Pagan Tea Times with John Halstead and Fritz Muntean

My Pagan Tea Times spilled into March — but I hope they won’t be my last for the year!

John Halstead got a lot of baby face time, as I was bouncing the baby on my knee for about half our call, and that of course led naturally to talking about our kids and families. Most of the Pagans in my life (with a few valuable exceptions) don’t have children, so it’s nice to talk to other Pagans who have coped with similar limitations and had some of the same joys. John and I talked a lot of brass tacks — how to encourage writer engagement on websites, experiences writing for different web venues, etc. — but I also enjoyed hearing about how John was first inspired to start blogging and his trip to PantheaCon. Bonus: he’s now reading my latest book!

Next, I sat down with Fritz Muntean, a colleague from the American Academy of Religion and co-founder of NROOGD back in the 1960s. Fritz often comes off as combative online, and he confesses that he loves a good argument, but in person he’s soft-spoken, good-humored, and a big fan of babies. (My little one also joined me for the end of this call!) We talked about the potential role of humor in deflating conflict, the founding of The Pomegranate (now a peer-reviewed journal of Pagan Studies), and subcultural standards of what constitutes civility on the internet, especially related to the recent article in The Nation about “toxic Twitter feminism.” Reading that article later led me down a fascinating rabbit hole of criticism and rebuttal, some of which was mysterious to me, as the article left me with a positive impression of the WOC feminist (Mikki Kendall) that most opponents claimed the article was critical of. I suppose I already knew that what’s considered offensive relies heavily on context and on how the person doing the speaking is perceived. Much to unpack there — I’m adding another item to the list of articles I wish I had time to write. I also had a good time hearing about Fritz’ background as a carpenter, his pursuit of a Master’s degree in his fifties, and his love of drag. Perhaps most surprising of all, though, I found Fritz to be an excellent active listener — not what I would have expected from our online interactions.

May all your Tea Times past and future be this productive and fun!

 

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