What I’ve Been Reading Online

Rather than flood my facebook friends and acquaintances with links to every interesting thought that I’ve read on the Internet in the last couple of weeks, I thought it might be good to compile them here. As mentioned on my blog’s Links page, please exercise all usual precautions online; if you want to interact with the author or content of a particular article, please do so at the original post; and while links are given here in good faith and believed to be accurate at the time of sharing, they might change at any time; and, in case it weren’t obvious, that’s outside of my control.

BLOGS (Nepotism at work!)

There are four blogs I’d like to highlight, all from in-real-life friends and family – in no particular order.

  1. Middle England Earth Art – this is my mum’s blog – “mom” for the American readers, “mam” for any Irish. πŸ˜‰Β  She paints fan art inspired by films like Lord of the Rings.
  2. Sunday Everyday – a blog by Lisa, who I met through my current church, when she was one of the pastors there. A couple of months ago she was kind enough to interview me for the blog on how my spirituality and environmentalism interact. You can read it here.
  3. Reflections of a Mugwump – a blog by Nicole, another former pastor from my current church, talking (so far) history and politics.
  4. Closer to the World I Can’t Quite Reach – a blog by Sara, who I also met through church. Her blog is very new and I look forward to seeing her future posts.

SPIRITUALITY

A friend of mine put me onto this interesting three-part series of posts from a pair of Witches who attended meetings at a major and influential Pentecostal church. I found their insight really fascinating, and at times troubling and confronting (but for me it was in a good way). In many ways I could relate to their descriptions. After being Catholic born-and-raised in a somewhat Agnostic extended family (go figure!) I self-identified as Wiccan for a few years before marrying a Pentecostal and converting to his religion. It’s probably a bit too specific to call myself Wiccan, but that was the label I had for myself at the time, as a heavily Celtic and Norse-influenced NeoPagan.

Thirteen years later, I find myself again on a kind of spiritual threshold where I am seriously questioning a lot of Pentecostal and Christian practices, while still seeking to honour Jesus the Christ and the Gospels that bear his teachings. It occurred to me a long time ago that there are some elements of Pentecostalism that seem eerily similar to my earlier experiences of Paganism. This is something that a hard-and-fast Pentecostal would deny, and I respect that, but I am basing this on my observations, not on some high-level theological discourse. I know that the worldview as embodied in a book like Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness (which was, incidentally, the book that terrified me out of Paganism – given to me as a wedding present back in 2002 by my then very strictly Pentecostal husband), espouses the view that to be Pagan is to operate under daemonic influence, but to be Christian is a Holy Spirit “possession.”

I also need to clarify that I do not use words like Pagan, Witch, Heathen or Occultist as inherently negative, as some of my Christian friends do – rather, I use them as descriptive labels referring to specific sets of spiritual beliefs.

Anyway, I felt that in reading these articles the Witches’ observations of Pentecostal activities rang true. Especially the remarks about emptying oneself and about the corporate business-style nature of services. In my opinion, it was a very interesting and thought-provoking read. I know that many of my friends who are heavily influenced by the theology of the church in the stories would likely be aghast at the thought of Pagans receiving a prophetic word of affirmation and so I must add that I do not share these articles to distress those particular friends. As always, if you want to dialogue with the content or author, please do so at the original post.

Here are links to the series:

  1. Part 1 – “Born Again Witch: Why I took Witches to a Pentecostal church
  2. Part 2 – “Witches at a Pentecostal Church: Sensing the Energy
  3. Part 3 – “Witches at a Pentecostal Church: Healings and Prophecies

FEMINISM

Similarities between anti-suffragette posters and anti-feminist memes.

CHRISTIANITY

I’ve been reading a lot of John Pavlovitz’s blog recently, and more often than not, I find that his writings speak to where I’m at. Though it was hard to narrow down, here are three of his recent posts that connected with me.

  1. What church people really need to know about once-churched people. Quote: “They are still people of great depth and character and substance and yes, even faith. They are still wonderfully attentive parents, devoted friends, loving spouses, amazing co-workers, helpful neighbors. They are still responsible and compassionate and loving, and so much of what you treasured and knew to be true about them then, is still true today. They are simply not comfortable in the space you find yourself. They are not misfits, but they most surely no longer fit.”
  2. How to navigate a loved one’s changing faith (or help them navigate yours). Quote: “There is quite often a palatable sense of betrayal; the feeling that someone has changed the rules in the middle of the game, leaving the other toΒ play catch-up and to try and find their new place in a relationship with someone they no longer feel they know quite as well as they did before. AnΒ invisible, yet very real barrier often goesΒ up between people and their cherished bond becomes presently strained.”

AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

It’s hard to read the current news coming out of the current Australian social climate without feeling equal measures rage and despair. Along comes the satirical site, “The Shovel,” which manages to convey the perpetual disappointment that is Australian politics and turn it into something that can make you laugh while you cry at the thought that our bizarre and sometimes-convoluted voting system rendered power unto an unexpectedly strong right-wing government whose opposition are suspiciously similar in political views. But as the facebook page says, “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for Tony Abbott.” (Tony Abbott being the current Australian Prime Minister.)

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