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Not Telling Family - Guilt Or Wrong Thing To Do?


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I've always been a little shakey ever since I went out of Christianity and into Norse Paganism, but I've always told myself that I can't tell my family about it, in fear of being forced back.

 

Family is pretty extremely Christian, aside from my Dad whom is kinda Religion-Less. One of the sisters doesnt think she should have to put up with socializing with Non-Christians, brother in law's family has a grandpa whom is a priest, Mom is pretty Christian, but she doesnt mention it too terribly much.

 

Ever since I saw the oldest sister flip out when they found out one of our cousin's was Catholic (I dont know how to explain why she got upset either), and her and my mom talking about how terrible another cousin was when they found out that he had looked up Wicca on the internet (and somehow confused it with Satanism), I always reminded myself never to tell them.

 

I'm assuming that the bad feeling I'm getting from time to time for not telling them is Guilt because they're my family. While it's very true that they're bound to find out sometime, from me collecting books for Norse Paganism, but I personally believe the consequences of telling them would be a bit drastic, especially from the oldest sister.

 

Is it really wrong for me to not tell them, in fear of that? I know that my family should deserve to know about this, but I dunno. I've always been shakey about it and wondering if it's right to just Not tell them.

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Your religious convictions are ultimately your own, and nobody else's business. You don't have to tell your family if you don't want to.

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I went almost five years before I told anyone in my family I deconverted from Christianity and left the ministry. I don't really know a good way to tell family you do not believe what they believe.

 

What was the attraction to Norse Paganism? I don't know anything about it.

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The first thing that attracted me were my own morals. I browsed through articles on Norse Mythology alot when I was de-converting from Christianity. Something just seemed right about it to me.

 

Even as a Christian, I always believed that everyone has the right to believe whatever they wanted to. And I also always believed that there was more than one path. I didn't see any reason why there couldn't be. Definitely not any more farfetched-sounding than Christianity is. I ended up finding an article and the phrase "There are many paths, and people are free to choose whatever path they wish to take for themselves" kind of stuck out to me.

 

There were obviously other things, but that was one of the bigger things that gave me a liking to it, and ever since I became a Norse Pagan, I always felt like I've done the right thing with that decision. Christianity blurs through my mind from time to time, but I just have a feeling that I know I did the right thing.

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The first thing that attracted me were my own morals. I browsed through articles on Norse Mythology alot when I was de-converting from Christianity. Something just seemed right about it to me.

I did a quick Googling and found an essay on the Nine Noble Virtues. What I like about the Norse morality is that it hits a good balance between the Golden Rule and self-actualization, with personal responsibility tying it all together.

 

P.S. Velkominn til Ex-Christian.net!

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If your family would hate you for belonging to a different faith than them, then frankly I think they don't deserve to know about your beliefs. There's nothing wrong with keeping your beliefs to yourself and I don't think you have to share it with them if you don't want to. If they ever find out and make you feel guilty for not telling them, then they should be the ones who should feel guilty about making you feel afraid of being hated by them.

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Yeah, you’re right, Neon. It isn't really any of their business. They just seem to make it out like it's their business to know what beliefs everyone in the family belongs to. I recall at one point, my sister was talking to my mom behind my back about how I was getting into some really wierd and worrying stuff while I was at college (She saw some Viking Metal music videos on my Myspace page, go figure), but yeah. You're right. I shouldn't have to tell them if I don't want to. I'll just have to prepare myself in case they ever do find out.

 

I did a quick Googling and found an essay on the Nine Noble Virtues. What I like about the Norse morality is that it hits a good balance between the Golden Rule and self-actualization, with personal responsibility tying it all together.

 

P.S. Velkominn til Ex-Christian.net!

 

You have my thanks, Astreja.

 

Also, I agree with you. The Nine Noble Virtues do balance very well, and Lewis Stead’s essay describes each of them well.

 

He brings out the true meaning of some of the Virtues which definitions have been altered by modern times, notable Fidelity, and also brings out validly common situations where the Virtues would be challenged. The best examples I saw were someone asking you what church you attend (Fear of answering), or getting down from being fired from a job because of your religion.

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I know most paganistic teachings have changed to keep up with modern beliefs, example: no human sacrifices. Is it the changing structure of paganism that appeals to you compared to the structure of Christianity? I went from Christianity to nonbeliever to Gnostic and Agnostic and I have some idea there could be a god, or gods, but I am hesitant to jump into a religion just to have a religion. I like the romanticism of being pagan, as one outside of Christianity, but I'm not willing to accept someone's idea of what a pagan spiritual path should be because that goes back to organized religion. From what I find on the internet are New Age pagans that express the thoughts and teachings of someone else and these other persons claim to be prophets, spiritualists, channelers, etc..

 

How do you know you are getting the real Norse pagan religion and not what a New-Ager is boasting? Because as a Universal Gnostic, I find a lot of what I am receiving as 'spiritual truths' are nothing more than new age mumbo jumbo spoken and written. I have not heard anything I have not heard before but spoken and written in a different context--different words, same meanings. When asked about my religion, I don't claim to be Gnostic, or Agnostic. I tell people I appreciate the spirituality of the American Indian, which is not to mean I am American Indian, but to mean my spiritual quest is a private and personal matter.

