Archive for January, 2011

Jan 11 2011

Culture Wars – Jan 18

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Do you smudge like Native Americans? Use the trance technique of a Siberian shaman? Call on Ganesh for help but don’t know Shiva or Kali? Love Brighde although your roots are in the Congo? Some call it cultural appropriation, with a negative connotation, and others say the world’s a melting pot.  Why is crossing cultures fraught with hazards, what is cultural appropriation, and how can we learn or even borrow from cultures respectfully?

(Read before January 18 what others are saying at some of the links at the bottom of this message)

If you haven’t been to the Pagan Round Table, you are missing a wonderful experience and the chance to interact in a positive way with others from lots of varying backgrounds.

Mayflower (formerly Queenstown) Bistro, 1420 Colonial Life Boulevard (right by Dutch Square Mall, next to Melting Pot, across from one of the old Sounds Familiar stores which is now closed) plenty of parking. All are welcome. Questions, sekhmet @, or visit the Columbia (and the Surrounding Areas) Meetup at

Bring a friend, and come prepared for a great discussion, keeping in mind the group agreements posted below, March 2010.

From a Unitarian Universalist minister: When we sing an African-American spiritual during worship does that act honor another culture or is it cultural misappropriation? Can we hold a Seder if we’re not Jewish? Can our children make Native American dream catchers in religious education classes?

From an anonymous blogger: It’s the oppression, stupid.  In other words: A Japanese teen wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of a big American company is not the same as Madonna sporting a bindi as part of her latest reinvention. The difference is history and power. Colonization has made Western Anglo culture supreme–powerful and coveted. It is understood in its diversity and nuance as other cultures can only hope to be. Ignorance of culture that is a burden to Asians, African and indigenous peoples, is unknown to most European descendants or at least lacks the same negative impact.  It matters who is doing the appropriating. If a dominant culture fancies some random element (a mode of dress, a manner of speaking, a style of music) of my culture interesting or exotic, but otherwise disdains my being and seeks to marginalize me, it is surely an insult.

“Her Hidden Children” author Chas Clifton: Pagans are well-placed to realize that religion is a creative activity. Writers incorporate the influence of other writers, musicians “steal” from other musicians, actors learn from other actors—why should religious practitioners be any different.

Kulasundari Devi guest blogs at The Wild Hunt: While much of the Pagan world is involved in creating new traditions, reconstructing ancient ones, and everything in between, there are more and more Pagans who are drawn to living traditions such as the various African diasporic religions, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

Indian Donna Smith makes a passionate appeal: The protection of any Nation’s traditions is vital to its cultural survival. As has been well documented over the last several centuries, when a culture is invaded by outside forces – be they materialistic forces, military forces, or forces that claim to speak on behalf of a religion, which is not the same as a spiritual force – the original ways can and have been lost. Forever. When an old way is blended with anything foreign, it is no longer an original way. It has become bastardized – mixed, blended……forever changed.

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