In Defense of “Just Things”

I’m unusual in the scope of Millennials and Young Gen-Xers in that I don’t fetishise the “Spartan” minimalist life.  While I don’t believe that I should acquire more than I need in this life, I recognize the spirits in that which many regard as “just things – you can replace things.”  Tell me, though — can you truly replace your child, or “at least” a beloved pet when they die?

My friend Cinamon and I are both long-time antique enthusiasts, and have discussed our animistic relationship with old things:  Antiques have spirits in them, wiser and oddly protective in ways that newer things aren’t yet capable of expressing.  Hell, pressboard furniture seems to understand that it was made to be disposable within a few years, and feels very helpless when I touch it — my computer desk is possibly the oldest surviving pressboard piece I’ve met, going on twenty-five years old, and inherited from an ex who knew I needed a desk in a pinch; he’s all but fallen apart, feel weary, practically begging me to find a new desk and “pull the plug” on him — though when I do, I intend to take him apart and give his larger panels to a friend who likes pressboard panels for her mixed-media art, it just feels like the least I can do to honour him for holding together long past his life expectancy.  Antiques, though, they have stories that you can feel, wen you touch them, and if you’re especially in tune with them, they can tell you parts of their lives.

I’ve seen many people of older generations than mine, especially Americans, lament how the younger generations have little to no interest in family histories, especially heirlooms, sometimes just after going on about how our belongings are “just things” and “things can be replaced.” Well, what do you expect young people to think of family heirlooms after raising them to believe everything is just disposable, replaceable things?

This is how we lose our family histories. When our histories become intangible abstract ideas, they become lost, and our things help tell our stories as much as our words do.

While I have no intentions of having children (in fact, since my hysterectomy and metoidioplasty going on two months ago, well, bearing any is now physically impossible), I do intend to assign an heir — if only to continue the teachings of Eros — and this heir will understand the importance of what American society likes to regard as “mere things” that as disposable, replaceable, and lacking any importance to our histories. These “mere things” give our histories a tangible element that we can not only see, but touch and feel and truly understand in ways that words on a screen, or even a page, simply cannot, and can never convey.

You may say that there’s “just things,” but I say that they’re a part of my history, they say something about who I am and where I came from.

I have a ninety-plus-years-old gown – vintage 1920s, black lace; I’ve only worn it twice, but I believe with everything in me, this dress has told me that it belonged to a former incarnation of my soul. She was a performer, and she died rather young, after losing her true love; the dress was sold “back” to me at a loss to my friend who owned the shop -she told me that she felt it rightfully belonged to me- and it’s told me that we need to find our soulmate again, in this lifetime, to right the heartbreak of nearly a century ago.

My couch has told me it used to host salons with its first owner. My chair was imported from France by a wealthy woman from the area. My floorlamp has no special stories, just that it was loved for a time, until it spent many years in storage until it was purchased by the friend who owns another store where I found it, and give it the love it had missed for several decades.

You may say that they’re “just things,” but they have lives older than my own, with stories to tell and a desire to shape my own history along with me, and let me pass that legacy to my heir who will understand that they’re more than mere things, but history, souls, and capable of loving us as much as we love them.

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No, really, fuck your respectability politics

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From Wikipedia:

>> Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous, and compatible, with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for what they see as its failure to accept difference. <<

And yeah, that’s fairly straightforward.

  • Avatar

    Definition of respect:
    : a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
    : a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

    Why should we not seek that?

     

Once again, Halstead is arguing with strawmen.  No-one ever said that we should not seek respect, only that appealing to the “respectability” as defined by the status quo, excludes those who are most vulnerable.

