From the Archives: Christmastime for the Self by John Erickson

This was originally posted on December 25, 2018

We’ve all been there.

Sitting around the tree watching the kids open presents.  Attempting to enjoy a holiday meal with extended and immediate family that you may or may not have traveled thousands of miles to see.  Trying with every fiber of your being to not talk about the elephant, or red hat, in the room.

Alyssa Edwards

I get it.  It is hard to not go home for the holidays. It’s also hard to sit at home and watch every one of your friends post online about their dinners, get-togethers, and other joyous events while you sit at home.  I also understand that many of us, as a result of our sexual and/or gender identity, or maybe our political preference, don’t feel comfortable going home or, can’t go home.  This is not ok and that is why it is so important that we all have our chosen families to be with during these times of communal gathering or more importantly, ways to cope while we are at home in these uncomfortable situations to make sure we take care of ourselves and make it out the other end.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Christmastime for the Self by John Erickson”

What If? A New Urban Myth for Our Times by Barbara Ardinger

What if Daedalus had not been imprisoned and forced to build a labyrinth to hold a monster-bull that would eat everyone who dared to enter its domain? (Is it true that that monster-bull was named Donald?) What if the three Mother Goddesses took off their aprons and went out into the world to survey its peoples and its troubles and to bring aid and comfort (much more useful than thoughts and prayers) to everyone in distress?

“Well,” says Queen Bettycrocker, “the first thing we can do is look at all these walls. They’re all over the place. They separate people. That’s not good.”

“You’re right,” agrees Queen Saralee. “People should be neighbors, and neighborhoods should be areas where children can safely play and safely go to their schools. And eat good lunches, too.”


Continue reading “What If? A New Urban Myth for Our Times by Barbara Ardinger”

Practical Lessons in Kindness from the Grasshopper and the Ant by Barbara Ardinger

(With apologies to Jean de La Fontaine for significant changes to his fable)

Note: We watch TV or read posts on the social media, and what do see? People attacking other people. People with guns shooting other people. Racist and fascist groups trying to stomp our democracy into the mud. I first wrote this story several years ago for a Llewellyn annual. A few years later, I secured permission from them to post it on this site. I’m reposting it today because—especially on Independence Day—we need a few chuckles and some practical lessons in kindness. My friends, I hope you enjoy this story.

“Curses on that grasshopper!” exclaimed the ever-busy Madame Fourmi. “All he ever does is play. He’ll be sorry when winter comes.”

Continue reading “Practical Lessons in Kindness from the Grasshopper and the Ant by Barbara Ardinger”

Juno—Women Need Your Power Today! by Barbara Ardinger

Just as each Roman man had his genius, or guardian spirit of masculinity, so did each woman have her juno, or guardian spirit of femininity. Juno ruled every woman’s life, every feminine occasion. In the civic life of Rome during both the Republic and the Empire, Juno stood with Jupiter and Minerva as the Capitoline triad that ruled the city. In one of her aspects, Juno was regina, “queen.” In another she was Juno Moneta, the “warner,” so called because the sacred geese of her temple once squawked so ferociously that the city was warned of a Gallic army outside the walls. Generals began to visit Juno Moneta’s temple for support, both popular and monetary, which is where we find an echo (“money”) of this goddess’s name today.

Continue reading “Juno—Women Need Your Power Today! by Barbara Ardinger”

The Healing Spirit of Sacred Play by Carolyn Lee Boyd

Many years ago I participated in seasonal, Goddess-focused celebrations featuring handmade decorations, including some by enormously talented artists who attended.  One year, our spring fete was graced with gorgeous paintings, intricately woven and colorful fabric art, sensuous sculptures, and exquisitely painted eggs. I brought a Peeps diorama depicting the reunion of Demeter and Persephone.  (For anyone wondering, Peeps are brightly colored marshmallows in the shape of bunnies, chicks and other shapes and are sometimes made into dioramas for contests in schools and libraries.) The reason I brought the diorama was partly because, though my own artistic talent is somewhere between extremely questionable and non-existent, I thought people might enjoy a little bit of whimsy to honor spring’s exuberance. In addition, however, I was  also going through a time of great personal and professional stress and my soul deeply needed to be creative with just a little outrageous fun. 

