I am deeply grateful to Otavio S. R. D. Maciel for translating my lecture “The Polemic Against Polytheism” into Portuguese for Anãnsi: Revista de Filosofia (ISSN 2675-8385), v. 2 n. 2 (2021), available here from the journal site, or here from Academia.edu.

On Indic Academy

November 24, 2021

I would like to speak to an issue that concerns me deeply. I am proud to be associated with Indic Academy, an organization devoted to the celebration of the ancient legacy and modern relevance of Hinduism, a world religion which stands as the largest and most powerful of the ancient polytheist traditions to have survived into the modern age, despite confronting the same forces which resulted in the elimination of other, similar traditions or their subordination and marginalization. We cannot ignore the fact that those same forces still wish to see Hinduism either eliminated altogether, or rendered incapable of that simple self-affirmation which is routinely accorded to every other tradition in the world. Any celebration of Hinduism, and every affirmation of its value and articulation of its values, is subject to attack under the elastic term ‘Hindutva’. I wish to state categorically that I find no legitimacy in attaching this term in any disparaging sense to Indic Academy. I believe in democracy, in equal treatment before the law, in equal opportunity, in the emancipation of women, in justice for marginalized and minority groups in every nation, in pluralistic societies and a multipolar, polycentric world. I find these values reflected in the work of Indic Academy, which is a non-political, educational organization, and which is no more required to answer for every wrongful tendency in contemporary Indian life, the cycle of violence, than any similar Christian or Muslim educational organization is made to answer for the worst actions or ideologies of any of their co-religionists. The only thing that Indic Academy has in common with any Hindu doing something wrong is Hinduism. But the pluralistic and tolerant history of Hinduism toward other religions on the aggregate speaks for itself, in sharp contrast to the intolerance which has been directed at it from the world’s two largest religions. I hold no hatred for Christians or Muslims, and as an ethnic Jew myself, I of course don’t hate my own people, nor do I wish to eradicate any of these traditions. Like Hindus I seek only to find a path forward in which no religion seeks the extinction of any other, either through violence or through the application of unfair social pressure or distorted representations. Indic Academy stays above politics, but constantly articulates the principles and values which would inform the most responsible and ethical participation in the public sphere. They have nothing to apologize for, and I have no apologies for my collaboration with them. In less than a year, my Center for Global Polytheist and Indigenous Traditions at Indic Academy has awarded $4,800 in grant money to worthy projects of which I am extremely proud, held an online conference participation in which was free, open and diverse, and has offered an affordable, innovative survey course on global polytheistic traditions. Our new platform, IndicaPolytheist.com, intends to be a showcase for the best in polytheist thought, and I can guarantee that everything there will reflect my own values of plurality, equality and justice, in which I know that I will have Indic Academy’s full support. I look forward to the further work that we will do together.

A coalition between revivalist polytheists and the world’s largest descriptively polytheist tradition, and which seeks alliance among all the world’s surviving Indigenous traditions, has the potential to be a sea change in the history of religious coexistence. It constitutes in itself no threat whatsoever to the world’s monotheist traditions. We who explicitly affirm the reality of everyone’s Gods should surely not be held to a more exacting standard than those who make no such concession, and who wield soft and hard power alike in advancing their faiths. It would be a foolish and costly mistake to reject this alliance on account of nothing more than slander and broad, baseless characterizations. How much easier it would have been for Indic Academy not to embrace the controversial term ‘polytheism’, so subject to misunderstanding among Hindus and everywhere else, and to disregard revivalist polytheists, a small and marginalized group. Instead they have welcomed us. This is an opportunity to shift ideas and discourses that have been as though set in stone, the kind that does not present itself every day, and it presents itself within the terms of the world as it is. The world is a complex place, especially for polytheists. Existing political polarizations don’t always fit, they were not drawn to allow space for us, and the majority traditions have no interest in allowing space for us to emerge. Let us support one another, and work together for a world in which we celebrate all of our Gods and the uniqueness and universality of all our traditions.

ICHRRF Video and News

November 16, 2021

Technical issues and time constraints at the Parliament of the World’s Religions having curtailed the ICHRRF’s program somewhat, it was decided to hold a separate event which would also be available to a wider audience. I presented an expanded version of my presentation from the Parliament. This is the video of the panel.

Additionally, I am pleased to have accepted an invitation to join the Advisory Board of the International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom. You can read more about the ICHRRF’s mission here.

IndicaPolytheist.com

November 14, 2021

IndicaPolytheist is a new platform for polytheist thought and expression, which will feature long- and short-form writing, videos and interviews.

Here’s the introduction I wrote for it.

I hope that you will visit the site often to see what’s new, and most of all that you will consider contributing some work of your own. We are open to previously published material, and will gladly link back to your site to help build your own readership.

The first ever online conference of the Center for Global Polytheist and Indigenous Traditions can now be viewed in its entirety on YouTube:

Day One

Day Two, First Panel

Day Two, Second Panel

And here you can access videos of all the individual presentations and panel discussions: Video Archives

The accompanying virtual exhibition of art by polytheist artists’ cooperative Numen Arts is also now open for viewing, and will stay up for the rest of the month.

I wish to thank all of the participants, attendees, and the entire team at Indic Academy for making this conference such a success.

The schedule is now available for the first-ever online conference of the Center for Global Polytheist and Indigenous Traditions, Polytheisms Today and Tomorrow, on October 28th & 29th. You can still register to attend at the link. Hope to see you there!

I was honored to be invited to appear on a panel at the 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions hosted by the International Commission for Human Rights and Religious Freedom titled “Indigenous Religious Traditions and a Polycentric Worldview”. Here is the text of my remarks.

Register here to attend the first ever online conference of the Center for Global Polytheist and Indigenous Traditions at Indic Academy. (Please note that the time on the registration form is just a placeholder for now.)

In addition to the papers which came in from the earlier announcement, the organizers have decided to expand the conference, adding two new sections and inviting the participation of public intellectuals, thinkers and artists in the Dialogues on Pluralism and in Polytheist Art.

In the Dialogues on Pluralism, participants will discuss the broader intellectual, social and ecological implications of the fundamental cosmogonic multiplicity entailed by the polytheist worldview, for which the world embodies a multiverse constructed by human, inhuman and divine agents of all kinds, with irreducibly many forms of organization and superimposed fabrics of meaning.

In the section on Polytheist Art, the celebration of living polytheisms at the conference will incorporate contributions in the visual arts by polytheist creators, including the participation of polytheist artists’ cooperative Numen Arts.

Those interested in participating in either of the new sections should contact me at epb223@gmail.com.

I was honored to be invited to give this lecture at the Centre for Indic Studies, which is now available to view on their YouTube Channel. My thanks to Dr. Ritendra (Ram) Sharma for his interest in my work, and to the entire team at CIS for facilitating this event.

Recently I was honored to be invited to give a guest lecture for Prof. Joydeep Bagchee‘s course Race and Hindu Reform at the Hindu University of America. My talk discussed four tactics that have been used historically to deny the existence and validity of polytheistic worship and to promote the idea of the supremacy and inevitability of monotheism. Indic Today has graciously published the revised text here.