Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deity of Your City

Welcome to "Gods and the City!" I'm your host, Anne Johnson, and I look just like Sarah Jessica Parker!

Well, maybe a little...

Okay, so maybe just a teensy weensy bit ...

All right, already! I look nothing like Sarah Jessica Parker! I didn't like that stupid show anyway.

The always fascinating Hecate posted the other day about modern city-dwelling Pagans and how they might search for an urban deity particular to their places. What a fitting way to end Pagan Values Month! Let's dole out some deities!

The ancient Greeks associated various deities with cities. We should bring back the practice, but we should find new deities who fit the personality of the cities in which we live.

Yes, I can hear you skeptics. "Now look what Anne's doing. First she re-names the constellations, then she creates a custom pantheon. That's just heretical!"

Easy does it, readership.

First of all, this site is called "The Gods Are Bored." And I'm sure you'll agree that some deities are so bored and forgotten that their names are lost to history. So let's try lighting a small bonfire, calling to these, the most bored deities of all, and re-assigning them to modern urban centers.

Why stop there? The Celts understood that deities could be very particular to even the smallest spot. A wayside well could have its own Goddess. Now, think how many of these wells have gone dry over the course of millennia. There are oodles of Goddesses out there waiting for new assignments! Invite one to your small town today!

In this spirit, and mindful that the Fourth of July is nearly upon us, I pondered the deity situation in the big city nearest to me -- Philadelphia. And it is a big-ass city.

The name Philadelphia means (in Greek) "City of brotherly love." So this metropolis is not named after a deity already.

We have a totally open playing field.

And so, after a little bit of thought in the grocery store parking lot, I turned on my car (ignition causes engine to fire, that counts as a fire), and I invoked a brand new Deity for the "City of brotherly love."

She is a Goddess who will gladly (and charmingly) wear patriotic red, white, and blue. Except on Sundays in the fall, when she will attire herself in hunter green. She will champion those who love justice and liberty, those who do not seek to rule over others but rather to work with them on a level playing field. She is an equal opportunity Goddess who welcomes to her stately bosom people of every race and ethnic origin. Her totem is an eagle, her direction is East. Her holy day is July 4.

I thought and thought about what proud name this fine Goddess should carry into the modern world.

All right. Actually the name came to me right away, because I've lived outside Philly since 1987, and I know its people.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a wild, warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Bueue, Great New Goddess of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley!

If you're wondering how to pronounce "Bueue," well, it rhymes with "queue."

Now I have given a wonderful city a Goddess whose name will be lovingly chanted at every sporting event, most political rallies, and almost every social occasion except the annual Mummer's Parade.

At times, specifically when teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants arrive in the city for football games, the Great Goddess Bueue will be loudly and continuously praised by the citizens of Philadelphia, for hours at a time!

What bored deity wouldn't jump at a chance like this?

Thalia, do you have any untitled Goddess portraits lying around? Bueue would like everyone to know how She looks!

Now, the rest of you have to get busy drawing a bored deity to your locality. Bueue informs me she will remain strictly in the environs of Philly, never straying even so far away as Wilmington.

Oh, Bueue. How I love you!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Techopagan Magic Wand

Welcome 2 da Gods r bored! Who's ready 4 da modern age? LOL.

Back when Og and Gog perfected the wheel, there were probably priests around that said it was a sin to roll things around. By the time the wheel became a fixture, poor old Og and Gog were probably sitting in the tummies of some buzzards.

Therefore, we @ da Gods r bored applaud modern tech. Keep up w/ da times! Choose what u like and use it in ur religion!

Do you have a magic wand? I do. I made it myself. To me, self-creation is the only prerequisite for a magic wand. You don't have to be an expert artisan to have a wonderful wand. If you pick up a stick that calls to you from the ground, and you don't do anything else to it but shower it with blessings, it will be your wonderful wand forever.

Last Saturday my daughter The Heir went into Philly to a place called The Hacktory. She paid ten dollars for an afternoon workshop led by a team of geeky techy types. Over the course of three hours, she made a thoroughly modern magic wand.

"I actually soddered it myself!" she exclaimed proudly upon her return.

This wand is a pencil fitted with electronic devices, an AAA battery, and an On/Off switch. When Heir draws with it and puts her other finger on the page, it emits theremin-like sounds: little beeps, squeaks, siren noises, and even recognizable tunes. It can also buzz in that very modern electronic way.

Heir is thrilled beyond measure with her creation. She made a video for Facebook, but she's very private -- she wouldn't put the video on YouTube.

Heir's pencil-theremin satisfies every TGAB requirement for a magic wand. She made it herself, she's enriched by its presence in her life, and its use dovetails with her need to be weird in the apparent world.

Even the way she learned about the workshop -- through an artistic friend she works with in the summer -- jibes with the way wand-creation is supposed to work. Sometimes we need help creating our wands, and that help should come from like-minded individuals in a comfortable setting.

So, give it up for the very model of the modern magic wand! It beeps, it squeaks, it makes its creator happy! So might it b!

Other TGAB news:

*Both The Heir and The Spare had their wisdom teeth taken out today. They are predictably wretched. Heir got the worst of it, since hers had already rooted and erupted. But Spare's not doing great either.

