My parents were both raised to believe in God. Both of them, somewhere along the way, chose to stop.
I was raised to notice and believe in the wholeness and beauty of nature. That was our belief system, although at the time I would never have called it or thought of it as that. It just was. We had a small family farm from which we got our vegetables, our beef, pork, and chicken. My parents, as most of you may know, were teachers. My mom a first grade teacher and my dad middle and high school science teacher. Both of them had higher level education in which science was central. They met each other while in college when my mom was working in a laboratory studying cockroaches, of all things.
We did not go to church, much to the horror of several relatives. My grandmother on my dad’s side religiously sent my sister and I bible stories (yes, I realize the pun, sorry)– pamphlets of thin paper with colorful pictures and brief stories of biblical heroes. I enjoyed reading them and they actually inspired me as I got older to read the bible, but I did not consider, even for a moment, that it could be fact. The stories were interesting, but outlandish.
On occasion I would go to Sunday school with a friend. I liked the social aspect of it, the sense of belonging (and the snack of cookies and red punch afterwards didn’t hurt either). It is this social aspect of organized religion that I think I would enjoy in my current life (and the snacks, although I am not sure if after service adults get to partake in them alongside the kids.)
My parents never told me to feel shame or to hide in anyway my disbelief in God. It was not something I remember as being a big issue. During the holidays when family came to visit, there was no bowed heads around our Thanksgiving table. When it was family’s turn to host, we lowered our eyes, mumbled along awkwardly, and finished with a soft and foreign “amen”.
Husband and I have raised our children to be fully aware of, if not to embrace, our beliefs – not of God but in the energy and simple intricacy of nature. Just as a Catholic or a Lutheran parent would raise their children to learn about and embrace their beliefs, we are doing the same. I see nothing wrong with this.
But there is a different. It does not seem OK to not believe. There is an uncomfortableness that dampens conversations when Cody or Carter matter-a-factly state that they do not believe in God (or heaven or hell). I do not want to teach them that they should be ashamed of or should hide these believes. Why should I? But at the same time we talk at length about the believes of others and the respect we should have for them.
Last week we received an invitation to a neighbor’s Hanukkah party. The party is tonight. I was stewing to Husband last night about what I should wear to such an event (Husband in his factual tone stated that if I wanted to go in the bounce house that would be set up in their backyard, I should steer clear of wearing a dress).
This morning while showering, I was struck with a sense of worry. Would Cody or Carter offend our neighbors, and hopefully soon to be friends, by proclaiming their disbelief in God? I hope not. And I suppose that if they are offended, assuming such a conversation does pop up, maybe that should be an indication that we will not be close friends.
I don’t know. But I do know what I will wear – nice slacks and a comfy, cute long-sleeved shirt.
I am planning on joining the kids in the bounce house.