Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ramblings From The Broom Closet

Or, "If It's Dark In Here, Then Maybe I Should Turn On The Light."

In my day-to-day life, I'm "out" as a Christo-Pagan to a few people.  My mother and my brother know, as do my closest friends (largely because with only one exception that I can think of, most of my closest friends are also Pagans of one variety or another).  But there are far more people who I haven't told, like most of my family—I shudder to think what the news would do to my grandmother—and a number of friends who I'm not sure would handle the news very well.  I'm closeted at the school where I do my volunteer work, though that's more of a "closeting by omission" thing, not because I've intentionally hid my spiritual life, but because it hasn't really been necessary to say anything about it.  And anyway, it's not like I know what anyone else there believes.  I mean, for all I know, the principal could be a hardcore Satanist, as out-of-character as that might seem.  And of course, I'm also utterly closeted at my church, unless someone from there has somehow managed to stumble upon this blog and realize that hey, that brunette with the loud voice has a lot in common with this "Zillah" weirdo...

It's been my choice to remain in the proverbial broom closet so long, mostly because I don't feel the need to come out of it unless I'm talking to someone who I'm sure I can trust not to overreact, or to react badly in general, to finding out about one of the lenses through which I view the world.  Sometimes, when I decide that I want to tell someone, it can be a bit of a risk, though it's generally turned out fairly well.  (I suspect that this is because I'm so selective about whom I tell.)  But for the most part, I don't feel particularly inclined to come out as a Christo-Pagan; while my spiritual practices are an important part of my life, they're also personal and private enough that I just don't feel the need to inform absolutely everyone that there is a witch in their midst.*    I'm pleased with my spiritual life; it leads me down avenues of thought that I might not have gone anywhere near if I had remained entirely Christian or entirely Pagan, and because of it, I am a more compassionate and informed person than I might have been otherwise.  I just also don't think that it's something that everyone who knows me absolutely has to know.

Am I hiding behind the Christian privilege that being open about only part of my spiritual life necessarily brings me?  Maybe.  I don't deny that there are some aspects of Christian privilege that do apply to me, though I'm in the fairly unique position in which those aspects of it won't always apply, or in which they can backfire, or be as easily taken away as they were bestowed should the wrong person find out that my spiritual path is not entirely church-based.  Any "protection" that these privileges give me, like the strange idea that Christians are inherently more honest or moral people than non-Christians (and the current candidates for the leadership of the Republican party are all excellent arguments against that ridiculous concept), or my religion not working against me when I need medical or legal help, can vanish as easily as mist on a sunny day in the summertime as soon as the full story comes out.

And then, there are the aspects of Christian privilege which cannot ever apply to me.  Except for blogging under this pseudonym, I can't speak openly about my religious practices unless I'm talking to one or more of the seven people who know I'm a Christo-Pagan, and we're not in a public place or in a group with anyone who I don't trust with the knowledge.  I haven't had the comfort of assuming that religious experience is universal since some time in my childhood (I think I was about ten years old) when I found out that I was actually the product of a "mixed" marriage: remember, my mother's family is Catholic and my father's family is Anglican.  Because of the nature of my spiritual beliefs and practices, I've never actually been in the company of anyone who believes entirely as I do, much less been able to restrict my company only to the people who believe what I do.  And the mass media couldn't possibly represent my religion in any meaningful way; I've seen depictions of Paganism in the media, and I've seen depictions of Christianity, and if you took the mainstream media's view of things, you'd have to assume that the two are so fundamentally incompatible that the attempt to blend them just might form a very tiny black hole that exists just long enough to destroy the person foolish enough to give it a try.


So much for that one.  I'm still here. :)

All kidding aside, I do admit to being a little conflicted about being mostly closeted as a Christo-Pagan.  Am I somehow less honest, or am I perhaps buying in to the Pagan persecution complex, because I believe that it's not always wise to be up-front about my spirituality?  I do realize that there are some very practical considerations regarding my decision to keep quiet about roughly half of my spiritual life, and it's not like I'm always trumpeting about the Christian half of it anyway.  But at the same time, I have the option of keeping quiet and not being too upset by most of the assumptions that people make about my spirituality based on what they do know.  That's a huge luxury.  And sometimes I think I'm being too easy on myself for having it.

(For the list of examples of Christian privilege that I referred to in this post, see this post at Godless Girl.)

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*A phrase which just brought to mind the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which Sir Bedevere determines whether a woman accused of witchcraft really is a witch, based on the premise that witches burn because they're made of wood, which floats, just like ducks do, so if she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood, and therefore she is a witch.

Oddly enough, when I was taking a Philosophy course in university that included certain formulae which would help to determine whether an argument was logical, I decided (just for fun) to check this line of thinking with one of them.  Much to my surprise, it checked out.  Is it factual?  No.  But apparently it's very logical.  Go figure.

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