*There's a new way to chase down the elusive Anne Johnson on Facebook! If you become a fan of Woodstock Trading Company, you will see me listed among the fans. You can network with me through there ... I think.

ttyl,
Anne
jiggy with 21st c

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Family That Buys Useless "As Seen on T.V." Products Together Stays Together


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on this dark Sunday! Alas, found dead in his home -- Billy Mays!

I wonder what my family will talk about around the dinner table now.

It's unusual for a family actually to sit down to dinner together these days. And I must admit, we don't do it every night. My daughters The Heir and The Spare have busy social calendars. And The Spare only eats french fries and macaroni and cheese. One can't fix that every night.

Most nights the conversation at the dinner table sounded something like this:

Heir: Billy Mays is done. Vince, the ShamWow guy, is so much cooler and more 21st century.

Spare: Vince is cool, but he totally stole the SlapChop from Billy.

Heir: Yeah, but Billy's turning this whole thing into a feud. Like, Vince is trying to steal his territory or something. Billy talks too loud. He's not changing with the times....


On and on and on, as Mr. Johnson and I stare at each other, wondering what we did wrong. Our children are obsessed with the relative merits of television pitchmen.

About 30 minutes ago I was on Facebook, and Seitou posted that Billy Mays had died. For once the t.v. had the info before the Internet. But not long afterwards, the news came over the wire onto Yahoo.

The Heir was completely staggered. "I never would have said all those bad things about him if I knew he was going to die!" she exclaimed.

(Remind me to teach Heir the important lesson that everyone dies eventually, so are you going to say only nice things all the time?)

Just now the telephone rang. It was The Spare, dialing tearfully from Starbucks. "Let me talk to Heir," she said. The sisterly commiseration became quite emotional.

So now I have two daughters, one sobbing into the OxyClean, the other clutching her Mighty Putty to her breast. And there won't be anything to talk about at dinner anymore. We'll just sit there in silence, brooding over our SlapChopped salads and wiping the tears with our ShamWows.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thorough check reveals no god who rewards wealth acquisition

By Anne Johnson

After completing a comprehensive search of the Holy Database, our research team has been unable to uncover a single deity that actively encourages humans to become as rich as possible and maintain a lifestyle so lavish that it slides off the top of the scale.

We spoke to deities from the Celtic, Norse, Inca, Aztec, Chinese, Japanese, North American, Indian, and Middle Eastern pantheons. Many of these deities supported the idea of prosperity among their followers, but by prosperity they meant a modest degree of creature comfort and the probability that children will live to adulthood. The vast majority of them agreed that greed and gluttony are sinful, especially if other people in the community are unable to find basic sustenance.

We could not get an audience with YWHW, or however you spell His name. He's way too busy to see us. A quick consultation of his Users Manual revealed a certain loathing for golden statues and such that would lead one to believe that He doesn't go in much for that kind of thing. But again, we at "The Gods Are Bored" cannot speak for this overworked deity. Maybe He has changed His mind about greed and just didn't tell anyone but a few select members of His mortal leadership team.

Whatever bored God or Goddess you choose to follow, you can take comfort in knowing that your deity does not expect you to suck in more than your share of the fat of the land. Now go clip some coupons and be glad you own a functional pair of scissors. Your deity loves you just the way you are.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pray and Grow Rich

Welcome to God's boardroom! I'm the fly on the wall, Anne Johnson. And I'm barfing up a fur ball.

Before I knew I would have a full-time job, I engaged to write some reference book entries for Contemporary Authors, the encyclopedic series that paid my bills for 20 years. Now I only do a few entries here and there for pin money.

Today's entry was about Gloria Copeland, televangelist.

*urp!* Another fur ball.

I would like to know how Kenneth and Gloria Copeland managed to write more than 25 books while never getting even a tenuous grip on Christian theology. It's pretty pathetic that I, Anne Johnson -- who spent more time serving casseroles and changing baby diapers than attending sermons -- have a better understanding of the Bible than these two winners.

The research packet I got about Gloria had two articles in it about the "missionary" trips Ken and Gloria took in their $60 million private jet, their 18,000 square foot mansion, and their church's offshore bank accounts. And a Senate investigation of same.

There are so many different takes on the Bible, but it's hard to find any more repellent than "prosperity theology." Just pray and trust God. He'll make you rich! And if you don't get rich, it's because you aren't pleasing to God! Same if you get sick and Gloria can't faith heal you. You just don't believe hard enough! Pass the plate.

Faith healing is despicable. Prosperity theology is despicable. The Copeland's private jet is blasphemy. The pope's crowns are blasphemy.

Hellllooooooooooooo! Can anybody read?

Christians are supposed to be following a sandal-clad carpenter who preached from a boat to an audience on a hillside. A dude who ordered rich people to dump their wealth into the common till and live poor, concentrating on eternal rewards.

Oh, for the love of fruit flies! Why am I even bothering to write this? It's tedious! It's been said before. Again and again and again.

