Surprise, Surprise

John Halstead is now writing for Gods and Radicals. That pretty much says it all for me. If I ever doubted that the political radical part of things took significant precedence over the Gods part of that equation for these people, I can put my mind at rest. It’s obvious where they stand. I’ve been noticing for a while now that this group seems to be subtly attacking polytheists who are more interested in building the tradition and in devotion than in exchanging religion for pseudo-social justice work and anarchic politics. I can’t help but wonder if that wasn’t the real reason Sannion was disinvited from Many Gods West.

After all, Halstead keeps taking digs at polytheism. His latest, which Tess Dawson brilliantly calls out here, dismisses polytheism as having been inspired by Neil Gaiman’s writing.* Apparently, we can’t simply enjoy an author’s work without having some pitiful non-theist use that enjoyment to imply that our religion is fiction. Knowing that the topic of pop-culture Paganism is a hot-button one within Polytheist circles, Halstead no doubt purposely links the rise of polytheism to pop culture, thus attempting to create animosity within polytheism itself.

Gods and Radicals, Rhyd, and those he’s allied with are free to bring any columnist they want on board their journal and site. We are free to look very carefully at their choices and to make our own decisions about what they mean. Halstead has been trying to find an entry into the polytheist community for years now, despite being a non-theist, and despite having contempt for everything that polytheism stands for. He must be ecstatic that Rhyd has welcomed him with open arms.**

It’s enough to make one ask where the Gods are in Gods and Radicals. I’m still looking.

 

Notes:

*Modern polytheism existed in the US for decades before Gaiman wrote his first book, Heathenry and Asatru since the sixties, Hellenic and Celtic polytheisms a little after that (as any unified thing), much earlier than even this if we count the Romantic period.

**Thus undercutting the work of many other polytheists who actually give a damn about the future of our traditions.

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Posted on March 17, 2016, in community, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. My stomach turns.

    Like

  2. But I like how you have “Asshattery” as a tag, LOL 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Reblogged this on The Sovereign of Swords and commented:
    For fuck’s sake. Everyone who takes their polytheism seriously MUST read this. There is yet another terrible issue in our work to establish ourselves, and it is taking a political AND anti-theist stance that I am NOT liking. My religion is not a political position. It CAN include politics, as politics houses values and power relations, but religion should never BE a political position. There’s a big difference between advancing polytheism peacefully and equally in various, diverse directions (including politics and social justice), and crafting polytheism into a political position [instead of a tradition where the gods come first and social justice arises from this tradition]. I care about developing devotion, tradition, and right-relationship with the gods… AND having Halstead in this? I have a terrible, terrible feeling about this….

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I did not think it possible; I actually feel dumber for reading his work.

    I am a huge Gaiman fan, but, I have been a polytheist since way before he ever wrote American Gods.

    His comics, Sandman (which I also love), played around with Lucifer, angels, and demons. Did he invent Christianity, too?

    I just can’t. I need some advil now.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I’ve never read American Gods, though I remember it being criticized for its monolithic portrayal of African Gods.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Halstead is hardly a regular; I’ve just had a quick look, he’s written three posts for Gods&Radical in a year. Nobody is forced to read the little he does write and I’m pretty certain people are able to make up their own minds about the merits of his writing. I read the recent article he posted(15/3/2016) and came away with a different impression to the one you did, but then I don’t have the history of dispute with the man that you do; in fact I rarely read anything by him precisely because he’s an atheist trying to muscle in on polytheism. If you’re looking for the Gods in Gods&Radicals, try Lorna Smithers’ poetry for a start, if her politics doesn’t offend you too much.
    This just seems like a continuation of posts I’ve noticed recently from a few bloggers in the U.S. and mostly read and ignored – clearly there’s some disagreement going on and that’s your (collective) business to deal with. But one thing has nagged at me; I generally admire your scholarship and desire to build a future for our traditions (I wouldn’t follow you blog if I didn’t) but, the digs you’ve been taking at Wildermuth recently seems more the product of an intense dislike for his politics and irritation that Sannion isn’t going to present at MGW 2016 (as I understand it Wildermuth and Gods&Radicals doesn’t have anything to do with the organisation of that event, so I’m baffled as to how it could have affected his invite). Reading the situation from a disinterested distance (i.e. I’m not in the U.S.,and don’t care how you divide on political lines, since I’m busy concentrating on the politics of my own country and continent, plus, polytheism here has developed slightly differently), it seems like you’re misrepresenting the situation out of pettiness.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      my issues with Rhyd and Halstead run much deeper than politics. I applaud the work that you’re doing in the restorations of our polytheist traditions. Everyone has a valued part to play in that work. Mine is holding the line and defending the integrity of our traditions. You be you and I’ll be me.

