Caryn’s 23 things – and then some

Racing into Library 2.0 with LOL and others


I realized this evening that I was the person who accompanied Dad on his exploration of religion.  I don’t know if Mom didn’t want to, or if it was just that it was a lot less trouble to get one parent and one kid to a different church than it would have been to take all four kids, of assorted ages, even with both parents.  For whatever reason, though, it was me who went with him.

That had a decisive effect on my decision not to join the church, which I still remember as one of the important points of my life, and as one of the highest parenting points Mom and Dad reached!  I was the first kid in the church’s 40-year history not to join up at the end of Communicants’ Class in the 8th grade.  We had been given 2 years (I think) of church history, beliefs of the Presbyterian Church, ethical and moral instruction, and so on, which was to be capped by reciting the Apostles’ Creed in question-and-answer format and joining the church.  (BTW, I didn’t realize until much later how grossly the Dear Ladies who taught the classes misrepresented the Presbyterian Church.  I’m not really sure what the dogma of that church is, but it’s not what these lovely people, volunteering out of kindness and a desire to shape young lives, thought it was!)  We were taken around to other churches (I remember Greek Orthodox and Catholic, at least) and places of worship (including the synagogue), and told about world religions in general.  Looking back on it, if it had been taught by competent teachers (having ministers do it would have been a start!), it would have been a very valuable experience, which I would recommend to other organized religions.

Anyway, I think Dad first suggested we visit another church after I’d started visiting them with my CC group.  I remember for sure that we went to the Unitarian church, because I was outraged that they required communicants to be at least 17 years old!  Didn’t they think we 13-year-olds were capable of making good decisions?

I always discussed religion with both Mom and Dad (actually, I think I remember more specific discussions with Mom).  With Mom, I think it was more likely to grow out of something neat – a flock of birds, or a sunset, or something like that.  On the other hand, with Dad it would more often come out of a discussion of literature, or sometimes TV.  We read poetry and plays together (that’s one of the few things I really miss about childhood – that, and singing in choirs, and going to church camp), and talked about the motivations of characters, or why they were written.

So, since I was having these discussions about religion, and reading about it on my own (the very few books on witchcraft, historical and nature religions, and other world religions which junior-high kids could get hold of in the early 70s), of course I tried to engage other Communicants in dialogue.  Sometimes it went great – I still remember a wonderful twilight discussion about what we thought Heaven would be like.  But they didn’t really seem to think it had to do with anything.  As the time approached to repeat, “I believe in God the Father Almighty… and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord…,” I asked them if they were going to be able to do that.  They looked at me in different shades of quizzical – of course they could.  How could they not?  Well, so they did believe all that?  Answers differed, from “Not really,” through “I guess so,” to “Yes!  Of course!”  But every last one of them was planning to get up in front of the Elders (and God and everybody!) at the Communicants’ Dinner at the end of the school year and swear that they believed the Apostles’ Creed, and join the church.

I asked the ones who weren’t really convinced how they could do that, stand up and swear to something they might or might not actually believe.  None of them could see any kind of connection there – they’d been going to class for 2 years so they could join the church.  Period.  If they didn’t join, their parents would kill them, or they wouldn’t get a present.  And there was really no reason not to.

I couldn’t, though!  And I still don’t understand how they could.  I sometimes wonder how many of them are divorced – did they get that this was a promise and a vow, and that they shouldn’t do it if they weren’t sure?

Mom and Dad were fantastic, though.  They completely stood behind me, whether it was the poor Dear Ladies who were our teachers, or the ministers, or the parents of the other communicants asking anxiously if they’d heard that I was considering this rash act.  They both, always, said that it was my decision and that if the church members had any questions, they could ask me.  I discussed it with both of them, several times.  They both answered any questions I asked, but didn’t editorialize unless I asked for an opinion.  I’ve been so proud of them ever since!  I’ve boasted on them to lots of people – I know that at least one person who reads this has already heard the story.  Their own beliefs have diverged, but they both still talk to me about religion, which is neat.

February 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment