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Zoethe

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Of politics and faith [Jan. 25th, 2009|10:40 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |hopefulhopeful]

A group of witches organized a ritual last Monday at the Jefferson Memorial. It was aimed at sweeping clean the energies of the past administration and visualizing protection and wisdom for the new one. A snippet of their efforts can be viewed here. (I also find quite amusing that at first glance their website looks like a right wing redneck site - bad design is not limited to the south!)

I haven't said anything about the inauguration and the changing of administrations. I was in a celebratory mood on Tuesday and made everyone who watched with me stand up for the swearings in. I got a bit misty-eyed, even, and we all cheered when the oath of office was completed, redo required or no. I am expectably pleased with the first hundred hours, and I look forward to seeing what President Obama can do for this country.

But I must admit to feeling a bit disenfranchised by the prayers and the speeches given. The prayers I was steeled for - President Obama is a Christian and chose Christian ministers for the invocation and benediction. It was more in the speech, in which he singled out Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. I realize that he did not intend to limit his remarks to those groups to the exclusion of others, but "people of all faith" would have picked up not only me but Buddhists and Taoists and all other faiths as well.

I am saddened by this oversight, but I am also wary of my reaction. I have often said that one of the worst things that has happened to the Democratic party is trying so hard not to offend anyone paralyzes its ability to make strong statements of any kind. I don't ever want to be part of the "whinging fringe" that obstructs progress just to make a point. So I am uncomfortable with my own reaction to the speech.

In the end, I believe that progress toward the right goals is more important than inclusive platitudes. But I also like to see pagans and others making an effort to be seen and to contribute in their own way to the many prayers and blessings invoked for this new administration. And perhaps such shows of support will eventually lead to a form of recognition and respect. I don't expect to hear any president mentioning the goddess in a speech anytime soon, but maybe the acknowledgment that faith is more varied will be seen.

My prayers go out to President Obama, Vice President Biden, and all members of this administration, of Congress, and of the judiciary. May they work in wisdom for the salvation of this country and for its best influence in the world.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: the_siobhan
2009-01-25 04:06 pm (UTC)
People of all faiths is more inclusive - but I can definitely see the value of mentioning Jews and Muslims explicitly in the same sentence. The message within the message.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 04:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, I would have been happy to have been mentioned at the end of the litany. I don't want it dropped.
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[User Picture]From: s00j
2009-01-25 04:11 pm (UTC)
I had your same reaction at the time, and I'm in 100% agreement with you here. There are a few small benefits to being under the radar, but we Will keep making a positive difference, keep making a joyful noise, as it were...whomever chooses to mention us, or not. I'm so thrilled to wake up in the morning, hear the word 'President', and smile instead of cringe!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 04:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, the positive feeling at reading presidential news is a delight!
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2009-01-25 04:14 pm (UTC)
It was more in the speech, in which he singled out Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers.

That really shocked me. In the chat room at work one person (who had driven to other states to convince people to register and vote for Obama) said he was horribly offended by it. "What about the Buddhists and Shintoists?"

I agree, this is not a huge stumbling block that should cause a lack of faith in our new president. He is likely going to do some great things. But it is hard to ignore religious intolerance in an iconic figure who represents another brick ripped out of the wall of racial intolerance.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 09:37 pm (UTC)
Very much so. It's a reason to be mindful, and I hope that in the future he will be more inclusive. But I don't want to undermine. It's tough to balance.
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[User Picture]From: xforge
2009-01-25 04:18 pm (UTC)
That's gonna take a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooootta sage.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 09:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that was my thought, too.
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[User Picture]From: mamaursula
2009-01-25 04:45 pm (UTC)
I agree, I watched as much of the speech as I could, since the school bus was on it's way, and I had the same reaction. Isn't China trying to irradicate the Buddhists? Don't we consider the Dali Lama a leader, even if he's in exile? It made me a little sad too on many levels, including your own observations.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 09:40 pm (UTC)
I think it was meant to be inclusive. I believe his intent is good. But yeah, it missed.
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[User Picture]From: donkey_hokey
2009-01-25 04:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, as an active witch, I very much noticed the absence of minority religions. Witchcraft and paganism is a HUGE part of my life, but I know that paganism (and all its various branches) is definitely in the minority.

But .. I realized that recognizing ANY religion other than hardcore born-again Christianity is an excellent, and even miraculous, start. So, it's all good, for now, and hopefully in the future the less mainstream paths will be mentioned as well.

And, unfortunately, I have a feeling that even if it ever does get mentioned, it still wouldn't magically change attitudes overnight, and I would still want to stash my various pendants under my shirt at work and in the general public, so as to avoid uncomfortable discrimination and curiosity seekers.

Eh, it is what it is.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 09:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, nothing is changing overnight, that's for certain. My discomfort is in no way enough to deter my support. But I did write the White House suggesting that a more inclusive phrase be considered in the future.
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2009-01-25 04:57 pm (UTC)
This is in addition to Kate Clinton's "Sage the White House" event at Dupont circle. :)

It's going to take longer for people to seriously include pagans as long as people make a big demonstration of the 'batshit' factor. It's like when the glbt community is defined in the eye of the media by the most 'colorful' folks at the pride parade.

I personally was touched by the "first do no harm" inclusion in the poem, alongside other religions, though afterwards I debated whether it was meant for us; I think it was.