 

How does one explore paganism without it turning into an exploration of what someone else claims is true about pagan gods? It was the history of the Christian church that finally made me confront my beliefs concerning its teachings. If I could not get along well with Christianity because of its exploitation in the name of imaginary friends, then I'm not sure I could be a good pagan, as a religion, due to histories of human sacrifices performed by pagan worshipers in the name of imaginary friends. A person can be a pagan without a religion. If you need a religion to complete yourself, I'm not asking this unkindly, why did you leave Christianity? Its history? Teachings not keeping up with the times? Do you question or view critically what you are being told in Norse paganism? Are you allowed to? Who speaks for the gods?

 

I can respect a choice made that goes towards a religion that changes with the times and attitudes and is all inclusive, something that Christianity is not.

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Your questions are valid and understandable. You'll find me to not be like most Norse Pagans, or at least I would assume not.

 

"Why did you leave Christianity?"

 

I left for many reasons. Some being the fact that everyone at my former church aside from maybe a couple people, shunned me and would constantly avoid me once I started asking questions in which answers were outside of the Thinking Box of Christianity. Questions like "Why can't there be one path?" and "Why are there so many things that the Bible doesn't explain, but were clearly still in effect at the time?"

 

Them shunning me, including my own family, gave me a feeling that I didn't belong, and I never really felt Christianity that strongly. I went to church and CIY every summer because I was brought up as a Christian, but I'd always be standing there in the middle of a pastor's speech, perfectly calm, while everyone else in the room would be dropping to their knees in tears.

 

Other things would include the fact that I don't feel that it's right to bow down to anyone, no matter how strong they are, or say they are. The Gods of Norse Mythology are mortal, and Superhuman Strength is the only thing making them much different than Humans. I also didn't believe it was right to force your beliefs on others. Alot of people told me it was perfectly fine, but it didn't feel right. It felt like I was ignoring the Freedom of Religion.

 

"From what I find on the internet are New Age pagans that express the thoughts and teachings of someone else and these other persons claim to be prophets, spiritualists, channelers, etc."

 

I don't believe the Gods are capable of posessing people, or speaking through them. The only true teacher I have are the Myths of Norse Mythology. I will believe and follow such things as the Edda's and the Nine Noble Virtues, but that's about as far as it goes. I self-teach, as I find more and more stories from the myth's and the poems that reference to the Aesir, Vanir, Jotens, etc. I'm a 'lone' Pagan, you could say. I look to the Myths for my teachings and answers.

 

I believe the Gods are up in Asgard. They have their own duties, like Thor controlling the weather to aid farmers and on the lookout for the Midgard Serpent from time to time, that Heimdall is standing guard at the Gate of Bifrost, and that Tyr watches over the skies from Asgard, but I don't believe they can speak through a human. I just believe that they are there in Asgard, pertaining to their own personal duties.

 

"I'm not willing to accept someone's idea of what a pagan spiritual path should be because that goes back to organized religion"

 

You have every right to not led a single individual tell you what a Pagan Spiritual Path should be. What they would tell me would probably be slightly different than what I believe. Everyone has different beliefs about things, and those things fade and differe as time goes by. It's not uncommon to see someone having one view of something that is completely different from someone else's view of the same thing.

 

I believe in the old tale that the brave and couragous will be chosen by the Valkyries and taken to Valhalla to train for eternity in preparation for Ragnarok, that the others as well as those whom die an unexpected death go to Niflheim for a peaceful afterlife, and that all of the cruel people, murderers, thieves, etc go to Hifhel to be eternally trapped, being bitten by poisonous snakes.

 

Well, I hope this gives you a clearer idea of what you were trying to find out.

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I look at it like this. One's feelings about religion are an opinion, however strong, that can lead to lifestyle changes.

 

Would you bring up every single opinion you had about everything with your family? If not, why does this one matter so much simply because their opinion is very strong in the opposite direction as yours? If you are making drastic lifestyle changes from the life you led as a Christian, i.e. dressing differently, eating differently, talking differently, etc. while you are around them, eventually they will figure it out anyway.

 

You are an adult - hence you are free to lead your own life as you choose.

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I didn't tell my parents for years, but eventually I decided that I had to tell them if I wanted to continue having a worthwhile relationship with them.

 

My parents are strongly religious but love me very much. They used to continually ask me questions about my religious involvement. So just keeping my mouth shut wasn't an option- my choice was either to actively lie and have a relationship with them that was built on deception, or to be honest that I was no longer religious and no longer doing religious activities and end up answering very direct questions about my belief in Christianity. If my parents didn't mention religion much, then I would have had a third option to not bring it up either.

 

You shouldn't feel guilty for not telling your parents everything you believe- you're not beholden to them for your thoughts. But overall, I think that if things reach the point where you are having to actively deceive them, it's not worth living a life of pretense.

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