John Halstead’s Curriculum Vitae

Background

I am an activist and attorney living in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, with my wife and two children. I have spent most of my life in the southern Laurentian bioregion of the United States, commonly known as the Midwest, Great Lakes region, and Appalachia.

Education and Profession

I was an academic scholarship recipient and graduated cum laude and with University Honors from Brigham Young University in 1999 with a double major in sociocultural anthropology and political science. My Honor’s Thesis explored cultural boundary maintenance in a small Mormon community which was divided by the emergence of a heterodox Mormon faction.

In law school, I was an academic scholarship recipient and graduated magna cum laude from Indiana University-Bloomington School of Law in 2002. While in school, I served as the director of the Protective Order Project, which obtained protective orders for victims of domestic violence. I interned with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky in 2000 and with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in 2001. After graduation, I clerked for the Allen County Superior Court in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2002-2003.

I currently practice law in Northwest Indiana, where I practice civil defense trial law.

Together with my wife, who is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I co-authored “Legal Issues in Couple and Family Therapy” in Ethics and Professional Issues in Couple and Family Therapy, ed. L. Hecker (2017).

Religious Life

I was raised Mormon (LDS) and served a proselytizing mission for the Mormon church in northeast Brazil from 1994 to 1996. My wife and I were married in the Manti, Utah LDS temple in 1997.

I now identify as a pagan and a Unitarian Universalist (UU). To me, being pagan means that I locate the divine or the sacred in the natural world and I strive to cultivate my relationship with the place where I live and the other-than-human beings with whom I share it. Being UU means I work for justice, equity, and compassion in all my relations and in the world at large.

I formally withdrew from membership in the Mormon church in 2001 and began identifying as pagan in 2003. I began attending a Unitarian congregation in 2010 and joined the congregation in 2015. I now serve on the Worship Ministry and the Faith-in-Action (social justice) Ministry. My Mormon wife and I raised our atheist son and agnostic daughter in an intentionally interfaith home. I crafted pagan and interfaith rituals for our family. I practice an idiosyncratic and eclectic form of neo-paganism which draws on the archetypal psychology of Carl Jung and the naturalistic animism of David Abram.

I am also a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community, which is a religion inspired by Octavia Butler’s science fiction novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, and which is described in detail at GodisChange.org.

Writing & Presentations

I am the author of Another End of the World is Possible (2019), which explores what it would mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to accept that we are doomed. I curate the site Another End of the World is Possible, where you can find my articles and interviews on deep adaptation and related topics.

I am the former Managing Editor at HumanisticPaganism.com, a community blog for Humanistic and Naturalistic Pagans, which includes over 100 contributors and to which I have also been a frequent contributor, including a column called “The Naturalistic Pagan Toolbox”.  I am now the Editor-at-Large at HumanisticPaganism.com.

I both edited and contributed to the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans (2016), which gathered the writings of 40 atheistic, humanistic, and naturalistic Pagans, pantheists, animists, Gaians, and other non-theistic Pagans from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia.

I am also the author of Neo-Paganism: Historical Inspiration & Contemporary Creativity (2019) and the creator and curator of the informational site Neo-Paganism.org.

I have published articles in numerous periodicals, including Circle magazine, Witches & Pagans, Greenmantle magazine, and the Francophone Lune Bleue: Un Magazine de la Ligue Wiccan Eclectique. I also contributed to several anthologies, including Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21Century (2016)Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans (2016), The Greening of Religion (2017), We Live in the Orbit of Beings Greater than Us (2020), and the forthcoming Connecting to the Sacred Divine.

I have written for numerous other online platforms, including The Huffington Post, Medium, Patheos, Gods & Radicals Press (aka ABeautifulResistance.org), Witches & Pagans, as well as my own sites: PrayWithYourFeet.org, GodisChange.org, and The AllergicPagan.com. Much of my writing deals with the intersection of activism and spirituality.

For nine years, I have written about contemporary Paganism, Unitarianism, and life in general at Patheos (2013-2017) and my personal blog, The AllergicPagan.com (2011-2013, 2017-2019). At Patheos, you can find my “Deep Ecology Tree” series, as well as a description of my popular “Three Centers of Paganism” model of Pagan community, an alternative to the standard “umbrella model” of Pagan community which describes the contemporary Pagan community as three overlapping circles of earth-centered, deity-centered, and Self-centric Paganisms. In 2017, I left Patheos and returned to writing on my personal blog, The AllergicPagan.com, following a conflict with the editors of Patheos, which precipitated two dozen Pagan writers also leaving the site.

From 2013 to 2016, I wrote about archetypal polytheism at Dreaming the Myth Forward (later called Gods Within/Gods Without), which is hosted by Witches & Pagans.

I have given presentations and led rituals at numerous conferences and festivals, including the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Greening of Religion conference in South Carilina, PantheaCon in San Jose, CA, Paganicon in Minneapolis, the Chicago Pagan Pride, the New Orleans Pagan Pride (where I was the guest of honor), an EarthSpirit annual gathering, and the Mormon Sunstone Symposium (with my wife) in Salt Lake City and Kirtland, OH. I have also taught an online class on Paganism and the Law at Cherry Hill Seminary. I also have delivered numerous sermons and led rituals at my own and other Unitarian Universalist congregations.