What I think these popes and televangelists need is a new god who better fits their theology. Now, there I think I can help. Tonight I'll wander over to the Bored God Employment Agency and find a God of Living Lavishly. I'll invite said G of LL for an interview. Lob some hardball questions, see if he's willing to help his followers pray their way to higher pay.

I guess it could be a Goddess of Living Lavishly. We don't discriminate here at TGAB. Tune in tomorrow for a frank talk with a Great Greedy Immortal.

Just to heave-ho the final fur ball, I'll say it again. Ministers of any faith who live large off the tithes of their parishioners are DESPICABLE.

(I like that word, "despicable." Just rolls off the tongue, y'know?)

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The God of Cheating Husbands

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It's Father's Day. Do you know where your spouse is?

Oh, I can't help it! When posturing politicians are exposed as crass hypocrites, I just love it!

Well, for a minute. Then I think about the loyal wife and kids left behind, and it pisses me off. Here in New Jersey, I don't have to throw stones very far to hit one of these cheating skunks.

I don't get around much, but it does seem to me that big-name politicians are disproportionately involved in extra-marital affairs. What do you think?

Well gosh. I should just take this query to a bored god, huh?

And here He comes now, smelling of Chaps cologne and bearing a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Zeus, ancient Father God of the Greek Pantheon!

Zeus (offering flowers): For you, my sweet. Oh! Is that your bedroom? Why don't we...

Anne: Shove off, chump.

Zeus: I could turn into any animal you like. Wanna get jiggy with a vulture?

Anne: Not in this lifetime, thank you. Now, stop! Going bald and sprouting feathers will not win me over! Give it up.

Zeus: Well, you scheduled the interview. I thought...

Anne: You always think. It's all you think about. If you hadn't been such a horny rodent, Jesus wouldn't have been so attractive to Your followers.

Zeus: What is it about sexual purity that people admire so much? I don't get it.

Anne: Oh, I don't know. Maybe something about having some respect for other peoples' feelings? Like, especially the people you claim to love the most?

Zeus: If it's love you want to talk about, you'll need to see my daughter and grandson.

Anne: Actually I wanted to ask you why men in power pretend to be all moral, and then go off and cheat on their wives.

Zeus: Easy! They channel me.

Anne: Get outta here! Cheating politicians are actually channeling a bored Greek deity?

Zeus: Sometimes they aren't aware it's me. They're just conscious of a feeling of elevated importance. Then it moves on to a conviction that they can get away with anything. Thereafter quickly follows the heady ambition of climbing straight to the top of the ladder, while still charming the pants off the ladies.

Anne: And all of that is them channeling you.

Zeus: I hope I don't sound immodest. Yes.

Anne: That's unethical. You shouldn't possess a mortal who doesn't ask you to fuck up his life.

Zeus: Since when have I cared about mortals' lives? I want to have some fun! I don't get around much anymore. Cut me some slack.

Anne: Oh, I'd like to cut something. Not slack. Something else.

Zeus: Pitiful mortal! PREPARE TO FEEL MY WRATH!

Anne: Oh! Zeusie would hurt pretty lil' Annie? (Flutters eyelids, looks coy.)

Zeus: That's better! Now about your bedroom... Is that a tempurpedic mattress? YEEEEOOOOOWWWWWWWW!

Sorry, folks. I'm usually very polite to visiting deities, but Zeus is an ass. I just had to boot him out the window.

Makes you wonder about the ancient Greeks. So smart about math and philosophy, and the best they could do for a God is Zeus? Pathetic.

Let this be a lesson to all you dudes out there. When your eye strays, it might not be you. It might be the Zeus within. Consult a Greek exorcist and get your butt home to the loyal spouse.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No Tithes or Offerings, Thank You

Welcome to "The Gods Are Not Yet Boarded Up!" My name is Anne Johnson. There are 525 Anne Johnsons on Facebook, but only one in Philadelphia with the same profile picture you see on your right.

Things were getting so desperate here at "The Gods Are Bored" that I feared I would have to slap some ads onto this blog just to get a little extra income. I am pleased to report that "The Gods Are Bored" will continue to be brought to you free of charge and free of subliminal messages!

Well, maybe I'll throw a few subliminalsendanneyourdoughmessages from time to time. Can't hurt. Ask any Army vet from the Cold War era.

Here's today's sermon:

Three months ago, my faerie named Princess fell from my neck onto the floor at the Vo-Tech. The only part of Princess that shattered was the little loop through which you thread a string. I took Princess to the shop where I got her, but the owner said Princess couldn't be fixed. My only option would be to wrap Princess in wire and string her up that way.

The store owner said Princess might have been sending me a message. Princess might want to stay home and guard the house.

For many, many years my family has lived under the anxiety of looming job loss. You see, Mr. Johnson is a print journalist. He has been a newspaper reporter his entire career -- 31 years to date. For more than 20 of those 31 years, we've been waiting for the axe to fall.

Instead, Princess fell. At school. And I now have a full-time teaching job.

Princess will be at home, guarding the house, while I wade into a new profession and try to sink roots into it.

Some major Goddess assistance will be needed for me to succeed. I'll be taxed to my limits (perhaps beyond) simply in pursuit of security for my family. And the way I'll have to purchase that security is by making a positive difference in 140 lives per day.

