LARPing tribalism

I don’t understand the reason so many modern heathens and neo-pagans are drawn to fantasies of re-creating antique tribalism. I don’t think they understand the idea of tribes. That’s why I see it as LARPing. Our ancestors used tribe as a synonym for ethnicity and nationality. The Saxons were a tribe; the Franks were a … Read more

Five Jesus Books

There are quite a few different ideas about the “Historical Jesus”. I run into people who know just one of them and think it’s the only one. Almost always they’re surprised and disappointed that this is an open question. Reza Aslan. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Random House, 2013. John Dominic … Read more

Laurasian Novel

Have you ever had the feeling that the religious stories we have might be older—far older—than anyone imagines? “Focusing on the oldest available texts, buttressed by data from archeology, comparative linguistics and human population genetics, Michael Witzel reconstructs a single original African source for our collective myths, dating back some 100,000 years. Identifying features shared … Read more

Talking about Mormons

I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle on this madcap idea of not saying “Mormon” when you mean “Mormon”. That’s President Nelson’s personal demon. My gut says be polite and look the other way. Now, we have some guidance from the Associated Press, via the Salt Lake Tribune, and in my case found on … Read more

Quitting Mormon

I don’t remember exactly when I left the Mormon church. 1982 or 1983, probably. I was living in the Avenues area of Salt Lake. The Home Teachers stopped by for the first time ever. I tried to put them off. They weren’t having it. They got pushy. I pushed back. We got to the point … Read more

Coping with Eostre

Many neo-pagans resist scholarship because it destroys the fantasy. “Every possible religion that ever was and is is the result of a cultural soup with borrowed elements from everywhere and there is no such thing as a pure, unique, and original religious background. It was like that in the past and it is like this … Read more

Indigenous Religion

I like this post about indigenous religion by ReligionForBreakfast. There are some important points here. My neo-pagan chums often have a weak understanding of indigenous religions, even though that’s what they are trying to recreate from the fragments of their own past. Place, relationship to land Power, sacredness located in the landscape Protocol, ceremonial obligations … Read more

Dying into the Mountain

If you learned Old Norse religion from children’s book, as many of us did, you might have a too simplistic idea about the afterlife. Likely, you think most men were warriors so they went to Valhöll, Odin’s hall in Ásgard. Maybe so, but there’s more difference of opinion among scholars than you might know, and … Read more

Pagan vs Post-Christian

C.S. Lewis asks, “Are there any Pagans in England for me to write to? I know that people keep on telling us that this country is relapsing into Paganism. But they only mean that it is ceasing to be Christian. And is that at all the same thing?“ He thinks not. They’re very different things. … Read more

America is a Religion

Just finished watching “Americans Are Religious About America“. That rings some bells. “Basically, American Civil Religion is when Americans are religious about America. The series argues that Americans are being religious when they create and curate American identity and ideals.” Robert Bellah says, “The phrase ‘civil religion’ is, of course, Rousseau’s. In chapter 8, book … Read more