“Have you heard the news?”
“No, what news?”
“Rome is burning, and they say Nero did it while playing a fiddle.
That’s terrible! But I have to ask…what’s a fiddle?
I don’t know…I don’t think it’s been invented yet?”
You know, sometimes the Gods do give us in abundance. Yesterday, someone sent me an article by an Archdruid of some renown who weighted in on this whole Marxism issue. It’s quite the read, and I enjoyed it highly. Then of course Rhyd has written his own latest piece here, which I was planning on writing about. And then, guess who decided to throw his hat into the ring to try and either profit from the distraction (or create a distraction so his buddy Rhyd can profit?) than Halstead himself.
Well, you can imagine my reaction to his latest piece.
Let us enjoy:
Yeah, you read that right … he says we need to learn from Christian fundamentalists.
Wow, two sentences in and already Halstead is showing us (remember kids, it’s show not tell) how to be a perfect Bigot. Huh, wow, maybe we could all go home now? I mean, literally two sentences in and already we’re seeing Bigotry levels that I didn’t think were even possible outside of people who set…things…on…fire…
Wait a minute!
We’ve already won … no wait, we can’t win.
Beckett’s most recent post, “What Can Pagans Learn From Fundamentalists?”, is yet another response to the perceived “politicization” of Paganism.
Three sentences! The bigotry continues. Holy crap this is may end up being a long series if I have to keep doing this.
So two things here.
1) Halstead seems to believe there is absolutely nothing one can learn from Fundamentalist Christians. which is wrong. You can learn a lot from Fundamentalist Christians. You can learn a lot from lots of people who are outside your religion. In fact, I’m mulling around a post in the vein of my recent ones about how different pagan religions can grow and maintain their integrity by learning from groups like Christians, Jews, and maybe even Muslims. This is why I said Halstead is a bigot. Christian fundamentalists have different ideas from him, and he sees no value in them because they are different from his own Atheo-Paganism. I mean, the fact that he was formerly a Mormon apparently I’m sure has nothing to do with his foaming hatred either. But yes, Halstead here is being a bigot towards Christian ideals simply because they are Christian.
2) There is no “perceived politicization” of Paganism. There is the “actual politicization” of Paganism, kicked off by the site Gods & Radicals for which Halstead is a contributing writer. Of course, Halstead is not posting this article on G&R, but on Patheos, much like Rhyd posted his explanation for his G&R post on Patheos rather than Patheos. So really, we’ve got two major Pagan websites engaging in politicization acts here. One to accuse and roast, the other to butter that roast. But it is very hard to deny that ever since “Confronting the New Right” dropped, Paganism has not become a political battlefield.
Well, hard to deny unless your Halstead, apparently.
Beckett argues that we shouldn’t mix our politics and our Paganism because … well, it’s futile. By way of example, he says the politicization of Christianity by Evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists has failed. Beckett points to the success of marriage equality and describes the spread of “religious freedom” laws as “an act of desperation.” He dismissively states that the Right has “won a few battles here and there, and reproductive rights are in serious jeopardy,” but he concludes that the Christian Right has “lost, in rather decisive fashion.”
Well, he’s not wrong. At ever turn where the Christian Right has tried to put lines in sand and even defend their own right against those who disagree, they’ve pretty much gotten their asses kicked. Most of those religious freedom laws, despite most of them actually defending the freedoms of all religions, have been struck down. Even attempts to keep the “sanctity” of gendered bathrooms has imploded in spectacular fires.
So Beckett is right in that the Christian Right is loosing heavily. And he’s not entirely wrong about how tying our own Pagan religions to politics is a good recipe for failure. Halstead should have learned that back when he tried to push his atheistic eco-paganism onto people last year…which started a war that ultimately seems to have left his paganism much the worse for wear and far less attractive to people than it was before.