Respectability politics is a tool of the right-wing.  Its recorded history goes back to late 19th Century affluent and Conservative African-Americans seeking to appeal to White society by distributing pamphlets in poor Black communities, telling them how to talk, how to dress, how to fucking bathe – things that those people already considered perfectly fine ideals, but were, on some levels, out of reach to them:  Enunciation isn’t going to put food on the table, when you’re trying to put food on the table, dressing Beau Brummel isn’t going to be too high on the priorities, either, and when you’re fucking dirt-poor without indoor plumbing, chances are, you’ll get your baths when you get them.  Shit like this is mirrored in Halstad’s words.

In England during the 1970s, when Quentin Crisp’s memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, was made into a BBC television film, telling Crisp’s experiences as a high-feme homosexual man (if he were a twenty-something on Tumblr, he’d probably identify as genderqueer), The Gay Times issued a scathing review, suggesting that Crisp’s memoir was have been best published “posthumously” – implying all over the place that the world would be best off without queers who don’t just fuck queerly, but walk it, talk it, live it every second of every day.  The Gay Times was endorsing a respectability politics that said to mainstream Britain, “we know you’ll only respect gays who look and act as much like heterosexual men as possible, so we’re going to act just like you in order to make you accept us.  We don’t want the flaming fairies around any more than you do.  They don’t have your respect, so they won’t have ours, either.”  Thi, too, is mirrored in Halstead’s words.

When people like John Halstead (who, it’s been long established, is only “pagan” because he says he is, but this has been put far more eloquently by others) point at people like Phelan MoonSong and say “this does not help people take Paganism seriously,” he is aligning himself with the sentiments of bourgeois-aspiring 19th Century blacks patronising to the working class blacks, and the misogyny and femmephobia of The Gay Times in the ’70s.  This is typical bourgeoisie respectability politics that Halstead is engaging in, and it is a tool of KKKapitalism and the Right Wing, designed to divide; Halstead has made it absolutely clear, in absolutely no uncertain terms, that he cares more about making paganism appeal to the status quo than he cares about challenging the status quo to accept differences.

At this point, I can no longer take Gods & Radicals seriously as an anti-Capitalism publication, for at least as long as they are giving platform to John Halstead.  When they give platform to a proponent of respectability politics, they endorse it as perfectly normal, even acceptable within “anti-Capitalist paganism,” as they define it.

This also means that, for at least as long as G&R is giving platform to John Halstead, I cannot at all trust their editor-and-chief, Rhyd Wildermuth, either.  I already have trust issues with butch gays, because they have a habit of just being far too comfortable with respectability politics, because the proponents of said almost never come for the butch gays – the butch gays are “safe,” in the politics of respectability, so to them, challenging respectability politics is just an abstract concept that they can agree to disagree on, it’s not something that actively threatens them and their existence or their right to space in activism.  He may have appropriated the “faggot” identity, but sit any two-year-old down with a picture of Rhyd and a picture of Quentin Crisp, ask that child which one the “faggot” is, and which one’s the “butch”, we all know who that child will identify as each.  (I could go on about how Rhyd has no right to appropriate the word “faggot”, when his careful cultivation of a burly, smelly, sweaty Manly image, to contrast with gay pagans and polytheists who are considerably less so, means that term does not apply to him, according to the homophobic masses, but that’s another story for another time.)  I already have trust issues with butch gays, so now it’s up to Rhyd to prove that he’s trustworthy.

The status quo is just as threatened by femme FAGGOTS, like myself, as John Halstead is threatened by any pagan he deems too “weird” to be respectable to the status quo he desperately envisions pagans appealing to.

If he continues to keep John Halstead on the G&R staff of writers, Rhyd is an enemy to ALL who are vulnerable to respectability politics.  The longer he keeps Halstead on, the more he proves he’s an enabler of all that comes with respectability politics, including racism, femmephobia, misogyny, cissexism, ableism, freakphobia, and so on.  The longer he keeps Halstead on G&R staff, the more Rhyd proves he’s an enabler of the bourgeoisie, and a total sell-out.

Respectability politics has no place in paganism — and it has no place in radical Far Left politics.

