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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

“You're not doing what I wanted you to do!”

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C550866538/E20060406233342

Frustrated by unspoken expectations

Despite being born in Arizona, I'm very much a son of the South. Not in the segregation or racist sense, but certain ideas of family duty get drilled into you almost with your first taste of mother's milk. One of the biggies is the Eldest Son.

One of the Great Unspoken Southern Rules is that the Eldest Son takes responsibility for the parents when they are unable to take responsibility for themselves. Think Dan Ackroyd’s character in Driving Miss Daisy and you are not that far off. So naturally when my stepdad had his first episode of being sick, I kept waiting for my stepbrother to take care of it. He's got about ten years on me, and after all, it was his job.

Or so I thought.

Of course I never told him about it. He was just supposed to know. I knew without asking, so naturally he should too.

But my step-sibs were raised in two households, not one. The Arizona Contingent from the South was on my mother's side of the family, which they weren't exposed to except at holidays. The step-sibs saw my father's side of the family (also in the South) less than I did.

It finally dawned on me that my older stepbrother had been raised differently than I had. He didn't know the Great Unspoken Southern Rules. He didn't know what he was expected to do.

My frustration was my problem, not his. It wasn't his character failure, it was my expectations that failed. He is quite honorable in his own way. More of a tomcat than I am, but that is another story.

Recently this whole thing got brought home to me again. I'm not exactly way out there with my beliefs, but friends of the family know I don't go to church. The ones who need to know do, and it doesn't come up that often in conversation with the rest. Well, someone used my father's relapse to "suggest" that I take this time to "come back to God's house." Aside from the implied insult that my faith wasn't worth that much and the greater insult to their god that he would stoop to blackmail, they were only trying to help.

And that got me to thinking. I've commented before on the pullback that some of the more respectable Pagans are doing. I still think it's a mistake. But I wonder how much of my upbringing is getting in the way again.

I was raised at the edges of an evangelical Christianity. Not in the center, thank the gods, or I would probably be more warped than I already am. But there are certain mindsets that are inherent. One of them is that religion holds all the moral answers, and the right religion can change the world.

But why does the world need to be changed?

I think it comes back to what I have called the second sin of monotheism, the separation of humanity from nature. Because if Man is fallen and living in an imperfect world, then naturally someone needs to save us. It's all speculation on my part of course, but I don't think this attitude was all that common before monotheism became common.

Looking a bit deeper, that raises the very distinct possibility that monotheism could have started as a massive inferiority complex. Basically somebody got their behinds whupped, and proceeded to formulate a whole theology based on only One True Way that of course in time would dominate.

That certainly is not a natural state.

Pun intended.

So how much of my expectations of Paganism are being shaped by the Christian attitudes and assumptions I've yet to shake?

I'm not sure. But at least I have some more questions.

Posted: Thu - April 6, 2006 at 11:33 PM

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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