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Friday, December 02, 2005

Our approach to religion is similar to raising Toddler in Chief as a vegetarian. For now, he eats what we eat because he isn't big enough to make informed culinary decisions. When TIC's older and understands where meat comes from, he's free to eat meat, if he wants to. Same goes for religion. If TIC wants to explore religion when he's older, then he's free to do that.

21stCenturyMom gave her kids the freedom to make their own choices about religion. Now she feels guilty because she didn't provide a bigger foundation to build their beliefs on. But you can't expose your kids to everything.

Just because I don't take TIC to music class doesn't mean he won't be musical or love music. Same goes for art, gymnastics, swimming, and religion. The list goes on and on. I can't expose him to everything. Even so, TIC will be interested in things that I'm not. And I will be interested in things that he rejects. That's sort of how it goes. But he will have the freedom to explore life, the world, and his beliefs, which will ultimately shape his opinions. Isn't that what we're aiming for as parents?

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I, too, wonder how your life would be without your husband. From what you've written, his considerable marketing skills have had a considerable impact on your opinions about religion and home birth. Perhaps you're more familiar with blind acceptance than you realize.

The unintentional irony was also a nice touch. It's hard to take seriously anyone who dismisses faith as "ignorant bliss," because assuming that everyone who believes in God is limping around in an addlepated fog is one of the more ignorant things I've ever read.

Look, I have my biases like anyone else. If either of my children ends up in a robe at LAX with a shaved head and a banjo, I'll get past it (but I admit it won't be easy). Ditto if they become enthralled with the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk and start selling T-shirts door to door, or if they decide to start jettisoning engrams in order to escape the MEST. Whatever they choose, I can only hope they're secure enough to be open-minded and respectful toward those who believe differently.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I wonder how my life would be different if Father in Chief had been a religious kind of guy when I met him at 16. Would I have swallowed up the church and let God's love guide me into ignorant bliss? Would I have decided that Toddler in Chief's defects were punishment for not being a good enough Christian? Or a test of faith to bring me closer to God? Ganail says my son's defects are from Satan himself.

Would life be easier to swallow if I could blindly accept that everything happens for a reason and that some greater power is up there calling the shots, for better or for worse? But walking around with rose-colored glasses when the world ain't so rosy is just walking through life in denial. I prefer to have my kid's life founded in reality, instead of leaning on a crutch, as Jon explained it.

For now, TIC will learn that the greatest love is the one you give and receive to/from your family and friends. He'll also learn that helping people is part of being human, not part of an organized religion that is redeemable at a certain place and at a certain time each week.

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I’m with you on that "God's plan" nonsense. If everything is progressing along with "God's will," then isn’t praying a waste of time? If God is the warden of our goofy little asylum, I don't think he bothers consulting with the inmates.

But it has always bugged me when people decide they no longer believe in God after something terrible happens to them. It’s a negative and solipsistic view of faith that says "I'm into the God thing as long as there's something in it for me."

I was also interested to learn that more than 90% of the world's population believes in some sort of supreme being or spiritual force. So I want my kids to experience some sort of organized religion; if they want to join the vastly outnumbered nonbelievers, that's up to them. And if they decide to believe in God, I hope I can at least teach them that the nature of faith is not quid pro quo, and God's primary job is not to make sure everyone's life is fair.

Besides, you can't really decide if something is truly "terrible" until you've have a little time for the context to play out. I was laid off when Son1 was 14 months old, and it seemed like a bad thing at the time. But I used the insomnia spare time to start a blog, and then I got a job as a blogger, and now here I am, a happy agnostic, endorsing that kids be exposed to religion. Can life get any more random than that?

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Monday, November 28, 2005

My only positive memories of being affiliated with a church was when I was in the 6th grade. I was in bell choir and I got to leave school early on Wednesdays for practice. When we were done, we raided the cookie and hot chocolate supply in the church's pantry. I always liked the music around the holidays too.

Other than that, church seemed like a generational thing that I couldn't relate to. Then at the influential age of 16, I met Father in Chief. He was rational, logical, skeptical, sexy. He believed things were founded in science not theology. And I really liked him. So that was that.

The last time God had any kind of presence in my life was when Toddler in Chief was born with his assortment of anatomical abnormalities. People weren't sure how to respond to our email birth announcement that did NOT proclaim mom and baby were doing great. There were plenty of well-meaning replies, but some were not helpful: "God has his reasons." Or, "It's all part of God's plan." Or, "God would never give you anything you can't handle." I especially hate that last one. Do only people who can't handle a sick kid get a healthy one??

If God is so powerful and loving, why are kids born with life-shortening diseases? Mostly, people seem to fall back on God and religion when life has no real explanation. My kid will learn that his defects are a random genetic blooper and that science is the best chance for saving his life, not prayer.

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I don’t cotton much to the idea of a “mixed marriage,” because isn’t every marriage a mixed marriage? Otherwise, we’d all be married to our clones. But of all the many wrinkles in the exquisite tapestry of our marriage, the deepest and wrinkliest is over religion.

My parents took me to church every Sunday when I was a kid, but I never saw much point in any of it. And now that I’m an adult, I’m pretty comfortable in a life that’s random, brutish, and short. My wife, however, is a devout Lutheran, and she has a far more healthy and optimistic view of life than I do. It’s really quite sickening.

About the only thing we do agree on is that if Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.

Clearly, we had to address this before we got married.  So we made a deal.  My wife's faith is far more important to her than my indifference is to me, so the kids go to Sunday school and church.  That way, they'll at least be exposed to sprirituality and decide for themselves whether it has a place in their lives.  And when they're aloof teenagers who've decided that their parents are idiots, they'll know that one parent is a much bigger idiot than the other.

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