Juggler's World: Vol. 43, No. 1


Religion And Women In The Magazine

Tarot today is mostly used as a counseling tool, and while some see spiritual purpose in it, most who enjoy using the cards for examining life do not. Todd Chadwick might not like the article about the Tarot but there is a historical link between the Medieval/Renaissance card game and juggling. Tarot employs some of the earliest juggling metaphors and an article describing it has validity in a publication dedicated to everything related to juggling and its history.

Christianity does not. I'm no scholar, but from what I have read the church encouraged local municipalities to persecute jugglers and other street performers who are the very role models for today's juggling renaissance. If we are not to "explore occultic doctrine" of any kind in the magazine, let's also omit from the magazine the promotion of a religion (read "cult") that oppressed jugglers and opposes openness and debate.

Let's keep in mind that the majority of US jugglers are of various religions and beliefs, and many don't want any prayers. It never ceases to amaze me that some people would want to pray for people who could care less. It would be better to pray for more tolerance for articles on Tarot and other historical tidbits.

Mr. Chadwick is welcome in the community of jugglers and is welcome to find a group of jugglers who think like him, but he shouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of IJA members don't join him in worship. We who don't are saying this type of proselytizing belongs outside the IJA and Juggler's World.

...And in response to Barrett L. Dorko's essay about men and juggling: just where does his theory about why men juggle leave us women who juggle? I maintain that fear and competition have little to do with the smaller number of women juggling. It is rather that girls don't usually play ball games and are not urged to be clowns or funny people.

All of us enjoy performing just like the guys do, some of us with the same obsession. These women "need it" as much as anyone, so instead of focusing on why "men have to juggle," how about focusing on why performers of BOTH sexes need to juggle? I believe it's based more on similarities than on differences.

And while women only account for 15% (according to Mary Wilkins' letter) of the IJA membership now, when I was at the Fargo convention in 1980 we were probably only around 9%. It takes time for women to discover the enjoyment of juggling, but it is happening.

Shelley Harris
Bethesda, Maryland

And Furthermore...

Enough self-righteous, small-minded, and essentially fascistic nonsense from fringe group religious fanatics and close-minded prudes. An equivalent to Chadwick's self-praising letter might have been written from the extremist factions of Hindu, Buddhist, or any other religious viewpoint. The significant phrase here is "extremist factions." Come to think of it, even mainstream religious comment is out of place in Juggler's World: imagine what a devout Muslim might have to say about Trixie Larue's (or Mark Nizer's) tights!

Similarly, Bottorff complained about the use of less than the most correct language - in a cartoon, yet - because this was a "family" magazine. Whose family?

I am truly sorry that some ideas and some words are frightening to some jugglers. Most of us have been juggling words and ideas a lot longer than we have clubs and balls. Perhaps Chadwick and Bottorff need to work on their numbers.

Eric Bagai
Safety In Numbers
North Hollywood, California

And Again...

In response to Todd Chadwick's letter, many have found juggling to be like a form of meditation, in which subconscious reflexes take control of the objects and the thinking consciousness can wander. Therefore, jugglers are naturally interested in juggling's relationship to relaxation techniques, yoga, zen, psychic phenomena, etc. Most readers probably found Gillen's historical investigation interesting and entertaining.

But Mr. Chadwick criticizes Juggler's World for printing the article, and then declares that Tarot is wrong and his beliefs are fight. I feel that this is an unfair and prejudiced position. Juggler's World prints articles about juggling from many different points of view and respects all the religious beliefs of its members, a respect which each member should also have for each other.

Joseph Chapski
Arlington, Massachusetts

And Finally, From the Author...

I apologize on behalf of the Christ Spirit, especially to the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Huna, Sufi, Taoist, Shaman, Shinto, various mystic orders and Christian sects, the Dali Lama, Pantheists, agnostics and all other groups for Todd Chadwick. After all, He did preach tolerance and forgiveness. Although a few jugglers do resent tactics of proselytic facism, repression and humiliation, we live in the USA and are free to worship in our own way.

In the article I promulgated no belief system yet made references to many (including Christianity). In as unbiased a fashion as possible, during my perusal of interpretations of the New Testament, I found mystical representations and symbology - from astrologers coming to herald the Christ Child, to parables, numerological symbols and even dream interpretations...

As a scholar, researcher and journalist, I'm intrigued by the "Jugglers for Christ" movement. I am interested in knowing how many jugglers out there are aspiring to Christian ideals and making sacrifices to those ends, as well as those who use the juggling medium for proselytic purposes. Thanks for the prayers, Todd.

Billy Gillen
Brooklyn, New York

Juggling Manfully Revisited

Barrett Dorko's essay in the fall issue, "Juggling Manfully," merits continued discussion.

The first old puzzler the essay raises is why there are more male jugglers than female jugglers. He tosses up the observation that "men juggle because they have to; women don't need it," because men use juggling to release fear and regain a sense of the "playful child." But the fears of life and the thrills of performance are just as powerful for women as for men.

So why do we juggle? The answer can be found in the January 1991 cover story of the Smithsonian Magazine on "Why do dogs bark?" After nine pages of theories, the only real answer with any scientific merit is "dogs bark for the heck of it!" The same is (probably) true of juggling.

Seriously, though, juggling offers a way of coping with the world, of being in the mix and holding fear temporarily in check while participating in the community. Juggling props provide us with a moving mask. It transforms us from normal people into something magical.

This is the "Dumbo Syndrome," so-called in honor of Walt Disney's flying cartoon character. This insecure baby elephant got a magic feather and was convinced that he could fly while gripping it - and did!

But at the climax of the story, with the chips down, Dumbo lost his feather and was forced to overcome his fear, believe in himself and fly without his prop. He succeeded, and that was when the real magic happened.

If we could be as courageous as Dumbo and fly in the face of fear, bare-handed and open-hearted as a child, then the real thrills of life would be ours for the keeping - for men and women.

Laura Green
Baltimore, Maryland

Letters / Index, Vol. 43, No. 1 / jis@juggling.org
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