Random Rantings

Monday, June 26, 2006

You never know what you'll find when you go searching...

So - I'm participating in starting up an interfaith coalition in my area of the world... so, I get a charge from my cousin to go looking for contact information for various religious groups in the area, so that we can contact them and invite them to "join in the fun"...

So - I do a Google search on "Wicca Delaware" to try and find any covens in the area for the contact list...

And... I do find the contact information... but, I also get a link to a MD/DE Baptist group...

I click on it, wondering what they might have on their site about "Wicca Delaware" - and come up with the following article:

Wicca: What You Should Know about Witchcraft
From September/October 2004 Facts and Trends
September 13, 2004 4:19 PM

Halloween -- All Hallow Even, All Saints’ Eve -- is Oct. 31. Stores are full of candy, cards and costumes. It’s also a sacred day for witches.

Surveys indicate that only 13 percent of pastors are familiar with Wicca -- witchcraft, a modern neo-pagan movement -- that is enticing a growing number of people.

Wicca has gone from underground to mainstream. No longer a secretive cult for loners and disaffected kids, witchcraft and neo-paganism have become “cool.”

In general, today’s devotees discover Wicca themselves. They aren’t involved because their parents brought them up in it. But that won’t be the case soon. After all, young Wiccans today will be Wiccan parents raising Wiccan children in 20 years.

Not only is witchcraft considered cool; it is big. While no reliable statistics are available on the number of practicing Wiccans, a search on Google’s Internet browser brought up more than a million Wiccan sites.

Neo-Pagan Ethics
Wiccans follow a creed called “the Rede” that states: “An harm ye none, do what ye will” or stated more simply: “As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, do what you want.” The Rede sounds nice, but Christians are called to do a lot more than just not hurt anyone.

Many neo-pagans also believe in the “Law of Three” or the “Law of Return,” an idea that is similar to karma in Buddhism: “For good or for ill, shall be returned to us threefold.” Sounds almost like a biblical idea, doesn’t it? The Bible says, “For whatever a man sows he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7, HCSB). The difference is that, according to Scripture, the consequences come from God, not nature.

Feminine Deity and Feminism
A man, Gerald Gardner, founded Wicca, but most practitioners are women. Wiccans usually speak of the goddess rather than god, or sometimes “the goddess and the god.”

Neo-Pagan Worship
One thing most neo-pagans, especially Wiccans, have in common is their reverence for nature. They are looking for harmony with nature rather than dominion over it. In fact, Wiccans believe that to the extent there is a god or goddess above everything, that god(dess) is in everything.

Sexual License
One aspect of neo-paganism is “no rules” sexuality. Wren Walker, a prominent Wiccan said, “We have no rules which prohibit homosexuality, nudity or pre-marital sex. Sex as the generative force in nature is seen by most pagans as something utterly sacred. We feel that the physical act of love is to be approached with great respect and responsibility.”

Satanism and the New Age Movement
Wiccans, by definition, do not believe in Satan since they reject most traditional Christian teachings. Wiccans and pagans would not deny being occultic (having secret, mystical teachings and practices), but they reject the worship of evil, animal sacrifices and anything else associated with harming others.

Witnessing to Wiccans
Wiccans need God. They aren’t any farther away from Him than other lost people and are no less valuable in the eyes of God. They need a saving relationship with Him, as do adulterers, thieves, football players, businessmen and sweet, elderly ladies.

Keep these tips in mind when sharing with Wiccans:
1. Christians do have common ground with Wiccans, but not a common faith. Wiccans and Christians value creation and strive to preserve human life. That’s a starting place. Talk to Wiccans and then take the discussion to the gospel. Be prepared with both Scripture and logical arguments.

2. Know that Christians have a lot of historical “baggage” to overcome when it comes to loving witches. Often, what has been done to some individuals in the name of God -- the Salem witch trials, for example -- has been cruel and evil. Don’t try to explain or defend what Christians have done in Jesus’ name. Instead, recognize wrong for what it was and what it is.

3. Understand the outcast. They often are drawn to alternative religions and lifestyles because they feel rejected by mainstream culture. Befriend the lonely and even the strange. Some followers may choose Wicca because they are accepted there, and for them, it may be their last resort. Recognize interest in Wicca as a cry for help.

