Look to the dark parts of your life, the defeats, weaknesses, and sadness. Yule is a day of promise, and should serve as a reminder that all bad things hold a kernel of goodness, and all death contains life. No matter what your religion, never forget that the sun will always return each year.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Look to the dark parts of your life, the defeats, weaknesses, and sadness. Yule is a day of promise, and should serve as a reminder that all bad things hold a kernel of goodness, and all death contains life. No matter what your religion, never forget that the sun will always return each year.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I have made that choice as a result of divine inspiration. I love children, but I am gay. Rather than believing this to be an unnatural state, I recognize what any gay person does, that it is part of their nature, and born to them. My beliefs do not accept things that occur in nature as being without reason, so it occurred to me that homosexuality must be intended as a method of population control, albeit one that isn't terribly effective. The instinct to procreate is simply too powerful, and so we continue to have babies. Even if no gay people had children (and quite a few do) I'm sure that gays would continue to be born, as this mechanism is built into our genetic code to manifest proportionately to our population density.
You see, I believe strongly in Intelligent Design: a divine intelligence created man, using a tool we call evolution. But I digress.
When I discovered a few days ago that soy creates gays and shrinks penises, I was intrigued. There is some research out there about soy being used to slow the growth of prostate cancer because of its estrogen levels or somesuch, so could this article have value?
Others asked the same question and, turning to the research of Kinsey, found that ". . .homosexual men reported larger penises than did heterosexual men." So when science is shone upon soy beliefs, they fail, at least in the penile department. As for orientation, I know a boy of fifteen that nursed on soy and hasn't exhibited anything less than a full interest in girls, but that's just anecdotal.
So where are we? We know that gay men have large penises, that soy may cause gayness, and that gayness may be a method of population control. Add to this the revelations from India that men there have smaller than average penises. We've always been led to believe that this is the case in China and Japan as well. Sounds to me like small penises can be correlated with large families. Whether this is due to compensation, or if it's that sperm lose motility swimming that extra inch or so, I can't say, but the evidence for this link seems fairly compelling. Being that gays have larger penises, this lends credence to my theory.
Now we have established that small penises increase population, and gayness exists to reduce it, which is why gay men have such large penises. Perhaps a link between soy and homosexuality can be established, so that we can feed our baby boys soy formula, engorging their members and reducing the chances of them ever having children. If soy does not, in fact, cause gayness (and, logically following, increased penis size), we should investigate other methods of increasing penis size to determine if they also reduce fertility, including hormone treatments and surgical engorgement.
This could result in a win-win situation. All men want larger penises, and larger penises can be linked to smaller families. Science should focus its efforts on increasing worldwide penile dimensions as quickly as possible.
Monday, December 11, 2006
According to eartheasy.com, if you ate meat-free meals every other day for a year, you would save 487 pounds of CO2.I like the idea of being a vegetarian. Eating lower on the food chain uses less energy. The amount of pollution that is created by our meat-production facilities is really stunning . . . and most of it comes from the meat itself, from animal waste pouring into rivers to methane in the air. Our digestive tracts really do a better job with plant matter than animal parts. The foods are more nutritionally diverse, lower in fat, and would reduce my chances of heart attack, stroke, and gods know what else. Only one thing has ever gotten in the way of a lifetime commitment to vegetarianism:
I don't like beans.
Have you noticed just how much of the healthy vegetarian diet is comprised of beans? Black ones, white ones, orange and purple ones. Beans that taste like every variety of paste imaginable, and even some that taste like dirt. And each and every one of them doing its best to strengthen the one skill I have that I would prefer to downplay, at least in polite company. Maybe I should just scald my tongue or have the taste buds surgically removed?
Now to be fair, that is only a seeming requirement of the healthy vegetarian diet. I could keep myself full of plant-based convenience foods and not have to eat all that many beans. But if
it's not going to be healthy, why not eat bacon and go for broke?
