I am so conflicted on the church / kid thing. Coupled with the anti-Christian sentiment of this town, I’m feeling bitchy right now. So, why not blog it all before I can regret it, or temper my words? So yes, be warned. And um, my Unitarian acquaintances (you know who you are!), I can tell you already this post is going to irritate or offend you (you could save yourself time and re-read my rant from over a year ago, which essentially remains unchanged). Please remember this blog is about ME and not YOU. You stuck-up, NPR-listening Volvo-driving elitists! Just kidding, wuv woo!
Anyway, today was the first day of Vacation Bible School at our church (eerily, I even ran across last year’s nemesis, a woman I hadn’t seen since). I say “our church” with a brief head-hang because we haven’t been attending much lately. The primary reason for this is that for many months my son was absolutely terrified of the nursery worker (she is a little intense), and my husband was in the position of wrangling The Boy in the Cry Room while trying to listen in – not quite the family experience we were looking for. Well, we went back again and thankfully our son dealt just fine and Ralph and I got to enjoy most of a service together and my daughter not only loved church but remembered several rituals from months ago (say it with me: cute, yet creepy!). We’ll probably be attending more often now. As long as I’m not too hungover. Again, kidding!
Here’s my first – and to my way of thinking, perfectly legitimate – beef: I don’t know if I want to raise my children in the church. I am very threatened by the church and it’s power – still – even though I am a happy member. I could go into all the reasons why I’m threatened, but I don’t wanna (you probably know most of them anyway). The bottom line is I’m a Christian, and I think a lot of Christian material is best suited for adults. Yes, really! I guess in a way I equate Bible study and a lot of Bible passages with R-rated movies (and yes, I do fucking screen what my kid watches, PT Co-Op Playschool Mamas!). In addition, I was raised outside the church entirely and a part of me wants to cling to that intellectually-free upbringing and questioning. I didn’t set a toe in one until age eight or so, visiting with friends. I got to look at the Bible as a silly work of fiction, for years – a good place to start, in my opinion. I didn’t have to sort out any perceived brainwashing or weirdness. Today’s anti-Christian voices have so terrified me of the possibility of brainwashing my child on spiritual matters I am now almost too scared to share anything at all (and that is a result of my hippie-upbringing pantywaistedness as well!).
Now, I could take the easy route many of my peer group do and either A. avoid any organized religion whatsoever, or B. go to a club where the theological content is so watered down as to constitute merely a “spiritual gathering” (see Unitarian Universalism, the seven principles of which are summed up by “be nice to one another” and “seek out your own truth” — all very nice, by the way). I’ve been inundated with a lot of the members of such groups over my seven years in PT and they’ve left a yucky taste in my mouth. I just don’t know if I could sit through some of the malarky I know I’ll experience (as I type this I’m actually getting too tired to rant further, sadly). Of course, over the years I’ve managed to get over my fear and loathing of the conservative-voting pro-life homophobic crowd entirely – people I bump asses with at my own church and have learned to love despite our differences. Maybe I’m ready to step up to the challenge of loving the Smug Liberals (all of whom I imagine my ballots match exactly, I’m sure – it’s the attitude of superiority and righteousness that get to me).
Sometimes I’ve considered joining our family with more than one church. Because on one hand, a looser spiritual community would provide the community, setting, and open-minded nature I’d like my kids to experience. On the other hand, there is the awkward fact I believe in Jesus, I’m not embarrassed of it, and I’d be happy if my kids did one day too. Since I was given the freedom of a very open mind while growing up, I want to provide the same for them. Perhaps I should invoke other communities and other rituals to give them comfort? And hide them from my church? Really, would some weird begat-so-and-so verbiage at my present church be worse than the intellectual snobbery and theological vaccuum I might expect elsewhere?
Am I being way to much of a bitch about this? Have I really had such nasty experiences? Consider the female friend who dropped my ass like a hot Christ-potato when she found out my husband and I went to a Protestant church (anyone reading this who knows me: have I ever once preached, lectured, or done anything creepily-Christian to you? I thought not). Consider a very close girlfriend who in my presence cut my Christianity dead in the water when confronted twice by anti-Christian townie bimbos. In the latter example, these same two (separate) incidences would have never occurred had the group mentioned been Eastern or non-Christian. Listening to someone mock your faith sucks. Something the Smug Liberals don’t experience as much as I have to.
Yes, yes, I know. Backlash. I know all about it because at one time I was as anti-Christian as you could get without actually stoning anyone. And even now, no one is more irreverent about my sweetie Jesus or is less threatened by a good philosophical discussion than I.
The bias just gets old around here, that’s all. Add it to my own confusions and feelings about my own childhood, and I pretty much don’t know what the hell I’m doing for my kids.