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God: a Religious Query

Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: God is dead.

Today, Levi told his preschool teacher that he wanted to kill God. When I queried him much later, when we got home, about this, he said that an unnamed bad person said it first. I do not know if this person was a classmate or a fiction of his imagination. I do not know the context behind the statement, only that the teacher (in this private Catholic school) spoke to Levi about how that sort of phrase makes God sad and it’s not really a nice thing to say.

I relayed the story to my husband who had only sympathetic ears for our 4-year old. My husband is coming from the perspective that, first, we haven’t been going to church regularly. Second, [my addition], we don’t instill a strict Christian doctrine in this household. So, third, Levi is attending this school where it sounds like all problems are fixed by God.

I guess I was taught this growing up. I know many who hold these type of belief now. I also know many who do not.

I believe in God [the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth…]. But, I don’t adhere to the strict Christian dogma I’ve been handed down. I detest when people tell me what God thinks. I detest when people relate sporting events to God-like events. I detest when people blindly put their faith in … well … anything. How can we really know what God thinks anyway? So, how can we know that just because Tebow had a good pass at the 316 that it relates clearly to John 3:16? One is searching for symbolism that isn’t quite there.

So, at home, I loosely talk about God. I want Levi to make up his own mind. I find comfort in believing there is something bigger than myself. I find comfort in believing there is a resting place for my soul. But, I do not find comfort in guilt, brimstone, and fire. [It’s a wonder I willingly go back to my Catholic faith!] I want Levi to be able to think outside himself and find comfort there. I want him to have a quiet place, name it God or whatever, to ask questions his fellow humans won’t be able to answer.

I’ve read varied viewpoints on God, one that God is dead. It gives an open mind pause for consideration. “What if?” Rolls the words along the tongue. What if it’s all a lie? What’s wrong with considering that? What’s wrong with testing one’s faith? Isn’t it more important to be mindful of our day-to-day actions and keep those in perspective with how they hurt, harm, or help people rather than wonder if this being we can barely grasp exists? Or yet, pin every good thing on this being?

But, I am uncomfortable with my son saying he wants to kill God. I am extremely uncomfortable with my son saying he wants to kill anything. But, to kill God, this thing adults don’t even understand but yet we are trained to exalt screams blasphemy in my Catholic trained mind. He didn’t know what he was saying, but he has an inclination that it was bad. What is this good and bad anyway?

Oh Levi, Momma doesn’t believe God is dead. Levi, Momma believes we should respect God and the things we assume he created. And because we assume [s]he created all beauty, why would we want to kill that?

Logic, though, is just beginning. Faith is not logical. This is what my intro to philosophy instructor failed to understand or relay to the mostly religious class of 1998. And, four-year old brains are just starting to grasp logic.

What is becoming clearer, though, is that this private Catholic school, the school of my dreams, is not a good fit for our son. I’ve had the opportunity to confer with friends, increase ideas, and now reality sinks in: we will have to hunt, seriously, for another school for next year. The question begs: what are we going to do over the summer? Now is when I want Grandma and Grandpa around. But, then, we’d slide even more into interesting religious waters that neither my husband nor I want to navigate.

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Teaching Religion & Spirituality

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
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For me, one of the more nebulous bits of being a parent is how do we teach religion and spirituality? How do we our beliefs and break them down in a truthful, succinct way for our children? How do we, as parents, work through our differences to have some coherent pattern to show Levi? In short: how do we teach religion?

We do it every day, in our actions, at minimum. No matter what those actions are, we are modeling some sort of behavior. So, with these religious undertones we pray daily, I try to be thankful for things, and if not aware of changing at least aware when I do things like swear at “bad drivers.” Daily prayer and conversations introduced, despite the parental example.

A few times, Levi woke up scared, maybe from a bad dream. I gave him a hug, asked him if he was still scared or if he could describe the scary thing. He was still scared but wasn’t able to describe the scary thing. “So, this is where I introduce God,” thought my brain. I told him that we believe in God, who is everyone’s father, and when we’re scared that God will take care of us and help us to not be scared anymore. I remember, well, that comfort growing up. If my mom couldn’t make the thunderstorm go away, or if I was afraid to go to school the next day, it was nice to believe I could turn to this thing much bigger than me to help with my problems. God the protector is one way I’ve introduced spirituality to Levi.

We attend church regularly. If not weekly, 2-3 times a month. We attend a local Catholic Church. I want to remain practicing Catholocism since I’ve chosen this Christian Path. My husband is true to his Protestant upbringing, but hasn’t found a Protestant Church that not only he likes but that we can both agree on. This Catholic Church we attend is low key, it has a school, and serves as a good neighborhood church. It doesn’t ruffle any feathers, it focuses on the community, and it’s modest. This suits our personalities very well.

Catholicism is laden with rituals. I know it’s not fair to expect Levi to be quiet in church, so we’ve made concessions I never thought I would: we let him play with toys in church! Right now, from age 0 to about 6, I’ve conceded that this is “practice” time. This is the time where we teach Levi church is different, special, and we must be calm, quiet, and respectful in church. Again, we use bribery: if everyone is good, we get a half dozen doughnuts. We introduce ritual with these patterns even the bribes.

