For Aron: The Stigma of Unusual Religion

>> Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aron asked: By definition, I am an Eclectic Spiritual, I use a combination of Christianity and Buddhism and other things as my religion. But, I have found the Eclectic Spiritualism has a strong association with Paganism. Would calling myself an Eclectic Spiritual give me a bad reputation.

This is not a topic I'm particularly objective about, largely because you could define me as an Eclectic Spiritual myself.

There's a quote I have by Dr. Seuss: "Be who you are, say what you think, people that matter don't care, and people that care don't matter."

That pretty much sums up how I've always felt about it. I don't go about telling people my religion as a general rule, but I don't have a problem acknowledging it because I don't particularly care about being popular. I'm only interested in real friends, not anyone who'd hang around with me because I was (or wasn't) a particularly label. If someone can't accept who I really am (and that can certainly include what I believe), they likely aren't the friend for me. I'm actually pretty impressed. There's a lot more openmindedness and tolerance out there for people who think and believe in an out of the ordinary way than you might think given the nonsense on the news. My beliefs have never cost me a friendship I missed.

But there's the opposite side of the coin as well - remembering that the label doesn't make the person and not judging people by what they believe. I like to decide how I feel about people by getting to know them. If you do the same, you can be assured that the friendship you make mean something and will be more treasured than gold.

Another option you have is, of course, keeping your beliefs to yourself. Not everyone is comfortable speaking of their personal beliefs or being in a position to defend them. I don't see why anyone doesn't have the option to keep his beliefs private, so that's another path to take.

Despite my odd ways of looking at religion, I don't think I ever missed any opportunities because of them, if that's what you're worried about. It's a slow and painful process, but I have hopes that the world is growing up.


  • Patricia Rockwell

    I agree with all you say, but I do wish there were a polite, friendly way of dealing with people who wish to question one's religious beliefs at inopportune times and places. Just got through talking with my daughter long-distance who just started a new job and is having this very problem. New co-workers are grilling her about her religious views and she is trying to politely divert their questions, but without much luck. It doesn't help that she lives in the deep South.

  • Stephanie B

    When I first started working here in Houston, one of my coworkers was a born-again Christian. As I'm comfortable in my beliefs, I didn't really mind going round and round as he explained I couldn't be a Christian unless I believed in the Devil (which I don't). It did, however, get tiresome.

    Eventually, I brought a book on Buddhism from home and left it in my office. First break, I started reading it. He saw me and asked me why.

    I said, "You convinced me I wasn't a Christian. I thought I'd see if I were Buddhist."

    He never said another word to me about religion.


  • Aron Sora

    Thanks, my main concern was that being a christian was needed to be in the upper ranks of society or to even be considered and listened to. I don't want my faith to get in the way of the spread of my ideas. But, I guess the people who want to hear my ideas will not worry about my faith system.

    That's funny. We both gutted the fear causing parts of Christianity.

    Thanks for answering my questions while I was AWOL. I really needed these concerns of mine put to rest.

  • Stephanie B

    One thing I've discovered, Aron. There are more of us willing to use just the useful bits and toss the rest out there than you think.

  • The Mother

    While Stephanie is absolutely right about us folks in the Ivory Tower, where most cling stubbornly to the label of their family's traditional religion and yet cherry pick (or toss) their own personal belief structure, I think it is fair to point out that there IS massive discrimination against the non-religious (or non-MAINSTREAM-religious, which in the minds of the religious is essentially the same thing).

    Mostly, one sees this in politics, where there is still a litmus test. Failure to show up at church every Sunday will be mud to be thrown by your opponent.

    While you are probably thinking, "I have no intention of going into politics," there are avenues of advancement, even in science, that are very political. And in business, getting along with your boss is critical--if he views you as a wacko non-religious type, it can cause trouble.

    Even in medicine, patients will ask you about your faith. You can dance and dissemble, but they will find another doc if they don't like your answer.

    I, too, look to the next generation. Little by little, I believe religion will lose its hold. But it won't go quietly--and in the meantime, rabble-rousers like me will be the devil.

  • Stephanie B

    Geographically does make a difference, too, Aron. You're probably better off in New York than Utah.

  • Stephanie B

    I have to say, just the difference between my childhood and today, though, gives me hope.

  • Shakespeare

    In THE LIFE OF PI, Pi finds himself entranced by Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism--all at once. He attends all three places of worship, studies all three, and is mystified when leaders in all three reject his desire to "be" all three. Each group thought itself exclusive--if you believed them, then you couldn't believe any of the others.

    I've always described myself as a pagan, not because I'm a witch (that's the typical assumption) but because I'm a polytheist. I believe Christ was great (or at least his teachings were), but I also follow the teaching of Buddha, the Taoists, and many nature-centered schools of thought. More joins Judaism, Christianity, and Islam together than most people admit, and mythic patterns appear consistently in all ancient beliefs, as well.

    Right now I am studying Native American myth... fascinating...

    No need to push your beliefs on others... but no reason to be ashamed of them, either. Aren't we all learning?

  • Quadmama

    Two things I hate discussing in the work place: religion and politics. Inevitably there is always someone "higher up" who has conflicting views and I always wonder how that will affect me. I have fairly traditional views on religion, but I'm more liberal in my views than some would like. One of my last bosses was a right-wing conservative Catholic... nothing wrong with that, mind you, but he always wanted to draw me into political and religious debates just to try to "change my thinking." It can be exhausting.

  • Phyl

    One thing to keep in mind, Aron, is that one of the ways that problem is going to change -- the problem that there's discrimination in the higher ranks against those who don't give lip service (which is all it usually is) to some heavy religiosity -- is for people like you and others like you to work your own way into those higher ranks.

    Odds are, it will already be easier by the time you're really getting into the higher echelons. And you yourself will make it easier just by working your way in.

Post a Comment

Blog Makeover by LadyJava Creations