Posted by: Sophia Catherine | July 24, 2012

Ep. 8: Living in the Gap

In which we discuss the gap between the ideal way we would like to practice our religion/spirituality and the way we actually do. Along the way we talk about: the balance of private and public in religious and spiritual paths, the effects of what sometimes gets called the ‘broom closet’, worries about not being taken seriously, and whether we’re making excuses for ourselves, along with a few other things. And we have the usual Religious News – and a contest!

To win a signed copy of Cat Treadwell’s brand new book A Druid’s Tale, leave us a comment here. What do you like about Divine Community? What would you like to see more of, and what don’t you like? (We can take criticism. Probably. *sniff*) Go on – tell us what you do and don’t like about us, and have a (fairly high) chance of winning Cat’s book!

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Responses

  1. Fantastic episode! There’s so much here that I want to respond to, I could probably go on forever, but the main point is something you brought up at the very end, Sophia, which is the fear of not being taken seriously. YES. Often times I will be somewhat reticent to talk about my spiritual life for exactly that reason — you can rest assured that anything I am talking about publicly online has been in the works internally possibly for years. Sometimes that can cause a problem b/c by the time I’m ready to talk about something, I’ve already moved on to my next challenge or obsession! That’s true even (maybe especially) when it comes to talking with other Pagans, I feel oddly reluctant to open that more personal aspect of my spiritual life up to the scrutiny of people who are relatively informed, b/c they’re more capable and more likely to form opinions of their own about my practice, whereas non-Pagans I’ve encountered often have more questions and what opinions they have are somewhat ill-informed. I can handle ignorance better than opinionated judgement, I guess. 😉

    I do think that non-Pagans’ intolerance of Paganism can itself be a social thing, the worry of what other people might think. I have been “out” as a Druid to my parents for years now, and they’ve been supportive at least to the extent that they don’t make a big deal of it (I’m already their weird, artsy daughter, so adding Pagan to it wasn’t a big leap). When it came time to plan my wedding last year and I said I wanted a Pagan wedding, they were even supportive. But when we had trouble finding a licensed officiant who would be willing to perform a Pagan ceremony, and I suggested we could use a Pagan officiant who wasn’t officially licensed and then just swing by the court house the following morning to sign the official paperwork to make the marriage legal — my parents freaked out, claiming that if the officiant wasn’t “official” then the wedding would be a sham. It caught me off guard! Obviously plenty of people choose to have non-religious weddings where the court house ceremony before the justice of the peace is all that they have, and those marriages are just as legitimate as marriages made by Christian ministers or priests (and if the bias of U.S. law was removed and laws regarding licensing were applied equally to minority faiths, Pagan priest/esses would receive the same license that Christian religious leaders receive automatically). But my father especially just would not compromise, saying he couldn’t ask his family to come out to attend a wedding that “wouldn’t be real.” He said that having an unlicensed Pagan priestess officiate would be “lying” to everyone…. And that was quite a blow. It was basically his way of saying that, when you got right down to it, my religion wasn’t legitimate and my beliefs were merely make-believe. That I could believe whatever I wanted, but when it came time to support me publicly he was more concerned about what others would think (even though a good half of my relatives are areligious or explicitly atheist). I have to admit, though it hurt to hear it, it didn’t shake my beliefs at all. It just really lowered my opinion of him (one of those sad moments when you realize your parents are only flawed humans who hold some really messed up views sometimes).

    Luckily, in the end, we were able to find an officiant who was nominally Christian and had the license but who routinely performed Wiccan ceremonies and handfastings, and she worked with us to craft a ceremony that was grounded in our Druid tradition. We made no mention of God blessing our union or any references to Jesus, but we invoked the elements and the gods that Jeff and I worship. (Everyone who attended thought it was an amazing ceremony, and we got lots of curious questions afterwards about our practice, so the reception was pretty interesting! 🙂 Still, to this day, I’ve never received an apology from my dad for his statements. We’ve celebrated the winter solstice with my stepkids at my parents’ house, and my parents are accepting of our tradition in every outward sense. But deep down, I know they don’t think it’s legitimate and, since they belong to a fairly liberal Christian community, I think they just believe that eventually I’ll come around or God will forgive me after I die. *shrug* If that’s the best we can do, I guess I’ll just have to settle for that. 😉

    As for feedback about the podcast more generally…. Just keep on doing what you do! It’s awesome. 🙂 So much food for thought and good ideas, and your honesty and intellectual integrity are both major reasons why I enjoy listening to the show.

  2. Your latest episode really made me think. It was a great discussion about what keeps us from living our religion to the extent we would like. I also got thinking about this after Oriahs episode. I find that most of my colleagues are not only atheists but in general just don’t like religion. In general my religion is very privet but it would be nice to be more open about podcasting actually. I love what I am doing and to be able to combine all my outreach would (make my life easier) and I would love to share my joy at some of the emails I get. But science is still very networking based (thats how I got my job) and in the age of this is “____ she is the one who_____” I would like to be the one who is smart, or works hard, or did that awesome paper… not the crazy one who is pagan and has a podcast. So oh well right? Like Amadore was saying sometimes its not your fight.

    I also liked the hints at the differences between the UK and US. Makes me want to study there even more! 😉 I would love to hear more about the differences between the US and UK attitudes or perceived attitudes about religion. Maybe even a mix with different regions of the US, or hell the world!

