TIP: Discussing Religion

In terms of everyday conversations, the topic of religion really shouldn’t come up all too often. There are exceptions of course – the occasional nosy family member, friend or co-worker, or that random stranger you just met, that wants your whole life story in 10 seconds or less. However when it does, there really is not any need for anyone to know all the juicy details of your practices, especially if you feel that the person you are talking to will be less than welcoming about your choices.

While we can understand completely not wanting to stay in the “broom closet”, it is best to come up with a short, concise description of what you do, and leave it at that. Truthfully among those who are intolerant (or even apathetic at best) – it might be better to dodge the question if you can (it’s none of their business anyways), however if you feel that you must answer, then just sticking with the generic “pagan” answer is really your best bet. This wouldn’t normally be something that we’d advocate (since it doesn’t mean anything really), however in this case they likely won’t know the difference, nor are they likely to care, if they are not actually open to learning more about other faiths/practices.

Among those who are like-minded, or those who are truly interested in learning more, you can expand your description a bit, and go into as much detail as you are comfortable with. However you will still likely find those who will question you about your beliefs and practices, but this isn’t always a bad thing, as that is usually how we learn and grow in our practices.

In either case, try not to be defensive if someone asks you something. If you are going to be open about your religious/spiritual practices, especially if they are something other than what most people consider “normal”, then you have to be willing to deal with the consequences of that – both positive and negative. If you can’t discuss your practices calmly, and with confidence, others who are less tolerant of such paths are more likely to seize on that, and work extra hard at their attempts to steer you back on to (what they see as) the “right” path.

Religious and spiritual practices are very personal, and can be difficult to explain to others who have not been through the same experiences. Too often we diminish the sacredness, and ineffable qualities that are so much a part of many paths, when we try to explain too much. So sticking to the basics, rather than extensive details, is usually the best course of action, when the topic comes up.

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