Friday, December 23, 2011

The Solstice and "Paganism" Again: Clarification

I've just had an email from a reader (and I appreciate it) who heard what I was saying in my posting yesterday about the winter solstice celebrations as an attack on "paganism."  Since that's the precise opposite of what I had thought I was communicating, I want to issue a little gloss on yesterday's statement, to assure that my comments on the (inappropriate, in my view) use of the term "pagan" in the HuffPo headline about the solstice celebrations are crystal-clear.

Here's what I emailed back to the reader who contacted me about yesterday's piece: 

But, R., I was criticizing the headline of Huffington Post's article that used the term "pagan"!  My point was--and I had hoped this was clear--that the use of the term "pagan" to describe the religious beliefs of others who happen not to be Christian is biased.  It's prejudicial.  It's absurd, especially when the Christian feast of Christmas has "pagan" roots. 
I don't think it's appropriate at all for the headline to use the term "pagan."  What this headline is calling "pagan" are other people's deeply held religious beliefs, which happen to be different from those of Christians.  And they deserve respect.
I'm sorry if you thought I meant something other than this.  I had thought I was making those points very clear.  Perhaps I'll place some kind of gloss on my blog statement in case anyone else thought I was saying the precise opposite of what I was saying.  I very much appreciate your letting me know your reaction, and I appreciate your reading my blog.  I'm sorry if I somehow miscommunicated!

I do hope these comments will make my point about the use of the term "pagan" in the HuffPo headline clear to anyone who found them confusing.

The graphic is a public notice posted in New England when Puritans controlled the governments of most of the New England colonies, condemning the celebration of Christmas as a pagan holiday.  The notice reads, "The Observation of Christmas having been deemed a Sacrilege, the exchanging of Gifts and Greetings, dressing in Fine Clothing, Feasting and similar Satanical Practices are hereby FORBIDDEN with the Offender liable to a Fine of FIVE SHILLINGS."

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