    Great job guys! Podkin love!

    ~Kat

  3. Just stumbled across your podcast today. Very informative. Keep doing whatever it is that you are doing.

    And as to a few of the topics you brought up in the podcast, I can personally relate that sometimes our fears and expectations of how “coming out of the broom closet” can affect how our friends / family receive the news. If you broach a topic with apprehension, your listener is going to pick up on that and it’s going to influence how they react to your news. Sometimes, you just have to think positively!

    Finally, I agreed with the segment in which you discussed the need of more people being public about Paganism, and that sometimes knowing someone who practices Paganism can help an individual view that faith more positively. This is something I have noticed in myself. Back when I was in college many many years ago (and long before I even dreamed of converting to Paganism) I knew someone who was a practicing Wiccan. She was probably one of the most rational, intelligent, and down to earth person I knew at the time. I remember asking her for advice a few times, and many of the recommendations she gave me were very helpful. And more importantly…she didn’t reflect the stereotype of Wiccans (aka weird people who dressed in black, chanted, and waved wands around) that I was familiar with. Fifteen years later, when I was discontent with my spiritual path (Catholicism), and started exploring other options, I’m not sure if I would have even considered Paganism if it hadn’t been for her example.

    P.S. Keep the “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” sound effect to introduce religious news. It cracks me up. 🙂

  4. I only discovered Divine Community last month after hearing Sophia Catherine interviewed by Firelyte. I’ve now worked my way through all eight episodes and loved every one of them. I love podcasts that look at Paganism from a broader spiritual and philosophical view, rather than the usual stones-and-herbs-and-spells approach.

    One of the things I found most interesting about this episode and number seven, is the difference between the place of religion in daily life in Britain and the US. Here in Canada it’s somewhere between the two, although probably closer to the British view. For example, our Prime Minister is a fundamentalist Christian, but his religion simply never comes up in public discussion, during elections or otherwise. His predecessor was a Catholic, but that didn’t prevent his government from passing gay rights and same-sex marriage legislation. One of the debates in Québec in recent months has been about the crucifix that hangs over the seat of the Président in the National Assembly chamber. The consensus seems to be to keep it, because it is seen as a historical artifact, not a religious symbol per se. We are very tolerant of religion, but slightly embarrassed by overt displays of religious belief.

    I look forward to hearing the topics you cover in the future.

    Wulf
    Toronto, Ontario

  5. Great podcast. I just downloaded the Stitcher App and found you quite randomly.

    I do have a similar time of things. I am out of the broom closet to my friends and family and even my boss knows. But, there are others I work with or volunteer with that don’t know. To be fair, I volunteer with a sorority and to try to get 18-22 year old women to understand is just too big of a hurdle for me. I think though that if something came up and they were bad mouthing paganism or trivializing it I would probably say something. But it would probably be similar to what one of you said (first time hearing the podcast, sorry I don’t know who’s who when you talk yet.) in that I’d correct them, but probably not delve too much deeper.

    As for explaining my beliefs, I do find that I’m similar in that I don’t want to misrepresent Wicca. I have to keep telling myself that there are so many traditions and paths of Wicca that I wouldn’t have to worry too much. But my husband is Lutheran and trying to explain my path to him was a bit daunting. How do you explain it to someone that has a black and white – this is my faith. This is my book I follow. But we’ve made a happy middle ground. He accepts it and me. Which is all you can really ask for.

  6. This episode reminded me a lot of my own situation, and the idea of having less than ideal conditions to practice in. I too worry about coming out at both of my jobs, as both fellow employees and my students are all very conservative Christian. They’re all very nice people, who I never have a quarrel with, but occasionally the offhanded comment comes up about either non-christian peoples, or another topic such as abortion/gay rights/ etc and they just turn so nasty. Not toward me, but the topic. I’m treated as an assumed christian, and so I more or less hear what they think about “the other” essentially. There are times when I wonder what they would think if they found out about me being pagan. Would they take me as some kind of exception to the rule? Would I be treated with scorn? Would they try an on the spot conversion? I don’t know. And I worry, especially as a teacher, that if some of my students were offended at my choice in faith, they could make enough complaints that I could lose my job (I work at a community college, where I could potentially cost them money if students refuse to take me as a teacher).

    It’s also hard not to feel like the lone black sheep in the flock when I’m surrounded nearly constantly by people who are of a completely different mindset from me. I feel like I have to watch what I say a lot more, to try and not drop any “offensive” ideals. I’m lucky to have access to a nice pagan community though, and so I get little moments of reprieve in the sea of conservative Christianity (no matter how well meaning and nice they are, it does get tiring to hear the flippant judgements I hear get thrown down about others).

    I think in an ideal world, people would just not assume I’m Christian because well, that’s what the seemingly default faith setting is in the country. And they wouldn’t be offended to find out I don’t follow their faith. It should just not be a big deal at all. I would like to be able to wear my pentagram, read some Cunningham or what have you, and not be treated any differently from the people over at the table doing bible study. I already have some lovely Christian friends who know I’m pagan and have absolutely no issue with it. I’d like to add more to that group.

  7. I found your podcast quite by accident, while listening through the archived episodes of Inciting a BrewHaHa. I’ve just begun listening to your back episodes, but I am very pleased at the tone and quality of the show. I can’t wait to listen to more.


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