Friday, May 27, 2011

I met with the lady yesterday to sign the paperwork so that I could officially be hired for my fellowship. Basically, what I'll be doing is going into a high school classroom and working with a teacher to see what we can do to get kids excited about science. I love watching anyone get excited about science and especially kids. I initially decided on a career in science when I was in high school, though the direction of entomology came later. I love how much we don't know about the world and the excitement of finding out new things. This is pretty much a perfect job for me and is going to pay a decent wage. I've never made this much money in a year ever.

Anyway, we got to talking about how much work it's going to be to keep up with what I have to do for this and I mentioned that I have a family and I'm "very active in my church." Well, I should have known better than to say a thing like that because the natural follow-up question is "What church do you go to?" I suppose it would have been subtler if I hadn't been wearing my petite purple pagan shirt, but that's neither here nor there. My heart skips a little every time I explain that I'm Pagan, that we don't have a physical church building, and that we meet in each others' homes. Fortunately, she took it in stride. One thing I can say about Yankees is that they're less likely to freak out on me when I say something like this-- not unlikely, but less likely. She very kindly reminded me that not everyone, not even the teachers, will be so open-minded and she told me a story about one of the chemistry teachers who left to teach at a Seventh Day Adventist school and said that she was glad not to be working with atheists and evolutionists anymore.

While I do appreciate her concern about how my faith will be received in the public school system, I've lived in the South my entire life, I've gone to public schools in the South since Kindergarten, and I know what it's like. I assured her that I'm not going to be too open about being Pagan and that I'm going to be professional, but there's still this thread of worry. What if I happen to wear a pentacle one day? What if it comes up?

I have to keep reminding myself that by wearing a pentacle or being Pagan, I'm not doing anything wrong. I don't want to be overly flamboyant and rude about my faith, but it's okay to be who I am. If I were Muslim, would I take off my hijab because I was in a classroom in Murfreesboro, TN? I'd consider it, I really would, but my commitment to my gods is bigger than this. It's my commitment to my gods that led me to science in the first place and though I'm really afraid, I think it's ultimately going to be okay.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Daily Show

I've become a regular reader of the Pantheon blog, partly because it helps me come up with topics for Wednesday night class when I'm stumped. Here recently, Star Foster, who runs the thing, proposed that we Pagans start a campaign to get Jason Pitzl-Waters on The Daily Show to counter and challenge David Barton, a recent guest on the program. I for one am all for it. I have my doubts that this campaign will actually work, but it's this kind of thing that gives me a little bit of hope for the future of Paganism. Any time that Pagans come together to do something positive, that's a good thing. Any time we decide to work together because we're more alike than not, that's a good thing.

This is why I love working in the Interfaith community. I love seeing all different kinds of people come together to do good things and I believe that this has been part of my calling as a priestess since very early on. When I was President of the Student Pagan Organization back in the late 90's, we held interfaith dinners and though it didn't really stick as an SPO tradition, the feeling of sharing food with others did stick with me. Last Saturday, I sat down with the Women of Faith and did the very same thing with my Muslim friends, Christian and Christian Scientist friends, UU friends, and fellow Pagans. It was a wonderful thing and I look forward to future picnics and events and whatever it is that we decide to do in the future. No matter where I go, I can hold this calling with me and follow where it leads. Losing the ability to do this kind of ecumenical work was one of my biggest fears as my professional path eventually leads me down PhD lane. I talked about the portability of my faith over on the Lace Maze blog and the conclusion I came to is that I can do this kind of thing wherever I go.

I love bringing people together and, to that end, am hoping that this recent endeavor to build a bricks-and-mortar community center takes off. It's not just my idea and I'm not the only one working to make it happen. Even this isn't going to always require my physical presence in order for me to support the effort.

We Pagans talk about community a lot, but it isn't often that we see something in the real world that reflects the way in which we are connected with our brothers and sisters. I want to make that happen. I think it's possible. I think this kind of thing can happen and that now is a good time to get these sorts of efforts started across the country.