives for the better. I also hope to have candidates in six or seven other high-profile seats.

"I want to tackle the problems in education, health and crime and turn Britain into a truly secular society by banning faith schools and the teaching of religious education.

"I also want MPs' salaries to be like everyone else's. If they don't come to work, they don't get paid."

His education manifesto includes "a complete ban on all religious and faith schools" and "a ban on all religious and faith instruction in the classroom".

He calls for "all schools to have a uniform" and for grants to encourage students to pass degrees within two years rather than three, with the "incentive" of a "50 per cent refund, taxfree bonus".

He wants the sex offenders' list to be available to the public. He has policies to curtail organised religions by stopping their charity status.

He calls for zero tolerance on crimes involving children, sex, drugs or vice, with fixed custodial penalties. All jailed prisoners should pay for their keep and life should "mean life" when judges sentence people for premeditated and terrorist crimes, he says.

He wants the NHS to link up with private care and national insurance contributions part-shared with the private sector on a voluntary basis.

And he wants more tax on alcohol sold in supermarkets.

He said: "My manifesto is very forward and, if accepted, will change many directions for the better for the human race."

Daniel Zeichner, the Labour candidate, said: "General elections always throw up a mixture of the serious and more light-hearted, such as the Monster Raving Loony Party."
goddess and god

Sicily, the Philippines, Egypt and Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Sicily trip brings history to life
by Karin Dienst, January 11, 2010
"Led by Princeton Professors Slobodan Curcic and Nino Luraghi, the overseas field trip from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8 was a required component of two courses offered this semester.
[...]
According to Luraghi, the David Magie '97 Class of 1897 Professor of Classics, Sicily offers an extraordinary destination for students of ancient and medieval cultures of the Mediterranean because of its central location. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily was a "crossroads meeting place of different peoples, religions and cultures." From Antiquity to the Middle Ages, spanning 700 BCE to 1200 CE, the island successively was inhabited by Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, generating a wealth of cultural artifacts.
[...]
While LaValle's main scholarly focus is literature, she was eager to learn more about art and archaeology and to discover what could be deciphered in the layers of history evident in many of the sites, and how ancient sites were put to new uses.

For instance, she recalled how a visit to the ancient stone quarry in Syracuse, known as the Latomie, made her think of the "disastrous Sicilian expedition by the Athenians as told by Thucydides," which resulted in the enslavement of thousands of soldiers there. At the site, she realized that after that brutal chapter in history, monks had created dwellings in the walls around the Latomie in the early Middle Ages. There even remained a pillar upon which a monk evidently had lived -- one of the early Christian ascetics known as a stylite.

"To think that a stylite had lived on the top of a pillar in the middle of the quarry that had heard the cries of thousands of Athenians die in slavery was an amazing thing for me to contemplate," said LaValle.

The visit also sparked a new angle of research for her, as LaValle has expanded her previous interest in the "reuse of pagan literature by early Christians" to examine the reuse of pagan architecture as well."
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Health views, news
by A.G ROMUALDEZ JR., M.D, Business Insight Malaya Inc, Jan 11, 2010
"Serious reflection on the state of Philippine politics during the present crucial election year will bear this out. Cornel West identifies among the threats to democracy in his country a "dogma of free-market fundamentalism" that "posits the unregulated and unfettered market as idol and fetish". It should be noted that not one of the credible political parties or candidates for our 2010 elections seriously questions this dogma and all of them pander to the commercial interests of those who fund their campaigns.

According to this dogma, the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and institutions are vested with magical powers of salvation and cannot be subject to democratic scrutiny concerning both the ethics of their business practices and their treatment of workers.
[...]
"Democracy Matters" also mentions "escalating authoritarianism" as another threat to democracy in America.

In the Philippines, authoritarianism has been ingrained in the Filipino psyche ever since the first child of our pagan ancestors was taken into a friars’ school and taught unquestioning assent to the dictates of a remote and foreign-based monolithic organization.
[...]
The fact is that the conspiracy between plutocratic elites and the religious power groups is legitimated in the most important legal documents of the Filipino people – the Constitution and the Revised Penal Code. The feigned debate between those who want to loosen economic restrictions and those who wish to maintain political limitations is simply an expression of both sides’ resistance to change a convenient status quo that also happens to be favor their business interests."
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Anti-Christian Violence Erupts in Egypt and Malaysia
by James Heiser, The New American, Monday, 11 January 2010
"In Egypt, where the Coptic Church celebrated Christmas on January 7 (following the old Julian and Coptic calendars), seven people were murdered following midnight Mass. According to press reports, riots then erupted during the funeral processions for six of the seven victims of the massacre. Six of the seven victims were Coptic Christians; the seventh victim was a Muslim.

Coptic Christians make up a mere 10 percent of the population of Egypt, and anti-Christian violence has long been a fact of life for the suffering minority. Attacks on the Coptic community are carried out with the slightest of provocations.
[...]
As in Egypt, Christians make up a small minority of the population of Malaysia: about nine percent. Unlike in countries where substantially larger Christian communities seem unwilling to assert their legal rights, Christians in Egypt and Malaysia are not prepared to just acquiesce to such discrimination and persecution, and they are receiving support from other Christians living under Muslim rule."
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To Know About Witch Gun, You Must Know About Witchcraft-Dr. Kabba
by Abdul Samba Brima, Awoko, ‎Jan 8, 2010‎
"The National President of Sierra Leone Indigenous Traditional Healers Union, Dr. Alhaji Suliaman Kabba, has stated that for one to operate witch gun, the person must know about witchcraft. He made the statement at his Calaba Town office in Freetown while explaining the dangers of witch gun and the number of witch gun confessions in late 2009. He said a person who operates witch gun would never be perceived by the ordinary eye adding that such people only carry out their evil acts when they are in an invisible state.
[...]
Dr. Kabba revealed that he had arrested many people with witch guns with the intention of destroying innocent lives. He said it was with that view that they established the union, adding that they were calling on the government to give them a backing in carrying out their work."
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This sounds very much like the Satanic ritual killing confessions we had in the US in the '80s. Which were all made up.
Preacher confesses to killing 70 people
by Haruna P. Mawa, The Observer, 11 January 2010
"A preacher in the northern Uganda district of Lira has confessed to 70 ritual killings, including his son.
Polino Angela, 50, formerly a witch-doctor based in Lira, said he was initiated into ritual murders in Kenya at a ceremony in which a 13-year-old boy was killed and his blood sprinkled on his (Angela’s) body. After this ritual, Angela was ordered by the healers to sacrifice his 10-year old boy, whom he killed.
[...]
He works as a coordinator, Ex-Witch doctor’s Foundatation, an NGO started by a Catholic priest in Lira District to persuade witchdoctors to abandon the evil practice. He says that up to 2,800 witch doctors have since abandoned the practice in Northern Uganda and other parts of the country.
[...]
Moses Binoga, head of the Police anti-Human Sacrifice Task Force, said they had on Friday opened a file for the accused in Amolatar District, were Angela is said to be living.
“We want to first ascertain the allegations and establish the facts, whether there is or no complainant against him,” Binoga said."
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MP says 'sorcery' holding her back
By Hussein Semdoe, Kilindi, The Citizen Daily, 11 January 2010
"Kilindi MP Beatrice Shelukindo has expressed fear that some people in her constituency could be playing some witchcraft antics against her.
[...]
Speaking at Saunyi and Mswaki villages late last week, Mrs Shelukindo appealed to the "witch doctors" to endorse her as she had done a lot to bring development in the area.
[...]
"Witchcraft has no advantage. We should change our mindset and concentrate on development and education," she lamented"