Friday, November 16, 2012

Church Lady

I was raised Roman Catholic.

Thank you for your condolences.

Our family didn't go to church or Catholic school, but my sister and I definitely went to eight years of Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes -- aka Catechism, aka "Religion," aka boredom, aka place to check out cute boys in middle school -- and we received all the sacraments.

Holy Communion, age 7

I have to be honest. Even at the tender age of seven, I was suspicious of the pomp and circumstance that surrounded CCD. It just didn't seem authentic. That year, one of the CCD teachers told us to clear out a special drawer for our CCD workbooks. Not the Bible. The workbooks.

I was confused, to say the least.

I was one of those kids who asked a lot of questions. A. Lot. Of. Questions. Over and over until I got an answer that made sense to me.

Come to think of it, I'm still like that. I admit it can be maddening. But then as now, I never asked questions to be contrary or cheeky. I just wanted to understand, and I didn't accept "just because" as a reasonable answer.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of room for questioning where I attended CCD. No one could satisfactorily explain why I should publicly worship a bread-and-wine-toting white man with long brown hair who was both God and the Son of God (?). Consequently, I abandoned ship with a maniacal laugh and a sigh of relief as soon as I could.

Over time, for a variety of reasons, I grew bitter and disdainful of Catholicism and organized religion in general. In fact, the only time I even pretended to believe was when I choked down the Communion wafer as Maid of Honor at my sister's wedding in 2005. (That's how much I love her.)


Rayne wasn't raised any specific religion. He grew up in Eugene, Oregon, home to a whole lot of hippies and tree-huggers who, in breezy voices, talked about their higher power, chakras, the energy of the universe and spiritual pathways. His paternal relatives were old-school New England Quakers, but his dad hadn't kept up with it.

As soon as he graduated from college (Go Ducks!), my dear husband ran metaphorically screaming from root chakras and reiki, straight to New York and the world of finance. Mommy's little Alex P. Keaton. (Except still liberal, else I can't see how I could have married him).

Rayne, age 6, already in a shirt and tie.


When we married, we were both in 100 percent agreement that we would not have a religious ceremony.

First of all, Rayne would have had to convert, and as much as the idea of his sitting through those classes made me laugh until my stomach hurt, I didn't want to go to Pre-Cana or have a God I scarcely believed in "bless" my union through a priest who might also have been a pedophile. Thanks, but no thanks.

Besides, we wanted to get married barefoot on the beach:

Aruba, July 2009

Truthfully, my feelings toward religion had begun changing, albeit slowly, in 2003 when I started practicing yoga and reconnecting with spirituality buried under an avalanche of cynical answers to earnest questions.

Today I am less angry at "religion" and more focused on my sense that there is an energy external to each of us that binds us all together.

The energy of the universe, if you will. (Sorry, honey, it's an apt turn of phrase.)

And as always, kids change everything.

When Henry was born, I did not want to baptize him into the Catholic Church, not even for one millisecond. But I wanted him to have a place to ask questions, and have them answered in a way that mine never were.

So when we moved to Brooklyn, I forced Rayne to try the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Brooklyn Heights, First Unitarian.

We went a few times in the spring and have not returned since beginning marathon training. But the Philly race is on Sunday, and that means it's time to try again.

From the Unitarian Universalist Association website:
Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

So basically, it's like an all-religion but no-religion concept. My sister laughs. What do they believe? Can you essentially believe anything? I still haven't figured it out. If you believe everything, don't you believe nothing? I don't know.  

Rayne's not into it; he just wants me to be happy. 

I'm not even sure I'm into it. But they have a great religious education program for kids run by a young, energetic minister called Reverend Jude Geiger. A place to ask questions.

So. We'll try again.

Any thoughts on kids and religion?

I had to ditch my terrible commenting system, but I didn't want to lose the comments, so here they are: