Democratic Forest Trusts (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.Democratic trusts with leadership elected by citizen-members promise to solve many of the problems afflicting both traditional government and corporate ownership of forestlands.Â This article explores these issues in some depth.Complexity and the Dream of Human Control of Eco-Systems (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.The title captures it.Â I then explore the kinds of institutions compatible with both nature and the modern world that are implied from this analysis.Rethinking the Obvious: Modernity and Living Respectfully With Nature (PDF)The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, Winter, 1997.Modernity is usually considered a wrong turn in terms of respect for and sustaining the environment.Â I argue the reality is more complex, for modernity has freed us from personal dependence on agriculture, ended the economic value of children, radically reduced the likelihood of large scale wat, and shifted much production to intellectual rather than material capital.Â This partially decouples society from nature, which gives us important opportunities as well as problems.Towards an Ecocentric Political Economy (PDF)The Trumpeter, Fall, 1996.This paper begins my effort at showing how liberal modernity can be harmonized with an ecocentric perspective on our relationship with the natural world.Â It is a corrective to much “free market environmental” literature that sacrifices Nature to money as well as to anti-liberal attacks by well-meaning but economically naÃ¯ve environmentalists.Unexpected Harmonies: Self-Organization in Liberal Modernity and Ecology (PDF)The Trumpeter, Journal of Ecosophy, 10:1, Winter 1993This is my initial paper exploring how what I term ‘evolutionary liberal’ thought can be an important means by which society and nature can be brought into greater harmony.Â The other Trumpeter papers build on it.Deep Ecology and Liberalism: The Greener Implications of Evolutionary Liberalism (PDF)Review of Politics, Fall, 1996.Liberal thought and deep ecology are usually regarded as mutually exclusive. But the “evolutionary” tradition offers a way to integrate the two through commonalties in the work of David Hume, Michael Polanyi, Arne Naess, and Aldo Leopold, providing a stronger foundation for liberalism while strengthening the case for an ecocentric ethic.(Related subjects: Ecology)Saving Western Towns: A Jeffersonian Green Proposal (PDF)in Writers on the Range, Karl Hess and John Baden, eds., University Press of Colorado, 1998.Developmental pressures in the rural and small town West involve three groups: long term residents, new arrivals, and environmentalists. Today their interests often conflict. This conflict is in part the outcome of institutions which prevent harmonizing competing interests. The concept of developmental trusts, both for rural regions and for small communities offers a means whereby these interests can be harmonized for the benefit of all concerned.(Related subjects: Politics)Social Ecology, Deep Ecology, and Liberalism (PDF)Critical Review, 6: 2-3, 1992.Murray Bookchin is considered a leading radical environmental theorist. However, his analysis is incapable of leading humankind towards a more respectful and sustainable relationship with the natural world. Criticisms of Bookchin from both the deep ecology and evolutionary liberal perspective complement one another, pointing the way towards a better understanding of how modernity relates to the environment.The paper as a whole offers an early discussion of issues that are more clearly addressed in later papers, particularly Deep Ecology and Liberalism (1996) and the three Trumpeter articles in 1997, 1996, and 1993. However, there are other ideas in the article which have not been developed more thoroughly elsewhere.
This is my second reason for being very skeptical about the interest on so many pagans’ part in our having a “clergy.”
Words have enormous power. We do not even need to go into a discussion of magick to see that this is true. Here is my favorite mundane example.
The English ‘hot’ and the German ‘scharf’ both refer to the taste of an jalapeno pepper. Otherwise they have very different meanings. ‘Hot’ is well . . . hot. But in English, ‘scharf’ is usually translated as ‘sharp,’ like the blade of a knife. When I studied German I found its use to describe spicy-hot food very strange.
Years later, when I became more interested in the power of words to shape our thoughts, I asked two good German friends, one in California, the other in New York, whether now that they were fluent in English they agreed with me that ‘hot’ was the more fitting word. Both said no, scharf seemed more fitting. One added he still found it very hard to use the word ‘hot’ in this context, but since that’s what Americans did, he did so as well.
Both hot and scharf are metaphors. A jalapeno pepper is not necessarily hot in temperature, nor is it sharp like a knife. But these metaphors so shape our experience of a taste that we could not agree which word makes the most sense.