Keep Your Respectability Politics Out of My Paganism

I have made several posts here, in the past, about how I have no need for respectability politics, both explicitly and implicitly, not necessarily because I don’t care about coming off as “respectable” to others (though I admit, I really don’t care about that, either), but because it’s ideologically incompatible with so much of what I consider to be truly important.  The fact of the matter is, one simply cannot advocate for civil rights while also blaming those who are most-vulnerable to human rights violations for making the movement look bad.

As a trans person, the only love I have for gays in the 1980s is what came from the art community, especially the underground.  Why?  That was officially the decade that suburban bourgeois and -aspiring gays and lesbian “activists” decided to officially throw trans people (as well as drag queens and effeminate men – but, intriguingly, not drag kings or butch women, for reasons that ultimately come back around to misogyny, but that’s another story for another time) under the bus for “making the movement look bad.”

As a trans man who is also a male crossdresser (think about what that means, try not to hurt yourself), I have no real love for a lot of mainstream trans activists of the 1990s and early 00s, either, because they’ve proved more than willing to throw drag queens and other effeminate men under the bus because we “make them look bad,” as if there was some magical way to offer legal protections and socially normalizing trans women while also denying even just the latter to a genuine man in a dress.

Respectability politics is a con game, in the end, and it can be shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be a product of Capitalism (which is itself a product of Protestantism), and like Capitalism, really has no place amongst true civil rights activism.  Now, this is not an anti-Capitalism blog, true, though I do believe that the personal is political because there is literally nothing we can do that doesn’t somehow relate back to how we are politikon, political animals designed for and living in a highly social world (id est, not at all the same thing as party politics).  So then what happened?

Well, last night, I passed out for nearly twelve hours due to a burrito that apparently had soy in it (my big food allergy), and I woke up to see this here being shared by a friend on The Farceborg:  Pagan Priest Wins Right to Wear Horns in Driver’s License Photo.

My first thought was “Oh, dear, does he look like a tool…,” but I followed the link, anyway, because I wanted to see what he was saying his “priesthood” was and how exactly this gave him an exception on “religious headgear” grounds.  Turns out that, last year, he legally changed his name to Phelan MoonSong (ho boy…) and he states that he literally wears goathorns every day as a dedication to Pan (fair enough, I guess), and has managed to cherry-pick some texts to justify the status of “religious headgear” in the same way that a traditional nun’s habit, or a Muslim woman’s hijab, or a Sikh’s turban would be allowed as “religious headgear.”  A DL or State ID photo should accurately represent how one looks most, if not all of the time, which is why there are certain rules in place to keep people from wearing outlandish costumes that do not at all represent how they look on a day-to-day basis, and to comply with the US Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights’ granting the freedom of religion, there are specific clauses stating that only specific types of items that cover some portion of the head and neck area are allowed – otherwise, how many fifteen-year-olds would get their Restricted Driver Permit photo taken dressed as a ninja? (Be honest:  enough that we can see the sense in these rules).  In an ideal world with ideal pagan community, even the fact that MoonSong had to invoke the ACLU to get his driver’s license photo approved should have just ended with this story.

…then I read the comments, and literally the first one was John Halstead whining like the petulant tyke he is about how MoonSong is supposedly making all pagans everywhere look bad, and this isn’t “serious” paganism, anyway, and OH, HIS ATHEIST NOT-GODS, PEOPLE: ALEPPO!!!!

