The Rev. Nurya Love Parish reflects on how even those who say they want their children to decide what religion they want to follow are actually choosing a religion for them. Responding to KJ Dell’Antonia of the New York Times Motherlode blog, Love notes:
There are a few points worth noticing in her argument:
Religion, as described by Dell’Antonia, is not a meaning-making language necessary for a full life, not a set of practices for the growth of the soul, not an irreplaceable force for good in the world. Religion is roughly equivalent to “community.”
Because Dell’Antonia understands religion as community, it is optional. People can find their way into any community they choose. There is no significant difference between a religious community and any other community.
I am raising my children in a religion because I believe that I would deprive them of something as necessary as food or water if I did not: I would deprive them of a language for life. English works, but it only goes so far. The stories and rituals of Christianity are the truest language I know to describe the purpose and meaning of human existence. There is no doubt in my mind that I would be a smaller and worse person if I had never become a Christian.
I can be (and hope I am) a practicing Christian without condemning or cutting myself off from those who practice other faiths or none. The idea that raising my children in one religion precludes my ability to accept them in adulthood if they choose another is fallacious.
Dell’Antonia believes she is raising her children “outside religion” and that they may choose their own religion later. She does not seem to recognize that she has chosen a religion for them. It is the religion of secularism. I was raised in this religion also. Only in hindsight do I see its tenets:
Organized religion is unnecessary.
God doesn’t really matter.
To be a success in life means that you get a good education and a good job. If you want to get married and have a family, that’s ok too.
Also, be honest and kind.
We celebrate holidays because… we celebrate holidays.
Over that, I’ll take organized religion any day.
Read both articles – what do you think?