Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Religious upbringing. Is it for you?

A few weeks ago I was asked to sit on a parents panel for our local twins group regarding education. That meeting takes place tonight. There are going to be representatives from as many types of schools as possible including public, private, and parochial. It got me to thinking about religion from another point of view - that of the agnostic, perhaps previously affiliated.

Many of my family and friends have stepped away from their church due to disagreements with the superiors in the church, the notion of one greater being, a mixed marriage in which neither side felt compelled to attend on their own, time commitments, perceived useless, or a number of other reasons. I too, left the church (in my case, Catholic) for a time because as a single parent I didn't feel welcome. It's like walking around with a giant red D(ivorced) on your chest. In hindsight, I wish I had not allowed myself to be intimidated in that manner.

As you may have guessed, I returned to the church, slowly but surely. Now I once again attend regularly as do my children. The reasons for this are multifold. The first being that I was raised within the church, and I think it's a large part of who I am. I truly learned kindness in the face of adversity, humility while still achieving my goals, love for my fellow earth dwellers, community, etc. Can you learn those things elsewhere? Absolutely. Is it nice to have the lessons of our youth reinforced outside of the home? Absolutely.

So how to deal with the parts of the church I disagree with? It's been a struggle, and I've had more than one person tell me I'm not Catholic because of my differing beliefs. I'm sure others have heard similar things about their faith. This weekend our Bishop came to speak to our congregation regarding a recent Bishops meeting, his thoughts, and where the church is headed. I had heard many things about this Bishop and was concerned that as a representative of the Catholic church he would be too far right for me, but I went, and I listened, and I was pleasantly surprised. He spoke of women one day being priests, he spoke of fertility treatments and birth control in a positive light, and he reminded everyone that in the end it comes down to your relationship with your God, not your relationship with your priest, your bishop, or even the Pope that you need to be worried about.

It reminded me that had everyone that disagreed with certain teachings of the church just walked away, then change would and will not happen. Vatican II, girls as alter servers, women allowed to attend mass, children involved in mass, etc? None of it would have come to pass just as there will be no future changes if we all just walk away. Now I'm not saying you should go down to your local church and start picketing the community. Far from it. I'm advocating change from within. I believe that's where it needs to come from.

For me, it's important that my children have a relationship with God. It's important that it's reinforced outside of the house, and it's important that they speak their minds when they disagree, and fight for change. For us this meant Catholic school, but it could very well have been public school supplemented by CCD classes. Either way I would have been happy.

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