The benefit of getting churched.

Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 07:18 pm
I was an unchurched kid. Until Jama became my best fried. Jama's mom and dad were Bible beating Baptists and they took me to church.

I confess that my love affair with the Baptists was mostly related to their cafeteria -- the closest I had ever come to a restaurant -- even though they put mayonaise on top of the jello. Not only did they have a cafeteria, they had a library, and a choir and singing was always a good time.

In Sunday school I was made to memorize the books of the Bible; a feat which would later come in handy when I stunned and amazed my family by knowing the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question about what is the third book of the Bible.

Then one day I was nabbed by Jama's dad while reading "Love Story" during the sermon. It didn't matter that my parents had okayed the read he didn't think it appropriate reading for a sixth grader and I was never invited back.

No more fried chicken. It would still be years before my family could afford to go to a restaurant.

That sent me to the Presbeterians. Sort of.

Mostly I would get up and get dressed and hang out with my new friend Dana drinking coffee at the Alvin Hotel with the other Sunday school skipper-outers and then doing crossword puzzles during the sermon.

In college I became a searcher. I took religion courses every single semester. And I went to art school forcryingoutloud.

But I was glad I had some basics in the Christian religion. It is the major religon of America. I would always run into Christians. I'm glad I had a foothold in the thoughts of the well-churched even though I never became a Christian myself.

And now I have a son. He's seven. He's starting to ask things because he hears things and I'm wondering if he might need just a bit of churhing just so he knows what everyone is talking about.

I was a slutty book reading, well caffinated chruched unchurched but I'm not sure if I can do this for Mo. Or if I should do this for Mo.


If you know your church but aren't a drop-out but more of a tourist how did you handle introduce your child to churchy concepts s/he is sure to rub up against?

Thank you!
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 07:43 pm
I was sent to a vacation bible school put on by the Presbyterians. Vacation bible school sounds somewhat oxymoronic, I suppose, but I picked up a bit, managed to display my collosal ignorance, and still have the bible I was awarded for perfect, though involuntary attendence.

I found out much later that the Baptists did have better singing, but don't feel I missed out on all that much.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 07:51 pm
Of course you need to expose you child to Christianity, not only because some people still take it seriously but also because one cannot understand the western experience without understanding something about Christianity. The question is do you want to teach it as religion, or as Anthropology and the Bible as literature? I suppose the answer depends on whether you want him to pick it up as a religion or not.

If you want to teach religion the best thing to do is to hook up with an easy-breezy church that will let you put your child in Sunday school, one that teaches religion (not all do, some are more social indoctrination and fun time than religious education).

If you want to teach anthropology and lit your choices are more limited. My high school during the seventies did this, but I believe that schools have stopped. You will probably need to do a bit of homeschooling for this. There are tons of resources on the web and some books on the subject, doing this would not be difficult.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:00 pm
Hawkeye, Ima save ya some embarrassment.

Research is yer friend when it comes to deciding who might benefit from yer brilliance...

Boom has got you covered seven ways from Sunday, but is classy enough not to be me... Shocked

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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:06 pm
Boomer, I might not be the best person to reply, as I was a serious skeptic by 4 or 5 years old, but I do think it is a good idea to expose Mo to a 'safe' church that won't scare the shite out of him. Then you will have an excellent reason to discuss it with him, answer questions (sort of like sex--no more than he wants to know at the moment) and let him see your logical, reasonable opinion of what religion is and why it appeals to so many people.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:08 pm
Rockhead wrote:
Hawkeye, Ima save ya some embarrassment.

Research is yer friend when it comes to deciding who might benefit from yer brilliance...

Boom has got you covered seven ways from Sunday, but is classy enough not to be me... Shocked


I have a stalker! Very Happy It is an honor and a privilege to be deemed worthy of your time and energy.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:13 pm
You overrate yer appeal. Quit messin with my friends.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:17 pm
Come on guys, not in church!
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Green Witch
Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:18 pm
I was raised in a mixed family, mostly Jewish, but some Christians, Agnostics and one Hindu popped in and out via love and lust. The Jewish thing is in my DNA- no escaping that. WWII took the God out it for most of my family. Jewish rituals were more like family habits than spiritual practices. No pressure to perform, but we all knew the drill. Temple was for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings with huppas. I had a grandfather who started life with the expectation he would be a rabbi, but he was so good at numbers he converted to Accountantism and never looked back. My two best childhood friends were Catholic and went to Catholic school. They told me scary stories about priests and nuns, but I often went with them to Christmas and Easter services and had a good time. I got my mother to buy me black patent leather maryjanes for the latter. Catholics know how to do religion, second only to the Hindu's in my opinion.

