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The free and responsible search for truth and meaning requires a public space for discourse.  Following the ancient tradition of the Greek agora and the Roman forum, the Pagan Institute invites thoughtful Pagans of all persuasions to make their case.

The conservative Pagan spectrum is broad, and for purposes of this publication, will include Libertarian economics. The editor's liberal convictions are evident elsewhere in this publication.

In the interest of balance (a classical Pagan virtue), we offer this forum for conservative and Libertarian Pagan writers to define, describe and divine the meaning of conservative Paganism. 

-----Christa Landon, ed.

In this issue:    

A Free Market Proposal for Progressive Investment by Don Chaote (Don Meinshausen)
Tube be or not tube be connected or when Bush comes to Schiavo
True conservatism is deeply liberal, by Chuck Weibel 
After Words:  More  conservative Pagans Speak Up

How to Participate in this Forum

A Proposal for Progressive Investment
By Don Meinshausen, Libertarian and columnist for Pagan Institute Report

I am a Unitarian/Universalist and an advocate of increased community and worker's control of industry, as well as doing what is possible to increase opportunities for those who have been frozen out of promotions as well as reducing pollution, increasing charitable giving and other points of a  progressive agenda.    I believe that bad institutions (the state and its corporations) that pollute, exploit people, promote war and tyranny should be boycotted.   The reverse is also true; in investing and in buying what we need companies that reflect our values should be encouraged. 

I therefore believe that Social Security privatization is the best tool to accomplish this.   As we should know by now the state does not have our interests in mind.  Rather the state and its corporate allies are addicted to controlling us and anything they can get their hands on.   The worst violation of American civil liberties came under Lincoln, Wilson and FDR, not under Reagan, Nixon or Bush, loathesome as all these characters are.
Think of your money and how it is stolen from you,  to be "invested" in Social Security where it is generally used to finance any government chicanery as well as paying claims, claims that are determined by Congress not by us.  In fact you have no legal claim to any of this money at all.  It is invested in Treasury bonds rather than socially responsible investments. 