Princess has even (I hope) forecast my potential in this new profession. She fell from my neck right between two of the rowdiest students in the junior class. They helped me to find the shards of glass. I pricked my finger on one of the shards, and my finger bled.

So, not without pain, but perhaps with some cooperation in the right places, I will embark on this journey to Planet X.

My faerie Puck will be along for the ride. But only after I'm sure his string is strong enough to hold his cheeky little butt.

Thank you to all who wished me well! Maybe I should send you money!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I got the job.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Columbus Point


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," scintillating silliness for the slightly sensible! It's Solstice. Don't forget to feed your faeries.

Today I stand at a Columbus Point moment.

There's an exercise in the tutoring book I've been using at the Vo-Tech that explains what the "Columbus Point" is. Columbus had sailing charts, but he finally sailed past the very edge of the last chart ... and just kept sailing. He went beyond a point of certainty into new territory without knowing what he would find or whether he would even survive.

On Tuesday morning at 9:00 I interview for a full-time teaching position with benefits. If I get the job, it would be the first full-time job I've held since 1984.

The job comes with union membership and one of the most generous medical packages an American worker can obtain.

However, I am not trained to be a teacher. Therefore I will be observed and critiqued frequently. I will have to attend night school two days a week and Saturday mornings, in addition to creating lesson plans and grading papers and dealing with the mountain of paperwork teachers have that no parent or student ever sees.

For me, this is sailing into uncharted waters. A Columbus Point.

Depending on your point of view, Christopher Columbus was either a brave, pivotal pioneer or the destroyer of an entire hemisphere. Beyond the Columbus Point, I might succeed in a whole new career, in the midst of an economic recession, and receive the credits I need for full teacher certification. I might bond with my students and teach them how to read and write better. Or I might crash and burn under the constant scrutiny and long hours of work/classes, finding myself back at Zero a year or two from now.

Root for me, readers. I have a lot of life left, I can't make a living by writing anymore, and no one's going to pay me to blog or to raise foster kittens.

So, off I go to the Columbus Point, hoping that I will still find 60 minutes a week to make merry with all of you who visit "The Gods Are Bored."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Soggy Solstice

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," wallowing in wetness since May Day!

Never seen anything like this weather pattern in all my life. While the rest of the U.S. bakes in a stationary front, we here in the Great Blue Northeast are socked into a cold, rainy pattern that shows no sign of shoving off into the Atlantic. This morning, June 21, it's too cool for Decibel the Parrot to sit on the porch.

Nevertheless, Spare and I are going to our summer solstice ritual with our Druid Grove. There's no way we'll be able to get a bonfire lit with everything so soggy. However, we of the big, broad, flexible outlook plan to bring a Yankee candle and some matches. Outside-the-box thinking.

May all of you enjoy the solstice, say goodbye to the sun as it begins its transit back south. Take this opportunity to shed yourself of all disturbing thoughts. Give your negative baggage to the sun -- to be burnt to a crisp, never to return.

Blessings to the deities of farm and field, to the produce we reap, to the health and safety of our families and friends. May there be peace throughout the world.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Facebook? Try me now...

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," embracing the twenty-first century not because we want to, but because we have to. The moving finger writes, etc. etc.

Three or four of my ten readers have said they've had trouble finding me on Facebook. The stupid quiz I took on there said there are 878 Anne Johnsons in the U.S. Phooey to that! I'll bet there are at least 100 Anne Johnsons just in the state of Pennsylvania! I demand a recount, and there's no Ayatollah here to bar the door!

I've created a user name on Facebook. This should -- emphasis on the should -- make it easier for you to find me if you haven't already. Be sure to say that you read "The Gods Are Bored," otherwise I'll figure you're looking for some other Anne Johnson.

My user link is facebook.com/buzzard.roost

Someone had already taken "buzzard." THE NERVE!!!!

Have a nice Friday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Lunatic Fringe

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," an equal opportunity praise and worship site. If it's religion, and you've got it, we're cool with it!

Jason at The Wild Hunt recently posted about the small but highly publicized group of white racists who have appropriated Pagan worship of various Northern European pantheons, particularly the Celtic and Asatru deities. I guess the fractured logic is that these religions served Caucasians, and no Africans, in the distant past.

This is a distressing development, to be sure, but it's also indication that some bored gods are being relieved of boredom.

I can't think of a large mainstream religion that doesn't have a lunatic fringe. And by lunatic fringe, I mean people who use the religion for evil purposes. Those evil purposes almost always include bigotry, a sense of superiority based upon religious beliefs. Sometimes it dovetails with racial hatred, sometimes it casts a broader net. The guy who tattoos a symbol of Thor on his bicep might, if he lived in Afghanistan, join Al Quaeda.

Trouble is, these racist so-called Pagans get a disproportional amount of press and air time. Those of us who deplore bad behavior that reflects poorly upon our deities must exert every effort to discredit our lunatic fringe. We must also seek good press whenever we can get it. And that means, tolerance, tolerance, tolerance! If we can't do anything else right, let's at least respect every faith, creed, race, and choice of upholstery, whether we agree with the adherents or not.

