March 26, 2007

Religion for Parents

In an article in Newsweek this week, Lisa Miller writes "he grew up in a nonobservant home and, like many people, became interested in religion when he had children." She is talking about a Rabbi who made a list of the top fifty most influential Jews.

Is this true? Many people who never thought about religion before having children, suddenly take an interest?

I thought about my own situation, and I wouldn't say that having kids has increased my interest in religion. It has, however, increased my interest in how people obtain and pass down religious beliefs - and how that translates to how we educate our children.

There is something about having children that makes us realize our own mortality. Or, by having children, we come face to face with the reality that they are living, breathing beings who we are responsible for. Perhaps these two elements of awareness do bring about a certain need for religion - to have a way to put a name on the pure connectedness we feel with our children.

I have always been interested in religion, but it wasn't until I was a parent that I recognized what I was really looking for was a way to feel connected to the universe. My children give me that. They are about as close as any of us can get to again being one with the innocence of the universe, without dying ourselves.

Maybe that's why holding an infant in our arms is so breathtaking - they have just come from the infinite nothing that is "before" life. Holding a baby is very close to touching the universe, and the source of all that is living.


Intergalactic Hussy said...

"It has, however, increased my interest in how people obtain and pass down religious beliefs - and how that translates to how we educate our children."

So sad that teaching one's own kids about THEIR religion (and that religion alone) qualifies as education. I don't like how some parents tell their children "this is what you are" and that's the end of it.

Many parents believe if they teach their children "good morals" and about an "afterlife" they will behave better. However, most mainstream religions have more ill morals than good.

There's something about religion that enforces community. But you don't need religion to do that.

Interesting read.

Miko Monkey said...

As someone who as no children and doesn't plan on having any, my thoughts are these: having children presents the problem of teaching them to be good people. If one is religious, it would just deepen one's desire that one's kids be religious. If one is not and it turns one to religion, maybe it's indicative of a lack of philosophy in one's life that one is unsure of how to be a good person without religion.

dittos to the hussy: a sibling of mine is "homeschooling" one of her kids and I heard a part of a lesson. It consisted of excerpts from the Baltimore Catechism and Spanish my mind, that doesn't really qualify as "education".