My mother did something I'm very grateful for. When I was about 8, she gave me a bunch of books written for children about different religions. I had abridged/children versions of The Bhagavad-Gita, The Ramayana, The Koran, The Bible, A book of saints and a load of mythology books that told the creation stories of cultures all over the world. My absolute favorite was "D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths". My friends and I acted out the parts of the gods and goddess of Mount Olympus with all the spirit of a college toga party (including bed sheets). I think this eclectic, self-education in belief systems made me very tolerant of other people's religion. I find it frustrating to this day that fanatics feel the need to imprint other people with their dogma. The idea of doing missionary work to convert people is baffling to me. I think they miss the whole point of God when they dismiss other people's belief system and declare their own as the one true path.

I think a child exposed to many belief systems has the opportunity to learn about other people in the deepest sense, as well as explore what might strike a spiritual cord within their own heart. I suggest taking field trips to all your local religious houses. Sing gospel, dance with a Torah, go to a midnight mass, eat the fried chicken. That way Mo will grow up thinking it's all OK and he won't say clueless things like Dick Cheney who recently referred to Purim as "Jewish Halloween".

(Boomer, I hope this makes sense, I'm pooped and off to bed. Good luck.)
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:21 pm
RE Vacation Bible School: That can work, but many are heavy duty into proselytizing.....you would need to check them out unless you were willing to deal with all of the headaches.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 08:38 pm
I was born snake handler, and I'll die a snake handler.
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Reply Sat 22 Mar, 2008 09:20 pm
Is this where I come to proselytize?

Boom, I was in a similar place when deciding on whether or not to church my girls. I was raised New England Congregationalist (liberal Christian) but came away from it with things I couldn't embrace.

I debated on what, if anything, I should do about bringing the girls to a denomination where they would get schooled in religion that I couldn't fully embrace. I vocalized my concerns and had two different well respected folks direct me to UU. One was my Roman Catholic neighbor and the other was my Presbyterian MIL.

UU teaches kids about all of the world's main (and some not so well known) religions without bias. It encourages personal spiritual growth and development and yet gives kids a place to call home in a religious setting. It teaches values that include inter-faith tolerance, personal responsibility, and positive relationships. It is a non-creedal, dogma-free denomination. No one will tell Mo what to believe, but at the end of his religious education years (usually 8th grade) he will be asked to express his own beliefs, whether they include god(s) or not, a belief in an afterlife (or not), or his outlook on what he sees as his future.

We've regularly had mainstream Christians and those from other religions attend our Affirmation ceremonies (usually grandparents of the kids) express joy at the openness and acceptance of the denomination, even though they themselves had their own philosophies and would have hoped the same for their loved ones.

I was completely ignorant of UU when I first checked it out. Both of my girls are 'graduates' of the religious education program and they look at it as a spiritual home.
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Green Witch
Reply Sun 23 Mar, 2008 09:07 am
hawkeye10 wrote:
RE Vacation Bible School: That can work, but many are heavy duty into proselytizing.....you would need to check them out unless you were willing to deal with all of the headaches.

I would watch the documentary "Jesus Camp" first.
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Reply Sun 23 Mar, 2008 09:18 am
I was brought to church for the first 4-5 years of my life by parents who then became disillusioned and dropped out. I knew little about the institution, dunno if I'd even consider myself a tourist. I learn about it best through current events. I want to know what is up with Ireland and learn a little about Catholicism and Protestantism via the whole England-Ireland and Ireland-N. Ireland thing. The rifts don't tell me much about the religions themselves, but as I want to know more, I learn more. I still couldn't tell you the timeline for all the Christian sects.

I guess what I am saying is that you could make news clips about Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc into mini religion lessons.
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Reply Sun 23 Mar, 2008 10:07 am
Jewish Halloween!

Well that certainly explains the mob knocking at my door demanding wine and cookies!