In this country there is already over 2 trillion dollars invested in socially-aware investment funds by unions, churches, foundations, colleges and progressive people from all walks of life. 
These funds have outperformed the Dow Jones Average for decades.  They screen out firms that make their profits from war, pollution, alcohol , gambling or authoR.rian regimes.   Some also look for firms with good affirmative action programs, jobs for local poor people or new energy saving technology. You could also put money in Employee Stock Ownership Plans that could give workers a say in working conditions and to stop runaway shops.  Another idea is to give mortgages or car loans to working families below bank rates as is done by a worker owned bank in NYC.
So where do you want to have your retirement money?  Invested by Bush & Co and his cronies in Congress?   Or invested by a socially aware investment firm that will give you a far better return on your money and a good conscience?   The answer should be obvious:   Design a SS privatization plan that allows people to put in their money in safe, profitable investments that reflect our values. 
If there is to be a Social Security privatization it should have these options.  That's what a real ownership society is all about.  Imagine the power of a boycott if we could raise the amount of funds invested in socially aware investment funds so that they dominated the investment field rather than banks. Companies would come to us for funding new projects that would help our agenda of weaning the US off  of fossil fuels and autocratic regimes.  The possibilities are endless.
Many articles have spilled ink on the ethics of who owns Terri and the rights of her husband and parents.   I see the court case as an oblique attack on the right to disconnect or die.   This article addresses instead the cultural implications of how a society changes and the consequences for leadership.
   Back in the old days it is said the entire libertarian movement could fit in Murray Rothbard's living room.   Murray, exiled by Ayn Rand,  was called the Karl Marx of libertarianism.   When he started to believe it and over-managed like Ayn, he was shunned or exiled again, even though his leadership and scholarship was greater than anyone else's.
   He had interesting answers to difficult questions.   How does a libertarian society protect itself against murder?   He replied that most murders were never discovered and that most murderers were never caught.   This is especially true if one considers the neglect or "helping along" of comatose patients by relatives or health care givers.   If a person is murdered the likelihood is that it was done by someone close to them (crimes of passion in other cases).   He also noted in mysteries that it is usually the private detective or the rebel or eccentric in the police who solves the case (Colombo etc)
   Most have ignored the fact that until recently that the disconnect decision is a reflection of a new reality. The tubes connecting Terri to her life support and the wires to the media (our life support) connect us all to what was an intensely private and new delemma which somehow demands a popular judgment.
    People at the margins of life or conscious communication have always been at more risk than active, aware people.   Since we are more aware and more powerful to affect this Terri's plight it becomes a more difficult decision to make.   Even evangelicals are divided.   It is not just a practical or ethical decision.   It is a decision that evolves through culture.
   Hunter Thompson's decision to commit suicide was probably influenced by his coverage of Ernest Hemingway's decision to do so when suicide was a strong taboo.   Suicide has emerged as a worthwhile, moral option through such films as "Whose Life is it Anyway?".    Films as well as documentaries probably have more influence than the traditional Sunday Sermon which used to be our only source of learning.   And Sunday Sermons have long ago lost out to colleges, the media and especially the internet as a source of ideas on ethics.
   It is good that these issues are being discussed widely and even that there are differences.   The right to die and to be assisted in this process can not be affirmed without some guarantee that people are letting go and not being pushed.   The guarantors of these rights should not be the state and rarely the courts.   It is the individual, or failing to have a living will, the families, friends or spiritual mentors that should make these decisions.
   Tradition through art aided by our ever increasing knowledge of science and psychology will provide the framework rather than lawmakers or ministers.   Look at the living will or the videotaped will.   Memorial services with eulogies by families and friends are replacing traditional services.   Timothy Leary, always ahead of his time had his wake while he was alive and flirted with cryonics.
   Baby Boomers reaching their declining years now finally break their last taboo;  the disconnection of life.  Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" will influence the debate.   So will "Six Feet Under" based on a family owned funeral parlor and the best TV series on the air.    
    So far the voluntary euthanasia side is winning the battle since death with dignity is a better image than the caring of a vegetable attached to life support.   This is supported by the expense and burnout of people working in nursing homes who take care of bedsores etc.   If there is humanity in a comatose being how do we sense it?
   The anti-disconnect people are usually pro-life.   Even with the rise of evangelism the polls show that numbers supporting the various sides haven't changed.   One reason is the novels and films "Cider House Rules" and "Vera Drake"  dealing with active, aware people dealing with problems of incest and unwanted pregnancy and the nice people who help them solve their problems.   Are fetuses aware?    About as aware as an animal or vegetable.  
   There is an even greater challenge to the pro-life/anti disconnect forces.  Their moral dilemmas are being dwarfed by the media's ability to bring the images of tyranny, slavery, atrocity and other government programs into our homes and consciousness.   Whatever Terri is feeling there are more people in greater pain and lack of freedom who plead for our attention and Terri isn't pleading.   People in prisons, in intractable pain denied medication by our government and in third world tyrannies might question our priorities.
    As pro-life people offer adoption services they could provide free hospice care.  Better still they could shun those whose moral decisions are repugnant to them.   They should be aware that they have limited moral capital and public attention is limited as they could be shunned in turn.
    They are right in one area.  Choosing who to defend your life is much more than hiring a police agency or insurance company.  When you choose someone to choose for you when you can no longer choose for yourself it should be someone who reflects your values;  family, faith or friends.   Someone who knows and cares about you.

True Conservatism is Deeply Liberal

By Rev. Chuck Waibel, columnist and reporter for the Pagan Institute Report

July 24, 2004

Item: I’ve been troubled for a while by the feeling that the labels “Liberal” and “Conservative” have lost their meanings. I listen to politicians and others who call themselves by one name or the other, and they seem to be just tags, with no real connection to reality.

Item: I went to see the film “I, Robot,” this evening. Like many good mystery stories, the plot hinged on logic and the subtle meanings of words.

Synthesis: On the drive home, in one of those free-association flukes, I realized that the two go together.

