My Response to the Hoopla
I’ll begin with this quoted directly from the press package widely distributed by Andras, Phyllis and myself to the media at the Parliament event.
“The following is a very brief introduction to the various practices that are collectively known as Paganism, based on some of the most common questions that we are often asked about them. Paganism encompasses quite a wide chronological, geographic and cultural scope, so it is important to bear in mind that this concise and generalized overview cannot do justice to the breadth and complexity of its various traditions.”
Let me first say that my work at the Parliament and in other Interfaith arenas is not to represent “The Pagan Community” in the way it is being inferred here on this thread because that “Community” by its own hand, does not exist. My role is to make room for the many voices Pagan and otherwise that will eventually come to participate in the dialogs on global, social issues.
I have been involved in the interfaith forums for most of my adult life and having been associated with the Parliament since 1992, I was elected to its Board of Trustees in 2002. I am there because I believe that as a Pagan, what I have to say in that forum has value to the larger issues of Peace on Earth, and a Sustainable Planet.
Those who know me or who have heard me speak about my position on Paganism, and its involvement in the Interfaith Movement, have supported my efforts and my voice with their time, their prayers and their money. What was said at the Parliament is no different than what has been said in their presence. If I am there to represent anyone it is them however; the message is already in place – and their support is one of response — not solicitation.
In my personal participation and my observation of what happened at the Parliament, there was no attempt to “legitimize” anything, nor was there an effort to ostracize anything. There were many very successful attempts to explain concepts, terms and belief structures in ways and using vocabulary understood by those either unfamiliar with or frightened by our practices — by providing them with a frame of reference.
If we wish to be able to continue to enjoy the rights, privileges and respect that we deserve as a world religion, that other religions take for granted, to be welcomed to participate in the dialogs and problem solving of issues that affect the whole of humanity and the planet, no matter how you worship, we have to find a way to communicate in those forums. That is what we have done for the communities and individuals who have given us their votes of confidence; we have found a way to communicate and the doors that have been slammed in our faces in the past are slowly opening to us now.
We cannot forget that many of the global issues up for discussion in the interfaith forums ARE our spiritual path — revering the Earth as sacred and protecting Her resources; clean water and air, fair food distribution. These concepts were once the object of scorn by governments and mainstream religions and now, suddenly they are vogue. Suddenly the Divine Feminine is rising within the patriarchal structures when for 2500 years She has been shoved into the closet, ignored, and attempts have been made to erase Her from religious texts as well as the history books.
We have been at this place before, where our practices are absorbed by more financially powerful paradigms and twisted into something almost unrecognizable. We must find a way to work with others on these important issues while still maintaining guardianship of them, or risk losing them again when perhaps they go out of style.
To reduce what happened at the Parliament event in Australia to an argument about defining Paganism is to miss the entire point of the Parliament itself, and the Interfaith Movement in general.
Office of Secretary
Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions