apel: (san jose)
This is a response to Yeshe Rabbit's post about the conflict between trans gender and cis gender women at PantheaCon this year. This isn't the first time the issue has come up at PantheaCon. The Wild Hunt has more background.

Disclaimer: I'm cis-gendered and I wasn't at PantheaCon this year. Having said that, I'm afraid that this blog post sounds patronizing to me. I have no doubt that it's well-intentioned but it hits too many points on DerailingForDummies.com.

Some examples
Commitment 1: Denying people the right to express their anger at perceived injustices, or circumscribing their anger with unrealistic rules.

Commitment 2: Leading with study material for the relatively under-privileged group, even though they are likely to know much more about us than we do about them.

Commitment 3: The under-privileged need to be patient.

Ending: Denying the reality of trans people by individualizing their perceptions.

I have no doubt that Rabbit wants to work toward healing but when we're the relatively over-privileged group in a conflict, we need to take more responsibility for moving toward a solution than the relatively under-privileged group. That includes becoming aware of common pitfalls in this type of asymmetrical power conflict.

My impression is strengthened by the fact that others who were present perceived the attempt at witnessing very differently from the intent.

apel: (aphrodite)
This conversation started with a quote of the Religion News Service on the Wild Hunt. The subject was the Unitarian Universalist Association and an article by Daniel Burke about the denomination. The headline asked "Can a creedless religion make it another 50 years?". Despite the provocative headline, the article was billed as a news story. (In most news organizations it's not the author who writes the headline, so let's not blame Daniel Burke for that.)

Just like Jason Pitzl-Waters, I was pleased that the article highlighted the Pagan involvement in UUA. But what surprised me was that the religion wasn't capitalized. Laurel Mendes was called "neo-pagan" in an article that capitalized other religions: "Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and Jewish" and "God". This kind of selective capitalization is usually employed when a writer wants to convey that Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, isn't a Real Religion™.

So I commented on the Wild Hunt article.
"From the History page on religionnews.com:
"RNS does not endorse or promote any particular religion, creed or set of beliefs or non-beliefs. We are a secular organization committed to an ongoing conversation about the role of religion in public life." ...
"For nearly 78 years, the Religion News Service has been an authoritative source of news about religion, spirituality and ideas."

Capitalization according to RNS (in order of appearance in linked article):
Unitarian Universalism

If RNS aims to be neutral, they need to fix the capitalization rules in their style guide. Otherwise it's hard not to assume that only "valid" religions and spiritual paths get capitalized."

Assuming that Daniel Burke and the Religion News Service wouldn't find and reply to a comment buried in a blog, I tweeted @ReligionNewsNow and asked for a reply:
@Mjausson: Hi , can you respond to capitalization issue I'm raising on ?

I was pleasantly surprised that I got a reply the next day:
@ReligionNewsNow: Like many news outlets, we follow AP style when it comes to capitalization. They lowercase "neo-pagan." Link

I was surprised again for several reasons:
1. The reply came in the form of a Direct Message. DMs can only be seen by the sender and recipient. They're used for conversations that you want to keep private. Why would a news organization send me a private message about their capitalization style guide when I had asked them about it in two very public places? Is their style a secret? My guess would be that they're not aware of Twitter etiquette regarding @-replies and DMs.

2. A news organization that only reports on religious news cites the AP style guide for how it capitalizes religions. I would expect a skateboarding news venue to have its own capitalization and spelling style guide for anything to do with skateboarding, too. In fact, the online version of the AP Stylebook has functionality so that specialty news outlets can add terminology within their field to the stylebook.

Some more surprising finds:
Daniel Burke wrote a news roundup on March 15 in which the Theodism  is capitalized. Full text of the RNS item:
"Two Nebraska inmates have succeeded in getting a pagan religion recognized by state prison officials. The religion, called Theodish Belief, uses for its ceremonies drinking horns, a boar's tusk, a hobby horse and organic food.

The cynic in me suspects that some of these inmate First Amendment claims are desparate attempts to avoid prison food. The hobby horse? Who knows."

Burke is following the capitalization in the AP piece that is quoted by the First Amendment Center. But the snark in the second paragraph is not present in the AP article, it's Daniel Burke's alone.

On the other hand, the lack of respect for some religions is apparently not new to Religion News Service. In a brief article from June 2 about RNS' move from for-profit to non-profit, a charity law blog quotes the RNS mission statement:
"RNS' mission statement is "RNS' first priority is to provide intelligent, objective coverage of all religions-Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Asian religions and private spirituality. RNS also provides commentary from a diverse array of all points of the political and theological spectrum."

Notice anything missing there? Truthfully, I don't know where the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog got their quote from. I left a comment on the blog. Maybe there will be an answer next week or so. I'll update here when/if I find out.
apel: (aphrodite)
This was originally a reply to a blog post entitled Self-Respect: Come to Your Success by Pagan mystic and teacher Thorn Coyle.

For me the biggest obstacles to coming to my success are old commitments and convictions that I've outgrown. Take my bedroom curtains for example.

My current level of success means I have less time and more money but I still hold on to the belief that I am a crafty person so I should hem my own curtains. Why else do I have a sewing machine?

So for over a year I had half a hemmed curtain hanging in my bedroom window. The other half lay, unhemmed, in my crafts box. I finally took down the hemmed half a month ago. The next step is to take both halves to a seamstress and say "Hem this one so it looks the same as the one I've done."

I think I need to let go of beliefs that served me when I had more time than money. Then I'll be ready to hand over my bedroom curtains to a professional. I used to take pride in sewing and other creative, time-intense skills. I don't feel pride in throwing money at a problem, even though the reason I have the money is that I'm skilled at my own profession. Somehow I need to resolve that.