4. Make “deposits” into a bank of trust. Show Wiccans that you care about them. Build trust by sincere acts of kindness, friendship and honesty. Listen, even when what you are hearing doesn’t make sense.

5. Ultimately, understand that the gospel is a challenge and a confrontation. Don’t be surprised if your witch friend isn’t friendly when it comes to Jesus. Receiving Jesus is liberating, but it comes at a great cost. The gospel doesn’t need to be watered down. Just speak honestly from the heart.

As Wicca and neo-paganism become more popular, Christians need to be better informed and more vigilant. Wicca is becoming a more mainstream part of American culture, which means Christianity is becoming less so. However, Wiccans aren’t the enemy. Satan, the liar, is the real enemy.

This article was adapted from a story in HomeLife magazine and authored by William Wells, a former youth minister and editor of Challengers resources for the North American Mission Board.


Wicca: The craft of the wise. “Wicca” and “witch” are derived from old words meaning “wise.” Wicca, a modern form of witchcraft, is based on teachings of nature worship and “magick.” Gerald Gardner founded the Wiccan movement in the 1950s as a modern reinvention of witchcraft.

Witch: A Wiccan, or practitioner of Wicca. Wiccans believe nature can be manipulated to make life better for people. A witch may be female or male.

Coven: A gathering of witches. A coven can be four, seven, 12, 13, or any other number, though “magickal numbers” are believed to hold more power.

Passing over (crossing): Pagan funeral rites for one who has died.

Druidism: Paganism of ancient Wales and Britain. Many modern American Wiccan traditions are based on Druidic teachings and Welsh witchcraft. Many of the non-Christian traditions associated with Halloween come from Druidism.

Neo-pagan: Literally “new pagan,” this refers to the modern forms of pagan teachings. Neo-pagans include modern witches (Wiccans) and modern-day Druids as well. Pagan usually refers to followers of ancient or primitive religions.

Magic vs. Magick: According to neo-pagans, magic is just tricks and sleight of hand, what many people call illusions. Magick, on the other hand, is tapping into the powers within the universe and manipulating natural laws through spells.

Handfasting: Pagan wedding ceremony where the hands of lovers are joined in a bond. Wiccans don’t get married; they become handfasted.

Once-born: A derogatory term for someone who hasn’t accepted the teachings of neo-paganism.

Wow! I realize this is from back in 2004... but it still shocks me...

Especially bothersome to me is the last "definition" - I have never heard any of my Wiccan friends refer to anyone else as "once-born" - even folks who would really deserve to be called names... I'm very certain that this is not a term that is in regular use among Wiccan circles, and was most likely added to make the Wiccan path seem derogatory of others (and therefore deserving of being "targeted" for witnessing)...



Thursday, June 15, 2006

Interesting juxtaposition...

Mom Fights to Keep Baby on Life Support

"Under a Texas law signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush in 1999, hospitals don't have to continue life support more than 10 days after their ethics board decides lifesaving measures are pointless. Families, however, have the right to look for a facility that will continue treatment."

And yet, in March of 2005, Dubya fights against terminating life support for Terry Schiavo...

Things that make you go hmmm...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pledge Protection Day

Concerned Women for America is taking part in a press conference today to protect the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Read more about the story here:

“As Americans commemorate Flag Day, it is also appropriate to remember the importance of keeping God in our Pledge. CWA strongly supports the mention of God in our nation’s oath in keeping with our constitutional freedoms. We are free from an established religion and free to worship as we choose. Our country’s founding fathers were men of faith who intentionally included the phrase ‘under God’ in an oath that serves as a symbol of loyalty and patriotism to our great country.

“The Pledge Protection Act would uphold and protect the sanctity of our age-old Pledge. Children across the country must continue to have the right to recite our Pledge day in and day out. The words ‘under God’ make the Pledge not only a patriotic oath, but a public prayer for our country.”
As I, and NJDC's Rebecca Murow, noticed - Ummm, sorry to break it to you CWA, but the Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy for a public school celebration of Columbus Day. It was amended in 1954 to add the phrase "under God". I seriously doubt our founding fathers had much to do with the writing of the Pledge...

