Beliefnet’s own Gus diZerega, author of “A Pagan’s Blog,” has a very thoughtful (he’s nicer than I am, that is) response to my post below on Starhawk calling on Pope Benedict XVI to apologize for the church’s persecution of witches.
In his post, “Starhawk and the Pope,” diZerega sets out the historical and present-day landscape of (neo)paganism and related issues very well, and says:
“…I am not convinced that the African examples Gibson would have us denounce are properly criticized. Maybe, maybe not. All I know of them is what their detractors have said. When those describing them are also associated with an institution having a long history of distorting and maligning indigenous spirituality, I’ll reserve judgment as to whether we are getting accurate information on those African examples.”
“Yet there are nasty practitioners and when they come to light within our own community Pagans have been pretty united in denouncing them.”
I appreciate his response, both spirit and in content. diZerega also notes that ”the Pagan traditions are not bloodless either,” and in his wrap up I was put in mind of how all religions can get tarred by the actions of the few, especially leaders, or the misdeeds (or worse) of those fringe or even mainstream few who claim to be acting in the name of their tradition. Even though they are hardly doing so. I think this may be a particular affliction for Pagans, who have (re)emerged into a severely fragmented world, culutrally and religiously speaking, and so have all sorts of “sole practitioners” out there claiming to be something that they may–or may not–legitimately be.