I am currently working on two new books, The Greening of Paganism: Deep Ecology, Neo-Paganism, and Environmental Activism and The Gods Are Not Good: An Introduction to Jungian Neo-Paganism.

Activism

I am one of the founding members of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which was the first chapter of 350.org in Indiana, and which worked to fight the fossil fuel industry in Northwest Indiana.

Since 2014, I have advocated for the “greening” of the contemporary Pagan community to which I belong. I was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,” which was written through a collaborative effort in 2014 and published on Earth Day 2015 at ecopagan.com. The Statement has received thousands of signatures from 100 countries and has been translated into 16 languages. It has been signed by practically every prominent Pagan organization. It represents the most successful effort to date to harmonize the diverse voices of the Pagan community in defense of the Earth and the web of life and possibly the single largest expression of Pagan voices ever.

The Pagan environmental statement concludes with a challenge to:

use our abilities and resources to promote policies and practices that foster the changes that our world so urgently needs,

educate members of our community to foster intelligent and focused sustainable living,

help the world recognize that everyone, whether Pagan or not, is part of our precious Earth, and

promote the current and future health of our entire Earth, including the water, air, land, and the web of life.

I strive to live up to this challenge through my writing, activism, and in my personal life.

Since 2014, I have participated in public demonstrations and civil disobedience against the petroleum industry and in support of a just transition to renewable energy. In 2016, I was arrested as part of the civil disobedience component of the Break Free campaign at the BP petroleum refinery in Whiting, Indiana. The Break Free campaign involved 20 coordinated actions on six continents and was hailed as the largest ever act of civil disobedience against the fossil fuel industry.

As part of 350 Indiana-Calumet, I organized two pipeline walks (called “Walk the Line”) in 2017 and 2018, to raise awareness about the presence of tar sands pipelines in our communities. One of the walks also helped draw attention to the lead crisis in East Chicago, as well as raising money for and bringing bottled water to those residents. I organized an interfaith prayer vigil, which brought together representatives of a dozen different faiths (mostly non-Christian) around the issue of environmental responsibility on Earth Day 2018. I facilitated a 4-part non-violent direct action class. I also helped raised money for impacted East Chicago residents to travel to the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. in 2017.

After 350 Indiana-Calumet went on hiatus, I have continued to act in a supportive role for environmental mobilizing in the region. I currently facilitate a climate/environmental grief support group (part of the Good Grief Network) which meets monthly to help activists and others process eco-anxiety and grief in community with each other.

I have chaired and continue to serve on the Faith-in-Action committee at my Unitarian Universalist church (First Unitarian Church of Hobart), with whom I helped organize numerous social justice actions and educational forums around issues of climate change, environmental justice, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and immigrant rights. I have advocated for my congregation to become more openly anti-racist, and I have carried Black Lives Matter and LGBT-ally signs, flags, and banners with the church in the Fourth of July parades of the conservative town of Hobart. I also help organize a monthly soup kitchen with the church.

I have acted in multiple capacities to support numerous Black Lives Matter protests and immigrant rights protests, including at the Gary airport, where immigrants were being deported. In my professional capacity, I spoke for immigrant rights at the 2018 Fourth of July naturalization ceremony in Hammond, Indiana.

I participated in some of the largest protests in U.S. history, including the Women’s March (7M global/500K D.C.), the People’s Climate March (? global/200K D.C.), and the March for Science (1M global/60K Chicago), as well as many smaller demonstrations near and far. I have acted as a legal observer for numerous protests on behalf of the National Lawyer’s Guild, trained other legal observers, and provided other legal support to activists.

I have written about environmental and social justice issues at the Huffington Post and elsewhere online. Through my writing, I try to educate people about a bio-centric worldview and alternative ways of being together in community, outside of both government and the capitalist market.

In the wake of the 2018 Parkland shooting, I organized a gun control rally at the Crown Point gun show, and I supported my daughter in leading a walkout at her high school.

I have been a poll watcher and canvased for a progressive voter registration campaign, and I supported my son in his successful campaigning for the first Asian American state representative in Indiana in 2018.

I also support my wife in her work facilitating the Self-Injury Support Group of NWI.

I have worked to check my own privilege, listen to people of color, women, and LGBT folk about their experiences, and make space for their voices. I try to call out racism, sexism, and homo-/trans-phobia where I see it, including in myself. I support and encourage my wife and my daughter as they raise their voices on women’s rights issues, and I joined them at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C.

I have also helped raise two intelligent, creative, socially-conscious, and independent-minded people who I am very proud of.

Current Interests

I am currently exploring the intersection of naturalistic animism, permaculture, mutual aid, rewilding, anarchism, and deep adaptation.

To speak with me, you can contact me on Facebook or send me an email.

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