This is a video of a presentation I recently did at the Harvard Divinity School “Ecological Spiritualities” conference on April 29, 2022. A copy of my paper can be found here. This is an updated version of a paper I presented at the Greening of Religions conference organized by Cherry Hill Seminary in 2016.
Many Pagans and scholars of Paganism presume that Paganism is and always has been an earth-centered religion. But this claim needs to be interrogated closely by academics and participants alike to determine whether and to what extent Pagan beliefs and practices are actually earth-centered.
In 2018, in the wake of the Parkland shooting, I helped organize a protest at a gun show being held at our county fairgrounds. I live in Indiana, just across the border from Chicago, so guns bought in my hometown often make their way to Chicago, which has much stricter gun laws. Unfortunately, Indiana state laws prevent local governments from passing any ordinance to restrict gun shows in their towns.
Around the same time, my daughter, together with two other girls, organized a walkout at her high school, coinciding with student-led school walkouts all over the country. It was her first act of political activism which she had initiated. I was really proud of her.
But if I was being honest with myself, even then I was more ambivalent about guns and gun control than my actions at the time suggested. Gun control is part of a constellation of positions that all good progressives are supposed to support. And after Parkland … and the Pulse nightclub … and Sandy Hook … and Las Vegas … and on and on … I found myself caught up in the progressive outrage. The problem, it seemed obvious, was guns, especially assault rifles. And the solution seemed equally obvious, to ban them.
Now it’s four years later, and yet another mass shooting has happened, this time about an hour from my home, in Highland Park, IL, and at a Fourth of July parade of all things. Both parents of a now-orphaned toddler are among the dead, as is an elderly man in a wheelchair. This latest shooting comes on the heels of the Robb Elementary massacre this past May, recently released footage of which shows police standing by while children are being murdered. And once again, my progressive friends are organizing to protest gun sales at the county fairgrounds. I understand the impulse. But I won’t be joining them this time.
The following excepts come from an essay by Audrey Borowski in Aeon, entitled “Philosopher of the Apocalypse”, about the work of the twentieth century German philosopher Gunther Anders. Anders was a student of Martin Heidegger, husband of Hannah Arendt, and contemporary of Theodor Adorno, and this thought is informed by all of these.
Anders was a critic of technology and the way it alienates us from reality by mediating our experience and dehumanizes us by disconnecting us from the consequences, and hence the feeling of responsibility, for our actions.
In the last post, I reviewed the hit movieDon’t Look Up from a post-doom perspective. After watching it (twice), I went on a apocalyptic film spree. I solicited recommendations from friends and then watched several which I hadn’t seen before (and a few that I already had). I admit, afterward, I had to fight off the urge to stock up on ammunition and canned food, but I don’t regret it. So I want to share with you my recommendations for what to watch (and what not to watch) in the genre.