One Thinking Mom: Beyond Belief, About Belief

14 08 2008

I seldom ask outright but please — go read this and if it rings true for you too, share it.

I don’t think there is a God; but I wish there was one.

There it is. I said it.

I had never actually said this to anyone until my seven-year-old daughter asked me point-blank, “Mom, do you believe in God?” It had been easy to avoid a concrete answer up to that point. . . Everybody believes different things…the bible is filled with stories that teach people…we should learn about other people’s beliefs…we should keep asking questions so we can decide what we think…those were the easy parts.

I told myself that I was still thinking about it.

The problem is that deep down, I had already decided. And I had decided that God was not real. God was created from the human desire to explain what we didn’t understand. God was an always-supportive father figure, able to get us through difficult times when human fathers were insufficient.

. . . I am a GOOD person. I am a KIND person. I help OTHERS. As I left for school each day as a little girl, my mother always said, “Remember, you are a Christian young lady.” That’s who I AM!

Now, here I was, a mother, encouraging my children to keep asking questions, keep reading, keep talking with others.
I want my children to think and learn. Then, I tell them, decide for yourself. But had I ever asked questions about religion?

. . .Had I actually decided for myself? No.

It’s the second, concluding part of her thinking, I see now. So for more good personal power of story, check out her Part One here.

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9 responses

15 08 2008
NanceConfer

I thoroughly enjoyed these columns. And if I can get WordPress to let me log in over there, I’ll tell her so. 🙂

How nice to see an acknowledgement of the changes people go through as they mature. As opposed to the “life as a snap shot” version of things we so often hear. “This is how you do it. Period.” No, that’s wrong. “This is how I did it then and then I changed and did it this way and now I am doing it this way.”

Thinking of all sorts of issues that this applies to — not only religion but parenting and feminism and work and politics and etc.

Nance

15 08 2008
JJ

And home education especially, offers our kids this spirit of inquiry, the view that questions and learning are our lifelong constant rather than the answers.

I meet so many moms (presumably schooled themselves) who see home education as a weighty process of teaching pre-determined authoritative answers to everything in sequence. That mindset is common to both Church and School, and there’s no real free-thinking and spirit of inquiry, in fighting so hard to break free of one (school) while remaining all bound up in the other (church.) Like that self-described “Catholic Libertarian” I came across last month, scolding Webster Cook over that Eucharist incident. I really wonder why they don’t just paddle wayward parishioners on the spot, to enforce the rules. . .

Lolz (as FavD says) — there are many strangely blind beliefs in the world but one of the STRANGEST surely is unexamined submission to byzantine canonical laws and codes issued by some state, national and/or global patriarchy that dictates every aspect of your individual private life, all while assuring yourself you prefer liberty to government!

15 08 2008
Nance Confer

It’s very hard to know which way to turn, though.

I just got off the phone with a Mom who will not be enrolling her son in ps K this fall because he is already reading, etc., and she has figured out that standard ps K will not fit him.

But then she started interviewing the owners of the various umbrella schools she could enroll her son in (mine among them) and got all sorts of “advice” — everything from my unschool-y take on things to a school that required all sorts of personal info and extensive recordkeeping that is not required by law to a school that urged her never to let her son do work above “grade level.” How she’s supposed to stop him, I do not know. 🙂

So this was her introduction to the world of hsing — lots of people telling her just how to do exactly the right thing — and none of us agreeing with each other. 🙂

Nance

15 08 2008
JJ

Well, at least she’s asking questions? That’s a good step. 😉

16 08 2008
Dawn

“I don’t think there is a God; but I wish there was one.”

Oh shucks. That’s so me right now.

16 08 2008
JJ

Dawn, I hope it won’t embarrass you for me to say I always appreciate how straightforward you seem to be (with yourself first and foremost but then publicly, too) about whatever you’re thinking and feeling — whether it’s doubts or decisions or just finding what’s silly or funny in this life we all sometimes take too seriously. 🙂

16 08 2008
JJ

For those asking questions now but not back when this post would’ve been relevant:
“The Spiritual Education of Little JJ”

We weren’t “churchy” — and yet we were part of a social fabric that was very spiritual, not material.
. . .It was all both cultural and spiritual, but centered on real people who were right there, rather than missions to China or God or religious doctrine.

I think people like my grandmother were doing church as a little part of what they believed and because it fit into the kind of town and lives they chose to make for themselves, rather than because any Church called the shots. Sunday church fit into the lives we were living all week, rather than the community working all week for the church. If that makes sense.

16 08 2008
JJ

In other words Dawn, whether there is a god or not — either way it’s all in the people and how we together live the only life we’ve got.

17 08 2008
Dawn

Thanks JJ. I agree completely. That’s partly why I’m on the fence about the God thing. In a sense it doesn’t matter and doesn’t change how I live or treat people.

BTW – My straightforwardness comes from simply resigning myself to the fact that I tend to blurt out embarrassingly personal stuff anyway…Why not make it a virtue? 🙂 Sometimes I worry that it makes me look inconsistent because I tend to change my mind very often but heck, as long as people accept my consistent inconsistency, it’s all good!

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