The most basic values of a culture, what is truly “conservative,” are usually found in its religion. By this standard, certain ideas are rock-bottom conservative worldwide. In the West this is called the Golden Rule. Here are some versions, courtesy of Morgana's Observatory http://www.dreamscape.com/morgana/goldrule.htm 

  • Brahmanism- This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. [Mahabharata 5,1517]
  • Buddhism- Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. [Udana-Varga 5,18]
  • Christianity- Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law of the prophets. [Matthew 7:12]
  • Confucianism- Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you. [Analects 15,23]
  • Islam- No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. [Sunnah]
  • Judaism- What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. [Talmud Shabbat 31a]
  • Taoism- Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain and your neighbor's loss as your own loss. [T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien]
  • Wicca- An' it harm none, do as ye will. [Rede] Any energy you send out will come back threefold. [The Law of Three]
  • Zoroastrianism- That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. [Dadistan-i-dinik 94-5]

This pretty well describes Humanity’s shared notion of what is fundamentally, conservatively right. In the course of human events, it needs to be restated from place to place and time to time, which brings us to the US Declaration of Independence:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…”

These lines from the Declaration of Independence restate the same principle, and it is inarguably a basic, conservative, statement of US values. It is also one of the most forceful statements of the Liberal ideas upon which the country was founded.

“To secure these rights,” to embody our most conservative values, “governments are instituted among men.” To secure more money, and for NO other reason, business corporations are created. Clearly, privatization and deregulation of the means by which we supply our common needs and care for one another is not conservative, but some short-sighted, greedy and mean Other.

Conservatives also pride themselves on “looking at things as they are.” This is well and good, but this means that espousing customs and prejudices simply because they are old is another side of that Other. In the light of all we have learned in Science and Philosophy, with all that we now know is true that we didn’t two hundred, fifty, even ten years ago, promoting creationism and mandatory prayer in schools, to deny a woman’s right to make up her own mind on agonizing personal issues, to deny homosexuals the right to simply be the kind of human beings they are, and to make people submit to proselytizing to get help, are all violently non-conservative. They are the stingy symptoms of living in that Other’s fantasy world.

In a recent speech George W. Bush proclaimed that he wanted “a country where all people could be safe, prosperous and free.” This sounds fine, but his other proclamations and actions add “…unless you’re gay, of a different religion or otherwise not like me.” His so-called Conservatism is not at all conservative, but the same Other.

What is the core of this Other that masquerades as Conservatism? It is simply, purely, FEAR. Humans naturally fear change and differences. That’s why wars have been fought over these ideas that all cultures claim to cherish: implementing them, especially in the light of new information, means that people will have to face change and differences. They may even need to admit that they were wrong.

Worldwide, many people have lost sight of these most conservative of values. In the United States this is especially painful, since those who label themselves as Conservative are actually the farthest from their supposed ideal.


 Rev. Chuck Waibel

 "We shouldn't PLAY God, we should get serious about it!"

 After Words:    More  Conservative Pagans  Speak  Up
Conservative Pagan Forum:  A Communitarian Reply

Gods be with us all.

I think lack of years of study of political thinking is showing in what I've seen so far, here, but that's ok.  For many people the spin-doctors of the various political parties and political cults have totally obliterated the roots of  political philosophy.  Finding one's own voice and understanding is so difficult and finding a name for it is problematical.

Personally, I believe in decentralization.  I believe giant governmental bodies become too alienated and abstracted from the people they govern and naturally tend to treat with the citizenry as abstracts.  Rather than being able to understand unique conditions in the different areas of the nation, the tightly-ruled large government relies on the loudest (and wealthiest -- a tendency of all governments) voices and snippets of knee-jerk "common knowledge" plus the highly personalized voices of "experts" who always (don't we all?) have their own agenda.  It's no wonder they keep making such bloopers!!

I believe communities should care for the people within the community.  But that doing so is a mutually responsible thing. If community members need help, they should be given the actual help they need and be expected to reciprocate within their own abilities.  

