Saturday, May 07, 2005

Validating CDHSarah

Not exactly, but that thought was the starting point, so hang with me.

Last night I went and hung out with my neighbor, friend, and fellow group member, whom pretty much all of you know as the lovely and talented CDHSarah.

We have both had kind of a stressful week, and Friday is always bad for us...because she is finishing out her work week, where I'm having a "case of the Mondays" because I usually don't work my regular job in the middle of the week. The potential for tension is high, and we had been quite snappish with each other through the afternoon, but once we had a bit of down time we stopped being evil for the sake of evilness and just went back to our normal, somewhat feline, sensitive selves.

A portion of my Discordianism, I realized, was inadvertently hurting my friend.

Because I don't believe in absolute truth, I see the ridiculousness in everything. It's part of being a Discordian. Faith defies logic and intellectualizing, and therefore can be self-contradictory and not subject to the rules of logic. If it makes you a better person, closer to the Divine, it doesn't necessarily have to make sense.

That said, I like to laugh a lot. I like to poke fun. I think there is a lot of silliness in the world, and that goes double for the world of religion. I think it's silly that there's a huge fight about families that go away for Pesach to avoid the stress of the holiday. I think it's silly that people are getting disfellowshipped for voting Democratic in one incarnation of the Baptist church, just like I thought it was silly when my mother's church got rid of a guy for not believing that the 7 days of creation were 24-hour periods. But I'm most likely to point out the silliness in the community closest to mine, which is the Wiccan/pagan community. Not that I'm worried about passing judgement, because I'm not -- when you think everything is both equally true and equally ridiculous, you can't be worried about that -- but it's what I know the most about, and I'm likely to get the least flak for talking where I know what's up.

Do I think using your Craft name as your public name is silly? Yes. Yes I do. (Silly Ravenjuice and Shakti Gawain, my attention is focused in your direction, because I've already made fun of ZStN.) Do I think the persons unnamed who told CDHSarah that the bad weather at PUF was due to her casting her circle in the wrong direction are funny, as well of full of what makes the grass grow greener? I think that's HILARIOUS. Do I think that people who get all sanctimonious and claim they're practicing "the religion of their ancestors" in embracing Wicca (est. 1957) are historically inaccurate, and silly because they won't admit that what they practice is, at best, a reconstruction of European paganism with more roots in ceremonial magic than any ancient tradition? Yep. Does that invalidate the religion? Not in the slightest. God is big, and there's room for silliness with God. In fact, I have a God/Dess pair devoted to that very idea (Dionysus/Eris). It's one of my tenets of faith. It's how I avoid the curse of Grayface.

Does this make me a huge bitch? Probably. You aren't supposed to think other people's beliefs are silly. It's not nice, and I'm about nice. But I don't mock the seriousness of the belief to the people who hold it, or their right to have it. I just call them as I see them, and when someone introduces herself to me as Raven Kali Earthchild (not anyone real, I assure you), my first inclination is to snort. When someone waxes rhapsodic about the "unbroken pagan traditions of my Celtic forebears", I really want to snort, and snorfle, and do whatever it takes to keep from rolling on the ground laughing. But, that's what makes me a Discordian.

I judge people individually and ideas in general. I have some ideas that seem ridiculous even to myself, but hey, they're ideas. Who gives? If you believe that your Spirit Guides are whispering in your ear constantly telling you what lotto tickets to buy, that's fine with me, as long as it's benign nuttiness and not SGs who are whispering for you to kill your mom. It's no nuttier than believing that bread and wine become flesh and blood, or leaving a chair open for a prophet that was supposedly carried into heaven in a flaming chariot over 2000 years ago, or not eating certain types of animals because you're afraid God will get mad, or believing that the multiplicity of the universe came about because of a series of chemical accidents, or believing that the Goddess of Chaos is your personal BFF, like I do. All of these things are illogical. All of them work for the people that believe them. So when I say that something is silly, it's not to be taken personally...because it's all silly. Valid, but silly. If I drop (well, if I transport myself back in time pre-Vatican II and then drop) a Communion wafer on the ground, it means nothing to me. But it's a serious action because of the people who give it credence. Objectively? Silly. It's a cracker. But it's more than that, because we are a species who works with symbols, and we confuse symbol (bread, chair, wine, statue) for referent (God) all the time. Not bad. But silly. Doesn't mean I'm going to start getting funky with the Host to challenge those peoples' beliefs, because that's not cool. Doesn't mean I'm going to be sanctimoniously and obsequiously "respectful" by continuing to confuse symbol with referent. I don't think the ward in my pocket, the altar in my purse, or the statues in my home ARE God. They only have as much power as I give them, through belief. And I laugh at myself, when things happen like the kitten chewing on my best Ganesh and I start to get all flustered and upset about the statue, before I realize that God is not damaged in the slightest by a teething baby kitty with an affinity for high places.

People don't get that. At least, non-Discordians don't. And I hurt CDHSarah's feelings inadvertently, and had to spend some time explicating the very same thing I've just ranted on about...only while tired and intoxicated.

