Handin' Tickets out for God

"You'll grow up eventually," he said, my old boss from that summer job I had more than a decade ago, "You'll see how silly that is when you get older." He sneered, chuckled and strode into the back. His sentiment was hardly unique. I hear it, in some form or another, to this day.

It seems that a vast segment of America feels Paganism is somehow not real, that it's a joke, live-in performance art or misguided role play. They seem skeptical that people like me actually believe these things.

When I deign to mention my faith in mixed company, which I do with less and less frequency, I get statements like those above. I get furrowed brows, one sided grins and assertions that I'm just being contrary and will come to my senses eventually, that is if I'm not dismissed as a freak or foreigner too difficult to bother understanding. I'm told that it's natural to sample naturalistic, pantheistic, individualistic, tree-hugging bullshit when one is young and that my feelings on faith will eventually gravitate to something more reasonable and self-evident. I'm told that, barring anything else, I'll make a death bed conversion on the implicit knowledge that Jesus is the light and I've been knowingly fooling myself since I was fifteen.

These people must all have had a free spirited sibling that tried on a half dozen religions in their twenties only to come back to the church when they were told they'd be cut out of the will.

I have news for such people; I'm thirty years old. I'm not going to outgrow my religion. This is not a phase, not for me and not for the estimated three million other Pagans in North America. Faith is not a dalliance; it is a way of informing one's interaction with a vast and often hostile world. It is a method of understanding one's self, of building community and of framing the challenges of life, itself. I don't need scripture. I don't need teleological justification. I don't need salvation.

Do Jews experience this? Muslims? Who else's faith is dismissed as a temporary aberration of opinion that will one day correct itself, like we somehow feel that Pascal might go all in and force us to fold because the hand of our faith has been a bluff all along.

Enlightenment is at the end of many roads.

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Bee said...

oh, we commie pinko stalinist satanist atheists get that allll the time. I know that "you'll grow out of it" line well.

Tom Harper said...

Yes, you'll come around and "grow out of it" someday. You'll come to your senses and come home to Jesus and start embracing the Family Values that He stood for.

< / satire >

I'm not sure how I'd classify my beliefs. I'm not religious but I'm not necessarily an atheist. I read a lot of metaphysical/occult books in the '70s and early '80s, and they made the most sense of any religion or philosophy I've been exposed to.

Devin said...

I enjoyed your article a lot and that you have the courage to just say it -if I was you-I'd just keep on irritating the mofos!
I also am not sure what I am -sometimes I believe in nothing -but this doesnt happen very often
-I also read those types of books that Tom did around the same time frame -and kind of got the same feeling -except I am a lot more confused:-)
I would sure as hell rather be a Pagan than a fundie Christian any day!
all the best to you!!

opit said...

Fundie Christian is an oxymoron. How anybody can read the New Testament without seeing that following the law without following the heart is what p.o.'d the hero of the day is functionally unconscious.
But...hatemongering is a way of life in the 'free' world. I could give you a citation for that...but I think this one of better use.
Now take a look around. These guys have it together.

Jolly Roger said...

You know, Christmas is a Pope's attempt to co-opt a pagan holiday.

Just sayin' :)

Ily said...

I know we're a few days away from Christmas and I should probably defend my faith, but I'm not here to tell you I'm right and you're wrong when neither one of us has all the answers.

I'd just like to get through life without labeling ourselves. Our actions and characters should speak for us. That should be enough, right?

libhom said...

I think people should grow out of all religious beliefs.