Peaceable Pagans

Peaceable Pagans

Peaceable Pagans

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 29 1999 3:32 AM

Peaceable Pagans

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com.

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Hey Pru,

I've got a very wicked idea about who you really are. I think you're a fat, balding guy in his middle 50s who smokes cigars while reading those heart-rending missives from perplexed readers. Très cool.

--Rick St. T.

Dear Rick,

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And what do you plan to read now that you've finished Miss Lonelyhearts? Actually, Prudie is a knockout. (And modest, too.)

--Prudie, laughingly

Dear Prudence,

What you really need to tell "Charles" is that Wicca and paganism are simply other religions. Of course their followers don't believe in evil or worship Satan. For one thing, Christians created Satan--so he's their guy, not ours. To be evil is to go against everything you're taught by the Wiccan religion.

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--Just Concerned

Dear Just,

Talk about toil and trouble ... Prudie was inundated by lotsa mail on this subject. Interestingly, the Wiccan mail was friendly, polite, and informative. Blessed be. The few stinky letters were from clergymen. Go figure.

--Prudie, bewitchingly

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Prudie,

I recently married a woman who is a devout Mormon. Needless to say, she has spent a fair amount of time trying to convert me. I believe that a person's views on religion, divinity, and so on are individual. I respect the right of anyone to believe as he or she sees fit, but honestly, I find the whole Latter Day Saints faith a load of dingo kidneys--restrictive, racist, and condemnatory. I also find their attitudes sanctimonious and superior and in line with many fundamentalist "Christian" faiths.

So, how do I tell my young (much younger) wife that I want her to cool down the rah-rah Mormon bit? I love her dearly, but this is driving me nuts.

--Alisdair

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Dear Al,

Prudie is astounded that you and the little woman did not discuss this rather loaded subject--on which you differ profoundly--before the strains of "Here Comes the Bride" filled the church. And she wonders if resolution will even be possible ... what with the Mrs. trying to convert you to her religion ... which you view as a load of dingo kidneys. If you love her dearly, as you say, it will be necessary to reach an agreement, probably with a referee, whereby you both hew to your own beliefs and do not discuss them. You might tell the beloved that you have decided to become Jewish just to end the discussion. (Prudie is kidding.)

It is a storm signal, however, that you use the words "racist, restrictive, condemnatory, sanctimonious, and superior" about your wife's faith and her fellow practitioners. Prudie can only hope that, as a counterbalance, her personal qualities are "gorgeous, loving, brainy, witty, and rich." Not to be pessimistic, but Prudie envisions another letter from you down the line.

--Prudie, worriedly

Prudence,

I am a gay divorced father who also happens to work in a Catholic school. I am out to my ex-wife, family, and some close friends but am hesitant to come all the way out for fear of the implications. I do not care what people think about me, but I don't want to bring any negative publicity to the school. I love education and would hate to leave it. I want to find a life partner to share my days with, but my current employment prevents me from doing so. I am tired of living in the closet and want to be me without having to live two lives. Can you help?

--Mr. Q.

Dear Mr.,

Closets are for clothes, and two lives mean split personalities. Prudie would encourage you to reorganize your life so that it is honest. The first thing to try would be to talk with someone in authority at your school about your sexual preference to ask if it poses a problem. The answer may well be in the affirmative, seeing as how one parochial school sacked a female teacher because she was divorced. But this will at least be a start. Prudie is a little unclear as to why your being gay would bring publicity to the school, but only you know why you think this is so.

Because you say you would hate to leave the educational field, why not move to a public or private school if your Catholic school boss finds homosexuality a problem? Take it from Prudie, all schools have gay and lesbian teachers. It's a percentage thing. And Prudie wishes you all the best in your private, romantic life.

--Prudie, openly

Dear Prudence,

My boss is a really great guy and the best boss I've ever had. There's just one problem: He whistles incessantly.

I find whistling irritating at best, but it is positively nerve-wracking when I'm trying to concentrate at work. My office is two doors down from his, so there's no escaping the sound. I've tried to discreetly play music, but it doesn't drown him out. I've also tried shutting my door, but in our office culture, that's considered uncomfortably secretive and standoffish. Any ideas on how I can save my sanity (and my job)?

--Whistler's Brother

Dear Whis,

Prudie finds whistling annoying, too. It is an odd sound and, like chewing gum, should best be done in private. You may have blown the problem out of proportion, however. Surely this "really great guy," the best boss you've ever had, could not be so unreasonable--or thin-skinned--as to take umbrage at your request for a whistle-free workplace.

Make your remarks positive. Tell him, in your own words, that it pleases you that he manifests such happy feelings, but the musical expression of his joy distracts you and keeps you from putting out your very best work. A really great guy is not going to react with anything but understanding. Unless he is so dense that light bends around him, he will accede to your request and be grateful that you spoke up.

--Prudie, fearlessly