There are some good arguments for eating meat in the proper mindset. Animals are animate, and so it is easier to remember that they had an end to their lives so I could continue with mine. It's easier to remember to thank the animal for dying than it is a carrot. Or a bean. Heck, probably didn't even have to kill the plant.
But I'm going to give a vegetarian week a shot. Maybe beans aren't so bad after all. But it's not just about what I taste, it's about what the family smells . . .
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I have a lot of stuff. Being someone that cares a bit about the environment, I tend to hesitate before I throw things away. So my files and furniture and clothing and especially books pile up.
Rationally the best way to deal with this is to get less stuff. I try that, I really, really do. Stuff = bad. I get that. But a love of the physical rears its not-unattractive head and bats those lashes at me and I find myself with yet another object that it completely cool, absolutely worthwhile, and utterly useless.
Enter the concept of unconsumption: getting rid of what you've already got, in a responsible manner. My typical cycle of materialism is like this: Get stuff. Get some more. Sort out stuff to get rid of. Get more stuff. Organize stuff that can be recycled. Birthday comes, more stuff! Panic; much stuff goes into the trash. Repeat. Shameful, and unpretty. Unconsumption is work, yes, but I'm hopeful that attaching a cool new word to the idea will give me the impetus to make something more of it this time.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Government procurement policies can be used to dramatically boost recycling. For example, the Clinton administration issued an Executive Order in 1993 requiring that all government-purchased paper contain 20 percent or more post-consumer waste by 1995 (increasing to 25 percent by 2000). Since the U.S. government is the world’s largest paper buyer, this created a strong incentive for paper manufacturers to incorporate wastepaper in their manufacturing process.I've been saying this for years. If the only barrier to lowering price is that there is no demand for the product, it seems silly that governments will create the supply through mandating recycling without similarly creating the demand by becoming the first and largest consumer of those goods.
The most pervasive policy initiative to dematerialize the economy is the proposed tax on the burning of fossil fuels, a tax that would reflect the full cost to society of mining coal and pumping oil, of the air pollution associated with their use, and of climate disruption. A carbon tax will lead to a more realistic energy price, one that will permeate the energy-intensive materials economy and reduce materials use.I have to draw the line here, however. Taxing of the most common pollutants will only lead to resistance to the environmental movement at best, and its defeat at worst. Humans are convenience-driven and will fight tooth and nail for the right to spew filth. However, I'm fully in support of dropping any government funding and support for these industries. They are mature businesses that should be able to succeed or fail on their own merits, and the good of the country does not depend on taxpayers supporting their efforts. If they can't hack it we'll find a better way all the more quickly.
I'm not fond of using force, nor am I of violence and aggression. Quickly-flaring tempers and enraged posturing say to me that you have not done much to earn your status on the evolutionary ladder. We have an amazing combination of opposable thumbs, a versatile oral cavity, and brains large enough to use both well. Why stoop to using force to get what we want? I can find no better reason to abandon respect for a person than to see them posturing, screaming, or striking to solve their problems. I don't think it's what the gods intended for us, and I think it's a shame when someone ignores the amazing gifts we are given to behave like any other animal.
It's not unreasonable to argue that force is the way of nature, and that Pagans worship nature, so we should emulate it, rather than being incense-burning love monkeys. What better way to honor the Old Ways than to honor the really old ways? Fine, do that if you wish; I still think it's a copout that ignores the intelligence and sophistication that those selfsame forces of nature bequeathed you with.
I'm not someone who is so clouded by pot smoke and patchouli that I believe that no man will ever raise a hand in violence. I'm of the belief that violence is the first refuge of the incompetent, and the rest of us will use force when it is necessary. However, when that time comes that force is necessary, it should be used decisively, to put an end to the matter as quickly and definitively as possible.
The United States of America has carefully brought itself to a fascinating conundrum through its policies about the use of force. We are regarded as the brutish overlords that will force our wills upon any that dare disagree with us, smashing them back into the Stone Age and making them over in our image. And yet, when push comes to shove, we are extremely reluctant to ever use decisive force. More than half the world regards us as a looming threat, but we continue to cultivate despots and zealots as enemies precisely because we do not react forcefully, thus sending a simultaneous, contradictory message that we lack the nerve.