Demeter and Persephone diorama

To recap the story, Persephone had been abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, made the Earth barren until the gods agreed to Persephone’s release. Demeter is the purple Peep and Persephone is yellow, and they are about to be reunited. Hades is pinkly enraged as he stands at the gateway to Hades. Gummi bears are romping while green humans dance in a circle. Snow is on the trees to show that winter is giving way to spring as Demeter returns abundance to the world.

Continue reading “The Healing Spirit of Sacred Play by Carolyn Lee Boyd”

Happy Thanksgiving by Barbara Ardinger

Will our families gather for Thanksgiving feasts this year? Will aunts and uncles and cousins come from near and far to sit around our dining room tables? Does anyone have a table that’s big enough for social distancing? As I write this before November actually arrives, it seems unlikely that we’ll have few traditional holiday events in our homes (or anywhere else) this year. Well, my friend, who cares? Let’s pretend our feasts will be just like they’ve always been.

Back before the turn of the century, I belonged to a group that met every month in my friend Sandy’s family room for companionship, study (we worked our way through two excellent books by Julia Cameron: The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold), celebrations of birthdays and other special events, and rituals honoring various goddesses. We also had potluck suppers. (That was when I found out I can’t even be in the same room with jalapeño chili peppers.) It was a friendly, caring group of about twenty-five women and a few men. Alas, many of these people have moved away, a few have died, and a couple have just disappeared. I miss this group. Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving by Barbara Ardinger”

Dr. Signature’s Whoopee Pack by Barbara Ardinger

As I write this in late June, the news is still pretty depressing. Pandemic. Politics. Corruption. No no no. I can’t write anything current and cheery, so here’s another bit of distracting nonsense from my so-called archive.

Back in the 80s, I had a consulting position (sic.) with a multi-level marketing company. How many of us remember MLM? How many of us even remember the 80s? MLM was really big in the last quarter of the last century. Everybody thought it was a really good idea to enroll all their friends in “marketing” assorted products. (Well, I once sold a candy bar via MLM, but I never got around to recruiting my friends.) In 1984, I had a job with an MLM company writing product descriptions and announcements. One of their products was called Dr’s Signature Vita-Pack. It contained lots and lots of multi-vitamins and other supplements. Continue reading “Dr. Signature’s Whoopee Pack by Barbara Ardinger”

Caprine Community by Laurie Goodhart

Two recent posts, Community Immunity by Natalie Weaver on May 6, and Carol Christ’s May 11 essay, Women Invented Agriculture, Potter, and Weaving…, have spurred me to focus and finally share something that I’ve meant to for a long time.  For 30 years I helped my husband realize his dream of a small farm, while I continued working as an artist.  We both came from urban backgrounds and both (separately) charged out into the wild world at age 17, inventing as we went along. That fearless approach continued with the farming many years later.

We started with sheep and cows but soon turned to focussing on goats. We wanted to farm organically from the start (1988) and that, combined with a lack of childhood indoctrination into Big Ag Culture had us devouring all the information we could while carefully observing the animals and applying our shared humanistic approach to daily life to the care of goats. I say this last part so no one imagines a slavelike situation as is often seen in images of dairy farms. Continue reading “Caprine Community by Laurie Goodhart”

Going With the Wind by Barbara Ardinger

The wind changed during the night. Even as they slept, the Witch and the Ladies of the Magic Mirror felt it and stirred in their beds. Kahlil the raven, who was sitting on the roof, felt it, too, and as he looked down the highway, he spotted the travelers. “What’re those folks doing on the road?”

The travelers were walking along the highway built only a few years ago by the people of the country towns who had fled from El Presidente’s capital city. They were coming toward the Witch’s house, too many for the raven to easily count: women, men, and children dressed in dark clothing that was stylish a hundred years ago.

The sun began to rise. The travelers came closer. The Witch and the Ladies got up, got dressed, and stood on the porch to wait for them. At the direction of the stout woman who was leading them, smaller groups broke off and turned toward other houses in the small town. The stout woman led her people to the Witch’s front porch. The wind changed again—and look! The travelers were no longer wearing dignified attire. Cloth caps instead of bowler hats on the men’s heads, headscarves on the women, scraps wrapped around the children. “They’re laborers,” said one of the Ladies. “Migrants.” Another Lady nodded. “And they obviously need our help. They need to be fed.” “They need jobs,” said the Witch. “How can we help them?” Continue reading “Going With the Wind by Barbara Ardinger”

White Monkey Chronicles: Myth-busting in Eden BOOK REVIEW by BJ Austin

I binge-read White Monkey Chronicles The Complete Trilogy. The first time. It’s like Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, J.K. Rowling and Gloria Steinem got drunk one night and decided to write a book.  A second, slower read was even sweeter.

