Avoiding Crisis

i know, i’m going to hell…

with 6 comments

Obviously I didn’t write anything yesterday.  I know I had made a solemn oath to myself to write something everyday until my 30th birthday and the truth of the matter is I have kept that promise.  I spent any free time I had yesterday (which was not that much by the way) finishing up expanding my weighing in on weight post for an article for Blogcritics.  And then when I finally finished and had a little time left over, the idea of an evening family swim in the pool (remember, it’s summer where I’m at) seemed so much more important. 

Also, I really couldn’t think of anything really interesting to write about.  I recently read some good advice (gee, I wish I could remember the location of that advice because I’d give credit where credit’s due) that said that if you don’t have anything to say it’s best not to blog for that day (hey, that rhymes!).  No post is better then the “I have nothing to say today” post.  

Since that’s out of the way…on to something a bit more interesting: religion.

It’s official, I’m going to hell.  Well, that is, if I believed in hell, or heaven, or God for that matter.  You see, I’m a recovering Catholic.  At least that’s what I like to tell people.  I’m not really sure what that means, but it sounds so much better than saying, “I grew up Catholic and now I’m not.”  I’m not sure when it was exactly that I realized I didn’t quite get the whole religion thing.  It might have been around 4th or 5th grade when I was kicked out of church during a religious education class beacuse I was playing hangman with another delinquent.  I was that child that religious education teachers cringed at the thought of having in their class.  We’d read a passage from the bible and all I’d want to know is who wrote it, when was it written, how do we know for sure that it was written by this person at this time, can we be 100% positive that what they are describing really happened.  You get the picture. 

But here’s the thing.  While I personally may not be religious,  I have nothing but complete respect for all those who are.  To be honest, I kind of envy those people who have religious faith.  Many of my good friends are what I would call “observant” in their respective religions.  I love talking with them about their beliefs, their traditions, their customs.  They enlighten me.  They educate me.  I love to learn new things.  I admire their abilities to have faith in something that you cannot see, hear or touch.  I often wonder how they do it.  I admire their unwavering commitment to a higher power.  I’m just not THAT type of person. 

So then, why am I thinking about this now?  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, maybe it’s this self-exploration crap, or maybe it’s because I’m searching for ways to answer those difficult questions that my daughter is starting to ask.  It may also have something to do with the fact that this past week I sent my daughter to a week long vacation bible school and was, myself, invited to attend a women’s bible study group.

Now you’re thinking, why would someone who claims not to believe in God send their child to a religious education program?  The answer is simple.  My husband and I made a promise to expose our children to all different types of religions and to let them decide for themselves what they believe or don’t believe.  So off she went to bible camp with all her friends. 

Now she wants to know why we don’t go to church.  She wants to know if the book that we are reading was made especially for her by God.  If her friend’s baby brother that’s now growing inside his mommy’s tummy was put there by God?  She wants to know why God makes some people different?  These are not questions that I can answer without tainting her view of religion.  We change the topic.  Yup, if there is a hell, I’m definitely headed there.

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Written by nicolemarie

February 3, 2007 at 9:12 pm

6 Responses

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  1. As one of your religiously “observant” friends, I feel compelled to respond to your latest offering regarding your trip to hell. First of all, hell is a real place, and according to the God I serve, if you don’t accept Jesus as your personal savior, you will, indeed, wind up there after you die. Sermon aside, let me address your point about those of us who are able to “have faith in something you cannot see, hear or touch.” Surprisingly enough, you are one of “us.” Every day that you don’t wonder why you don’t just float off the Earth, you demonstrate your faith in something you cannot see, hear or touch: gravity. Maybe when you were a little girl sitting in physics class, you asked the teacher who Isaac Newton was, when he lived, if he really wrote about the apple falling on his head, and if we could be 100% positive that the apple really did fall and hit him on the head. Of course, your teacher wasn’t there with Newton, didn’t see the apple fall, didn’t see him write about it, but she was 100% positive that it did fall. Eventually, you came around to her point of view and developed your faith in gravity.

    My point is faith is not a characteristic of a few “enlightened” or “special” or “delusional” people, it is something of which we are all capable because we are all exercising it. I don’t know what THAT type of person is that you are referring to, but you know us, and we aren’t that different from you. So, why not attend that women’s Bible study? You are getting older, you are exploring yourself, you are searching for the answers to the tough questions asked by your daughter and perhaps even some that you are asking yourself. Why are we here? What is our purpose? What does it all mean if we only have 30, 60, 100 years on this earth and then we are done? What about eternity? God answers all of those questions and more in a way that provides meaning to our quick trip on this floating rock.

