You know, when I said I wanted more Halstead posts, I was in the middle of dealing with some pedophile trying to convince the world he was a good person. I have since found more pedo articles of the same, which I might right about, but I was going to take the weekend off, sit back with some various booze, and read books. Because, frankly, I needed a vacation. Well, congratulations everyone, we’re getting more Halstead, and oh boy, does it start out stupid.
The info blip or whatever it’s call on his “Archives” page to get you to read his article starts out thus:
There will never be a clean separation between Pagans and Polytheists. There will always be people who move back and forth between the two communities, like children of a joint custody arrangement. And we will continue to use much of the same vocabulary, albeit using many of the same words to mean different things. We will continue to bump up against each other in online and IRL forums. So silence is not an option.
I can’t believe he didn’t wait until at least the second sentince before royally making a hash of things. But then again, this is Halstead, who apparently did not learn what happens when you declare that polytheists are not pagans.
Just so we’re clear, here’s the definition of Pagan
pagan (not comparable)
- Relating to, characteristic of or adhering to non-Abrahamist religions, especially earlier polytheism.
Oh look Halstead, Polytheism is right there in the definition of Pagan.
Gonna be kinda hard to argue for a separation of Pagan and Polytheist when the very definition of Pagan is Polytheist. And yes, we use the same vocabulary and rituals and so forth because Pagans and Polytheists are the same, by definition!
I know that breaks your little heart to hear, Halstead, but on the other hand Atheists and Pagans are different things. One group believes in gods, spirits and the supernatural, and one group does not.
atheist (plural atheists)
- (narrowly) A person who believes that no deities exist (especially, one who has no other religious belief). [quotations ▼]
- (broadly) A person who rejects belief that any deities exist (whether or not that person believes that deities do not exist). [quotations ▼]
- (loosely) A person who has no belief in any deities, such as a person who has no concept of deities. [quotations ▼]
So in the immortal words of the internet:
So maybe “I’m an Atheist Pagan” Halstead might wanna think before he starts this fight. Oh wait, he already did. Welp, if silence is not an option, then let words be our weapons, at least until Halstead gets driven to the point where he starts grabbing bombs or something.
So with that in mind, let’s get to the article: A “Truce” Which Requires Silence Cannot Produce Peace
I’m just gonna pause for a moment at the irony of Halstead quoting this guy.
My kids are 13 and 16. And they bicker sometimes. And sometimes more than a little. I have little patience for it. As Bill Cosby said, “Parents don’t care about about justice. They only want quiet.” My solution for a long time was to tell them both to stop talking. Then, at one of our weekly family meeting, my kids told me that my way of dealing with their arguing wasn’t working. “If we just shut up,” they said, “we’ll never learn how to work out our problems.” My kids are smart. And I think they were right.
Actually, I think your kids have become trolls. And you got played. So, well done. Also, while I think the jury is still out, the public has condemned Cosby as a mass rapist, so wow Halstead. Bill Cosby, Z Budapest, and Che Guevara…you are just batting 100% on your publicly acceptable people to quote. I mean, a rapist, a transphobe, and a war criminal.
Maybe I need to reevaluate my opinion of you Halstead. Does this mean I should start quoting Hitler or something? How is this debate supposed to work? You’re quickly loosing your Progressive street cred here, even if you keep relying on their ideas.
If you surf the Pagan/Polytheist blogosphere much, you will inevitably come across arguments. They may be arguments over theology, practice, or politics. Some of these arguments are acrimonious. But I believe that the solution is more discussion, not less. Ending the discussion does not bring real peace. It produces quiet, which is only the illusion of peace.
Is Halstead supporting me? Holy shit. I think he is. I think after my last series where in I said that censorship of the Gods and their imagery was a bad thing, Halstead here is actually supporting what I said about freedom of speech!
Damn that’s got to burn him up.
