Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pagan Go Bragh

I was wandering the office in a desperate search for fresh coffee when G., one of our salespeople, waved me over to her cubicle.

"Happy Saint Patrick's Day!" she exclaimed, handing me a sheaf of green stickers. "Have a shamrock. Or two. In fact, take as many as you want! I've got tons of them, and... oh." She pointed to my coffee mug. "That's kind of creepy."

"You think?" I asked, inspecting the mug for any subtle ghoulishness I may have missed when purchasing it.

"Yes," G. replied, averting her eyes. "Emphatically creepy."

Alerted by her discomfort, the man in the next cubicle swung around, spotted the mug and flung himself into the conversation.

"Hey, cool!" he said. "It's one of those, whaddayacallem, Wood Men."

"Green Men," I corrected.

"Yeah, that's it, Green Men!" Then, with a slight shift in tone, "They're very witchy."

I about jumped out of my skin, all set to launch into a defensive explanation of alternative, Earth-based spiritualities, when I noticed the smug look on his face and realized he wasn't talking about me. Pagan and Proud, with a Penchant for Shock-Value Theatrics, read the scrolling marquis of his aura.

G.'s, on the other hand, was flickering with selections from the Old Testament. I decided to aim for some ecumenical damage control.

"A lot of Green Men have been found carved into the woodwork of old churches in England," I said.

"Really?" she asked, still on edge but soothed by the word church. "Why?"

"Because European churches were all built on sites of ancient Pagan worship!" her neighbor announced.

He smiled. G. fled back to her desk and started furiously reorganizing her stickers. I glanced around for any stray office supply that could double as an impromptu shank.

Call me old-fashioned, but I firmly believe that religion is a subject Not To Be Discussed at the workplace. A little historical trivia to spice up the day, fine. Just not religion. Now, longtime Strifemongers will understand this makes me something of a hypocrite, since I've outed myself at least once, and the people in my department talk about religion all the time, but we're also a discreet, tight-knit group, and we've known each other for years.

The situation is decidedly hairier over in the larger, less sociable Sales division, where rumors spread like staph infections. Logically, I know our higher-ups would never fire someone because of their spiritual beliefs and practices, but at the same time, I've seen ambitious (read: ruthless) agents throw their co-workers under proverbial buses for less.

Witchcraft doesn't pay for broken windows, guys. Steps on the path towards religious freedom aside, let's please do keep that in mind.

On a more festive note, I just received the following phone call:

[ring ring]

"This is Evn."

[earsplitting blast of Celtic music]

"Um... hello?"

"HELLO! IT'S YOUR DAD. WE'RE AT A PUB."

"I can tell."

"YOUR MOTHER THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE THE MUSIC. LISTEN TO THIS..."

[another violent burst of amplified fiddle]

"ISN'T THAT GREAT?"

"My ears are bleeding."

"GREAT! I GOTTA GO."

[click]

It's a bit disconcerting to get drunk-dialed by your parents in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. But in the interest of heritage and holiday spirit, I think I'll forgive them.

20 comments:

Red Delicious said...

Your dad is my favorite.

Evn said...

Want to hear something funny? Out of all our friends, my dad likes Tennison best.

And while I'm thinking about it, e-mail me offblog. I need to borrow that big Diana statue behind your museum.

beweaver said...

Bwahahahaha! This made my day.

Evn said...

(grin) Making days is my job.

Thalia Took said...

This makes me very sad.

Then again, I live in New England, not Texas. My attitude has been, These are the days I'm going to need off, and if you have a problem with that I can go straight to the Labor Board. Okay? Good.

Then again again, state law is on my side.

Then again again again, I haven't held an officey-type job (or one that involves anyone but myself) in years. I am not a team player, I've been told, which is fine by me.

Still, it makes me sad that to feel safe you have to not mention things, or downplay or steer topics away. It does kind of piss me off that we are the ones expected to do the conforming. (Because, really, 'not getting in the way' of Christians is conforming to the view that their religion is the 'normal' one.) Again, not saying you have a choice, or that you can really do anything else or whatever. Just that it makes me sad.

Evn said...

Thalia, while I do understand your point of view, please don't be sad. When it comes to race, gender and sexual orientation, I work in Utopia. In fact, I came out to the CEO by bringing Jack to the office Christmas party:

Me - "CEO, I'd like you to meet my partner... Jack."

CEO (throwing his arm around my shoulders) - "Jack, I want you to know that your partner is the best there is at what he does."

Jack - (unsure, wary) "Um, thanks?"

CEO - "You're welcome! Listen, do you guys like to travel? Because here's the thing..."

And then he gave us a trip to Playa del Carmen.

That said, we do live in Texas, and religion is very much the Final Frontier. Again, as I said in the post, no one who works here will ever be fired for their religious beliefs. But the Pagans in the company could do well to treat those of other persuasions as respectfully as they themselves would like to be treated.

Hope that makes sense.

seithman said...

I have no problems with talking about religion at the office. In fact, in my office, we tend to make a tradition of talking of the supposedly taboo topics.

However, I can't imagine bringing up the discussion in the confrontational way the gay at your job seemed to enjoy. It's just not conducive to real discussion.

Of course, I should note that I am a software engineer, and we engineers are generally known for being an odd lot. So we can get away with a lot at work that may not fly in other offices.

Thalia Took said...

That said, we do live in Texas, and religion is very much the Final Frontier. Again, as I said in the post, no one who works here will ever be fired for their religious beliefs. But the Pagans in the company could do well to treat those of other persuasions as respectfully as they themselves would like to be treated.

Hope that makes sense.


