God Knows.

Almost every Sunday, The Mr and The Smalls go to church. I try to sleep until around 10am (though I’m lucky if I make it to 9:30) and then I’m up and straight to the computer, to get on with cramming as much work as possible before they get home for lunch.

The church thing bothers me. I went to church from the day I was born right through until I was about 16 (yes, really, would you believe it), and quite literally experimented with religion. I remember thinking it was time to stop going, when I realised the church I went to? I was only going because a) I liked some of the tunes (for real, some cracking harmonies to be heard), b) I was a regular campanologist and was too nervous going to ring at other churches and c) I was determined to find some answers.

I found answers, but not to the questions I was asking.

I hate that The Smalls (well, Noah, at this point) love to go to church with their Dad. Why don’t I go? Because it feels like the most hypocritical thing ever. I sometimes wonder how I haven’t burst into flames when setting foot inside the church. Added to that, I don’t care much for the view, beliefs, morals and {ahem} “attitudes” associated with religion. I see hypocrisy every where, and I am reminded of my own hideously broken background, littered with painful religious association.

My mother is religious, as is my grandfather; both very widely recognised in their circles. “High Up The Power Chain”, if you will. The whole of D’s family is very very religious; my siblings-by-law pretty much know who I am and what I’m like (I’m pretty sure they read my blog), but my mother and father in law…well, put it this way – I don’t even say the word “crap” in front of them. They have little idea who I am, what I’m like, what I’ve been through, what I think, where I’m going, what I’ve done…and all because I feel that horrible sense of judgement whenever I happen to let something slip. I have always (and most definitely will always) respect their views, the things they believe in, the practises they exercise. I just don’t feel like that respect is always returned.

I don’t blame anyone. How can I? Bit unfair, right? But fact is, Noah loves to go to church, with his dad, which I honestly think is ace. Weirdly, I’d feel better if he went to a slightly livelier church, a different church, but that’s only as a result me wanting him to have the freedom to “let go”, should he feel “moved by the spirit”. I grew up in a pentecostal church, spent time in a baptist church, then rebelled by doing CofE. Rebelled! Hah! That was weird. (I blame it on needing peace while going through shit at home. And to be fair, it really was peaceful.)

I’m waiting for the day when Noah asks me if I believe in God; if he questions my thoughts, and I dread the fact that Isaac shows little enthusiasm. I don’t want him to come under fire for not going, I want him to make his own choices. Like Noah is doing. But Isaac doesn’t show that same level of maturity. And the stupid thing is, they’re only 3 and 5 for crying out loud, I shouldn’t be stressing about it now. However, I remember the 9 straight years of dread, every Sunday morning, hearing the beep of the The Van to pick up me and my brother for Sunday School. Truth is, I think we hated it. I know I disliked it for a very long time. I think because I didn’t have any choices. I wasn’t given the choice to make up my own mind.

Do I believe in God? Right now? Right this minute? Couldn’t tell you.

I believe there’s a higher power, a greater force, something bigger and better. A God? I don’t think that’s what I believe. For a long time, I believed Christianity was just mass hypnotism. Sometimes I still believe that. And given those are just a tiny hint of my thoughts on religion, that bothers me when it comes to The Smalls and their beliefs. I tell you what I do believe in – I believe in guiding them. I believe in showing them, and I believe in helping them to understand, in order to make informed choices.

And that means showing them both sides of the fence. If they want to believe in Genesis – great. If they want to become fans of the Big Bang Theory (the show or the actual), then whoop. But I think I’m set for many years of trying not to live a lie; years of sticking to my guns beliefs, of not being bullied in how to raise my children. D is BRILLIANT at not pushing me; though I think he knows he more he pushes the subject, the more I’m likely to clam up. I hope he doesn’t become disappointed should Isaac choose to steer the same route as me. I don’t think he would be; he’s brilliantly understanding with that.

It’s everyone else’s religious fire I’m worried about.

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  1. I really hope that the Smalls don't come under fire when they do reach an age to choose their own religion, or non religion. I don't really know what else to say but it sounds like a toughie, and am sending you strength to stand by your beliefs.

  2. No right answer to this one, I had quite strong religious beliefs until my mis 30s, now I am much less certain and all the kids are non believers like their Dad despite going to a Church school and being Christened. Eventually they make their own choices just as you have. I am with you in that as parents all we can do is guide them.

  3. Yep, I grew up in the Roman Catholic faith – all Catholic guilt and incense. I did rebel a little in my teens, but it was more the shocking reception doubting elicited than anything else. I remember being outraged that we we expected to believe en masse and without question that a woman who had not had sex gave birth nine months later. That debate raged on, let me tell you.

    I do believe, but not in that zealot on your knees in Church in every Sunday and be seen to be doing so kind of way, but essentially it is about living the best life you can without shitting on someone else to pay for it. That's what I believe.

    Very thought provoking post, Jay.

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