It might behoove us to create some sort of provisional excommunication for people who worship our deities for the wrong reasons. I say "provisional" because I think anyone can have a change of heart and endeavor to behave better. So personally, I wouldn't heave a racist Druid to the curb permanently. I would just say, "Don't claim to be a Druid while you've got those dreadful duct tape patches on your settee! Cover those cushions properly, and then come see me."

The good news: Some gods and goddesses who were bored aren't bored anymore.

The bad news: Some people worshiping those deities are doing it for the wrong reasons.

The solution: Be respectful and tolerant yourself, and be the most vocal critic of your lunatic fringe.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bargain Deity


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," trash-picking bargain deities from the discarded waste of cultures long ago! Finally, finally, we've come to the core of Pagan Values Month to offer you the cheapest deity on the market! Bidding starts now.

This bargain deity is named Moloch. Not only is He bored, He's roundly despised by anyone who actually knows a little bit about Him. And it depends on who you believe as to how bad He is. He might just have been some ancient king, He might be a benevolent Father God, or He might be an insatiable furnace baby-eater, as depicted in the Old Testament.

I was hesitant to invite Moloch over for an interview, even though we at "The Gods Are Bored" haven't had a good deity interview in ages. It seemed prudent to me to converse with Him through prayer, telephone, or Internet.

This caution angered Moloch, but since no one has said a kind word about him for thousands of years, he started a fire in my neighbor's house, not mine. Still, he made it look like my fault, because the neighbor and I were outside gabbing, and she forgot she had something on the stove.

Come to think of it, I'll bet anything that Moloch is behind the malfunction in my electric stove. You know these modern devices. All computerized. One of the burners won't turn off. It just stays on "high," all glowing red, all the time. I had to trip the circuit breaker. Until we can get it fixed, I'll have to turn on the breaker every time I cook, and off again afterwards.

So, reader, I give you Moloch, bored god of something or other, at a 75 percent discount off his already low price. He's a good value, but buyer beware.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Something a Little Different Today

One of my students wrote a rap and gave it to me all folded up. Here are the last few lines:

Thank you Mrs. Johnson for being true
have a good summer and stay cool
I'll be happy to see you next year in this school


The rap is much longer, but I don't want to violate his privacy. So here's a response to him that I will copy and paste into an email.

My students would be surprised
how much I think about them when I'm not at school.
I wonder, what happens to them when they go home?
Are they safe? Are they happy?
I wasn't when I was in high school. Life is tough that way.

I hope my students live to the year 2200.
I hope they earn more money than they need to pay the bills.
I hope they laugh more than they cry,
and when they cry I hope it makes them feel better.

The world's a monster waiting to swallow you up,
but you just have to suck it up and keep fighting,
fly under the radar,
believe in magic.
The good die young, but so do the bad.
Take cover, keep warm, watch your back, family first.
I never thought I would like teaching school,
but poems like yours make me feel like I'm cool.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pagan Couture


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" What is the well-dressed Pagan wearing? Maybe nothing, maybe lots of stuff. But let's get real. Pagans dress like Pagans even when it's not time for Ritual.

It's still Pagan Values Month, and I'm having a lot of fun wandering off track and talking about it. Today sermon: how we clothe ourselves.

I was inspired to write this because it's Flag Day. A poobah in the Daughters of the American Revolution just called and asked me and daughter The Spare to come hand out flags in the town square tonight at 6:00.

At one time I had splendid D.A.R. clothing. Red business jackets, navy dresses, colorful patriotic t-shirts, tasteful ensembles. These items came in handy for church functions as well.

Then George W. Bush got elected president, and I became a Pagan.

Out went all the patriotic stuff. Every last piece of easy-care polyester.

I just looked in my wardrobe, and I don't have a single item of red clothing, except a polo shirt I bought at the thrift store a few weeks ago because I was going to hand out red water ice at my school's field day.

On the other hand, my closet is brimming with what I will call "Pagan clothes." I've got peasant blouses and hippie skirts, tie-dye and colorful scarves. And if you need a Tinker Bell t-shirt, well. I've got a dozen. I also own a beautiful t-shirt made by Thalia (see sidebar).

Many of my shirts have that silkscreened dreamscape imagery that has been popular for a few years and is now easily found at Goodwill. Most of my blouses have bell sleeves. Replacing that patriotic red blazer is a Druid robe, a soft brown cape made by my mother-in-law, with an oak leaf clasp given to me by my friend Celeste. A thing of grace and beauty to be sure, but it ain't Flag Day attire by any stretch of the imagination.

They say it has become more difficult to tell people's income levels and social status by how they dress. That might be true. But it is still possible to make assumptions about lifestyle and religion based on how people dress. You just don't see many Druids in polyester pantsuits. You also don't see many D.A.R. ladies in tie-dye. Ahem. It does happen sometimes, though.

Pagan couture is beautiful, artistic, often original and unique. Its wearers make statements about their confidence, their esteem for the bored gods, and their comfort with the path they have chosen. Generally speaking, this style of attire is appropriate for every occasion. As with any other line of clothing, it varies in price from the eminently affordable to the ridiculously expensive. Pagans can dress up magnificently. Or they can go skyclad, which is as affordable as it gets.