The fact is that I use the limited time I do have for furthering my own healing, as well as the healing of other people. That's something I need to learn to place a higher value on.
apel: (stonehenge)
The instructions for tomorrow's Druid ritual in Menlo Park are to bring a poem or song. So I wrote a prose poem today at work.

Lughnasad: Taking Stock
Hummingbirds feast
On the last agapanthus nectar.
Peach trees, silent,
Have already been harvested.
The fear of forest fires,
And longing for relieving rain.
Planning my winter crops,
Sweet peas and pansies.
apel: (triskele_Animated)
Discussing the Tube strike one of my co-workers linked to a site that allows you to map walking routes in central London. I tried it and found out that at a medium pace my walking commute would take 5 hours. Not happening, then. The site doesn't seem to be very adapted to walking, as it generally chooses major thoroughfares rather than nice, quiet side roads.

I've read a couple of articles by relatively young people about how horrible it is or would be to have your mother read your page on a social networking site. This is from a mother who gets on Facebook and her daughter's reaction.

If you thought the Driving Theory Test I linked to last week was too much work, you can try a short version with only 10 questions (and no registration) at the BBC site.

Fascinating thoughts on stages of spiritual development. I particularly like the idea proposed by one of the commenters about how, to the extent that we approach our religion with the mindset of "I choose" rather than "I'm right", is the extent to which we can apply the principles of our religion to our own lives. If we approach it with the mindset of "I'm right" we end up locked into top dog/bottom dog struggles with others to prove that we are indeed right, instead.
apel: (triskele_textureAnimated)
Happy Diwali to all my Hindu friends and sympathisers.

I was going to work from home today in preparation for a very important release on Tuesday. But I've discovered that I don't have all the assets, so I'm heading into the office now. Now how I like to spend my weekends but, at time and a half, the money is good.

Not so much looking forward to the commute, though. At least I've set the VCR to record Cute!Mark tonight. Two NCIS episodes when I get home should compensate somewhat for the late hour. I've also got my cute little 8Gb Nano so I'll be alright.

There's a train in to town at 14.32. Better make sure I catch that. I just want to finish my cuppa first.
apel: (buddhaBW)
In today's article in the SFgate.com series Finding My Religion David Ian Miller interviews Martin Lowenthal about dark retreats. These are retreats that are spent completely in a dark room. Lowenthal is a Tibetan Buddhist.

I think it sounds very intriguing. Lowenthal says that initially people tend to sleep a lot and that it's important to let that happen because it's part of becoming completely relaxed. That is one of the benefits of dark retreats. Because even your eyes are shielded from stimulation, you relax more deeply than normally. It sounds very restful.

Happy Holi

Mar. 15th, 2006 11:17 am
apel: (hindi)
We have had a little Holi celebration here in the office today with sweets and coloured powder. One of my coworkers sent me the following explanation of the Hindu festival of Holi:

the legends of Holi )
apel: (buddhaBW)
I went to Amaravati. On the way up I was listening to Norah Jones. That felt good. I used to do that a lot. Now I want to go driving just so I can listen to music really loudly and sing along. Too bad I can't commute to work by car anymore.

On the temple door there was a note that said that the heating was broken. That surprised me because I didn't know that there was heating in the temple. But it was in fact even more frigid in there than usual. It was a good thing I had my giant fleece blanket with me so I could wrap up really well.

It was only me and two other people there, and no mendicants. It was good to meditate but I wish it had been a regular evening devotion with chanting. As it was, I skipped out at eight and went grocery shopping. Apart from groceries I also bought a Katie Melulah (sp?) CD. Unfortunately I left it in the boot so I didn't listen to it. Not that there's anything wrong with Norah Jones.

Now I've watched L&O:CI and it's bedtime.
apel: (triskele_texture)
I just discovered that the Royal Mail Group site on diversity in the workplace includes a page about Wicca. That's a surprise. It's in a section of the site for managers, entitled Religious and Cultural Protocols.
apel: (aphrodite)
[livejournal.com profile] earthmystic has a list of his favourite Christian choral music CDs with links to Amazon. The dozen recordings include a number of early works and music dedicated to the aspect of the Mother Goddess called Saint Mary.
apel: (aphrodite)
I'm reading Maureen Reddington-Wilde's essay about Aphrodite in Devoted to You: Honoring Deity in Wiccan Practice so I thought I'd look into Hellenic Pagans a bit more. Maybe I can find something that resonates with me.

First I did a search on Reddington-Wilde's name and came up with a link to Thiasos Olympikos, a Hellenic "coven". They have some ritual structures, poetry and stuff like that on their site.

Next I searched on "hellenic reconstructionism" and the first hit was to an LJ community, [livejournal.com profile] sanegreekrecons. The fact that they feel the need to stress that they are sane bothers me a bit. But they had some useful links in the user info.

Among those links was an overview of Kyrene Ariadne's Hellenic Cults, Traditions and Practices. Judging from the list, some groups within the Hellenic community don't encourage mysticism. The article about mysticism seems to indicate that Hellenic reconstructionists are trying to set themselves apart from generic Neopaganism in a similar way as Asatruars do from "Wiccatru". Ariadne also has a list of FAQ links.

Having read a bit more I must say that the emphasis on telling others what is hubris and what isn't does put me off the concept a bit. The idea of the Nordic Jante Law seem to permeate some things I've read.

Also, in some places it seems that Hellenic reconstructionists believe that if they don't jolly along their deities with regular sacrifice and devotions, the deities will get cross with them and punish them. I think I've had enough of the angry-deity-in-the-sky-with-big-stick type of religion to last me a lifetime, thank you very much.

I'll probably research a bit more before I decide this isn't for me. Besides, I can always do what those pesky Neopagans do -- borrow the bits I like. :-)
apel: (Default)
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