The UU church sounds inviting. Thank JPB. I'm going to look into that a bit more.


I debated on what, if anything, I should do about bringing the girls to a denomination where they would get schooled in religion that I couldn't fully embrace.

... really rings true for me. I want to make sure that my beliefs become his beliefs simply because he relies on me for information on religion.

I guess what started this business of getting churched was a couple of Easter cards with money enclosed that Mo received from members of his bio-family last week. Of course now Mo thinks Easter is a really super grand affair; not quite Christmas but cool nonetheless.

I think adoptive parents feel a impulse to culturally connect their child to their "roots". I want Mo to be able to decide for himself about religion and cards with money enclosed outweigh logic in the seven year old brain.
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Reply Sun 23 Mar, 2008 10:16 am
Personally, if you want to educate him in a non-swaying way I'd pick out a few churches in your area, look up info on their beliefs on a WWW site like Religious Tolerance and then take him to each religion's services. After each service you could then discuss what he's seen with him and explain some of the "Why do they do that?" aspects (Religious Tolerance is pretty good at explaining much of that for you...)

If you visited one church a month, after a year he'd be able to see what's going on in various sects/religions himself and he'd understand what other people are talking about.
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Bi-Polar Bear
Reply Sun 23 Mar, 2008 10:22 am
I believe the bible to be a great common sense handbook...but you have to sort of drive past the literally swallowed by a whale crap.... it is also a great snapshot of the times it was written in and the prevailing character of the people and society of those times IMO..... and I like Christ... I just think most Christians are ass holes. Of course as an unintellectual ignant Bear I believe in God.

I would see to it that Mo got some sort of education in biblical knowledge either at church or at home.

In the end individuals must decide what to accept and what not to.... that's why they call it faith.
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Reply Sun 23 Mar, 2008 12:41 pm
I might suggest looking up a Morelight Presbyterian church in your area. They are specifically open to alternate sexualities (which isn't the main focus) but it tends to be just a supremely accepting church of anything; not just sexuality differences.

Of all the christian denoms, Morelights tend to be the closest to the description of christian; open, caring, honest, pragmatic, accepting, prayerful. Most denoms fall waaaay short of what christians "should" act.

Let me give you some very generalized and stereotypical assessments of some common denominations so you might be able to choose one. Of course these are not intended to offend, but I am about to piss off every christian on the board Smile These are intended to be tongue in cheek, so try to see the humor Rolling Eyes

- Baptist. This is what I call the money and suffering church. In old days, it was often the First Baptist Church of any area that was typically populated by the wealthy. Smaller baptist churches were for the less fortunate. That was of course in a time of different social classes, but in the south it still hangs on despite a broader distribution of wealth these days. Either one typically has a pretty perverse and selective but relatively fundamental interpretation of the bible and place high emphasis on sacrifice and punishment as part of a godly life.

- Presbyterian. This is what I call the complacent church. Usually full of middle-middle class citizens, it is pretty much as light as you can get. Most Presbyterian churches are a light involvement that doesn't typically filter into daily life much. Most presbys don't care what you do during the week; once you're inside that church, you're family. Some presbys will resort to a little gossip about what someone did at the bar on friday, but they love the person anyway on Sunday. Presbys typically are pragmatic in that talking about sin is fine. A Baptist would never talk about drinking beer in church. A Presbyterian realizes that god knows when you drink beer anyway, so why hide it?

-UCC/German Reformed. I like to call this one Republican Presbyterians. They're much like Presbys in their beliefs, just a little more conservative.

-Anglican/Episcopalian. I call these guys Catholic Light. All the kneeling and confessing, half the calories. Its like Catholic, but with protestant emotion and caring.

-Methodist. I call this one Presbyterian with 50% more guilt. The average age of Methodists is a bit older which tends to make it a little more guilt-driven, but there is a lot of love and acceptance... as long as you keep that balloon between you and the girl at all times during the dance and don't wear skirts that show your knees.

-Catholic. This is a church based on guilt and forgiveness. Kill on Friday, confess on Sunday, repeat. Its heavily based on ritual and repetition. Mass services are typically very similar every week, with a small sermon that changes weekly, but to the newcomer you could swear that every single mass is identical. It tends to become sterile and heartless with very little meaning to it except the repetition of ritual. Its almost like playing nintendo; a certain memorized combination of moves will get you forgiven and through to next week.

