Friday, December 18, 2009

There are times when all that I can say is "ROFLMAO"!

So an Anglican church in New Zealand has managed to stir up a little controversy with a billboard. I laughed very hard when I saw the picture of it in the article I've linked to, but I can still see why the Catholics are so upset about it. After all, they do believe that Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage; it's been such a deeply-ingrained part of the faith for such a long time that the fact that Joseph was much older than Mary is often played up in Christmas songs and pageants from the Middle Ages—"Joseph was an old man, and an old man was he, /When he wedded Mary in the land of Galilee" and all that. Obviously another denomination's irreverent reference to their belief that she did not remain a virgin after Jesus' birth is deeply offensive to Catholics, and whatever offends the Catholics must surely be offensive to God.


It's a cute joke in a billboard that's obviously doing what it was supposed to do—get people thinking about Biblical things and poke a bit of fun at those who think more about Jesus' birth and death than anything he did in his life. God has a sense of humour; otherwise She/He/It/They would never have caused humans, elephants, chimpanzees or the duck-billed platypus to happen. If your faith is so fragile that a bit of humour threatens it, then perhaps you ought to examine the reason for that. The love of God isn't all "'sorry this' and forgive me that' and 'I am not worthy'"*, after all.


*Credit Monty Python, from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weighty Thoughts

Although there are many ways to sugar-coat this statement, I'm not going to bother. The end result will be the same.

I'm fat.

I'm not one of those women who believe they're fat because they wear something larger than a size 2. I'm one of those women who know we're fat because clothes for us don't exist in most "normal-people" stores; we have to get cheaply-made and expensively-sold clothing at special fat woman stores—in my area, these are Pennington's and Addition-Elle, which are pretty much the same damn thing—or sew our clothing ourselves. My jeans are size 24. My tops are a bit smaller than that because my waist is very well-defined and I'm pear-shaped to begin with; still, I can't really go much below a size 20 before the darn things get too tight across my shoulders (or, in the case of blouses that need to be buttoned up, start to gape in the area of my bigger-than-C-cup-but-not-quite-a-D-cup Miniature Rack of Doom). Even my feet are oversized; the shoes that are most comfortable for me tend to be size 10 wide at the least—more often size 11 wide. Suffice it to say that shopping for clothing is a frustrating experience, and shoe-shopping is an evil that I try to avoid whenever possible, to the point where I don't replace anything until it's so far beyond repair that it's barely holding together.

Now, I know that by now the usual stereotypes are probably running through your head. They probably started as soon as you read the word "fat", if they hadn't started at the title of this post. You're probably getting mental images of a horribly gluttonous tub of lard who constantly chows down on junk food, who thinks that walking five feet to the fridge to get more food counts as exercise, who wouldn't know a fresh vegetable if it slapped her on her oversized ass and who dresses badly, smells awful and probably has a constant sheen of sweat on her skin from being so fat. You're probably picturing one of those "headless fatty" photos that so often accompany news articles about Those Dreadful Fat People, Their Awful Eating Habits, And The Problems They're Causing For Virtuous Thin People. You probably think I look like one of those poor souls who's 500 pounds at least. After all, in this world only extremes exist, so obviously if I'm not rail-thin, I'm as wide as I am tall...

You'd be wrong on all counts.

I've been fat all my life, regardless of how active I've been or how little I ate. I've been complimented many times on my sense of style, even by thin people. I love long walks (as in "three hours at a moderately brisk pace with one rest per hour") and would rather nibble at a carrot than a chocolate bar any day. I don't sweat much unless it's very hot out and I've been exerting myself, and I smell pretty normal because I believe in bathing and other practices of good hygiene. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, my butt isn't so big that I can't fit into one of those cramped little third-class airplane seats.

And by the way, I do eat very little. Generally speaking, I only eat two small meals a day, and no snacks. I only eat when I'm hungry, but I don't always eat when I'm hungry. If I was thin, this would probably be a huge warning sign; because I'm not, it's taken as a sign of Virtue in a Penitent Lardass.

What brought this on—and the reason why I put it on this blog instead of somewhere else—was a realisation that I had yesterday morning in church. I caught sight of myself in a mirror while I was wearing my cassock and surplice, and I thought I looked hideous. My arms are too big. My hips are too wide. My face is too round. I look like an ugly parody of a grown-up wingless cherub in Anglican choir dress. It didn't matter that the other singers in the choir, as well as our choirmaster, had thanked me for my willingness to step into the alto section again this morning when we only had one actual alto who was feeling shaky thanks to jet lag from a long flight she'd been on the day before. It didn't matter that I was among friends. It didn't matter that I know that very few, if any, of us ever actually like the way we look in choir dress. I felt worthless, stupid and ugly. And thanks to my infamously good memory, I couldn't stop thinking of an incident from a couple of years ago, when my other choir was considering a change of dress code for the women involved; the people who'd done research into a company that would make the blouses and skirts to order said that the clothes the company kept in stock went up to size 28, but they'd have them sewn for anyone who needed a larger size. Our director—the same person who is the organist and choirmaster at my church—laughed when he heard that the clothing sizes would go that large. I believe his exact words were, "That's a two-person tent!"

At the time, I couldn't do much but toss an irritated glare in his direction; due to his amusement, I doubt he noticed. Yesterday, however, I remembered his unintentionally cruel words. Size 28 isn't that much bigger than size 24, after all. And I couldn't stop thinking that this man, someone who I've trusted implicitly since I was in my teens and who I've lately come to consider a friend, thought two years ago that it was OK to ridicule people who wear a clothing size that he'll never have to worry about getting anywhere near—both he and his wife are quite slender, as are their children. I could not discount the possibility that someone who I like, trust and admire (a very rare combination for me, thanks to my cautious and aloof Scorpio self), who seems to like and respect me in turn, nonetheless apparently thinks—if only at a subconscious level—that I'm a hideous fat mess. After all, I'm nearly big enough to wear a "two-person tent" for concert blacks.

