I Don’t Know What to Do

My son is almost a year and a half old, and I’ve started to shift how I behave despite my belief system.  The best example, is I say ‘fuck’ a lot less in front of him than I used to.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with the word fuck, and personally, I don’t care if he says it, but I realize that other parents, and teachers don’t agree with me, and I don’t want to deal with it.  It’s one of those ingrained beliefs that regardless of how much logic, I won’t be able to explain to them in a way that convinces them my son is doing nothing wrong, so out of the laziness of not wanting to have that particular argument, I have reduced my use of the word.  Moral compromise number one.

Yesterday, at the park, my wife and son and I met a couple with their baby, who is a month or so older than my son.  We had brought bubble guns and both children were having fun and interacted in a very sweet manner.  It was adorable, and the little girl’s parents were extremely nice.  At the end of talking with them, the little girls mother invited us to their church.  It was genuine, and having just found out we were knew to the state, it was inviting us into a community in which we may meet other people with kids.  Her intentions were great, and as a result, I find myself tempted to go.  It is a chance to meet nice people, and I think one thing that churches CAN do well is create a sense of community, and I think that would be great for my son.

On the other hand, I don’t want to go to church, in addition to being something I was never interested in, I do think in large part that organized religion is a huge detriment to society.  I have no problem with people’s individual faith, but for some reason when you introduce an organization or governmental structure to it, corruption seems inevitable.

It has been more than 12 hours, and I’ve been weighing it in my mind, back and forth.  I could go, because obviously there are some genuinely good churches, and I could try to just stay vigilante that their teachings align with what I want my son to grow up knowing/believing, but I also like the idea of him not growing up with organized religion.

My wife, strongly believes in Jesus, and yet she has never really been (at least not for any decent stretch of time) a member of a specific church.  Her faith, and her kindness are no less than that of the people I know who go regularly (I find in a decent amount of those weekly or Wednesday and Sunday churchgoers that she is a better person).  I on the other hand was raised Catholic, an institution which I would not recommend to anyone, and I think I’m genuinely fucked up because of it.

Sure, I know more about religion than most protestants that I know, but the amount of guilt and conflict I feel regularly is seriously problematic to living a happy and healthy life.  I often feel guilty about things I know that I shouldn’t, and the fact of how deeply embedded in me some of their bullshit is really makes me disgusted with myself.  I haven’t considered myself a Catholic in at least 15 years, and yet, when discussing religion with Protestants (many of whom have annoyingly referred to themselves as ‘just Christians’) I have often said “we’re Christians too, we’re the original Christians” finding myself lumping myself in with a religion that I couldn’t want less a part of.

As I said before, I have no problem with people of faith, and to be honest, I have a great respect for many of them.  My mother is a devout Catholic, and while I have a lot of logical issues with the way she thinks, I think that overall she’s a great woman with a strong moral compass, and I have the utmost respect for her.  Also, I have a goddaughter in the Catholic Church, and while I don’t personally believe in that faith, if I ever were left in charge of her, I would raise her in the religion as I promised to do (luckily she’s 17 and I don’t think that’s really something I’m going to have to do, but I would if it happened.)

My problem is that I don’t want my son being raised with the hang-ups, or round the attitudes that I associate with religion.  I don’t want him thinking sexual behavior is deviant, or sinful if it is between two consenting adults, and there are all of the other obvious issues that many people have with religion, but there are the less obvious.  I think church itself is in many ways a bragging right issue.  I know people, who think they are better than others simply because they go to church, people who are kind of crappy people, but they go show up in a building once or twice a week, and listen to someone else tell them about a book they haven’t read.  I believe, if there is a God, and He (or She) made everything, then why do I have to go to a special building to celebrate him?  Why isn’t all of nature ‘His house?’  Why do I have to go listen to some other flawed human tell me what He means?

I have spent the last 33 years determining my own views on God.  Trying to un-brainwash myself, and figure out what I believe, and I’m worried about bringing my son into that same scenario.  On the other hand though, what if this is one of the good ones?  What if this church is truly not-for-profit, and these people are genuinely loving and good people?  I don’t want to deny him that either.

So, I’m torn.  Because I want what is best for him, and at this point, I’m genuinely not sure what that is.

Call to Action

All week, I have been obsessing over the events in the news, and trying to make sense of them, more importantly, I’ve been trying to think of how I can contribute, what I can do to make the world better.  I’m not kidding myself and thinking I can solve the problem, or that I can have some giant impact, but ultimately I’m not happy with doing nothing.

I came up with an idea, one that you are free to steal if it sounds good to you, one that you can contact me if you want to participate.

On a small scale (either a town, or a county) or maybe on a slightly larger scale (in the big hub city closest to you) we throw a catered event.  The “Everyone’s Welcome Dinner,” where we get food donated from restaurants, or perhaps its more potluck style, and we cater to every dietary restriction, so that everyone feels enticed to come.

As the title says, everyone is welcome, and that means everyone.  The idea would be that we would get people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and just be a community.  Everyone is welcome also means people in racist organizations, it means everyone.

The key, is that we get the best food options to really make people want to come, and the rule is we talk about things that we have in common, not things that divide us.  Do you play the guitar?  Were you on the football team in high school?  Have you always dreamed of climbing a mountain?

Now, I’m aware this seems pretty unlikely, and perhaps a lofty idea that won’t happen.  I’m not delusional.  What it would need to start out as a group of like minded (open-minded) people, who invite one or two people they know who are more clothes-minded, enticing them with the food, but also being completely upfront about what the event is.  We don’t scold people if after the event they return to their everyday beliefs and behaviors, we don’t even scold them if they don’t do a great job of mingling, we just continue to invite them back.

I think it becomes very easy for us to seclude ourselves not only in political echo chambers, but in groups of people where we can blend in, whether that is our churches sticking with people who know the same general behaviors, or our race where our skin doesn’t stand out with others.  This may be a melting pot, but I think largely there are a lot of chunks where the ingredients have stuck, and not fully melted in.

So the idea is this is a place where everyone is welcome to come and brag about their kids, or reminisce about their sports triumphs, or make plans to climb Everest.

These are the things that will make humanity great, when we see goals, and dreams, and accomplishments, and fond memories, but we’re stuck on these other things.  So maybe once a month, or quarter, or however often we can manage to make this happen, we should get together and focus on those things, with what I like to think of as the other great human effort, and that is food.

Please let me know if this is something you’d be interested in working on, or if you have any ideas for it, or any other thoughts you may have (try to remain cordial, that’s gonna be the key to all of this, even if it’s just a formality).