Recently, a Polytheist blogger, PSVL, wrote a thoughtful post about the conflict between the Polytheist and atheist Pagan communities, and the challenges of “delineating” our differences in a respectful way. E alludes to “a great deal of outright hatred” expressed toward me personally at the recent Many Gods West conference, which gathered about 200 Polytheists from around the country. Apparently, it’s gotten to the point where some perceive the online arguments to be a kind of “war” between our communities — so PSVL has called for a “truce.” E* proposed that we no longer write about each other’s viewpoints, and e invited me and anyone else in the Atheopagan and Humanistic Pagan communities to join em in this truce. I appreciate PSVL’s intention, but I cannot agree to the terms of eir truce.
Welp, Halstead has declared war. PSVL offered peace and it has been rejected. Then again, Halstead really started this whole thing off to begin with so yeah, why would he want to stop. As far as he’s concerned, he fired the first shots and he’s “winning.” Not sure how victory is going to be measured without a body count, but hey, it’s like Valhalla, we shall battle all day and feast all night.
There’s two separate conflicts going on, both of which center on the meaning of “polytheism.” And silence is not the solution to either one. I’ll address each in turn.
Oh this will be good, I was only aware of the conflict in which Atheists were saying the Polytheists should get out and the Polytheists were responding with “Fuck you!” But hey, you know what, let’s see what kinda lame, pathetic, and down right false arguments Halstead has got for us here.
Small-p polytheist Pagans
On the one hand, we have the issue of the relationship between Paganism and small-p polytheism. There are Pagans who are polytheists, and there are Pagans who are not polytheists. Examples of Pagans who are not polytheists include pantheists, animists, duo-theistic Wiccans, monistic Goddess worshipers … and yes, atheist Pagans … and others as well and combinations of these. In spite of this diversity within the Pagan family, I continue to encounter polytheist Pagans who will say that polytheism and Paganism are synonyms, and that one cannot be a Pagan without also being a polytheist. These individuals fall into two categories. In the first category are individuals who are simply uninformed. They simply need to be educated. I have found John Beckett’s “Big Tent” metaphor useful, which compares the Pagan community with a large circus tent with multiple poles or “centers” with overlapping circumferences: Earth, Deep Self, and Deity. Those who congregate around the Deity “pole” are under the big tent of Paganism and just need to take note of those congregating around other “poles.”
Halstead, you’re lying again. The first time you mentioned the “three poles” it was Gods, Ultimate, Self. Not Earth (which is but a tiny part of Ultimate) I get it, you’re an Earth First guy but you don’t get to rewrite everything so that you “own” two out of the three pillars.
Gods, no wonder everyone wants to punch him in the face.
Also, polytheists are those who believe in “many gods” and this often includes by default, “many spirits.” So under the definition of polytheism, “Duo-theist” Wiccans are polytheists, and animists are polytheists. And as for those Polytheists who insist you can’t be a Pagan without being a polytheist…they’re right. At least according to the dictionary and the fundamental idea of what Paganism is.
Also I love how these polytheists are ‘uniformed” and “need to be educated.”
And how they need to be aware of these people congregating around the other “poles” who are completely trying to kick them out or reeducate them.
But not everyone who conflates Paganism with polytheism is simply misinformed.(LS: Nope, some of us have dictionaries and history books!) In this second category are others who actively and aggressively attempt to define Paganism in such a way so as to exclude non-polytheists. These folks want to evict non-polytheists from the Pagan tent. Of course, they have no authority to do so. But they do have the power of speech, and words have a way of defining reality if they are unchecked. So a response is necessary in these cases, too. Some of the individuals in the second category may not be convinced by any amount of reasoning, but they should not be allowed to dominate the public conversation, nor should they be allowed to mislead the people in the first category.
Silence is not an option in either of these cases.
If by “exclude and evict” you mean get rid of the people who say we need to be “educated” and “Follow their beliefs instead of our own” then yes. Yes we do. And if you mean people who look at an Atheist running around claiming he’s a Pagan simply to fulfill his emotional needs and say “Get the fuck out you loon” then yes, we do that too.