Really?! We won? Why didn’t anyone tell me? What about reproductive rights? Oh, don’t worry about that little detail. What about the “Religious Freedom” Restoration Acts in over half the states? Trifles!**
You just won’t ever be happy without an enemy, Halstead. As soon as you see your foe even having a chance at possibly getting their way rather than fully capitulating to yours, you will hold that up as irrefutable proof of the vileness that is your opponent. How dare Christians want the same thing that you want, political control for what they view as morally right. This is why I call him a bigot.
Beckett then proceeds to say — contradictorily, I think — that “mainstream culture” is too strong to fight against, and while we shouldn’t abandon the political process, “we can’t change the world.”
Yeah, you read that right … he says we cannot change the world.
(If there were such a thing as Pagan heresy, I think that would be about as close as it gets.)
Well, I guess we know what is heresy for Halstead. Sounds like the same kinda Heresy they talk about over at G&R. “I can change the world! I can make in my image, and if you say otherwise, you’re a heretic!”
Look, I’m not saying Beckett is right there (though I suspect that Halstead may be taking things out of context) where he says mainstream culture is too strong. That being said, I can understand why Beckett feels that way. Political Correctess, Social Justice, and Marxism are everywhere politically. They have infiltrated almost every part of society and are pushing their agenda with success in universities, in politics, in media, everywhere. Just watch “this week in stupid” by Sargon and you’ll see what I’m saying. The Christian Right has had its handed to it on a silver platter. In Paganism, it does seem like all our media outlets are tied together with the anarchist-marxist group. It can feel amazingly hard to get anything done if you are not part of the “in crowd” or if you believe differently than them. It can feel like “mainstream culture” is too strong to fight against, so that the only real option is to retreat.
Hel, I’ve been basically arguing for a retreat the last couple posts and I’m not the only one. Beckett is but one person out there of a growing number who are taking up the idea that the different Pagan religions should fall back, regroup with themselves, and then seal the gates of their cities and try to endure the storm, rather than go out and wage war against the mono-culture that is attempting to strip us down and make us conform.
I have to wonder how Beckett thinks marriage equality was achieved, if not by people who believed they could change the world.
Well, I could tell you how I think it was achieved. But that’s a different post.
Fiddling With The Gods While Rome Burns
Beckett’s recommendation is that we change ourselves “[a]nd if enough of us change ourselves, then we will change the world.” We should turn inward, he says, away from the world. Specifically, he says, we should make offerings to gods, meditate, and take nature walks.
Pretty sure it was a bit more complex than that Halstead. But hey, go ahead and infantileze your opposition’s arguments so that you can look smarter and more mature.
Also, let us take a moment and savor the fact that Halstead is basically saying “do not engage in the spirituality that has defined Paganism since its creation.” Apparently, stepping back from the world, looking into yourself (to find what you believe), commune and make offering to the Gods to discover what they say, and just go have a walk in the park are now, apparently, bad things. Instead, you should engage in the political process to change the world!
But remember, that politicization of Paganism is only “perceived.”
I wonder, Mr. Beckett, where do you imagine you will be taking these nature walks while the world burns … or floods? Do the your god you offer to have no concern for the suffering of mere mortals? If not, I would suggest they do not deserve your offerings.
Actually, I was talking with Jupiter about that the other day about “what happens if the world floods like all the environmentalists say it will?” Guess what he told me.
“We’ll build an ark. A big beautiful ark. And we’ll put all the faithful in it. And it will be beautiful, and we’ll make the environmentalists pay for it. And every time one of them complains, the ark will get ten feet bigger.”
You gotta love the hyperbolic tone Halstead takes in this paragraph though. I mean, dear gods, I haven’t heard such tearfilled rage since that lady on the Simpson’s was crying about “won’t someone think of the children.”
I don’t know, maybe I’d take Haltead a bit more seriously if he wasn’t a lawyer putting his kids through an apparently fancy school and likely driving around in nice cars in a big house. Like I’d take Rhyd’s anti-capitalism a bit more seriously if he didn’t actually have a patreon. But look at me, wanting people to practice what they preach as their ideological standards.
Beckett’s suggestion that we should worship the gods* instead of being political would be laughable, if it weren’t such a dangerous idea — and if Beckett’s delivery weren’t so deceptively benign.
