Raising kids without religion – should we? We didn't take ours to church because we grew up in the shadow of Anglican sin. A hopeless starting point of failure. Tie that in with so much historical abuse and taking them to church was a tacit support of the system.
Our 6 year-old son summed it up one Boxing Day, when he announced he was an atheist. He was savvy enough to wait till after Christmas, just in case. “Our teacher says God is everywhere. I don't like going to the washroom with God.” Our daughter then explained her solution: “You tip the loo seat up against your back and He can't see down.”
It was Richard Dawkins who liberated me from servitude to sin, the burden of the crucifixion and the hopeless belief that whatever I did it could never be enough. But there was a flatness, not to mention anger, in his writings that repelled me. A missing patina; the rich tapestry of life lost in statistics and studies.
Bill Moyers interviewed both believing and atheist writers at a conference some years ago. What struck me most was the difference in affect between the two groups. The atheists, lucid and charming, were brittke like dried sticks; the religious had a peace and gentleness, with calm faces that looked freshly ironed.
When we, as I do, identify as spiritual rather than Christian (or similar), it's that peace we seek, whether through, yoga, meditation or walking in the woods. Losing that sense of a greater intelligence, a calmer being is a barren emptiness of the soul.
I don't think you can leave children spiritually rudderless in life – to choose when they grow up. They need the anchor of belief in something bigger than themselves. A touchstone for their journey through life – otherwise, what is the point on the hard days! Why do I get up each day and try to make something worth having out of pain and exhaustion?
To be honest, I do cheerfulness for Bill, but for real happiness, we need purpose, a story worth building life around. Norman Vincent Peale wrote about one of his parishioners who found God “and now she has a corset factory.” Not quite what I had in mind!
No, I don't believe in a higher power to get things, like the United Church minister who said it was fine to pray for a summer cottage. I believe in a greater soul and that every act of love, courage, honesty and compassion is building God by whatever name. And that is what, if I did it again, I would want to teach my kids.
With or Without God by Gretta Vosper