Interfaith and Faith in Family

Last night I enjoyed time with my OC Pagan Meetup. I sat between my fiancé, Chris, and his cousin. His cousin is a big scary looking tattooed guy, but he’s actually a devoted family member. He’s also the reason Chris and I met. He brought Chris to Meetup when he started to attend again after a 5 year absence.

The three of us were talking about the upcoming Christmas holiday plans. They have a very close family and there are plans for Christmas eve, Christmas morning and Christmas night. I’m really not used to that. After my mom died in 1991 we didn’t really have a lot of “family” holiday celebration since it’s just me and Dad. I did for a short while after I found my birth mother, but she lives far away out of state now so that makes things a wee bit difficult. And though the idea of a “white Christmas” sounds appealing, flying to where she now lives, in the dead of winter, does not.

While we were chatting I asked Chris’s cousin if he’d received the invitation for the engagement party. This led to a conversation about the family and reservations they have about our wedding. Turns out a few are concerned we would make them oath to a God different than their Christian one. They were concerned we’d make them participate in a way they would not be comfortable with. His cousin explained to them it wouldn’t be anything like that, but as they have no real experience with Paganism and the various practices it seems perhaps that all they know could be the crap they may have seen in movies and on TV.

Knowing how sarcastic his cousin can be I gave him permission to tell his family they didn’t have to do anything other than help us clean all the blood up after the ritual. I was JOKING, but I was then informed that some family members might not think it was a joke.

*sigh* Ok.

Here’s what I don’t understand… would they feel this same fear if they were invited to a Jewish or Hindu wedding? Would they actually be concerned that they’d be expected to convert or pledge to a deity they don’t believe in? Probably not. So why wouldn’t they believe and trust their own family (Chris and his cousin) when they say it’s a wedding and not a mass ritual to convert? How could they not believe these men? These sons/nephews/grandsons – men they’ve raised and known their whole lives. They know the kind of men they truly are, and would ensure their loved ones wouldn’t be made to do anything that would upset or hurt them. Why are they so afraid?

Wiccans, and frankly most Pagans, don’t proselytize. You will never find us knocking on your door at 8am on the weekend asking if you’ve heard the word of Odin, Pan, Hecate, or Isis. Not going to happen! If that was part of our religious practice I think I would’ve quit early on. I used to do door to door sales as a kid and HATED it. I’ve also never felt it was my job to sell non-Pagans on converting to my religion. If you’re interested and want to talk about it, we can. If you want to learn I’ll gladly help, but it’s not my job to convert you from your current religion into a practicing Pagan.

Chris’s cousin suggested having conversations with the family to help put them at ease. I will gladly explain that all we want from them during the ceremony is their love and support. I had already planned to write out a program for them to follow along during the ceremony. I was hoping that once they meet many from the bridal party they’d learn that even the bridal party isn’t comprised entirely of Pagans. My maid of honor is Catholic, she’s one of my best friends and I’ve known her since high school. One of my cousins is a bridesmaid and also a Catholic. A couple more of the people we’ve asked to be in the bridal party are Buddhists and Christians.

Chris’s cousin explained if the family felt we’d be asking them to do something they were uncomfortable with they will skip our wedding ceremony and go to the reception instead. “They” include certain close family members of Chris; people I know that mean a lot to him. This made me a little sad to think they’d do such a thing to Chris. The whole reason we’re holding a big wedding later on is for our families and friends to witness our ceremony and celebrate with us. So the fact that they even considered skipping attending as an option hurt a little.

But here’s an interesting perspective… Chris and I were invited to his aunt and uncle’s home for one of the dinners around Christmas. They’re very devout Christians. Chris’s cousin wanted to make sure Chris warned me that they’ll be saying grace prior to dinner. His cousin was concerned it might upset me. I kind of laughed. Of course not, it’s their home. Knowing it’s a Christian household I didn’t immediately assume they’d want to convert me. Why? Because thus far they haven’t shown me to be anything other than kind and gracious people who might be very devout in their spiritual beliefs, but so far I haven’t seen them push that on others.

So, I wonder, why then would they assume Chris would allow that to happen to them at his own wedding?

I feel relatively confident that as we talk more with them about all the wedding plans and once they meet the bridal party they’ll be more at ease.

UPDATE:

Unfortunately, in the end because of drama, certain family members were were removed from the wedding party and/or not invited to the wedding.  That was my husband’s choice, not mine, but I supported his decision.

It’s a shame things weren’t able to be worked out prior to our big wedding.  Many of the attendees expressed much delight about our wedding, stating it was the most memorable and fun wedding they had ever been to.

I worked very hard to weave together a wedding ceremony that involved a mixture of ancient Norse, Asatru, and modern Paganism traditions, songs, toasts, swordplay; with just a touch of geek.

What matters the most is that we were surrounded by people who love us and support our happiness.

RANDOM MUSIC

Covenant is an electronic band from Helsingborg, Sweden. Their music comprises a mixture between synthpop and electronic body music (EBM).

Bullet was released in 2003.

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