PEDIATRIC RELIGION – Marilyn Armstrong

When my first husband and I were getting married, he was something vaguely Protestant, though no one in his family knew what. They never attended church and while they were wild about Christmas, it was a very non-Christian version of it.

I’m not even sure they were Christian, but they weren’t anything else, either. I think it’s possible on the paternal side of the family, they might have been Jewish several generations back, then drifted into Christianity because they weren’t Jewish enough to hang with it.

Thus when my granddaughter was hitting eight or nine and Passover/Easter was approaching, I asked Kaity what Easter was about. She had never heard of Jesus or Christianity — or for that matter, Judaism.  She was sure that Easter was about baskets of sweets. She didn’t love chocolate (who doesn’t love chocolate?) — but always preferred the hard-boiled eggs. Funny kid.

In a Jewish family, religion comes through mom, but in Christianity, it devolves from dad. In theory, she could have swung either way.

Owen was Jewish because he had a Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem. In Israel, it was the natural thing to do.

Here, in a very Christian valley with dozens of churches and not a single synagogue, it made more sense to find her a Protestant niche. Later, if life took her into “choices of religion,” she could make up her own mind.

I didn’t feel, without any backup, that I could raise her as a Jew. I don’t practice Judaism. I like Jewish food, Jewish people, and deeply appreciate Jewish law and how far ahead most of most kind of law it is (and was).

I studied in Yeshiva in Jerusalem because I needed to know more, but I knew I would never be Orthodox. This was a big disappointment to my teachers who thought my interest and intellectual involvement preceded a religious commitment. They didn’t “get”(most people don’t) that I love learning for its own sake, but it doesn’t presage any follow-up.

A couple of “studies” have evolved from “learning” to hobbies. Photography. History. Literature. Ecology. Music. Some kinds of art. Technology. Other stuff.

Thus I knew a lot ABOUT Judaism, but not much about how to actually “be” a Jew. I also know a lot about Christianity, because I studied that too and even converted to it, though I practice it to the exact same degree that I practice Judaism — which is to say, I don’t.

Happy birthday at 15!

I am religiously non-dogmatic. I am pretty sure I believe in something, but I don’t know what. Not nothing, though.

Meanwhile, Garry and I felt some pediatric religion was necessary. I didn’t expect Kaitlin to make religion her life, but I thought she needed to know that Christ was not a chocolate bunny and Judaism is a religion, not a bad word you call someone.

You can’t make a choice if you don’t know anything.

To my great relief, she is happily practicing nothing, considers herself vaguely protestant — and prefers eggs to chocolate.



Categories: god and gods, Holidays, Photography, Religion

Tags: , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. Well don’t tell Kaitlin my favorite Easter bunny story! This is a true story, related by my pediatrician dad shortly after Easter. He had two large families of patients — 12 kids in each family — who went camping together over the weekend. When it was dark and all the kids were asleep, the moms and dads ‘hid’ Easter eggs on the hillside behind their camp. In the morning when the kids awoke, one bunny was spotted hopping across the hillside! Those kids will ALWAYS believe in the Easter bunny, Catholic or not!

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  2. Most parents raise (indoctrinate) their kids to believe in, follow, and practice their religion, even teaching them that their religion is the one true religion and all others are pretenders (fake news). That’s why religion tends to separate us rather than unite us. I’m an atheist, I believe that God is a creation of man, and that religion is based entirely on superstition and mythology. That makes me a very unpopular person around Easter and Christmas (and Passover and Hanukkah). Oh well.

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    • I genuinely don’t care what anyone believes as long as they aren’t trying to convert ME. IF there is something like a god, I figure all prayers are good prayers and good people are good people whether they follow a particular dogma or not. I don’t know what I believe, but no one I care about cares what I believe in. Well, that’s not true. They may very well care, but they don’t consider themselves responsible for “fixing” me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If a label was needed (and it’s not), I’d call y’all agnostics. Belief in a higher power (non-denominational), but no real religious affiliation. It’s sort of refreshing being an agnostic. I was one for many years, although I still identified myself as “Mormon.” We sometimes become what we know.

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    • I’m a Jewish agnostic. We are a “thing” too. But my mother was a flat out atheist — but a Jewish atheist, which is another “thing.” You really can’t be an Orthodox Jew unless you study at a Yeshiva or are born into it. It is WAY too complicated to figure out without help. It is a very complicated faith because it’s not just a faith, it’s a way of thinking. It has its own courts and lawyers. It isn’t for everyone.

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  4. Nice to see the photos of Kaity growing up. She’s her own person and that’s a good thing. It is good to know about our heritage too.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes and she knows a bit about everything, though nothing in depth because she really hasn’t shown enough interest in it. I was always curious about religion. Curious enough to make a lot of rabbis and ministers sure they’d be able to add me to their fold. But I was more intellectual and anti-dogmatic. Kaitlin isn’t especially curious. Adorable but a bit mentally lazy. Too many computers and telephones in her world, so she has that lack of attentiveness that is the big problem of her generation. Books were a better way to learn, I think. Hard on the eyes, but good for the soul.

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  5. My religion is hazy too, but I think you have just the right attitude. Let them make their own minds up about the important things in life. That’s exactly what I do with my kids. Advise if advice is sought, guide if it’ll benefit them, and put your two-penneth in if asked. I express my opinions and view, but I don’t push them. Ultimately, I let them find their own way, and just be there for them whatever the outcome. And my daughter, Maddie, is turning out a treat. 🙂

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    • Kaitlin decided it was all kind of dull and she had other things to do. She may come back to it someday, but there’s no one in the family to give her a shove. We are all “formerly” something or other. And she’s just fine. I was always interested in religion because I was sure if I found the RIGHT one, I’d take that leap of faith. Alas, but it didn’t happen. I gave it my best shot, though.

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      • Well that’s what matters, you gave it a shot. And Kaitlin may well come to it in her own time. Or she may take after you… 🙂

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        • I was serious about it for a very long time. More than half my education were about religion and their structure. The psychology of religion, the sociology of religion, etc. I wanted to study it. She’s not much of a student. In that way, she is rather more like her father. She’s a doer, not a studier.

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          • Goodness, I’m very impressed with your level of study and knowledge about religion! I’m sure Kaitlin will make everyone proud, whatever she settles on. She looks a great kid. 🙂

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            • She is, but I think — like her father — she will take her time settling down.

              I studied religion because I enjoyed it. It was not hard for me. We all have different tastes, after all 😀

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              • We do, and that’s a good thing too. Religion is, indeed a fascinating subject to study. I’ve only done a bit, but what I’ve done has been very interesting. 🙂

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    • I think unless you are seriously religious and determined to drag your kids into it with you, that what else CAN you do? You can’t order your kids to follow a religion YOU don’t follow. You could try, I suppose, but I doubt it would work.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It can get very confusing sometimes.

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    • Well, I figured she needed to know enough to not sound completely ignorant, but serious religion is for the seriously religious, which we certainly are not. I think she will follow in the grand tradition of “I go to church/synagogue” for funerals and weddings. And thus she will fall into that giant well of other not particularly religious people on whom this nation counts!

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