All the same, I know the difference between a Flag Day observance and a Druid ritual. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to leaf through my closet one final time to see if I overlooked anything that's even minimally patriotic.

You know what the prophets CSNY say about this. Love the one you're with. And don't throw out any clothes. You might need that sensible blazer some day. You never know who will be elected president. Might be someone you like.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

On Lifespans

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Brevity, not longevity. It's the blogger's ideal.

This is Pagan Values Month, and as usual I'm not following either the script suggested by fellow Pagans or the task I set myself -- finding bargain gods and goddesses for the savvy deity shopper.

Instead, today I again tackle a thorny issue of medical ethics. I mentioned it in a post the other day.

At the turn of the previous century, the average lifespan was somewhere in the mid-4os. Today the average lifespan of a white American is almost 80. May you live long and prosper, no matter your race or creed!

Now let's look at the burgeoning mass of information on the genome and the prospects it holds out for longevity. It is not possible, it is inevitable that medical research will find a way to prolong human life indefinitely. Disconnect a few genes associated with cell degeneration, and you could have people who live a few hundred years at the peak of health and vigor. Perhaps the only thing that will kill these people is a catastrophic accident, like falling off a cliff.

The ethical issue attached to this is staggering. Who gets to live to be 400? Rich white people? Extraordinarily intelligent or good-looking people? Favorite movie stars? Because the medical technology needed to produce longevity will be expensive, at least at first. And what about the population of the planet? Who has to die to make way for the superannuated?

To me, this inevitable and distressing medical advance should be an issue around which all religions draw rank. Granted, there are a few cultures that have no concept of the afterlife. But there are far fewer that have no concept of higher powers than mere feeble humans. What happens to religion, though, if certain people start living for centuries, rather than decades? Is this not an issue that transcends any one praise and worship team?

Would Pagans value a lifespan of 800 years? Can't speak universally, but it doesn't sound good to this casual Druid. I doubt if it would sound good to the pope either, even if he was the first to be offered the elixir of enhanced longevity.

While various religions debate each other with varying degrees of vitriol, I think it's important to suggest that we share at least one belief in common: people ought to die in a timely manner. I'm not even talking about euthanasia here. I'm talking about living an average lifespan of no more than a century and then taking a chance with the higher power of choice.

Mark Twain once said, "We cry at funerals and celebrate at births because it isn't us." That's as cynical as it gets, so let's give Walt Whitman a crack at it:

All goes onward and outward and nothing collapses
And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier.
Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.

Can anyone tell me a religion that would quarrel with that? Sometimes it's good to celebrate some common ground.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pathway Lite


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Our deities are so bored that you can give them passing lip service, and they'll love the stuffing out of you! Tithes and offerings? Pish tosh! Stuff a twenty into a jar for breast cancer research, tell yourself you're honoring Chonganda, and old Chonganda will burst with happiness!

Yesterday I was talking with my daughter The Heir about my plans to attend a Wild Hunt in October. When I started describing what happens at a Wild Hunt, she stopped me. She said, "Oh man, Mom, I can remember when you were all crazy to get to choir practice on time, pushing me and Spare out the door, scolding Spare for being slow! And all those long Sundays in church! And now look at you!"

Look at me, indeed.

I did not choose to be a Pagan because of the demands put upon me by the United Methodist Church. I sat myself down at the Lord Fairfax Spring in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia and had a mystical moment. For a blessed few minutes, a plethora of bored gods, faeries, and Sacred Thunderbirds called me unto them, and I chucked the Methodist Church rather as a shot-putter heaves his best in the Olympics.

I've said this before, but since it's Pagan Values Month, it bears repeating. One vow I made to myself when I became a disciple of the bored gods was that everything I did would be holy to them, not just what I did on holy days. In other words, I decided to back off of full immersion in any specific praise and worship team.

I go to Druid Grove on the Sabbats, and I love that. Our rituals are eclectic and easygoing, occasionally being interrupted by giggles, just as occasionally bringing people to tears. I come home from the meetings immersed in calm. Eight times a year, plus Fairy Festivals, I celebrate the Celtic pathway.

Otherwise, I ain't much of a Druid.

Can't tell you when the next full moon will be, unless I Google it. Hardly ever hold rituals at home, although I do pray at a big old oak near my house. Never visit the Druid groups on my Facebook. Haven't opened my Grove's Ning page in months.

What I otherwise try to do is just be goddessly. I read. I sing. I try to memorize poetry. I parent, and parent, and parent some more. I keep this silly web site. Most of all, I just try to be kind to people. And if I can't be kind to them, I leave them alone.

Today I gave one of my students a book to take home for summer reading. The book was for him to keep, I told him. No need to return it. He said to me, "Miss, no one has ever given me a book before."

Call it Pagan Pathway Lite, but this moment to me was magic. It honors Queen Brighid the Bright, Ogma, and all deities who direct intellectual pursuit.

The best part of this moment? I didn't have to spend half the night making a casserole or decorating six dozen cookies. I pulled a book off my shelf, I took it to school, I gave it to a student.

