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Mental Illness in the Pagan Community
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Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order
True Meaning of Community
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
She Is Not A Christian!
Article Specs |
Article ID: 10334
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,178
Times Read: 10,894
RSS Views: 69,075
Posted: January 8th. 2006
Times Viewed: 10,894
Okay, who saw the Trading Spouses premier episodes on Fox this November? You know the one I’m talking about – the episode that swapped the fundamentalist Christian Marguerite Perrin with hypnotherapist and spiritualist Jeanne D’Amico-Flisher? Tell me, how did you feel about Marguerite’s reaction at the end of the second episode?
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me break it down for you. Marguerite is a devout Christian, who was clearly disturbed by her experience with the D’Amico-Flishers. She walked in noting the astrology charts, Buddhist flags, and the big star on the side of the barn, which in this case was not a symbol for Witchcraft. On day three, Mr. D’Amico-Flisher hosts a solstice celebration, which frightens off Marguerite. When the family tries to get her to participate, she is horribly close-minded, claiming that even the astrology charts are “dark-sided.” She managed to get the family to go to church before she left, but she refused to participate in any of their spiritual pursuits.
This was nothing, however, to the fireball ending of the trip. When she came home, Marguerite went absolutely ballistic. She started ranting about how dark-sided the D’Amico-Flishers were, screaming how they weren’t Christian, and hollering at the crewmen to get out. She tore apart the letter which described how Jeanne wanted to distribute the $50000 consolation money for this show, claiming it was tainted and that she didn’t want any part of it. The episode concluded with her still ranting, subtext showing how the money was to be allocated, and a final note that eventually Marguerite did accept the money.
So tell me, how many of you found that ending funny? I certainly did, and so did many people I know who saw it. Even several Christians I knew thought it hilarious. And ever since watching it, I saw no real reason to question it other than comedy. That is, until someone online brought up a rebuttal.
A young Pagan lady named Dani brought up something I hadn’t taken the time to notice. She felt sympathy not for the D’Amico-Flishers, or Marguerite’s family for having to put up with her, but for Marguerite herself. She argued that the Fox network knew what sort of situation they were getting into, but went along with it. They knew there was a potential for major conflict, and they sought to exploit that. Now, as a result, Marguerite’s life has been ruined. She has become a laughing stock, a permanent image of the ignorant Southern Christian. I would not be surprised to hear if the people around her were talking differently of her, or even laughing behind her back.
This got me to thinking. Has the media gotten so hungry for ratings that they are willing to put potential enemies together just to record the imminent battle? And as a result, are they that willing to ruin people’s lives like that on a national, and possibly worldwide, scale?
This episode is not unique for the show. Another version of this show, Wife Swap on ABC network, placed a conservative Christian woman into a liberal lesbian’s house last season. Needless to say, that also ended with harsh words exchanged. But has anyone taken the time to wonder how that would affect the communities these people come from? And I’m not just talking about where they live, but rather their social communities.
Shows like this one with Marguerite can intensify the already tense conflicts between the social groups in question, and quite possibly have. In this instance, the Christians, particularly the fundamental groups, got the bad rap, while the spiritualists and Pagans were shown in a better light. While we as Pagans could always use a little positive press, do we really need it at the expense of those who hate us? I mean, the best thing I’m sure we Pagans can agree on is that we want to coexist with Christians in a peaceful manner. But ruining the reputation of Christianity in the process of putting us in a better light doesn’t seem like the win-win situation we were looking for, does it?
I’m not blaming Pagans for this incident, obviously. Fox deserves the blame here for their tasteless production and for their indifference to the negative consequences of mixing these two families. And Marguerite did bring about much of the negativity due to her blatant close-mindedness.
But it does beg to wonder if there is a way for one party to grow in a positive way that isn’t at the expense of another. Sure, living with those who are different is a great way to find understanding, so long as you’re willing to learn with an open mind and an open heart. But badmouthing each other doesn’t bring one group over another, ever. It only serves to drag both groups down, into a hateful spiral of constant bickering that gives both sides a negative image, and it will continue that way until both parties say “Enough is enough! We have our ways and you have yours. But that doesn’t mean we can’t coexist in peace.”
I’ve been seeing this play out online. I’ve been seeing fundamental Christians continually downplay and even insult those who claim some form of Pagan belief. This creates resentment among the Pagans, who think the Christians are being blinded by their faith to the point that they won’t take the other side into consideration. They start going at the Christians for the problems in their various churches, and the problems with the Bible. And they keep going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until both sides just run off completely steamed, without any level of understanding having been reached. And those who were standing on the sidelines shake their heads at how immature the arguments get. End result: negative images on both sides. The Pagans are painted as fluffs or rebels, and the Christians are painted as ignorant and close-minded.
Many write off this Trading Spouses episode as an example of the ‘humorous’ results of pairing polar opposites together. But in the long term, it’s another setback in our ongoing attempts to be accepted by our Christian neighbors. Fox should be ashamed of themselves for their blatant disregard for the consequences of this swap, but ultimately they will do what they must for ratings. But among our own circles, we should focus not on the negative aspects of one side, but on the positive aspects of both. Though we cannot pry open the closed minds of people such as Marguerite, we can make a difference by refusing to exploit the negative aspects of these Christians, and instead learn to maintain positive communication with those who are willing to listen.
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