In my post on Columbia I included a link and an excerpt from an article Alison Leigh Lilly (who assures us that she is an animist polytheist not a naturist) had written a couple years ago expressing some of the misgivings that she and others had about this emergent goddess of American patriotism. She was far from alone in expressing these concerns but I chose to highlight her post as opposed to some of the others because I found it well-written, balanced and respectful though still critical of ideas she didn’t agree with, something that cannot always be claimed of other of Columbia’s detractors.
In other words I found it to be an exemplary model of how to engage in such communal discussions, which was kind of the whole point of the post. I mean, if we are going to be talking about this issue (and there’s every indication that we will) let’s do so in a mature and productive fashion. Hence why I ended the piece with a link to the Columbia devotional anthology and encouraged pagans and polytheists of color to contribute their important voices to this conversation, as they are still so often left out. You will note that at no point do I state what my personal views on Columbia are or what others should think about her, merely that I hoped “we have a lot of thoughtful, constructive, civil and even-handed discourse to look forward to in the coming weeks.”
Needless to say I was then quite surprised to discover Lilly commenting not only at my blog, but at The Wild Hunt as well where she wrote this:
Hey David — Just wanted to swing by to let you know that I fully and whole-heartedly support what you’re doing. :) A blogger recently quoted something I wrote from four years ago in a way that implied I was trying to pick fights with you and other devotees of Columbia over this current event. So just in case you saw that, please know that I’m 100% in support of your work, and this blogger is just being silly.
Wow! Where is she getting that from? I read over the post three or four times just to make sure there wasn’t something I had missed. Nowhere in there did I claim that Lilly had posted this in response to the ritual in DC or that she was picking fights with anyone, whether involved in said ritual or not. The closest I came to offering my interpretation was by saying that she found “certain aspects of this goddess’ history and character to be rather problematic” and otherwise let her words speak for themselves.
If her views have evolved since posting that I am sorry to have misrepresented her current position, but there was nothing to indicate that in the post and I certainly don’t read her blog. The post came up during a search for criticism of the goddess Columbia. I actually considered going with a paranoid screed from the anti-Illuminati camp instead, but thought that might not be in keeping with the neutral tone I was aiming for with this piece.
I wonder if this sort of thing is behind a lot of the misunderstandings and animosities in the pagan and polytheist communities. If you go in assuming the worst of someone you will inevitably find confirmation whether that was the author’s original intent or not.
And just in case anyone is confused about the title: while my father was indeed a bold man and I take after him in certain respects that is not actually why I chose it. It is an allusion to the song “When Doves Cry” by popular 80s recording artist Prince, since columba is Latin for dove and the song is about conflict over origins. In no way should this be taken as a denigration of Prince, recording artists, doves, parenthood or people who know Latin