Friday, January 14, 2011

"Papa - tell me about Jesus",,,

he said from the back seat.  At least it's different from "what did you say?".  I didn't panic.  I knew this question would come one day - and I was prepared for it.  It was the week before Christmas and a fellow parent from his school had presented how their family celebrates Christmas by talking about the birth of Jesus.  Fair enough - I just didn't know she would take it all the way to the part about the King wanting to kill him.  That's the part that Caden remembered most vividly.

Upon starting this blog I made it clear to myself that I wanted this 'online journal' to be a gift to Caden at some point in the future.  So without further adieu, I will explain to Caden why  I consider myself agnostic.  The word is fairly new to my own vocabulary.  Agnosticism sounds almost mystical - but I think it also scares some people.  We are a society that likes to know things (or maybe that's just me).  I like to say that people can handle bad news or good news - but 'uncertainty' can be troublesome.  I take exception to that in this case.  My 'not knowing' about how we got here, why we got here, what happens to us after we leave here, etc... is actually very reassuring to me.  I don't try to figure it out or search for answers.  I don't use the term atheist because I am open to the idea that their could be this higher power in the form of a God.  (I'm just not spending any time trying to please him/her.)

I was raised Southern Baptist.  (I'm sure there is another blog post somewhere in the future in that alone.)  Southern Baptists love to tell you that they have the "Truth" (as do most organized religions).  Young kids can be influenced very easily - and it just wasn't that hard to convince me that there were certain things I had to do - and not do in order to obtain an afterlife where everything would be perfect.  (for instance - going to high school dances was not good because it would lead to premarital sex and that definitely would not get you into the more pleasant area of the afterlife.  The less pleasant area consisted of swimming in fire for eternity - seriously that's what we were told.)  but I've digressed..

It was a long time coming but I finally decided that I don't automatically believe the things I was told and taught for so many years as actual truth.  Thus I don't worry about correct biblical interpretation or that dreaded word "sin".   (So when anyone says to me in a discussion about religion, "but the Bible says...", my eyes glaze over- or the classic and overused "we're all sinners" comment will really get my eyes rolling.)  There might be a "God" up high who looks down on us and controls everything (while giving us free choice) - and their might not be either.  A key revelation for me was when I accepted my own self as a gay man and realized that the teachings of most of Christianity regarding homosexuality (based on so called biblical interpretation) were wrong.  If I knew they were wrong about that - what else could they have gotten wrong?   This has been my journey.  I want people to believe what they want (that's really the whole point).  I want Caden to grow up knowing about all the different faith practices that are in the world.  This year he learned about Hanukkah and at Christmas, his Grandmother  took him to see a nativity scene.  The stories surrounding both of these examples are part of tradition and are to be respected.

Here comes the part I have a problem with.  Most Christian faiths want their teachings and beliefs to affect my personal life.  I want them to be able to practice their spiritual beliefs for themselves in any manner that doesn't affect others who want no part of their faith.  These institutions (or should I say Corporations) teach that Caden's parents love for each other is wrong.  That's a tough one to overlook.  This is a non-negotiable item to me.

So Caden - learn the history and tradition of all of them (including non-believers).  Decide for yourself if you think any of them have the truth.  Above all, be good to others (especially those less fortunate than you) and try and make this world a better place.  But do it because it's the right thing to do - not because you are concerned with an unknown afterlife.

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