And we have about as much authority to kick you out as you have to kick us out, but I don’t see that stopping you from wiffing your boot around trying to kick polytheists out the door. Or declaring us non-Pagan yourself.
And no, you will never convince me that I as a polytheist am not a Pagan. There is no reasonable or unreasonable argument you can present, because, hey, it’s in the fucking dictionary! I already have “reason” on you Halstead, because I have argued with Facts, not Feels. And Facts cannot “mislead” people, either.
So if people from your first category join with the second category, because the Facts proved us Polytheists right, then you can just cry for all I care, because you are factually wrong, Halstead. The only way you’ve been able to stay in this conversation is by changing the definitions of words to suit you over and over again, and every time I have shown up with a dictionary you have had to backpedal like crazy. And don’t try to deny it Halstead, everyone who has read your posts and mine can see where it’s happened.
But hey, you didn’t want to go for the silent truce, so prepare to hear that massive bang of facts and definitions over and over like canon fire.
Speaking of which, we’ll finish in part 2
I related the short version of this post to my husband who, after he had asked me to repeat Halstead’s religious ID, stated “Wait, that’s not even logical! That’s makes about as much sense (being an atheist Pagan) as having tits on a boar!” I think he may have summed it up quite nicely.
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John Halstead said:
I can’t believe I’m bothering to engage someone who believes global warming si caused by Thor, but here goes …
1. Turning to the dictionary to define “Paganism” is just stupid, since most dictionaries do not even attempt to take into account the contemporary Pagan movement.
2. If Paganism is synonymous with polytheism, as you claim, then how do you account for Pagan animists or Pagan pantheists? Are they not “real” Pagans in your mind either? And sorry, no, not all animists see themselves as polytheists.
3. And not all Pagans believe in the “supernatural” as you say. In fact, most Pagans that I have spoken to have no use for the term “supernatural” and believe that the gods and spirits are “natural”.
4. Atheist Pagans are not trying to kick theistic Pagans out from under the Pagan umbrella. You’ve got it backwards. It’s (some) theistic Pagans who are trying to kick atheist Pagans out. I have yet to see an atheist Pagan say that theists are not “real” Pagans, but I see it all the time from theistic Pagans toward atheists. This very post is Exhibit A.
5. I’ve never included “Ultimate” as one of the three centers of Paganism. Get your facts straight. It’s always been deity, (deep) self, and earth/nature.
6. The polytheists I know look down their noses at duo-theistic Wiccans. They see duo-theism as half way to monotheism. Just visit polytheist.com to see that they exclude duo-theism from polytheism. http://polytheist.com/frequently-asked-questions/
7. I’m not saying that Polytheists aren’t Pagans. I’m saying that there are Polytheists who themselves say there aren’t Pagan (anymore). I’m not defining anyone in or out of the Pagan umbrella, just recognizing that some people are walking out on their own.
Mr Halstead is correct on some points, particularly the fact that a fair number of polytheists have been rejecting the label “Pagan” for at least a couple of years now; he is simply arguing a point he did not make himself. Here’s a good example of what that discussion was like a year ago July: http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/anomalous-thracian/and-not-or.html
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
thank you, i will see if i can’t look this over
Non-Aligned Politics said:
“I can’t believe I’m bothering to engage someone who believes global warming si caused by Thor, but here goes ”
Well, you did anyways, so what does that say about you because obviously you disagree with Lucius’ beliefs. I may not agree with it, but I’m certainly not going to mock it like you’re blatantly doing. So, really, if you think his views are ridiculous then why bother at all? Perhaps it’s that need for your own 15 minutes that you accused Lucius of 3 hours ago.
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John Halstead said:
Still no substantive response to the multiple factual errors you got called on here?
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
About the only substantive thing I’d really have to say is you’re resorting to ad hominem attacks now, but don’t worry, response is coming.
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