This book could be a modern manifesto for humanistic Paganism; but its theories can also be applied to most modern Pagan practice. And it could also be read and enjoyed by humanists and naturalists of any faith. It could possibly even be held up to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking as an answer on the value of philosophy. Philosophy is not dead, Myers argues. It has merely changed form. A hard-core rationalist might ask "What use does philosophy have in the modern scientific and rational world?" The answer is "to teach us how to live a good life without faith to fall back on." But that being said, it does not challenge the existence of faith; rather, it suggests that ethics and values are essential and positive driving forces that cross the boundaries of religion or spirituality, and are equally applicable to everyone.
Perhaps central to Neo Pagan practices is the petition of Deity. The crudest of formulas for Neo Pagan ritual would be: create a sacred space, invoke deity, pay homage and/or petition, and dismiss. Though some petitions might be spontaneous and overlook some elements of space or decorum ( i.e. Penczack’s “instant magic”), the desires and force of will are almost always necessarily in conjunction with some form of request to a higher power. Linguistically, one could simply put it as; “to petition”, a subject must have an object to call upon. Even in the instance of petitioning the self, drawing forth some sort of believed, hidden energy from the depths of the practitioners psyche, the petitioner is calling upon an “other” to change or work with the “self”.
At the end of 2012, I looked over what I had read the previous year and came up with a list of Literary Discoveries. Considering how much I have read this year -- novels, novellas, anthologies, short stories, essays, longer works of philosophy and history and spirituality -- continuing the tradition seemed like a good idea. And, just like the previous list, not all of these titles were published in 2013 (though most were); I just discovered them this past year.
So, in no particular order, here is my 2013 edition of Literary Discoveries.
I watch the news with my mother sometimes. For the record, probably not something I would recommend, especially when I have more leftist leanings and she is surprisingly conservative for how open-minded she is on certain topics. I digress. No matter how different our perspectives are, we usually end up saying the same thing after a particularly heart-wrenching news story about yet another murder or tragedy: “What is this world coming to?”
I was raised Episcopal, so I would assume that the whole idea of “God must have needed that person in Heaven, so He took he/she away from us here for a good purpose” filtered into me, by osmosis since I don’t remember anyone ever saying that to me directly. Since I never had to deal with personal tragedy, there was no reason for me to ever hear this statement, so I didn’t really think of it much until lately. Yet I keep saying that good ole phrase in the back of my head: “There must be a reason for this.” What if there isn’t?
This is the conclusion of a three part essay on conservatism, liberalism, and their relationship to NeoPagan spirituality. Part I described what liberalism and conservatism have been historically and philosophically and argued there is considerable truth in both views. Part II explored their relationship to Christian and Pagan spirituality and how Pagan insights enabled us better to understand their competitive but ultimately symbiotic relationship.Now, Part III examines why neither, but especially conservatism, resembles what they have been historically and why those Pagan insights are so critically important to everyone today.
The argument is more complex than the preceding two, but I hope you will bear with me. I am happy to elaborate points that seem undeveloped in the discussion to follow. Exceptions exist to much of what I am arguing, my larger argument is that the exceptions are minor themes today.
I’m AWOL this week attending a Pagan festival/retreat here in Colorado. This was written before I left.
I readily admit that thinking about philosophy gives me a headache. Literally. Attempting to discuss it or read it makes me nauseous on top of the headache. I suspect this physical reaction is embedded in the fear that I’m dumber than I like to think and attempting to sound intelligent during a discussion of philosophy will only prove that a 3rd grader is smarter than me. (Oh the dreams along this line are most humbling…)