One actual fact that the speaker got right is that "the words ‘under God’ make the Pledge not only a patriotic oath, but a public prayer for our country." Exactly what was intended by the Knights of Columbus when they petitioned Congress to have "under God" added to the Pledge.

Original Article:

Hat Tip to Rebecca at NJDC's blog:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Real People - Real Commentary

3 women on the salad bar line at a local restaurant…

Female #1 makes the comment that the TV show “Commander in Chief” is the “liberal media’s” way of “softening us up” for having Hilary as president…

Female #2 says "Oh, yes" they’re trying to get us “used to the idea of a female president”…

Female #1 says she doesn't like the idea of a female president at all

Female #2 felt that a female president would be okay, just not Hillary

Female #3 said she didn’t like the idea of “that actress” as president, and wouldn't vote for her… she continued with comments about how "actresses can’t become president, they don’t have the skills"…

Ummm - first - are we forgetting about Ronald Regan, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Bono, or Arnold? (or perhaps the idea was more that actresses don't have the ability, but actors do...)

Second - From the way she talked, it sounded like she was thinking Geena Davis was going to run for President... Are we confusing fantasy & reality people? (The third woman honestly seemed to think that Geena Davis is playing herself, as compared to a character…)

Third - I am constantly surprised by women who think that women have less skills and abilities as men... I just don't get the psychology of thinking of yourself as "lesser" of a person, especially based upon your gender, as compared to your skills...

I can say that I'm a poor soccer player compared to my husband, because I'm not that good at playing soccer, and he used to coach a soccer team... but I would find it difficult to claim I was a poor soccer player simply because I am a girl...

Does anyone know of any sources where I can research self-hate of this sort?

-Emily, perplexed

What’s the difference?

Geno’s Steaks vs Christian Shops
A Double Standard

Geno’s Steaks in Philly has garnered recent attention for a sign on their property that states, “This is America… When Ordering, Speak English”.

Read the whole story here

Now, I could delve into the controversy, talking about how Geno’s is free to have such a sign, but that they might consider taking it down to avoid offending people… etc. etc. But, lots of people are debating those points. I’m more interested in the following:

According to the complaint, which was served on Geno's yesterday afternoon, the restaurant is in violation of two sections of the city's antidiscrimination laws: denying service to someone because of his or her national origin, and having printed material making certain groups of people feel their patronage is unwelcome.

In particular, I want to focus on the “having printed material making certain groups of people feel their patronage is unwelcome” part.

It should be readily apparent why the “speak English” sign could make some people feel “unwelcome”, but I don’t see why the Commission on Human Relations doesn’t crack down on the stores in Philadelphia with religious signage…

I’m not talking about stores selling religious goods – like Christian bookshops, or Kosher & Halal Butchers. I am talking about the plumbing supply shop that has a “Jesus Fish” on its marquee, or the clothing store that posts a daily bible verse in the window – presumably secular stores that are claiming a religious affiliation.

It has been documented that “non-white” ethnic groups (Blacks especially, but also Asians and Latinos, and I’m sure many other groups) feel particularly uncomfortable shopping in stores where the sales staff, mannequins, and advertising is made up entirely of white people. Customers of these ethnic groups don’t necessarily feel directly discriminated against, but they distinctly get the feeling that they are not wanted and definitely not valued as customers.

That’s the same way I feel about secular industries proclaiming a religious affiliation… I get the feeling that as a Jew, I’m being subtly informed that I’m not a “preferred customer”.

I don’t mind if the folks who run the store are persons of deep faith, or if they give all their profits to their church. I just want to be comfortable in my shopping experience.

