Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stay Tuned

First of all, my apologies for not doing more with this blog. Our hotel had a business center, but there were sometimes lines of folks waiting for a computer, and issues with their internet connection at other times.

I worked hard during the convention to do two things: first, to attend official caucus and convention events in a way that would both well-represent the donors who helped me get there; second, to present the face of the Pagan community, in all its strength and spiritual beauty.

While there were some awesome (literally) moments, it wasn't always easy. Getting the attention of the Obama campaign faith outreach coordinator presented the greatest challenge. Finally, in the end, I slipped him a note, "If there's no room at the table for the Pagan community, just let me know and I'll stop trying to contact you."

That started what appeared to be a productive conversation. Maybe trying to begin a positive relationship at a busy national convention wasn't the best idea. I'll make another attempt this week, once the dust settles, and expect a positive outcome.

After all, the signs of openness, of acceptance of all faith communities, couldn't have been clearer during the interfaith service on Sunday, and the events Thursday night.

One more question...once I either do or do not sort things out with the Obama campaign, I'm planning to close down the blog. It's convention-related after all, and the convention is over. There may be bumps in the road toward mutual understanding involved, but I expect them to be few and far between, and certainly not frequent enough to merit a blog. I would welcome your thoughts on this.

Friday, August 29, 2008

To Be Very Clear

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my last post.

If you'll read back a few days, you'll find me urging those Pagans who feel they can be active in the political arena to do so....whether they are Democrats, Republicans, Greens, or independents. Further, those who feel they would rather not be active in a partisan way were urged to become active in an organization whose focus (environmental, civil liberties, and the like) matched their own viewpoint. I even urged Pagans attending the Republican National Convention to comment on their experiences, as I have commented on mine.

By their very nature blogs are personal stories. I can only tell my own and urge others to do the same. My point and purpose is that Pagans are very much affected by those in political power. Laws and court decisions affect us, as they affect people of every faith. My own personal belief is that those of us who can spare an hour or two once in a while for political action ought to do so. It will take more than slapping on a bumpersticker; it will take a strong effort to become known (and even relied upon) by those in power.

I've heard people say that we Pagans represent the next civil rights movement, and that may well be so. For us to succeed we must come out of the shadows and start stuffing envelopes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Gods Are Invoked....

By the time you read this you will all have seen the news coverage of the last event of the Democratic National Convention. First we heard from Al Gore, Joe Biden and other great speakers, and there was some wonderful music.

Barack Obama, the first African-American nominated by a major political party in US history and speaking on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's famous "I have a dream" speech, was even more inspiring that usual. But our Pagan delegates will long remember the opportunity we had to invoke the Gods at an official convention event, thus making history of a different sort.

Let me explain, because you may not have caught the final item on the agenda (CNN, at least, went to a commercial instead of airing it).

At the end of a wonderful, joyful night, complete with fireworks and confetti (including a cascade of white stars), came an invocation. Until the last, there was no hint of how it would close, but then it came: the minister said he would pause before the end of the prayer and encouraged everyone in Invesco Field to finish it as they would in their own faith tradition.

And so the Gods came to that venue, as I completed the invocation with "by the Gods of my people, so mote it be!"

Friends, Barack Obama continues to amaze me. In being welcoming to Pagans, he appears to be counting on our assistance, hoping that the help we will give him might balance the harm this could cause him among evangelicals. I, for one, intend to pay off on that gamble.

If he's this Pagan-friendly, if we continue to be given a place at the table, it bodes well for us all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Inclusive....You Bet!

I was inspired by the great comments from my last post; thanks to all who read it, and, like me, felt themselves a welcome part of the effort to elect Barack Obama and of the Democratic Party.

The Maine GOP, as represented by conservative blog As Maine Goes, felt differently. No surprise. For the entire list of comments (mostly addressed at my co-blogger, Ed Lachowicz), follow this link:

http://www.asmainegoes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=57940

If you don't have time to go through all the muck, here are some examples:

I hope more Democrat pagans come out of the closet in Denver. I hope they all come out for the country to see.

Reading "The Case Against Barack Obama" recently, I learned that Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," which seems to have been both Barack's and Hillary's bible in their youth, was dedicated to Lucifer by the author. In subsequent editions, that dedication was removed



And...

For shame! Wasting his time in Denver when he could be exorcising the evil spirits from the Pentagon!


And finally...

I wonder if his satan worshiping has an influence on his decision making process.
Does he talk to satan and does satan talk back?
Twisted Evil Shocked
How many satan worshiping moonpies can you fit
into a Democratic National Convention?

all of them.

the change we need.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Interfaith? Yes, interfaith...really!

I approached today's interfaith service with a grain of salt. OK, let's be truthful...a bucket of salt would be closer to the way I was feeling. Knowing that several folks in Pagan leadership had sent e-mails to the Obama "people of faith"outreach, and that none of us had received a response, I was prepared for disappointment.

Joyfully that's not what I got.

First of all, religious symbols, always powerful in the way they show the mindset of event organizers, were all but invisible.

There was a globe, a mandala, and some stars. No cross, no Star of David, no calligraphic verses from the Koran. All these images which might have indicated the supremacy of "People of the Book" were nowhere to be seen.

Clergy with significant parts of the service included Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist (they're pantheist, right?), but nowhere was there the sort of heavily trodden path of "we're Christian and everyone else had best keep out of our way" that is often seen in so-called interfaith observances.