Once community members are adults there will always be  something they can offer, if only, as in the case of the very ill, a job for other community members. There are all kinds of values to be considered within a community which are not monetary.  The person who is always there with a kind word and help when one is going through hard times may not be a "go-getter" in monetary ways and may occasionally have trouble due to unavoidable financial difficulties.  But since they live their lives with generosity to other community members, the reciprocity would be the community helping out.  

Some people have physical or genetic-based psychological disabilities.  It is important for the health of the community to, as soon as the problem is detected, create the needed healing and training which will bring these people into a state of ability which will give them the health and skills to join in to the common weal.

While I am not a pacifist, I believe that wars of aggression are stupid.  I prefer the Swiss concept of a citizen army.  Only for use against an invasive armed power.  Never for use against the citizenry.  Now, when I use the term "stupid", I actually am referring to a low degree of intelligence.  I have been, in my young past, a student of martial arts -- and the philosophies of those arts.  The wise and knowledgeable Warrior is aware of the ambiant and realistic factors of the greater world and will never apply more than a minimum of action for achieving a maximum of advantage.  This application to the world scene would rationally keep track of the patterns of world needs and political movements and act in minimal ways to head off problems before they begin.  Nobody can know everything.  But clear-headed and intelligent true Warriors do not flail about and attack the neighbor of the true villain which has attacked the homeland no matter how much the neighbor is disliked.

Since that is what has happened in terms of the current administration's letting Osama Bin Ladin's organization go and attacking Iraq,  there is no judgement I could possibly make other than that the invasion and devastation of Iraq is not the act of a conservative presidency but rather the behavior of an impulsive and low-intelligence thinker.  This is no Warrior.  No Conservative.  And certainly not a person of goodwill for our nation.  As well, it angers me to see our service men and women disrespected so incredibly as to be sent to a foreign country as an invading army for no purpose beyond making money for certain people in high government offices.

I believe that marriage has two significances in society.  The first is community and personal relationships.  Any deeply meaningful relationships have an impact on their community which is why most people marry within a circle of those most closely involved.   Of course, some cannot believe their lives are part of the community but are emotionally committed to each other so their tiny circle is, essentially, their community.  A marriage in this context could be religious or simply an announcement. 

The other significance, currently, of marriage is financial.  I believe that this constitutes, legally,  a partnership.  For tax and debt purposes, if two people plan to pay taxes and shoulder each others' debts, a partnership license should be enough for the government.  However, if a couple simply wishes to join their lives within their community, publicly declaring their love and willingness to live together as a couple, I don't believe that should be any of the government's business.  I believe that should be considered totally legal.  Without any government forms filled out.  I believe that all the benefits of a familial relationship should go with such a non-government-licensed relationship.  To join together in terms of financial liability and for tax purposes, such people would have to go through the government process of getting a secular partnership.  I do not believe the government has any business in the marriage situation. 

And the rules of government-licensed partnership would apply as if  they were a business partnership.

Of course, in a decentralized world, these things would probably be unneeded.

I believe that the human community has always been "raising" the children in its midst to at least equal responsibility with the parents.  This is simply true.  A community which rejects its responsibility is no less "raising" the children.  It is just doing a very bad job of it.  Unless parents are living essentially as hermits, with no contact with the outside world, the children's sense of who they are and what and who they are responsible to comes mostly from the community around them.  Anyone who has ever been the parental part of a childhood knows that at about third grade the luster has worn off the child's idea that their parents know everything.  By the time the child is fourteen the only people they respect or believe know anything are outside the parental category.  In other words, even though they are dependent on the parents, their actual values and education is coming from elsewhere.

So when young people in your area misbehave, look to your role in their lives.  Have you been absentee to your community?  Have you left it up to schools and the media to give those young people a sense of what "Good" is?  Have you modeled it for them in a way which they could admire and aspire to?   Well, own up to what you have and haven't done. 

Honesty and taking responsibility for your effect on the world around you is part of a truly conservative vision.