I know him well enough to know that it would be highly uncharacteristic of him to be intentionally cruel to anyone; if anything, his faults run in, if not the opposite direction, then one that's highly opposed to it; if twelve years have taught me anything about him, it's that he apparently prefers to avoid confrontation and he doesn't like offending people. He'd probably be mortified if he realized that a throwaway comment he made a couple of years ago that didn't get the laugh he was probably hoping for was very hurtful to me (and, for that matter, to the other women of large size who sing in that choir) at the time and is still periodically coming back to hurt me now. I think that what hurt the worst was that I wasn't expecting that sort of cruelty to come from someone who, aside from that one incident, has always been kindness personified to me. The part of my mind that's always willing to torment me and make me feel unworthy of existing exults in this sort of remembrance; it tells me that because someone who's so basically good has felt free to mock fat people, I can't expect anyone else to treat us decently. It tells me that for all our size, we're less than human. It tells me that it's right to be disgusted by someone as big as me. It tells me that my anger was unreasonable and my pain didn't matter.

I found it difficult to carry out my choral duties yesterday morning. It's hard to sing in time with everyone else when you can barely stand to look in the direction of the choirmaster. Outwardly, I was trying my hardest to act normally. Inwardly, I was in a state of utter torment. Words kept repeating themselves in my mind. Fat. Ugly. Shameful. Worthless. Useless. Stupid.

No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried to think more positively, I couldn't stop the wave of self-loathing.

The effects of my inner meltdown weren't pleasant. Apart from the coffee and danish that I had when I stopped by at my dad's apartment on my way home from church, I didn't eat anything at all yesterday. I spent the whole day feeling tired, hungry, dizzy, weak, irritable, slow and even in a little pain, thanks to hunger pangs and the headache I always get when I've been starving myself again.

In the end, I can only be thankful that I've never had to wear anything that was size 28. As damaging as the incident was, I suspect it would have been worse if I had been that size when he made that comment, or if I'd reached it since then. But as it is, I keep praying for help to get myself out of this depressed and painful mental state. Sometimes that helps, but for the most part I'm deeply afraid that the answer to these prayers will be "NO!" and I'll be stuck with it for life.

And fears like that truly worry me, because I don't approve of suicide, but I could almost understand the temptation when the world is such an unfriendly place that even kind people like the choirmaster at my church, who's been a mentor and almost a friend to me for twelve years now, don't have to be aware of it—or apologise for it—when they say or do something that's cruel to fat people, whether or not it was intentional. After all, we're constantly used as a symbol of all that's wrong with modern Western civilization, so obviously that means that we don't have feelings, or at least it means that our feelings aren't worth considering!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I am so tired of this BS.

Once again, the truth about horrific abuses committed by Catholic priests, this time in Ireland, has come out. Once again, it appears that there was a massive cover-up in an attempt to protect the church. And once again, there's a flurry of otherwise-rational and fair-minded people in the feminist blog-sphere who are willing to blame not just the priests who actually committed the abuse for it, but all Catholics (sometimes even all Christians, regardless of denomination), priests or not.

Whatever happened to blaming only the abusers for the abuse? Does that disappear when the abuser is supposed to be a spiritual leader? Are people who didn't know of the abuses still somehow complicit in the crime? I can see where people who knew about it and did nothing to stop it are also to blame for it, too; they aided in the victimization of those kids and they deserve all the censure that the world can spare. But treating all Catholics (or even all priests!) like they're all child-molesters isn't an appropriate response to tragedies like this.

Even though I decided that the Roman Catholic faith wasn't for me, I am tired of seeing a valid spiritual path being constantly denigrated by people I respect. For every pedophile priest we hear about, there are many more who are not sex offenders, who genuinely do care for the people in their parishes and who do their best to give their support, guidance and kindness to those who need it. But these are the ones we rarely hear about, because their stories are not scandalous enough to catch the interest of a public who loves to see other people's disgrace.

The Catholic Church needs to change its responses to disasters like this; I have never thought that this was a matter that was up for debate. I believe that at the very, very least, the offenders need to be de-frocked, put on a sex offenders registry, imprisoned and (if possible, though I know that there are some, maybe even many, who will never repent) TRULY rehabilitated. But this is not a good reason to dismiss all Catholics as child-molesters or enablers of child-molesters. It's not a good reason to scoff at Christians in general. It's not a good reason to make disparaging remarks about a religion that, for all its flaws, nonetheless manages to give many thousands of people the comfort, inspiration and spiritual fulfilment that they feel enriches their lives and encourages them to do good in the world.

Hate the sin, not the people who have a religion or vocation in common with the sinners.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Disturbing Lack of Compassion

A few days ago, I became aware of the story of Nathalie Blanchard, a woman whose insurance benefits were cancelled because somebody from Manulife logged on to Facebook, looked her up and saw pictures of her at a party, having a good time. Ms. Blanchard had been diagnosed with depression and had been on leave from her job, but now apparently she's fit to work.

I call bullshit. Having suffered from depression several times in my life—I'm still dealing with the fallout of the most recent episode—and because I am also trying to help my mother deal with her severe depression, I know very well that not only is attempting to have fun a part of the treatment that is often recommended for depression, but even when a sufferer is having a good time, it's possible for them to sink right back down into the stifling, terrifying and mentally-paralyzing hell that we call depression. I've been there a time or five myself. Just as it takes a long time for the condition to develop, it takes a long time for a sufferer to be able to deal with it.

But it's not the insurance company's lack of compassion I'm going to be ranting about today. That's more or less something to take for granted; if my mother's struggles with the company from which her own insurance policy comes have shown me anything, it's that such companies are only interested in keeping the money that they demand from their customers, and should any of those customers have grounds for getting any of that money back, the companies will do everything in their power to deny the coverage. If that fails, they'll do whatever is necessary to stop providing the service they're supposed to provide, whether it's hiring professionals of their own to say that the person's condition isn't as bad as any other professionals working on the case have said it is or, indeed, snooping through people's private data just to find a tiny bit of proof that the person who actually dares to use their insurance policy might actually not be as badly off as they say. Insurance companies don't exist to help people, they exist to take people's money and do whatever they can to avoid giving it back, even to the people who need it the most. I think we all know that, and while their lack of compassion (or ethics!) is notable for being the cause of the problem in this case, it's not what I actually set out to rant about.