The first paragraph of the Prologue tipped me headfirst and wide-eyed into this mind-bending, myth-busting, topsy-turvy tale. Its innocuous, traditional “Once Upon” opening was immediately blown up by the explosive words “infant deity abandoned,”, “famous bachelor Jew,”, and “A-list Hindu”.  Wait. Whaaat? The stage was set for a rebellious, revolutionary saga destined to be voted “Most Popular” at a fundamentalist book burning!

A white monkey (part-time Plush toy, full-time guardian of an off-the-record baby boy deity) sets the book’s roller coaster ride in motion on a snowy night in Humbolt County, USA. There, at the withered and weathered Sisters of Immaculate Conceptions convent, we meet the three remaining Sister-resisters of The Great Church’s preening patriarchy. (Lets just say the clergy is strictly for the birds — in dress and demeanor.) Getting a whiff of the unauthorized deity’s arrival, a conclave of Cardinals swoop in to confirm (and possibly kidnap) the threatening newborn from the kind, caring, and radical hands of the rogue nuns. Not so fast. Continue reading “White Monkey Chronicles: Myth-busting in Eden BOOK REVIEW by BJ Austin”

Happy Birthday, Dear Brother by Barbara Ardinger

Today would be my brother Dale’s 75th birthday. To honor him, I’m rewriting an article I wrote for a business magazine in Orange Co., CA, in 1992. Although I was a regular columnist for that business magazine, I seldom wrote about business. I guess I was their comic relief. I wrote this piece during the 1992 presidential election campaign (Clinton, Bush, Perot) when the Republicans were going on and on and on about “family values.” I chose to write about Real Family Values.

In the late ’60s, Dale dropped out of his senior year at the University of Missouri, where he was majoring in art and earning A’s. He went home to Ferguson and came out of the closet. It freaked our family, big-time. First, they blamed it on our mother, who had died in 1965. Then they blamed it on higher education. Then they blamed the Sixties. Then it was the fault of Art “because everybody knows all artists were degenerates.” Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Dear Brother by Barbara Ardinger”

Christmastime for the Self by John Erickson

We’ve all been there.

Sitting around the tree watching the kids open presents.  Attempting to enjoy a holiday meal with extended and immediate family that you may or may not have traveled thousands of miles to see.  Trying with every fiber of your being to not talk about the elephant, or red hat, in the room.

We’ve all been there.
Sitting around the tree watching the kids open presents.  Attempting to enjoy a holiday meal with extended and immediate family that you may or may not have traveled thousands of miles to see.  Trying with every fiber of your being to not talk about the elephant, or red hat, in the room.

