Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not Sure What To Do Here

As I type, Risa and Vida are deep in discussion with their friend R., (also 6 years old) who is hanging from a tree on his side of the fence. I think he must just have come from Bible camp or something because he is sharing the story of Adam & Eve. R & V are countering with the theory of evolution, even going so far as to run inside the house to find one of those pictures that shows a primate morphing into a man.

I hope I don't receive a call tonight from his parents or anything.

I have read some Bible stories with the girls, and when they asked their inevitable Did that really happen? Is this true? questions, all I could tell them was that some people believe that, yes, these stories are true, and other people believe they are not. When they asked what I believed, I stumbled. Badly. I addressed only creation and evolution, and told them I believed the latter. Then I removed myself with the classic we'll-talk-later-I-need-to-make-dinner excuse. And I have been dancing around the whole thing ever since.


All of this has been on my mind lately as I try to figure out whether or not I will be sending R & V to catechism during the coming school year. Simply put, I'm having a much more difficult time than anticipated trying to reconcile my issues with the Catholic Church with my desire to expose the girls to spiritual teaching. I don't feel comfortable sending them anywhere at this point, and lately have been wishing there were some sort of place that just teaches them about all the different religions and—most importantly—that none is completely right, none completely wrong. Maybe this is something I could do myself? The idea of learning together appeals to me. But does that "count?" And what do I mean by "count"? Totally confused.

Insights welcome.


weez said...

I am so there.

I haven't been raising the children with any particular religion, hoping that a strong ethical sense and humanism is sufficient. (Mom, of course, sprinkled holy water on them while I wasn't looking because they haven't been baptised).

There is actually a place that does teach all of the religions, without emphasis on a particular one...and that would be the Unitarian Universalists.

Probably just easier to google them. We went there on Sundays for a bit, and sleeping-in won out over that too, although I keep thinking I should take them back for that spiritual bit.

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

When we decided to raise the girls in the Catholic Church we knew that there'd come times when we'd be challenging the practice. We felt, though, that it was important to start with a basic faith and morality that at least subconsciously would carry them through all their lives. It's a bonus too, that the heavy theo-drama of the Church lends itself to heavy mysticism, and our own practice of Catholicism is more mystic than conservative.

Our oldest recently saw a couple of Buddhist monks walking near an amusement park we were visiting. She asked about their robes and when we explained they were Buddhist, she says "So we should say a prayer for them." I blinked, but Hubby and I both worked it into a teachable moment. No, the monk didn't need to be prayed for, and that we all have different paths to God. What was important to us was the search for God, whatever the practice.

We've had conversations with her about women as priests one day and the importance of caring for the poor. We tend to emphasize the positive work of the Church and celebrate its advances, while admittedly playing down it's shortfalls. Later (she's 9 now) I imagine the conversations will become more complex and that will be good for both of us.

Last week they both went to Vacation Bible School, an interdenominational day camp, which we hoped would help them see that Christianity is diverse (the host Church tends toward more traditional Hebrew symbolism). We've been talking about how after Assumption we hope to meet other families of other faiths so they can experience other spiritual paths. In the meantime, we've been doing what we can with visits to the Greek Orthodox Church for festivals and such.

Bottom line I guess is that we want them to know that there is a greater power at work in the world and that They are benevolent, who weep when we suffer and urge us to be better people. The RC is familiar and one I can see the flaws more easily, so I'm more comfortable with challenging the 'party line' in an honest, helpful way, rather than completely coming unglued because I'm in unfamiliar territory.

BTW, I find Unitarians wonderful and if they've got a good kids program then I'd recommend them too.

Ack! Sorry for the long post, but you really got me thinking this AM.

ver said...

A big thank you to both of you. It's good to know I'm not the only one fumbling around. I just recently talked with my sis-in-law about the Unitarians; I'll definitely be checking it out.

And Bec, I've felt at times what you write about in your first paragraph. I'm fine when I think about faith/morality in very general terms. Then I start to run through specifics in my head, and it all falls apart. Maybe I'm thinking too much. I find comfort in your idea that at least we're already familiar with the flaws in RC.

A. D. said...

don't neglect the church of the flying spaghetti monster.

my mother was raised catholic and is now into unitarian universalism. my father was raised loosely protestant and is now buddhist.

as my brother and i grew up, my parents (mostly my mother) took us through several different churches—baptist and even pentecostal at one point. eventually, my father stopped attending services and, as my questions to my parents about religion grew more complex, so did the rest of the family.

i think it became clear to my parents at some point that their example and their individual faiths—and our developing spiritual awareness and questioning—were far more important than a church community or weekly services.

perhaps when it was clear that we were good, rational people (as your girls seem to be so precociously), my parents knew that they could trust us and themselves to take on the questions and such far better than any church could.

that was around 8 years old for me, i think. after that, the best thing for me, of course, was always having wonderful books around the house—and parents willing to answer my silly questions.

ver said...

Thanks, AD. Was that confusing, though, to be move around from church to church? (I'm def purchasing a church of the flying spaghetti tee, btw). Feel free to backchannel if you don't want to answer here...

A. D. said...

i didn't find it confusing, but i think i had my confused period later on—more a coming-of-age reconciliation type of thing, you know? (maybe i'm still there.)

anyway, i like having had the awareness of many different paths in retrospect, even if it was only a glimpse for so many years.

maybe there would have been more social issues, had i lived in a more conservative area—but i kind of took faith for granted until i was of an age to challenge away, so there weren't many ideological clashes on the playground.

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

Hi Ver - found this today. Might be useful:

I thought the list was well rounded.

ver said...

That's good to know, AD. I'll trust these glimpses are not what led you to the altar of Narcissus...

Thanks for the link, Bec! Will check it out.

KK said...

I read the children's bible to my kids and then with my kids when they learned to read. We also discussed evolution. When they asked whether or not the bible stories were true -- I told them that some people think that they are, but that we have to realize that they are stories passed by people so the chances of them being perfectly true aren't very good. Their importance comes from their moral lessons, which is true of all religious stories. I'm all for a spiritual type "camp" or "class" to teach the kids all of the different religions. Brilliant!! Can you start one in your spare time? Here's the rub -- I consider myself very spiritual, but not religious. So the question is: Am I spiritual BECAUSE I was raised with religion?