No, the lack of compassion upon which I intend to remark today is that of the astoundingly arrogant and cruel jackasses who, in commenting on the story, not only side with the insurance company but say that Ms. Blanchard is getting her just deserts—you see, these experts on all things claim that depression is a bullshit excuse for laziness, so she should just get off her lazy butt and go back to work because clearly, the smile on her face in a few photos taken on her birthday is proof positive that she just doesn't want to work. "I work for my living," they say. "Why shouldn't she have to work for hers?! Better yet, make her pay back all the money that she bled out of the system because depression doesn't exist! It's no excuse to take time off work! She's being a lazy stupid little bum and we're all paying for it! She's partying while the rest of us have to work!" Often it's hard to tell whether these people are really upset that a woman was (until recently, at least) getting the time off that she needed to rebuild her sanity or they just want to say, "Look at me! I'm a smart and important person! I work hard! That person is trash, she deserves what she got! This proves that I am a hard-working important and smart person! By the way, my troubles are worse than hers, and I'm not complaining!" Oh, the troubles of people who claim to be martyrs. They've got problems, all right. They're just not the ones that they're talking about.

All those people who claim that depression is bullshit and that sufferers should just grin and bear it and just get over it already—I hope that someday they develop a case of depression that's so terrible that simply getting out of bed is nearly impossible and going to work is practically unthinkable. Let them see what it's like to be in such a dark place, mentally speaking, that they can't find any way out that isn't death without the help of friends, family and trained professionals. Let them feel the suffocation that severe depression makes its sufferers feel. Let them know what it's like to have a condition that's constantly belittled and denied; let them feel the utter hopelessness, that crushing despair, that's only compounded by the knowledge that sometimes even people you know, love and trust won't take you seriously if you say you're depressed because mental illness that doesn't involve a straitjacket is just "all in your head" and that means that it isn't real. Let them know the anguish of realizing that they've become something that they once condemned—a person suffering from depression who really does need help. Let them know what it's like to become depressed in a world that denies the very existence of the condition.

Let them see how utterly wrong they are. Because that's the only way they'll ever learn compassion for the sufferers of depression; they'll never understand it otherwise.

I realize that such wishes are out of line with many of my beliefs, but right now, I'm too angry to care. Sometimes the only way that some people will ever learn to have compassion for people who are suffering from anything is to suffer the same damn thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Proselytizers Embarrass Me

They do. They really, really do. They did when I was a Catholic. They did when I was sorta-Solitary-Wiccan. They do now that I'm a Christo-Pagan. While I suppose that their devotion to their faith is admirable in a way, the fact is, the way that so many of them believe that their right to free speech trumps other people's right not to be harassed is deeply embarrassing to me. After all, most of the ones I hear about happen to have something in common with roughly half of my spiritual identity, and it embarrasses and offends me that they're trampling over other people's right to believe (or not believe, of course) as they choose and using the cross as a means of convincing themselves of their own superiority. And should anyone actually choose to stand up to them, then the accusations of persecution and silencing come out! When the encounter doesn't go well, the logic seems to go something like this:
1. God tells me that I have to Spread The Gospel.
2. You don't believe what I do.
3. Therefore, I have to Spread The Gospel to you to Save Your Damned Soul.
4. No, you don't have a choice about whether or not you listen to me. I am God's Holy Messenger.
5. Don't tell me to go away, that's persecution! (Implied: freedom of speech only applies to me, not you.)
6. I have rights! You can't tell me that I can't spread God's word to you! You have to listen to me!
7. No, really, you have to listen to me!
8. *after final rejection* Come see the disregard that this little twit has for me and my rights and My Holy God! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
I often wonder why these people do what they do, whether it's really for God's glory or their own. What do they tell themselves about what they're doing? Do they really think that they'll be able to annoy people into becoming Christians? Do they enjoy feeling like they're being oppressed by the fact that somebody didn't want to put up with their harassment? One somehow suspects that they should experience some real persecution before they start whining because their unrequested spiritual advice hasn't fallen on friendly ears. Only I wouldn't want that for them, because nobody deserves to be persecuted or oppressed, even for being a monumental asshole.

And then there's the perspective I have as a result of the Pagan elements of my faith. I struggle enough with balancing the Pagan and Christian beliefs that my heart, if not always my head, insists are compatible with each other. What I do not need is some stranger telling me that unless I become a devout and loudly Evangelical Christian, I'm going to go to Hell. You see, my faith does not hinge on whether or not it will get me out of eternal punishment; it tells me that I must have compassion for people. It tells me that I should do what I can, no matter how small the action may be, to make the world a better place. It tells me that I must have respect for the Earth and be kind to it. It does not tell me to feel self-satisfied at the prospect of being one of the Chosen Ones, whatever one might be chosen for. It does not tell me that I should pray loudly on the street corners so that everyone around can hear me. It does not tell me that anyone who disagrees with me is my enemy. It doesn't tell me that it's my job to tell everyone else—or even anyone else—what they should be believing and how they should be living.

It does not tell me that everyone has to believe the same things that I do in order to live a happy, fulfilling and moral life.

Proselytizers embarrass me because they embody many of the worst stereotypes of the Christian believer. Most of the ones I've met over the years have been rude, tactless people who, convinced of their own moral superiority, have decided that it's their right to tell other people how they ought to live. It's not about God, it's about them. It's about their conviction that they are God's Favoured Ones, so they are better than the rest of us mere mortals.

So, my militantly evangelical Siblings-Who-Deny-Our-Siblinghood-In-Christ-Because-I-Worship-A-Goddess-As-Well, be warned: if you want to share the Good News with me, I suppose that I can't stop you. But I will be moved to share the following Bible verse with you:
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your father in heaven.

So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

—Matthew 6:1-6

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday After Remembrance Day

Today, as I was singing in church, I realized that tomorrow it will be a full calendar year since my first Sunday service as a member of the choir there. I was simultaneously pleased and surprised, and I realized something.

That church is now as much my spiritual home as the small clearing in the trees in my two-acre backyard where I observe the days that are important to the Pagan part of my identity.

I have a lot to thank my choir director for. I can't imagine my life without those people now—at least, not without feeling a tremendous sense of loss. But for all the embarrassment I've sometimes felt, first being an outsider with only a bare-bones knowledge of Anglican ritual and then being someone who sometimes forgets important things despite having known better for months, this past year has been almost surprisingly spiritually fulfilling.

Today, it was a year in Sundays since my first Sunday there, and that makes me happy. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I didn't vote for you!