Wait, I though that Paganism being politicized was merely a “perception” but not a reality? This is sounding a lot like Paganism is being politicized here. Much contradiction. Because here it looks like Halstead started his article saying “Paganism isn’t being politicized,” but here he’s saying “Paganism must become politicized.”
The truth is that the political struggle against the Religious Right is hardly won. As Beckett himself acknowledges, the Right is more aggressive than ever in restricting women’s control of their bodies and in discriminating against LGBTs. The same people continue to disenfranchise people of color through draconian voting restrictions, and the same people still resist the phrase “Black Lives Matter. Meanwhile, the largest fossil fuel project in history is continuing to devastate the Canadian wild and the lives of First Nations people — a project which is driven by the Right’s investment in global capitalism and the Christian belief in the human right of dominion of the Earth.
Jesus Fucking Christ man!
Halstead here is literally talking about Christians the same way Rhyd talks about fascists. You’d think these people were blood thirsty Nazis out to murder everyone that wasn’t a Christian.
Yes, the Christian right is “trying to control women’s bodies” because they think unborn children are living people who have a right to live rather than be murdered in the womb!
Yes, the Christian Right does discriminate against LGBT peoples because a) they believe those people are commit an immoral act and want no part in helping them do that and because b) The LGBT community for the last several decades has been nothing but complete monsters to the Christian Right and attempted to destroy everything they hold dear. Now I am fully for Marriage equality, but I can also admit that the LGBT community have been completely tyrannical bigots about getting there, going so far as to use the courts to overturn the lawful democratic choices of their fellow citizens. So while I in no way agree with the Christian Right’s position, I can certainly understand their attitude at this point.
And yes, the Christian Right does resist the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” I resist the phrase black lives matter. The Christian Right, and myself, insist that “All Lives Matter,” and refuse to give into the entirely racist statement and ideology that is “Black Lives Matter.”
And who know, maybe the Christian Right supports that pipeline deal with Canada because we’re in an economic recession and people want jobs to feed their fucking families.
But NOOOOO, the Christian Right is inherently evil and everything they believe inherently evil and the fight will not end until those evil Christians are exterminated from the political landscape and maybe even the planet!
And these are just a few of the fronts where the battle for justice is still being waged. Saying that there has been a “decisive” victory is not just wrong — it threatens to lull us into a false sense of security.
I’m going to break this down.
Wanting jobs is…unjust.
Insisting that all life matters is…unjust.
Insisting that unborn children be afforded the right to live is…unjust.
And resisting their own marginalization at the hands of another group who believes differently than they do is…unjust.
But that seems to be Beckett’s point. Beckett’s optimism about the imminent demise of the Evangelical politics seems to contradict his own pessimism about our ability to change the world. Which is it? Have we already won the fight or is the fight impossible to win? Apparently, for Beckett, it doesn’t matter, because the message is the same — we can stop fighting, we can stop worrying about the world, and we can focus on ourselves.
You know what, I’m going to say this. They’re both wrong, and their both right.
Halstead is right, the Christian Right isn’t completely depowered in politics. They still have some rights and some say in matters, and for him the fight will never end until they are completely expunged from our political map. Because as long as they exist, they will fight for their “Evil” ways.
Beckett is right. We probably should step away from the politics and focus on ourselves. Maybe Beckett has realized what I’ve pointed out in regards to people like Rhyd. The more you try to fight something, the more you become the thing you were fighting.
The Progressive Left rose up to break the totalitarian power of the Christian Right in politics. And they did, they broke it. And now, the Progressive Left is working ever more to become just as totalitarian and discriminatory as the Christian Right ever was, they just have different targets. Really, it’s like toppling some third world dictator only for a new dictator to pop up three weeks later and be just as bad.
So maybe Beckett is wrong, and the idea is to play politics so that at least “our dictator” is the one in charge, like Halstead seems to argue for. Or maybe Halstead’s wrong, and the best way to play the game is not to play.
All I know this far is that Beckett is at least willing to say his “opponents” might have something to teach us, as opposed to Halstead who is gone full bigot.