In case you’re still honestly wondering, I don’t have the highest opinion on Halstead.  I didn’t have a good opinion on him, yesterday, but today, it went even lower with his belligerent defense of respectability politics.  I know I’m not going to change his “mind” (I doubt anything short of a frontal lobotomy could, really), but for those of you who might be both reading this blog and somehow one the fence about “pagan respectability”, let me break down the reality of the deal here, for you:

  1. This guy’s DL photo literally won’t change anyone’s mind about pagans.  Those who know about paganism will know MoonSong does not at all represent all pagans, and those who don’t actually know about the pagan community fall into two camps: those who don’t know, yet, and the willfully ignorant.  The former camp will learn, if we teach them, and the latter cannot be taught.
  2. There is nothing about MoonSong wearing horns that ever could “set us back twenty-five years” (as another commenter said) in terms of mainstream acceptance.  Those legal battles over the last twenty five years that pagans and polytheists celebrate as milestones, such as Patrick McCollum going to court for pentacles on US Veteran headstones, have been fought and won and, with luck, will continue to be protected by those who truly value religious freedom.  As to our day-to-day interactions, see Item 1 – people either do already, or do not yet know that MoonSong is representative of only his religion and himself, OR they are willfully ignorant and will remain so.
  3. If you think that shit like MoonSong’s DL photo has some great magic(k)al ability to “make us all look like weirdos,” I highly advise you to think again, because the answer is that it does not.  The fact of the matter is, in a highly Christianised society like pretty much the entirety of Western Civilisation, pagans are already weirdos by default.  You can put Fiona Horne on Aussie telly all you want, those who believe we’re weird just for being pagan will believe that she’s just an exception.  You can put Patrick McCollum in a suit and send him to court, most people are still going to believe he’s a weirdo, albeit one who cleans up once in a while and pretend to seem normal.  You can put Stevie Nicks (at this point, it’s pretty much an open secret that she’s some kind of witch) in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, this just means she’s a double-plus weirdo, cos normal people don’t end up in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  MoonSong wearing horns in his DL photo didn’t make us look weird – we made ourselves look weird simply by being pagans (whether we accept that label or not).

I think it’s great that he was able to do this without going to court – it sets a precedent that even the highly disorganized pagan religion that he apparently practices is worthy of recognition and status.  It will now be harder for such things to be challenged, in the future.  This is a pagan community milestone worthy of some acknowledgement.  Kudos to him.

That said, it’s still not going to have much effect on our day-to-day interactions with non-pagans.  Did we suddenly become great esteemed pillars of society when the pentagram became an acceptable religious symbol on the headstones of soldiers and veterans?  Ha!  Don’t make me laugh – the only real-world effect that action had is that now soldiers can have a pentacle on their headstone, and the government will pay for it, that’s it, that is what McCollum put on a suit and tie for, not for John Halstead and Aline “M Macha NightMare” O’Brien to tokenise for their play at respectability politics (and really, the latter and her goofy-ass “craft name” really shouldn’t be fooling herself with respectability politics, but hey, I learned something else about her today that makes me question her position of relative esteem in the pagan community).  My neighbours aren’t going to start thinking I’m any weirder than they already do because of some vague associations one may imagine I have with some jackass in Maine who wears goat horns, and trust me, I’m the transvestite dwarf on the third floor who plays the harmonium and sings “Lady Stardust” at 3am from his balcony, my neighbours already think I’m plenty weird, even before you bring in the fact that I worship multiple god Who were venerated in ancient Greece.  If you don’t want your neighbours thinking that you’re weird, might I suggest pulling a Star Foster and start going to church?  Cos really, if you think this Mainenite in goat horns is enough to tarnish what you erroneously seem to think is some highly favourable public opinion of pagans, then you don’t know much about the general public at all, and that’s a fact.

