Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pissing Off The Religious Right

Why Pissing off the Religious Right Might Sometimes be Worth Your While

article

by Tamoon Pearl (aka "SunTiger")

Surrounded by the aroma of warmed essential oils and the soft, trickling sounds of Feng Shui fountains, I breathed in the soothing atmosphere of the metaphysical herb store. Then I closed my eyes to take in the even softer, peaceful music playing in the background.

That's when my lover thrust a bumper sticker in front of my face. The rush of air from his movement instantly caused me to blink my eyes open, but the words on the bumper sticker were too close to read, and with a responsive backward thrust of my head, I banged against a picture that dangled from the ceiling, suspended on long chains. In an instant, I had fallen away from that soothing feeling of euphoria and crashed into the chaotic reality of the ordinary.

"You should put this sticker on the back of your pickup truck!" Hu innocently declared, and then began to laugh, not realizing that I had just hurt myself.

"Doing my part to piss off the religious right," I read out loud as I rubbed my scalp. "That's not funny. It's not even relevant to me."

"Well, maybe you don't think it's relevant, but really, it fits." he said, still chuckling.

The cashier grinned sympathetically at me, as if she understood what I was feeling from the very core of my being. Perhaps she, too, had been shunned for her pagan convictions, or perhaps she was picking up some vibes from me.

"I can see why you think that this particular saying is funny. Thank you for sharing it, but I would not feel right putting it on the back of my truck," I said.

"But it fits you," Hu insisted while thrusting it at me. He clearly was not taking the hint.

"Tell you what," I said, finally. "If you find a different bumper sticker, one that says, "Good thing the world sucks or we'd all fall off," let me know, because I'd like to purchase that one."

As Hu walked away, still clutching his treasure, he continued to chuckle, and that left me despising what he had found so incredibly amusing.

Just the previous weekend, I had driven to my niece's baby shower, and shortly after I sat down at the table with a handful of party nuts, a particularly large kernel--my cousin's wife Mary--approached.

Mary is the most troubled soul I know. She recently survived some horridly unfair and heart-wrenching treatments for breast cancer, and so I was not surprised when she began talking to me about Jesus non-stop. In my experience, the Christians who have always been the most vocal are the ones who recently exchanged drugs, alcoholism or child molesting for their religion. I've heard more than a few of them tell agnostics, Buddhists and earth lovers (like me) that they're all going to hell. That has always seemed to me to be way over the line of common decency. I don't know of any dark secrets from Mary's background, but she was still very pushy.

Out of respect for my niece, I did not protest and instead listened politely to Mary's stories, which ran together into what sounded very much like a sermon. The longer the stories dragged on, the more I tried to console myself with the idea that Christianity offered Mary relief from the most difficult of life's struggles.

After the 257th time that Mary verbally praised her Lord, however, I grew impatient. But before I could excuse myself from the table, Mary admitted that she had been leaving books written by her church's prophet in her doctor's office in an attempt to convert him.

Almost in the same breath, Mary revealed that during her last doctor's visit she had told her physician about her Lord, Jesus Christ (in excruciating detail, no doubt), and the man had finally admitted, "I just have to tell you, Mary, I am Jewish."

"Can you believe that?" she asked me with wide eyes and jaw dropped open. "There I was, pouring my heart out to him, telling him about my Lord and Savior, and he tells me he is Jewish!"

"What did you do after that?" I asked with as much solemnity as I could muster.

"I went and bought him our prophet's books that address the Old Testament. Jews believe in the Old Testament, don't they?" she asked.

With an overwhelming sense of empathy for the Jewish doctor, I nodded my head. That's when Mary took a moment to ask, "What church do you go to now?"

I hesitated with my answer. Surely she knew I was not Christian. Not only had I not been inside of a Christian church for more than a decade, but at that very moment I was wearing both a pentagram and an earth goddess necklace in plain view. What's more, my mother had openly prayed for me as a "fallen Christian" many times, and she had asked others, such as Mary, to pray for me as well.

Finally, because of Mary's persistence, I admitted that I do not attend church. Her instant mood change created an angry air around us so thick that if I had jumped off a skyscraper I would not have harmed myself upon landing.

Mary then began accusing me of all sorts of things, which should have been sufficient warning to find a quick escape, but, to be honest, I was tired of being the sponge in a one-way conversation, and I wanted to balance out the table a bit. So when she prodded, "But you believe in the Christian God don't you?" I politely answered--honestly--in the negative.

That's when she began to hurl words toward me like sharp javelins. I might have scored bigger points with her if I had tried to explain that while she believed in magic through her one god, I believed magic was everywhere, but I didn't say that. She continued her assault.

"Well, I just don't get it. Why are you not a Christian?"

"Because I'm smart," I finally blurted. Had I really said that?

