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Question about terminology. [Nov. 22nd, 2008|09:45 am]
Allfathers Own

allfathers_own

[rantingmule]
I'm just curious here. What do y'all call yourselves? Ourselves? Someone at work asked me yesterday and I kindof had to rattle off a few things to get the point across. I tend to like the term "Odinist" but I find it almost sounds exclusionary to other patron deities I hold dear...yet I hesitate to call myself "Asatru" for multiple reasons. I'm also very, very reluctant to call myself a "Heathen" or a "Pagan," neither seems remotely appropriate and might give people the wrong idea.

I personally don't care what to call you/us/myself...I just find it a little awkward when we all debate religion at work and figured it never hurts to ask, so...yeah.

EDIT: I think it needs mentioning that everyone at my workplace is pretty open and tolerant towards each other. We are literally ALL from differing beliefs, from Lutherans to Jehovah's Witnesses (I'm sure I misspelled that, sorry) to an atheist or two. When religion comes up, it is often in the context of "hey, how do you celebrate (x) holiday" or "what is your stance on this issue, based on your beliefs" and all-such. We all strive to learn about and from one another, and I think it'd be foolish to pass up on the opportunity to educate people who want that information. Likewise, I enjoy learning about beliefs other than my own...the recent election, for example, led to some really interesting discussions concerning the really devout Jehovah's Witness and her refusal to vote for religious reasons.

In short, I'm not asking wether or not I should be discussing religion at work, I'm simply asking for possible advice or tips on how to "label" myself and others in a way that is both accurate and understandable. :)
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: nachtrabe
2008-11-22 03:12 pm (UTC)
"Heathen" and "Pagan" are both fairly appropriate terms, though perhaps overly broad. It certainly is a pagan religion and depending on your definition it is a heathen religion as well. "Northern Tradition Pagan" is perhaps a little more apt for some of us than simply "pagan" would be, but doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Past that I've been struggling with a good term for it myself.
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-22 07:43 pm (UTC)
"Northern Tradition Pagan" is a little awkward to say but it certainly does sound pretty good, label-wise. Thanks! :)
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[User Picture]From: neohippie
2008-11-22 04:28 pm (UTC)
I say "pagan", because most people don't know the divisions within neopaganism anyway, and I don't want to bore them with lecturing about the difference between a Wiccan or a reconstructionist or whatever.

I'm uncomfortable with discussing religion at length anyway, enough that I don't care if someone walks away from that thinking I worship "the Goddess" as long as they're satisfied with the answer and won't pester me anymore.

But YMMV. I know some Asatruar really hate being associated with Wiccans in any way, and once when I told someone I was "pagan", he started going on about Apollo and Mercury, and I just smiled and nodded and didn't feel like interjecting that he got the wrong pantheon. But, you know, like I said, I don't think my religion is their business anyway.

ETA: Mainly I was happy that the guy reacted like, "oh, cool, so like you worship Apollo and Mercury and stuff, right? That's pretty neat," rather than reacting negatively like most people around here would. Didn't feel like ruining the goodwill by being pedantic.

Edited at 2008-11-22 04:30 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-11-22 05:35 pm (UTC)
I say "pagan", because most people don't know the divisions within neopaganism anyway, and I don't want to bore them with lecturing about the difference between a Wiccan or a reconstructionist or whatever.

Right--start with what they might possibly have heard of, and if they would know more, then give more...

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: chironcentaur
2008-11-22 06:19 pm (UTC)
I say "pagan", because most people don't know the divisions within neopaganism anyway, and I don't want to bore them with lecturing about the difference between a Wiccan or a reconstructionist or whatever.

That is a really good point. I've found that most of the people who ask after my religion are only asking to be polite or out of a mild curiosity and really aren't interested in a long in depth explanation in modern Pagan politics and where exactly I fit in there (especially since I don't fit neatly in any group). People understand the word Pagan, it gives them enough to go on. If they have any follow up questions, they can ask them.
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-22 07:44 pm (UTC)
ETA: Mainly I was happy that the guy reacted like, "oh, cool, so like you worship Apollo and Mercury and stuff, right? That's pretty neat," rather than reacting negatively like most people around here would. Didn't feel like ruining the goodwill by being pedantic.

Tolerance is always a good thing, acceptance even better. :) Sounds like a pretty positive exchange.
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-11-22 05:33 pm (UTC)
I like Ásatrú, but some say that Ásatrú should mean worshipping the Aesir and Vanir and no-one else, and/or going on in a purely Icelandic mode (either of which, to my understanding, would surprise rather a lot of Icelanders), and/or it doesn't apply to the several tribalists because it's a neologism, or...

"Odinist" is inaccurate. While Odin is certainly my favorite, we're working from a polytheist mindset here, and while many "Odinists" say they do, their material doesn't always look like this. Worse, "Odinism" is, within Greater Heathenry, associated with the parts of heathenry that I don't want to be anywhere near.