    You love talking to us (Christians). We enlighten you. We educate you, and we know you love to learn new things. Why not give God another try but this time on your terms and not because your parents make you? Did you give up kissing just because your first boyfriend had bad breath? God loves a challenge. Why not put him to the test? The worst thing that can happen is you spend a few weeks of fellowship with some pretty neat ladies. If it doesn’t work out, you can just add another item to the list of things you did before you were 30. Good luck with the journey!

    Matt

    February 5, 2007 at 8:40 pm

  2. My wife and I decided to follow the route that you and your husband have chosen in regard to the religous education of our children: expose them to all different kinds of religion. But rather than send them to others for the education, we took it upon ourselves and gathered books written for children on as many different religions as we could find. On Sundays, rather than go to church, we had Sunday school at home and read from holy texts one at a time. A couple of months with the Christian bible, a couple of months with the Hebrew bible, a couple of months with the Quran, the Upanishads and so on. We would each talk about what the readings meant to us as individuals and as a family and the discussion would only last as long as the children remained interested. As the years rolled by we moved on to texts that addressed the religions in more sophisticated ways. When our children asked the questions that your daughter is asking now we would each answer as honestly as we could and sometimes that meant telling them that we didn’t know the answer and ask them what they thought the answer might be. Their answers could be quite quirky and inventive, but sometimes they helped us see things we had overlooked. My wife and I learned as much from these encounters as our children did and we all learned from each other. My kids are now 20 and 18 and are still deeply fascinated with religion and spirituality. They enjoy deep discussions with Protestant and Catholic Christians, Jews, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists What we all share is a strong faith that there are many paths to “grace”. Each of us has chosen a somewhat different path, but it is so rewarding to hear what the others are finding on their way. Their belief continues to unfold. So does mine.

    Barry

    February 6, 2007 at 12:26 am

  3. Barry,

    Thanks for your comment (all your comments, actually). I appreciate you taking the time to 1) read this blog and 2) care enough to feel compelled to respond.

    Your description of how your family approached religion is very similar to how my husband and I plan on dealing with the topic. When my children get a little bit older (they are only 2 and 4) we do plan on reading from the different texts and exposing them to anything and everything we can. We feel very strongly about letting them make their own decisions about something as important as religion. The fact that we are rather nomadic and will have a number of opportunities to live overseas will give our children (and ourselves) the ability to be exposed to and even experience, if we so choose, the different faiths first hand.

    nicolemarie

    February 6, 2007 at 10:09 am

  4. I think Matt makes a great point. “give God another try but this time on your terms and not because your parents make you”. Just because you had teachers and educators the first time around that couldn’t answer your questions, doesn’t mean there are not answers to be found.

    One resource that helped me when I was struggling with similar questions was http://www.str.org. It’s a Christian talk show that covers clear thinking about Religios topics.

    Barry also has some good suggestions about learning about other religions. However, he makes one obvious mistake in his thinking. The statement “There are many paths to Grace” doesn’t make sense when you look at the specific claims of the major religions. Many of the major religions make Mutually Exclusive claims about what it takes to reach “Grace” (not sure what he means by Grace either – I’ll assume he means God or Heaven, but I could be wrong). Christianity says the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ and that works will NOT help you earn your way into heave. The Muslim religion says that you have to do works to please God and become saved. Those two claims exclude eachother. That is just one specific item, their are mutually exclusive statements like that in pretty much EVERY religion.

    Now I’m not saying either one is correct. I’ll let you discover that one, but the “All roads lead to Rome” type statements about religion just don’t make sense.

    In my OPINION, Christianity just seems to most accurately describe the world I live in.

    I occasionaly post on religious topics on my blog. Feel free to visit and comment. If you have specific question, you can drop me an email and I’ll try to find some resources for you if I can’t answer the specific question on my own.

    underdahill

    April 2, 2007 at 5:31 pm

  5. Nicolemarie,

    I found this post very interesting. I couldn’t help noticing that in describing your position of non-belief, you didn’t use the word ‘atheist’. Do you class yourself as an atheist? If you don’t believe in God, then that’s pretty much all that’s required to qualify you.

    I admire and commend your liberal view to raising your children, but I would want to emphasise (me to you, and you to them) that there is nothing wrong with atheism. It’s just as important to let them see the benefits of non-religion as much as any specific religion.

    As an atheist, anyone can live a happy, meaningful, purposeful life, based on reason and evidence and the happiness of other people and yourself, not supernatural beings. This is just my opinion, but while it’s good that you admire and learn from your religious friends, you shouldn’t feel in any way that you’re ‘missing out’ or that they have ‘qualities’ that you don’t by having faith. Your lack of belief certainly seems based on a rational train of thought in your mind – you should be proud of that.

    Please feel free to visit my blog, or I also recommend:

    http://www.ebonmusings.org
    http://www.infidels.org

    Thank you for writing so honestly.

    tobe38

    April 3, 2007 at 1:52 pm


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