Indeed, the words had rolled across my tongue more smoothly than the richest chocolate. Secretly, while I knew Mary did not appreciate it, I loved what I had just said.

Naturally, Mary's demeanor did not improve, and since I was not able to come up with a quick punch line I politely made an excuse to go stand in one.

Once I filled my plastic cup, I strategically conversed with others at the shower about everything from the weather to their relationships with their children.

While inciting anger through religious debate is one way Pagans can present new ideas to Christians, the process almost always turns unpleasant, and I'm convinced that it doesn't cause folks to open their minds to absorb new ways of thinking anyway.

Weeks later, in the metaphysical store, I considered Hu's bumper sticker once again: "Doing my part to piss off the religious right."

Maybe he was correct. Maybe that bumper sticker did fit, sort of. I still didn't like it. Why should my beliefs be so offensive to others that they would prefer I keep them hidden? It wasn't like "thinking" suddenly made me dangerous. I didn't go around pushing my ideals into folks like a grocery cart gone wild. I never volunteered information when it was not requested.

I did ask Christians to please not forward their biased and discriminating e-mails to me. In those situations, after I had repeatedly been bombarded with politically oriented Christian e-mails, I sent polite requests to remove my name from future forwarding lists.

"Why don't you just not say anything?" My beloved sister asked me one time, after I had responded to an e-mail broadcast that she had sent to encourage Christian prayer in schools. "Why don't you just hit the delete button?"

Hearing what I considered to be such a narrow-minded question coming from my highly intelligent sibling caused me to stop breathing. I felt as though I might even choke. How could it be that my sister, who is intimately familiar with my many scars from growing up in an ultra-conservative protestant Church, was insisting that I be silent and effectively pretend to be Christian? I fumed about the way she had never felt compelled to be silent regarding her faith, but wanted me to strangle myself in regard to mine.

Time has taught me to not expect others to accept my religion, and unless someone is intimately connected to me, they really do not need to know if I have a religion at all. At the same time, life has taught me that I'll never go back in my knowledge or faith (unless perhaps someone hits me upside the head until I become brain-damaged).

At the same time, since I am not willing to become a doormat for the closed-minded, I will continue to ask people not to push their will onto me. Out of respect for myself, I will continue to remind those who would overwhelm my e-mail account with their ceaseless evangelizing: "I'm not Christian, but thank you for bombarding me."

So if my actions of self-respect are what's pissing off the religious right, then blessed be. I still am not going to put that bumper sticker on my vehicle, because angering Christians is not my goal. What's more, keeping it up is a very wearisome task, and enduring the lectures that one gets in return is even more boring.

Tamoon Pearl is a mother of three and writes from Lakewood, Washington. A business writer by day and a news correspondent/freelance writer by night, she lives with three black cats and her youngest nestlings, ages 17 and 18. Her eldest, age 21, lives successfully on her own. Tamoon's collection of bylines mirrors her spiritual path as it progressed from the ultra-conservative Christian (in the 1980s) to purely business/news clips through the 1990s and into flagrantly green/pagan articles in the twent-first century. If this article impressed you in any way and you want to e-mail the writer, please contact her at tamoonpearl@yahoo.com or visit her Web site at www.tamoon.com

Copyright © 2006 by the article's author

4 comments:

Jess Mendez said...

HI,

I hope you're well,
Jesse

SunTiger said...

Thanks Jess. I am well. :D {{You?}}

Anonymous said...

I'm just so glad, that I can buy a site for Debt consolidation...
Welcome back, to the land of the Blog. We've missed you.
I don't know, what to tell, the prostletists, who try to pass their own prescriptions onto others, but it's probably a case by case basis.
I've placed a fishing line in front of a coffee can, and gotten an audible twang, so I've to figure a cheap frame, and learn the Windlass Knot. I've just thought of who to learn that from, as her uncle used to build sinking crab boats in Alaska.
I've also just read The Tigris Expedition, by Thor Heyerdahl, and it seem ZiuSudra, the original Noah, had the technology, not only to build Ziggurats, but also to sail from Pakistan, or farther east, all the way west to Easter Island, as Qetzecoatl did by way of Titikaka.
I'm also looking into the remedy of Copulant Minstresses, and it seems they'd been cultural mainstays, until 1494, when Columbus's Crew returned from the Cais, with Syphillis, but the Cais didn't have Sheep, so I don't think it's credible, to say he discovered much. He'd discoverd the French had already been there.

Well, okay, if you don't want your relatives going fanatical on Jesus, why don't you heal them yourself?

Arawn Graalrd

SunTiger said...

Arawn ~ It is not my job to heal the world. I can only heal myself and hope, by some positive example, that others are inspired to follow suit and do some self reflection themselves. {Not sure what you meant by the rest of what you wrote, there buddy}. ~ SunTiger

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