Alyssa Edwards

I get it.  It is hard to not go home for the holidays. It’s also hard to sit at home and watch every one of your friends post online about their dinners, get-togethers, and other joyous events while you sit at home.  I also understand that many of us, as a result of our sexual and/or gender identity, or maybe our political preference, don’t feel comfortable going home or, can’t go home.  This is not ok and that is why it is so important that we all have our chosen families to be with during these times of communal gathering or more importantly, ways to cope while we are at home in these uncomfortable situations to make sure we take care of ourselves and make it out the other end.
Because this blog comes out on Christmas Day, I wanted to give you a few tips that I do to self-care in these situations.  Remember, there is no right or wrong thing to do.  I encourage you all to make your own list.  The only thing that matters is you take care of yourself!
John’s Top 5 Tips for Dealing with “Those” People
  1. Your car is your friend – Seriously, I cannot count the # of times that I have found myself driving around for that extra 5 minutes to just collect my thoughts or calm myself down.  If you need to, jump out to your car and sit back and relax for a second or drive to a gas station (Kwik Trip in Wisconsin is my go-to) and pick up a soda to drink.
  2. Drink (if you can)  – look, I know not everyone drinks (or is from Wisconsin) but sometimes you just need to make yourself a cocktail (responsibly).  However, if you are going to drink, remember that old adage: loose lips sink ships.  If you get too loose, you may say something you regret (or didn’t plan on saying; I’ve been there).
  3. Bathroom Sanctuary – Sometimes you may not need to use the restroom but you need a place to go and just lock the door, check Facebook, call a friend, or simply breath.  The bathroom is the perfect place to do that.  Find it.  Use it (even if you don’t have to).
  4. Dinner Conversation – Before I go anywhere, I always brush up on a few facts.  How are the Packers doing? How about the Milwaukee Bucks?  Can you believe they STILL haven’t finished that construction?  No matter if you’re traveling somewhere near or far, if you think you need to make sure you can participate in dinner conversation without bringing up the two forbidden topics (Politics and Religion), then do so!
  5. Push Back – Ok, sometimes it is ok to engage.  I mean, how are we ever going to get out of this great divide if we don’t talk to each other.  Now, that doesn’t mean it will go over or there will be some type of magical aha moment but it is ok to say something, especially when your crazy Aunt/Uncle/Cousin/Second Cousin/Random Friend of Cousin who no one invited starts spouting off some nonsense (like Mexico 1nlYpaying for Trump’s wall because that just isn’t going to happen).  If you feel safe enough to push back and say something, especially when someone if being completely and totally rude and inappropriate, always make sure you have an exit strategy. That is either a friend you can call, a room you can go to, or a nap you suddenly want to take.  No matter what, if you do choose to engage always remember to a.) Speak calmly and slowly at all times (Republicans are triggered when you yell and provide them with too many facts too fast); b.)  Make direct eye contact; c.) Make sure you always have something to take a long sip from afterward to prove you made your point.
I have to admit, I am quite lucky.  I know I have written a lot on this site about what has happened to my family since the election of the Fascist-in-Chief.  Luckily for me, I surround myself during these times with people who openly love me, my views (for the most part), and allow me to be myself, or simply, we just don’t talk about “it” because they clearly know now that we were right about Trump and his cronies. I don’t have to use these tips because the people they apply to, don’t really come around our holiday gatherings.
However, if there is one thing that I learned, it is that this election has cost us each something.  Whether that was a friend, family member, or a part of yourself that you never think you’ll be able to get back, we need to respect these losses and the pain that comes with them.  I promise you that it will get better (heck, better starts on January 3, 2019).  We have a long way to go until 2020 (I mean, a LONG way to go) but I know we will all get there together, one way or another because there are better Christmas and holidays to come where we won’t have to use these tips and tricks to survive anymore.
So, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I’m thankful for each and every one of you this holiday season (unless you voted for Trump).

John Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History and holds two MA’s from Claremont Graduate University. John serves as a commissioner on the California Commission on the Status of Women. He is President of the Hollywood Chapter for the National Organization for Women, a boardmember for the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, a board member for the ACLU of Southern California, the Legislative Action Chair for Stonewall Democratic Club, and a board member for the National Organization for Women.

Meet the Bible Bitches: Interview with Rev. Laura Barclay and Sara Hof

What do you get when you have two ladies, one a Baptist Minister living in KY and one an agnostic living in LA, making jokes and talking about the Bible?  Don’t know?  You get the new and exciting podcast Bible Bitches! 


What do you get when you have two ladies, one a Baptist Minister living in KY and one an agnostic living in LA, making jokes and talking about the Bible?  Don’t know?  You get the new and exciting podcast Bible Bitches!  We hope that you’ll take a moment to check out this new and exciting podcast that explores the F-word in Religion (among many other topics) and read the Q&A below with the creators Rev. Laura Barclay and Sara Hof!  Click here to listen to the podcast (now on episode 5)!

Continue reading “Meet the Bible Bitches: Interview with Rev. Laura Barclay and Sara Hof”

Happy Anniversary, Women’s March, with love from Madge by Elizabeth Cunningham

Like many in the FAR community, I participated in the world-wide 2017 Women’s March.  So did Madge, the bodacious cartoon character who took me by surprise in 1990 and went on to become the narrative character of The Maeve Chronicles. Her life in print, as the first century Celtic Magdalen, satisfied her until….November 8th, 2016 when Madge returned, mouthy as ever, to rejoin us in our own times.


On the first anniversary of the historic march, I’d like to share a little of Madge’s millennia-spanning story and a few images from her two books of cartoons, now published in one volume.

