January 6, 2015

freedom of/in/from religion

"What's God?"

"You know when you want something real bad, and you close your eyes and wish for it? God's the guy that ignores you."

The Island (2005)

I have been pretty torn over the question of whether I want my son to grow up with or without a religion. Phil was raised Catholic but has not quite settled into anything as an adult. I grew up in a non-denominational church; Sunday School and bible stories, starring roles in Christmas and Easter choirs. I was a youth leader for several years, only ever listened to Christian music, went away to Australia to attend an evengelical school for six months when I was twenty. I know the bible fairly well, can have a conversation/heated argument with just about anyone about it if necessary, and I think it's good and useful knowledge to have. Knowledge I want my son to have as well, should similar conversations/arguments arise for him.

In my life now I've thrown out every religious rule that I used to try to follow so carefully, save the only one I believe really matters: love one another. In my deepest heart I believe that there is a god, that Jesus loves us and that his love drove him here, to do something exquisite and unlikely and compelling. But when I needed it most, when my heart broke open and my mind flooded with dark memories long shut away, and the carefully crafted facade of my pretty life crumbled around me, the Church failed me--and with second and third and fourth chances, never improved--so I am done with church. I went to a service for the first time in years, during our Christmas trip to WA, to please Phil and for Hunter to have a new experience. I did not enjoy it, but thankfully it was pretty innocuous since they sang Christmas carols instead of worship songs and the message was direct contemplation of scripture, not just some guy telling us what's what and propping up his opinions with a bible verse here and there. I handled it, but I was glad to leave.

I want Hunter to be educated so that he can make his own decisions. If he decides that God and Jesus and all the rules are legit, or that Buddha or Muhammad and Allah know better what they're about, or that the Universe is one and life is inherently beautiful and meaningful, or that the Universe is one and we are all in entropy, or any combination of any of the above, I will love him exactly the same.

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