I have a pattern of burning bridges when I am moving beyond something.
It’s probably connected to how I look at the past–mostly a repository of mistakes I wish I could have avoided.
I’ve tried the more positive approach of looking at my past like a stepping stone to the future. For example, I’ve tried to see the two years I spent as a Mormon missionary in northeast Brazil as necessary for my development. I came to care about people for whom my own privileged life is an unattainable fantasy. I came to see how Mormonism, far from being a universal religion, is a religion by and for White upper and middle-aspiring-to-upper class people. It forced me to live my religion, rather than just think about it. In short, it brought things to a head for me.
Four years after coming back to the U.S., I formally left the Mormon church. Maybe if I hadn’t gone to Brazil I would have taken much longer to leave and ultimately “wasted” more time. But in spite of the insights and life experience that my time in Brazil gave me, I still sometimes feel like the Mormon church owes two years of my life back. And if I had the means, I would burn the whole institution to the ground.
Over the past few years, I have grown increasingly frustrated with the Pagan community. Mind you, I’ve always been critical of Paganism, almost from Day One. But I always held out hope for it, because I see a great potential in Paganism to be a transformative social movement.
I’ve pretty lost that hope now.
Now you might be thinking that I’m talking about internet Paganism. I’m not. Actually, internet Paganism helped me hold onto that hope. As long as I remained behind the keyboard, I could imagine that, somewhere, Pagans were acting out my ideal of what Paganism should look like. And, no doubt, some are. But the more I left my keyboard and joined the IRL Pagan community, the more disappointed I became.
Maybe this says more about me than it does about Paganism. But it doesn’t change the disappointment.
I don’t intend to burn any bridges with the Pagan community … except when the fire might serve a positive function (like the Patheos exodus). And I don’t regret becoming Pagan. I still am Pagan, in fact (though maybe Pagan with a small “p”). But I do regret the time I have spent trying to fit a round Paganism into the square hole I had designed for it in my mind.
I am aware that my disappointment has been reflected in the tone of my writing here recently. Some of my readers have pointed out that there is a harder, sometimes meaner, edge to my writing now. I see it. I recognize it, because I’m feeling harder and meaner. I think maybe part of it comes from the pain of the loss of the friendship of some people in the last year.
I don’t really don’t have any grand conclusion to this post, except to let those of you who have commented on the change know that I hear you and I understand what you’re saying. I don’t know if that makes a difference. This blog has always served as a document of my personal journey, a place for me to work out what was important to me … and what isn’t. Right now, this is where I am.
But, if I know myself, I won’t stay in one place long.