Yesterday, I walked to work at my restaurant. I usually bike, but yesterday, some mechanical problems cropped up, so I walked. No big thing but when a guy driving by stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride to my Whataburger, I said yes. It was a hot day, and this dude was saving me about 1.25 miles of sweat. Awesome.
I slide into the car, and the guy introduces himself as John. He says he's heading towards my restaurant because his church is nearby and he's got some work to do there. I ask him if it's the little Lutheran church right across the parking lot from my job site, and he says no, it's some Christian fellowship about 1/2 mile farther out. I nod, ask him if he's a pastor there, and he says that he just volunteers as a missionary occasionally, but the reason he's going up today is to do some work on a Christian brand clothing line he's working on.
Interesting. We talk for a few minutes about the town, and some of the contacts he's trying to establish, the investors he's hoping to line up from among Kerrville's many, many millionaires. Finally, I ask the guy what the clothing line will look like. He describes it as similar to the Tap Out and Fightgear secular clothing lines but says it will have a 'darker' edge and an obvious Christian slant. By darker, I ask him if it will look like about half the art on Deviant Art, and chagrined slightly, he admits yes, that's what he's going for.
We chat for a little bit more and he asks me if I'm any stripe of Christian. I tell him no, I'm pagan. He replies that he used to be pagan himself before he found Christ. "I was into Ouija boards and Satan...."
Now, this 5 minute ride gave me a lot of food for thought. First off, I can't say anything really too bad about John: the man offered me genuine hospitality when I was hot and sweating, and so he's awesome. Even more than that, he gave me something I've rarely had- a mostly positive experience with a Christian.
But two things, two assumptions about my faith and about Christianity and its craftwork during this conversation really bugged me. First and foremost, the Ouija boards and Satan crack. I've never used a fucking Ouija board in my life, because they're stupid and also crap. And of all the deities I've ever prayed or sacrificed to, the Christian Devil is one that's never made my list. I don't believe in the "good guys" of Christian myth, so why the hell (no pun intended), should I worship the bad guy? If I wanted to pray to a trickster figure, I'd rather talk to Loki or Coyote or Anastazi....after all, they don't get their asses kicked quite as badly or as often as the Christian Satan does. And having my faith, (which is paradoxically thousands of years older than Christianity and only 60 years old, new, vibrant and fresh), stereotyped as childish occultism by someone who really knows nothing about it grates.
Second, the guy's talking about creating a Christian clothing line. And instead of creating something unique and beauitful, what does this guy do? Bite the style of Tapout T-shirts and Deviant Art? Now, I'm not the target market, but I see plenty of Christian branded clothes everyday, living in the Deepest South. To me, it seems like Christian fashion, like Christian art in general, takes something that was popular in secular culture about 3 years ago, slaps Christ onto it somewhere, and calls it good. It irritates me, and compared to the transcendent craftsmanship and artistry of the pagan cultures I most love (Egypt and Hellenic Greece) it just seems lazy, and ugly.
Anyway, I figure I'm sorta in the same boat as John, just heading towards the opposite shore. I create pagan-branded art. My faith is evident in every paragraph I write for Otherverse America but damnit, I try to make something beautiful and original. I try to keep up the tradition of craftsmanship I discovered when writing the Coven of Bast. Anyway, for a short ride, it gave me a lot of stuff to chew on.