Here are my thoughts:
- The Nemeton at Brushwood certainly was billed as an ADF National Nemeton or at the very least the Nemeton in use at the Annual Meeting. This may have been inaccurate but the evidence (the asking for donations for it's improvement on the website and just the way we have referred to it over the years) leaves little doubt to most of us that this is the case. I certainly, and I was not alone, thought of it as such.
- The argument of "why didn't you speak up sooner" is easily the most offensive response in regards to this thread. Many of us HAVE spoken up sooner on all kinds of issues. We were ignored and marginalized. Also, it is kind of hard to speak up about something you have no clue about. Had I been asked if what I thought about an idol representing the GK with an erect phallus I would have expressed my feelings that this was inappropriate.
- About the same number of people were speaking up for and against the inclusion of the idols into the space. To somehow coach this as only a couple people causing trouble is disingenuous and disrespectful.
- ADF clergy are supposed to be trained on how to approach conflict ... in my opinion they need a refresher course or to seriously examine the course they are currently using.
- Despite the complaints leveled against one another and the (now) common tone of discussion that it was "hate filled" and/or ridiculous I actually saw absolutely ZERO examples of hate language and what, was for the most part, pretty respectful exchange of ideas. I did see a one or two people whose feelings were hurt by their concerns being dismissed.
- I do not believe the dismissal of concerns were intentional but it did (and does) happen. When an issue or concern is brought up that is in disagreement of people in leadership it is almost always dismissed by redirection. The argument looks like this "If you don't like "X* in ADF you should be more involved" or "If you want something different in ADF you should give more money" or "you can't make everyone happy" or "This isn't at all important, we have better things to think about" or "that's how Isaac did it, it's his fault" or (and this one really gets to me) "I/My Partner/Other Person is really sick right now and have no time for your petty concerns". Sorry folks, all of us have health issues and other things to deal with. I hate to break it to you but you are not special. As much as I love a lot of you and send you my wishes for your recovery it does NOT make my or anyone else's concerns invalid.
I honestly don't care about the idol. The old idol(s) never worked for me and the new ones don't work for me either. Even still I have been involved in some pretty powerful rituals in the space. I won't (and never have) give offerings to the idols or address them when I do ritual there. I do have the ability to direct my minds eye elsewhere. And I certainly will NEVER subjugate myself to any being by kneeling before them. However, I understand that for some people that this is not the case. I especially understand the concern that by using an idol so inexcusably male that it seems to point that all GKs are male and a continuation of the idea that we are not a Pan-IE organization.
The issue, for me, is NOT about the idols themselves. It is about the way we handle concerns/issues in ADF. Simply put, it seems to me, that if you are not in the inner circle (and by inner circle I mean, hate to say it, Clergy or who they chose to include) your concerns will never be validated. I have even been told (just a couple days ago) that by expressing my concerns I an invalidating the "hard work" of our clergy. This is exactly what I and others have brought up as concerns as to the nature of Clergy in ADF over the years. We are led by them in every conceivable way with absolutely NO ability to check or balance their influence.
In the end I guess I have to make a choice. Stick with the organization as it is or move on because I simply do not see it changing. For the record, and I have to say this because every time some one brings up whether ADF is the right fit for them it is said, I DO NOT WANT to leave ADF. I love the organization and many people in it. I think we are failing our membership and our goals. I believe in the vision and scope of ADF but I do not see that we are living up to either. What we have is a very small cadre of people making all the decisions and running the organization as they see fit and basically ignoring and writing off anyone who brings up concerns.