Thursday, April 12, 2012

Never pass up an opportunity to evangelize, even at funerals.

A comment one of my parents' favorite pastors once said about having an altar call at funerals.

Just when I make that commitment to the gods, I get tested in a way that the old me would have failed.  Early this morning I woke up to a phone call (well, early for me is before noon) from my mother.  I knew something was wrong for her to call since we had just talked a few days ago so I was prepared to hear about a death in the family.  I always fear it's my dad, though, so I feel a bit bad when I'm relieved it's someone else.

My aunt, her older sister, died last night from pneumonia.  She was about 86 and had been fading away over the years while still enjoying life as much as she could.  And of course, she was a fundamentalist Christian so the family is resting on that hope that she is with Jesus now.  Not a problem for me at all; people should be allowed to cling to their beliefs, especially in times of dire need.

But my mother used it as an opportunity to bash people who weren't Christians by talking about how the vigil went.  They were in her room in the hospital praying, singing hymns, reminiscing and such.  And because they were Christians, the hospital personnel treated them with such respect and let them stay in there until she passed over.  Mom's words were, "You know, Christians have so much that heathens don't have (and by heathens she meant anyone who wasn't a Christian or Jewish).  I can't imagine what it must have been like for heathens to watch someone die and have no hope."

Now, I'm pretty sure my older sister has outed me to my parents because every now and then I get one of these mini-sermons.  It might just be that we no longer go to church as my mother pretty much considers anyone who doesn't attend regularly as not being a real Christian.  She wouldn't use those words but she certainly makes references to them as needing Christ, as if they can only have him if they attend regularly.  But I suspect my sister, who has snitched on me ever since we were in grade school, has told her I'm a Pagan/Heathen.  My mom would never confront me with it; instead she would use all these moments to evangelize me.

I took it without comment.  Just let her ramble and get out her grief and pain.  It wasn't the time for taking a stand or pushing my rights over her need to vent.  My parents have always had a stranglehold on my sisters and me all our lives.  They've never let us have our own lives without needing to tell us how to live it or failing that, criticize us for not letting them.  My sisters have found a way to live with it; I never did.  My only option is to maintain distance aside from the obligatory phone calls.

But in spite of everything, they are my parents and I do love them.  From a distance.  I'll never be free from them until they pass on, but who would wish for that?  There are many obligations we have in life that we must take acknowledge and follow through with and not all of them are pleasant.  That's just life.

But if she intended to win me over to her god through her mini-sermon, it had the opposite effect.  I ran into the arms of my gods and let them hold me and protect me from the hurt.  Frigg reached out to me this morning when I invoked the Sun and her with my morning ritual and enfolded me with her motherly embrace.  I feel even closer to the Norse gods than I did yesterday and am more determined to follow through with my commitment to them.  It seems like there is something in the universe that keeps trying to drive a wedge between us but that always seems to fail.  And I run back to them, like a child runs to her parents when she's been hurt or scared.

I'm sorry for my family in their loss.  I hope they find comfort in their god the way I find comfort with all of mine.  I even bought sympathy cards that spoke of that hope they have.  Tonight I will pray to the gods and perform a ritual with them and my ancestors to offer peace and rest to my aunt and her family.  Since leaving Christianity I have found more peace about death than I ever knew as a Christian.  While I'm not eager to leave and I do need to start taking better care of myself, I don't fear it anymore.  It's just another part of the journey.


  1. She actually used the word 'heathen'? Wow. I look upon that word like I do ethnic slurs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it carries the same weight as actual ethnic slurs, I mean more that I would use it mindfully and respectfully because it's been used so viciously and with ill will for so long. I've only ever heard non-Christians use it in a teasing manner, "Oh you know me, the heathen!" That kind of thing.

    Kathy, you don't need me saying it, but I think you handled that great - with such grace. Good on you!

    1. Thanks! I don't know if it was grace or just shock that she would use that word when that's exactly what I am. LOL Although when we use it, it means someone who worships the Norse/Anglo Saxon gods. Not some generic person who isn't a Christian, which is what she meant.

      Seriously I kind of took it as a sign (okay...sort of took it as a sign) that this really was the right path for me. I had never heard her use the word before to be honest. She would just say non-Christian or someone who doesn't know Jesus. She did say it deliberately though.

      Still, what can you do? Bitch at a grieving woman who has just lost her first sibling? And probably believes her daughter is going to hell to burn for all eternity? The indoctrination is deeply embedded when you've had the teaching for 80+ years and it's very hard to let go of that fear. Sometimes both Zach and I find ourselves gripped by that same fear. Not as often anymore, but it still reaches out in a stranglehold.

      I don't know that she knows for sure. I'm sure the fact that I don't go to church anymore weighs as heavily on her as anything else does. Part of me would like to know for sure but the major part of me wants to keep that conversation in an unopened box.

      Thanks so much, though. I really appreciate what you had to say.

  2. After a lifetime of Atheism my father became a Jehovah's Witness just months after my mother died in 1999. You wanna talk about pushing your shit on people. That's the entire premise of that cult, ahem, Religion.

    I NEVER got along with my father. He was a ragaholic piece of shit who threw things at me my entire life. The last time he threw something at me was in 2002. I pushed him into a chair and picked up a glass vase. I told him I wasn't a scared little girl and if necessary I was ready willing and able to kick his old sad ass.

    After that my son was born. He never really acknowledged him but instead for 3 years I had to listen to him brag about one of his Witness friends' baby who was born within weeks of my son.

    When he was very sick I drove my fat ass down to Florida with kid in tow to visit him. He basically ignored my kid and proceeded with his bragging of the Witness' kid. I looked him in the eye and told him he didn't deserve any of his children or grandchildren and that I was done with him and his sick sadistic bullshit.

    That was the last time I saw the bastid. He died a couple of months later.

    We had a funeral and at my sister's insistence we had it at the Jehovah's hall.

    Holy fuckballs. The first 2 minutes of the sermon was about my father. The next 28 minutes was about Jehovah. By the time the fucker was over I jumped out of my seat and was running for the door. The "flock" surrounded my family (all 3 of us) and proceeded their bullshit. My response, as always, is I'm a Witch. Believe it or not that didn't stop it. My husband finally came in after taking my son outside (the boy started talking very loudly about 1 minute in asking where the casket was and why this old man is standing up there talking about some guy named Jehovah). My husband is a smooth talker and somehow got us out of their intact.

    Sorry to hog your comment section. I just thought I could soften the blow of what you had to deal with. You are not alone : )

    1. Not to worry, Hippy. Everything you write is great reading so feel free to comment as much as you want. It's never been that bad as far as forcing beliefs and such. My family is much more subtle about things. They'll use sneak attacks and innuendo to get their point across. Just like my mother would never confront me about whether or not I'm still a christian.

      I can't imagine what your son thought was going on and how frightening that was for him. It would be frightening for an adult!

      Thanks for all of that. I really do feel better knowing I don't have it as bad as some do. At least there is that. :)