The Boy Teacher and the Father Student 17 (Acceptance and Rejection of Religion)
How Come We Make Children Eat Vegetables and Fruit?
Sometimes Religion is "Weird"
This article is about a young son eight and an older son at about twenty five. In youth they have both worked at the alter in different capacities. Obviously they have both attended “regular” types of Christian church services. It is what I call the “bare bones” or “platform from which they can make there own decisions when the time is right. While their mothers and I encourage(d) participation there has never been a directive to serve in church but with our participation it was just a natural inclination at a young age.
I can tell you from firsthand experience one of the hardest things about being a Christian parent is walking that fine line between indoctrination and introduction. Mostly it is, “this is what the Bible says” along with the historical background and “this is what I believe”. At right around eight we begin to analyze what a preacher has preached and what we “took away”. I must confess I was dictatorial when it came to join in singing.
The Younger on the Trinity Notion
B: Chaddy do you believe in ghosts?
D: Son, there are many concepts of ghosts.
B: Really? What are they?
D: The first one that is common is what we call the ghosts of our past. Like if we did something wrong and the memory haunts us.
B: So like being sad that you made a mistake?
D: Right and sometimes it is more than sad and it affects us in negative ways. And then there are the spooky ghosts like in cartoons.
B: I don’t believe in those but I was thinking about what father Mai said about a Holy Ghost.
D: What do you think about that?
B: It must be something about God because it was in church. But why would there be ghosts and God? I don’t think God wants to scare us.
D: A big 10 4 on that buddy.
B: So what is the Ghost.
D: Stay with me here because it is kind of weird. God has 3 parts. Big old God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all in one.
B: That is weird. How can they do that? And are ghost and spirit the same thing?
D: When you hear it in church, yes ghost and spirit are the same thing and not at all evil because it is all part of God.
B: Come on, how can all three be one?
D: Don’t know why the Trinity and I never met anyone who knows. So we just call it a Holy mystery. I am not kidding, nobody knows.
B: That is weird.
D: Don’t blame me and some people don’t believe in it.
B: So a ghost is part of God?
D: That is a new one on me, I will have to think about it.
Life Is Good, Even For Sinners
Then we switch to a conversation we had on one of our epic road trips about ten years ago. Just after my eldest graduated with a degree in philosophy from UC Santa Cruz. He also got one in art. This is significant as his mom has a degree in art and I have one in philosophy. You are probably wondering what that has to do with anything. It is significant because in a very real way he followed the path of his parents. Let us see how this pans out regarding religion.
D: Hey why did you stop going to church?
B: Straight up, because every time he preached he would spend the last few minutes with a guilt trip about donating money.
D: I hear you on that one. That is partly why I switched churches after you and your big sister took off to college. Of course there were the obvious other reasons.
D: So why didn’t you just go to a different church?
B: Because half of that stuff is bulllcrap.
D: kind of harsh dude.
B: The honest truth is sometimes harsh dad and you know it. Like not making first string in baseball, I just was not good enough.
D: So I am cool with no church but do you still believe?
B: Not the same way anymore. I see more God in nature than what people just repeat like robots. And it is pretty hard to believe in a God that directs genocide.
D: That Old Testament gives me the heebie geebies too. It kind of reminds me of the Bin Laden type. I kind of question whether all the reporting of massacre and mayhem was really inspired by God.
B: And yet you attend church? Isn’t that pretty much being a hypocrite? And aren’t you even a Lay Eucharistic Minister?
D: Clearly guilty as charged.
B: So justify it!
D: Here is one justification. Most attendees go to church once a week or even just like 4 days a year. The rest of the time they don’t give theological stuff a second thought. I mean spirituality. That is the dose they get. Without the church they would not even get that. So participation is essential.
Kind of Cool
I Just Like This picture
Where there is Love
B: But if the dosage they get is half full of stuff what good does that do?
D: Hey, if I do half the stuff I have to do right that ain’t so bad. What percentage do you think you are at?
D: That is because you are so young you do not have a real baseline to judge, most of your decisions have little consequence now.
B: That is so belittling and disrespectful.
D: Oh I hope I did not hurt your feelings. Not really and remember “harsh”.
B: But that is your opinion not a truth.
D: Got you there because it is the truth of my opinion. And that brings us back to church. I suppose that is another thing about church, I think they should change it from “sermon” to “opinion”.
B: Dad I still believe I just don’t believe in church. I mean like some people think God resides in their building but God is in the wave and the canyon and in the birds.
D: Well you know my mantra straight up from Jesus “God is Love”. You know that in all my travels I have never found a place without love. Sure there may also be hate and apathy and pain and suffering but there is still love in those places. I suppose if someone were condemned to something it would be because “they have not love”.
B: Hey you quote the Bible all the time so how come you do not know the name and numbers of the verses for most of it.
D: Danged Bible Thumpers memorize instead of synergy with God.
B: I figure just the two of us in the car talking about this stuff is a whenever two of you are gathered in His name, and because we love each other so much this old beater of yours’s is a church.
D: Amen to that. And you are wise beyond your years.
There was an easy quiet after that for quite some time. I suppose we were lost in thought. But my son remembered it to me all these years later. I reckon somethings and some moments just create a space in our brain where somethings just remain as clear a yesterday.