Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Skipping the Fundamentalist Christian Parent Meeting Tonight...

There is a parents meeting tonight. It will run for two hours and will cover things I don't want to talk about. I am not a religious person--at all. Not a bit. And if I was, I would be a Pagan or more moderately, a Unitarian, not a fundamentalist Christian. I don't pray. I don't even like to lower my head, when others do pray. I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, and the reason is God's will. I think there is cause and effect. I also think things can be chaotic while there are simultaneously definite patterns in the universe. It's all a hodge podge. I'm completely comfortable with all of that. I have no strong existential angst about my place in the giant scheme of things. It's all good. My great-great grandfather was the first Reform Jewish Rabbi in the Midwest. So, now I'm so reform, I question everything. I am not the least bit observant, except we light candles in a menorah for Chanukah (if I remember to buy the candles in time...) and we also have a Christmas tree, just as it was my family's tradition growing up.

My kids believed in Santa until I told them there wasn't one when my son asked about Mary and Laura Ingalls hanging up their stockings and Mr. Edwards running into Santa in town and bringing the girls' gifts bundled over his head as he waded across a swollen river to get to them. Santa couldn't get across, so he sent Mr. Edwards in his place. My 9 year old son looked me dead in the eye and suggested that perhaps the parents were going to fill the stockings themselves and Mr. Edwards didn't really meet Santa but brought them gifts that he had gotten himself. Did he?

I was stuck. I had told my daughter a couple of years earlier that yes, of course there was a Santa when at the age of 5 she had asked me about it. She was skeptical and my older son was not. I just couldn't destroy Santa for my sensitive son who still believed. There would be no way for my daughter not to tell my son the absolutely earth shattering news that Santa was really mom and dad--she couldn't keep that big news to herself. I looked into her little, smart, earnest questioning face and told her that Santa was real and that he loved her and all the other children on earth and if she didn't get to sleep soon, he wouldn't be able to come to our house.

Yuck. That was terrible lying to her. But, it would have been terrible for my son to lose Santa when he wasn't old enough yet.

When he was old enough and asked about it, I told my kids the truth about Santa as I was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder to them and they both cuddled with me on the couch and sobbed. It was awful. They had lost Santa who, to them, was like a kind uncle. I explained that my husband and I were still Santa. We excitedly shopped for fun little trinkets to put in their stockings. We always took the packaging off because the elves didn't have labels and stickers on anything... I explained that we loved them and wanted them to have a sense of wonder and magic and to know that there are things in the world that are lovely and kind and fun. Santa was part of that.

The kids understand and they are not mad. They don't feel tricked. If anything, they feel the expression of love that is the Santa story and the fact that the world keeps this story alive for children. No one outs Santa. Even David Sedaris didn't reveal Santa's secret when he was a disaffected, underpaid elf in Macy's. Everyone keeps the secret. Isn't that in itself magical?

I don't want to go to the fundamentalist Christian meeting tonight, even though my son is involved with this thing with them. I've already been to one parent meeting, things are communicated online via e-mail and I am committed to helping out as I said I would. There is no reason for me to go tonight to this meeting. I would have to change out of my groovy tan Obama shirt because it looks too Che Gueveraish and I frankly do not have the energy to fend off Obama attacks. Nor do I want to offend these fundamentalist parents. It would be like wearing a "Steak Tastes Great!!" t-shirt to a PETA meeting. I'm not interested in fighting. I don't want to offend.

I know there are other parents involved who feel as I do--this is an inclusive group, that is everyone is allowed in even though it is fundamentalist Christian. They made it very clear at their website that it is Christian based, but everyone is welcome.

I don't believe in Jesus. I believe Jesus did exist, but I don't believe he was THE son of God. I believe he was A son of God. Well, I don't really believe in God either. Not really. If I did believe in God, I would believe that Jesus was A son of God, just like all of the other children of God. I can respect everyone's beliefs, however. I can see how people can believe almost anything really. I understand why people believe things. It's just that I don't believe these same things. I believe other things.

I believe we are children of Nature. I believe that we are of the Earth and are connected to it and to each other and to every living thing and are responsible for our actions to each other and to the Earth. I believe we owe future generations good stewardship during our brief mind blowingly short time. Phsht. We're gone in a flash. Snap your fingers. That is it. That is your life. It's over now. Snap. Gone. A little magical spark and then nothing.

I think we need to live as lovingly, beautifully, openly, honestly as we can because this is it. I don't know that there is anything else. There might be. I'm open to the possibility, but I don't believe that to be the case.

When I am around the other parents in this group they speak in terms of God's grace in their lives. The report that they've prayed about various issues in their lives or in the world. Individually they're all fine. Lovely. Friendly. But, as a group, they have a certain set of beliefs that include: denying rape victims abortions, evolution is wrong, the earth is young, homosexuals are sinful, the bible is the divine word of God and is literally true, Jews killed Jesus. I must say, it kind of creeps me out to be around people who think like this. Ironically, it doesn't seem all that Christian either.

They do have a great group, however, that my son loves and they don't proselytize. He doesn't know about these views of theirs. He's not exposed to this from them. He can go to their activity. It's OK.

I'm not going to the meeting tonight. I'm going to visit with my husband instead.


meanderwithme said...

Laura, just realized I should let you know how much I've enjoyed you ever since a friend of mine pointed me in your direction.

In this post, you captured my own beliefs quite well. From my fundie upbringing, I've come to realize also that we're just part of Nature, period. It's a beautiful thing, at least if we take advantage of what it offers.

Laura said...

Thanks for the affirmation meanderwithme. I'm glad I've voiced your views too.

I was kind of nervous posting this, actually. Agnosticism, or questioning of any status quo, just is not a part of our public discourse. To say that you question the idea of God is so vilified, instead of perhaps spurring on more thought about everyone's own spirituality. What do you believe? Why?

I think life is beautiful too. That's why I'm so mad about us collectively fucking it up.

Why are we doing damaging things--to each other, to the earth?

Marcia said...

After reading your post I could not help but feel that you are searching for validation of your beliefs. Hope you don't mind but I would like to recommend a book. The author is Lee Strobel. He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, was the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and a spiritual skeptic until 1981. The title of the book is The Case For Christ. He also has a web site
Have a good day.

Laura said...

Hi Marcia.

No, I'm not needing to be validated. I'm just explaining what my beliefs are and why I wanted to skip the meeting with the fundamentalists.

Your book sounds like it's going to try to convince me I should believe other than how I do--that I should believe in Christ. That's kind of my point in this post. In this country, you are expected to believe in God somehow and by many you are expected to believe in Jesus.

I'm comfortable being an Agnostic. But, you can always feel free to recommend a book...

You have a good day too!

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