There are many, many places that I do not believe my country has any business exercising force. I do not draw a parallel between now and the early days of World War II. Sixty years ago several countries were hoping to divide the world as their subjects. Today several fanatic religious groups feel that the world will not be a good place as long as this country continues to exist. Then, it did not matter who stood in their way. Now, it is only our perception as a threat that creates the enemy.
If we were to commit to an energy policy that was free of oil, the money that funded these groups would vanish and they would blow away like the sand upon which they now live. If we were to withdraw our forces entirely from the Middle East and allow the Semites (which include both Hebrew and Arab) to pursue their bloodthirsty need for vengeance, and commit horror after horror upon each other, ranging from blowing up busloads of innocent children to bulldozing the homes of families that are only trying to survive, our country would no longer be perceived as a threat, and the violence level of that region would drop considerably. Our presence in the Middle East is the primary cause of violence in the Middle East. It is not in our best interests to maintain any presence in that region. It would honor the Earth to cease sucking her blood, and it would be more natural to allow the humans of the region conclude their ancient fight for territory unmolested.
I do not believe we will, as a nation, abandon oil; nor shall we withdraw support for Israel. In that case, it is time that we finish what we have started. We have the power to end violence by unleashing so much of it that no one will be left standing that can hold a gun. Let all those that threaten us fall so that the timeless winds of the desert will scour their bones, and their names will be forgotten as swiftly as the dunes do shift. This would honor the gods of war, the ancient ways of glory in battle that show the Universe who holds the true power. The world would tremble before our might, and for generations none would threaten us, for we would again remind our fellow, short-sighted humans that we are capable of eradicating our enemies.
Both paths hold peril. But one must be chosen. To walk the middle path is to walk into the twilight that heralds extinction.
My father tried to teach me well, explaining that every doorman, porter, cabbie, waitress, and mail carrier deserved a tip for their services and that the bulk of their earnings depended on tips--a precarious situation since one's paycheck is thus determined by the often inconsistent kindness of patrons.I continually wrestle with tipping. Emotionally I understand that it's a good way to put positive energy out into the world, in accordance with the Threefold Law, because money is nothing but congealed energy. Intellectually, I find myself demanding that people "earn" the tip that they get.
I go out of my way to treat anyone that traditionally expects a tip kindly; this includes waitstaff, hairdressers and the like. I have been in the service industry and understand quite well that they are ofttimes abused needlessly. When it comes time to tip, however, my sense of justice demands that the tip be commensurate with the service, since I made a special effort to make them feel at ease. I'm completely willing to leave two pennies in a upside-down glass of water if the service warrants it.
Then there's the other tippable professions, like garbage collectors, postal carriers, and yes, even baristas. Despite what Donna Freitas says in her essay in tipping, these people don't depend on tips to survive, and if they are getting a large percentage of their income from their holiday tips, they are doing much, much better than I. The intimation that your service will be improved by a generous tip smacks of extortion to me, so I avoid it.
But then we get to the crux of the matter: giving is good. Tipping is giving, and so tipping is good. What we put out into the world comes back to us three times. I don't think I would be classified as a bad tipper, but my excuses, borne of fear of poverty, prevent me from being a good tipper. I don't have faith enough in my own beliefs, and that's something that needs to change.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Bear in mind that holiday traditions, and even religious songs are often borrowed from older/other religions. Before someone reading this takes offense, bear in mind that many aspects of Christmas festivity where first borrowed from the pagans.I can't see any good reason for someone to take offense at "paganizing" Christmas carols. Of course, after I think about it for a bit, I can't see the point in doing it at all . . .
Yes, a lot of Christmas, and Christian, practices come from Pagan and other traditions. Even a lot of the songs that are sung for Christmas are loosely adapted or unadapted Pagan songs. However, not only is borrowing okay, sometimes the borrower does it better.
