Garbled Thinking

19 02 2009

An interesting short conversation with a Christian in my family today highlighted to me the some of the facts regarding worship in Britain today. I quote:

Her: You’ll have to start going to church again if you want to get R into that school!

Me: I wouldn’t do that; it’s hypocritical and unneccessary. And anyway, I’m not sacrificing my beliefs to tick a box to gain an education for my child.

Her: Well, you don’t have to do you? You worship God, after all!

Me: Well, yes. In a way. But the Christian church worships Jesus. The clue’s in the question. I don’t believe in Jesus as a saviour or as the son of God.

Her: But all Gods are the same in the end!

Me: (thinks) Have you thought about that before you said it? It implies your One True Saviour… isn’t.

The idea that I would voluntarily retard my spiritual life and actively renege on everything I’ve worked for and earned in order to get my son into a particular school seems ludicrous to me, and will, I suspect, to many of my readers. But what is even more alarming to me is the thought that you can have any sort of moral excellence within such a system. One of the strictest proponents of Christianity I know, actively encouraging me to be mendacious and underhanded in order to achieve something worldly. Interesting.

It seems easy for Christians to be clear about what they believe and what they worship – they’ve got a book, a plan and a couple of thousand years of well-documented history. This all seems to go out of the window in situations like the above. Either you have a One True God or you don’t….

One of the things I get continually from those who ask me about my path is an accusation that I can’t be fully candid and straightforward about the doctrine I follow. The fact that I don’t have one with which to form a path seems to escape my interlocutor, nine times out of ten. We don’t get a book, a road, a threat of hell and a promise of heaven like the world’s heaviest-handed carrot-and-stick  approach. We don’t proselytise; we don’t advocate the worship of any particular goddess or god – we wouldn’t presume to intervene between the gods and the people they choose as their followers.

We get a braided channel, a map with no names on it, our wits and the clothes we stand up in. Who wouldn’t learn more this way?

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6 responses

19 02 2009
starofseshat

Excellent post! Exactly the difference and the reasons why communication is so fraught – we speak entirely different languages … the spirit is willing, but our tongues are tied.

19 02 2009
Celestite

For a certain genre of Christians, their religion has become more about controlling other people than about any God.

22 02 2009
Sabrina

I applaud your refusal to lie about your spirituality in order to get your son into a specific school. Your Christian relative’s comments seem to reflect something I have frequently seen while teaching in a Catholic school in the U.S.–parents will go through the motions of attending Sunday Mass for a year or two before their child attains school age and then, once the child is enrolled in the parish school, the family’s attendance at Mass drops off. Being somewhat of a cynic, I believe the main incentive for doing this is financial, as in-parish tuition rates (at anywhere between $5000 and $8000 per child per year) are roughly half of what most Catholic schools in my area charge families who are not regular Church attendees. Equally cynical, I think, is the attitude of most parishes administrators who, even once the drop off in attendance is noticed, refuse to move those families to out-of-parish tuition rates for fear of alienating them—the last thing parishes want to do as they are struggling with sometimes steep declines in Mass attendance and participation in parish activities.

Of course, then there’s the embarrassment of my own situation—teaching in a Catholic school and giving every outward appearance of being a practicing Catholic while in my heart and on my own time I am living as a Pagan. In my defense, I must say that when I was originally hired into my current teaching position and for many years after that, I truly was a practicing Catholic. It was only about a year ago that I came to the realization that my spirituality had changed to the point where I could no longer consider myself even a “loyal dissenter” which I had done prior to that whenever my views on spiritual matters differed from the official Catholic stance. Were I to definitively renounce the Catholic faith to my Catholic colleagues and supervisor, I believe I would be asked to leave my position immediately, even though I do not teach religion classes. I am taking steps to change my employment situation but don’t yet have another job offer in hand. And since I am a significant contributor to the family finances, I have chosen simply to keep quiet for now in order to continue bringing home the bacon.

Since starting to read your blog last year, I have always admired your ability to call things as you see them and not be influenced by convenience. Your refusal to compromise your principles on this issue is one of the prods I need just now so that I don’t start avoiding a change I know I must make for my spiritual well-being.

25 02 2009
The Green Witch

My dear Sabrina – far from being embarrassing, I think you do a great job of balancing two disparate and unblendable positions. If however you feel you need to come out, as it were, and make that change in public, then it is in fact I that should be applauding you.

I’m out at work, and wear my pentacle with pride. Everyone realises my stance and my colleagues actually got me a sticker for my new car that says, ‘My Other Car is a Broom’! I imagine the difficulties you face might become unbearable with time – good on you for wanting to draw a line in the sand!

6 03 2009
renee

Ya know…I’ve had this same type of conversation with my family. They are all Christians and every time we have a family gathering I feel like I’m on the outs because I don’t follow the Christian religion. I was raised on it but…never really practiced it. I started following the pagan path around 16 years old or there abouts. I’m not out to my family yet-actually my blog is a way of letting them get to know me a bit better before they just pass judgement on me for practicing what they call devil worship. If they would take the time to do some research, some unbiased research that is (an opinion that didn’t come from either the christian nor the pagan camp) then maybe they would see that what I do and practice isn’t devilish. I definitely applaud you for not sacrificing your beliefs just to tick a box as you put it.

10 03 2009
The Green Witch

My dear Renee, thank you for visiting! I’d like to think I was brave; actually, I’m just fed up of trying to remember what story I’ve told everyone. I’m a useless and disorganised liar so felt it best to be up-front; when I say who I am, I know who I am, and so forth! In fact, I am amazed at the acceptance and the pragmatism my faith has engendered in my (rabidly) Christian family – we’ve actually moved on to finding similarity rather than difference recently. Long may it continue – and I wish the same for you!!

Blessings, TGW

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