When I was looking at Wren's Nest News on The Witches' Voice this morning, I saw an article about an occult centre that's supposed to be opening in England—in Cambridge, to be precise. Apparently "Church leaders" are worried that he'll target vulnerable people, and I've got to say that I agree with them, even if I don't have their precise motivations. The man himself who is opening the place already owns several in France, and apparently he considers himself to be the King of All Witches...

...even though Witches don't have a King or a Queen, or even just a single unified system of belief...

...and even though Kevin Carlyon, who was once widely compared to Gilderoy Lockhart, has already claimed to be not just the King of the British White Witches, but claims to be a God...

...and even though similar claims have always earned nothing but ridicule from Witches and Pagans in general!

Every time I hear of yet another self-proclaimed Witch King (It's odd that it's never a Queen, eh?) it reminds me of that bit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when King Arthur is confronted by Dennis, the peasant who objects to him being king just because the Lady of the Lake gave him a sword. I can't help but laugh about it. And I can't wait to hear what King Kev has to say about this—let those two self-promoting frauds duke it out for the title of Silliest Pompous Arse Ever to Wear a Pentacle.

But regardless of which one would win, he's not my king...I didn't vote for him! ;)

(To see the blurb and comments on Wren's Nest, click HERE. Wren always provides a link to the story itself as well.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Faith =/= Fauxgressive

Or, "Spirituality and/or Religion Don't Have to Be At Odds with Feminism!"

As much trouble as I sometimes have in reconciling my Pagan identity with my Christian one, sometimes it's even harder to reconcile the both of them with the fact that I am also a feminist. This is not so much because of anything that I believe or act on, but because of the unflattering light in which many other feminists tend to view those of us who have some kind of religious inclinations—especially Christian ones. I get that people have used Christianity in many horrible ways over the centuries, and that it's still being used as a cross-shaped bludgeon to beat down some of the most vulnerable people in the world. I get that having even a partially Christian identity is to have at least some Christian privilege and therefore one should be ready to examine that privilege at a moment's notice, especially after you've done something particularly boneheaded and offensive in the name of the Divine.

What I don't understand is why it's OK for members of a progressive movement to talk about Christianity like all members of all denominations believe ALL the same things, like it's perfectly right to condemn all of us—and yes, because of the "Christo" in "Christo-Pagan", I do think I have the right to say us here—for the terrible things that members of various Christian groups have done in the past, are doing in the present and will probably do in the future. To talk about all Christians (or even just most Christians) like we all hide behind the Cross as a "get out of Hell free" card without introspection, compassion or acknowledging it when we've screwed up and doing our best not to screw up in the same way again.

Do I think that there are people who do this? Yes, without a doubt. When I was growing up, I knew a few people who thought that it was enough to go to Confession and say a few prayers in penance for whatever it was they'd done to (or not done for) somebody else. I suspect that there are some in the congregation at my church who think that the weekly prayer for forgiveness ("Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed...") that's part of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Anglican Church means that whatever we've done during the week, it's OK now because we've told God we're sorry, even if we haven't done anything to make things better for the people we've hurt. But I don't think that all Christians are this hypocritical. I don't think all of us think that we've got the only moral way to live, the only valid spiritual preference, the One True Right and Only Way. To say that we're all that way would be a mistake that's every bit as harmful as the one that some Christians make when they say that all atheists and all non-Christians are evil and immoral people.

Even so, I do understand the reasons behind some of those ideas. I would never have left the Roman Catholic faith if I didn't understand them to some degree. I got tired of hearing that women couldn't be part of the priesthood. I got tired of hearing nonsense about people going to Hell because of their sexual orientation. I got tired of the self-congratulatory tone of a lot of the charitable work that was done in my (very Catholic) school—remember, I was in my early teen years when I consciously left the Catholic faith. I was tired of the narrow-mindedness of so many of Jesus' followers, and I admit that I lost sight of the fact that Jesus himself was far from being narrow-minded and hateful. So many people take his message of love and turn it into an elitist message of condemnation for anyone who isn't Christian and part of their own particular denomination, which is (Surprise! Surprise!) the One True Right and Only Way. I won't lie, there's a certain amount of that in the Anglican Church, too, but in my experiences with this denomination, I've found that it's not quite as front-and-centre as it was in the denomination into which I was baptized.

I'm aware that a lot of the history of the various denominations of Christianity has been full of hatred and malicious behaviour. As a person qualified to teach History, I can't ignore that—and even more so because I'm a person of (dual) faith. I've seen it from both sides. When I was a child, I saw through prejudiced eyes because I simply hadn't been taught any better, and I didn't have the resources to learn on my own until I'd reached my teens. And since then, I've had to conceal the true nature of my spirituality from some of the people who I love the most because I know that they would not accept my Pentacle or my Elven Star—I know for a fact that my dad would outright hate me for them, and I doubt that most of the people in my church choir would understand why I'm drawn to them, and to what they symbolize, as much as I'm drawn to the Anglican Church.

Even as I understand the anger and ambivalence (or at least antipathy) that I often see directed at Christianity—I embraced them once myself, after all, not much more than a decade ago—it does bother me when, not stopping at enumerating their reasons for disliking Christianity, and often other religions as well, people go on to cast insults at those who do follow that path. People who pray are dismissed as "talking to themselves". Belief in the Divine is scoffed at as a childish superstition. I know that there are people whose idea of the Christian faith as a whole has been soured by the unacceptable actions of some of its members, from the Bible-thumping proselytizers who've made it their life's work to shove their beliefs down everyone else's throats, to the genocidal missionaries who used smallpox as a weapon against the inhabitants of the "New World" (an ugly Eurocentric phrase if I ever saw one), to the bloodthirsty minds behind the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades, and that the closed-mindedness of so many of this religion's current followers has, quite frankly, given the rest of us a pretty bad name. It's insulting to tell an atheist that you'll pray for them. But it's equally insulting for that atheist to tell a person of any religion or spirituality that their beliefs are bullshit. Christians may be the privileged ones in this discussion, so it's easier (and sometimes much more valid) to take shots at them, but let's just remember: every person has their own truth, and it's not for anyone else to say they're wrong unless that person is likely to cause harm to others through acting on their beliefs.

Bottom line: I'll respect your choice not to believe, and your reasons for doing so—but it is only fair that you give my beliefs the same respect as I give your choices. It's not about privilege or who's really right. It's about a principle that I've always believed in, but that I've never heard expressed any better than it's heard in one of my very favourite films:

Be excellent to each other. Party on, dudes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I slept through my alarm this morning.

