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Showing posts from January, 2016

Anticipating Imbolc

I t has been cold in New England this week.  More than once, I’ve awakened to find the temperature in my bedroom had dropped to a brisk 54 degrees or so (about 12 degrees Celsius), and the windchill outside something in the single digits.  It is hard to force myself out of bed in the darkness, and my fingers hurt as I turn the key in the lock to my front door when I leave for work. Photo by Peter Bishop, 2012. But as I commute, the sun comes up, and the sky becomes so large overhead.  My classroom is flooded with winter light during the school week, and at home, I bask like a lizard in the strong, sloped sunshine.  Counter-intuitive as it might seem, I love this time of year. Sometimes I say that to friends online, only to have them answer as though I must be being sarcastic.  This is the time of year I begin to receive reports from friends in warmer climes about the warm weather they are having, or even the new starts in their gardens.  (My New England friends hav

Why I'm Uneasy with Martin Luther King Day

I remember when Martin Luther King Day was first declared a Federal holiday, how Arizona’s Governor Meecham repealed the previous governor’s establishment of the holiday there, and how Jesse Helms led opposition to it in Congress, on the grounds that King was unpatriotic, a Communist sympathizer, and not “important” enough to be honored with a holiday. We all knew what they really meant, just as I knew what the childhood friend who dismissed it as “a black holiday” was calling black people in the privacy of his own mind. It was the 1980s, and it was pretty clear that what people who had trouble with celebrating Martin Luther King Day really had trouble with was racial justice. Which is why it may seem odd that now, in the year 2016, I’m having some trouble with Martin Luther King Day myself. One of the more painful things I’ve observed, since I began speaking out against racism, is the degree to which white people have taken a sanitized, safe, domesticated version of

On Nature, Human Ugliness, and the Problem of Evil

T his morning was one of the first genuinely cold days of winter. As I drove to work today, to my west I saw blue shadows snow speeding past, and rank on rank of winter-bare trees on the hills.  To my east, I saw backlit hilltops, and the first rays of sun pierced the woods.  I could smell pine smoke rising like incense from the wood-stoves of my neighbors, and I watched the lights come on in sleeping houses. This world is so beautiful.  And yet, in spite of that, we humans manage to bring so much ugliness into it. The natural world? Has death in it, and suffering, and sorrow.  Sickness, parasites, the flash of a predator’s teeth; hunger and pain are all  undeniably part of the natural world. David Restivo, Whitetail Deer in Winter, 2006 Being Pagan doesn’t blind me to those facts. However, for all the pain in the natural world, there is beauty to accompany it: white pines in the morning, ice crystals in the sun, the deer startled by the noise from my car. When I