Words shape our experience and perception, even for something as seemingly pre-linguistic as taste. The meaning of a word is based in large part on how it relates to similar words, and our experience reflects this embeddedness.
Now let’s compare Pagan priests with Christian clergy. Pagan priests and Christian Ministers and Priests specialize in linking in one way or other our daily existence and our relationship with the sacred. It is this commonality that tempts some Pagans into adopting words from a different religious tradition, in part to win legal recognition and in part to appear less threatening and more respectable to mainstream society. But let’s now consider the differences between Christian and Pagan spiritual leaders.
Synonyms for clergyman includes ecclesiastic, churchman, cleric, divine, man of the cloth, man of God, holy man, priest, minister, chaplain, father, pastor, parson, preacher, rector, vicar, dean, bishop, canon, presbyter, deacon, reverend, and clerk in holy orders. A very few cross over into a list of roles performed by Pagan spiritual leaders: priestess, priest, high priestess, high priest, Witch Queen, Magus, healer, medium, shaman, and diviner. As with the clergy, some of our most important terms have no equivalent. These are the roles we put at risk by adopting the term ‘clergy’ to describe our spiritual leaders.
Someone might reasonably ask, but can’t having a Pagan clergy result in changing and broadening the meaning of ‘clergy?’ Yes it can, – if there were enough Pagan clergy to make a difference. But there are not, and this is the problem. Were there enough Hispanic customers a Taco Bell burrito would be different from what it is as well. But there aren’t.
In magickal terms, powerful thought forms surrounding the term ‘clergy’ and if we adopt that term they will pull us away from what we are that is different. I think giving a ‘sermon’ is highly presumptuous for a Pagan Priestess or Priest. (I once was asked to give one to a UU gathering in Massachusetts It felt weird and I gave more a lecture than a sermon. They are not the same.) I also have a difficult time imagining a clergyperson performing the Great Rite. Nor is it easy to envision the Moon being drawn down on a clergyperson.
As we have become more accepted in American society we are coming under greater pressure to become more respectable still. In doing so we will move in mainstream society’s direction, and mainstream society will move in ours. But a lot rests on how far each side moves to accomodate the other.
The critical question is where we will strike a workable balance between what we are now and what society as a whole finds comfortable. In negotiating this cultural dance we should never forget that Western society is based on beliefs that are fundamentally anti-Pagan. The secular world sees nature as mundane, composed in most cases of resources valued for their use to us. Human beings are the acme of existence, and science someday might give us power over the world. Even more important for this present discussion, Western Christian spirituality focuses on the sacred as only or almost entirely transcendent, the world as fallen, radically distrusts individual experience of the sacred, and regards the only truly reliable spiritual knowledge as coming from revealed written words, even if there is no agreement on what they actually say. Moreover, Catholics partially excepted, people continually need to be reminded about the sacred through sermons rather than participating in and reconnecting with the sacred through rituals.
Given this basic reality, for us to adopt a descriptive termfor ourselves that fits and reinforces a very different conception of spiritual reality and the proper human relationship to it is just asking for trouble. People will relate to us based on their understanding of the term. When the cultural power of the non-Pagan use of these terms is overwhelmingly dominant compared to ours, we run the risk of gradually, bit by bit, losing sight of who we really are. We will give up much too much.
I will never forget attending a wedding in a Buddhist Temple in Berkeley. This was long before I was a Pagan. I anticipated seeing something quite different from the Christian weddings I had been to, and I was deeply disappointed. The temple had a lectern, pews, and behind the lectern a Buddhist image rather than a Christian one. All was very Protestant in feel. The wedding itself was based on Western models as well.
This temple served mostly Japanese American Buddhists who had suffered much and deeply for many decades at the hands of Californian cultural attitudes, culminating in their being herded into relatively benign concentration camps during World War Two. I suspect that in response they did all that they could to be respectable in the mainstream’s ignorant eyes. While I have no idea what their normal services were like, I will never forget how very very Christian the wedding was in form and feel. The Greek Orthodox wedding I attended later was much more ‘exotic’ than the Buddhist, perhaps because for them being ‘respectable’ was not so important.
I fear that in our desire for respectability we might enter on to the same path. Were we facing the kinds of repression Japanese Americans faced, I might sing a different song. But we are not. That is my other reason for being very skeptical as to the appropriateness of the term “clergy’ in a Pagan context.