- Seventh Day Adventist. This is a very fundamentalist church with some of the strictest interpretations. Many believe that the earth is 6000 years old and that dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark. In other ways they are very progressive; diet, health, and psychology are all typically rooted in the most progressive and modern techniques. Services are on Saturday.

Any other ones you see that you don't recognize like "Tabernacle of Light" or "Bible Assembly" are anyone's guess. They're usually independent churches that have no central office. Many of them are just fine, but I can't speak intelligently about them.

Kudos to you for opening your kid to all the possibilities out there. My cousin is doing the same and including every possible religion she can find including Wicca, Jain, Muslim, and Buddhism. Her kids are intelligent, knowledgeable, and ahead of the curve socially.
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Reply Mon 24 Mar, 2008 02:56 am

Be sure Mo has lots of exposure to the variety of religions available and the ability to examine them rationally.

Easy to say.

Good luck.
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Reply Mon 24 Mar, 2008 05:51 am
How odd..

Jillian the other day was playing a game in her room where one of her toys was named -god-.

I think I worked myself into a frenzy thinking much the same as you Boom, knowing that ...at 4.. she would be clueless. Yet it took me a couple of days to realize that I was over reacting to her .. and it only took HER a few minutes to change the name of her toy. Laughing

But during my freak out I remember church much the way you describe it...and thinking what the HELL am I going to do now..

Church for me was where I went on sundays. Now, as an adult I know it was where I went to give my mom a break.. ..
She rarely went with me so it felt very alienating. But my grandmother would spout all kinds of christian stuff from her mouth and cuss me up one side and down another for some 'unchristian act'... then sit at the table and describe anal sex with a black man outside of her marriage.

My family was full of 'pretend' people in the christian faith and if I said that did not play a part in my ability to take that stuff seriously I would be lying.

The most fun I had at church were two different places.

The first one was a methodist I think.. where.. every sunday they would make you pancakes with blueberries, eggs, waffles, potatoes, juice and fruit.
The church was FULL of older white people, so I was always getting side ways glances. I was the only kiddo of color in a very backwoods, redneck area. The few times my mother went, she always ended up angry at someone for something they said about me so she would send me by myself with her friend who would NOT stand up for me as much. Not that she did not care, she just did not know how.
I still hear stories about those old women, and that was in the 70's and I was probably all of 5 or 6 at the time..maybe a little older.

On a side note--Not but 8 months or so ago, I signed up for a non profit called save our cemetaries and I got to catalog alot of those graves around that church and at some of their homes. Many of those people have 'slave graves' on their property and old dirty slave houses breaking down in the back. I told my mother about this and she acted as though she was not surprised...
When I questioned her about WHY she would send me to that particular church , her response was that it was more important for me to learn about 'god' then race..
I do not think I talked to her for a couple of days after that..

The second best place


weeeeeeeeee HA!

Now those women .. oh MAN.. those women were great!
They would swing me around by my arms, yell and dance, cuss, be loud, and have a blast.
There was never a shortage of people, women and men, who would let me sit on their laps so I could better see the very animated preacher.

During sunday school,we were allowed to not wear our shoes and sometimes we could just play. We were not required to sit down all prim and proper .. ohh no.. we were wrestling, squealing and running with our teacher sometimes just talking about lessons while we had fun, or playing with us themselves.
Black church was where it was at!

I asked alot of touchy questions there too. I got them all answered as well. I was even able to openly tell people I did not believe in jesus.. I just liked to dance. And that was ok. I do not remember a single person ever challenging that . No comments about how I should not say that, or even the question of why. Most people just smiled and kept going.
I was able to ask questions about sex as I got older. And that was ok as well.

Im not a christian now, and I do not think I will ever be.. but the best experience, and the one experience that would ever lead me back to a church for fun, was 'black church' . Better known as Southern Baptists.. Laughing

It was a small, back behind some older houses kind of a church.

I think the congregation consisted of about 50 people . It may have been more.. my little mind did not have a concept of that.. but .. when I try to think about it, it really did seem small. Everyone knew everyone else and I am willing to bet everyone lived close to everyone else as well..

maybe a small tight nit church like that might do ....
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