Monday, March 22, 2010

In Blog we Trust.

First, this is a piggy back post inspired by Jasie's vlog so if you want to go watch that for context, I'll wait.

You're back? Ok. I've written sparingly about my own feelings on religion/spirituality but Jasie's vlog post brought more thoughts up to the surface.

As you probably remember, I consider myself a recovering Catholic. I was raised in the church, attended Catholic school and my father (more than once) told people he hoped I'd become a nun. In front of me. As we all know, Catholicism was never the right fit for me and when it came time for Confirmation I realized that I didn't believe ANY of it and refused to participate. It was the first time I'd ever seen my dad cry. But now, nearly 20 years later, I stand by that decision.

I also live in a part of the country where religious ideas blend with political views almost seamlessly. To many people, being Republican or Conservative or whatever you want to call it is a direct result of their (usually fundamentalist Christian) beliefs. And while many of them profess a "live and let live" philosophy, they are often shocked or visibly disgusted when they hear about alternative belief systems and I've heard the words "atheist", "muslim" or "buddhist" spoken with disdain and disgust many times, sometimes almost as if they are insults.

As a young adult, I farted around and read extensively about other belief systems...Wicca primarily, Buddhism later on but neither stuck. Wicca was too weird and hippy dippy and pretend-y feeling for me, and Buddhism has some awesome philosophy but wasn't the right fit either. I felt lost with my pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-separation of church and state, pro-evolutionary theory views.

And then, sometime around age 26 I had the realization that I had 2 main issues that were preventing me from any sort of religious or spiritual practice: 1. Organized religion, especially in this country is a HUGE turn-off for me because of the things people do in the name of it and what I see as the blatant disregard for some of the basic tenets of the bible and 2. (the biggest obstacle) I really don't believe in divinity. At all.

So at this point in my life, I'm comfortable knowing who I am spiritually: I am a person who does not believe in God. I believe Jesus, Buddha, and other religious icons were probably very charismatic people who had some big ideas a long time ago and/or were possibly delusional. And that's it.

I find more solace in the turning of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun and scientific principles than I do in any sort of religious text or church service. I believe in evolution. I believe that what's right is right, what's wrong is wrong and in treating the planet and other living things compassionately- Not because there is any God up there policing us or any book out there that told me to do it- but because its morally and ethically RIGHT.

I believe that we are all only given one life to live and it is up to us to live it in the way that helps us attain joy and peace in our own lives. I believe in the separation of church and state. I believe in religious freedom- even for those who I vehemently disagree with. As long as you don't try to shove your beliefs onto me, we're golden. You're right to swing your fist ends when it connects with my nose and all that.

I believe that a woman has control over her own body. I believe that two people who love each other should be able to live together and create a family if they want to.


As a parent to a small child I go back and forth on how I want to handle the subject of religion with my son. On one hand I want him to be educated: I want him to recognize biblical references in art and literature and to know what people are referring to when they speak of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other world religions. And I want him to be educated enough to make his own decisions about this stuff.

The only problem is that I worry that if I try to do some sort of "Religions of the World" education with him, I'll find it very difficult to keep my own strong feelings and prejudices out of the conversation. I'm pretty outspoken and VERY opinionated and I just know it will be hard for me to let go and allow him to form his own opinions on things. Like right now, the idea of him being taken to a Catholic mass with his grandparents turns my blood cold. (Which is bad! I know!! He needs to make his own decisions! But....argh! I just feel so scarred by that part of my childhood...)

One idea I had was attending the Unitarian church...I have heard that they do a very balanced youth religious education program, introducing each major world religion. (Does anyone know more about this?) Or I can suck it up and tackle it myself and just decide that maybe its ok if my son knows how his mother feels about stuff- if I make it clear that he doesn't have to feel the same way, that he is free to form his own beliefs.

Its a tough one. Feel free to berate me in the comments if I'm being ridiculous about this or missing some key point. But haters and zealots will be deleted. Just FYI.


Anonymous said...

You know I struggle with this. Bryan is def an athiest while I vasilate quite a lot between wishing I could still believe all the Catholic stuff and not believing at all. My kids have gone to Mass, Mitchell thinks it is sooooo boring, Margot will tolerate it, she likes the singing.

The biggest problem we have come across it other kids. My son has been told he is going to hell because he doesn't believe in Jesus. In Second grade. Argh.

No real solutions in this comment, just saying if you figure the balencing act out please share.

That time you and I went to the UU church it felt a little weird to me, and I haven't gone back. I think it was the Top Hat the guy giving the sermon was wearing...


Birdie said...

Yeah, that UU church in Boulder was weird. One of my UU friends, however told me that each church's vibe can differ dramatically and not to write them all off because of those weirdos ;-) But still, I dunno.

The Gori Wife said...

No idea on any of it except to say that I'm a convert Muslim and our mosque rents space for Friday religious services - in a Unitarian church. So they must be very accepting from what I gather. Also, just my 2cents, but I think its perfectly fine to tell children what your personal beliefs are. They're going to find out one day anyway, and they're also going to make their own decisions no matter what. You and I both broke our parents hearts to follow our own paths, so your son might do the same and become an ardent Catholic, who knows? At least he will have a parent who supports that decision making. That's what's most important - not shielding him from YOUR beliefs but being ultimately comfortable with whatever his turn out to be (even if they turn out to be the opposite of yours.)

Birdie said...

@GoriWife- You're so right! I think my true challenge will be accepting whatever he decides, even if its something I totally disagree with. It will make it easier, I think, if I know he came to his decision from an educated, thoughtful place.