Friday, November 09, 2007

You Never Know

It's odd, I'd have thought that Brown would have several active and public Pagan groups.

And, I know that they're young, but it would be nice if these students didn't feel the need to say that witches don't eat babies and that Wiccans are their own worst enemies. Our own worst enemies would be the patriarchy. Just sayin.

Of course, other people have no excuse. Kali on a Klondike Bar, would you just stop it? Because it just gives credence to shit like this.


Robert Mathiesen said...

Brown is not the school that it used to be. Over the last decade it has become ever more focussed on controlling patents, winning grant money, finding outside funds, and cultivating political and economic influence. The profile of each successive entering class has also been changing, becoming more and more heavily weighted toward the children of the global elite. And, of course, the times are also changing ...

Ten or fifteen years ago I could have named as many as sixty or seventy undergraduates who were interested in magical and earth religions at Brown, and there were many more just down the hill at the Rhode Island School of Design, which used to have a large and flourishing Pagan group. Now I know the names of only four such undergraduates at Brown, and there are probably only a few more whom I haven't heard of yet.

I retired from Brown two years ago. For fifteen years before my retirement I offered courses on the history of magic, on the development of women-led magical religions and religious movements in the USA from ca. 1800 sown to the 1960s, and on magic and esotericism in Russia. When I started offering these courses, the enrollments were very high, but they fell very sharply off in the early 2000s, as Brown became noticeably more corporate.

These courses of mine were non-departmental courses, offered under a program that let faculty teach outside the departmental structures of the university. The year after I retired, all remaining non-departmental courses were abolished by administrative fiat. So if some other professor ever wanted to offer similar courses, he could do so only as a part of the curriculum of a department, in this case either Religious Studies or History. (I was in neither of those departments.) And in recent years the Department of Religious Studies has been narrowing its focus ever more onto Christianity and Islam alone. (There is a separate Department of Judiac Studies.)

This may be of interest as background to the article in Brown's student newspaper.

Hecate said...


That's fascinating; I had no idea. When Son went to Princeton, Brown's reputation was still that of a v. open, experimental kind of place.

Chris Tucker said...

"Thomas worries that some people here think the witches are harmless or humorous and that the Witch School could deter people from buying homes or opening businesses.

"Our ultimate goal would be to convert them to Christianity," he says. "If that doesn't happen, I don't know what will be next."

How about mind your own damned business?

Robert Mathiesen said...


When your son thought of going to Brown, depending on the year, it might indeed have been a very open, experimental kind of place. I was there for 38 years, from 1967 through 2005. The first few years it was small and stuffy. Then came its famous New Curriculum, which began as a political compromise between student and faculty factions, but soon acquired coherence in practice. That lasted for about 30 years, and is officially still in place, though weakened. Brown really only became noticeably corporate around 2000.

nancy green said...

As a member of First Unitarian Church, just down the hill from Brown, I's like to extend a welcome to all the campus pagans and anyone else who is looking for a supportive spiritual community that is inclusive and ethical. Also, there's free coffee after the service. 10:30am on Sundays, be there or be square.