"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.