Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Into a fold, even if it's not the original fold

Many of my posts seem to begin with "I just finished reading....." and then I write about how the book relates to my life.  I'll do that later.

This one begins with....

My mom told me that the local Catholic church is having a "return to the fold"-type effort, whereby they ask attending members to give the names/contact info for Catholics in exile (that is my term, not theirs).  Fortunately, my mom has the good sense to not give my name.  

Had she given my name, I would have been ticked off for a variety of reasons.  First, I know where to find churches, so if I wanted to return to the Catholic fold, I know exactly where to go.  Secondly, this effort is just too much in the way of "telemarketing."  Thirdly, I tend to me very much middle-school oriented:  if I am going to do anything, it is going to be my own decision, not at the urging of anyone else.  I hate to feel guilted, cajoled, or forced into doing anything, which is why evangelization just drives me bonkers.  

At the same time, I wouldn't have been mad at her, really.  I suspect that even though she is glad I attend a Christian church however randomly, there is some level of feeling rejected.  The feeling that what she and my dad gave me as in infant, the community of Catholics, isn't good enough, isn't something I want.  I get that.  That is a normal parent experience....

(and here is where I segue to a book I've read.....)

I finished reading The Chosen by Chaim Potok, and it simply devastated me, as both a child and a parent.  

When I think back to my earlier years, attending church and bitching about it the entire time, I suspect my parents knew that I would eventually do my own thing.  The older I got, the more "black sheepish" I became.  I seem to recall questioning the role of women and the dictates of the Catholic church, what I considered the narrowness of the dogma.  I didn't like the guilt associated with church, nor did I like the "have-tos."  Perhaps this is what drew me to D, in part.  I liked that he wasn't associated with any of that.  I liked that he had his own totally non-religious perspective.

It cannot be easy for a parent who very much subscribes to a way of life to see his/her child choose something different.  Even if it is not a rejection, it feels like a rejection.  A person almost can't help but take it as a rejection, and there is sadness and loss.

But if a parent is paying attention, it is probably not a surprise.  A child lets a parent know very early on, I think.

This December marks 3 years that the kids and I have been attending the nearby Christian church where they went to preschool.  The kids are getting a foundation in some kind of organized religion, but I don't know where that might lead them.  If nothing else, it gives them something to question, something to consider as they grow up.  Going to this church, although we are not every-week or even every-other-week attendees, gives me some of the ritual that I missed from attending Catholic church.  And I like that there aren't hoops my kids have to jump through to attend and participate in "communion."

The other day G said something like "Everyone should believe in Christmas" and I had to explain Judaism and Islam to him, that not everyone believes in Christmas, and that is ok.  That these other religions have their own special holidays and holy days.  At 8 years of age, G has already shown me that he is a questioner, a doubter, a skeptic.  He said he doesn't believe Jesus is the actual son of God, but rather that he was God's helper.

If he grows to be an adult who "rejects" anything and/or everything that I have tried to instill in him, it would not surprise me.  And even though I have always wanted my children to figure things out for themselves, I would probably feel like he was rejecting me and what I thought important enough to give him as a foundation and point of reference.

I would have to reflect on my own choices and the things I rejected or reconfigured from my parents in my effort to be the person I am.  

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