Hmmm. I don't know. I mean obviously it is your experience and your word. It's just that I keep hearing in these types of posts of yours (and you've had a few) a sort of unequal set of expectations--stuff like the Christians can go on about stuff, including some wide-eyed and idiotic stereotypes about Pagans, and that's expected and okay, but a Pagan saying something in response is considered out of line, or rude, or making too big a deal out of it. Or even just a Christian mentioning their religion and assuming everyone is too (which is what I'm hearing) and that for a non-
Christian to contradict it and say, well, no, actually, is out of line. Or something. I'm not making myself very clear. It seems not entirely parallel to me, though the assumption is that it is. Does that make sense? It's subtle and it's not taking into account that there is an unequal weight of power behind the two different groups.

Anyway your stories like this have always given me a funny feeling.

And not in a good way, I mean.

Evn said...

It's just that I keep hearing in these types of posts of yours (and you've had a few) a sort of unequal set of expectations...

To balance the scales, then, I could always tell the story of the Fundamentalist temp who tried to convert the entire office to her particular brand of aggressive, evangelical Christianity.

I finally went to HR and had her relocated, but not before a devout Baptist threatened to kick her ass for witnessing to the agnostics and Jews.

Evn said...

I can't imagine bringing up the discussion in the confrontational way the gay at your job seemed to enjoy. It's just not conducive to real discussion.

Seithman, I agree, especially since G. found the mug creepy on a secular level. That is, it was creepy to her because it was just creepy, not because it was Pagan. Religion really didn't need to be introduced into the conversation.

Junior said...

ROTFLMAO! I don't know what that means but the kids type it when they find something funny! Love it, Evn!

And I agree, the workplace is no place for religion. Like how could I possibly tell people that I was born Catholic, renounced it (while still in Catholic school), and now I worship to my Lord and Savior Tilda Swinton. No one would understand.

Evn said...

Tilda Swinton is a goddess. And an angel (if you count Constantine).

Kitty said...

ROTFLMAO...Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.

Thalia, I think what you are talking about is similar to what is now called unconsious racism. Where a person consiously does not think they are being racist, but they may do things that are mildly racist, like a boss only hiring white people because they truly think all the black applicants are not qualified, even if they are. I have seen the same thing happen with religion as well. Where a christian truly thinks they are open minded to other religions but are horrified by any symbology that is not christian, or won't talk to coworkers who have not 'come out' about how God has influenced their lives.

I was once sitting in a teachers lounge where some other teachers were talking about their perfect man. One teacher said that there is nothing sexier than a man on fire and in love with the Lord. While that alone is creepy enough, I thought about how would it have gone over if I said that nothing is hotter than a man who can dance naked around a bonfire baying to the moon goddess waving a sword above his head? I mean, as a witch, that's the same thing to me.

Again, unconsious religious persecution. Did that make sense?

Evn said...

One teacher said that there is nothing sexier than a man on fire and in love with the Lord.

Teach a man to make a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

Albiana said...

Please tell me that all those who give due hommage to Our Lady Swinton know about the "march madness brackets" over at www.gofugyourself.com. I'm not affiliated or plugging them here other than to state that I know you'd appreciate the fact that Ms. Swinton is currently kicking fashion-wackadoodleness to a whole other level in the annual play-off brackets.

Vote for Swinton!!

Thalia Took said...

Yes, Kitty, EXACTLY.

And personally, I'd much rather have a guy on fire (figuratively) and in love with ME. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

(And I thought it was SWINTON, all caps, no first name. It's weird. I don't particularly like George Clooney (he is not my type) but I do so adore Intern George. He's just so sweet!)

Siobhan said...

ok, I just Googled Tilda Swinton and WOW! WHAT a babe!

Yes, this is EXACTLY like "unconscious," "soft," or, even worse, "benign" racism. Which, I believe, is worse than blatant bigotry because it's so much harder to fight. And makes me significantly angrier. But then, I have a LOT of anger ready to go at any time. I'm WORKING on it!

And, in honor of this comment going completely pear-shaped from how I started it, my WVW is molow. As in, what I should do right now, I expect.

Thalia Took said...

Oh, Siobhan, I hear you on the anger. I don't know what to do with it, since as far as I can tell it's in response to reality and is therefore perfectly valid and not likely to just go away any time soon. But it gets tiring. On the other hand, it sure has helped me find and define my voice.

But damn. 'Benign' racism. I got no words for that.

What makes it especially hard to fight I think is that it is subtle, and it's so much easier for people to claim that it's already in balance, and it's equal already, and so what is anyone complaining about? Usually with an accusation of 'you're way too sensitive' thrown in.

So what gets labeled as 'balance' is actually just a compromise to those in power.

Junior said...

I just wanted to say thank you to Kitty for telling me the "ROTF" part of "ROTFLMAO" (I knew the "LMAO" part but was disappointed when "ROTF" was more dirty) and Albiana for introducing me to fugyourself.com.

And Evn, of course for "Teach a man to make a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." Which my stomach now hurts from laughing for 20 minutes...

knottybynature said...

Digging into the non-PC...

Evn, does your job need some kind of 'girl friday' or anything? :)

I figured with MySpace and everything, that eventually, my paganism would kind of leak out all over the place. And it is slowly leaking. It's interesting. And the funny part to me, is that I haven't been really met with any hostility or conversion tactics. In fact, one person's entire family kind of sees me as some interesting and exotic creature (I mean, other than the fact I'm half-Thai and look it in a predominately 'white' area), one of her kids dubbing me 'the coolest boss ever'.

I don't talk about it. When approached with it, I'm very vanilla and PC about it. When attacked about it, I kind of just walk away - I don't want the drama and there's no point in arguing with someone who thinks they're right anyway.