Thursday, April 06, 2006

Here We Go Again With the Pagans

Once again, another notable Episcopalian has been caught out moonlighting as a neopagan. At least this time the culprit isn't an Episcopal priest; no, his (legal) name is Maury Johnston, but after an article appeared on Louie Crews's site and was referenced in titusonenine, his name rang some alarms for one "Liz", and she did some investigating. Among other incriminating bits was the following passage from a coven's website:
While judges in Fairfax and James City counties have questioned the validity of Wicca, Maury Johnston said Henrico County is a more Wicca-friendly system.

Johnston, known in the Wiccan community as Shadwynn, has performed nine legal marriages for his order since 1988, when Henrico granted his license. He said he has noticed some shift in public opinion toward Wiccans over the past decade.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 23, 1999

The article on Dr. Crews's site is of course already gone. One wonders how much other damage control is forthcoming (that was an unfortunate choice of words). This blew all over the Anglican Blogosphere in a matter of days if not hours. The only reason I missed it is that I've pretty much stopped reading these analysis articles. I only found it when I visited the Stand Firm site to look at its list of blogs.

WIll this make as big a splash as "Oakwise"? I doubt it. The circumstances aren't quite as embarrassing, and it's unlike the interim rector at Holy Comforter, Richmond is going to excommunicate this guy. Who knows? Maybe he's a pagan too. These days, you never can tell.


Fatehr Jake has seized the occaision to engage in a rant about witchhunts. Outside its intemperance, his posting plays a little loose with the facts. I personally don't know "Liz", but it was she who first turned up the connection, and not Greg Griffith nor Brad Drell, who merely followed up. Nor does she come across as an "extreme conservative"-- though frankly, it would take aome effort to match the extremity of Fr. Jake's vituperation.

Somewhere along the line he seems to assert that Mr. Johnston has given up his pagan past-- perhaps some time ago. But then there is this message, dated January 13, 2006, in which one Shadwynn says, "Having been a Wiccan priest for 18 years[...]". It appears to be the same person as this Mr. Johnston. His repentance, if it has happened at all, is recent. The various suspicions are not without merit.

And if Drell and Griffith are overly gleeful about turning up another, it isn't as though there isn't a track record here of far too great a length. Let us recall the last pagan flap, with the Melnyks. That round did not begin with an attack upon them personally. The Office of Women's Ministry, as it has been wont to do in the past, went too far afield in its search for novel liturgical material, and got caught at it. Posting a liturgy which used elements specifically denounced by OT prophets was unwise, but leaving a trail all over the internet was probably unavoidable and led to the Melnyks' downfall. The sense of outrage at the OWM was utterly merited.

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