Star Foster moves to Paganistan

Star Foster, Managing Editor for the Pagan Channel at Patheos.com*, had been considering making a change in her life for several months.  When she needed to move out of a less than desirable living arrangement on short notice, she chose Minnesota.  “I have come to know so many midwest Pagans, either online or at festivals, that this area seemed like a good place to go to find community and not be entirely alone. Plus, some of my friends here made a pretty good case for the reasonable cost of living, public transportation and low unemployment in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Paganistan just had too many things that made it attractive for me to not be tempted, despite the snow,” said Ms. Foster.

With four bags and many well-wishes, Star Foster arrives in Minnesota.

Foster was living in a rural part of Georgia and was sharing a home with three other persons.  The situation was tense and came to head last week, resulting in Ms. Foster reaching out to her friends and religious community.  She had $3 in her pocket and no idea where she would live.  Local friends gave her a place to stay and helped her pack and store some of her belongings, although most she would have to give away.  “People opened their homes to me, sent me money for moving expenses, fed me, gave me rides to the places I needed to go, sent me words of encouragement, gave me their phone numbers if I needed someone to talk to, and invited me to their events. I had offers of places to stay from all over the country, and even a job offer or two.”

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Pagan Hangout: Online communities, Culture, Trolls vs Real Life

Pagan Hangouts are weekly live (and recorded for later playback) panel discussions about topics relating to Paganism hosted by Star Foster of Patheos.com.   This week’s Pagan Hangout featured Cara Schulz of PNC-News, Cathryn Orchard of the Tarot Art Project, and blogger Teo Bishop, who writes Bishop in the Grove.

This is the 10th video in the series.  You can watch the hangout live, or join in to participate, each Wednesday at 10am central on G+.

Book Review: Christian Day’s The Witches’ Book of the Dead

By Star Foster, Pagan Portal Manager of Patheos.com

I don’t generally bother to review books I don’t think I’ll care for, especially with a stack of books I actually want to read waiting on me. Not being Christian Day’s biggest fan, I was reluctant to read The Witches’ Book of the Dead but I was intrigued by some of the reviews as much as I was repelled by others. So I read it, and here’s my opinion of it. Make of it what you will.

The Witches’ Book of the Dead
Christian Day
Weiser Book
$14.96
288 pages
.
.

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GOP Presidential candidate impresses with pro-Pagan stance

If you are a fiscal liberal and wish for more governmental intervention in your daily life, then GOP Presidential hopeful Johnson is not the candidate for you.  If, however, you are like most Americans and are looking for a President who leans more socially liberal/fiscally conservative you may want to give Johnson a further look.  Couple this view with an unabashed pro-Pagan, pro-human rights outlook and clear openness to alternative views on a whole host of issues and you may have as close to an ideal candidate for President as the Pagan community has yet seen.

Last night’s video conference between Gov. Johnson and Pagan and Hindu media was unusual and groundbreaking.  Unlike most every other candidate for political office at any level, Johnson not only agreed to speak publicly with Pagans, he promoted the event openly on his official Google+ page.   In talking with other Pagan media after the conference, many of us related personal experiences with politicians, even those sympathetic to us in private, who refuse to be seen speaking with us in public.   They don’t want an association with ‘people like us’ to damage their credibility and truth to tell, they don’t care enough about our concerns to address them.  This was not the case with Johnson.  During the interview he showed no discomfort addressing issues specific to our community and never flinched from saying the word Pagan.  An example of how supportive Gov. Johnson is to Pagan rights, and basic human rights, can be summed up in a message he had for Pagans and Wiccans serving in the US military,“It should be about equality, it’s not, and I appreciate their service  even though you are not being treated equally.”

It could be easy to dismiss Johnson’s decision in speaking with Pagans while seeking election as the actions of an unknown candidate low in the polls, but that would miss the mark.  Johnson is a successful two-term Governor of New Mexico and is the only GOP candidate who scores positive approval ratings in his home state.  He is not a ‘nothing’ candidate, but a qualified candidate with executive level experience.  What has hampered his candidacy is the mainstream medias’ inexplicable exclusion of Johnson from televised debates.  They have set up criteria that bars Johnson’s inclusion in the debates, a candidate must reach 2% in their polls, but ensures he can never meet that bar by excluding him as an option in their polls.  This sets up a scenario where Johnson is a longshot for the GOP nomination, unless people vote for him in the GOP primaries.  So while we finally have a Presidential candidate who is willing to listen to Pagans and supports us on many issues important to our community, we may never have the opportunity to vote for him.  What makes it even more bittersweet for some Pagans is that such an outspoken candidate for Pagan rights is running on the Republican ticket, not Democratic.

Click HERE to watch the video conference with Gov. Johnson courtesy of KeithBarrett.tv.

A full transcript is available at the Staff of Asclepius blog.

The hour and a half interview covered a wide range of questions about GLBT rights, Pagan military chaplains, raw milk, teaching yoga in schools, TSA and the Patriot Act, economic, and environmental concerns.  Many of the questions were submitted by Pagan community leaders like Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and by your average Pagan on the street.    Below are just a few of the highlights from the hour and half Q&A with Gov. Johnson, but I strongly encourage everyone to view the entire interview.

Cara Schulz, PMC-MN:  It is commonly thought in the Pagan community that Republican candidates are hostile to minority religions such as ours.  What message would you like to get across to Pagan voters about how you would represent them if elected president?

Johnson:  There should be a separation of church and state.  I happen to think the world looks down on Republicans for their social conservative views which include religion in government.

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Faith and Spirituality Site Experiences Record Growth

by Tasha-Rose Mirick

Patheos.com recently exceeded one million unique viewers to the website for the first time in it’s history as the site continues to experience monthly growth. Patheos is the premiere source for dialogue on matters of faith, belief and religion in the world today. Says Star Foster, Manager of the Pagan Portal at Patheos, of the site, “I’m incredibly proud of how much we’ve grown with such a small dedicated staff.”

Leo Brunnick, Patheos CEO, says of the growth the site has experienced, “I think the growth of Patheos is a product of the appetite that exists in this country for reasoned, honest conversations about faith.” He went on to add, “Patheos is home to many of the most important and respected writers in the world of religion today, and we’re adding new voices to the mix on a weekly basis.”

Some of the writers Brunnick refers to include Sacred Harvest Festival guest presenter for 2011, Crystal Blanton as well as The Wild Hunt and Gus diZerega and PNC’s very own Cara Schulz.

Patheos isn’t just a forum for Pagan voices, however, “It’s critical to Patheos’ mission that the site reflects the rich religious diversity of the country, so we’re continually adding new resources, “ Brunnick said. Recently Patheos launched a Progressive Christian Portal, selections to the World Religions Library in addition to maintaining the Pagan Portal.

Star Foster

“Who would have thought such a diverse site with so many diverse viewpoints would grow so fast? I’m proud of the work we do and honored to work with really wonderful people from faiths quite different from my own. I have a lot of hope for the future and ambitious plans for the Pagan Portal as we continue to grow. We couldn’t have gotten this far without really terrific Pagan writers and loyal readers.” Says Foster

Patheos.com was founded in 2008 and features many of the world’s best writers and bloggers on religion, faith and spirituality. The website’s focus is to be a hub for information for people to learn about different belief systems as well as to connect others who share similar faiths to facilitate honest discussions on the most debated topics of our day.