May 29, 2013

Losing My Religion

When my friend Alektra commented on my book-slash-movie post yesterday it triggered a random thought. Her comment wasn't so much about books being turned into movies but, instead, religion. It sounds random but I see how she got there. Anyway, I had this bizarre thought.

Despite my atheistic/agnostic beliefs, the more my kids reject a higher power, the more I try to expose them to religion.

I've never been a religious guy. I went to a private Baptist elementary school that scared the Jesus right out of me never to return. What I learned from that experience was that God loves rich white people who are willing to donate to a mega-church with bowling alleys. I know - I promise you that I really, really know - that isn't true but when you're in fourth grade, transitioning to a public school and realize that you've a) never been in a school with a black kid and b) memorized bible verses instead of learning math - any math at all - you'd be a little emotionally scarred too.

I am, I acknowledge, something of a spiritual lost cause. And I'm okay with that. But I don't want it to impact my kids.

So, yes, the more I distance myself from religion, the more I encourage my kids to explore it. It might sound counter-intuitive but they need to appreciate all religions and make decisions for themselves. Perhaps I'm overcompensating for the fact that I have a seven year old vegetarian who, I venture to guess, would be eating steak if her parents did.

Regardless, my kids' religion isn't my decision to make. They can understand my beliefs, widen the lenses through which they view the world, experience others, and make their own decisions.

They will not believe, however, that God only loves rich white people. I'd sooner they become steak eating satan worshipers.

Posted by Chris at May 29, 2013 7:08 AM

I believe that it's a parent's duty to expose their children to religion. Having faith in something greater than us is something that this world is sorely lacking these days. It sure wasn't this crappy forty years ago.....

Posted by: Dawn at May 29, 2013 8:36 AM

I think what you are doing is awesome. Rather than just expecting your kids to inherit your beliefs, you are guiding them on a spiritual journey to decide for themselves, just as you have...

Posted by: Kaz at May 30, 2013 8:21 AM

I just went back and read yesterday's comments - she makes some really interesting points!

Posted by: Heather at May 30, 2013 10:03 AM

Aw, thanks, Chris and Heather! I'm totally blushing.

It really started when my cousin, who was eight, was reading the kids' version* of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and sobbing because Aslan was killed. I said, "It's ok, he's like Jesus." She looked all confused. I said, "You know, Jesus comes back from the dead on Easter?" And she said, "Easter is for CHOCOLATE," as if I were mentally slow.

Chris is awesome that he exposes his kids to religion. I personally think that kids should learn about every religion. There's literature out there that's just fantastic from every culture. I'm a Roman Catholic (Go, new Pope!), but I learned a lot about Islam, Judiasm, Hinduism, Protestantism... I get to understand concepts in general whereas many of my friends who are staunch *fill in the blank* just don't.

I read "Train to Pakistan" in eighth grade at my private school. This was for history class, not English class, as it recounts the annexation of Pakistan in 1947. We also had Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus in my class, so it was interesting to hear the cultural perspectives from each group. (To bring it full circle, it was made into a movie in 1998, five years after I read it. Great book. No idea about the movie.)

Another example off the top of my head: if you don't know about the historical context of English religion, the "Big-Endians" and "Little Endians" in "Gulliver's Travels" is just a funny story and not a religious commentary. (Whether I agree or not, different story.)

In sum, Chris is the bomb, read "Train to Pakistan", and yay for Heather being so nice!

* - which is gross in concept

Posted by: alektra at May 31, 2013 5:00 PM