"Odian" sounds bad, and implies rather more involvement with Edred Thorsson's work than I claim.

I respect Raven Kaldera, but I don't cotton to the term "Northern Tradition Paganism", either.

I do like "heathen", and stand my ground firmly there. However, when I explain myself to others, I may start with "pagan", which is the broadest possible term, then narrow through "Germanic Reconstructionist Pagan" to "heathen". Of all of that, one may have heard of "pagan" in a positive light, so that's the better starting place.

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-22 07:45 pm (UTC)
My only concern is that so many people use the term "heathen" in a derogatory way, it might convey the wrong concept.

Still, thanks for the input, it does help. :)
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-11-22 10:06 pm (UTC)
If they respond that way, counter with a smile and, having caught them thus off-guard, start the Interfaith-friendly explanation.

However, I didn't see the part in your original post where you said "at work", which to me changes everything. If at work, or at an office party, or anything like that, my answer is after the fashion of Miss Manners: "I'm sorry, I don't find that an appropriate conversation to have in the workplace."

Now, in one-on-one situations, e.g. out to lunch with a sympathetic co-worker, I might answer differently, and outside the office I answer direct questions with direct answers. But inside the office, I refuse the topic outright as irrelevant and inappropriate.

See the difference?

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-23 03:01 am (UTC)
If they respond that way, counter with a smile and, having caught them thus off-guard, start the Interfaith-friendly explanation.

...hmmm. I can certainly try. Heathen DOES roll off the tongue better than Northern Tradition Pagan...and I hate to use the term pagan if for no other reason than the original definition being "country dweller." XD!!!

If at work, or at an office party, or anything like that, my answer is after the fashion of Miss Manners: "I'm sorry, I don't find that an appropriate conversation to have in the workplace."

...honey, I'm the only guy in a grooming salon full of girls. Trust me, religion is TAME compared to some of the crap that gets discussed in horrific detail. I know more about my co-workers SEX LIVES and things than I would ever WANT to know. In my workplace, nothing is taboo. :P And frankly, with my aversion to het sex, I'd MUCH rather keep the subject on something like religion or politics, 'cause the alternative is who did what to their husband/boyfriend/girlfriend and for how long and how drunk. XP

But inside the office, I refuse the topic outright as irrelevant and inappropriate

Okay...but I assume you work in a different workplace than I do, with a very different and likely far more professional relationship with your co-workers. ;) We are pretty closely-knit, even though being a salon we have a fair bit of drama. XD
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-11-23 05:50 pm (UTC)
OH! A salon! Yes, that's a completely different workplace dynamic.

In that case, I might reveal more, but learn how to frame my answers in such a way to keep things from looking too alien to the girls. It's an excellent opportunity to prove that Pagans Don't Eat Babies, which is the grassroots, and ultimately most important, aspect of interfaith work.

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-24 04:17 pm (UTC)
OH! A salon! Yes, that's a completely different workplace dynamic.

Yeah. Nothing is sacred in the little glass box we work in. Especially since our clientelle can't talk or anything. XD The beauty of working on dogs. ;)

In that case, I might reveal more, but learn how to frame my answers in such a way to keep things from looking too alien to the girls. It's an excellent opportunity to prove that Pagans Don't Eat Babies, which is the grassroots, and ultimately most important, aspect of interfaith work.

Thus far we've all kinda gotten accustomed to each other's varying faiths...which is awesome. :D Nothing says "victory" like mutual acceptance!
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-12-03 11:30 am (UTC)
Thus far we've all kinda gotten accustomed to each other's varying faiths...which is awesome. :D Nothing says "victory" like mutual acceptance!

Yes, actually.

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-11-22 10:11 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I see that "it's not appropriate" hits a nerve on you. Sorry about that.

Now, if we're talking holiday celebrations, when it comes to Yule heathens are all set. I can chirp happily about the tree my mother gave me, that her mother gave her, and no-one will do much besides strike up a conversation about dead, live, and artificial trees. After all, I see no reason to give up the family traditions I actually like because I've gone heathen. Indeed, given all this ancestral veneration we have going for us, it only behooves me to do so.

So, in that case, I'd talk about what I do in a fairly secular way, and if it suits, whomp together some of my "Rouse the Hunt" Eggnog and bring it in. It is Awesome and Mighty and quells much disagreement, 'cos I may be a weirdo but WOW I cook good. ;)

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-23 03:05 am (UTC)
Ooh, I see that "it's not appropriate" hits a nerve on you. Sorry about that.