From all goodness grows greater good.

Now I think I'll go take a load off and watch Dr. Phil.

FROM ANNE
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Photo: Pretty girl at Lord Fairfax Spring, spring 2009

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sex and Me

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" during Pagan Values Month! Today's topic: making whoopie.

The original instructions for this synchroblog included the question: "What do you think about your relationship with sex?"

Gosh. Sex and I get along great! We've gone gangbusters for a long time! Why, if it weren't for sex, I wouldn't have the Heir and the Spare! Thanks so much, sex!

I've always enjoyed sex. I never played the field much. Sex and I have pretty much been in patio container mode for a long time.

A friend of mine once said that having sex with a spouse is like striking out the pitcher. Which in today's society leads to things like Designated Hitters, I guess.

I've been quite content to strike out the pitcher. An out is an out. Get enough of them, you win the game.

Now, this lifestyle may sound dull to you. Especially if you're young and tender. But I've been around long enough to have learned the lesson taught so eloquently by James Baldwin: The best love is unrequited.

In my fantasies and dreams, I've had sex with lots of different men. Embarrassing examples? Jesse Ventura. Lou Gehrig. Michael Steele. (Well ... that was a LOOOOONNNNNNG time ago! When he had hair and a slender figure and friends who weren't scumbags.)

Not so embarrassing? The gorgeous, studly fellow who serves Mr. Softee Ice Cream from his truck. Oh thank you, bored gods, he's back for a fourth year!

Maybe I'm a little sexually bashful, because as much as I've lusted in my heart for various fellas, I've never acted on the impulse. I just feel like some things are better left in the imagination, where no one gets hurt and the furniture remains pure of any particularly pesky stains.

My relationship to sex: Strike out the pitcher as often as possible, but it's okay to dream about sending A-Rod to the bench after three fruitless swings.

Whew. Topic covered. And just in time -- here comes the ice cream truck!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Who Cares If Big Brother's Watching?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" And welcome to you, Big Brother! Are you watching? Are you bored? Of course you are! And it only gets more boring! I'm going to swim laps in the pool!

It's Pagan Values Month, and so far we at "The Gods Are Bored" haven't addressed a single topic that we were supposed to cover. Ah, so typical. We march to our own drummer, and we're never sure we're in step even to that drummer.

Today's topic: Facebook.

It's safe to say that ancient Druids did not have to have a theological position on a computer social networking site. Nor, for that matter, does the Bible say, "Thou shalt not open a profile on Facebook." Smooth sailing for all!

I've had a Facebook for about two years, but just recently the thing has exploded. I probably don't have as many friends as most people, but it's really cool to look down a list and see:

1. Family, both my own and my husband's.
2. Friends I've met through this blog.
3. Various Pagans from various groups, including my Druid Grove (almost every member)
4. Former co-workers I haven't seen in 10 years.
5. High school chums, most of whom weren't very chummy in high school but are now nostalgic.
6. Hillbillies
7. Fictitious characters like Alvin Talking Sweater, Buddy Don Duncan, JC Christian, Patriot, and God Almighty, whose current blog post is as sick as it gets.

Oh wait! God's not fictitious. Oh well. Sorry, God. Had to find a category for you.

8. Friends of my daughters. This is a biggie. Helps me to keep in touch with what's going on around me.

Which brings me to the subject of this post.

Given the tangled nature of Facebook, it's a gold mine of connections between people. Logically, this data will be mined by someone. Or many people. And to those snoops I say, "Go ahead. Snoop away. I like hearing from my old chums, spread out across the nation. If their lives are as humdrum as mine, SNOOP AWAY!"

Is there a Pagan Value to this? Yes! Make technology your friend, so long as no one gets hurt and the furniture doesn't get stained.

Cheerio, my pets!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Guilt without the Catholicism

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," looking back through the mists of time and seeing nothing but ugliness...

... Well, those mists of time would be my own life, which was extremely difficult from ages 2 to 19.

Today my sister sent me an email. She has had a number of problems with her health. Last time I visited, I watched her consume more than two dozen different pills in the course of a day, most of them expensive vitamin supplements. These were urged upon her by a physician in Alexandria, Virginia -- not a location associated with medical crackpots.

Sis's email today was about her visit to a new doctor in Shippensburg, PA. And that doctor more or less told her she's too sick for treatment. He pointed to several things I had forgotten about completely, all having to do with brain trauma.

Sis and I were young in the 1960s, when basement staircases went straight down, and kids were plopped into walkers before they were ready to walk. I was almost five when Sis was born. Of course I resented her intrusion into the household -- maybe a little more so than most older siblings would. (I've never taken a poll on older sibling jealousy, so give your opinion freely.)

The day Sis decided to explore the basement stairs in her walker, I was standing nearby when she plummeted. As memory serves, I might have been standing close enough to grab the walker before it jettisoned Sis down a flight of stairs. As it was, I watched Sis fly through the air and land on her head with more curiosity than sympathy.

Sis's new doctor thinks that this basement-stairs-and-walker event may have damaged Sis at a tender age. I'm sitting here remembering a seething six-year-old (me) who might have been able to intervene to stop an accident.

