I was re-reading a thread on The Cauldron today, trying to come up with a way to write about the topic of conversion, when something struck me: New Relationship Energy (NRE) is a thing in conversion, just as it is in relationships.
(Yes, I’m going in this direction. Hear me out, okay?)
NRE, for those who don’t know, is that overwhelming feeling of “oh my gods, X is the most wonderful thing ever and all I want to do is talk about X, and be with X, and make sure the entire world knows!” It’s usually used in the context of a new potential partner/lover, and I’m pretty sure most of you have experienced it personally. If not, doubtless you’ve seen a friend of yours fall into NRE so deeply that all they want to do is talk about Bob, no matter the topic at hand. As a friend of mine said today, in description of the phenomenon, “Oh, you’re having peas for dinner? Bob hates peas.” And you know that they don’t mean to overwhelm you with Bob-talk even while wanting to shut their mouths with duct-tape. They’re excited and thrilled and want us to be excited and thrilled with them.
Now, if you’ve ever had a friend convert to a new religious practice, I’ll bet you’ve seen a similar thing. I know that when I became Kemetic, I tried to discuss the things I was learning about Ancient Egypt with everyone, even people whom I didn’t want to know I was pagan. I was sphinxing all over the place. Hell, I still do it with some people; my father is a frustrated archaeologist and I keep talking Egyptian things with him while simultaneously trying to keep him from finding out just how seriously I take it. Why do I do this? Well, he’s a person in my family who gets what I’m saying even if he wouldn’t get that I converted from Christianity to this, and even though he sees it as archaeology-talk rather than religion-talk it still makes me feel good to have those discussions.
New religious concepts are exciting. We learn about them, and ponder them some more, and come out having learned new things…and I think most of us want to share new things with other people, no matter the topic. Funnily enough, though, NRE in a relationship-sense is better understood and tolerated (IMO) than NRE in a religious-sense. Outside of a very specific religious community, how many people really want to hear about how much someone loves Jesus, or how the concept of ma’at helped someone make sense of their place in the world, or how exciting it was to attend their first blót? How many times have you listened to such things and wanted to apply your own roll of duct-tape to the excited party?
Since I’ve realized this, I’m going to try not to tape anyone overflowing with the NRE of conversion. After all, if I can handle it when one of my partners gets a new partner, I should be able to handle someone I know finding a new religious path.