PALENVILLE, NEW YORK -- The Maetreum of Cybele got to the end of its seven-year property-tax fight with the Town of Catskill today, when a three-judge panel of Appellate Court judges ruled that they do, indeed, deserve the same tax exemptions that other churches do. While the town still has one more chance to appeal at the state's highest court, Reverend Cathryn Platine feels that the decision's wording makes that unlikely. A portion provided by Platine reads as follows:
That's what one of the justices -- described by a courtroom regular as "very Catholic" -- remarked during oral arguments about the Maetreum of Cybele's property tax exemption case. The Town of Catskill gave this Pagan congregation the religious tax break in 2006, then yanked it, and it's been in court ever since. This afternoon it was before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the lofty title given to the ''second''-highest court in the state. The appeal was to a lower court decision (that's the Supreme Court if you're keeping track) that determined that no, a property tax exemption was not necessary for what the ruling justice deemed was essentially a residence.
Four justices heard the oral arguments, with ten minutes from the appellant's attorney Deborah Schneer, then ten minutes from Daniel Vincellente for the town, and another minute of rebuttal by Schneer.
You only get an appeal if the lower court screwed up, and Schneer said that it had. "The trial court did not address at all the testimony which showed that the residential use cannot be distinguished from the religious use," she told the justices. The decision against the Cybellines had largely hinged on a decision in the case of a Sapphardic Jewish community in neighboring Sullivan county, in which the first floor of a building was devoted to religious practice and the two upper floors were the rabbi's residence. In that case, the courts had ruled that only the first floor would be exempted from property tax. Schneer instead pointed to a case in which a Hutterian colony was given full exemption because "living in community is central to their religious practice," as with the Cybellines....
The term grey charges is new to me, but the concept isn't: these are financial parasites that suck off your bank or credit card balance for as long as you don't notice them. Like living parasites, they succeed by staying small and not hurting you too much at a time, costing the average consumer less than $350 per year but banging the entire economy for about $14.3 billion in 2012.
Grey charges depend upon us not spending with intent. Some of us can't be bothered to look at our statements, but it's just as common to be afraid to look at our financial situation. Either of these extremes is the opposite of living a life of intent, because earning and spending are part of the intentional life.
For those who find visualization to be a powerful tool, I have used the mouth of a parasitic lamprey to be used when imagining grey charges. These are the free trials that turned into charges because cancelling turned out to be harder to do than signing up; the innocuous little subscriptions that you don't use anymore; the official-sounding charge you're too embarrassed to call about because you don't know what it was for in the first place. They exist to slowly suck you dry....
"A 500-page reform proposal would upgrade the 1918 Code, revised in 1958. Adulterers and practitioners of black magic would get up to five years in prison. ... Currently, the Code lacks provisions against witchcraft or black magic but under its revised version, those found guilty of using black magic would face up to five years in jail or up to 300 million rupiah (US$ 30,000) in fines. Out of respect for tribal traditions and customs, "white", i.e. good magic would remain legal."
Commentator Rod Dreher on Conservatives and Asatru (The American Conservative)
"I find paganism far more attractive than atheism, because pagans, however mistaken their understanding (from a Christian point of view) nevertheless share with Christians a recognition that there is Something There beyond ourselves, and the material world. ... I think that paganism stands to gain overall from the unchristening of the West. If you look at the Asatru site, this neopagan religion speaks to longings that are deep within all of us, and cannot be suppressed forever. ... Asatru promotes itself as about “connections,” and “coming home.” I can see why it would appeal to conservatives, especially, I have to concede, crunchy conservatives."
Pagans at the Pasadena Interfaith Walk for Peace (Pagan Newswire Collective)
"Nineteen religious organizations joined together to walk for peace and collect shoes for those in need. Temple of the Goddess, a Pagan 501(c)3 was one of them. ... Children from Temple of the Goddess passed out peace bells to everyone to be used later in the program. ... The bells passed out earlier were now to be used by all as Cheryl & Patrick Cleary of Silver Phial backed by the choir sung Ring the Bells by Melissa Etheridge and Salman Ahmad. Each time the chorus was sung we all rang our bells. It was quite a raising of energy as all the bells chimed as one."
Horsemeat Linked to Paganism (Cherwell)
"A recent paper published in Oxford Journal of Archaeology suggests that Britain’s aversion to horsemeat may have originated almost 1500 years ago from the diffusion of Christianity. ...
Dr Poole writes in his paper, "While many 'pagan' beliefs became integrated into Christian practices in England, the possible veneration and eating of horse seems to have been too much of a challenge to Christian perspectives.""