A Voice in the Wilderness

How did I ever turn out so darn weird? The Me of 1997 would totally not recognize the Me of 2007. This is starting to cause some discomfort in my associations with other people. Luckily, I know that I’m right now ๐Ÿ™‚ so it isn’t causing me to question my beliefs but it is making wonder what all I should say to others.

Take the people I work with. I am going to a conference in Florida next week with a few of them. I was going to actually travel and stay with them but changed my mind when one started talking about how she spends all her time in Florida cussing out people who speak Spanish. I’ve been fairly outspoken about social justice issues at work. I don’t think I’ve changed anyone’s mind about anything but now they sometimes stop saying bigoted things when I’m around.

I had a quilting day today. At one point the conversation got to a local out lesbian who is in the military (sssh, don’t tell). She is in a relationship and has adopted several kids. My friends started talking about how they weren’t sure whether gay people should be allowed to adopt. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to listen to the anti-gay diatribe that was sure to follow without comment but didn’t think that a pro-gay adoption argument would do any good. So I quickly changed the subject. I’m not sure that I should have done that. Part of me says that I should have shot down their arguments but the other part says that it would have been falling on ears that were not open to discussion. Add to this that I’m horribly non-confrontational so the idea of starting a spirited debate is horrifying to me. I’m having cognitive dissonance – a conflict between what you feel and what you say. (Look at that college education actually coming in handy for once.)

The other relationship issue that is bubbling up is my family’s response to my religious choices. They are non-confrontational too so I’m not hearing this directly. Over Christmas the husband reported that my mother was talking to him about how she would like to see me start attending church again. She has always blamed him for my lack of church attendance. I met the husband at the same time that I was questioning my Christianity. This is a coincidence – not a cause and effect but she doesn’t see it that way. The husband has always said that she blames him for me not being an active Christian but I don’t think she’s ever been that blatant before. I asked him what he said to her and he said that there were no churches in our area that we felt comfortable in. I guess that’s true since I’m a pagan and he’s semi-Christian (He claims to be Christian but he has beliefs that would get him kicked out of any self-respecting Christian church)! I was surprised at that answer though. He doesn’t understand being in the closet about religion and freely talks about my paganism to everyone. If my highly confrontational husband backed away from starting a row with my mother I don’t know if I could ever do it.

I think the reason why is that there is no good outcome. Ideally, they would say, “We don’t agree with your choice but obviously there is nothing we can do about it so we will respect your decision and shut up about it.” Not going to happen. My mom saw a cookbook I have here that is pagan. I didn’t even know she saw it but she came up to me and said that the woman who “wrote that cookbook has very interesting ideas.” You needed to hear her tone to realize that she did not mean it as a compliment.

My sister in law also harrasses us about church. I don’t get that one since my brother knows I’m a pagan. I converted just as he was turning into a hard-core Christian. (I think we passed somewhere in the middle!) I don’t know that he has ever said anything to his wife. We actually went to church on Christmas Eve with them. We weren’t in the real service since my brother has a behind the scenes job and we hung out with him. Afterwards we went to lunch and I asked why there were armed police in the lobby when we came in. It is because of the amount of money collected. The SIL also started talking about a “crazy lady” who was bothering people there. The husband started in on her about isn’t the role of the church to take care of the less fortunate. He was right on in puncturing her hypocrasy but no one else saw it but me.

I want to get this over with before we adopt. Not taking my kid(s) to church will be a huge source of conflict. I’m thinking of talking to the SIL first. She’ll be my practice for my mom.


  • annette

    Christians donโ€™t like non-Christians. Especially when itโ€™s one of their own. They take it personally that you have a different relgious belief system. They feel as if they failed.

    I have to agree with Ghandi when he said this, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    Though I try to follow the teachings of Christ and belive him to be the divine Son of God – The Messiah – The Christ… I do not claim to be a Christian. This is due to the blatent hypocricy and intolerance of other faiths and beliefs of so many of those who wear the name “Christian” .

    It takes the commandment “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain” to a whole new level doesn’t it?

  • mama kelly

    Would a UU church appease them at all?

    We have 2 in our area (each is “about” 45 minutes away which is why we don’t go – that and I now work on Sundays again) which are quite lovely and are very open to Pagans of all kinds.


    Mama Kelly
    (from her own personal broom closet)

  • ezfez

    Posting my first comment in honor of ‘de-lurking’ week. I just wanted to say how much I value reading your perspective on the world. Not “weird” at all, in my opinion. My situation in life is very different (except for contemplating adopting an older child, though we’re not as far along as you guys) so no great advice, just thanks for writing and sharing.

  • Jessica

    My family knows my religion, but my inlaws don’t. My family is respectful. Luckily we live far away from inlaws so when we have kids they can’t bug us much if they find out. I know some would be respectful, but I know all won’t be. Some bug my husband (who they know is not Christian), and some bug me to talk to him about it (they assume I’m Christian). I respond with “I talk to him a lot about it,” though I doubt they’d agree with what we talk about! =)

    My way of dealing with it is waiting. If the situation arises where family would find out, then I let it. Otherwise, I don’t. I think with my inlaws it will be when neices and nephews start asking for my MySpace page.

    So far when asked what kind of church I attend, I’ve been vague. I’ve said “non-denominational” for the non-denominational Pagan church. For the Asatru stuff, I plan to say “just a local one” if the question arises again.

  • Nio

    I’m like your husband: highly confrontrational. Because I’ve been ostrasized, villified, and isolated by those I love (and can’t stand) I’m learning to become less confrontrational. It’s a hard lesson.

    Dad’s side of the family is Catholic. Medium-core Catholic. Since coming out of the broom closet, only one of my uncles talks to me. The rest ignore me as best they can at family functions and will not let their kids talk to me. Part of this is because of my Paganism, but mostly it’s because I’m a peace-loving-pussy-pacificst who won’t let bigoted language pass me by for any reason.

    I don’t know what to tell you. But I can say, if you’re family is anything like mine (or Wolf’s who has practically disowned us for being Pagan and having gay friends) you’re kid will grow up without knowing her/his family and/or being ostrasized for being “different” from the flock.

    Christians don’t like non-Christians. Especially when it’s one of their own. They take it personally that you have a different relgious belief system. They feel as if they failed.

  • quilt pixie

    being truthful about oneself can be excruciating — somehow we care so much what others think, that we’re willing to not be ourselves to avoid the risk of being rejected…. What’s the very worst case — they don’t relate to you anymore (and if they don’t did you want to relate to someone who’d cut another person off like that) or is it that it’ll be a continuing sore spot (in which case all I can say is practise saying “it’s interesting that it bothers you so much” and simply not reposnding beyond that…) As long as you like you, and hubby likes you, you can surrond yourself with others who like you….

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