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The Truth Sets Pagans Free
You can't imagine how happy I was to read Mark Naymik's article "Out of the Broom Closet" [Scene, May 6]. It was written in such an unbiased way, which does not usually happen with this topic. The fact that this article went so far as to explain that, not only do pagans not believe in Satan, but gave a brief explanation as to why we do not believe in Satan, impresses me. With just a sentence or two of explanation, it does not leave it open for people to say "yeah, right," and continue to believe their misconceptions. I realize they will still believe what they want to, but at least the truth was put out there, and even if only one person grasps the concept of what pagans actually do believe, it is one less person who judges harshly.

Barbara Jahrling
Ellenville, New York

The Pagans Take Manhattan
The shock of reading such a well-researched and fair-minded article about my faith in the popular media is beginning to wear off, and in its wake is thankfulness. It's rare that our easily misunderstood religion is presented in such a balanced way.

Just one thing [in the article's closing paragraph, Naymik writes]: "It's an admirable but unrealistic stance, given the inherent problems of staging pagan celebrations in an inner-city neighborhood." Having just led a Beltane ritual in Central Park (N.Y.C.) for four hundred people that went beautifully and attracted only positive attention from passersby, I can tell you that the convenience of doing such events in the city can sometimes outweigh the beauty of doing it off in the woods, where my coven has held small festivals for the past nine years.

Small nit to pick--again, thanks for the fair shake.
Rev. Peter Bergin
Lake Circle Coven, New York City

Pigs in a Blanket Excuse
Regarding Mark Naymik's May 6 cover story "Out of the Broom Closet": I love all people that search for the inner life, the more meaningful existence under the surface of modern technology and popular culture. But, you know, enough already.

I read and re-read the article, describing the purported pagan persecution, and it continued to agitate me. I'm sorry, but my flim-flam detector is really going off here. I don't think these folks are being persecuted for being pagans. They're being persecuted for being piggies--inconsiderate piggies. The most common attributes I have noticed when interacting with some of the prouder, more vocal members of the local pagan presence are their unwillingness to partake of the higher, but simpler virtues available in life, such as tidiness, personal hygiene, and the art of developing marketable job skills and maintaining same.

While I see the article made a point of leveraging support through interviews with pagans who have real careers, I still don't see the kind of common courtesy to neighbors and other civilized niceties in too many of their less fortunate brethren. I made my first homestead in Old Brooklyn, very near Tremont, and I am far from being a rich, elitist bastard. But if I had to put up with what is described and shown in this article, I'd be pissed off too. I wouldn't be all too happy with a neighbor that justifies piles of empty non-deposit bottles by claiming they are stalled attempts at creating religious sculpture. I'd keep wondering if he was just too lazy to take out the trash.

Don't get me wrong: I have no issue with paganism itself, or any other religious/spiritual way of life. What I do take issue with is people that use such ways as a blanket excuse for annoying the hell out of the rest of the class by inconsiderate and slovenly behavior, and cultivating a taste for not doing the hard, sometimes boring stuff you need to do to make things happen.

Rich Engle
Mentor

A Knowing Wink to Billy Morris
I have always been a supporter of the local bands in Cleveland--no matter what kind of music. Fatal Charm, Fashion Police, the Szuters/Outta the Blue, EarthHeard, First Light, Sammy's Good Eye, Atomic Punks, the TwistOffs, Hostile Omish, Dia Passon, S.O.S., Hammard, Calabash, Tie Dye Harvest, and yes, even Billy Morris and his many versions of Kidd Wicked. The members of the bands and the music they played were most defiantly different in many ways, but they did have one thing in common--they were respectful! Not only to the fans, friends, and Cleveland--but to one of the biggest supporters of Cleveland and Cleveland's music scene. I was shocked to see the letter from Brian Noga of the band Viva Caramel!

I was once a weekly reader of Scene. But as times change, so do the ways people do things. I once would pick up my Scene at places like Flash's, the Akron Agora, Fagan's, or the Cleveland Cafe, and read from cover to cover. Everything from reviews of CDs (local and national), concerts, Reality Check, Mouth, letters, and Makin' the Scene. But now I pop online and look for what I need. When I read the letter from Noga, I just couldn't believe that this person would trash anyone who was trying to help (no matter if they liked them or not).

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and I think, Noga, that this was the wrong way. I, for one, will never go see your band play, no matter how good a review anyone gives you. I think you need to grow up and think before you speak! You may have made your point to the editorial staff of Scene, but you also made one to me. That point is

. . . No matter how good you are (or may think you are), first impressions are indeed lasting ones. Maybe next time you will have the common courtesy to return a phone call.

Lastly, Kudos for David Martin for his maturity and decorum! Anyone who uses a word like notwithstanding deserves it!

Dia Orlowski
Cleveland

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