“Tower Time” Is Not as Simple as You Think

One of the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group’s sessions at the American Academy of Religion was titled “Magic in the Time of the Tower” (see program screenshot below), and attendance was good.

There was discussion of magical workings coordinated by social media, and of magical workings blabbed about on social media.

At least one presenter acknowledged that the latter might not be a good idea, according to some practitioners. Don’t you remember the old “Magician’s Pyramid,” of which the last for the four admonitions was “To keep silent”?

Or as they say now, “The first rule of Magic Club is you do not talk about Magic Club.”

When some of the presenters spoke, I suspect that they — or rather the people whom they were describing — think that “the Tower” stands at 721–725 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan — in other words, Trump Tower.

But there are other towers. And “Tower Time” did not start in January 2017. It has been going on for a while.

Some people talking about “Tower Time” are standing on ivory towers, and those are cracking too.1)New definition of Harvard University:http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/11/harvard-a-tax-free-hedge-fund-that-happens-to-have-a-university.html. At least under the new tax law it won’t be completely tax-free.

The days of building grander universities under the assumption that tuition can always be raised, because the students can always get federal grants and loans — how long will that continue?2)Since I spent about 21 years working in colleges and universities — and many of my friends still do — this issue cuts close to home for me.

Click to embiggen.

America has too many colleges and universities, just like it has too many shopping malls, and for much the same reason: everyone thought that there was room for another, and theirs would be a success.

And what about religious groups? The big example is the Roman Catholic Church, where I doubt if the leadership yet understands how much trust they lost over the clerical sexual abuse scandals. The pope can come out on his balcony and say whatever — and the news media report it —  but fewer and fewer people deeply care.3)And yet, if those church leaders compromise with secular society and toss out their traditional teachings, do they “lose their contacts,” as the ceremonial magicians say?

And that comes on top of the church’s long history of allying with repressive political regimes in both Europe and Latin America.

Talk about a teetering tower!

And, of course, there is Hollywood. Is there going to be anyone left?

Harvey opened the floodgates,” said one male Academy member. “Now the Academy’s drowning in a tide of s—t. They don’t know what hit them.”

Oscar is a “tower” too.

Ours is the era of “the end of prestige,” writes political blogger Richard Fernandez.

In the unending exposes of financial, moral and sexual turpitude we are witnessing a similar humiliation of a ruling elite. The critical role played by prestige in upholding the current status quo was no less important for the Western elite than it was for the old [imperial British] District Commissioners. Not so very long ago the elites were accepted as woke, part of the mission civilisatrice; better educated, better looking, better dressed, destined to greater things, the smartest people in the room.  They could pronounce on matters of morality, politics and even the climate.  What a shock it was to find through the Internet and social media it was all a sham; and these gods of Washington and Hollywood and the media were deeply flawed and despicable people.

Law professor Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, makes a similar point in a piece called “The Suicide of Expertise“:

Then there’s the problem that, somehow, over the past half-century or so the educated classes that make up the “expert” demographic seem to have been doing pretty well, even as so many ordinary folks, in America and throughout the West, have seen their fortunes decaying. Is it any surprise that claims to authority in the form of “expertise” don’t carry the same weight that they once did?

You’re not going to fix all this by burying rotten carrots. You might fix it first by be responsible for as much of your own life as you can. I don’t mean that you have to weave your own cloth. Just don’t be the person who can’t change a tire, sew on a button, or understand a loan document.

And find your community. Not merely the online community: is your Instagram follower going to bring supper over when you’re sick? Can you call your Facebook friend if you need a ride to the doctor?

Not just a religious community, either. When my Jeep drove itself into a gully near the house (long story), I did not look for a Pagan friend, but rather a neighbor with a big winch-equipped truck who likes solving mechanical problems. (Depending on your neighbors means you cannot just condemn them for their voting patterns and otherwise ignore them.) But that only works if the neighbor can depend on you. If it really is “Tower Time,” the response is to work at the ground level.

Notes   [ + ]

1. New definition of Harvard University:http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/11/harvard-a-tax-free-hedge-fund-that-happens-to-have-a-university.html. At least under the new tax law it won’t be completely tax-free.
2. Since I spent about 21 years working in colleges and universities — and many of my friends still do — this issue cuts close to home for me.
3. And yet, if those church leaders compromise with secular society and toss out their traditional teachings, do they “lose their contacts,” as the ceremonial magicians say?

4 Comments

  1. Pitch313 says:

    Today’s [8 Jan] headline at Slate.com:

    ‘Trump Tower Briefly Catches Fire, Injuring None Seriously but Delighting Many on the Internet”

    Magic–Doing it, maybe even just talking about it, makes for intriguing changes and spine-tingling outcomes!!!

    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/an-electrical-fire-briefly-broke-out-on-the-roof-of-trump-tower.html

  2. Medeina Ragana says:

    Basically, I think, that what you’re saying is: be as self-sufficient as you can, but then make sure you’re friends with your neighbors (Pagan and otherwise), so when you need help, or they need help, they’re there and you’re there.

    This is known as the definition of “community”.

    I remember growing up in the 50s and 60s that the neighborhood kids’ parents would “oversee” us as we played in the street and heaven help us if we did something wrong because the kids’ parents would let my parents know and we would “get it” when we got home. Same thing with the teachers in school. Did something wrong at school, and the teacher would let the parents know and the parents backed the teacher. Not any more. Nowadays its’ “My kid is too good, he/she couldn’t have done that!” or “the teacher is wrong. I’m going to sue!” Maybe it’s the parents who should be sued for raising little hellions.

  3. Swannie says:

    This right here, this little but profound missive, should be required reading, for pagans.
    One of those towers, is the little internet ivory tower, too many people live in. The one where it’s OK to be obsequiously condescending, to everyone and anyone else, who isn’t pagan.