That sort of thing is completely uncharacteristic of me; not only do I usually wake up well before any alarm I set can go off, but on the rare occasion when I don't wake up before it goes off, when it does go off I immediately wake up. This morning, though, I must've either turned it off in my sleep, unless I set it for 8:15 PM instead of 8:15 AM last night. (In that case, I'd better turn it off or I'll have a rude interruption during my usual meditation this evening!) So I woke up at 10:05 this morning—five minutes after I was supposed to actually be at my church—and managed to pull a brush through my hair (which is rather long) and pull on some clean clothes and get in the car to drive to church within five minutes. The drive, which is normally about 20 minutes, took closer to 15, thanks to the fact that most of the lights which are usually red when I get to them turned out to be green today. I got there just in time to run to the rehearsal room, jump into my cassock and surplice and grab my music. Everyone else was heading into place for the opening procession, though once I got into my usual place, we still ended up waiting at least five minutes to go in. Good thing I'd taken some of my music home to look at after last practice, because I didn't get to practice it with everyone else this morning!

I took a fair amount of good-natured ribbing from everyone else in the choir about that. It's the first time that most of them had ever seen me be late for anything, after all. :)

Even accounting for the fact that I hate to be late for anything, and even though there were a couple of Sundays this summer when I didn't go to church at all (the first of which being the one that prompted my initial blog post here), I don't think I realized how dedicated I had become to this choir, to this church, before my late awakening this morning threw me into a such a hurry to get where I knew I already should've been.

On reflection, my life has been an awful lot like that in the past three years. In my mind, I know that I should be living on my own, working for a living and paying my own bills. I'll be 27 in November, after all. Yet, for all my attempts to be that productive person I know that I should be, I've been hit with a few curveballs—illness, depression, the need to help my mom take care of herself and even the decision to turn down a job offer at a place where I knew I'd be miserable, even if the pay was half-decent, just to name a few. I know what my life should be like at my age. But I can't help feeling that right now, I am precisely where I need to be, even though to some degree I'm still rushing to be in that place where societal standards tell me that I should be.

To put it shortly, although I don't feel I can complain too much about my life, the fact that I'm a 26-year-old unemployed teacher worries and scares me a bit—I'm terrified that I'm screwing myself over really badly, even though I know that helping my mother as I am now is the right thing to do. There's just nobody else who's in a position to support her in the way that she needs it right now.

Yet, if I don't take time to enjoy the journey now, who knows what kind of opportunities I'll miss? If I'd done what my mind tells me I should've done—take a minimum-wage job at a call centre, which would mean I'd have to take abuse from a lot of impatient and angry customers for eight hours a day—instead of taking time to work through my depression and take courses which could mean that I still have a shot at getting hired by a school board as a teacher someday, therefore letting me be part of the profession that I feel I was made for, I know that I wouldn't have had time for the community choir whose members have helped me to stay sane in the last few years, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to join my church choir, either. I'd have missed out on meeting so many people, doing so many things and having so many experiences that have helped to make my life a better and more worthwhile thing. Maybe my life would have been miserable, or maybe it wouldn't have been. All I know for sure is that for all my present difficulties, I'm not doing too badly and I'm working on doing even better in all aspects of my maybe it isn't that bad after all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Racial Type of Original Sin

I've often heard it said that white people are incurably and innately racist. The idea is that no matter how hard individuals may try to not be racist, the very skin we were born with makes us racist because white-dominated Western cultures give us un-earned advantages that people of other races just don't get. We are tainted from birth and nothing can change that.

I find that idea to be deeply hurtful even as I understand its source. From our history, you'd think that white people are the real root of all evil, that the love of money doesn't even begin to enter into it. It often seems like we've created practically everything that's wrong with the world today. Other races may not be perfect—after all, we're all human and therefore likely to make mistakes of varying degrees of severity—but because of the dominance that white people have had over the world for so long, we've been in the position to do the most evil for the greatest amount of time. And yet, every time I hear this assertion, it hurts me. I have friends who are people of colour. Some of my cousins are half-Ojibwe. One of my mother's friends, a woman who I grew up thinking of as an aunt, was chief of a Cree reserve for several years. These are people I love, and the thought that I'm oppressing them just by being white is painful to me. After all, who likes to think that they're hurting any of people they love simply by existing?

In many ways, the idea of white people as being born incurably racist reminds me of the concept of original sin. It's not anything that any baby, even a white one, asks for or does anything to cultivate. It's something that they inherit from their ancestors and it's something that no amount of good works can save them from. But unlike original sin, which is traditionally done away with by the sacrament of baptism, there can be no absolution from this sin. Even the best white ally of POCs is, at the end of the day, still white and therefore The Enemy.

Initially, I became a Neo-Pagan because I wanted to distance myself from the Roman Catholic Church because of the more oppressive aspects of its past and present. I wanted more power to do good in the world than the severely restricted role of women in the Catholic Church would let me do. I wanted to understand the natural world better. I wanted to feel its energies. I wanted to do more to help it than hurt it. When I felt a pull to my Catholic past, I resisted because I didn't want to go back to something that I perceived as being innately negative. You don't have to look any further than the Pope's stance against contraception, the pedophile priest scandals, the excommunication of women who were ordained as priests (and the bishops who ordained them) and the Spanish Inquisition to see my reasons for that perception. I didn't want to be one of Them anymore. Acknowledging my remaining Christian leanings was very painful to me at first, and as things like the Rosary and prayers to various saints crept back into my spiritual life, I increasingly became alarmed with myself. It wasn't until I realized that it didn't have to be a one-or-the-other choice that I really made peace between what I had been and what I had become. I changed, and my somewhat unconventional spiritual life has been incresingly rewarding even in its difficulties ever since.

