Momwithastethoscope's Weblog

June 26, 2008

Losing My Religion

Filed under: Parenthood — momwithastethoscope @ 2:57 pm

“You need to give those boys a chance to go to church.  Take one hour from your week to go.”  My mother-in-law admonishes my husband before she hangs up on him. 

“Where did that come from?”  I ask half-knowing.  We’ve been absent church members for a while now.  We have also never baptized our children which is another thorn in the side of my devout in-laws who attend the local Associate Reform Presbyterian church.

“I have no idea.”  States my husband who also half way knows what this is about.  “She wants to take Will and Harry to Sunday school and church tomorrow.”  We stew on the conversation for a few minutes.  I can tell my husband is pissed about being hung up on – given no chance to defend himself.  This well worn difference of opinion with my in-laws is like an itchy wool sweater I can’t take off. 

“Okay.”  I have never had a problem with my children attending church with another family member.  I am ambivalent about my role as religious educator for my own children, though.  Raised as a Roman Catholic with parochial school, nuns, priests, confession, purgatory, heaven, and hell, I am part of the 28% of American who have left their childhood religion according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey released this past February.   I get downright ornery when well meaning family and friends try to pigeon hole me into a religion these days. 

I left Catholicism for a number of reasons.  Marriage was my primary reason.  I met and married a Presbyterian, but it’s more complicated than the blending of two families.   Catholicism has taken some big hits in my book with corrupt priests, pedophilia charges, and the unyielding all male hierarchy.  Not that other religions have fared better.  I have also left the Presbyterian Church I got married in. New leadership in that church turned our once accepting church into a dogmatic and evangelical place.    As a relative newcomer and reared in Catholic tradition, I was willing to learn, but I didn’t like being force-fed.   

“My ideas about religion don’t fit neatly into the box called church anymore.” I prod my husband who’s giving my mother-in-law the silent treatment as he tries to rationalize her behavior. 

Another in-law, Peter, my husband’s brother and ironically a Presbyterian turned Roman Catholic, is one of my spiritual catalysts.  He showed me that religious life is a journey not a destination.  Chronic illness only strengthened his daily resolve to continue on a trek towards understanding and inspiration largely through meditation.   When Peter died from HIV, he left me his Christian meditation library, and this has pushed my own door to other faiths and traditions wide open.  My search for common threads in all religious traditions continues.

 I have undergone a paradigm shift, and it continues to shift.   This process is like standing at the edge of the beach watching the tide bury my feet deeper and deeper in wet sand.   Because I don’t know where it will end, I don’t feel I can educate my children about religion or God.  I can only encourage them to go look.  Look for God wherever and whenever you want to.  I want to instill in my children that religion is very important, just like it is to the 60% of Americans in the Pew study, me and my husband.  I am fortunate to live in an era of religious freedom where I am able to pick a “flavor” or flavors without fear of reprisal or inquisition. 

So that leaves me with the question of how do I teach my children about their own journey.  Do I lead by example?  Do I invite them to a smorgasbord of traditions  – gefilte fish and matzoh @ Passover, Hindu deities, goddess rituals, nightly prayers, Christmas nativity scenes?  I am afraid that I am so caught up in my own journey that I fall short of showing my boys how to start or where to look. I still feel I have so much to learn.   I’ve tried to teach them some basic truths about life, love, and beyond.  Having integrity, doing the right thing, treating others with respect are paramount values in our household.  We also try not to lead such a harried life that we ignore the beauty that surrounds us or that just being quiet can bring answers to questions we send out to God.  How would David teach my boys about meditation?  Does giving them avenues to explore their creative talents in art, writing and music count in the journey to the divine?  Will they hear God if I turn off the PS2, ipod, TV, and computer?  Some of these questions are TBD .  The relatively short time I have to raise these children seems to be mostly devoted to molding them into functional human beings.  Maybe the God part comes next as adults.  Maybe they will teach me.

I’ve allowed my children to accept this challenge of religious freedom as they have accepted their grandmother’s invitation to attend their church fellowship whenever they choose.  I have made a tentative and unspoken truce with my mother in law.  I feel I have extended my open religious journey to my children as well because they have the opportunity to decide. 



1 Comment »

  1. i think you made a right choice in letting your children choose. i think they deserve to. they deserve to make that personal decision to make Jesus their Lord and Saviour. Should they not, then at least you know you as a parent did not deny them of this opportunity and exposure.

    its sad how you left the Pres church. things that happen in the church shouldn’t overwhelm those who attend. i’m not sure what happened there, but perhaps the focus on dogma (i presume that refers to doctrinal beliefs) has something to do the far-reaching spread of the Charismatic movement and how Christianity is not as well represented by these faith healers and their gimmicks. good intentions to defend doctrinal truths based on the Word of God can sometimes be not so well brought out by fallible human beings.

    i pray you’ll return to church someday. 🙂

    Comment by Jeffrey — July 9, 2008 @ 10:08 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: