Monday, November 08, 2004

"I just want to be normal." Ha!

So, Frankie Mouse had his first introduction to church via a 2-hour Pentecostal service last night.

It was time for his friend to go home, but M. didn’t want his fun with Frankie to end. So, M. asked him to come to church with him. Frankie made few pretensions about his disinterest in the whole thing, but M. wore him down with talk of treats and a special kid’s class. I could tell Frankie didn’t want to go, and I gave him an out with the discussion of too much homework, but Frankie either didn’t get the insinuation, or didn’t want to hurt M.’s feelings. In the end, he reluctantly agreed. It was a good learning experience for him, I think.

When M.’s parents dropped him off, Frankie went on about what a great time he’d had, until I shut the door. Then he looked at me the way only 9-year old boys can, and shrugged. “I didn’t want to hurt M.’s feelings. It was ok, but it wasn’t awesome. I don’t want to be a Christian, though – I just want to be normal.”

I have to laugh. Frankie thinks Atheism is the norm*. I guess, why wouldn’t he? It’s what he’s always known. And, while most of his friends’ families aren’t atheists, they’re not reading scripture at the dinner table. Among his friends, no one wears their religion on their sleeves. This is not the norm in our town, though. We live in a small community with a rather large, self-righteous, and evangelical Dutch Christian Reform population so I’m constantly amazed at my children’s relative immunity to religious influence up to this point.

I don’t mind them learning about Christianity or any other religion or culture for that matter – I think it’s important, especially when you live in middle-white suburbia, which is, quite frankly, devoid of any real culture. We used to live in a predominantly Indian and Pakistani neighbourhood, and that was great, both in terms of opening our eyes to other cultures and religions, as well as bountiful gastric delights.

We’re attempting to raise tolerant children with a moral ethic that isn’t tied to religious beliefs. To date, we’ve been relatively successful, although this “I just want to be normal” business might say otherwise. I think kids are innately tolerant, and it’s only through interference that they become close-minded.

If they want to choose a religion when they’re older, I have no strong conviction against it – I just don’t want it to be because they were born into it and were never taught that there were other doctrines of thought out there. Certainly some type of God is as plausible as anything else, even if I don’t believe in it personally.

*Frankie and I checked out some stats in his world religions book, and if you include Atheists with Agnostics, and Secular or Non-Religious folks, it’s the 4th largest population, behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. There’s apparently more atheists than Buddhists or Jews, though, which I found surprising. I guess the world really is going to hell in a hand basket.


At 3:31 PM, Blogger sxKitten said...

I'm impressed by Frankie's sensitivity to his friend's beliefs - kudos to you for raising such a thoughtful child.

Dean and I are striving for a similar worldview with our son. Ironically, both of our ex-spouses discovered religion after the relationships ended and insisted on sending our daughters to religious schools - mine Catholic, his Baptist.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Your post reminded me of a comment an Indian politician once made, "Christianity is a fine religion--it's too bad nobody practices it". From what is known of the historical Jesus--if we accept secondary sources as valid--he didn't seem to be too keen on the organized religion of his day. Perhaps raising a child to be caring, socially conscious, and tolerant of others is inculcating a type of spirituality which encompasses the best practices of any religion.


Post a Comment

<< Home