I can't do that with my race. I could dye my auburn hair and my pasty skin (I don't tan very well—I burn after more than 15 minutes in strong sunlight). I could have surgery to change my facial features and I could wear dark contact lenses to change the apparent colour of my blue-green eyes. I could learn other languages and totally immerse myself in a non-white culture. With a lot of work, I might even start to blend in, kind of like Archie Belaney when he became Grey Owl. But underneath all the artifice, I would still be white. I would still have grown up with a modicum of white privilege. (Until I reached high school it was curtailed to some degree because although most of my classmates were white, they were also mostly of Italian descent. I am not, and I learned very early on what a "mangiacake" is and why that's not a very complimentary term.) I would still assume that I had the right to basic decency from white people, even though I might not actually present as one anymore and even though as a white person I've sometimes been on the receiving end of white people's vitriol for Existing While Fat and/or Existing While Female—and even just for Existing, period. I may not have been born with these things, may not have been born with a concept of whiteness, but in the nearly 27 years I've been alive, I've absorbed it. I don't like it—but I don't have to like it to be part of it or to benefit from it. I just have to be. No amount of protest or work or attempts to even out the playing field will ever change that.

Obviously, it's an issue with which I have a lot of conflict. Any space that includes me is by default not a safe space for anyone who isn't white, perhaps not so much for my whiteness as for the way I struggle with it. Sure, there are things about me that I don't like, but at the most basic level I see myself as being a decent person. I was raised to think of racism as an evil thing and to think of racists as evil people. So perhaps it's not a big surprise that when I first heard someone say that white people are all incurable racists from the day we're born, it immediately felt like a heavy blow to the solar plexus with a spiky iron glove. I couldn't deny the history. I couldn't deny that racism still existed at the time and I certainly couldn't deny the damage that it was still doing, just as I still can't deny it, or the ways in which systemic racism still benefit me today, whether or not I like it. And you know, I don't want to believe that simply Existing While White makes me a racist any more than being bisexual makes me a closeted lesbian who wants to hold on to straight privilege. That would mean that just by being alive, I'm an instrument of evil who's hurting some of the people I love the most, and that the white people who are among the kindest humans I've ever known are also intrinsically evil. We're in a pretty unique situation, because we do not have to explicitly embrace the evil of racism to be part of it or to benefit from it.

There's got to be a middle ground. There's got to be a way to acknowledge and yet neutralize white privilege without condemning every last person who has it. Can you benefit from racism, whether or not you like or ask for it, without actually being a racist yourself? Can a white person totally eschew white privilege? Is being a racist more than holding racist opinions and acting in racist ways? Is it possible for someone who's a racist in every way it's possible to be a racist to change?

I want to believe that there's hope of some kind for people of my race. Otherwise, it means that we're all really just worthless, and that all other races would be perfectly justified in throwing us all into modern-day equivalents of the Nazi death camps. And because of my belief in an ultimately loving and forgiving Goddess and God (even if They frequently have to be stern with us), and my belief that there's some good in nearly everyone, I find that I can't quite give up on the idea that maybe someday we white folks can redeem ourselves, and that at heart, most of us are neither better nor worse than people of any other race.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

A couple of weeks ago, I sang alto for my church choir.

That might not seem so odd to anyone who doesn't know me; after all, altos aren't all that unusual to find in church choirs! I'm a soprano, though, so it was definitely a bit of a change. But at choir practice on the Thursday before, neither of our altos (we're a small group) showed up, and since I sing second soprano (basically, if the soprano line on a sheet of music has two different notes in the same place, I sing the lower one), our director asked if I'd sing the alto line that week. Always being willing to try something new (within reason, of course), I said I'd give it a try.

My music reading is probably not as good as it should be, though it's improved by leaps and bounds since I joined the choir last November. I tend to learn music better by ear than by sight, and being on the soprano line I don't have to do much frantic sight-reading because we nearly always carry the melody in anything we sing. So this definitely represented a very decided step outside my personal comfort zone; knowing my limitations, our director helped me through the lines that evening, and I took my music home so I could familiarize myself with it over the course of the next couple of days. And I admit that I cheated a bit; I'm familiar with the ABC music notation system and I have a copy of BarFly, so I simply coded the alto line of my sheet music in and practiced along with that, then found MIDI files of the music I needed online so I could get used to singing my part along with the other three. Hey, when I have such a short time to do what I have to, I figure I may as well use any advantage that I have in order to not make a fool of myself, even among friends. ;) In the end, we did very well that day, even though we only had six singers and received many compliments for the sound that we were able to produce. (Incidentally, I heard that the alto line came through nice and strong. *grin*)

It occurred to me afterwards that I had recently had another experience in which it paid off to step outside of my comfort zone—the day that I decided I'd give this choir a try in the first place. Although I had been calling myself a Christo-Pagan for years, the truth is that I was neglecting the Christo- part of that description; I was simply a Pagan who believed in Jesus, and perhaps at the time that was enough. When my choir director first approached me with the idea of joining the church choir, I was very much afraid that perhaps my background—being far from that of a traditional Anglican—would make me an outsider in this community and make the idea of joining the choir a very bad one indeed. I was rusty on any sort of Christian ritual, even if I did say the Rosary every once in awhile; when I do that, I precede it with the casting of a circle and a moving meditation that I learned after my Level 1 Reiki attunement (with words I've adapted for my own needs, of course). Stepping into the rehearsal room for the first time was probably one of the most nervous moments in my life up to that point simply because of the fear I had that I would somehow prove to be not equal or valuable to this community that I was joining.

As it turned out, I couldn't have been more wrong. Several long-established members of the choir have told me that they're glad I'm there, and I feel genuinely welcome every time I step into that poky little rehearsal room now.

There can be great benefits from stepping outside the comfort zone. I should make an effort to do so more often.

Perhaps I should attend the next Pagan Pride Day—after all, I've never done that before, either, and I'm sure it would be an enlightening experience!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Never mind the whys and wherefores..."

(Title courtesy of Gilbert & Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore", which was the first musical I ever went to see. It contains some of what is still my favourite music after all these years.)

I'm posting this on the off-chance that I might ever need a FAQ page. Stranger things have happened, after all. :)

Why do I call myself a "Surprised Christo-Pagan?"

I call myself a Christo-Pagan because while I do involve myself in things like Goddess worship, divination (more as a means of seeing what's in my subconscious mind than what's in my future), Reiki, meditation and rituals I've constructed based on information gained in my "Wicca 101" days, I also find great comfort and spiritual benefit in things like saying the rosary and being involved in Christian worship. I can't turn my back on either system of belief because they are both a powerful part of who and what I am.

