Bursting out of the Pagan Closet, Ethics in Hand…

Yesterday was “International Coming out Pagan Day”.  A day when, according to ICOPD, the all of us who want to affirm our membership in the neo-Pagan movement. I did my part with my Facebook Status, and as a member of the NYC Pagan Pride Committee, I hope to contribute by making sure that our annual event, now in its twelfth year, is just as fabulous as ever

But some days- heck, I will say, every day, it can be hard to feel proud and pagan.  This is something I think about often when I consider the lack of a cohesive social ethic in our community, and this was especially brought home a few days ago when Peter Dybing, past First National Officer of Covenant of the Goddess, posted on his blog that he was no longer carrying out any public projects and/or speaking engagements. I have never met Mr. Dybing, but following his career on Facebook, his blog, and his leadership in COG, of which my coven is a member,  I was looking forward to hearing his perspective on community service and paganism..  But when he resigned from “public service” he indicated that he no longer believes that pagans are ready for service. I think he is correct- the majority of us are not. And I struggle daily with how “okay” this is.

Before you get into a tirade and name Starhawk and many other leaders who give their time to infusing a sense of service into their work via food drives, inter-faith work, support for those who face discrimination due to “coming out” ,chaplaincy, LGBTI rights, the environment, and many other expressions  of altruism, I am not talking about that kind of admirable and ongoing work. I am talking about the metaphysics of altruism. In the organization models that are put forth by the Reclaiming tradition, as I understand it, there is much metaphysical  theology of altruism that speaks to a reversal of all  dominating patriarchal systems that firmly place hierarchy at the center of the problem

But in our pagan culture today, I see precious little engagement in our cultural expression, our  literature, and our leadership on what neo-Paganism means to in the broader, global attempt to “repair the world.” Every religion attempts to answer, either in praxis or in theory or in both, the “big” questions. How does the way we neo-Pagans answer these questions our participation in the remediation of suffering around the world? What do we hope to contribute? Or do we really need to contribute anything at all?

In this blog, I hope to produce a series of reflections on this issue  which I hope will be the core of something I will call “neo-Pagan ethics.” I invite any and all thoughts, complaints, comments, and links to resources to help me on this quest- so long as they remain civil!

Yours in proud paganism,

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About Valerie Freseman

Valerie Freseman is a Unitarian Universalist minister and a 2014 graduate of Union Theological Seminary. She completed a chaplain residency at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, CT, and served as the first year-long Killam Ministerial intern at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland. She is passionate about spinning the inter-dependent web, creating a more just world, and applying the arts to faith.  She is also becoming increasingly well-known for her sock collection.
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