Led by convention CEO Rev. Leah Daughtry, who is pastor of a church in Washington, DC, the service stressed equality, peace, social justice, and free speech (with one of the speakers plainly disagreeing with the Democratic Party platform plank on a woman's right to choose).

The high point for me, where Rev. Daughtry proved how inclusive she had planned the service to be, came when she stated, "We are created in the image of our Creator, whatever we call Him or Her." Acknowledgment of the feminine divine truly demonstrated how inclusive the Democratic Party is, and made me proud to be a Democrat.

As Rev. Daughtry said, "The Democratic Party may not be perfect, but it's perfect for me."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Circle for Peace

This evening, after a great supper at the Mercury Cafe (witchy, hippy hangout, great food, well worth visiting when you're next in Denver), I had the privilege of attended a Circle for Peace in Downtown Denver.

As someone far more used to holding ritual surrounded by trees, I'll admit I had a few misgivings. How could we create the same feeling of closeness to Nature in a downtown parking lot? No problem. If the people involved truly believe in Peace, and in each other....if those in the circle connect with Nature as it exists in that parking lot, the circle just might work.

And so it did.

We were about twenty, young and old, men and women, and we joyfully joined minds and hearts in our hopes that peace and unity would come out of this convention.

We made and decorated prayer flags which will hang from a building for the duration of the convention, and enjoyed each other's company. Thanks for the hospitality, and the ride back to the hotel!

Tomorrow is the official convention interfaith circle. As far as I know there will be no Pagans with "speaking parts" but there certainly will be Pagans in that room. We will stand together, and represent ourselves and others who could not attend.

Wish us luck. Someone tonight said we Pagans just might represent the next big Civil Rights movement.

Speaking for myself (and, after all, I can truly do no more than that) I would be honored to carry that wand into the future.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A nation of discontent

(Cross-posted at Turn Maine Blue)

"Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation." -Today's fortune cookie. No joke.


Almost eight years have passed since the (s)election of our president. Through those years, we have seen the trust America puts in herself dismantled. What isn't often spoken of is the fact that the percentage of people who support George W. Bush are in direct correlation to those of us who trust our country, and in particular, our government. The remainder, for the most part, have lost faith in government.

This is not to say that we do not love our country. On the contrary, the fact that we distrust, the fact that we are angry about the state of our union, is because we are so deeply patriotic. We care so strongly about the fall from grace which our country has suffered through that it enrages us.

I am angry not because I have anger issues, but because when I hear about another person who dies because they don't have health care, or because they froze to death without oil to heat their home, I take that personally. I'm a Wiccan, and I take my vow to do my very best to harm none seriously. Every time this happens to a person in America, it is a failure of her government. And Democrats are complicit in this failure.

Since Democrats took power in 2006, we have seen the fourth amendment trampled. We have seen the funding for the Iraq War consistently renewed. And this is only the beginning. And now, it's offshore drilling that's next. Every principle, we piss away without much of a fight.

Every time that that petulant son of a bitch up in the Maison Blanche (petulance is best expressed in French, according to the Republican Party) stamps His Mighty Feet, Democrats scramble for the quickest way to insert their heads as far up their asses as they can physically manage. The Republicans, meanwhile, manage that which we cannot- unity.

It is utterly pathetic that we speak of needing massive supermajorities in each house, because otherwise we can't hold enough of us together to accomplish the people's will. The people want the war over, they want universal health care, they favor almost every position that we represent. All we have to do is stand up for our principles, and the average American citizen will support us. Instead, Congress rests firmly at a 10% approval rating.

***

I come to the Democratic National Convention as a converted Democrat, with only four years in the party. But I come as a Democrat who is committed to his party. I come demanding that it stand up for its own values. A platform will be introduced and passed at this gathering- one which should be thrown down onto the desks of every Democratic Congressman, every Democratic Senator, and our future President.

That platform is a document which delineates our true beliefs. Not those which head to the hallowed halls of Congress to be watered down and distilled until universal health care means "for those under 18". Not those where "alternative energy" means "ethanol for Iowan farmers". Not those where "we don't torture" means "except for those types that don't kill you".

I come to this convention with this deep seated, yet likely twisted hope that if we can just elect this nominee of ours president, that our problems will begin to end. That the tide will turn, that the ice caps will cease melting. That when we fight a war, it will be again because we have the moral high ground. That people can keep their homes, and no longer face foreclosure levels not seen since the Depression.

This is our time. We come to this convention not just to nominate a candidate, but to cast the die which will set a chain of events into motion that will change our nation forever. That a black man could fight a woman for the nomination of our party, and then ascend to the most powerful office in the world is truly, as Bill Clinton put it, a "fairy tale".

But while he spoke those words as hurtful things, I speak them for the opposite reason- for I believe in the tales of fae, and I believe in miracles, and I believe that we mortals hold in our hands much greater power than we take credit for. And while I do not find Barack Obama to be a messianic figure, I find his message to be one which could unite a nation once again. That finally, we could again pursue something greater than ourselves.

That I will be there to watch the first step of this journey makes me feel richer than John McCain ever could. In less than a week, we will witness the true beginning of a new era in American politics. And I for one cannot wait for him to say those magical words: "I accept the nomination."

And then I will be there to hold him accountable, and to refuse to allow him to make his campaign promises only promises. And I hope you will all be there with me... because this is where it begins, but we have a long way to go together.