Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Raising Mark In A Non-Religous Home

As I sit in my office listening to the rain pounding the roof, my mind drifts off to our Sunday morning breakfast at Goldberg's New York Bagels located in Pikesville, MD. Before Mark was born, I would get in my car and go every Sunday. To my surprise Colin, woke me up and said that he wanted to go, and get bagels and that we would take Mark. It's intresting to go to a place that is frequented by Orthodox Jews. People do their best to make you feel welcome, but usually I'm the lone Black women in the crowd, except for some of the hired help. I'm always curious about the wigs that most of the women wear on their head, and I wonder how I would look with one similar to what they have. They all seem to know one another, and the whole setting always feels like a family affair, and very idyllic. We sit at our table, waiting for the server to bring our everything bagels, and we hand Mark a prayer bagel. Prayer bagels are little pieces of bagels which have been cut to be used as part of prayer.

I like building memories, so I turned to Colin and explained to him all of the feelings that I was having at that moment. Colin took a more materialistic approach. He said that the family values exhibited at Goldberg's Deli were not religious but were a trade-off between money and family. In his view, if you are not wealthy and want to spend quality time with your family, you have to work fewer hours, commute less and live where your family is rather than where the money is. By family, he explained, he meant extended family. In India, we saw whole families making charcoal in a dirt lot. That meant the kids didn't go off to University and/or move to the United States to seek their fortune. Instead they stayed with their parents scratching out a living in the family business.

Colin's thinking is that giving up wealth could be a key to stronger family values, and therefore religion does not play a role. In spite of what he is saying, I think religion and culture play a role in family development. With that said I have never been one who has faith in any religion and I have a serious problem with the tenets of most religion. In the end, our family will find many things to do that will strengthen it besides getting up for a Sunday service.


Baby Dreams said...

Hi Crystal,

I guess every family has different beliefs. Some in religion, some not.

I think the main thing is strong family values, and believing in each other. You can go a long way on faith & family, just as you're doing.

Jon said...

As a gay couple who are not welcome in any organized religion, we struggle with the same issue. In my eyes though, religion and culture as you put it offer an easy blueprint and roadmap for some people. They don't need to find themselves and arrive at their own conclusions about life, the universe, who we are, where we came from, what happens after death. It is already spelt out for you. The answers about the "grey areas" of life and living and the afterlife are in clear print. I've always felt it's like relying on anti-depressants, you take the pills to avoid reality and the "mind chatter" that can result from one's obsession with reality and being true to self.
Without sounding judgemental, it depends on the person. Some people NEED certainty and clarity about life and their state of consciousness. Others, from the dawn of time like Socrates to Jack Kerouac and millions in between and to come, prefer to blaze their own trails, choose their communities and families themselves as opposed to having those choices made for them, and live life according to their interpreations of reality not what is written in the "sacred" texts written by a bunch of men in primitive, patriarchal societies thousands of years ago.
By virtue of who we are and what we are accomplishing - parents of babies produced by scientific progress - I would argue that we should fall in the latter camp too. But we also shouldn't deny our own search for some spirituality whatever form that takes. I believe there is a higher order out there, just not sure the current religions have properly aligned themselves towards that portal.

Mike and Mike said...

Hey Crystal,

Mike B here. Mike A would have left a comment but he's outside sacrificing a virgin to his pagan god. I for one believe that religion can breed tradition. I was raised Catholic and my childhood is peppered with these great moments that centered around my religion. However, it's the traditions and connection with family that I remember and not necessarily the religious aspects of the day. Children need milestones in their life and the traditions that religions inspire can help a child feel special and connected to the community. It saddens me that my girls will not have a chance to experience the same traditions that so enriched me as a child. This is an issue that Mike and I as parents are still figuring out. I'll let you know what he think if he ever stops chanting and dancing around naked in the back yard.

crystal said...

I posted this on your blog as a comment, but can't see if it got through.

HI Crystal,
The older I get the more I agree with you that eventually religion divides families. I used to believe that religion instilled a moral compass in people--and to some extent, I still think that, but there are other ways to teach morality than religion.
The problem occurs when the religion judges everybody who is not of that particular religion as being "less than" themselves. If religion were left at the door, like the saloons required in the Old West ( if the movies were right), then we'd see much less conflict. Force has become the tool of choice for religion too many times in our brief history on the planet. Consequently, I've left my religion while some of my children remain faithful. To them, I'm now "less than" and my family is divided.
You're right!

Anonymous said...

J'ai appris des choses interessantes grace a vous, et vous m'avez aide a resoudre un probleme, merci.

- Daniel