I have taken a brief and unwanted break from blogging, but I hope that it is over. First the MacBook Pro that I use for writing and blogging developed a weird, possibly demonic (or daemonic) directory corruption that flummoxed even the specialists up at Voelker Research. About the same time, my desk/computer chair broke, which felt like a sign. A sign that I should just go hiking and read more novels, possibly. And ponder some vivid and meaningful dreams.
That was wonderful, but I have to give a couple of talks next week, and I needed to prepare. So there I was out on the veranda with a legal pad and a stack of books and print-outs, preparing. If I have learned anything in teaching it is that I am not as good at “winging it” as I like to think I am—unless it is a course that I have already taught ten times over.
The book is both a rich ethnographic account of controversial Pagan festival and a provocative reflection on the role of emotions, symbols, and ritual in theories of religion. The festival involves “a recreation of the Witches’ sabbat . . . It’s R-rated, it contains adult themes, nudity and sex references”, according to Harrison — one of the festival participants I interviewed. The theory develops what Graham Harvey and I are calling “relational theory” in the study of religion.
It is on my reading list.
And speaking of reading, expect more book reviews here over the next few weeks.
The Human Dating & Mating issue of the ABC gave me concerns from the beginning. I chose the topic because I do not know right relationship is with those with whom we have sex and romance. Animism is all about right relationship. Although I expected most writers to be as lost as I, I also hoped in their blog posts would be some inklings on which to muse. At the very least, I’d feel less alone.
I sometimes wonder whether one should think of publication as being on a continuum, from tweets to blogs to critical notes to articles to introductory books to monographs. The summit of all publication is the monograph, and the well-written monograph actually takes some real skill and effort. Tweets, on the other hand, at the other end of the spectrum, are forgotten almost as soon as they are uttered. Blogs are somewhere in between. They take a bit more effort than a tweet but like them they are pretty ephemeral. It’s remarkable just how quickly we forget them, and that’s if we ever read them in the first place.
• Christopher Penzcak talks about the Mighty Dead and the idea that “There is a part of the Inner Planes, the Other World, which is called Witchdom. There you may learn much, if you can contact it. There are spells and chants, dances and music and such woods and streams as delight the hearts of witches.” That came from a “channeling” done by Doreen Valiente in the 1960s; make of it what you will.
The lawsuits inspired scholars from around North America to rally behind Askey. Created by Martha Reineke, a professor of religion at the University of Northern Iowa, a petition demanding EMP to drop its lawsuits had garnered more than 3,100 names as of Monday morning.
EMP told CBC Hamilton on Monday that it “has discontinued the court case against McMaster University and Dale Askey.”
In a statement, the company added: “financial pressure of the social media campaign and press on authors is severe. EMP is a small company. Therefore [it] must choose to focus its resources on its business and serving its authors.”
The key words appear to have been “social media campaign.” In the relatively small world of academic publishing, it got results.
I notice that Mellen’s website describes them as a “non-subsidy academic publisher.” That was not always my impression, but OK. Another page, however, states “The Edwin Mellen Press refuses to write, rewrite, or revise any author’s text.” Not hiring copy editors saves money!
• I too am one who is uncomfortable with the word “faith” in Paganism because of the baggage that it carries. When I worked on a couple of collaborative projects with Evan John Jones, he sometimes spoke of the “Old Faith,” which always jarred me, even though I think that for him it was simply a synonym for “religion.” The Allergic Pagan” starts with the same discomfort and ends up defining four styles of Paganism/nature religion, which might be useful categories.