Eric O. Scott

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Eric Scott writes fiction and creative nonfiction from the unique perspective of a second-generation Wiccan. He earned his MFA from the University of Missouri - Kansas City and is a current PhD candidate in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Missouri - Columbia. He has published in a number of magazines and anthologies. He serves as a Contributing Editor at Killing the Buddha and writes the Real Pagan Geek blog at PaganSquare. His first book, "The Lives of the Apostates," was recently published by Moon Books. He once played guitar in a Taoist glam rock band.
  • Franklin_Evans

    That was marvelous (ahem), Eric. Thank you for sharing it.

    I don’t “advertise” my religion, so I’ve never had that sort of conversation. I have had encounters with Christians early on my spiritual path — the chip on my shoulder was rather large, I’m ashamed to disclose — and I’ve long since learned to react to such things more respectfully, at least.

    Item: A middle-aged couple passing by on the sidewalk asks me (and I’m sure others) “Have you found Christ?” My cynicism being overshadowed by my shoulder-chip, I quickly quipped “When was the last time the two of you had sex?” Their shock left me the opening for my follow-up “Yes, I found your question an equally offensive invasion of my privacy.”

    Item: An attractive young woman, similar scenario. My response: “If I let your Jesus save me, will you have sex with me?” I can’t be sure, of course, but for a split-second I thought I saw on her face a very small step towards answering “yes”.

    Eric clearly demonstrates a much more civil attitude than I did. I had to learn that on my path; it was not something I brought with me.

    • Charles Cosimano

      That was a pretty good comeback. My preferred one was always, “Yes, right where we left him.” If you can’t beat ‘em, confuse ‘em.

    • MadGastronomer

      I’m pretty good with that first response, but that second one is sexual harassment. Yes, she harassed you first, but I hate to break it to you, your response is far creepier.

      • Franklin_Evans

        I certainly offer no excuses for my younger self. By the way, inviting to have sex in an open public space with a stranger who has approached you is certainly creepy, but I know of no statute or ordinance that defines it as sexual harassment. We don’t need to ramp up the rhetoric to agree that what I did was creepy and completely inappropriate.

        • MadGastronomer

          An awful lot of sexual harassment isn’t covered by any ordinance or law. It’s annoying or bothering someone, with sexual content, ergo sexual harassment.

  • Amanda

    That’s interesting she found the English department hostile towards religion. Try the Biology Department! When I was getting my Master’s degree, I also taught some undergraduate biology labs as a TA. My labs were on Friday, and I mentioned something to one of my professors about how I was thinking of cancelling class on Good Friday because most of my students weren’t going to show up anyway. His reaction was something like, “Stupid religious crap!” and then a rant about how we shouldn’t have any religious holidays off at all, and I should have class anyway and have a quiz or something that day to make sure the people who skip class get a zero on it.
    That was when I made a mental note to make sure nobody around there found out I was pagan. I’ve run across atheists who seem to think being a pagan is even worse than being a Christian. Their reasoning goes that most Christians were raised that way so they can’t help it, but pagans are converts and chose to believe that nonsense.
    It’s even worse when they find out I’m an ex-atheist.
    But your story about Odin calling you sounds very similar to my own. It’s hard to be an atheist when you have gods talking to you.

    • Eric Scott

      Yes, but then, I sort of invited him in…

    • Raksha38

      I’m really tired today, so I read that as “I also taught some *underground* biology labs” and I got this mental image of you as some kind of radical, maverick biologist subverting the establishment with your fly-by-night biology labs, shaking up the student body and making them question everything they thought they knew!

  • thelettuceman

    “As much as I believe in anything.” Asking if I “really” believe in the gods is always a difficult question; I don’t have the conviction of a hard polytheist..”

    I’m a historian by training, wrapping up my MA this coming semester, with applications for a PhD program coming within two years I hope. I’ve studied theology and intellectual history, and count myself fully in the camp of the philosophical school of scepticism in the Renaissance sense. I’m also one of those “hard” polytheists. Eric, let me just say this:

    It doesn’t take conviction. All it takes is faith.

    • Eric Scott

      Either way, I don’t have it. (Which is not at all a knock on you for being a hard polytheist.)

    • Robert Mathiesen

      Sometimes it is neither conviction nor faith that brings one to hard polytheism. A direct, unsolicited, experiential encounter experience of a God, with other Gods waiting in the wings, can also turn the trick — especially is one is a loud-mouthed, know-it-all atheist at the time. That’s what did it for me. I was about 13 at the time.

    • Northern_Light_27

      I also incline toward the hard polytheist end, but I don’t think I have faith or conviction. It’s more that whatever impression of the gods I have, I have the is multiple and different. I couldn’t categorize why in the way that someone more god-bothered could, but I do have a sense of difference.

      Beyond that, though, it just seems the most polite thing to assume, allowing for the maximum of cultural difference to filter through and inform one’s perspective.

  • T Thorn Coyle

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Arielle Finberg

    Hi, Eric, I understand why you withdrew the story. But I just wanted to say that I really loved your story and was glad I was able to read it before you took it down. I did not read the story as portraying someone in a bad light. You portrayed her as human with deep feelings. I thought your story was a very sensitive much needed tale about how we all are oppressed today by those with intolerant religious convictions and by others hostile to religion. The conversation you portrayed was very sad to me. And your story was a very poignant reminder of how damaging being judgmental of the beliefs of others is. Indeed, cruel people have the whole world in a death grip using religion or hostility towards religion as an excuse to cover their mental and social difficulties. I hope someday you will reconsider publishing a story like it as a work of fiction like all great writers do. It is a story we need to hear. I needed to hear it. And I hope others will be open enough to hear it too. You are a terrific writer. Blessings on you. Hail Odin and Thor!

    • Medeina Ragana

      I cannot agree more with Arielle Finberg’s statement. It sums up my interpretation of the story as well.

    • Nick Ritter

      Well, shoot. Now I feel even more sorry to have missed the story.

    • MissLynx

      Arielle summed up very well a lot of what I wanted to say. I didn’t feel like the story was particularly negative toward the Christian student – to me it felt very poignant, and left me feeling a lot of sympathy for her. To me she just came across as someone with a very deep faith who was feeling lonely and isolated, thought momentarily that she’d found a like-minded person, and ultimately realized you weren’t that like-minded after all, and she was still alone. The part with her crying at the very end made me tear up a bit myself, because I really felt for her…

      I can see the ethical problems involved in posting it publicly without her consent, though.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. That must have been difficult, Eric, to remove your post. I commend you on it; it was a brave thing to do..

  • Franklin_Evans

    Eric, I honor your decision and the thought process behind it.

    Please continue writing about Pagan-Christian tensions and their consequences. It is possibly the most difficult topic within our community, having no sectarian boundaries to prevent or avoid those conflicts, and while I don’t wish to detract attention from you or this thread, I do want to quote my late mother, who was a Holocaust survivor, to emphasize how important this topic is in my view:

    There is nothing (she’d point her finger at me in emphasis), nothing that cannot be examined under the light of day. The things we want to avoid or ignore are the things most likely to have needed that examination sooner or later.