Madge first appeared to me in 1990 as a line drawing of an ample woman sitting naked at a kitchen table drinking coffee. I had recently finished writing a novel, The Return of the Goddess, A Divine Comedy, and felt I had nothing more to say. I decided to play with magic markers for a while. Madge, as the naked woman introduced herself, was far from done with words. Fleshed out with peach magic marker, Madge told me she wanted “fiery neon orange” for her hair color. She also required speech balloons for her theological queries. (For example: If we are all members of the body of Christ, who is the twelve-year molar, the kneecap, the colon?) Enchanted with her sass, I invited her to be in my next novel. I pitched ideas to her. She rejected them all as too dull and said, “I want my own book of cartoons first.” Continue reading “Happy Anniversary, Women’s March, with love from Madge by Elizabeth Cunningham”

I’m Failing by John Erickson

“How is your dissertation going?”

WEHO CA (June 7, 2015)©2015 Rebecca Dru Photography All Rights Reserved

“How is your dissertation going?”

Never before has a simple question packed such a punch. Five little words strike fear into my heart as I remember I have a countless number of things to do before I get that title after my name: Ph.D.

There are so many reasons I feel like I’m failing at my dissertation and school, which I used to love. The first reason is I never have any time to write. Continue reading “I’m Failing by John Erickson”

From Her Lips by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara Ardinger

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread;
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Look! Here she comes. Like most old women, she has a lot to say. Let’s listen in:

“Well, that’s what an old nursery rhyme says. But I’m that old woman, and I can tell you for sure that the only thing ‘true’ about that rhyme is that I’m old. I’m older than anyone I know. Oh, I see you there, eavesdropping. That’s okay. You’re welcome here.

Old woman...shoeYou know what? I’ve been called many names by the (mostly) men who make up those rhymes and stories. I’ve been the old witch in the candy house who serves pie to children and then serves the children in the pie. (But did that German guy who wrote that opera about me ever say who eats those pies?) I’ve been the thirteenth old woman at the christening who wasn’t invited and brings a curse that’s as big as the blessings from the first twelve. I’ve been the evil, wicked, mean stepmother.

Continue reading “From Her Lips by Barbara Ardinger”

Satirists as Public Theologians by Melissa James

Melissa James Profile photo

Why satirists have become our public theologians (or why I am doubling down on feminist theological ethics as public theology)…

Did you see the Daily Show last night? I’m sure it was all over your Facebook feed and Twitter. The show just nailed the response to. . .fill in the blank. From Ferguson to pay inequality, from racism to culture wars the satirists have had quite the run lately. From political cartoons to the Onion to late night cable “news” shows, satire plays an important role in society. What satirists are excellent at is holding up a magnifying mirror to our society to show us areas of absurdity, oppression, and hypocrisy. The mix of political commentary and humor allows satirists to push further than many other interlocutors in public discourse.

Part of their success stems from our deep need and longing for collective moral reflection and humor allows us to do so in a way that feels safe enough to engage. What makes good satirists effective is their ability to do deep, critical analysis of society. They use sociology. The better they employ their analysis the better their satire. The better the satire the more they reflect to us what we need to hear. And many satirists have played that role really well. Continue reading “Satirists as Public Theologians by Melissa James”

A Fairy Tale Starring Real Fairies (with apologies to W.S. Gilbert) by Barbara Ardinger

IolantheOnce upon a time very close to right now and in a realm way too much like our world there lived the Sisterhood of Faeries. We remember their names. There’s the Faerie Queen, Belphoebe, who spent much of her time composing epic poetry, which her sister Gloriana wrote down for her. Other fairies were Titania (who ran the orphan asylum for abandoned children), Carabosse (whose job it was occasionally to Speak Firmly to children, both fey and human, who were behaving badly), Fata (an astrologist), Morgan le Fay (no one was ever quite sure what she did), and Tinkerbell (who especially loved to play with well-behaved children). Most of the fairies worked as fairy goodmothers and guided their special human charges through their complicated human lives. A few of the younger fairies collected teeth. It was a rule in the Realm of Faerie that fairies were forbidden to marry human men, though they could (and did) of course flirt and dally with them.