I'm not ashamed to enjoy singing Christmas carols. Even the ones that are really Christian don't offend me (although most of the ones that are just plain bad I avoid regardless of content, like "Jingle Bell Rock"). The majesty of the powerful chords, the magic of the swelling harmonies, I think it's one of the best-honored forms of vocal music left in our society. There is not only not a need to "paganize" these songs, it's a good idea not to do it, since changing the words often changes the quality of the entire piece.
In addition to monkeying with success, I don't understand why any religion would want to have something like Christmas. Despite the fact that it has importance (although only importance) in the Christian faith, it is completely embattled by secular forces that seek to make it into a day that is marketed by way of various live-action and animated specials that preach the importance of giving while pushing the importance of getting. "Keep Christ in Christmas" is not a fight I think would be easy to wage over Yule or Hanukkah; for one thing, I don't know what catchphrase we could use for either of those faiths in order to defend the sanctity of our holy days in the darkness. Christianity has a pretty good marketing department, so let them take one for the team.
We Pagans know where Christmas trees came from (yes, for some reason we like to lay claim to the tradition of killing trees solely to watch them wither in our homes), and like to point out that most, if not all, Christian holy days were deliberately overlaid on various ancient festivals. That's fine. But let Christmas carols stay Christmas carols. They sound really good, have a great message, and are better than they would be if we tried to "reclaim" them.
This was excerpted from a brilliant comment on the linked blog entry from Paul Kedrosky. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to environmental considerations it is generally a bad idea to trust businessmen to make good decisions. In fact, I will go one step further and say that it's blatantly unfair to ask that of them. If you're in business you are, first and foremost, responsible to your stakeholders, be they your family, your Board of Directors, or the shareholders of your publicly-traded company. Those stakeholders, like most human beings, desire results that they can see, which means results that happen significantly faster than a human lifetime.
The wife exclaims: "Don't you think that whether or not we are 100% sure that your urine has affected my side of the bed that it would behoove you to cease despoiling our honeymoon bed?"
Quoth the husband: "Well it would be extradorinarily inconvenient for me to leave this comfortable and warm (increasingly warm) bed to use the toilet. And we still don't know for sure that my urine is causing you a problem. I can certainly imagine how filling the bed with biological fluids could cause problems but I can also imagine scenarios where the very absorbant bed materials could just soak up the offending pollutant and store it. If that were the case then we could leave the problem for the next guests to deal with."
Environmental considerations, especially those related to global warming, are never going to have that kind of turnaround time. If a socially-responsible businessman (or politician, which for this discussion is pretty much the same thing) puts systems into place to curb carbon emissions, there may very well be incredible profits that result from his efforts . . . in sixty to one hundred years. Not the kind of timeframe that will keep his job.
The better way to address issues of global warming is to take the responsibility for it away from those that are accountable to stakeholders, and their short-term needs. Do we know, for a fact, that we are having a negative effect upon the Earth's climate? No, but neither can the husband in the above example know for certain that his bedwetting is making his wife warm and wet. No one has given me any evidence that it would be bad for the environment if we take efforts to curb our emissions. If the responsibility for implementing long-term policies is given to a body that is appointed, perhaps for long terms like the Federal Reserve, then those of us who must meet short-term needs in order to survive can merrily curse up a blue streak about those SOBs and then just go about our business, doing the right thing whether we want to or not.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.Eric Prager and Sean Hannity are mixing up two very distinct and equally important issues when they discuss their concerns about Representative Keith Ellison's decision to take his swearing-in photos with a copy of the Quran, rather than the Bible.
Those issues are the role that religion plays in American life today, and the relationship we in this country should have with Islamist terrorists.
