I live in Kansas. Have most of my life. I’ve been surprisingly lucky that I haven’t been treated overly harshly because of my religion.
Kansas City has a pretty well developed metaphysical/pagan community. There’s a lot of support available out here. And there are a lot of Christian groups and denominations that are mystical/metaphysical themselves (Unity is based near Kansas City, MO, and their churches often have tarot decks in the bookstores).
But there are still some intolerant types out here. They can get pushy, but I haven’t had too much trouble. Typically, “aggressive” proselytizing efforts involved plastering Chick tracts all over public bathrooms.
I confess, I love the things. I collect them when I can. Some of them are hysterical.
But while I collect the little booklets, but I’ve never had one pushed in my hand before. So Cara’s story kind of startled me a bit:
To make a long story short, for the blog, I was sitting on the floor looking at the bottom shelf of Wicca/Witchcraft books when a woman slipped something into my hand and said “Read this later.” When I looked down, I was holding a small, gloss-coated booklet called “GOD’S BRIDGE TO ETERNAL LIFE.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I said “Thank you?” to the woman who was already halfway across the store, and she looked over her shoulder to say “You’re welcome.”
I was laughing and crying at the same time. I was in total disbelief that that had actually just happened. A young couple, man and woman, who were in the section with me, asked me what was wrong. The girl said, “Oh my gosh, are you okay? What just happened? What did she say?” I held up the booklet and said “Because I’m over here looking at witchcraft books, she just handed me a booklet about God.” The girl was incredulous and tried to help me forget it, saying things like “I can’t believe that. Do what you want, you’re not hurting anyone, forget her.” But I was in shock! I was still laughing, eyes watering, shaking with disbelief and the horrible feeling that I could not just let this woman walk away.
It is a testament to Cara’s strength of character that she actually confronted this person, not out of anger, but to challenge her ignorance.
She was also shocked or confused when I said that my mother was a Christian, a minister, and a spiritualist and does folk magick, and that most of the people I know who talk to the dead are Christians. And she said some stuff about “sin” at some point, but I don’t remember those statements. All of the above are pretty much verbatim. I have a good memory for dialogue. She also kept talking over me at times and asking several questions one after the other. But yeah. This all happened. You should have seen her face when I told her I was actually on my way to a meeting with my circle and I would be telling them about our conversation.
Several years ago, one of my cousins came to visit us for a week or so. She is a very devout Christian, and was visibly disturbed by my magical accoutrements and books. I remember discussing the matter with her, and being touched by her very real concern for me, but in ultimately dismissing the matter as her simply not understanding. But I’m realizing that I did nothing to alleviate that misunderstanding. I’m not sure what good it would have done, and I don’t usually like such debates because Christians tend to frame them on their terms, and often interpret your efforts as an attempt to turn them away from Jesus. My normal preference is to let them do what they do and ask they return the favor. But now, so many years later, I am much better equipped to at least explain my experience and perspective in a way that might make more sense to them. And just perhaps, while it may not alleviate their concern over my immortal soul and their need to bring me to Christ, it may soften their efforts some and at least dispel some of the irrational fears they may have about what I do.
And since she’s multi-talented, you should also see Cara’s vlog on the event: