Registration is now open for my next class with Indica Courses, which begins October 1st and will run until May 6th.

Here is the course description:

The success of Western powers in multiple domains in the so-called ‘modern’ era has enabled the Western civilizational perspective and its self-understanding that emerged during that time to present itself to the rest of the world, not as one perspective among others, but as the universal and definitive human perspective and as the culmination of the world’s intellectual and spiritual development according to principles supposedly objective and self-evident. The hegemonic position of this civilizational perspective makes it essential that the basic elements of the Western paradigm of thought referenced by Western geopolitical power as the source of its legitimacy be grasped and critiqued. This course, using as its basis a standard, widely assigned collection of readings used to construct the ongoing and open-ended ‘Western Canon’, seeks to provide the foundation for such awareness, so that students may both appreciate the wisdom in this intensely contested tradition as well as recognizing its hazards.

Please spread the word, and I hope to see you there!

It’s always an honor to share my work with the open access journal Oscillations: Non-Standard Experiments in Anthropology, the Social Sciences, and Cosmology. (See their mission statement here.) This piece, “On Amazonian Polytheisms” is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Way of the Gods: Polytheism(s) Around the World, which is based on the course Introduction to Polytheism that I gave last year with INDICA Courses.

https://oscillations.one/Assets/Publications/On+Amazonian+Polytheisms

This Indica Course juxtaposes two epics, two soteriologies (accounts of salvation), and two ontologies (accounts of the nature of Being Itself).

Plato’s Republic is an epic of philosophy, supplementing Homer’s epics in the Hellenic tradition, while the Mahabharata is an epic bearing its philosophical interpretation within itself throughout, for those who have discerned its interpretative principles, but which manifest a comprehensive philosophical perspective especially in the Bhagavad Gita. Without presupposing that the accounts in these two texts, albeit from kindred cultures, should be the same, this Indica Course seeks to bring them, and the experiences of divinity that inform them, into a dialogue.

Guided by the question ‘What is justice?’ Plato, through his dramatic protagonist, his teacher Socrates, establishes that it is to be found in the well-ordered soul, but that in order to discern the order of the soul, one must look to the state, in which one finds this order writ large. Socrates soon finds that the state, and hence the soul, finds itself ineluctably at war, and traces this struggle, within and without, throughout the text, which reaches its climax on a battlefield, with a vision of the souls of every kind of creature facing their ultimate choice. The Mahabharata, too, concerns a state at war and the war within the soul, as seen from many sides and in countless forms. In its climax, also on a battlefield, Arjuna, called by duty to destroy those who are as close to him as his very soul, appeals to his God to save him with an account of dharma, of the nature and ground of right action in the world, seeking as well that knowledge which alone may guide him in the most fateful choice of his life.

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.