Aug 022010

VoPP!When Jason first invited me to write for Pagan+Politics, he asked me to cover news and topics that might be relevant to Pagans who are pacifists, but also news about pacifists in the Pagan community.

The first request was easy. What news isn’t relevant to the present-day Pagan with a persistent predilection for peacemaking? So much of what gets reported today is rife with violence, war and conflict born of obstinacy and ignorance. Even for someone like me, much more comfortable waxing philosophical-poetic than reporting in journalistic-style on national and world events, it was easy to find a plethora of topics to write on.

But news about Pagan pacifists? That request seemed a bit more daunting. One mark of the effective peacemaker, like any artist, is how effortless and natural he can make the work appear, and the dull story of peace-at-work rarely makes the news except in extraordinary circumstances. Plus, I had no “in”s with pacifistic leaders and activists in the Pagan community, and no networking ties that would help me keep track of their various goings-on. Sure, I was a peacemaking Pagan, but my pacifism, like my Paganism, has often been “solitary” and creatively subterfuged to look like, well, everyday kindness and rational living. Of course, I could set up a few Google news alerts to help me out and keep me informed. But Pagans are still only a small minority almost everywhere in the world, and pacifists likewise are for the most part considered a “fringe” political force. I don’t need to draw you a Venn diagram of exactly how big of an overlap two minority groups make in the eyes of the daily news cycle.

And that’s when my whole “active engagement in creative peacemaking” thing kicked into high gear. As a pacifist, you don’t just sit around waiting for war and violence to happen so that you can take to the streets with your cleverly-put signs and sourpuss faces. You get moving, you get active, you get creative and joyful, and you make peace out of whatever you happen to have on hand. So I began to think, “You know, if I can’t find a lot of ‘Pagan pacifist news’ going on out there… why don’t I make some?”

And ‘lo, the Voices of Pagan Pacifism project was born!

From this seed-thought of being a news-maker grew the full-fledged idea of hosting a website to showcase and archive voices from the incredibly broad and diverse Pagan community. Now absolutely anyone walking a Pagan path and engaging in peacemaking work can make the news and have their stories heard. Harold the Heathen, Danielle the Druid, Wesley the Witch — move over, Joe the Plumber, you’ve got some company.

The VoPP project seeks to highlight the voices of ordinary peacemakers in the Pagan community, while also providing resources, well-researched articles, suggestions for peace-centered ritual and practice, and a helpful directory of individual and group contact information for Pagan pacifists from all over the world. The premiere issue of VoPP, launched on Lughnasadh 2010, has already gone international, with essays from Pagans living in both the U.S. and the UK. And there’s more to come! Each month’s issue will feature an interview (check out the Interview Application page, and the next voice on VoPP could be you!), along with a variety of articles on nonviolence, history, ecology, media, and social justice. The VoPP collection of solitary and group rituals, spells and meditative practices will continue to expand, as will its network of movers and shakers in the world of practical peacemaking and activism in the secular and Pagan world communities.

But most of all, my personal hope is that the Voices of Pagan Pacifism project will help Pagans and non-Pagans, pacifists and non-pacifists alike to extend the on-going discussion about peacemaking, justice and creative civic engagement as a vital aspect of the spiritual life. I hope that the presence of VoPP and similar resources help to change the conversation around words like “peace” and “pacifism” in the same way our conversations about “feminism” and “environmentalism” have changed so greatly in the last few decades. I hope for a time when even conservatives, cynics and pragmatists can call themselves pacifists as well as feminists and environmentalists. And I hope that Voices of Pagan Pacifism can help inspire and celebrate that change.

  6 Responses to “Announcing: Voices of Pagan Pacifism”

  1. It’s an excellent project and one that’s long overdue. We’ve finally gotten in a habit of supporting our military folks and we need to show the same support for those who are conscientious objectors!

  2. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

    I am looking forward to reading more about Pagan Pacifism. Thanks for agreeing to take on such a project.

  3. I really do support the “idea” of pacifism, but in practice, rather than theory, I cannot embrace it as a lifestyle, not in this world that human beings inhabit. In movies we always see the heroic, self-sacrificing pacifist laying down and letting themselves be beaten or fed to lions or raped and murdered, all in the name of love or Christ or whatever, and in some reality distortion field try to make it appear as though the aggressors are actually affected by some sort of guilt at having been bad people. Bad people are bad people; they will hurt you, exploit you, kill or main you, all in their pursuit of sociopathic self-satisfaction, and the more you enable them, the more victims you feed them by not putting a stop to their depravations.
    No, I am sorry, but strong, safe, just societies are NOT built by touchy-feely, they are built by responsible justice, doing the hard work of holding people accountable for their actions, and defending the weak against the strong. I LIKE the idea of everybody just getting along, but I feel much more safe when somebody is there to insure they DO get along rather than get all political and play around with excuses as to why there are child soldiers raping and pillaging in rural Africa.

    • Responsible justice can take many different forms. My hope is that the Voices of Pagan Pacifism project can debunk some of the outlandish stereotypes of pacifism out there (such as some of the ones you list) by providing examples and discussions of just what actual pacifism really looks like, how it aspires to “responsible justice” in many varied and efficacious ways, how it faces the challenges of an imperfect and often violent world and rises to those challenges, overcoming them instead of acquiescing to indifference, cynicism or despair.

      I hope you head on over and check out some of the articles and interviews. I think you could learn a lot.

  4. Just out of curiosity, why is Voices of Pagan Pacifism a seperate entity from PNC? That is, the PNC has Pagan + Politics, The Juggler, and Warriors & Kin yet VoPP is seperate. How come?

    • VoPP is a private project that my fiancĂ© Jeff and I started together, but we’re hoping and happy to work with PNC and other organizations to coordinate efforts and spread the word.