I know, I know, six is a young age to be placed in such a position. And later on, I did serve almost as a mom for my sister, since our mother was dangerously sick all the time. But maybe I could have stopped Sis from plunging down a flight of stairs in her walker, which would be one less trauma on her list of ailments today.

Anyone have any suggestions on how I can put myself right about this? I feel bad.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pagan Values Month: Medical Ethics

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the Earth is the center of the universe, the Sun revolves around it, and up in those clouds is Heaven, where we go when we die if we're good. The Earth is 6,000 years old. It was created in six days by a bearded white guy who had a special fondness for the Middle East, specifically the region just east of the Mediterranean Sea. This same guy made all the animals from scratch, each to its own. He had to rest on Day Seven because he got bitten by a tse tse fly.

Yes. This is all a crock. Science proves it. Most Pagans are fine with science. You don't see many people going around trying to prove that a benign Goddess set in motion our fabulous biosphere by spreading her cape over the whole earth.

The vast, vast majority of Pagans support the right for a woman to choose how to use her own body. There's always room for lively debate, but the bottom line is that Pagans value autonomy.

However, there are medical breakthroughs on the horizon that may give Pagans pause.

*How do you feel about the cloning of an extinct woolly mammoth, using mammoth DNA preserved in permafrost and an elephant as a surrogate mother?

Bamp! overruled. Unfair to the creature generated by the procedure, as it will have no buddies.

*How do you feel about cloning extinct animals that are more recent, like passenger pigeons and Tasmanian tigers?

Bamp! ummm, Not bamp? We at "The Gods Are Bored" aren't sure how we feel about this. If the critters were only produced to populate zoos, well. That would stink.

*How do you feel about genetic engineering that would allow you to tweak your unborn child's DNA, giving it a higher IQ, blue eyes, and above-average athletic skills?

Bamp! Smacks of Master Race. Not bamp? Gets rid of pesky diseases like bipolar disorder? Ambivalent bamp? Many bipolar people are quite creative...

*How do you feel about nanobots, tiny robots that would be introduced into the bloodstream and would be programmed to eat cancerous tumors?

WHEW! This is just getting stickier and stickier! Yes to curing cancer, Ick to having robots in the bloodstream.

As far as we at "The Gods Are Bored" are concerned, the Big Bad Question of Modern Science is...

...

*How do you feel about medical research that may prolong human life to 400 years, 800 years, indefinitely? Sound like science fiction? Not really. Hardly more daunting than cloning a mammoth.

Anyway, the point of this little entry on Pagan Values Month is that science continues to evolve, and its pace is quickening. Best not to look to one single old book for guidance. Let's debate these thorny issues as they arise.

Pagan Values: Evaluate thorny scientific issues with all modern techniques at your disposal, while still applying ethical rules that make you personally comfortable and make all things equitable for the human race.

Tomorrow at "The Gods Are Bored": Learn how to re-create your beloved granny from a single strand of her hair.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pagan Values Month: Learning Morals from CSNY


...okay, all you 21st century people out there. We aren't talking about Crime Scene New York, okay?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" during Pagan Values Month! Teach your children well. Feed them on your dreams. The one they pick's the one you'll know by... or some such.

I've never gone in much for "Thou Shalt Not." What kind of moral code makes a long list of what you can't do? So, the Holy Bible doesn't work for "The Gods Are Bored."

The Wiccan Creed (shared by Druids), "An thou harm non, do what thou wilt," is very nice. And the more you think about it, the tougher it gets to live by it. Seriously. When you bite into a carrot, you're harming that carrot.

So, with the timeless logic and deep thinking that is characteristic of "The Gods Are Bored," I set out to find a moral code from the assorted flotsam that fills the Johnson brain.

Hello Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF CROSBY, STILLS, NASH, AND YOUNG

1. Teach your children well. (song of same name)
2. Stand up to tyranny. ("Ohio")
3. Embrace mysticism. ("Woodstock," "Marrakesh Express," etc.)
4. Employ sensible family planning. ("Love the One You're With")
5. Realize that some things are more important than money. ("Johnny's Garden")
6. Don't discriminate. ("Southern Man")
7. Tell a good story. ("Wooden Ships")
8. It doesn't always have to make sense. ("Helplessly Hoping")
9. Question all the answers. ("Wasted on the Way")
10. The One God Model has become corrupt. ("Winchester Cathedral")

So there you have it, my friends! A complete moral code, from a stoned group of rockers!

Best part is, this particular "Gods Are Bored" approach to morality seems to have worked for the ancient Celts and Norse peoples, because they sang about lots of stuff that we only read about today.

Yours from the intellectual stratosphere,
Anne Johnson, Phi Beta Kappa

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Fair Heir




At times I swear
She tries to scare.











Happy birthday, my fair Heir!
I love to see you here and there.
I love you when you're in the square.
I love you when you're in a chair.
I love you when you're on the stair.
I love you, love you, everywhere!

I love you like a teddy bear.
I love you like a breath of air.
This may seem dumb, but I don't care.
I love you Heir, beyond compare!

One fish, two fish
I love you fish,
One wish, two wish,
Long live you wish!

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