Concerning the critics of my piece on “Humanist Paganism”, recently published on TWH, and how I responded to those critics.
I’ve been thinking about my words a little more carefully over the last few days, and I’ve consulted some friends of mine whose judgment I trust.
I am now reasonably convinced that my first responses to my critics were written in anger. This is partly because some of the critics were, at least to my eyes, obviously attacking a straw man, and doing so in a profoundly personal way: accusing me of “elitism”, for instance. It’s also the case that there’s a number of stressors in my personal life right now (which, if you don’t mind, I’ll not list here), and my frustration with those stressors was coming out in my responses. Add to this heady combination the fact that I live alone, and so I can’t turn to a friend sitting next to me to ask, “Hey, does this sound to you like it might be patronizing?”
The result is that my first responses to my critics were, shall I say, not very wisdom-loving. I have therefore removed them from my blog.
I think I’m in a better position now to understand why some critics felt aggrieved. As they saw it, I had implied that those whose paganism is primarily devotional and practical cannot be intellectual, too. Nothing of the sort was implied as far as I was concerned. But I think I see better now why some people felt that implication was there.
I do try to hold my writing to a high standard of research and rationality, although I hold my blog posts to a somewhat lesser standard than my books. My last book, CM/LF, had 284 footnotes, most of them from primary sources. OSV had sixteen pages of bibliography in it, also mostly primary sources. (Although it also had at least one colossal factual mistake, for which I’m still embarrassed). I think that reason and rationality is a spiritual thing, and that the pursuit of knowledge is one of the ways we can relate to the divine. But it’s fair to say my recent piece on TWH represented that view rather poorly.
I will take a few days, maybe a few weeks, to collect some sober second thought, and prepare a better discussion.