Lego My Logos!

I finished Logos this afternoon by John Neeleman, and I have to say it’s a long read.  Most of that length, however,is necessary as a story vehicle.  Neeleman takes you on a walking tour of the main character Jacob’s life, from childhood until an ultimately happy ending (more on that later).  The story starts in the opulence of Roman occupied Jerusalem and ends in the opulence of Rome.  Along the way are sojourns in the barren deserts of Palestine and the lush oasises of the Levant.  The landscape itself is featured so often that it is a major character central to the plot.  The character of Jacob, a rich Jew and son-in-law of Ananias of Bible fame, goes from having everything, to having nothing, to slowly climbing his way back onto the top, very similar to Barabbas.   He even comes to a reconciliation with the Christians at the end, just like Barabbas.  However, Jacob is an emotional child through out much of the book.  He reflects a lot of men and people.  He rages when he should be calm and loses his nerve when he needs it the most.  While the loss of nerve is a realistic character trait, Jacob’s naivety and ability to be easily won over by those that have terribly altered his life is somewhat beyond the suspension of disbelief.

Logos deals not only with one man’s life journey, but also with the fictionalized lineage of the Christian faith.  Turns out the Baptists were wrong.  The story of Christ is just a made up story, pulled from tidbits of reality, the myths of the Middle Eastern world, and the Jewish belief in a Messiah.  Modern Pagans have been saying this for years.  While of course this is a figment of Neeleman’s imagination, this story is very plausible.  And, just as I always suspected, Paul is a very slimy person and a liar.  And gay.  In fact a lot of these characters come across as gay, bi, and into dominance and submission.  Of course, in reality, that’s the whole of the Roman world.  Although Jacob has three wives, one legal and two common law, he still engages in common adolescent and early adult bi-curiosity. Jacob is often put into positions of power and expected to be dominant, but he is never able to fulfill that role and constantly defers to the Alphas around him.  He may look like a bear for most of the novel, but all he really wants to be is a cub.

Neeleman never gives in to the temptation to explore the homosexuality that is constantly poking at the robes of this novel begging to get out, but he does indulge his readers in several incredibly hot heterosexual sex scenes, which is wonderfully refreshing.  Sex between Jacob and Hannah, the legal first wife, is very kosher and married.  Sex between Jacob and Maryam, his second wife, is fiery and wild, just like the sand they lie in.  Sex between Jacob and Hypathia, his third wife, is opulent and bestial.

It helps to have a small background in Biblical history, but it’s not necessary.  If you want to read related books, I suggest Agrippa’s Daughter by Howard Fast, and Dr. Hillman’s double trouble duo: Original Sin and Hermaphrodits, Gynomorphs, and Jesus.  

So, what about this ending I alluded to?  Well, the ending had such promise to go so many ways, yet in the end it went the way you could see it headed toward, which left me a little disappointed.  I had really hoped that Jacob would finally get a steel rod for a backbone, but Neeleman never gave him one.

Info From Novel Publicity–I didn’t write any of the Following stuff, just an FYI

About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of LOGOS! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on another participating blog:

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official LOGOS tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: While novels and cinema have repeatedly sought after the historical Jesus, until now none have explored what may be a more tantalizing mystery—the Christian story’s anonymous creator. Logos is a literary bildungsroman about the man who will become the anonymous author of the original Gospel, set amid the kaleidoscopic mingling of ancient cultures. Logos is a gripping tale of adventure, a moving love story, and a novel of ideas. None of this should be regarded as out of place or incompatible in a novel about Christianity’s origin. Dissent, anarchism, and revolution—and incipient Christianity was no less these things than the Bolshevik, the French or the American revolutions—inevitably have involved ideas, adventure, and romance.
In A.D. 66, Jacob is an educated and privileged Greco-Roman Jew, a Temple priest in Jerusalem, and a leader of Israel’s rebellion against Rome. When Roman soldiers murder his parents and his beloved sister disappears in a pogrom led by the Roman procurator, personal tragedy impels Jacob to seek blood and vengeance. The rebellion he helps to foment leads to more tragedy, personal and ultimately cosmic: his wife and son perish in the Romans’ siege of Jerusalem, and the Roman army destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, and finally extinguishes Israel at Masada. Jacob is expelled from his homeland, and he wanders by land and sea, bereft of all, until he arrives in Rome. He is still rebellious, and in Rome he joins other dissidents, but now plotting ironic vengeance, not by arms, but by the power of an idea.
Paul of Tarsus, Josephus, the keepers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even Yeshua, the historical Jesus himself, play a role in Jacob’s tumultuous and mysterious fortunes. But it is the women who have loved him who help him to appreciate violence’s dire cycle.Get LOGOS through Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: John Neeleman spends his days working as a trial lawyer in tall buildings in downtown Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife and children. He also represents death row inmates pro bono in Louisiana and Texas. As a novelist, his editorial model is historical fiction in a largely realistic mode, though there are hallucinatory passages that reflect Neeleman’s concern with philosophical and spiritual matters, in part a residue of his religious upbringing. He was raised as a seventh generation Mormon, and rebelled, but never outgrew his interest in metaphysical concerns.
Connect with John on his publisher’s website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads..
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Pagan Pashminas and Other “Cultural Appropriations”: Piercing the Veil, Part 3

Cultural Appropriation is a stone that gets thrown a lot in the Pagan community, often by people who are guilty of appropriating things themselves.  If you are any sort of Pagan or Heathen, particularly in the United States, chances are that some part of your religious practice is tainted by cultural appropriation.  Patti Wiggington, who most new Pagans seek advice from on (because, you know, that’s the best place to seek religious guidance), has this to say about cultural appropriation:

Personally, I don’t really care about cultural appropriations.  All cultures are guilty of it at some point.  Everybody borrows and steals each others’ ideas eventually, so it’s not really that big of a deal.  Of course, I’m not in a minority cultural group (although I’m part of a minority religious group who has appropriated, but who has also been appropriated from).  But seriously, when was the last time you had henna applied by somebody whose ancestors wore henna?  In a weird bit of reverse cultural appropriation, my Hindu relatives had me apply henna to them because they didn’t know how to do it.  Their relatives would just use red nail polish and markers–an idea that they got from Americans.

