I spend an absurd amount of time thinking about my daughter's future.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm a fairly laid-back guy so I rarely get myself too stressed out about parenting. However, there probably isn't a single future event/milestone that the Peanut will ever face that I'm not already thinking about: the cost of pre-school, making friends, belly-button piercings, the SATs, orthodontist bills, shitty boyfriends, college, marriage, career, global warming.
Honestly, the list goes on forever.
Now it's bad enough that I spend so much time thinking about my daughter's future but recently I've started to concern myself with something even further removed...HER AFTERLIFE!
I'm more than a little embarrassed to say that my own experiences with organized religion have been somewhat spotty at best. I like religion and I'm interested in theology. I'm just not a big fan of church. I abhor organized religion's growing intolerance and I'm extremely turned off by the scandals that seem to constantly plague them. In general, I like to consider myself a spiritual man who has always chosen bits and pieces of various religions in order to suit my own personal needs.
For example, when I was younger, I really did believe that idle hands were the Devil's workshop, so I was constantly jerking off.
In all seriousness, despite the fact that I was baptized and confirmed in a Korean Methodist church, I've also fasted on Yom Kippur, sought guidance from Buddha, celebrated Ramadan, and dragged my hungover ass out of bed on many a Sunday morning in order to attend Mass. It's like I couldn't decide on a religion so I picked all of them!
To their credit, my parents did try to expose me to church when I was younger. But for them, church was more of a social event where they could meet up with fellow Koreans and eat some donuts. Although my father donated a lot of money to the church, I'm not sure he was ever motivated by faith or charity. I think he just wanted better seats so he could be closer to God.
As I look back, I realize that my personal disillusionment with religion started when I was 8 years old and got kicked out of Sunday school. The bible teacher was asking us whether we knew God's name and I kept yelling out, "HOWARD! God's name is HOWARD!" When the teacher asked me to elaborate, I replied, "Haven't you ever read the Lord's Prayer? You know, the part where it says, 'Our Father who art in Heaven, Howard be they name.' Jeez, lady! And you call yourself a Sunday school teacher?"
In a fit of fury, she kicked me out of class. However, I was being completely serious at the time and her misplaced rage only served to confuse the hell out of me. In typical fashion, I just shrugged my shoulders and went down the street to grab a slice of pizza. Man, my ass still hurts thinking about the beating I got from my dad that night!
Sadly, I never did find God in that church either (but thanks to the basketball court in the basement, I did find one hell of a great jump shot.)
My lovely aunt, on the other hand, is a devoutly born-again Christian. After losing her teenage son to leukemia and her asshole husband to infidelity, she found great solace and comfort in religion. And although she's given me enough rosary beads and bibles to start my own congregation, I find her faith to be a beautiful thing. If anything, helping people cope with life's many shitstorms is the greatest benefit of organized religion. I truly believe that church saved my aunt's life.
Sadly, the only times I enter a church these days are when someone dies or gets married. However, BossLady and I are seriously contemplating attending one again so that the Peanut doesn't automatically assume that our peculiar brand of Agnostic Secularism is the natural order of things. If the Peanut chooses to eventually opt out of organized religion, we want it to be HER choice, not ours. As parents, we feel that, at the very least, we owe it to our daughter to make sure she is exposed to religion (or religions) so that she can eventually make her own decision about the role it's going to play in her life.
And who knows? Maybe in trying to help the Peanut find her faith, we'll find our own as well.
It's funny being a parent, isn't it? You spend so much time thinking about how you're affecting your child yet you rarely notice how sometimes your child affects you more. As I've mentioned, I became disillusioned with organized religion many years ago. Then, after 9/11 and the loss of one of my best friends, I was convinced that religion was the core root of the world's problems. Now, a scant two years after the birth of my daughter, I'm contemplating going to church again for the first time in years. Who would have ever guessed that?
Certainly not this jaded New Yorker.
But honestly speaking, there's a part of me that is curious about attending church again. After all, I see the Lord's work all around me. A beautiful sunrise, my wife's gorgeous face, my daughter's heart-warming smile, the infield grass at Shea Stadium, and, of course, seeing that asshole driver in the Hummer who cut me off on the Jersey Turnpike getting pulled over by state troopers for a full-body cavity search.
Hmmm...maybe God does have a sense of humor!
In all seriousness, I'd really love to hear your thoughts about religion in regard to parenting and raising kids. Or your own religious experiences growing up and the role your parents did or didn't play. I know religion is generally a taboo subject in the snarky world of blogging but let's talk about it nonjudgementally just this once, ok? A truly inquiring mind wants to know.