A Thought on the Recent Radical Brouhaha
Posted on March 29, 2016
So, I was born and raised in the Northeast. There’s no other place in this country I’d rather call home. I’m a New Yorker by way of New England (although I’m weary of this state), and this stretch of the country is where my roots are. Perhaps the culture which I have been reared and raised in, the culture in which I make my home, is fundamentally different from that of the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. I do not, really, see the need nor do I have the inclination to mix social radicalism and religion. My religion specifically isn’t radicalism, and I do not generally believe that religion and politics should mix.
I should fill this out with a caveat that I believe human liberties and social welfare are a-political initiatives and human rights transcends this. Before anyone claims I’m seeking to reinforce the system. I am trying to work towards making things better, and I support reform and reconstruction of social and political edifices which will result in a greater degree of liberty for everyone. You will never find me arguing that things are fine with how they are.
So on one hand, I understand the call against the threat of ideological contamination within religious expression. I mean, how can I not? I’m a Heathen. We’ve just been through this, with the big fallout from McNallen and the Freikorps comments.
On the other, I am very much feeling disenfranchised by the rhetoric which has come out of Rhyd Wildermuth’s virtual mouth, and given support both at his pet project of Gods & Radicals, as well at the Patheos Pagan channel. Why? Because of statements like this:
“Paganism in general—and apparently Devotional and Reconstructionist Polytheism in particular—have been long overdue for a reckoning.”
Situated innocuously within his post “The Uncomfortable Mirror”, it seems to have been overlooked in the wider dialogue of the comments section of that post. I do not have the time to, really, parse through the actions, reactions, and counteractions which are resonating within the polytheist community of Paganism. It could have very well been taken up for discussion elsewhere. I do not know. But rhetoric like this absolutely gives me pause.
I want to know, exactly, what type of “reckoning” that I will have to face for being a polytheistic practitioner of a Pagan religion. This statement is made by someone who is an ideological demagogue – a self declared “radical anarchist” who seeks to tear down the edifices of the current culture of Western society with absolutely no guidance on how to resurrect society from the ashes. Who consistently refuses to speak to how he is going to make allowances for the individuals surviving only on things like governmental assistance for medical reasons in his new world. Who, from my position, wants to burn everything down in ideological effigy.
It’s clear that Rhyd and I do not share the same religion. We do not share the same values. We do not share the same goals or political orientation. I don’t even believe we’ve ever spoken, and I only know him by reputation. And I do not expect him to know me, at all. We are, for all intents and purposes, outsiders – utangeard – to each other.
So how am I, exactly, supposed to take this claim that I am long overdue for a reckoning? What accounts do I, personally, have to settle with this man and his followers? What authority does he claim for me to even have to present myself for his satisfaction? How am I supposed to view this call, from an ideological fanatic who does not share the same religion with me, a radical with beliefs antithetical to my own, as anything other than a direct threat on my person, property, and life? Because I, and my tradition, and the people I consort with and work towards a better realization of our religious perspective(s) are all in this fight against destructive ultra-right ideology. I owe him nothing. I owe his people nothing. And I owe no explanations for my belief and practice.
And I’m due for a reckoning, by a self-identified radical. Sounds chillingly familiar.
And people are claiming that Rhyd isn’t attempting to paint everyone who is not his cabal of believers with the same brush of us-vs-them?