One of Belphoebe’s favorite daughters was the adventurous Iolanthe, who traveled much in the consensual reality where the humans lived. Iolanthe had, in fact, gone among men so often that she had married the Chief Justice of the human realm. For her crime passionel, she was banished from the Faerieland. She took up residence in a stream, where she cast dreams and the occasional nightmare upon the Chief Justice, who had no idea where she’d gone. She also took up good works. Among other things, she pushed drowning children out of the water (though she occasionally arrived too late, as we know from young Ophelia’s sad demise). She spent most of her time reading great books, especially history and law. What no one had known when Iolanthe was banished was that she was pregnant. Her son, Strephon, was born and raised in an underwater castle. Because his mother was so busy with her books and works, the lad was nursed by a kindly female wolf and educated by scholars and sorcerers, and he finally found minimum-wage work as a shepherd. But the lad had ambitions! He abandoned his flock, found suitable clothing, and managed to enroll himself in a large university, where, inspired by his mother, he studied political science, law, history, music, and literature. When he confessed all this to his mother, she immediately blessed him and gave him more great books to study. Continue reading “A Fairy Tale Starring Real Fairies (with apologies to W.S. Gilbert) by Barbara Ardinger”

All-Male Nonsense by Kecia Ali

Kecia Ali Bio pic officeA brilliant site has been making the rounds of social media: I became aware of it just in time to suggest a post: an all-male symposium at Cambridge Muslim College on the future of the madrasa. The original article, since removed, touted its diverse participants, but as someone observed, clearly they only meant diverse styles of facial hair. The organizer apparently chose “to exclude women despite having had the matter brought to his attention” in the planning stages by male participants. (As of this writing, the college still has an all-male homepage.)

Right around the same time, I learned of an Australian Muslim conference taking a slightly different route, advertising an event with thirteen male speakers and three female ones. Not an ideal ratio, but certainly better than many events. What is troubling is the way men and women appear on the poster. Each man has a picture along with his name. The women are literally faceless, represented by identical balloon figures. While the men appear in color or grayscale photographs, the women are stark black and white, clearly inhuman caricatures. (Other similar events give slightly different lists with only one woman;  she appears with different line drawings, one in profile and one “full face” – except, still, faceless.)

Mercy Missions Twins of Faith poster blue for boys pink for girls Continue reading “All-Male Nonsense by Kecia Ali”

Cheeky Buddha by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaFeminism can be loud and in your face. Feminists can be unapologetic and radical in their statements. I could never bring myself to be abrupt with proponents of patriarchal views. Being a middle class Brit from a Soviet background, I withdraw from awkward situations and prefer to keep discussion within civil forms of defined discourse at conferences and letters to my MPs and to the BBC.

People who know that I practise Buddhist disciplines might say that this also plays a part in my avoiding direct confrontation. It is true but only up to a point. I do not rush into an argument mostly because of my training not to rush into anything, but to first become mindful and see where the impetus for my action is coming from: is it something worthwhile or is it some undigested trauma from childhood? It is usually the latter. Continue reading “Cheeky Buddha by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Masyanya’s Punk Buddhism by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaIn autumn 2001 I attended a youth workshop in Moscow, where I saw for the first time a brand new flash animation character who would accompany us in our young adulthood. Her name is Masyanya. She is a leader of a punk rock band. She does not take herself too seriously, but she means everything she says or does. I look up to her. She makes me laugh. And in one of the recent episodes Masyanya taught her male friend Lokhmaty (Shaggy) Buddhist meditation.

220px-Masyanya-Lokhmaty-Hryundel_from_cartoon_Russian_Punk_RockMasyanya is a creation of Oleg Kuvaev, a male Russian designer and animator. You can read his brief history of the project and watch episodes without dialogue here. On YouTube there are some Masyanya episodes with English subtitles, like this one, entitled “Women Triangles”.

