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February 08, 2007

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Tom N.

Here's a story from someone I know who happens to be an atheist:

At some job many years ago, an atheist in the office went around asking people about their religious beliefs. When the guy came across my friend, he got excited. Someone else of like mind! Great! "So how did you come to be an atheist?" he asked my friend. "Oh, that's the way my parents were," was the reply.

"You're just as bad as all the rest!" the man indignantly exclaimed. And he had a point. For the vast vast majority of humanity, their (extremely diverse) religious beliefs are inherited.

So while I want my daugher to figure out religion for herself, I feel that she needs to get information without going through some specific ritual every week for the first 18 years of her life, otherwise she's just being indoctrinated. But it would be hard to have a 100% objective discussion, given my thoughts on the subject. I will, however, have lots of thorough discussions on the topic and try to help her figure things out for herself.

IFLYG

I've been in a couple of churches (for baptisms) in the last year - the first times I'd been in church for years, and I really listened to what they were saying, and I was absolutely appalled.

There are so many "articles of faith" that people believe so deeply and passionately that they'd kill you over them, and yet are demonstrably incorrect or fly in the face of common sense and scientific fact.

I feel that I want to protect Yoyo from that sort of dangerous nonsense.

I was raised Catholic, and started falling from grace at around puberty. I studied other religions as part of the philosophy classes I took at university. I've been good friends with christians, buddhists, muslims, mormons, and "new age/ wiccan/ earth-goddess/ pagan"-types. There is a very clear point in each of these relationships where I have to acknowledge to myself that I think the other person's beliefs are just plain wrong - which makes it difficult to comment non-judgementally. So I'll stop there.

Kara

By now, you have more than 100 comments. So I'll be quick and say that my mom started taking us to the Unitarian church when I came home and gleefully proclaimed "we're going to hell!" (like hell was the mall or something.) We were the only family on the street who weren't churchgoers and, once she realized the other parents on the street were telling her choldren that they were damned for eternity, she was sure as hell going to find a church that fulfilled the "churchgoing" requirement but wouldn't try to shove dogma down her kids' throats.
Hubby is a devout Episcopalian, I'm an Agnostic Secularist (hey! let's start our own church!) but we're raising the kid as a Unitarian. She'll learn about world religions in Sunday school and be able to make an informed choice one day.

Paul Martin

God's name is Howard. I'm pretty sure.

Pauline

I'm not a parent, just a proud eemo of two awesome little nephews and one stellar little niece. Been going to church (Presbyterian) since I was a kid, but grew in faith after I began attending my current church. I help out with the youth group...great setting to see what a positive impact a personal relationship with God can have on kids. Or people of any age, come to think of it. Anyhow, I'm praying that my sis and bro-in-law find a solid church in their area...not just for their kids' sake, but also for their own, and the family unit as a whole. It's important.

There's religion and there's faith. God doesn't care much for religion (that's biblical, I've read it...if you want, I can quote you chapter and verse later!), but He's big on faith. And love.

Hope you find what you're looking for, MetroDad...maybe we'll run into each other up there someday. ;)

Henitsirk

We're thinking about the same things for our kids. We'd like them to experience spirituality, but how to find a pastor/congregation/denomination that fits the bill?

I grew up with no particular faith. I went to Lutheran school for 5 years because the public schools in that part of LA sucked. Later on I went to Hebrew school for a while, but never went all the way to a bat mitzvah.

While I appreciate that I was raised to be open-minded about religion, I almost wish my parents had picked something as a foundation for later experimentation.

And now my kids are already religious freaks: my 2 year old daughter goes around claiming she is either 1)Goliath (big and fierce), 2)King Herod (the mean king), 3) King Solomon (the wise king), or baby Jesus (sometimes she still wants to be a baby). My 4 year old son on the other hand can quote Buddha's Four Noble Truths and regularly talks about reincarnation.

Oy.

Deanna

I think the tone of this conversation has been completely fantastic. Only on MD's blog.

I think I'm a rarity in the blogging world - the Webmaster and I are pretty much your archetypical conservative Christians who attend church every Sunday and are raising Ane and Tad in the church. Ane LOVES Sunday School. Two words: Play Doh. We also read to her from her children's Bible every night, so she's learning the basic stories. And Veggie Tales. :)

I was actually raised within the same community of people that we still attend church with. The Webmaster and I had a big debate on which church we would attend when we got married - his megachurch (which is very nice), or my smaller church where my family also attends. Family won, and the kids benefit so much by seeing us, their aunt, and their grandparents heavily involved in church ministry (my parents teach the pre-kindergarten kids first service, and my dad is the church janitor).

I've had a lot of experience with differing points of view/religions in my life so far (was even privileged to attend a friend's bat mitzvah when I was younger, my lesbian aunt converted to reform Judaism - long story), but have never felt like my faith was lacking. I have taken great comfort that no church is ever be perfect, but God is.

