It’s an expression I don’t really like, as it’s a bit twee for my tastes, and I don’t want to co-opt the QUILTBAG community’s term for living in secret (because I think that’s kind of shitty).
But it’s also the best term I have for the life I’m living as a Druid and a Neopagan, and there are definitely some similarities (in some places in the US) to being openly Neopagan, especially if you work with children.
My family is extremely Christian. My inlaws are extremely Christian. My mother-in-law is on record as saying that not being Christian is valid grounds for divorce, and though I have repeatedly explained that I can not and will not return to church, every time they visit, they go church shopping for us, and invite us to go. (I decline, but my husband usually goes).
My workplace, while fairly openminded and diverse, is probably not ready to have a Neopagan Druid in their midst (even if there are Hindu and Muslim people in the office in large numbers). I’d like to think I could explain it well enough now that I could have an intelligent discussion or three with various people, but I know my extremely Catholic coworker would be weirded out, and that I’d be a topic of inter-office gossip, at least among the other people in my position.
I live in Texas. I went to a Southern Baptist university, and have spent the majority of my life bouncing between dominations – from American Baptist to United Methodist to “converting” to Catholicism in college. I never settled in anywhere, and my break with the Catholic church was ugly, to state things mildly. I can talk the talk though – I’ve taken theology and Christian history classes, attended chapel my whole university career, and seriously studied the Bible for years.
I use that knowledge to “pass” as vaguely Christian, or at least “historically” Christian. I send out Christmas cards (that never actually say Christmas on them, and that are always nature related, and where I never mention Jesus). I go to church with my family on Easter when I can’t get out of it, because I can grit my teeth for an hour to make my mother happy.
I’m fairly conflicted about it, really. I don’t like lying, and my spirituality is becoming a bigger and bigger force in my life. It’s fairly easy to hide in a bedroom for now, but the book collection from ADF studies is growing steadily. I’m leading a study group where I’ll be meeting other Pagans, and taking on that responsibility inevitably means meeting other people. I don’t have a pagan name, which is typical for ADF, but sometimes I wish I used one for things like this. (Also, someone else outed me on the blog with my real name in the comments, which I was trying to avoid. Apparently not everyone gives two shits about people’s privacy online.)
So my general way of answering questions is to deflect. If you ask me straight up “Are you a Christian”, I will say no. But most other questions can be deflected. I can talk about ethics and values, can talk about Christian theology and history, I can talk about world religions and meditation and general spirituality. As a theist (although a polytheist), I can talk about the nature of Gods and the like. I have a World Tree and a Globe on my desk at work, and a calendar of nature and meditative sayings, plus an Old Farmer’s Almanac daily calendar. I surround myself with clues that someone who knows what to look for will see, but I don’t choose to actually talk about what any of it means.
Eventually, this will be problematic. If my husband and I have children, I suspect I will approach going to the Unitarian Universalist church for that, since it makes a lot of sense for children in my area to have a church they go to. But my family will want to know if I’m raising them Christian (or more specifically, from my inlaws, why I’m not raising them United Methodist), and will want to teach them all about Jesus. My grandfather will want to dedicate the child to Christ. My husband is fairly agnostic, but I don’t know if he would be okay with me raising Neopagan children.
Also, the farther I go in ADF, the more likely it is that my real name will become associated with the organization, either through publication or through working towards clergy certification. ADF is very clear that they are looking to create a *public* tradition of Neopagan Druidry, and a lot of members don’t have a lot of patience (or thought) for people trying to remain under the radar.
In short, this is a subject that fills me with a lot of mental indecision. There are benefits to just being open about things (though there are a lot of places where it’s none of anyone’s business, like work), but I face the possibility of real rejection from my family over it. As the oldest child, I’m expected to lead by example (something I’ve not done very well on this front, as my little brother and his wife are 3x a week churchgoers and host Bible study and Life Group at their house). I don’t face rejection well, and I still struggle a lot with “disappointing” my family. I’ve dropped hints on things like facebook that I no longer buy into a mainstream monotheist mindset, and gotten a lot of “oh well Jesus is okay with that” responses, because they’re not willing to see the change.
So for now, I stay in the “Broom Closet” (If you’re a Druid, is it a “Tree closet”?). I’ll cross those other bridges when I come to them.