Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Religious respect, it's as important as tolerance

While I was reading a link off Forever in Hell's blog (Lady Liberty's really wonderful How to Talk to Athiests, she definately did win the intrawebs today), it reminded me of an incident a while ago that had a lot to do with respect.
I'm a pagan. Have been for almost 20 years (dear God, 20 years? Wow). I'm not one of those nutso pagans with pentacles all over their desk at work and who make up really bizarre names for themselves or anything (in the pagan community we call those people "nuts". It's cool, you can call them that too). Paganism isn't as exciting as people seem to think it is. And by people I, of course, mean fundies.
My ex is also pagan. He's... well he's a lot more out there with it than I am. And because he's out there with it he demands the same respect for his religion that fundies get for theirs. A few years ago he mentioned that he was going to make up Solstice cards instead of Christmas cards and give them out to fundies. Now, this smacked of bad taste to me, and no better than a fundie shoving their belief down your throat. I told him that and he asked me if it was ok that they did that to us.
Of course not, but I happen to be realistic. Pagan is a huge umbrella term for a very large collection of religions. He and I don't even practice the same kind of paganism, not even close. Would I like someone to acknowledge my holidays? Sure, that would be neat. Would I expect most people to go out of their way to learn them? No, not unless they really wanted to. At the same time, would I go around yelling at them for not learning my religion? No, why would I? That's stupid. I would rather they let me be and I'll let them be and at Christmas I'll wish everyone season's greetings and be done with it.
This is respect to me. I respect other people and would not go around asking them if they had met my particular group of gods. I would not try to convince them that they need to believe what I believe or a huge wolf will eat them (ok, maybe now would be a good time to mention I'm Norse and by far we have one of the more rocking end of the world stories. Our Gods die. Seriously, all of them. How cool is that? What does that say about the emotional advancement of a culture that they will kill off their gods in a cultural mythos? It implies a state of mind that acknowledges that people don't always need someone up in the sky watching out for them. Right, done being a religion geek...)
People who are fundie in any religion will never understant that level of respect. The level of respect that Lady Liberty was talking about, the works not words level of faith, is simply impossible for people who do not believe. There, I said it. They really don't believe. And not in a "gee 'm not sure about this" kind of way, but in a "wow, this is really kind of wrong, but if I just talk louder it will be OK" kind of way. So they will never be able to respect another person's belief in anything. It's the respect that leads to tolerance. These people, like my ex, are incapable of even starting that journey. It's sad, but I still hope for them (I'm the eternal optimist when it comes to people, I always believe they will get better).
So these are the things I think when it's slow at work (thank you ice storm for shutting down the country!) Aren't you all glad I got a blog? Heh.


  1. you are so right. it's what i've been trying to say all along. i respect your right to worship giant wolves (so cool! i mean seriously? norse? why do i get the most interesting pagans on my site? am i accidentally subliminally messaging pagans?), a christian's right to worship jesus, a jew's right to worship yhwh... i just want the same respect and be allowed to worship nothing at all.

    I am making a post out of a conversation i had with a brand new evangelical on his blog, the title of which was "we debate because we care, why do you?" yes, that's right. christians care, the rest of us do not.

    i told him, over and over, that atheists want to be left alone, that we aren't bad people, we aren't immoral, we don't hate god, we just don't believe. he kept insisting "well, i have to witness to you, i just have to."


    and, feel free to send me a solstice card.

  2. Well, I don't actually worship the giant wolf, the giant wolf is the thing that will eat the god I worship at the end of the world. I kid you not. Best. Story. Evar. Hee!
    This boils down to the whole rabid 10% of Christians that won't leave people alone thing. My brother? Knows I worship Norse gods. He doesn't bring it up, we're cool. I don't bring up the fact that as a mythology goes Christian's steal a lot from my guys, so it's kind of sucky that they claim to be better (Odin dies on a tree for goodness sake, the original sacrifice of a god to a god. He had it down long before Jesus).
    As a good Christian he does not feel the need to "witness" to anyone. He believes that if anyone asks him he should tell them, that's it.
    Much better way of doing things I think.

  3. love your brother.

    wait a minute . . . ummm . . . yggdrasil? my norse is a little rusty.

    the jesus story shares a lot with egyptian mythology as well. and don't even get me started on christmas trees and easter.

  4. Dude, no kidding, as a religious mythology Christianity was very, well, Roman. It went in and just picked up what it found and made it it's own. It has a little of this and that all mixed together. You have the very very classic mythology of the god being born with teh sun, dying, and then being reborn again (to a virgin no less, like the huntress of old, sheesh!) Everyone has that story, so it certainly wasn't special, and hen they took parts of whole other stories (Christmas trees? Really? Bunnies at Easter. Umm, yeah) and then incorporated them all willy-nilly.
    As a person who studied mythology it irritates me that so very many Christian's believe that Jesus was the very first time that story was told.

  5. Oh and, yup, The World Tree. Odin hung on it for 9 days to get the runes. I'm not sure is that is better or worse than losing an eye to get a drink from the well of knowledge, but since he did both I guess it doesn't matter really.

  6. If I had to choose: hanging from the tree. Then again, loss of depth perception might not have been that bad for Odin as he didn't have to drive a car. Did Odin spend a lot of time hacking at people with a sword? Then the lack of depth perception would suck.

    I seriously enraged a fundy when I called Jesus a p*ssy. My logic? He suffered for 3 days. Big freakin' whoop. I've been in pain for going on 7 years, you don't see anybody worshipping me. (Feel free, though, I'm quite merciful. And I have cookies!)Don't point that out, though, that's apparently the ultimate in blasphemy.

    Off to research Odin and Yggdrasil and the Aesir (I think).


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