I’ve been told that many of these business owners are trying to proclaim that they are “Christian Businesses” because that means something about how ethical they are – that they abide by biblical principles in their business practices – and therefore want to advertise this fact so that others will know they are trustworthy.
That may work within the Christian community – in which case – advertise through your Churches… The Jewish community has been doing that for years…
Your public proclamation of “Christian Business Ethics” does nothing to improve my opinion of your trustworthiness… I will still need to hear a recommendation from a friend or neighbor, or I will try you out, and you can earn your trust with me… I don't see how a proclamation of Christian Business Ethics works for anyone of any other faith other than Christianity... (I can say I have a Jewish business, but I think the only people who would beat a path to my door based on that criteria, would be folks I know from synagogue or the JCC...)
Therefore, it seems that if you are a secular business, proclaiming Christian Business Ethics is the same as saying you are looking to be a Christian business, and serve the Christian community exclusively.

And where is the Commission on Human Relations on this? Am I the only one who feels unwelcome by secular stores’ proclamations of faith?

Maybe the Commission just hasn't caught up... or, once again it seems that religious discrimination is the last bastion of allowable prejudice…


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Some questions I've been asked...

Since I don't know how to edit comments and then publish them (I think we get "publish" or "reject" options only here...) - I'm responding to some folks' comments to me in this forum...

Apparently you know you've made it when you start to get hate mail... {smiles ruefully}

I've gotten a few choice comments to my "A question of morals" piece which I refuse to publish on grounds of abusive language.

However, some of the questions (or, more accurately, accusations) are valid ones, and I wish to respond. I list below edited versions of these questions, and my answers:

How can you support the lies they spew at Talk2Action?
The obvious disclaimer is that I don't always agree 100% with everything that everyone says on the site. That should be apparent to anyone who has participated in a public forum.
I do however agree with T2A's site guidelines, and the general theme of the site.
I know - because I have personally experienced it - that there are Dominionist Christians** in this world that are spreading hate in the visage of religiosity.

**Please note that my use of the term Christian here is not to be confused with your regular Christian folks, evangelical or otherwise, who are perfectly happy letting the rest of the world live as they wish. Dominionist Christianity is an extreme form of the religion (and many would claim that it is expressely NOT Christian because it is so warped) that intends to remake the world as a theocracy and disallow conflicting religious thought and enforce this using extreme measures, including death to heretics...

Why do you hate/fear Christians so much?
As I said above, I think we are probably using two different definitions of Christian here... You're talking about mainstream Christianity, and I'm talking about Dominionism...
Being Jewish, I'm obviously going to fear someone who is actively out to make my religion illegal to practice, or worse, kill me and my family...
I'll also restate a quip I made before - I hate hate... If you're in the business of rousing support for inequality or intolerance, then yes, I hate that... I can't say I hate you - that's such a strong thing to say about someone you've never met... but I can say that I hate what you stand for...

I think I might have to also start explaining more about where I'm coming from in the world. (Future Blog entries forthcoming...) For someone raised in this era, and especially in the greater Northeast of this country, I have personally experienced a lot of prejudice, especially as a child. I think that this has made me extremely sensitive to what it is like to be in the minority.

Why aren't you posting my comments?
I'm not trying to stifle "free speech" here - but I also am not about to post a comment that is actively bashing me on an ad hominem basis... also, I will not post foul language!

If/when you can speak normally and respectfully, I will, in fact, post comments that are "challenging" and in disagreement with me.

Otherwise - I'm stuck doing what I'm doing now...

Thanks for listening,

Friday, June 09, 2006

Old Joke Revisited

I received this joke from a friend back in February... I thought about it recently after the announcement that we have successfully "taken out" Al-Zarqawi...

Thought we could all use a laugh:

After numerous rounds of "We don't even know if Osama is still alive," on TV, Osama himself decided to send George Bush a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.

Bush opened the letter and it appeared to contain a single line of coded message:
370HSSV 0773H

Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Condi Rice. Condi and her aides had not a clue either, so they sent it to the FBI. No one could solve it at the FBI so it went to the CIA, then to the NASA.

Eventually they asked Britain's MI-6 for help. Within a minute MI-6 cabled the White House with this reply: "Tell the President he's simply holding the message upside down."


Thursday, June 08, 2006

A good quote is hard to find - 6/8/06

I thought these were good ones:

"Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Those who study history are doomed to know it's repeating."

"I truly believe that those of us who study history should make 'Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves' our unofficial motto. "

Thanks to Alice Venturi & Frank Frey at T2A!