Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Happy . . . ah . . . Merry . . . Ah . . . Damnit: How can I Say this Without Pissing Someone Off????

I am a pagan. There. I did it. I confessed. But what is a pagan? As defined by the OED, pagan is first: “villager, rustic” and second was turned to mean “one of a nation or community which does not hold the true religion, or does not worship the true god: a heathen.” I will give you two guesses which religion redefined this word. 3: as opposed to Christianity. This is not “opposed to” as in against, but “opposed to” as in opposite or different from; thus, according to OED, Jews and Muslims and Buddhists are all pagans, not just someone like myself who has an affinity for earth based spirituality. You can call this a coming out post because—except for telling a few close friends and sharing my spirituality with my family—I never say anything about this in public. Why, you may ask? It is the looks I get. The whispers I have heard and the contempt and shock I have experienced from others since I was a child. I tried to share this with some classmates a few weeks ago and I felt very uncomfortable – I always feel as if I am saying something really wrong when I am expressing my spiritual side. As it is the start of a full moon, there you go—pagan me, I feel good about writing this post. It is a post in protest against the recent campaign which states that in this country we are against Christians and Christmas. I have been watching and reading several news articles this “holiday” season that express this point in fact. Christian groups were pissed off at the White House because they sent out “Happy Holiday” cards instead of cards that said “Merry Christmas.” Other groups are protesting against Target and other retailers because they used the “Happy Holiday” greeting instead of “Merry Christmas” and are threatening boycotts. Anger is spread because these businesses and national institutions are trying to be kind enough to not exclude any other spiritual doctrines during this time. Why? Many bloggers have already tackled this issue and have done a beautiful job of it, but because of my experiences today, I just couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself because now I am feeling offended. I ask you, what other religious holidays are nationally recognized in this country besides Christian holidays? Do folks get Hanukah off? No. How about Kwanzaa? No. How about Muslim holidays or any other religious day of celebration besides those of Christians? On Halloween, the pagan new year and the day of the dead, I have to put up with being called a devil worshiper, a spreader of evil, a corrupter of the youth and many other lovely phrases that suggest that just because I celebrate a turn of the season, and remember my loved ones past, I am evil. All of which is a bunch of hogwash. I am proud of the fact that I have and come from a multi-religious family composed of Jews, Catholics and, yes, Pagans. We have a Christmas tree, a menorah, we dance with the full moon and we celebrate the solstice. We have an ancestor alter which we honor our loved ones past. We burn candles to their memories, leave a bit of food and drink. We try to bring them in to hearts and space daily. We try to live with nature and with the energy of love and the universe and for this we are evil and against Christians? Please! Enough already. I am not against Christians, not “opposed to” Christianity or any other religion. I say live, love and laugh and do your best not to hurt anyone. A lot of spiritual holidays occur during this time of year and it would be foolish and down right rude to exclude different groups. I do not take offence at a Christmas card or a Hanukah card or a happy solstice card; yet, because I do not want to assume that someone might celebrate this time of year the same way I do, I get a “holiday” card out of respect for that individual’s difference. I wish to tell the person that I am thinking of them and spread some joy—for that I am what? Being anti Christian?? It is bad enough that this time of year has turned into consumerist heyday without also turning it into a spiritual war of words. Take a step back and think. If you will love your neighbor, you will see that all of this matters little. Are they good? Kind? Do they try to be considerate? Challenge yourself and reach out without worrying if they are the same religion as you. Just love. That is it.

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