Cultural appropriation is a slur that gets spit at many Pagan and Heathen women who choose to veil.  Remember, when we use the word “veil”, we’re pretty much talking about any kind of head covering.  Some people think it’s wrong for these women to veil at all because they say that there’s no basis in Paganism and Heathenism for the practice and that these women shouldn’t borrow the practice from religions with well established veiling traditions.  Then others say that veils are a symbol of oppression, and that Pagan and Heathen women who veil are undermining the seriousness of that oppression.  Then still others say that veiling is fine as long as Pagan and Heathen women choose a new style or method of veiling. 

All of those accusations are false.  There is some basis for veiling in Paganism and Heathenism, which we’ll take an extremely brief look at.  There’s nothing wrong with borrowing practices from other religions, particularly if you’re Wiccan, because that’s the path that  most modern Pagan practice consists of.  Non-Pagan and Non-Heathen women who wear a veil aren’t all oppressed.  Many veiled women have the same freedom of choice to wear a veil as they do to not wear a veil (and let’s not forget France, where women are being coerced to not wear a veil).  The reasoning that veiling is acceptable as long as you choose a new style is ludicrous.  There’s only so many ways to tie a scarf or wear a veil.  Somebody, somewhere, has done them all.  Here again, it doesn’t really matter.  You can either see it as an offense or as flattery, but it doesn’t really matter.

Why are Pagan and Heathen women starting to veil?

This is a really good question.  There are almost as many reasons as there are women veiling.  The main reasons that have been given by the women who veil are that their God/Goddess told them to, they follow a tradition that historically veiled, it makes them feel comfortable in public, they want to be modest,  they use it as a tool in ritual, and it makes them feel sexy. 

I’m an occassional veiler.  I usually veil when I’m having a lazy hair day, don’t feel like people seeing my face, in a ritual context, or to please my partner–because veils satisfy one of his kinks. 

 I feel that when you please a partner that you’re intimately and seriously involved with that you’re pleasing your deity, because really, what’s the point of putting your all into a relationship if your partner doesn’t embody the God or Goddess for you?  I also think modesty has its own sex appeal.  Doesn’t curiosity just kill you to know what’s lurking behind a veil or under a long skirt?

While I use sex as the main reason to justify my veiling, many Pagan and Heathen women look to history and myths.  Historically speaking, many European cultures (as you may remember from Part 2) did veil.  It was common in Scandinavia, in some parts of the Celtic realms, and through out the Mediterranean.  Just like today, these women veiled for a variety of reasons, ranging from protecting themselves from the weather to honoring a Goddess who veiled, to being modest to doing it for fashion’s sake. 

Certain Goddesses, such as Hestia and Isis, were portrayed as veiled, and many adherents to these Goddesses today use this as a reason to cover up.

Covered In Light

As some of you may remember from cruising different Pagan news sites earlier this year, there was supposed to be a “Covered In Light” day in September to bring awareness to ladies who veil and who face discrimination. If you missed this, here is a helpful link to catch up:

So what happened to International Covered in Light Day?  To be honest, who the hell knows.  “Covered in Light” was originally the name of a “private” Facebook group that you had to know a secret knock to enter.  I joined the group earlier this year after reading about it on another blog. In most groups, I’m a lurker, and this group was no exception. 

At the time that I joined, the group was in a tizzy about how Star Foster infiltrated the group under false pretenses to write her article.  Then there was the controversy that brought about Covered in Light Day and the Pagan press coverage.  Shortly after that, I went out-of-town for the weekend and the group imploded.  After contacting several key people in the group, I still don’t have a clear sense of what happened.  I suppose if I didn’t have a life, I could have spent the next 2 weeks sifting through all the messages that were posted that weekend.  Some group members refused to discuss it; others were vague.  My conclusion is that Covered in Light fell victim to what a lot of Pagan groups experience–unfortunate Pagan bullshit.  For most of us, it’s an unpleasant carry over from when we participated in Christian churches.  Here is a link to the “official” statement:

I can’t really tell that many people still participated in Covered in Light Day.  I didn’t.  What was the point?  Everything had fallen apart.  I’m still a member of the Facebook group that now has a name that I can barely pronounce, but I rarely even look at the messages.  Most of the people who were in the group when I joined are no longer in the group, and the new members just don’t seem to be my type.  I guess I should quit, but I’ve been too lazy to press that button.

So, where does that leave Heathen and Pagan women?  If you want to veil, go for it.  Just be prepared for stares and discrimination from both inside your faith community and outside of it.  If you need something handy to pull out from underneath your veil when you encounter negativity, check out my Chirp Tract on veiling:

These folks cover up for sex appeal:

Passion And Soul:

Knotjokin Rope Floggers:

Tonia Brown

Just Smack Me!: