PaganSpeak topics (all courtesy of Wren's Nest) for April 2003:
Topic # 1: Are we alone in the universe?
I find it astonishing beyond any possibility of belief for anyone to imagine that, in the whole universe, life occurs only in this drop of mud we inhabit. Earth is much less significant in comparison with the whole universe than a two-person hamlet in Saskatchewan in comparison with all of North America (I write this to indicate smallness, isolation, remoteness and lack of significant impact, without intending any disrespect to Saskatchewan).
Is this Earth the only planet inhabited with intelligent life?
(Yeah. I wonder about that "intelligent" part sometimes, too!)
Actually there are probably places where, unlike on Earth, intelligent life does exist. Or perhaps intelligent life does exist on Earth, but it is not human beings: it is dolphins or some other cetaceans, or perhaps something we don't know about.
Can human beings be called intelligent? Perhaps they can in the absence of knowledge of anything else. We can�t imagine anyone with a more-than-human, super-human or trans-human intelligence. I would not be surprised if some humans called such beings non-intelligent; humans have always shown a considerable inclination to hate and try to kill anyone and anything that is different. Especially if such a being is superior to humans; that is something humans can never forgive: Socrates, Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi were such: off with their heads!
Perhaps humans are too intelligent for their own good, but not intelligent enough to do themselves and their planet any good. Perhaps humans are a mentally ill species, bent on self-mutilation and ultimately self-destruction. Perhaps it is the abuse they suffer under patriarchal religions that led humans to become a mentally ill, "borderline" species.
Is life a fluke?
Only to the extent that it is a fluke that an automobile moves; perhaps it was created just to be parked somewhere.
Are we unique?
I doubt -- or perhaps it is only wishful thinking -- that there are beings anywhere that are the same as humans, but perhaps there are, Goddess help them.
If there are other life forms out there, do you think that we shall ever meet them?
I think we have since the beginning of history; every ancient scripture is full of references to them. Angels and demons in all their immense variety in all cultures, fairies, elves, devas, gods, demi-gods... My impression, which fills me with glee, is that we ain't seen nuttin' yet...
How far into the future might that happen?
Will they find us or will we find them first?
We could not find anyone even if they showed up at our door and asked to be invited to tea. Some humans would still say that they are mannequins built to resemble living entities placed on board weather balloons for "testing"...
Do you think that the discovery of inhabitants on other planets would change our world view?
How would the existence of aliens affect the religions of this world?
Some would probably claim that the aliens were just sent by the devil to test their faith in their non-existence. In fact that argument has already been used with fossils: what would you rather believe, some old bones or the holy scriptures?
Do you think such a concept as "religion" might also be found on other worlds?
Certainly, unless they were beyond it: "religion" comes from "re-ligare", to re-establish a link that was lost with the universe, the Force, the Tao or however it's called. A race of enlightened beings who had never forgotten or lost that link would not need any set of practices designed to re-establish it. Instead of "I have found it" they could say "We never lost it". They wouldn�t HAVE a religion, they would BE it. What a blessing encountering such beings might be for us; who knows, we might even learn something; now, isn�t that a concept?...
Have we already been visited by beings from other planets?
All the time; see above.
If an alien did come calling, what might you show him/her/it about life on planet Earth?
I don�t think it would do anyone any good to have a script prepared for dealing with such beings, even if one were to prepare such scripts. Though totally useless with human beings, it might not be a bad idea to insist, especially with the military, that in any encounter with such beings no one ought to shoot anything. I have no doubt that in any shooting match human beings would do rather poorly, and we might wait to try to learn something before we shoot.
Would you like to travel to another planet?
No, I don't want to travel anywhere unless with a Star-Trek-type transporter. Too much searching at airports.
Topic # 2: Are you willing to give up some civil liberties to be safe?
No. There is no such a thing as safety. I�d rather be a dead free person than a live slave. Giving up civil liberties is a slippery slope into a bottomless abyss. Don�t do it.
Increased domestic security is on everyone's minds these days and the U.S. government has already begun implementing more restrictive security screenings than most Americans can ever remember seeing before. As the news continues to report on the likelihood of more terrorist attacks including chemical and/or biological agents, how safe do YOU feel?
Not at all.
Would you be willing to undergo searches of your person and/or belongings at airports?
They already do it whenever they please at customs, etc., so what else is new?
How about personal searches at sporting events or when entering a mall?
Becoming a police state is giving victory to the terrorists.
Are you willing to allow the government to read your email, listen in on your telephone conversations, track your web surfing habits, inquire into your membership affiliations or restrict your ability to meet in groups (say at a large Pagan festival or open circle) in order to feel more safe?
Is there a point where you would draw the line at surrendering your civil rights?
The U.S. Constitution has worked better than anything else in history -- which is not saying all that much considering the atrocities that the U.S. has committed -- at least until the coup d'�tat in 2000.
(Did you notice that the media when referring to the idea usually use the word 'liberties' instead of 'rights'?)
Yes; perhaps someone thinks it sounds more palatable or less scary that way.
Are you a little more nervous about being known as a Pagan these days?
Oy vey am I nervous! As a Pagan and a Jew (by ethnicity, not by religion) I figure I�d be among the first to go. I�ve always thought that if I had been in Europe in the early forties I�d have spit in the face of the first SS officer that came handy so as to be killed and be done with it, but many more courageous people than I am did not do that, so I don�t really know how I�d react when faced with the actual situation. Besides those situations arise gradually, not suddenly. It is said -- I imagine some perverts have actually done the experiment -- that if a frog is thrown into hot water s/he will immediately jump out of it, but if s/he's in cold water that is being heated gradually s/he will never jump out and s/he'll eventually suffer a horrible death by heat.
I guess we may find out, won't we? Goddess preserve and protect us all.
Topic # 3: What are you reading?
What was the last book(s) that you read or what favorite book would you recommend to others?
When in the bookstore or library, which section do you head for first?
Do you prefer fiction or non fiction?
Do you read mostly for enjoyment/entertainment or for knowledge/information?
What media besides books do you read?
What is your literary skeleton in the bookcase (such as comics, fashion mags, tabloids, showbiz gossip, sports)?
Perhaps some other time.