Meet Prudence - aka Emily Yoffe - who writes/records an advice column/video blog for Slate.com. You can check out her other videos here. And, I encourage you to do so. It's important to see her other videos, because then you'll get a feel for the sarcastic humor that's embedded in the animated vignettes preceding Prudence's advice. But...she dared take on a pagan topic...and that means the collective pagan blogosphere must erupt in anger because she didn't treat us with respect or reverence or...I dunno...make sure to say Gerald Gardner 7 times while beating her dirty pentacle rugs with a besom and serving patchouli tea at her coven gathering. Here's the video:
Isn't it awful? To read some of the other bloggers, you would think that the animation only shows a Baphomet-styled, goat-headed guy pouring blood all over poor innocent Kent amidst a montage of other animation clearly showing how pagans are evil and silly. Except... I also saw a good deal of making the ingenue Wife of Pagan look like a silly little girl with angels circling her head and wanting to blow poor agnostic Kent up with lightning.
All in all...the first minute, the animated bit, seems not only harmless, but as though it's poking fun at both sides. When everyone is equal, I'm fine with a good ribbing - especially in animated form.
Then, on other blogs, I'm told that Prudence seems to clearly have no understanding of Wicca, that I'm missing the fact that the video implies the Agnostic-Turned-Wiccan was being treated as a Christian-in-Waiting by his wife. I'm told that Prudence's advice should have been to just force the woman to accept her husband, no matter what faith - or lack thereof - he has, and that Prudence completely missed out on saying this.
One problem...there's actually a video...with recorded words...by 'Prudence'...that one can play and listen to over and over should they choose to in order to hear what she actually said. Let's go over it together, shall we?
Prudence's first piece of advice is that, over a course of a marriage, people change, and that this should be seen as a good thing because otherwise a lack of change could lead to a stagnant, unfulfilling marriage. I can get behind that. She further goes on to say that, at the beginning of their relationship, the two accepted one another for who they were, religiously, but that Kent has 'radically underwritten' the rules of their relationship. That's true, as well. Having a change of religion, a change in one's idea of the divine, is one of - if not the most - radical changes someone can undergo in their lifetime. It does, indeed, change many aspects of how we behave. We now find comfort in different sources, different ideas, different pieces of literature and historical figures, etc. She says this radical underwriting of the rules of their relationship comes from Kent's adoption of a set of belief's the Wife deems 'sacrilegious.'
And...here's where all the hunting wildly for a pagan slight starts to fall apart. When you read some of the other blogs out there, you are told that Prudence is sympathizing with the wife and calling Kent's belief in Wicca 'sacrilegious'. I'm sorry...did we see the same video? She says if the wife considers it sacreligious.
Then we are told to get up in arms because Prudence makes a bad joke about Kent having incantations with 'eye of newt and toe of frog'. But, that is in reference to the wife's letter in which she says Kent is practicing 'white magic spells'.
The finger is pointed at Prudence, because she suggests that they need to see a therapist. What she actually says is that they might want to see a 'neutral' counselor to help them work this out. However, if what they find out is that Wicca is now the organizing principle of the husband's life, and the wife just can't get over that, then their marriage might be over.
And that's true. If the wife cannot find a way, through neutral counseling and discussions with her husband, to understand and accept this new change...then they may not have a future.
But let's look at the facts of the matter. Kent did change the rules of their relationship, and drastically so. Telling someone you've decided to go from ambivalent about the divine to adopting a faith that your church says is evil and 'of the Devil' can be quite jarring. I completely sympathize with the reaction of the wife in question, and applaud her for seeking advice. I also applaud Prudence for saying that the wife might just want to consider this one of many changes that will come in their life together, and that they should try to find neutral ground on which to work this out.
Look... Usually I can see where an argument might be made in which the pagan in the story might have been slighted, but I see nothing wrong with the video. I see something wrong with trying to spin it to look as though it is making us all out to seem 'Satanic or cultish', as one blogger put it. The animation is highlighting the letter writer's fears in a humorous way, but we should take a moment and pause and realize...those are probably the very fears the wife is wrestling with. Is my husband really a Satanist, a devil-worshipper, a practitioner of 'black' magic now, like my church might be telling me?
I think this is one "pagan news" story that shows how we will try and spin anything to be 'pagan news', as long as the topic can tangentially be misconstrued as 'anti-pagan'. I'm calling bunk and saying that this was good advice. I would hope that I would be as level-headed and encouraging of neutrality as Prudence advised.
What do YOU think, Rioters? Am I missing something in the video? Is this a pagan bashing that I'm just blind to, or is this one more example of trying to make news where there isn't any?
Love and Lyte,