I was more upset by the choice of an outspoken anti-gay activist giving the invocation, but I think our new President is doing his best to be inclusive, and he's clearly working to get some major issues cleaned up.

I've been praying for him too. And I've been thinking about posting about that. You've encouraged me and I will probably write that post tonight.
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2009-01-25 08:32 pm (UTC)
I would be strongly inclined to believe that "First do no harm" was aimed at doctors rather than pagans, as that's considered part of the Hippocratic Oath (I have no idea if it is actually part of it or not, I was three when my dad took his). Admittedly, I didn't watch the poem, so I don't know the context. If it was in the middle of mentioning a bunch of religions, then your interpretation is probably more accurate than mine.
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[User Picture]From: veryloud
2009-01-25 05:06 pm (UTC)
When President Obama included "nonbelievers" in his speech, the room I was in gave a big cheer - we're never metioned! But it was noted that he named specific religions; after the cheer ended, my friend nudged me, and said "Yeah, fuck the Shiites!"

Joking, of course, but noticing that the message was unintentionally excluding.
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[User Picture]From: k425
2009-01-25 05:33 pm (UTC)
Am I missing something? "Fuck the Shiites" when he specifically mentioned Muslims?
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[User Picture]From: reynai
2009-01-25 06:13 pm (UTC)
It's true that "people of all faiths" or something along those lines would be more inclusive, linguistically speaking. However, it's also true that the way that it was phrased, of specifically including non-Abrahamic religions sounds, to me at least, as more of a personally-inclusive gesture, if that makes any sense.

Or, to put it another way: It's more inclusive to say "everybody", but more personal to say "you, you, you, you people over there who get ignored a lot, and you people over there who people like to pretend don't exist." Not everyone's getting pointed at, but people are being pointed to who might otherwise be totally ignored.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 10:23 pm (UTC)
But, ironically, it makes those of us not mentioned feel even more ignored. I would not ask him to drop the litany, only to add people of all faiths at the end of it.
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2009-01-25 08:37 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it's very disturbing to realize our gut reactions aren't what we thought they might be, or signify things we would rather not admit to. To be honest, instead of being blissfully happy for the past week, I've had this vague feeling of dread hanging over me, like something bad is going to happen soon (to the president specifically, not to the country in general). Not that I doubt Biden's ability to lead, if it was necessary, but there's just this small part of me saying "something's going to happen, something's going to end all this, it's too good to last."

Maybe this is my pessimist side making itself known. All I know is, he'll have to be in office a while longer with no mishaps for me to start feeling comfortable about his safety. x.x
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-25 10:25 pm (UTC)
I do worry about him as well.
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[User Picture]From: miripanda
2009-01-26 05:07 am (UTC)
Well, I thought a couple of things during the religious moments...

Like you said, he's a Christian man, and like others have said elsewhere, the sentence was intended to reach out to everyone without going into so many specifics that it dragged down the pace. I think there would have been people as put off by "people of all faiths" (i.e....the nonbelievers) or any other euphemism or expression intended to describe people who don't believe in Jesus (or Allah or the Hindu gods or the Hebrew God)

I once heard someone say that you can talk to anyone about *insert god/higher power here* as long as you don't say which god/higher power. So whenever I hear someone putting in a distinction that makes it harder for me to identify with them, I just mentally erase whatever they said and put in the undefinable "Someone" that I believe is out there.

Not all religions and spiritual practices are the same, but to my mind, they do all come down to faith - which is much more readily shared than the specific tenets of doctrine or practice.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-26 05:48 am (UTC)
As I said elsewhere, I didn't want him to drop the litany of faiths mentioned, only to also include people of all faiths. But again, it's more important to support change than to bitch about such things.
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[User Picture]From: que_sara_sara
2009-01-26 02:02 pm (UTC)
Have you seen this yet? John found it last night and I immediately thought of your post.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-26 05:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you; I had not seen it. I have great faith in his intentions. It's nice to feel that again,
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[User Picture]From: thanoslug
2009-01-26 03:19 pm (UTC)
Personally what I took the most issue with was the litany of little rhymes at the end of the "prayer" and the idea put forth in it that prior to that day that white has been unable to embrace what is right.

I have found in my life that it seems that liberals are a much more racist bunch then conservatives. Liberals are the ones that, in general, go out of their way to point out the ways that people are different and seem to work to emphasize those differences whereas conservatives work to evaluate people based merely on their own personal merit rather than their creed or the color of their skin. I'm sure that folks here will disagree with me but I merely comment on what I see around me in my part of the world.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-26 05:48 pm (UTC)
That's really a lovely thought, but it's consistently been conservatives who have said things to me like "this was a nice town 'til the coloreds moved here" and "you can't trust those Arabs." My experience has been that conservatives have been very harsh judges of people as groups.
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[User Picture]From: uplinktruck
2009-01-26 05:47 pm (UTC)
Go ahead and feel offended. The Democratic Party's stock in trade is victims. If you aren't a victim, someone will try to find a way to make you one.

President Obama's first 100 hours brought his first campaign promise to reality. He is in fact ending the war on terror. We lost.

"sweeping clean the energies of the past administration..." Give me a break.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-01-26 06:51 pm (UTC)
Whoa, bitter!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2009-02-03 02:04 pm (UTC)
He could have just added it into the litany. And kept nonbelievers. That was important.
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