Last night, I went to the weekly Pagan Meet and Greet over at Jitter’s Cafe. By the time I arrived there, Belinda and Karen were already there. So I got my drink and ordered a wrap for dinner before taking my seat with them. I don’t recall much about what we talked about while there. That’s probably because I was too busy daydreaming and watching the rather good looking kid who was playing pool at the time.
Eventually two people, who I will call V and P since I’d rather not use their names without their permission, stopped in at eight. V and P are husband and wife, and Belinda and I had met them while at the naturist festival. We originally met them when they came to the Thursday night seance and kept bumping into them for the remainder of the festival. When we found out V and P were also from the Rochester Area, we told them about the meet and greets, because they seemed really interested in getting to know more about us and learning what we believed and practiced.
This means that V and P love to ask lots of questions, and the three of us (Belinda probably carried the conversation while Karen and I each chimed in when appropriate) spent at least an hour happily answering each query. We covered topics ranging from the meaning(s) of the pentagram to psychism and psychic development to totem animals, and everything in between. V also asked about the local Spiritualist church and how they compared to us. We gave the best answer we could give, having never been to the local Spiritualist church. When V asked if I’d recommend them, I told him that I wouldn’t make a recommendation for against something I have no personal knowledge of. However, I also pointed out to him that in general, I’m inclined that just about any experience is a positive experience, even if that experience leads someone to say, “This really isn’t for me.”
I found out later that our conversation had apparently upset another customer at the coffee shop. According to Belinda (I was too engrossed in conversation at the time to notice), a man sitting about twenty feet from us got fed up during the part of the conversation when we were discussing Wicca, witchcraft, and the pentagram. In fact, we apparently offended his sensibilities so much that he eventually stood up, walked back out to the front room of the coffee shop, and glared at us as he passed our table on the way. When Belinda told me about this, I just smiled in amusement and made a rather unapologetic comment.
About a half hour after V and P left, our original trio decided it was time to leave as well. After all, the coffee shop was closing in five minutes, and we try to make sure the owner doesn’t have to kick us out. As is our usual custom, the three of us stood by our cars gabbing for a while longer. As the coffee shop closed, a car drove buy us and the driver glared at the three of us. I glanced at Belinda and she confirmed (at least as well as she could be certain) that it was the same gentleman who stormed by us earlier in the evening due to our conversation.
At this point, I was amused beyond maturity and admit (though unrepentantly) to making a rather juvenile comment at this point. The idea that our conversation upset him so much that he was still stewing over it after walking away almost an hour previously simply astounded me. I cannot imagine letting someone else’s actions have that much control over my moods — especially for such a prolonged time.
I am assuming — and maybe incorrectly, though I doubt it — that this man was a fundamentalist Christian. I can’t think of any other group of people who would be so offended by our conversation, to be frank. And this experience just reminds me how completely worked up some fundamentalist Christians get over such topics. I just don’t get it.
He was not a part of our conversation. We did not direct our conversation towards him. And while I admit that it would’ve been rather difficult for someone in the back room of the coffee shop to overhear at least parts of our conversation (we’re a lively bunch, after all), I’d argue that’s merely the nature of such venues. It’s still no big deal. And if you don’t like what you overhear, you try your best to ignore it or move where you’re less likely to overhear without acting all uppity about it.
I’d certainly understand his reaction a bit better if we had been discussing Christianity negatively. But we weren’t. In fact, we barely discussed Christianity at all. The only time the topic came up at all was (1) when V mentioned his upbringing in the Catholic church briefly and (2) when I commented that Spiritualists often tend to get into some of the same practices some Pagans do (e.g. mediumship, healing work, trance channeling) but tend to do so from a more Christian frame of reference.
Now, to the man’s credit, I’ll admit his reaction could’ve been much worse. He could’ve become confrontational and openly hostile towards us. Or he could’ve made a complaint to the owner of the coffee shop (though I doubt it would’ve done him much good, as said owner seems to have an affinity for our merry band of gabbers). Instead, he chose to just keep his anger to himself. But even that seemed to be a bit of an overreaction.
But I guess what really gets me is when I ask myself who this man’s reaction will ultimately affect. If he gets angry so easily over such things — and he’s bound to come into contact with such conversations more than this one time — it’s not the people he’s mad at who will eventually develop ulcers and other problems.