I spell it "Christo-Pagan" rather than "Christopagan" because I don't want to privilege one side of my path over the other.  (I could probably try to even them out by alternating the letters in "Pagan" and "Christian," therefore calling myself a "Pcahgrainstian" or a "Cphargiasntian," but that would be silly.)  And although I may use the term "Christo-Pagan" more often than "Pagan Christian", largely because it's not quite so cumbersome, I will probably use the terms interchangeably—much as I use the terms "violin" and "fiddle", which refer to the same instrument, depending on which kind of music it's used to play.

Please don't think it's ever been easy to reconcile the two. I'm very much aware that I'm on very shaky theological ground here on at least one side of the equation—Christianity traditionally disapproves of pretty much everything I do as a Pagan; if it weren't for a core belief of mine, the belief that all deities are faces of a "God behind the Gods", I would be violating both the first of the Ten Commandments and rejecting the very statement of faith that I make every Sunday when I recite the Apostles' Creed (or the Nicene Creed on the Sundays when we use the Book of Common Prayer), and even so, I am quite arguably still doing those things because "All the Gods are one God" still isn't a Judeo-Christian belief, strictly speaking. I pray for guidance every time I take communion and every time I celebrate a Sabbat or an Esbat. I'm not picking up any signs of disapproval yet, but I'm aware that it could very well be because I'm not listening the right way and I'm still looking for a lot of answers.

Neopaganism may be more lenient (in theory, at least) because "Neopaganism" is really just an umbrella term for a collection of various modern faiths that have been influenced by what's known about pre-Christian religions (and in many cases, a heavy dose of Gerald Gardner), but from what I've seen online, a lot of Pagans must be allergic to Christians—I've lost track of the times when, while I've been looking at the news on Wren's Nest over at the Witches' Voice, I've seen an article relating to Christianity where people have left comments ranting about EVIL HYPOCRITICAL XTIANS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA. Much as the GLBTQ community tends to look askance at bisexuals, even if they're part of the name, and much as the medical community apparently hates fat people, Pagans and Christians alike tend to look at those of us who try to blend the faiths as if we're unnatural and threatening freaks, fence-sitters who should just place ourselves on one side or the other. After all, two paths that are (ideally, at least) dedicated to compassion, love and making the world a better place are bound to be mortal enemies. *sigh*

I call myself a "surprised Christo-Pagan" because the world is full of surprises—and because I'm still very surprised that I've managed to make a spiritual life that's as complex and downright strange as mine has been actually work for me.

Why do I choose to talk about such a personal subject in public?

I've always found that I do my best thinking when I'm just writing my thoughts down. I figure that if I can benefit from muddling through like this, why couldn't my ramblings be helpful to other people as well? Should anyone chance to stumble upon this blog, I hope that even if they think I'm crazy/stupid/weird/going to Hell/anything else, I still hope that I'll give them something to think about.

Why do I call myself "Zillah"?

Because I may write about things here that I wouldn't necessarily want people in my daily life to know about, a pseudonym was obviously necessary. I chose "Zillah" not just because it's a fairly obscure Biblical name (Lamech's second wife, whose son Tubal-Cain was apparently good at making tools) but because of the first context in which I ever heard it—Zillah Grey was a character in Victoria Holt's "Snare of Serpents", and she was not what she initially seemed to be.

Now, human beings rarely are what we appear to be on the surface, so in that respect neither she nor I can really be said to buck the trend, but I feel that the name is an appropriate one for me to take for the purposes of this blog. The Zillah in that story had a past she wasn't proud of, and her actions caused years of suffering for someone she was close to, even to the point where that other person had to leave Scotland for South Africa for a time. On a strictly spiritual level, I also have a past I'm not proud of (see the bit on my "Wicca 101" phase in my first post) and although I haven't done anything that caused that much trouble for other people, I did end up with a significant split in my spiritual life for a number of years, almost like a split personality. I was in denial about it for a time—I think that's the main reason for my outpouring of vitriol towards Christianity in general, because although I thought I wasn't Christian anymore, I still felt a pull and I didn't like it. When I finally allowed myself to admit that the matter of my spiritual life wasn't as simple as being one thing or the other, I felt like the exiled part of myself was finally being allowed to come home, just as Zillah's step-daughter Davina Glentyre was.

Zillah dies near the end of the book, true, but then...eventually, we all do. If I recall correctly, Zillah made peace with herself and with Davina before the end. And in the end, that sort of thing is really what this blog is about—reconciling with myself and achieving a spiritual balance that will allow me to go forward and, for however long I'm going to be alive, help me to be the best person I'm capable of being.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Missing Church...And Actually Missing It

Or, "A Not-So-Short History of my Spiritual Development"

Even at my most pious, I was never really of the church-going persuasion.

I was twelve years old and the "God bug" had just bitten me in a big way. My parents—a lapsed Catholic and a lapsed Anglican—had sent me to Catholic school since kindergarten, largely to keep my mother's Catholic family happy, and though I went through all the sacraments at the usual pace (well, except for baptism, which happened when I was three) and religion was taught in the school I went to, and although the whole school would attend Mass every other week, before I was twelve or so I didn't give it any more thought than I gave to anything else I learned. Sure, I paid attention and I got good grades for it, but it never occurred to me that religion was something to believe. It was just something we did a few times a day and got out of school for one morning every other week. I think that for awhile I thought that believing in God was like believing in the bell that rang for recess—I never saw that, either, but it was there and I knew it! But then, sometime after I turned twelve, something just sort of clicked and I thrived on the prayers and Bible stories that I'd been fed by my teachers since I was five years old. I even started enjoying Mass, which had always bored me before. Well, except for the bits where we got to sing; I'd always enjoyed those. :)

After that little revelation, for a brief time I even wanted to be a nun. I dreamed of being a saint. What a little idiot I was.

