Fame and Pagans

An essay by Cat Chapin-Bishop on seeking fame as a Pagan has gotten some attention. Her Quaker side is conflicted by the idea of being a “Big-Name Pagan,” thanks to the Quaker ideal of not seeking worldly glory.

I do not see anything wrong with seeking fame if we define it as “excellence.” After all, if you strive for years to do X and have some skill at it, you will eventually be recognized by the community of “People Who Do X.”

Put Pagan authors, etc., in that group: we are not known that much outside of Pagandom.

There is of course an unhealthy form of fame-seeking. We all know the people who think that they deserve the front of the line based on their celebrity.

Here is one difference, perhaps: Teaching.

My favorite philosopher, Gary Snyder, once wrote that while artists and writers in a sense occupy the top of the cultural food chain, they are in turn eaten — scavenged — by their students.

So maybe teaching X after you are famous for it is one protection against fame’s unhealthy self-delusion. Give it all away.

Paganism does not require us to creep around in grey clothing saying, “Oh, I am no one special.”

On the other hand, all fame is fleeting — unless you are offered a deal like Achilles: short life and fame or a long life.

He chose the former and now, something like 3,200 years later, Brad Pitt plays him in a movie.

But for most humans, fame is just the foam on the cappuccino. You may enjoy it, but you should not mistake it for the real drink.