In this country, there are certain groups that tend to commit terrorist acts. Two that come to mind are anti-abortion activists and followers of radical Islam. It is right and good to find ways to identify terrorists before they strike. I do not know what the profile for anti-abortion activists might be (perhaps white, middle-aged men and women with blue eyes?), but I can say that Islamist radicals are all followers of Islam, and mostly have the physical characteristics that brings to mind the word Arab. The vast majority of the followers of Islam do not commit acts of terrorism, but a large chunk of the people that commit terrorism are of that faith. It is inconvenient but appropriate to take extra care to ensure that terrorists do not hide behind the more honest members of their faith and racial characteristics.
Both Hannity and Prager support this concept, and it is a good idea. The moderate leaders of Islam in this country haven't bolstered confidence through any public denouncement of terrorists acts by their brethren, and in the minds of the fearful and uneducated "one Arab (or even Sikh, sadly enough) looks like another." I'm not advocating interment camps here, but I don't think that recognizing statistical reality is a bad thing. (I also think it's appropriate, although likely more difficult, when it comes to anti-abortion activists and other terrorists.) However, I also think it's obvious that Hannity, in particular, is letting his anxiety over our resistance to profiling cloud his judgment on this issue.
Hannity quotes Prager as saying that this decision "will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, and they'll see it as the first sign and realization of a greatest goal, which is the, you know, making Islam the religion of America." They are, of course, quite mistaken if they think that this country is so weak that it will tremble by allowing the concept of "freedom of religion" to be completely experienced. It's an understandable viewpoint; the United States was founded by Christians escaping persecution by other Christians, so it's generally understood that the crafters of the Constitution did not anticipate religions that didn't maintain Jesus as Messiah ever entering the picture. They view this as change, and not a terribly healthy one at that. They are fearful of radical Islam, which concerns me as well, but they allow this fear to cast doubt on this great country in their eyes.
Like it or not, the Constitution is a living document. This doesn't mean that you can rewrite it, like the Supreme Court tried to do with eminent domain last year. It does mean, however, that it was designed to adapt to the wider circumstances that a flourishing future exposes it to. In a time when all religion in this country was Christian (since the locals had been shot or killed by smallpox), separation of church and state, as well as freedom of religion, were more focused: the government could not declare a state religion and could not ban a religion from practicing. Now that we have many faiths in this great land, some conservative Christians feel that these very freedoms threaten this country. Curious. I have more faith in our Constitution than they do, apparently.
Prager's core premise is that, "This book is the book from which America gets its values in the final analysis." No, Mr. Prager, this is not the case; our values are based upon human values, which just happened to be most prominently represented by the Bible at the time of this great nation's founding. Are you suggesting that the followers of Islam practice cannibalism, or that Hindus believe in incest? Do you think there is a culture out there that encourages murder? And for that matter, where in the Bible can you find the fundamental freedoms of our Bill of Rights so clearly spelled out? I doubt the Church would have encouraged freedom of assembly, and we can ask Copernicus what they thought of freedom of speech!
Hannity, Prager, and those in their camp need to accept, finally, that there are people out there who do not believe as they do but happen to be good people nonetheless. I know it's tough if you're brought up in an Abrahamic faith to think of a nonbeliever anything beyond ignorant, at best, but here in the United States of America our founding fathers saw fit to give us a document that was stronger than your simple, fearful views.
CBS Radio's syndicated computer columnist Dave Ross captured the essence of distributed printing this way: The best thing about the Internet is that there's no paper. The worst thing about the Internet is that there's no paper.Remember the promise of the paperless society? How computers would revolutionize the world and make all that wasted paper obsolete? Hasn't exactly worked out that way, has it?
Truth is, looking at stuff on paper, rather than a screen, is preferred, which is why distributed printing has developed. Xerox is right in trying to develop reusable paper, because we're not going to stop using paper for the written word. It's not what we're used to, and it's not even Pagan.
Yes, lots of Pagans like the idea of saving trees - I'm certainly a big forest slut myself. But there's a reason that Paganism is Earth-based spirituality: it's a religion that's based on the physical world, more than any other. Pagans focus more on the current life than on what happens after death, often expecting reward and punishment to catch up with us before we move on out of this shell. We value sexuality in all its positive forms, and consider sex itself to be holy. We're very physical, tactile, and earth-based.