I take CDHSarah seriously because she takes her faith seriously without becoming a sanctimonious prig about it. That's my general litmus test for people. CDHSarah has never ranted about a ritual being useless because the lighter didn't get blessed before the candles were lit, or anything else that would lead me to believe that she is turning into Grayface. So I take her seriously. I wouldn't practice with her otherwise. Ditto SFGod, the Artist, the RenReb, and most of the other sensible people of faith I've ever encountered. They take their faith seriously -- they're not religious when it suits them -- but not so seriously that it acts as a blinder instead of a source of enlightenment.

Wiccans get the brunt of this in the pagan community. They get it because their faith has become pop-culture, HotTopicized, and the starting point for a lot of people to either discredit earth religion as a whole or to move on to other types of practice, and because those who are most public about it are often the most prone to being Grayface -- to taking themselves TOO GOSHDARN SERIOUSLY. CDHSarah had taken some of the (admittedly harsh) comments I've made about these grayfaces to heart.

It's all good now. But I thought I needed to talk about it. So there it is. I realize I've probably offended every person of faith, ever, but rest assured, I think not having faith is equally, if not more, silly than having it. It's just that...not a one of us is special. Not a one of us has universal truth. So we ought to just laugh, and drink, and have a good time.

Which is what I'm going to do, as soon as my work releases me from ongoing torture of too many people being forced to work overtime, when there aren't enough calls, which means I want to go to sleep instead of sitting here for another 2 hours before my dinner break.


At 7:20 PM, Blogger Special Sauce said...

I think that you have to do exactly that, (respect the beliefs of others, while at the same time realizing that respect doesn't necessarily equal adherence, participation, or encouragement)in order to get through life without heading to the nearest water tower with a shotgun. It's not just religion- though religion is one that tends to get people especially riled up.

Doesn't mean I don't snort & roll my eyes (on the inside) when I hear someone say "Damn, that Rush Limbaugh is a smart 'un." or begins to espouse the wonders of the Atkins diet, but to each his/her own.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

For the record, I didn't mean to imply that Only Discordians "Get" the Idea of Universal Silly. It's just that for us, it's a tenet of faith, and we're basically the only ones that believe in the fundamental ridiculousness of all things.

Non-Discordians are welcome to also snorfle.

You're right, ET. I think I just piss people off by taking it a step further and not being totally sly about my eye-rolling and snorfling when the people speaking are egregiously self-important. It's like in HP3 -- the only way to get rid of a boggart (the thing you fear) is by laughing at it, making the thing you fear ridiculous in order that it might lose its power over you. That J.K. Rowling with her life lessons.... *tsk*

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Snorting along with you! That was a great post!

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Special Sauce said...

Good point- I knew you weren't hijacking snorfling in the name of Discordia.

Sometimes I wish I could eyeroll in public a lot more than I do, though G. Monkey would probably wish I'd do it less, at least with her. (I am, apparently, the retail-worker-avenger.)

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Actually, I'm the type of person who used to take everything, including the outward manifestation of piety in others, way too seriously. Coincidentally, at that time, I was inwardly scared of attachment to any religion, so it felt a little bit hypocritical: respecting and admiring others simpling for practicing religion, and not being involved myself. But the more I started learning about different traditions, including my own, the less emphasis I began placing on the outward manifestations, and the more on the spiritual ones. So now, feeling a lot more comfortable on my growing spirituality, I have a much more comfortable time poking fun of excesses and superficialities of some practices and practioners.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger GoddessAradia said...

I don't know what to say. Really.
It is an issue to be part of something popularized like wicca.
Cuz Goddess fuckin knows half of the damn people who call themselves wiccans wouldn't know a fuckin magic circle if it smacked them in the face. More tomorrow ya'll, when I'm back at work!

At 4:41 PM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

You're in the same position as lots of people of faith, CDHSarah. It's just worse for you because your faith is considered non-mainstream and so people tend, more often than not, to judge everyone by the wingnuts...whereas no one would dare call all Christians wingnuts just because some of them like to shoot doctors who perform abortions, in contravention of the Decalogue.

At 5:03 AM, Anonymous annica said...

howzit parce

just read your piece about being a discordian and your take on the silliness of all religion including your own. ... but i can't really comment on that cos i'm not feeling clever enough and i wanna read it again and think about it some more ... currently i'm sitting here at gym, where unfortunately they have pcs as well as the stuff that makes you sweat, and i'm sorry but email is much more tempting than an hour on the frigging stationary bicycle. just wanted to say hello. it's noon here in joburg, no idea what time it is in nashvegas... maybe you're working, maybe not. who can say. (as you can see i'd rather talk shit than exercise... oh oh oh)...

anyway, have a good one, whatever it is you're doing!!

At 8:12 AM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

Welcome, Annica, and may I say you're 10 times cleverer than I to have a gym with Internet access...might actually get me inside mine if that were the case. But when it's noon in Joburg it's 5 am in NashVegas, so I was waking up to note the sunrise (which my body insists is necessary) and then going resolutely back to sleep.

C'mon and stay awhile! I'm interested to hear what you think!


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