Sunday, June 14, 2009

Christians and Pagans in the Waiting Room

I was at our teaching clinic the other day seeing clients when I overheard a conversation. A woman in the waiting room was explaining the meaning of a pentacle that she wore, relating it back to the four elements. She went on to discuss a number of explanatory things about Wiccans. Initially I was quite impressed. She obviously had studied and was a self-professed solitaire. However, her voice really carried, and I also soon noted the discomfort of other people in our waiting room.

It would have been a relief to go and talk shop with her. It has been quite some time since I had one of those conversations where sniff each other over and test the degree of flakiness. She certainly did not appear flaky which have been a relief in a world where most paganism I encounter is based upon “I read a book.” Yet I hung back. As a therapist in the clinic, I wanted to know if she was a client or was waiting for one.

I am relieved I held back, because the complaints began in short order. A lady paying at the window was muttering under her breath about wanting out of the waiting room. The office staff were commenting on how loud she was. I pointed out that she seemed to know her stuff, and they pointed out that I do too and don’t make it intrusive on others.

I’m saddened to still live in a world where freedom of religion does not include pagan. I’m equally saddened that many of my fellow pagans can be just as intrusive as the Christians that they criticize. Moreover, I was uncomfortable with the woman’s comments, “We believe” as if Wicca has a cohesive belief system. One of those statements was, “We believe that Jesus was not the product of immaculate conception, but was a wise prophet and teacher.” On the one hand, I have heard a former priestess make the same assertion about Jesus. On the other hand, I’ve never heard someone say immaculate conception did not happen. Indeed, I have my own ideas about how it could.

What I resented was the concept that being Wiccan is mutually exclusive to being Christian. While I don’t often discuss my Christian faith, it certainly shapes my life in equally powerful ways. I have found ways to balance my Christian and Pagan beliefs, which really is not a stretch when you consider the fact that Christians borrowed heavily for Pagans.

Unfortunately, my combined spirituality leads to problems. Pagans and Christians both criticize because I am not a purist. Nevertheless, I have long been accustomed to living in the margins. I am too old to care if people do not agree with my beliefs.

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