When Your “Traditional Polytheism” Isn’t

  • When you ignore the historical, archaeological, and even genetic evidence of not just trade, but intermarrying between pre-Christian societies dominating Europe, and frankly everyone they traded with.
  • when you make shit up, and pretty transparently so. Like, what even is this shit? Especially when it’s so easily disproved, and, frankly, ludicrous. (See also this page from Viking Answer Lady, who has done a lot of research, for a more conversational tone.)
  • When you say shit like “white / European heritage” — there is literally no such thing. Even today, even with the European Union —a formalised political alliance, not unlike formalised alliances of ancient times— there is no such thing as this mythical “European culture” that is simply a code for white supremacists / separatists to identify eachother and attempt to veil their own racism. There is Greek heritage, French heritage, Welsh heritage, Albanian, Icelandic, Spanish, Basque, and so on. Frankly, even before WWII, most people of European nations were far kinder to those of the African diaspora, especially African Americans, than those in the US; singer, actress, and dancer Josephine Baker emigrated to France in the 1920s, and rather swiftly entered high society, marrying (white) Frenchmen. The idea of keeping “races” (which has a tellingly different definition to Americans than it does pretty much everywhere else in the world) separate is born of white supremacism.
  • When you make claims of wanting to emulate how things work with polytheists in European countries, but a modicum of research into even the reconstructionist groups in Germany (for example) show, no, you’re a LOT more racist, and so is your group.

Feel free to recommend me other items to this list. I’m sure there are other examples I haven’t thought of.

Ways Trans Activists on the Internet Enforce Cissexism

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There are two items on this list that strike me as very cis-supremacist in how they advocate address talking to and thinking about trans people.

“My gender is mine, not a mere identity!”

“My pronouns are MINE not a ‘preference’.”

The thing is, everyone, cis, trans, or otherwise, has a gender identity and preferred names and pronouns, but only cis people are socially permitted to take these things for granted by identifying these things about themselves as something somehow just self-evident and not debatable, and by being allowed to misuse terms like “identity” and “preference” as dismissals of a the identities and preferences of trans people as somehow less-important or less-valid. The problem with modifying the cis model I have just described is not just that it vehemently misuses words in the context of trans people (after all, ask cis people about their sexual preferences, especially with regards to whether or not they’re attracted to people they know to be trans, and suddenly “preferences” are something that must necessarily be respected!) but it positions the cis experience of being able to take things like their gender identity and their preferences in name and pronoun for granted as an ideal and default model that trans people should strive for.

While I certainly understand that the person who wrote the text in the image had good intentions behind it, it still betrays an inherently cissupremacist view of how one interacts with their gender in everyday life, and practically obligates trans people to imitate cis people, even if only in thought, in order to have their gender, including the identity aspect of their gender, taken seriously. This is just more “Passing! Is! Life!” bollocks presented in a form ostensibly more palatable, because it stresses aping cis minds rather than cis bodies.

What pains me most about this image going around FaceBook, which is where I found it, is that I first found it from someone who ostensibly (judging from their regularly shared links and whatnot) subscribes to radical politics, and, being a friend I even first met offline, is a person I know to care fuck all for whether or not they physically “pass”, because they are who they are, and what’s most important to them, is being happy with their own body, so while it does still bother them to be misgendered in public, it’s not something that bothers them as much as they imagine it would the person who has dedicated significant time and effort to do everything in their powers to look cis.

Where is an inherent classism in physically “passing” as cisgender for trans people. This is especially true for many trans women, where to be able to assimilate, it’s generally desired to have extensive surgeries, including facial feminisation and various body-sculpting procedures, to undo the effects of a testosterone-dominant puberty. These are procedures generally not covered by insurances, and are very hard, if not impossible, for those below a certain socio-economic class to safe for, much less afford outright. A lot of trans men will still devote practically part-time-work hours a week in the gym to masculinise their bodies, even before HRT, and though less common, it’s certainly not unheard of for trans men to seek silicone implants to create a more “sculpted” or muscular-looking appearance to their physique; gym memberships cost money, and putting them to use necessitates a privilege of time, and such surgeries are absolutely not covered by any major insurance. A whole new wardrobe, including good wigs and haircut, cost money, which may not necessarily be readily available.

There is an inherent ableism to transgender passing politics, as well. Aside from the fact that those of us whose primary income is disability allowance are at a sharp economic disadvantage, surgeries may be unobtainable for reasons of anxiety disorder. Gym use, or even exercising off YouTube channels at home, may be unattainable for physical disability reasons, sensory disorders can inhibit clothing and haircut choices.