As much as I want to never sacrifice another tree to my needs, I know I will never read a novel as a pdf. Even those clever little electronic books haven't taken off, and I'm not going to buy one. I want to feel it in my hands, smell the pages, hear the rustle as I turn them. It's the same with other bits of paper. Are physical files really any more real than electronic ones? I can destroy paper as well as I can a document on my computer, and probably there are more electronic copies, so I'm less likely to destroy the only copy. But legal documents, medical records, financial statements and the like still gather in file boxes, in basements and storage facilities. We trust in them, because they're real.
I have some emails from my late father. I also have a letter he wrote to me once. The letter has much more emotion in it than those emails. A physical object can key into memories like those pixels cannot. I can see his handwriting, tell how he felt as he crafted each word. No one will ever save a folder of love letters on their hard drive and then read them, one by one, curled up with their laptop on a rainy day as they fondly recall that torrid romance. Computers are wonderful machines that lack that quality of tangibility that we humans crave.
Now this doesn't mean we can't reduce our harvesting of trees. We can create paper out of a more renewable plant like hemp or by focusing on improving the recycling process. The price and quality of these products will drop as demand increases, and intelligent people are needed to step up to the plate and choose to pay more for the long-term gain. The linked reference to reusable paper is intriguing, and holds promise, though it sounds like it is not quite there yet. Gift wrapping should be done more with gift boxes or bags; this is also a great way to try out the hemp products, since people are willing to spend a little more money at this time of year.
Paper has been around for thousands of years and will not be going away anytime soon. It's okay to love it as long as you know the price you're paying.
Monday, December 4, 2006
I don't usually talk to people about my attempts to reduce my negative effects upon the world. This is because I really only get two responses to my efforts, and both of them are pretty irritating.
If I'm talking to a self-described environmentalist, they will one-up me at every turn. If I recycle car batteries, they only use solar ones. If I replace all my bulbs with compact fluorescents, they put in skylights in every room and don't use electricity. Life might be a game, but it's not one where we need to keep score. Go away.
The more annoying ones, though, are the ones that feel I am doing more for the Earth than they are. Since they recognize that caring about the planet has value, but don't act because it's not convenient to do so, and they believe that I'm keeping score, they try to undermine my efforts. If I recycle newspaper, they ask me why I don't recycle magazines. If I tell them I prefer using my own bags for groceries, they point out how much plastic packaging I bring home in those bags that I just throw away. When I mention that I'm not fond of the idea of Christmas tree farms, I get a litany of ways that I contribute to deforestation. Yes, I know I'm not perfect, and I know that I can't be. Is it so horrible that I try to improve myself in this way? Are you so incredibly fragile that you can't bear to think of me pursuing a goal, perhaps even succeeding at it? Yes, I now understand, yes. You cannot bear the idea of anyone succeeding, even in an area in which you have no interest in succeeding, if it means that you aren't winning. What you think you're winning by comparing yourself to other people and bringing them to your level at any opportunity, I cannot say. But clearly it makes you feel good about yourself.
I can't say I wonder why intelligent people are unwilling to make the effort to care about the Earth. The more you do, the worse a job you end up doing.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Everyone is excited when the Dorito season approaches. Children just want to be out there as the ocean bountifully provides, running through the sand, picking up Doritos just in time for the holidays, to export round the country for everyone's pleasure.Funny but not. I'm glad they covered this story because it makes me think of one of the extravagances I will never experience: a luxury cruise.
I love the idea of eating seventeen meals a day, having endless activities and visits to exotic (and even more importantly, tropical) ports of call, having a chance to legally dabble in all sorts of things that are legal elsewhere but frowned upon here, like sex on beaches and pool tables . . . but I digress.
