Friday, March 30, 2012

Pagans and Politics

Most of you know that I do some blogging over at Patheos now.  I blog over there because they get more traffic than a stand alone site like this one (I certainly don't do it for the money, over there I make nothing!).  When I write something, I want it to be read, and for it to be read it needs to reach as wide of an audience as possible.  So even if there's no compensation in writing over there, I get the satisfaction of sharing my work with others.  It's cool.  Sometimes I feel as if what I want to write about won't fit in over there, so I write about it on DPT.  Sometimes those "don't fit" musings are about things specific to me, like my experiences at a festival or something along those lines.  I also won't post anything "political" over there either, the audience is too large, and I'm scared of taking too many liberties with "Pagan Thought."

Over at Patheos my blog posts are part of a larger blog called "Agora," it's sort of a clearing house for bloggers over there without their own dedicated space.  Last week I published a piece on Atheists and Pagans and the often strange alliance between the two.   It was not my best work.  Mostly it was a few observations that I tried to link together.  I think I have a tendency to be a bit wordy, so anytime I post over there I intentionally try to simplify things, so there wasn't as much depth to it as I had originally wanted.  I don't have access to page-view numbers over there, the only thing I can really see are "the shares" on Facebook.  That little piece was linked to on Facebook 67 times, and since I didn't see it on Facebook 67 times I'm pretty sure that it was passed around by more than just my friends.

The same week my "Atheist/Pagan" post went up a number of "Political Pagan" pieces also went up.  Most of them were about the "War on Women" currently being waged by some members of the Republican Party (I was pretty sure we had come to an agreement on contraception, apparently I was wrong).  What was interesting to me was how little those articles were shared, topping out at 26 shares.  Can we, as Pagans, feel political fatigue?  How much should we really write about politics anyways?  Perhaps people, when they visit a site about Paganism, want to read about Paganism and not the antics of Rush Limbaugh?

One of the problems with writing about "The War on Women" (and please remember, "men" aren't fighting a war against women here, some idiotic men are, and there are some women in that number as well), is that everyone has been writing about The War on Women.  I can go to Huffingtonpost or The Daily Beast to read about it.  It's certainly not something that's being under-reported in the liberal news sphere.  I'm not belittling the issue, I think it's very important (I'm not of fan of going back to the Middle Ages), it's just how many opinions or articles about it do you need?

Unless I'm reading The Wild Hunt I'm not sure how much "body politic" I want in my Paganism (and The Wild Hunt deals almost exclusively with issues relating directly to Pagans).  Sure, there are some things which have turned political that are hard to divorce from Paganism, things like preserving the natural world, and issues of equality (especially related to gender).  But you can be a Pagan, and be either pro-choice or pro-life, there's not a litmus test.  I know Pagans who are against abortion rights, despite what's often portrayed in the blogosphere, there are conservative Pagans.  As I've grown older I've tried to stay away from sweeping generalizations about our political leanings as a whole; politically we probably aren't as diverse as the various gods we worship, but there are dissenting opinions out there.

(I will admit to being baffled by "Pagan Republicans."  I can understand being politically conservative, but I'm always confused by Pagans who identify with the Tea Party and folks like Sarah Palin.  I can't imagine being buddy/buddy with someone who would happily take away my religious freedom.  I also can't imagine being a Republican and being in favor of gay rights-though some Democrats aren't all that progressive on the issue either.  I understand being a Libertarian leaning Pagan, especially the self sufficient "live off the grid" types, but I'm sorry folks, Ron Paul is not the answer.)

When Pagan liberties are being threatened, and religious freedoms are being trampled upon, we should certainly comment on those things, but do we need to put our athames into every aspect of the greater culture wars?  It's one thing to comment on the asinine things being done by a misguided few, it's another thing to inject our spirituality directly into the controversy.  I get annoyed when a Christian Pastor talks politics in the pulpit, or talks about them as a member of a religious order.  You probably do too, why should Pagans be any different?

1 comment:

  1. Good observations. I personally get very weary of politics, partly because I have trouble seeing any real or lasting change. The whole "War on Women" issue has been very discouraging because I thought these issues were settled long ago. Yet they aren't, and there are people who are working very hard to deprive others of their rights, just as they were 40 years ago. Same lies, new faces. I want to help, but at the same time I don't want to face the same battles I did when I was in my 20s and 30s and 40s, with the same types of people who don't listen and won't take no for an answer (until, of course, you step on their toes, when they waste no time before screaming "PERSECUTION").

    So in that sense it's hard for me to get excited about politics of any sort. As I get older my opinion gets more toward "If you aren't harming me or anybody else, you can do whatever the f you want." Unfortunately the current crop of Republicans is hell-bent on imposing what passes for their morality on us. But if I don't have to comment on it, and if I don't have to participate in the drama, I don't. Basically in a lot of ways I agree with whoever said "Politics is an ape's game."

    That doesn't mean I won't fight for someone's rights. It does mean I will look hard at the issue before I weigh in. I made a wrong decision recently on a touchy subject in the Pagan community, and I have had regrets. I have been careful since then to look hard at what I want to get involved in and what I want to use my limited and very precious time on. Politics is low on the priority list, and drama even lower.