As promised, here’s a conversation I had at a work party with one of my best friends (“he”) and another gal (“she”):
Me: (I notice that She is wearing Celtic knot earrings and necklace. It makes me think of Rich’s posts about paganism and Celtic Christianity.) I like the knots, that’s really nice.
She: (smiling) Thanks.
He: Are you a pagan?
She: …As a matter of fact, yes, I am.
He: Would you happen to know
Me: (I laugh)
He: Well, I thought you might have run across each other at a Beltain celebration.
She: I stay away from those things. Most of those people are freaks.
He: Can you do magick?
She: That depends what you mean…
He: Can you manipulate things simply by your will?
She: You manipulate things by your will all the time.
He: But you know, can you make things happen?
She: Well… magick is to pagans what prayer is to Christians.
Me: (Being more comfortable around pagans thanks to my old manager) Yeah.
He: Does it work?
Me: Well, Christians believe that prayer works.
He: Can you turn me into a newt?
She: No, and anyone who says they can is a liar and a freak.
He: What about Anton LaVey?
She: Church of Satan? He’s a freak.
He: What about Aleister Crowley? “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” That’s my kind of religion.
Me: I prefer Jesus’ approach: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” It goes along with the whole thing of emptying yourself, “Take up your cross; to follow me you have to die.”
He: Whaat? That sounds like a Tool song or something. Where did you get that?
Me: (Surprised) Dude, that’s Jesus. I thought you grew up with this stuff.
He: I grew up Lutheran. I’ve never heard of that stuff.
Me: (Mocking) Uh, didn’t your church ever, like, quote Jesus?
He: (Waving his hand dismissively) Well you’re different, you’re part of that weird Vineyard thing.
She: Vineyard? I’ve never heard of that.
Me: It started in California. Southern California, actually.
He: You know, if I were to ever go back to church, I’d probably go with the Vineyard, it sounds pretty cool.
I was amazed. Maybe my efforts to disassociate myself from my friends’ understanding (and dislike) of organized Christianity (and right-wing evangelicalism in particular), at the same time not being shy to talk about Jesus, and at the same time being genuinely interested in other people’s spirituality so as not to be pushy with my own, are actually yielding fruit!