A Mystery to Solve

"I think there is a kind of slippery slope where once you've stopped believing that the mainstream discourse, whether that be that of science or whatever else, you've stopped going along with that discourse, then you become open to everything else. And if you're not careful and if you're not judicious, then you'll just kind of start believing that all those other things must therefore be true. So there's that tendency, which you find with social movements that are on the fringes. Young women from Poland celebrate the night of Kupala (Photo: Marek Kosior) And I've been fascinated by all of it because I think that even the extraterrestrial thing, how many millions of people claim to have been abducted by aliens in American society?...What do you do with that fact? Do you just say that they're all deluded or do you start getting interested in why it is that, you know, there's some kind of gap that people are filling with using that imagery of aliens. Why aliens? Well, because there aren't any fairies left so they got to come from off planet. Why are there no fairies left? Because we know...what happens in the natural world...So it becomes a kind of mystery to solve. And rather than rejecting the things that people say, I think, as an ethnographer of religion, one of the first principles is that you don't treat people as idiots for what they believe and that, in fact, by treating them seriously, you might get some insights that you wouldn't get to otherwise. And I think, for me, it's led to insights about myself as well."

~ Adrian Ivakhiv, "Pagans Ancient and Modern," Speaking of Faith, (6.12.08)