Now, to be perfectly clear, because some of my Catholic sensibilities are still part of my spiritual composition, I have a lot of respect for nuns and saints. But I have since come to realize that the life of a nun is most definitely not for me, and although I try to be a decent person, I admit that I'm not by any means a candidate for canonization. Besides, many saints tend to be martyrs as well, and I doubt that I'd ever go that far for my faith—I'd rather be quietly subversive and lead a longer existence on this planet. Perhaps that means that I'm a coward. Ah, well. *sigh*

And then, sometime early in my teens, I first came across the concept of Paganism. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I became extremely biased against Christianity (though not vocally so—my dad would probably have kicked me out of the house if I had been loud about it) because of the way it's been used and misused over the centuries. I became one of those "Wicca 101" fluffbunny Pagans who thinks Silver RavenWolf has the whole story on Paganism and its relation to other religions and spiritualities, and who resented Christianity because "they stole our holidays". Have you ever run across one of those Pagan web pages with tons of glittery pentacles where the writer says, "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt" and "Blessed Be!" a million times while talking about the Maiden-Mother-Crone aspects of the Goddess and spells and karma and "NEVER AGAIN THE BURNING TIMES"? I never unleashed the sparkly terror of such a page on the World Wide Web myself, but that was pretty much the state of my spirituality at the time. Thank goodness (Goddess?) I grew out of it, and in time the spirituality that I had adopted and so badly mangled grew into something beautiful that has helped me through many tough times since then. Eventually, I had a first-degree Reiki attunement and the meditation techniques that I learned from my instructor have also become part of my spiritual life.

And then, when I was 20 years old, I had another spiritual awakening, one that was far less conventional, smack me in the face. But as this entry's already going to be very long, and because it's something I'd like to meditate on further at another time, I'll say no more here than that it's had me questioning my sanity ever since, and that it's given me a new perspective on the world that I wouldn't have had without it.

A bit over six years later, an acquaintance of mine who directs an Anglican church choir told me he could use another good soprano in the group and asked me to join. After a few days of researching and soul-searching, I decided that participating in Anglican worship wasn't something that was at odds with the current state of my spirituality, so I told him I'd give it a try. That was about eight and a half months ago, and I've been singing with them ever since. At some point over the years I'd come to the conclusion that my faith was both Pagan and Christian, and once I got used to the services from the Book of Alternate Services and the Book of Common Prayer, I'll admit that it felt good to put as much emphasis on the Christian side of things as I was already putting on the Pagan side. I suppose it helped that the church where I now sing is a place that I'd known and loved since I was a child—one of my aunts was married there, and on the occasions over the years when I ended up there again (mostly because I sing in a choir that's practiced there several times since I joined), I was always struck by the beauty of its stained-glass windows—so, between that and the similarities between the Anglican and Roman Catholic denominations, in a way it was like coming home after a long absence.

Currently, though, my church choir is taking a break because the director and his wife are out of town for a bit. And though I know that I could've gone to church this morning without donning the cassock and surplice, I stayed home—I've got a cold and I wouldn't want to pass it on, especially since most of the congregation is over 60! So, today was the first Sunday since November when I haven't gone to church, and it felt...strange.

I hadn't expected that. I was un-churched for so many years before I joined the choir, and I have to admit that I didn't miss it. My spiritual life was already full and satisfying. I had my own rituals and prayers and meditations. I didn't feel a need to go back to all the Bible readings, murmured responses and occasionally nonsensical hymns.

And then I joined an Anglican choir, and something must have changed because a missed Sunday suddenly feels wrong. I doubt it's out of simple habit—after all, for years before my break with the Roman Catholic Church, memorized prayers every school day and Mass every other Thursday during the school year were a fact of life for me. Once I left that, I didn't miss it. Perhaps it's the difference between something I didn't choose and something that I did choose; I had no choice but to be raised as a Catholic, but I chose to sing in that Anglican choir and take part in Anglican worship. Perhaps it's because the general atmosphere of the choir is relaxed and friendly, and during the Eucharistic service (usually the only service we sing for) amusing things tend to happen, particularly during the priest's conversation with the church's Sunday School kids. (I'm not sure how common this is, but I think it's a good idea; the kids are much more well-behaved during the service than they would be if they didn't know and like him. Still, they can de-rail those conversations no matter how well he tries to guide them, and the results are frequently funny for everyone.) Overall, I feel at home there, which is definitely a pleasant surprise. For once in my life, I actually understand what keeps some people interested in going to church week after week.

And yet, I am always conscious that, even if I've been accepted as a part of that Anglican church where I sing, this was not the denomination into which I was baptized. I was certainly not confirmed there, and in many ways, I remain a guest, not an actual member of the church. While I could change this by formally converting, I must admit that I don't feel the need to do so—not yet, anyway. If I ever do so, I want to be certain that it is out of the true desire of my soul to be part of this tradition, not because of the enthusiasm for something new and different in my life. I made that mistake with the Roman Catholic Church, way back when I was discovering God as something to be believed in and not just acknowledged. I made it again when I started to be drawn to Neopaganism. be totally honest, although Anglicanism as practiced in the church where I sing is a much better fit for my current spiritual life than my former denomination was, the fact remains that part of my experience of the Divine is not Christian in origin or practice. I do not believe that I have to reject God (or Jesus, for that matter) to know the Goddess, even if I would have to reject Her if I were to become a true member of the Anglican Church.

Over the years, I've found that my spiritual path is far from an easy one to take. I know that it may look like I'm cherry-picking my spirituality, taking what's convenient from Christianity and Neopaganism, and that the result might look like some unholy Frankenstein monster that's somehow made worse from being made of Love An' Light An' Fluffy Pink Unicorns An' Stuff. I know that it looks like I'm taking the easiest way—why choose one over the other when I can have them both? But that's not how I experience it. I've had some very real spiritual conflicts with what it means to be Christian and Pagan at the same time. I've wondered myself if I was simply doing what seemed easiest just because it would allow me to make some measure of peace with a tradition I could no longer submit to while also being able to partake in the more "exotic" spirituality that I was drawn to while I was in high school. I've made mistakes. I've been judgemental, had a flirtation with the "Pagan persecution complex" (you know, the idea that so many Pagans have that Christians are evil, closed-minded hypocritical bigots who go Biblically psycho at the sight of a pentacle—even as I enjoyed the friendship of several committed Christians) and, as discussed before, gone through the "Wicca 101 is OMG TEH BEST THING EVAH AN' I WANNA BE A WITCH 'CUZ THERE SO COOL!!!" phase, too, though I'd hate to think that my spelling was ever that bad. ;)

Maybe one day I'll also decide that "Christo-Pagan" is a Really Bad Idea too, but for now, I think I'll stick with that and see where it takes me. In writing this blog, I hope to give myself a place to sort out all these messy little details that have made this path I'm on so interesting and so frustrating at the same time. And if anyone ever happens to stumble upon this blog, I hope that they'll find something to think about here. I know I certainly intend to. :)