It should also be obvious how sexism plays into the inherent politics of physically passing, as well, if only for demanding an adherence to certain mid-20th Century stereotyping on how men and women “should” look. More specifically, this is cissexism, in that it doesn’t press these expectations as hard on cis people, if at all, for the simple fact that cis people are allowed to take their gender identities for granted, allowing them more freedoms of expression (at least with cis women, where performing more masculine expressions is typically less-brutally penalised than in men, and those a society may perceive as men performing femininity).

many trans people, especially on the Internet, are very quick to call all this out, and more (like inherent racisms, which I don’t even know how to describe adequately for this piece), but when it comes to how we address our gender, including preferences of expression, in WORDS rather than body and clothing, cissexism is not only ignored, it’s encouraged!

Trans people applaud each-other for “taking a stand against cissexism” by advocating that we ape cis people n how we talk to ourselves and others about gender:

“We simply have a gender, which is inherent and ours; saying we have a gender identity is just a sneaky way of telling us that we don’t.”

“My pronouns are not a preference, they are mandatory!”

“It’s not my preferred name, it’s MY name!”

These are things we’d expect cis people to say if we pointed out to them that they, too, have a gender identity, and preferences of name and pronouns — and not without reason, because society has conditioned them to take these things for granted, so they don’t feel obligated to actually think about the reality of the situation of how identifying with the gender one was assigned at birth is, indeed, a gender identity that is no more or less valid than a trans person’s identity; nor do they feel obligated to think about how, as a cis man, one would certainly prefer to be called “he” as opposed to “she” or “ze”; nor do they feel obligated to consider how one might prefer to be called “Pat” when their given and legal name is “Patricia”, or how one might prefer their childhood nickname of “Bull” over their given name of “Nostradamus Shannon”.

I therefore posit that is is the radical position not to ape cis people, but to remind them, daily, hourly, if necessary, that they, too, have a gender identity, a pronoun preference, and a preferred name, even if these all line up with the gender, pronouns, and name one was assigned at birth. They are not allowed to take these things for granted any more than white people should be allowed to take for granted that, in the first 60+ years of Western commercial filmmaking, leading and primary supporting characters were about 90% Caucasoid, no more than cis men should be allowed to take for granted that almost every Fortune 500 name is male.

African Americans, Southern and Eastern Asian races, and Indigenous Americans have never fought racism by assimilating and not challenging white people on their racist ideas.

The disabled don’t fight ableism by letting the comforts and conveniences of the able-bodied be taken for granted without a challenge to make spaces for our needs, as well (how else do you think wheelchair-accessible toilets and handicapped parking spaces happened? Definitely not cos the chair-bound just sat around and waited for the benevolence of the walking world!)

Sexism is not fought by denying the differences of experience between how men and women are treated, but by acknowledging those differences, sharing them, and challenging men on their sexism.

The United States in the Twentieth Century is a prime example of how pretending there is no difference between the opportunities offered to different socio-economic classes just doesn’t work in fighting classism, but instead strengthens it. Only by challenging classism can it be fought.

So why do those who espouse radical beliefs in those and other areas, indeed those most likely to identify themselves as having radical politics, take such a shine to the notion that the best way to fight cissexism is by ignoring the aspects of identity and preferences, with regards to one’s gender and its expression? Wouldn’t that just be letting cissexism go unchallenged while also pressing trans people into adopting another form of passing for cis?

I find the denial of gender identity and preferences of address to be counterintuitive to accepting the lived knowledge of our experiences.

Identity is only one piece of our personal genders. We also have roles, which may vary somewhat by society, but in the West are almost universal. We also have expression, which encompasses not simply how we dress, but also mannerisms, interests, and even preferences of pronoun and name. How we identify our sexuality (which is different from sexual orientation) may also reflect another aspect of our gender; I’ve certainly been in enough conversations with homosexual and homoflexible women who prefer to identify as “gay” rather than “lesbian”, because of certain nuances and also of the subcultures associated with those terms, though some such women may also use the terms interchangeably. Gender is multi-faceted, and in many (if not most) people, is fluid and malleable, in at least one aspect, and not a static constant throughout one’s life; as a quick example, YouTube personality Chris Crocker seems to generally identify as male, but certainly has a fluid sense of gender expression.