Speaking of which, everybody knows that when one lives in a house it is not ok to simply leave messes all over the place and trash the contents.  Particularly when that's the same house the next generation is going to live in.  With planet Earth, we're talking about something so dramatic in terms of the after-effects of the consumeristic society and the blatant spreading of poisons throughout the air, water and land that it is quite likely that all lifeforms which need the sort of range of resources that humans need will be obliterated by the desertification of all once-fertile areas.    Being conservative about Mother Earth is one of the truly deeply ethical things any Pagan can do.

So let us all be responsible, honest, far-thinking and reasoning Conservatives.

You mean I'm not alone? 

You mean I'm not the only conservative pagan ever?  I was starting to wonder.

My grandfather challenged me to read the writings of people I disagreed with.  Since then I have gone from peace activist to war hawk (in the space of about 2 years).

I am a libertarian conservative.  Some of my beliefs:

That the war in Iraq is defensive and therefore just.  Side benefits are that many Iraqis wanted it, and that it might spread Western feminism.

That it is not possible to support our troops without supporting the war.

That Communists were and are a threat (especially China right now).

That we live a basically good country.

That government regulation should be limited to keeping corporations from doing actual harm--we should not subsidize any industry.

That state welfare should be limited to those with a demonstrable, extreme physical or mental impairment blindness, chronic schizophrenia, etc), or those in "disaster areas".  I also don't mind temporary welfare for recovering addicts and etc.  If we want to assist poor children, we should do it through schools, not by paying their parents money.

That whether I have an abortion is my business.

That the War on Drugs is a waste of money.

That church and state should be separated BUT that communities should be allowed some moral authority to protect their children.

That gays should have equal rights.

That minors should not be invited to ceremonies involving nudity or intoxicants.

That racists come in many colors, and that I don't need to pay for the sins of other white Americans.  As a person of Irish (and some Cherokee) ancestry, it's pretty likely that my ancestors endured discrimination AND died as Yankees in the Civil War.

As a new conservative, I feel as though I have been lied to all my life.  I am still trying to deal with my anger.

My pagan views encompass conservatism well because I follow Sekhmet, who is a goddess of war and healing, and in whom I can see my own ideals.  I have followed her since before I was a conservative.

----- Thriving Joy 
(email addy withheld on request)

And Sandy writes,


What a relief to see this forum. I am a practicing conservative pagan. I am a member of a womyns group, (coven - as non pagans would say) and I do not fit the cookie cutter political machine that most pagans sway into.

I believe in the following:  we are all responsible for our own actions. I do believe that everyone has a right to protect themselves....yes, own or possess items to do so. War is sometimes inevitable and necessary, to protect oneself from the persons who want to see your lifestyle destroyed. 

Most pagans are pro-choice, and even though I do not want to state because it is personal to everyone, I don't think being pro-choice should be the only view of a pagan, after all pagans cherish all life right? 

I do not believe that everything in life is a right, sometimes there are things that are gifts or privilege. I believe that sometimes, if not most the time you should work hard for the things you want. I do not believe in the typical socialized system or perfect future world where we all have the same thing and everyone makes the same money...if that's the case, what's the point of getting an education or striving for more? 

I think parents raise a child not a village or "commune"ity or a government agency. We must be responsible for our children's actions! We do not live in a prehistoric nation, and most important, we are not our children's best friends, but their parents. 

So as you can see, a lot of my pagan cohorts believe otherwise, as do some of my liberal friends. But there are some people who you would never know to be pagans, and they too are conservatives..! 

Thanks for allowing my 15 minutes of fame.

(email addy withheld on request)

Are YOU 
a conservative Pagan?  

What does that mean to you?

Careful, cautious?

Reconstructing an ancient Pagan culture and religious practices?

(Conservative economics; liberal tolerance)

Free-Market Capitalism providing special rights and immunity to corporations and 
little regulation?

Monarchy and feudalism?

Governmental control of consenting sexual behavior between adults? 

Trusting the government to regulate your personal life?

Say Your Peace!

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