Oh how I try to avoid the general blogosphere these days. It's become an active pursuit not to know what's going on in the online Pagan community. I know it's bad blogger behaviour of me, but I don't have the spoons for it right now. For the last few weeks--months--I've just been hanging out on my own little island, and while I've started to branch out some, I was hoping to avoid the greater Pagan community for a while yet. It's not so much them as it is me. Sometimes, I just need a break. Well, the break is over, it seems. Totally by accident, I stumbled upon two blog posts on the same topics, one a reaction to the other--and now I have opinions. Bear with me here.

Wiccan elder Don Frew--in a guest spot on Gus diZerega's blog 'Pointedly Pagan'--had a few words to say 'on saving Pagan lives, ‘Wiccan privilege’ and interfaith'. Some of those words, it seems, were aimed at Reconstructionists who are not getting with the program:

"I have heard some Reconstructionists and “hard polytheists” complain they constantly have to explain that they are not Witches. Some complain about what they describe as “Wiccan privilege.” [...] All of the Witches involved in interfaith (and CoG has been doing interfaith work since 1975) have ALWAYS explained that there are other Neopagans out there.  We have usually specifically mentioned Druids and Heathens. [...] You do the best you can, but people come away with an impression, more than any specific information.  As long as the people doing the work are Witches, the impression is going to be of Witches, not of any other groups mentioned.
I am sorry about that.  I genuinely am.  However after decades of Witches sticking their necks out to explain that we weren’t Devil-worshippers or baby-murderers, the comparatively small amount of re-education and explanation that newer groups have to go through should be seen as a blessing rather than a curse.  The plain fact is that the interfaith community – and by extension, the public that all of those ministers, priests, rabbis, and imams educate – will continue to equate Pagans and Wiccans until more non-Wiccan groups step up and do both interfaith work and public relations. Pagans of all types are more welcome than we had initially ever been in interfaith circles, but non-Witch Pagans and Heathens (and anyone else) still must explain who they are and how they are different from Witches."

Now let me say before I continue that this is a good, solid, post. Frew seems like a wonderful man who does a lot of interfaith work. He seems to do it well, respectfully, and I believe him when he says he's doing the best he can in representing the full scope of Paganism. Paganism itself is s broad a term that to represent it fully takes time, a lot of effort, and a big vocabulary--not to mention an attentive and willing audience.

Sadly enough, however, the article makes clear once more that privilege is incredibly hard to distinguish when you are in the group who has it. For us Multideists/Hard Polytheists/Recons, it's not easy to go along with Pagan Interfaith talks. Our views tend to clash, and we rarely get invited. I understand the latter--the general reaction is that 'it would be confusing to so such different Traditions within the same path'--and also realize it feeds into the first. More importantly, it keeps the circle going, and it screams 'privilege'. If you reasons for not having us there, or minimizing our influence is that it might confuse the audience, you are privileged, and you are holding it over our heads. If we are not allowed to speak, or our words get undone with 'all Gods are one'-talk, we will never be acknowledged for our contribution, and we will never be invited in on the conversation. You are basically saying 'because your path is confusing (and maybe a little embarrassing) to me/us, we will just be talking about the path I/we are on. It's easier'. Yes, it is... but that right there, is privilege.

Galina Krasskova replied to the article on her blog, and I want to quote two passages:

"We show up. We show up and are confronted not only with Wiccan privilege, but with an interfaith setting in which the default paradigm to which we are all expected to bow our heads in tacit compliance is a monotheistic one, or at best monist or pantheistic. This may be fine for many Wiccans. I've noticed that many Wiccans and Pagans don't seem to believe in the Gods anyway as independent beings, but it's not for us. For us, that is impiety. For us to comply even by our silence with such an attitude of "all gods are one" is to collaborate in the further destruction of our traditions.
[...] It's far easier after all to believe everyone is the same as you, but the real test of interfaith values is how you treat people with whom you have nothing in common but a supposed commitment to your faith."

Now, I do far too little interfaith work, but I live in The Netherlands where this whole idea of interfaith seems to be largely non-existent. People either don't know or don't care, and under the law, all our religions are equal. I'm sure I could get approval if I wanted to build a temple--as long as I could fork up the money, no one would care. We don't really have panels to discuss religion, we don't have conventions to bring religious folk together. We live, and let live, and if we know in advance that we won't feel welcome somewhere, we don't show up. No hard feelings. No one is, or feels, obligated to cater to the greater Pagan community, and while that leaves some things to be desired as well, it's at least peaceful.

Interfaith matters where it matters, and I know plenty of Recons who di the work. They show up, they do the talks, but their work needs to be acknowledged to matter in the long run. Read both articles, please, and read the comments. Form your own opinions... and please, check your privilege at the door, because it does exist, and yes, it is hurtful. Even to people like me, who only deal with it in an online setting.