Now, Levi has been paying attention to the smaller rituals. He’s been Genuflecting at church after mass! This caught me off guard, but my husband says he’s been doing it for some time. I usually exit the pew last and follow them out, meeting them on the sidewalk after any genuflecting has been done along with the collection of the weekly bulletin. He’s learning, first, these steps without knowledge of what purpose they serve. I find it interesting that this is one of the things where Levi has not asked Why?

Every day and night, Levi asks what we’re doing. We’re teaching him the days of the weeks, as is more relevant with our impending vacation. We’ve been introducing the concept of the weekday and weekend since he’s been in preschool. Every Sunday, Levi understand, we should be going to Church. After Church is doughnuts, and after that – maybe lunch, bread, naps. I like Sunday to be a quiet, reflective day, no matter the pattern.

Through these habits of church and grace before meals and using God when we’re unhappy, sad, or scared – I am introducing this concept of Religion. I don’t really remember how my mother layered in these beliefs, as my personal reflections show they were always there. I am very curious to see what Levi’s expectations and understanding of religion grows to be as we layer on the heavier, conflicting topics of religion with his age. It, if anything, will prove to be an interesting ride.

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Volunteer in the New Economy

There has been a lot of talk, especially lately, about our “new economy.” Many I know have been preaching that it has to get worse before it gets better, and I think now, with Wisconsin, budget woes, and this “new economy” we’re seeing how it can get worse. Many businesses are reprioritizing so they can do what is “essential and precious” because they realize, they simply do not have the funds to do everything they want to do.

Budgeting is hard. Managing priorities is hard. Figuring out what’s really important is hard. It takes time to learn about yourself, know yourself, understand yourself, figure out your goals, create a plan, and finish off by doing it. I would hedge my bets that most people don’t wish or dream of working 70 hour work weeks. (Being that nothing is impossible, there are those who thrive in fast-paced, intense environments that give little to no “free” time.)

I made the choice, when I realized I wanted to work, to build a career, that I wanted to work in something I was passionate about. Something where I could go to work every day and know that my part, even if it was filing, was for the greater good – a good cause. But, even at this great cause, I still need time away. Time away refreshes me. It clears my head. It gives me perspective.

I also made the choice to volunteer. It was something my Catholic faith taught me was important, and something I realized, first hand, was important as I entered adult-hood. So, when I had free time, I would volunteer for another great cause.

Robert Putnam links our quality of life, and in many cases declining quality of life, to the decline in volunteerism. He showcases examples of cities, Portland included, where volunteer rates have reminded high or steady through the 90s (many urban areas drop off, dramatically in the 70s) and how the quality of life has also remained steady. This suggests that in order to have a strong community, we benefit greatly by giving back our time.

The Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit or Economics, Environment, Equity (3Es)) states to have a balanced “Environment” we need to balance the three main things that affect our environment: the people who live in it, the planet itself and all the things that live on it, and the profit that drives the development and for many makes the world go round.

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The New American Bible
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I don’t think so.


I don’t think so.

Of all the men in my life that have screwed me over, some literally, and you’re telling me the one passage in the Bible I ought to believe is the bit that says I should be subordinate to my husband?

I don’t think so.

Sorry babe, but I will never trust a man that well. It’s not your fault. I know that. I hope you do. I hope you can understand, but experience shows that men are often ruled by one thing and tend to be the most selfish creatures on the planet. So, you take this book, likely written mostly by men, that has been doctored, by men, and you’re telling me I need to believe and have faith that your male god (yes, lowercase “g”, thank you very much) wants me to be subordinate to him? Oh, with the caveat I am supposed to be thought of well and taken care of and my needs first, blah, blah, blah, de friggin’ blah.

I don’t think so.

It reads thus:

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church because we are members of his body.

“For this reason a man shall leave his
father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”

This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

(Ephesians 6:21-33, The New American Bible. 1991. Catholic Bible Publishers. Wichita, Kansas.)

You want arrogance? I’ll give you some arrogance. I am smarter than many of the men I know. I think broader and more inclusively than many of the men I have known. I am more morally correct than many of the men I know. And, now, of course, as a man, you are telling me to believe this bit above all other bits?

I don’t fucking think so.

This bit is one of the many reasons I questioned your view of Christianity to begin with. This is the questioning I did in all of my twenties, and beyond. This is what has driven me away fromĀ Catholicism, more than once, hell more than twice or even three times.

And, then, in the same breath you throw out the Old Testament counter argument, because, oh, that’s the old testament. Sorry dude, you either believe it all, or your recognize there are faults. You can’t pick and choose. Yes, admit that this speaks to you because of your penis prejudice, but don’t tell me it’s from God. It’s from Man.

I believe in the spirit of the bible. I believe in its overall message of love and of hope. I do not believe every fucking literal word that was written by corrupted Men.

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