      As far as sannion going to MGW i’m actually relieved he’s not flying. I will admit that I get rather nervous when he flies. 😦 I see all the bad things that could happen.

      Like

    • Whether or not Halstead is a regular is not the point. He is an incursion into what, ostensibly, is a space that is about Gods and Radicals, that is, folks who follow Gods and are outside mainstream political spectra. Nobody is forced to read what he writes, but it is a betrayal for G&R to give this man a platform and legitimizing place from which to speak.

      To be blunt, I should not have to look for the Gods in Gods and Radicals. It, ideally, from the name alone, should be part of each contributor in some fashion. If it is otherwise, there’s plenty of left-wing magazines, periodicals, and journals in which these folks could be writing. If it isn’t about the Gods, why bother with the title?

      I think if you look at our politics, there’s a deep amount of intersection, but where we often coming to loggerheads with folks in anarchist, communist, and/or far left categories, is that we actually hold the Gods as authorities of and within our religions which clashes with most, if not all of these political ideologies. Gods and Radicals may not to do with the administration of MGW, but a lot of their folks and friends of theirs cross over in terms of administration of these events. The situation isn’t being misrepresented, it is being placed where it is, and trying to divorce this situation from the political in analysis is an error. It would be like me to understand the Tories without looking, researching, and developing an understand of UK politics.

      Liked by 3 people

      • ganglerisgrove

        “Whether or not Halstead is a regular is not the point. He is an incursion into what, ostensibly, is a space that is about Gods and Radicals, that is, folks who follow Gods and are outside mainstream political spectra. Nobody is forced to read what he writes, but it is a betrayal for G&R to give this man a platform and legitimizing place from which to speak.”

        THIS . Precisely this.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So this “Gods and Radicals” is the people who organise Many Gods West, or did I misinterpret that?

    Like

  8. I don’t want to ‘like’ this because that may imply that I like the situation. I do, however, like that you’ve called attention to this latest development so clearly. I can feel my internet presence fading and the worse this gets, the more OK with that I am. My local community is growing and I’m putting more of my effort where it can make an in-person difference. I’m beyond done with this guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The American Gods comment is especially revealing, since Neil Gaiman has (as far back as Sandman) made heavy use of the “gods are dependent on humanity/need humanity’s devotion for sustenance/etc.” trope. It’s OK in fiction, and Gaiman is less heavy-handed than, say Terry Pratchett was, but it bugs me even there…

    To see that trope mentioned in such a significant way isn’t actually surprising, because it goes along with the whole “nothing is greater than humanity” dogma of Humanistic Paganism…

    Like

  10. songofscotland

    I really wish this pompous fool would just go away and stop trying to put himself where he’s not wanted.

    Like

  11. I believe that Halstead has left Mormonism, but that Mormonism hasn’t left him. The monotheistic filter on steroids with him.

    I am struggling with this since I am researching a paper for Walking the Worlds on this topic of Pop Culture Pagans and the Gods. I have found that if the writer such as Robert Frost have practiced their craft and connected with the Mythic, that they act as a conduit between the Sacred and the Profane. Frost himself said that he was allowing a communication from the Sacred.

    The Japanese regard Godzilla as a Kami because he represents nature violated, and within the structure of Shintoism, Godzilla crossed the boundary from the Mythic when pollution occurred (i.e. the Atomic Bomb). He seeks to right his world.

    However, this doesn’t mean that Superman is a god because he has been around a long time. The creators of Superman, unlike Frost, remained in the human realm of the Profane. They were addressing human problems with a human character. No amount of focused thought or devotion could elevate Superman beyond being a symbol.

    However, The Shadow is a different matter. In his case, Gibson was channeling a God. Gibson crossed over into the Mythic realm, where his writing was shaped by a God. Again a conduit for Sacred to come into the Profane. The Shadow, himself is not a God, but is a God in disguise to speak to modern people. There is a difference between having a God use a fiction character to reach people and a fiction character becoming a God. Devotion to The Morrigan involves having a depiction of The Shadow on Her Altar, but The Shadow is only a tool for Her Purposes, and not an object of devotion in his own right.

    However, I am afraid that my paper or at least my words would be used by Halstead and others as proof of Superman being a god. Anyway, any direction on this would be welcomed.

    Liked by 1 person

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