Well wouldn’t ya know, I forgot a piece I wanted to put in my That’s What She Said post. I knew I was forgetting something, but it was late and I was tired (much like now). So without further ado:
This is a great, great piece about raising a child in America when you are not Christian. Christianity is everywhere. Seriously. I had no idea how ubiquitous it was until I was no longer Christian. I didn’t get why people got upset about it until I stopped being Christian. And then I saw how omnipresent it was. Wow.
Stacey at Is There Any Mommy Out There? is Jewish, and wrote about a big message her child learned at his Christian kindergarten.
“Mrs. S. believes that.” He pouts, shaken and teary-eyed, because his idolized teacher has told him that there are two options, to believe or not to believe, and she has made it clear, with her body language and her voice and her word choice that “to believe” is good and right and “not to believe” is wrong.
“You should believe,” he tells me and my heart stops and I know. I know I have made a mistake. I did not expect Kindergarten theology to go beyond kindness and acceptance, but it has. Somewhere in there between the love everlasting and the do onto others, the real message has come home. The shadow of John 3:16.
It is so hard to pull a quote from this piece, because I want to quote every paragraph. The whole thing is chilling and beautifully done. Her story, the way it unfolds, the language she uses, is stunning.
“Garrett,” I say to him softly, for the hundredth or so time. “There are many ways to believe about the force we call god. There are unlimited ways to god, as many ways as there are people on the planet, past, present and future, as many ways as there are flower petals, as many ways as there are thoughts.”
And I can see myself in her words. I can see this happening to me, if I just send my child to get first communion to keep the grandparents happy. Or send them to a good after-school program or camp that just happens to be Christian. And I don’t want that.
It is a great reminder. And it is a great call-to-action to all parents to remember to teach their children what is most important to them.
So yes, it matters. It matters to me and I am his mother. I will consider it a colossal failure of my parenting – laughably beyond whether or not they read at an appropriate level as they enter elementary school – if I raise adults that believe that there is only one path to god or one definition of god or such a thing as a god who cares what path we take to empathy and goodness, kindness and light.
Go. Read the whole thing through. It is hauntingly beautiful.