Superha

I really admire your openess and seeking nature. I don't think any of us can ever say that we're doing searching. I have no answers except my own experience. God just feels right. My husband doesn't share this view, but he thinks it's great that I will teach Ashley that there is a God who loves her. I grew up always feeling like something was missing in my life until I started to pray and start a relationship with Christ. I wish you the best of luck in teaching the Peanut. I will pray that God will guide you to do what is right for you and your family. God bless you, MetroDad. Thanks for your honesty.

moosk

i'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this (since i'm at work, i really shouldn't be reading 108 comments), but have you thought about going to an unprogrammed quaker meeting?

spirituality has been on my mind lately as well. having been raised sort of vaguely judeo-christian and finding myself too opinionated to listen to someone preach to me on a weekly basis, i decided to check out an unprogrammed quaker meeting. i found it was exactly what i needed... a little quiet time to contemplate god and my place in the world. it might be tough with a small child, but we found the the 15th street friends meeting to be nice.

Dad in Progress

same boat. i was forced to be a good catholic boy and attended 13 years of private catholic schools. i hated every minute of it. and as soon as i went to college, i left religion in the dust. we got married in a congregational church, because my wife grew up without religion. we had our children baptized in an episcopal church (the closest thing to catholicism my parents would accept), and we would go on christmas. but recently, we were compelled to try something new. i don't know why or where it came from, but our good friends introduced us to a family centric church not far from our home and we love going. it's like a weekly highlight, and when we can't go, we don't feel guilty (like a catholic would), we feel sad, so i guess that's how you know it means something to you. religion, like political party affiliation, is a lazy man's way of saying he fits in somewhere. so i guess i feel, as does my church community, that spirituality and community is more important than affiliation. inclusiveness is far more powerful than exclusivity when it comes to celebrating the beautiful things in life -- like you mention the sunrise and your wife's face, etc. follow the calling and give it a whirl -- you may end up liking it! good luck

kerri ny

When I arrived at my daughter's montessori pre-school 3 yrs ago to find her class "praying" before a bowl of goldfish, I immediately pulled her out. 'nough said.
However, we've been faced with interesting issues as of late. She's now 5 and 6 months ago her goldfish died. I gave her the whole speech (he lived a good life, blah, blah) and we'll get another fishy - don't you worry. But, that wasn't good enough. She asked, "well, is Tinley (named after the tin-man) going to go live with his other fish family now? Where is he going to live??" So, I started down the whole aethist path, "No baby, he's just dead. And we don't actually know what happens to us when we die. I mean, some people think they know, but everyone has a different theory and, you know, they can't all be right, right?" To which she replied, "I'm going across the street to ask Caroline (this precocious 9 year old). She's the smartest kid I know. I bet she knows!" For some reason, everyone needs an answer.
Then over x-mas, while in Santa Barbara, we got her a "wish" bracelet . When the bracelet falls off, your wish comes true. Well, this bracelet stayed on for over a month. When it finally came off, she got her wish - it actually snowed. Anyway, a week later, she wanted more snow, so she wished on her wrist (where the bracelet used to be) and it snowed the next morning (you can thank her for last week's storm). She goes "wait a minute, I can make things happen just by THINKING about them!! I don't need a bracelet at all!" And I was so proud. Metrodad - you don't need to find god. YOU have everything you need.
As for the afterlife, just show the Peanut an episode of six feet under and hope for the best, like we did!

meredyth

Hey, MD, I don't have kids but I still like your blog. I think the issues you raised are ones we haven't really thought about as much this generation, when we're allowed to become more lapsed about religion. I was raised in a fairly religious family, church every Sunday and even though I had lots of questions and am still a little confused about things I appreciate what my parents did for me. They made it clear that love, compassion and unselfishness were more than legalism. My brother and sisters went to a Christian school that was even worse than the one in "Saved" and a lot less funny. It was like, the ultimate religious right, a place where, becauese I voted Democratic I was suspected of not being a Christian. Although I deplore that aspect of religion today, my faith is something that has sustained me through a lot.
I just recently started going back to church and found one in New York that seems pretty good so far. It's Harvest Christian Fellowship, 130 56th st. I've only been once but I think I'll go back. Maybe I'll see you there.