Continue reading “Masyanya’s Punk Buddhism by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Who Are the Pagans? by Barbara Ardinger

Barbara ArdingerIt has occurred to me that it’s possible that some of the bloggers and readers of this site may not know very much about pagans, so here’s a little New Year’s lesson. The first thing to know is that pagans are almost by definition rebels. That means any generalization anyone may make will almost certainly have a thousand exceptions. You may have heard what Will Rogers wrote in 1932: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Well, the same goes for pagans: many of us joke that we don’t belong to an organized religion. “Pagan,” by the way, is the generic term. Witches, Wiccans, and eclectics (among others, see below) are specific terms. Many of us belong to what are called traditions, which are somewhat analogous to the Protestant denominations. Some traditions are said to go back to the Middle Ages (or further back), but this is generally nonsense. Paganism as it is practiced today is a modern religion looking for (and—voilà! finding!) roots in the ancient and classical pantheons or in Old Europe, where archaeology shows us that the Goddess was worshipped thousands of years before Abraham met his god, ca. 2000 BCE (see Marija Gimbutas’ text for more information on this). Continue reading “Who Are the Pagans? by Barbara Ardinger”

The Found Goddesses of Good Eats by Barbara Ardinger

August 1—Lughnasadh (pronounced LOON-us-uh) or Lammas—is the first of the three traditional harvest festivals of the traditional Celtic calendar that most pagans follow today. And what naturally follows harvest? Feasting, fairs, and festivals. To help us celebrate the season, here are two Found Goddesses of good eating. The term “found goddesses” was created in 1987 by Morgan Grey and Julia Penelope, authors of a hilarious book titled Found Goddesses. After reading this book and having never met a pun I didn’t instantly love and being of a naturally satirical state of mind, I started Finding—i.e., inventing—my own goddesses shortly before the turn of the century. After I found a hundred of them, they were published in 2003 in my book, Finding New Goddesses.

When Xochitl Alvizo wrote here about the philosophy of vegetarianism and veganism in late June, I was inspired to contribute to the conversation. Although I understand the philosophy of not eating meat, I’m still a meat eater. (Though I don’t go quite as far as the so-called paleo diet.) Yes, it’s an issue of consciousness. I admit it. I just refuse to think about cows and sheep and chickens when I’m eating. But I refuse to eat lobster (because they’re cooked alive) or veal (because of how the calves are treated). I guess I’m not very consistent, and I suspect I’ve just settled for the hungry coward’s way out of the diet dilemma. Continue reading “The Found Goddesses of Good Eats by Barbara Ardinger”

Review of “The Book of Mormon” by Ivy Helman

IMG_5998My friend and I won two tickets to “The Book of Mormon” showing as part of Broadway in Boston.  Having known nothing about the musical, we were curious and excited to be going.  Nearly two weeks later, we are still discussing how we feel about the production.  We agree that overall we like it and there are some very funny parts, but we are also troubled and disgusted by it on a number of levels.  Moreover, the fact that we like it makes us quite uncomfortable.

As a Broadway production, the cast was amazing!  The songs were creative.  Characters were dynamic and showed marked growth.  “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” was outright brilliant with its use of humor, satire and fear to explain the Mormon preoccupation with hell as punishment for immorality and/or disbelief. Continue reading “Review of “The Book of Mormon” by Ivy Helman”

Don’t Worry, I Won’t Marry Your Girlfriend: Sexuality, Identity, and the Easy Laugh

No longer having to deconstruct the larger cultural and sexual narratives, heterosexuals who do not support marriage equality or feel threatened by homosexuals return to their one source of power that reinforces the ideology that they are on the right path: the Bible. “Marriage is between a man a woman,” or “A man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman,” becomes the newly reinforced heterosexual rallying cry and the progressive progress that occurred in the past becomes nothing more than a joke.

johnI must say, I will be the first to admit that the recent outbreak of videos promulgating the idea that gay men will marry a straight guy’s girlfriend or lesbians will marry a straight girl’s boyfriend all for the sake of marriage equality left me stifling my laughter as I attempted to pay attention in class.

However, after the calamity died down I took a moment to reflect upon the intrinsically embedded aspects of misdirected norms of sexuality, gender, and misogyny latent within the laugh lines and the guffaws throughout each video. Continue reading “Don’t Worry, I Won’t Marry Your Girlfriend: Sexuality, Identity, and the Easy Laugh”

Fun With Bumper Stickers By Barbara Ardinger

I was driving through one of the more conservative corners of Orange County, California, a couple weeks ago and went past a very pretty brick church with a tall, proud steeple and signs in the front yard giving times of worship services. I have no idea what kind of church it was, but as I went past, a car pulled out of the driveway and began following me. It’s a public street, I said to myself. Looks like a tony neighborhood. No need to worry about being followed. So I neither sped up nor slowed down. At the red light, the car behind me pulled up beside me and the driver, a young man, looked at me. As soon as the light changed, he sped ahead, changed lanes, then slowed down just a little. As I pulled up behind him at the next red light, a hand came out of the driver’s window. A finger was aggressively elevated.