I just find it very irritating that when I ask for an answer to a question, some folk instead want to lecture me on something I never asked about and don't want advice on. ;) What I find appropriate for workplace conversation is likely very different from others...again, likely due to the kind of workplace environment I have. When you spend hours essentially trapped in a small salon with the same people day in and day out, you get pretty close-knit...or hostile, though thankfully our salon is the former (by and large anyways).

Oooooooh, eggnog. I suck at cooking anything like that...I'm a grilling machine but I'm pretty lame in the kitchen. Mind if I try your eggnog recipe? I bet it'd be a hit (if I get it right that is) at our holiday gathering. :D
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[User Picture]From: lwood
2008-11-23 05:56 pm (UTC)
Certainly! While the comments also have a scaled-down version of the ingredients, the Preserving Pickling POWER of Booze means that it'll stay good in the fridge for a l-o-n-g time, so don't be afraid to make the larger quantity if you can afford it.

Enjoy!

-- Lorrie
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[User Picture]From: vikingcoder
2008-11-22 07:22 pm (UTC)
If your answer isn't a major denomination of Christianity, preferably Lutheran where you are at, then regardless of what term you use, discussing religion at work will be awkward.

It is best to avoid such discussions in the workplace. As others have said, "Pagan" is a good catch-all term for those who are being curious or polite and who you judge won't pillory you for giving the "wrong" answer. If they are further curious, and polite, then incrementally launch into your quandaries about vagueness of terminology.

As for those who will pillory you and who won't take a hint to change the subject, a simple "I don't go to church" will suffice (it isn't a lie) and then grimace & bear their recriminations & proselytizing.
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2008-11-22 07:56 pm (UTC)
If your answer isn't a major denomination of Christianity, preferably Lutheran where you are at, then regardless of what term you use, discussing religion at work will be awkward.

..........where I'm at? I know of three Lutherans. Only three. Most of the Christians I know are Catholics and Episcopalians, actually. Where I'm at? You mean US of A? Michigan? Western Michigan? Greater Muskegon area specifically?

Uhm...no offense, but I wasn't actually asking wether or not to discuss my beliefs, thanks. ;)

It is best to avoid such discussions in the workplace.

.............great, except they all kindof WANT TO KNOW for upcoming holiday celebrations. The host of our holiday social gathering is very keen to make sure nobody's faith-toes get stepped on, and moreover we live in a fucking fishbowl. We are stuck, together, in a small glass box, for up to ten hours at a time. We talk. It happens. One groomer shares insights gleaned from her bible study group, another mentions some obscure tenent of their faith, and I am never one to be left out of an intelligent discussion wherein we all learn and educate each other. :)

Though if I wasn't clear, I edited the original post to make it moreso. ;)

As for those who will pillory you and who won't take a hint to change the subject, a simple "I don't go to church" will suffice (it isn't a lie) and then grimace & bear their recriminations & proselytizing.

........why on earth would I want to change the subject when I actively enjoy discussing our differing and, on occasion, similar faiths and beliefs?

Also, having been a pretty good Christian (Episcopalian denomination, thank you, Michigan does indeed host a lot of 'em, not just Lutherans) I can honestly say nobody pesters me. It isn't like I didn't give the religion a damn good try. I was both baptized and confirmed, served as an altar-boy, I even attended Christian bible study camps and indeed, between my confirmation classes and other such studies I had to read the bible, cover to cover, twice.

Nobody ever asks me to go to church except my dad, and then only because my anxiety allows him to leave without staying for cookies and coffee with the congregation. Everyone I know prettymuch knows and respects my...difference of oppinion. More importantly (and for this I am grateful) most of the Christians I know? Are both tolerant and politely curious about why I, of all people, a person who was deeply faithful to the Episcopalian church for over 20 years, would finally say "I've had enough, this sucks and I believe none of it, this over here makes more sense and is something I have faith in."

Questioning each other's beliefs helps us to better understand and reinforce them. None of us at work has any delusions that we will convert each other...we're not in a pissing contest and we're not trying to save each other. We are all just trying to come to a better and more enlightened view of each other so we can make the hours spent in what can often be a miserable hell just a little more tolerable.

I only wish everyone had co-workers like mine. :)
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[User Picture]From: vikingcoder
2008-11-22 08:43 pm (UTC)
I was generalizing out from Minnesota, which was my mistake.

Be grateful you are surround by such open-minded people.
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[User Picture]From: stormraven37
2008-11-22 10:14 pm (UTC)
Well for me personally while my patron God is indeed Odin I go with Pagan via Asatru if in that kind of situation. if they then wish to know more i go into greater detail.
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[User Picture]From: massacregoddess
2008-11-25 10:06 pm (UTC)
I consider myself a "Celtic Heathen" as I incorporate some Celtic aspects into my practice. But I am more a Heathen/Northern Trad. Pagan than anything else. Usually I go by "pagan" however, because people can become confused and sometimes I feel completely disconnected from any deity whatsoever.
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