Sorry for the long delay, Gentle Reader. At first I was distracted by the events of the last post. Truthfully, I still am – we at Teaberry are still looking for a forever-home – and currently, while my friend B. graciously lent me a web-cam, I just have not been able to film the promised video post, both because I am vain and insist on having a beautiful place to film, and because I’ve been excruciatingly busy. I have also delayed the also-promised promotion of my humble slim volume of poetry, because some pieces of mine are being published in a magazine this Friday, and it was a requirement that pieces entered not be published before. I’m uncertain if that includes self-publishing, but I didn’t want to risk it, and so –
Gentle Reader, you should be vaguely aware that I’m also working on an Etiquette Book for Modern Situations. It’s also, at least partly, a memoir of my family’s dysfunction. I would like to share an unedited excerpt that I’ve just written, with which I am particularly pleased. Bear in mind that I can’t spell check from the phone, Caractacus, who cannot receive calls and who is held together with a rubber-band, hope, and spit, and that I wrote this not half an hour ago. Ahem.
“On Religion (Yours):
Atheists, Agnostics, and Other-people-of-no-faith, please bear with me for just a moment; I need to address the religious folks. Privately.
Your connection with your God, Goddess, Gods, or Spiritual Tradition is a worthy and worthwhile thing. In your house of worship, amongst your coven or congregation, feel free to share stories of how your faith has shaped your life, how Jesus delivered you from sin, or how prayer cured your herpes. Even outside these settings, it is perfectly acceptable to share this sort of anecdote when you are absolutely certain that you are among like-minded people. What is unacceptable is making any assumptions whatsoever about another human being’s beliefs. This is why, from time immemorial, it has been considered the height of rudeness to discuss religion.
Generally speaking, unless you are addressing a clergyperson in their ceremonial regalia, or observe a veritable and obvious religious symbol ( a cross tattoo, or a unicursal hexagram necklace, etc.) a person’s religion cannot be determined on sight. If you impose your views on another, not only are you making them uncomfortable (and thereby being rude), you are also making your religious tradition look bad – you’re actively damaging its reputation. Religion and spirituality are deeply personal matters, and should never be discussed without solicitation or outside the appropriate venue. This is especially true in theocracies, where you can’t expect an honest answer, anyway.
Places Not To Discuss Religion:
*Legislatures and Parliaments
*Around Dinner Tables
*On the Street
*Anywhere that is not a temple, synagogue, mosque, circle, church, meeting-house, or other sacred space.
On Religion (Theirs):
Non-believers, welcome back. I’m reasonably certain that the sort of religious person who commits the above errors will never see these words; you will encounter a situation where someone throws their religion (or lack thereof – you atheistic types aren’t innocent) in your face. It will make you uncomfortable. You may feel minorly violated, as though someone has splashed you with ice-water.
While your surprise and discomfort likely be writ large upon your face, you must not make a comment, unless you are genuinely interested. Make a non-commital noise, and change the subject, if you can. It is not your job to convert them, correct them, debate or dissolve their faith. You are there to buy groceries, or make a dentist’s appointment, or pass the turkey, so leave it the fuck alone and attend the business at hand.
If your change of subject doesn’t work, and Aunt Myrtle won’t pass the peas until you’ve told her how long it’s been since your last confession or something, you have some options:
1: Lie, and keep the peace. They’re being very rude, whoever they are, but if you don’t want to make a scene, this is your best bet. When you’ve extracted yourself from the situation, avoid the offending person insofar as is possible.
2: Stand up for yourself: you’ll be starting a bloody, vicious, no-holds-barred fight that will likely result in hard feelings. However, if you want to be true to yourself, you are within your rights to defend yourself. However, you are essentially punishing youself and everyone else present.
3: Pretend that you are Choking to Death, and Can’t Hear Them. Other methods of distraction are also acceptable.
4: Smile blandly and Nod. This will not work.
There is another scenario, but it hardly ever comes to pass. Unsurprisingly, it is the preferred outcome.
5: Have a calm, rational, and (hopefully interesting) frank exchange of views, wherein everyone treats one another with respect.”