Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Other People's Stuff

They're all over the world now, but they started out right here in the Midwest: Little Free Libraries.

In front of their homes, people erect what look like roadside shrines, and so they are: shrines of literacy. Open the door to one of these little god-houses and you'll find inside, instead of an image, shelves of books. The idea is, take a book, leave a book. All completely free. It's a great idea: generous, hospitable, practical. Very Midwestern.

A coven-sib and her husband put up one in their front yard. Suddenly, a problem arose: what to do with the Kreesh-chun materials, the Bibles and other “literature,” that accumulated on their shelves?

[A Zuñi elder once remarked: "How can they expect us to take their religion seriously when they throw it away as if it weren't worth anything?"]

As a pagan, I regard proselytizing as a serious breach of hospitality, one of our people's oldest and most sacred values. Proselytizing isn't just disrespectful and profoundly rude; it's wrong. Frankly, it's a form of spiritual assault. We certainly do not owe anyone a platform from which to proselytize.

On the other hand, sending perfectly good books to the landfill is also wrong, an offense against the Mother.

Now, I'm all for freedom of information and, accordingly, opposed to censorship. That said, though, moi, je ne suis pas Charlie. My own feeling is that it's generally best practice to be respectful of other people's sacred stuff. People have a tendency to take attacks on their religion personally—diss my religion, diss me—and can do some pretty heinous and disproportionate things in response. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Well, it's the universal custom among the Peoples of the Book to dignify old, worn-out Torahs, Bibles, and Qur'ans with inhumation. Me, I don't have a problem with a little respectful Poe-esque premature burial in this case. For all the good that they may have inspired down the years, these books have all inspired at least as much evil, especially against our kind. The world will be none the worse for having fewer Ts, Bs, and Qs in it, in my opinion. Let them return to the Mother.

And as for the non-scriptural books?

Well, ye gods: what in the world do you think the Goddess made recycling bins for?




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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