Do You Smell Smoke?
By Judith O’Grady
When my son first introduced me to the Internet,
“Judith, Internet….. Internet, Judith”
“Hello! Let me be trollish and overwhelmingly narrow-minded…”
I chatted for a while on a multi-religious site which, while not all bad (made some friends that I have to this day), did have the disadvantage of having several different Christian boards as well as a Pagan one. I understand that for many Christians proselytizing is an important tenet of their religion and I did use ‘Xian’ and refer to God as ‘She’— this was years ago, so I perceived the best fall-back pronoun for ‘any one god’ as feminine; today I would use ‘Ze’.
So I drew fire to myself but I enjoy arguing and was interested, as a person not raised as a Christian, to understand the mainstream attitudes.
But, !Gods above¡, it was repetitive. Over and over, I was consigned to what I took to calling ‘the Tedious Lake of Fire’ even though the Book clearly states that the decision rests with Yahweh (or perhaps Jesus) .
And the proselytizers were using a common reference text for their arguments so I found myself having arguments over and over again, which is less fun:
“If your house was on fire,” they would say, “wouldn’t I have a moral imperative to rescue you?”
“You merely believe that my house is on fire. I, who am in my house, perceive it differently— your belief doesn’t give you the right to throw water on my couch.”
Sometimes, more poetically, I would describe my house as being surrounded by beautiful, flame-coloured poppies and not on fire in the slightest. No actual beliefs were ever harmed, as far as I know, although I did effectively shut down discussions about women’s right to choice by describing the act of abortion as ‘sending the babies back to God’.
I am a fervent believer in Free Will (as is even Grumpy-pants Yahweh if I’m interpreting the Adam-and-Eve story correctly) and, much as I enjoy a throw-down discussion, I prefer to leave other people to have their own opinions as long as they’re not hosing water on my couch nor stomping around in my poppy-filled yard.
So, now that both I and the Internet are more technologically sophisticated, I can read blogs by some Big Name Pagans and rejoinders by Others. All of them out for blood but armed only with the little plastic swords that come in club sandwiches or holding olives in martinis:
“You can’t call yourself ‘Something’!! I call myself ‘Something’ and I don’t want to club in with you!!”
“If I identify myself as ‘Something’ you can’t stop me!!”
“The way you do ‘Something’ is WRONG, I do ‘Something’ differently!”
“My references for ‘Something’ are IMPECCABLE!!!”
“The Gods told me ‘Something’!”
Really, I say to myself, we are not in third grade, this is not recess, and we are not choosing sides for a game of kickball.
Then I had one of those terrible, dead-of-the-night realizations— I was feeling the call to proselytize! If people want to argue bitterly about definitions and usage, why should I concern myself? I can choose to not engage, after all. Why did it bother me so much?
Then I remembered the arguments (also many years ago) in the fine first flush of the feminist movement:
“I’m a feminist!” says upper-middle-class person, “I advocate for more woman CEO’s and more funding for woman’s college sports teams.”
“What about a living wage for waitresses and health aides, stiffer laws and enforcement for spousal abuse, and better social services for children living in poverty?”
“…….I don’t want to be in that club, not THOSE women…… ” says the white, well-educated feminist although generally using quite different words.
Why am I bothered? Because it’s real and imminent; the time wasted arguing about trivialities is not there to waste.
The WORLD is on fire. Human beings have messed up, the Gods are telling anyone who will listen that time is running out, Earth Herself is about out of patience with the despoilers…..
Every human on the planet should be doing something (not ‘Something’).
The other day I read a cartoon (on the Internet I do not have to be exposed to news, I can get emailed a daily group of nothing but cartoons) that cited Keurig cups as waste and one of the top comments complained that the responder did not want to be heckled at this site, just amused.
So what I’ve been hearing while reading the recent squabbling is “Not THOSE believers, those zealots, that rabble— I want to be an incidental Pagan (or Polytheist, or Whatever)”
Get off the couch, we’re coming with the hose.
Judith is an elderly Druid (Elders are trees, neh?) living on a tiny urban farm in Ottawa, Canada. She speaks respectfully to the Spirits, shares her home and environs with insects and animals, and fervently preaches un-grassing yards and repurposing trash (aka ‘found-object art’).