The problem with cruises is that, in international waters, they cheerfully dump their waste (your waste) overboard. There are no laws saying that they can't and no cruise lines that I'm familiar with that say they won't. It's one of the cases where laissez-faire really sucks. We need to have the ethics to do what is inconvenient and expensive in the short term to preserve this world in some form of wholeness in the long term. As a Pagan I could not knowingly participate in this kind of activity.
Now I know full well that every day and in every way I make some negative impact on the world. But that is an excellent subject for another time.
However, as of December 1st, new legislation will require New Yorkers to recycle rechargeable batteries.Mayor Bloomberg has, in the past, lifted recycling requirements for all manner of items including DVDs, and proposed a disposable EZ Pass so people who think that their government actually gives a damn where they go will be willing to use it. Finally a law looms that might put the interests of the Earth above those of businesses and paranoiacs.
Bloomberg is a classic businessman: he's capable of doing some long-range planning, but narrow enough not to recognize the value of minimizing the human impact on the world. The effects of an increasing population will catch up with our economy in brutal fashion if we're not willing to inconvenience ourselves now to avert it. Making recycling of batteries a requirement (and, thankfully, one that's not too difficult to fulfill) is a good step, but there are a few others that he could consider.
Recycling could be expanded to include many more forms of materials. Anything that can be incinerated can be recycled. The problem is economic: for many items it's just cheaper to make it new. If the City itself were to use recycled materials it would tip the economic scales in the right direction.
Composting would be another wonderful focus for new NYC legislation. If residents had the opportunity to have compostables picked up they would be able to reduce solid waste by an astounding percentage. The volume of compost would not be the issue that other solid waste is, since you can find ways to use it.
Friday, December 1, 2006
"In the ghoulish second story, Denys (Shawn Ashmore), a Canadian pornography actor, conceals his H.I.V.-positive status from his producers by substituting blood drawn from his dying father for his own in required tests. When his mother, Olive (Stockard Channing), a hard-bitten waitress from whom Denys has concealed his occupation, discovers what he does, she concocts an insurance fraud scheme involving tainted blood taken from her son while he's asleep."I noted in my own comment to this post that this writer, Thom Fitzgerald, probably had an idea about the different perspectives he wanted to suggest, but ran out of religions that matched them. Or didn't look that hard. I mean, he could have used Satanism and even if the Satanists complained I doubt that anyone would have paid much attention. But this isn't about the crappy movie or its alleged use of religion. The article got me thinking about what the Pagan views of AIDS actually are.
Paganism itself is probably more diverse than any other religious category, so the views expressed are likewise varied. Since we can't even agree on the number of gods, we tend to be a scattered bunch; there's also a strong aversion to dogma that discourages any kind of cooperative development of beliefs. But I gave it some thought and have come up with a few likely Pagan views of AIDS:
- AIDS affects people as a repercussion of the Threefold Law.
- It is a deliberate attack developed by men, in their desire for power and lack of foresight.
- It is Gaia's wrath descending upon all of humanity.
- It is a cosmic opinion about the appropriateness of homosexuality.
- It is an opportunity for enlightened behavior, for we have a real chance to act in a painfully selfless manner to help our fellow human beings.
- It is the fusion of silly putty and the pineal gland.
- AIDS exists only as long as we believe it is relevant.
I'm not being fair, though. This isn't supposed to be about Paganism as a whole, since that really doesn't exist; it's supposed to be about me, and my own views, which I haven't offered.
Well, I think it's a damned shame that AIDS hit gays early and hard, because it would have done a much better job of whittling down the population had it arrived initially through the heterosexual population. I do believe it was created by humans, albeit accidentally, and Nature to it as her own and evolved it into a killer for her own purposes. I think it doesn't work that well, because it sustains its victims for a long time and causes physical and financial hardship rather than ending life. But I'm confident that sooner or later we will unwittingly give the forces of nature a better tool with which to strike at our teeming masses. As long as we're monkeying around in the genetic code without having a clue what we're doing, we have no choice but to serve the true master of this planet.