If we let the way cis people take their gender identities and preferences of expression for granted, especially if we seek to ape that ourselves, as trans people, we’re letting cissexism win. Cissexism is more than just expecting cisnormativity in trans people, it’s also a thought pattern that idealises a cis experience as a default, and this includes the unchallenged ability to take their identities for granted. We simply cannot fight cissexism without challenging the most insidious ways it permeates the dialogue about gender.

When we say “don’t refer to it as a gender identity, it’s just gender,” we are giving preferential treatment to the cis experience by mimicking how cis people talk about their own gender identities.

When we say “don’t refer to ‘preferred pronouns’… — they are MANDATORY,” in addition to the bizarre notion that “preference,” not “optional,” is somehow the opposite of “mandatory,” we’re saying that the cis experience is preferred to the trans experience, and we are reinforcing this by mimicking the way cis people talk about their own preferred pronouns.

Trans, non-binary, and Intersex people are not the only ones with “gender identities” and “preferred names and pronouns” — cis people have these identities and preferences, as well. While it may seem appealing to mimic this denial of experience that cis people are allowed by society, doing so only reinforces cissexism by positioning it as the only valid way to think about one’s gender and expression.

A Contradiction

“Nontheistic theism” literally means “a belief about gods without gods”. No amount of doublespeak can make that anything but a contradiction. Ergo, to call “nontheistic polytheism,” in any way, “polytheism”[1][2][3 is a gross display of intellectual dishonesty, at most, or just a case of stupidity via “special snowflake” syndrome, at least.

While many words are, by nature, flexible, they still mean things. While a living language must remain relevant to remain, there’s a phrase relatively common to English:

Don’t keep your mind so open your brain falls out.

“Nontheistic theism” is therefore a performance of doublespeak to confuse and control.

One is either a nontheist or a theist. It’s like claiming to be both a giant and a dwarf, simultaneously; it is literally impossible to be both at once. While one could, hypothetically, cite the extraordinary case of Adam Rainer, the only person on record to’ve been, as an adult, classified first as a dwarf, and then as a giant, by his doctors, he never existed as both, simultaneously — first he was a dwarf, standing 3’10½”, then he was a giant at 7’8″. I have a mild form of acondroplasia, resulting in slightly disproportioned limb-to-torso size proportions, a distinct form of spinal curvature, and a bowing to my knees — but at 4’11”, I am literally an inch too tall to be a dwarf, and I am a far cry from being a giant; to call myself a “giant dwarf” may be a cute oxymoron I might say in jest amongst friends who know of that condition I have, the reality is that I am neither, but I’m closest to being the latter half of that phrase (dwarf), as I have one of the conditions commonly associated with dwarfism.

I get that polytheism is all cool and stuff, right now (and having been interviewed through a handful of pagan and polytheist outlets, I wouldn’t be surprised if my name had a tiny spark in fostering that, though there are absolutely bigger names than mine, in that regard), and certain people desperately want to be a part of our movement — can’t say that I blame them, we’re cool as shit, but like dwarfism to myself, they’re technically not polytheists, though they may use certain language of polytheism in their own spirituality (I hesitate to call a practise without real theism “religion”, but given the common euphemistic uses of “doing a thing religiously”, I’ll give people who would call it that an understanding). Hopefully, like Hot Topic in 2005, they’ll discover “the money” is in something new and different, and drop their appropriation and misuse of our movement for something else, as they acknowledge that their heart wasn’t as much into polytheism as it was into grasping for relevancy attached to their name within the greater pagan social movement.