Two stories on whether or not to baptize one's children appeared this week.
From The Durham News:
To baptize, or not to baptize?
That is the question my wife Kathryn and I have been wrestling with since our son Justice was just a few months old.
The ideological concept of being "saved" by a baptism is linked to the parallel conclusion that those "unsaved" non-Christians are somehow condemned, anathematized, or less than. I didn't want this type of indoctrination to stunt Justice's spiritual growth or close him off from other non-Christian spaces for spiritual enlightenment.
"We need to live deeply our own tradition and, at the same time, listen deeply to others. Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others' tradition." [~~Thich Nhat Hanh.]
Last winter during our annual Kwanzaa festival in Durham, Baba Chuck Davis and a tribunal of community elders and spiritual leaders led a multicultural and inter-denominational baby-naming ceremony at the Hayti Heritage Center. During this ritual, Justice was blessed by elders of various religious and spiritual traditions, and then formally presented to the community. The ceremony was diverse, intergenerational, and gave Justice a taste of the fruit salad I had been praying for.
In addition to exposing our children to cultural and spiritual events like Kwanzaa, my wife and I will probably also baptize them. If the road toward embracing a truly open and multicultural spirituality is to root one's self in a particular tradition, I can think of no better role model than Jesus to help guide our children.
Blogger on FenceTalk writes:
So we’ve decided to raise our daughter in the way that makes the most sense to us. As she grows up and begins to question the world around her, we’ll help her understand that people all over the world believe all kinds of different things. As an intelligent human being, it’s her job to find the belief system that is right for her and makes her feel happy and fulfilled. If she has a burning desire to become a Catholic or a Wiccan or whatever floats her spiritual boat, I’m behind her. I did my fair share of exploring various religions, and it helped me to come to where I am today, which is a very comfortable place independent of any organized religion. If she asks about God, we’ll help her explore her own thoughts and feelings about it. I have ZERO problem with her choosing a religion whenever she wants to, as long as she chooses something that makes her happy, that’s pretty much all I need from life.
There’s just one little snag… Her father and I did get something from our church attendance. ...
An essay, by a Taoist, when our grandson was baptized in 1999 - Ritual Magic
A bit over a week ago I participated in the baptism of the son of my best friends. This is the same baby I was privileged to watch being born back in December. The event spawned several conversations among the friends and acquaintances there. It didn't occur to a few of the attendees that the baptism would be part of a full sunday morning service at an episcopal church.
See, the circle of my "chosen extended family" - which ranges from my boyfriend clear out to the siblings and parents of the friends who just had the baby - includes a rather diverse collection of spiritual leanings. We have: a taoist, a few pagans, several agnostics, a lutheran, a christian scientist, several theoretical protestants, a couple of episcopalians (including one priest), and least one adamant atheist.
And we were all there for the baptism. In fact, a very large subset of that group stood up and participated in the ritual.
One of the friends who was there to observe and offer support, had a bit of an issue with that fact that some of us standing up there and saying, "I will, with god's help" were non-christians. It wasn't that she, being a pagan herself, had any problem with our beliefs, it was participating in a ceremony we didn't believe in that was her problem.
"But I do believe in it," I replied. "The ritual, that is."
Rituals are important. They give us an opportunity to review our values, they strengthen community ties, and they're an opportunity to publicly make commitments. The importance of the baptism wasn't that the baby's soul was transformed or anything like that. It was that we, all of us, from the atheist to the priest, welcomed the baby into the world - into our worlds. We promised to give him love and support. We promised to teach him. We promised our support and love to his parents. And, in a sense, to each other.
What think ye?