Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pagans, Wiccans and Druids Find Their Home at the Air Force Academy

And they're planning on dedicating their new stone circle before the last snow melts in the Colorado Rockies.

1/26/2010 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy chapel will add a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions during a dedication ceremony, which is tentatively scheduled to be held at the circle March 10.

Is it just me, or has the Air Force gone off into the wild blue yonder only to crash into the abyss of political correctness?

This story is so bizarre, I don't even know where to begin, but it reminds me of the time we were living in northern England and my husband was working at an RAF base there. Despite it being an RAF base, the base commander was a United States Air Force officer and there were US Air Force chaplains, and many Air Force personnel who lived on the base.

My kids were all involved in Boy and Girl Scouts, who met weekly on the base. It was a little piece of Americana situated in the Yorkshire Dales. We had a 4th of July celebration, complete with fireworks, which was always celebrated on the Saturday after the 4th with fireworks beginning just after sundown, or around 10 pm at that northern latitude. My kids enjoyed a safe Halloween and trick-or-treating on the base, where they could run from house to house shouting "Trick or Treat!" and have their bags filled with good ol' American candies like Reese's Peanutbutter Cups and M&M's. At Christmastime, the Scouts would go caroling from house to house, usually ending up at the base chaplain's or base commander's house.

One Christmas, the Girl Scout leaders were trying very hard to be sensitive to the new Jewish family who had just joined our community, so they offered an option of staying in the school gym and making "winter crafts" in lieu of caroling. Despite the option, they also warned us not to sing any "Christian" Christmas carols. Only non-secterian winter tunes were acceptable, they said.

As we headed off in the darkness, with our wooly hats and mittens and flashlights in hand, the girls began belting out a rollicking rendition of Frosty the Snowman, followed by Jingle Bells, followed by....uh,....Away in a Manger!

"No, no no!" Shouted the Girl Scout leader who was the self-appointed PC czar. "You can't sing that!" She yelled as she went running wildly from group to group of 8 and 9 year-old girls who really had no idea that what they were doing was verboten.

I could only smile to myself as I followed the pack, quietly humming Away in a Manger.

Once the enthusiasm of the first three songs subsided, the PC lady told us to stop and again instructed us to avoid singing any Christian songs. I can't say if any of the girls understood what she was saying, but they obediently joined in as she started singing a rousing chorus of Dashing Through the Snow. After someone remembered Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and we sang Frosty the Snowman again, another little girl began singing Joy to the World.

"No, no, NO!" Shouted PC lady again. (I could tell she was getting pretty exasperated by the girls' enthusiastic singing of banned carols and I also noticed most of the other moms were beginning to enjoy the spectacle). We joined in her slightly screechy version of Walking in a Winter Wonderland which was followed immediately by Hark the Herald.

"STOP!" she yelled, sounding a bit hoarse. "STOP SINGING THAT SONG!" But the giddy excitement of the girls who were lost in wonderment at being outside on the brisk, starry night and whose sweet voices united in Silent Night, drowned out her objections.

As we neared the end of our route, we came upon the base chaplain's residence. He and his wife were standing outside their door, smiling, with a plate full of cookies for the Girl Scouts. Our PC leader lifted her hands over her head to direct us and began singing, "A-waaaay in a man-ger, no crib for his bed..."


Lizzy said...

Ah, man, what a flood of memories that brings back! We used to explain to our British chums that the Base was a "pizza slice" of the States. I remember their usual response: Menwith Hill ("the place with the giant golf balls") was actually an English version of Area 51--complete with aliens, of course. Even some of the kids on Base agreed with that breed of nonsense. But heck, they weren't trying to run an Academy!

(P.S. I'm writing this rather late, so it probably sounds wierd and irrational. I won't feel bad if you decide not to post it.)

Kalynne Pudner said...

Great story! I wonder if the AFA will allow Christian Christmas carols to be sung within earshot of the Wiccans' rock thing?

Lizzy said...

Of course not: such a thing would be cruel and intolerant. Not to mention radically right-wing, Eurocentrist, and hateful towards protected minorities with bad memories of Christmases past.

Debbie said...

And I'm relieved to hear that the Naval Academy has not yet slumped into the silliness of political correctness run amok: http://tiny.cc/mu733