Kate

My husband and I are dealing with the same exact thing right now... we have started testing the waters at the local Unitarian Universalist Societ. It's the most laid-back "church" I've ever attended... encompasses all faiths and beliefs. You might find it interesting...

bubba

I feel you man, I used to get kicked out of Sunday school at my Chinese Baptist Church. Also a bit jaded about church and all. There are alot of ignorant toolbags, who didn't even know why they were there every sunday. It was to the point where nothing was real, it was all just a crutch to get through tough times. That said, churches aren't all like that (well a majority are, but not all).
My view of the church/faith gradually changed when I attended Redeemer Presbytarian church in midtown Manhattan (www.redeemer.com)/ Tim Keller is the main pastor and he gets you thinking, no matter where your heads at in this faith thing. I would recommend checking it out at least for curiosity sake.
peace

amy

I, DONT HAVE ALOT OF FAITH MY MOM DIED AT 46 OF OVARIAN CANCER. SHE WAS AN ANGEL ,ALWAYS HELPING PEOPLE WORKED AS A CNA FOR 17 YEARS I WAS 25 WHEN I LOST HER SHE WAS MY MOTHER AND FATHER NOW I HAVE KNOW ONE . WHY DID GOD TAKE HER FROM ME.

Denise

Metrodad, I wasn't raised with a Christian education (as far as the "theological" issues are concerned, but in my case, I think it helped for my parents to raise us according to Christian values. For example, my parents never reacted to our mistakes in ways that made us afraid to tell the truth.If we desroyed the neighbors flowers in the process of jumping ramps on our bikes, we were made to apologize and help the neigbor replant their garden or replace them - you get the general idea. In my opinion, faith is something we can't define by our own means and is best understood through the positive examples of others. When people try to define it, it just turns it into a modern day "tower of babble" situation. My point is - focus more on being positive parents.

Jerric Reeves

Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This question is the cause of the Reformation, the split between the Protestant churches and Catholic Church. This question is a key difference between biblical Christianity and most of the “Christian” cults. Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? Am I saved just by believing in Jesus, or do I have to believe in Jesus and do certain things?
Read more here http://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-faith-alone.html

Maikl

I've never had to address coouinmmn with my daughter before, as she's always been in the nursery or childrens' church during it. However, this past Sunday, they brought the kids in from childrens' church (w/o warning the parents they were going to do so), so I had to quietly explain to my daughter that she wasn't old enough yet to have any. Though she has trust Christ as her Savior, I feel it is best to have her wait til she's a bit older (probably around age 5, as that is also when I was allowed to start) to partake in coouinmmn. The issue came up again today at Aldi, when I bought some oyster crackers (what our church uses for the bread). I had an opportunity to then explain to her what coouinmmn is about and why I wanted her to wait. Communion and baptism are both important to observe, but I feel it is best to have my children be able to explain WHY to me before allowing them to blindly observe them.Ashley Pichea recently posted..

Julito

Our Pastor gave us a book when our daughter tnreud 3. It's called My Place at God's Table . We homeschool and have daily devotions time integrated into our schedule and along with doing a child friendly devotion we also read a short passage out of our bible and we read this nice book that explains the significance and meaning of communion. Alyvia started taking communion shortly after we were given this book and I know she generally understands the concept but she is also growing daily in her relationship with Christ. I don't feel it is a tradition I feel it is an important part of Lyvi and Christ Jesus' realtionship that I am nurturing in His name daily.Shylo recently posted..

Mass

I too think it varies with each child. My oledst are 5, so none of them have begun taking communion yet. At our church, they let us know that a child is often ready for communion when they've been baptized as a believer. But, this too can & will be at various ages.I am sure it will be such a blessing to watch my children as they learn & grow in their faith & are one day able to take communion. I look forward to reading other responses!JessicaJessica recently posted..

Max

I have been looking into the meifdnild that is church worship and the relation of copyright on songs. At present it is clear that many churches are failing in the copyright laws that govern performancers and writers of music/songs. I am at present puting together a youth chorus book (just lyrics not sheet music) for the church in the UK and finding it really diffecult to get the license right that I need to produce the book (never mind the linces rights for people that will sing it). I also came across this comment/law regarding performaces of church songsRobert Nieves, marketing administrator for BMI, the Copyright Law makes provisions for the exemption of churches for public performances of music in the course of religious services at a place of worship.' Any sugestions?

Noxolo

Mary Ann, I downsized from a coainoll, to a studio, and finally to rooms in several different locations--I travel. Each time I downsized to a smaller living space, but to a bigger city. Until this year, I always traveled with two 50 pound bags and a carry on. This past trip I added a third bag. It would be so easy to start to accumulate stuff again, but then I would have to pay the extra luggage fees and where would I put the stuff in a small room. And I know I don't need anymore than what I have in those three pieces of luggage. Of course I have a computer. That I don't think I could live without.

Matokeo

Schaller deals with the differences beteewn all sizes of congregations. He tells the differences beteewn the pastoral roles and the expectations of pastors in such congregations. Then he concentrates on the large church with a multiple staff. He deals with the role of the senior pastor and the rest of the pastoral staff. As an intentional interim pastor I have found this book to be extremely helpful for lay people who are involved in personnel committees and pastor search committees. Although the book has been around a while it is still valuable.

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