I was baptized in the Catholic church, and though my Mom tells me I attended Catechism, I only have vague memories of a mothbell-smelling, cramped school room on rainy Tuesday nights; a gravel-voiced teacher with a long, perplexing hair sprouting from her chin mole.
My Dad didn’t accompany us to church when I was very young: my Mother curled my hair in embarassing sausage curls and forced my scabbed tomboy arms through the holes of a frilly pink dress.
“Woo hoo!” my Dad would whistle as he stood next to a rake or a broom, tending to our yard as my Mom and little brother squeezed into the Honda Civic to leave for church,”You look like Farrah Fawcett!”
“I hate church!” I yelled back.
I did hate church. I hated the repetitive motion and the strange slack-jawed people with lifeless eyes who dead-panned everything back to the priest, who I could never understand. I hated fiddling in the pew, lining up for the Significant Cracker, pretending to sing along to the hymns. But all kids hate church, don’t they? By definition, it’s just boring.
As my Mom got older and hit a rough patch in her personal life, she turned to a more… hardcore Church. These people weren’t messing: there was talking in tongues and crying and swaying in aisles and my Mom bought me books about Teenagers and Accepting Jesus Into Your Heart and oh, my crap, I freaked. It didn’t feel right. Something felt brain-washy and shrill and wrong about it all and other than for funerals and weddings, I haven’t stepped foot in a church since. I have a spirituality now, a belief in a bigger picture and a purpose for life, but I am certainly not religious.
My ex, Nolan’s Father, was also raised in a Catholic church. But he also attended Catholic schools, and though he does not adhere to any of the “rules” of Catholicism, he has a tie to the religion and would like his son brought up to “be” Catholic.
We had a bit of a battle about Nolan’s baptism: he wanted him baptized, I argued that we were not practicing Catholics and that I didn’t understand the necessity of “saving” a baby from hell by putting him through water and a ritual. I did not belong to the class of people who believed that an unbaptized baby would go to “limbo” (that theory, incidentally, is currently being “re-evaluated”.)
Nolan’s Father would prefer that his son attend Catholic school as a child. I am somewhat ambivalent: I don’t think it will do our son any harm, and ultimately I want him to choose the religion (or lack thereof) that feels best for him. In truth, I think that if one parent is religious - and the other is not - perhaps the religious parent’s viewpoints should reign. Unless one parent happens to be “passionately non-religious” (which I am not.)
What do you think? Who decides the “religion” of a child? Is it OK for a child to practice religion in half time (ie church with Mommy but not with Daddy?) This is a doozy, I know, but based on the insane back-and-forth of my last post, I figure it might be relevant.