Good grief! How had I insulted this driver? The guy made a right turn, I stewed and fussed a couple of miles…and then it dawned. My bumper stickers. I have four on my car. PROTECT OUR MOTHER EARTH—SHE’S THE ONLYONE WE’VEGOT. THANK GODDESS. BRIGHT BLESSINGS. And my current political bumper sticker: IMPEACH THE SUPREME COURT. (This last, of course, is a comment on the Citizens United decision, which many people think is doing incalculable damage to the political process.) For years, my friends have been telling me that at any gathering, they can always tell I’m there by the bumper stickers on my car. Continue reading “Fun With Bumper Stickers By Barbara Ardinger”

When Music Touches Your Soul by Elise Edwards

It’s incredibly liberating to have the co-mingled sensation of being elevated by aesthetic delight, affirmed by words that reflect the life experiences of you and your loved ones, and honored by another’s desire to relate to you.  This type of liberation is spiritual.

Last month, I attended a Lalah Hathaway concert, the first live concert I think I’ve attended in about a year.  For those of you who don’t know, Lalah Hathaway is an R&B singer and daughter of the late Donny Hathaway.  It was my first time hearing her perform and the audience’s response to her artistry sparked some thoughts in my mind about authenticity, soul, and participation in the black church.

I should probably admit that my favorite genre of music is R&B/soul because of what its name suggests – the ability of the music to connect to the innermost parts of my being, the spirit inside of me that recognizes what is true.  Whether they are speaking about joy or pain, love or loss, soul singers have a way of making me feel the authenticity of their souls conveyed through their music and lyrics.  Because I agree with the feminist principle that the personal is political, I believe that feminists must take the time to recognize what is personally true for them and what is most real.  This is so that feminists’ energies directed toward making the world a more just place can be sustained during times of struggle, and maintained with integrity, regardless of what sphere they’re located within.  Soul music helps me remember who I am. Continue reading “When Music Touches Your Soul by Elise Edwards”

No One Is Safe from the Parodist (Part 2) by Barbara Ardinger

I suppose I should be ashamed to admit this, but I once worked as a freelance copywriter for a multi-level marketing company.

I suppose I should be ashamed to admit this, but I once worked as a freelance copywriter for a multi-level marketing company. (Okay—I needed the money. It was a job.) I wrote the following piece one day when I was supposed to be writing real advertising copy. They were not amused. A few years later, when I was writing Finding New Goddesses (ECW Press, 2003), I pulled it out of my three-ring binder, renamed it Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack, and Found (i.e., made up) Panglossolalia, the Found Goddess of Infomercials. Today, if we want to be politically correct, we recycle and reuse, so here we go again. I’ve changed the names in this infomercial and brought it up to date. When November comes, be sure to vote for the candidate of your choice.

Dr. Mittens’s Whoopee Pack

Good evening, friends, and welcome to my secret garden. I’m your friendly political commentator. I’m so glad you could visit me tonight as we take a short break from biased documentaries and endless negative commercials. Friends, tonight’s movie, Attack of the Jobless Economist, will begin in a minute. But first, this.  Continue reading “No One Is Safe from the Parodist (Part 2) by Barbara Ardinger”

No One Is Safe from the Parodist (Part 1) by Barbara Ardinger

Now, with only a minimum purchase, you can save your loved ones—your friends—your neighbors—your business associates—from eternities of suffering and torment. Our new Multi-Level Marketing company guarantees Eternal Salvation for you and your entire downline.

Some days, it’s just not safe to let me watch MSNBC. I think politics is both scary and fun, and the current field of Republican candidates is majorly scary. Well, I did vote Republican once. This was in 1976, when I’d just finished my Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University atCarbondale. I voted for Jim Thompson, one of the governors ofIllinoiswho did not go to jail. But I digress. I’ve decided to help the current Republicans with their advertising. I reached into my three-ring binder again for another souvenir of my days writing for multi-level marketing and found an early version of this ad. Religious issues and identities seem to playing a big part in the campaigns. In November, be sure to vote for the candidate of your choice.  Continue reading “No One Is Safe from the Parodist (Part 1) by Barbara Ardinger”

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