October 28, 2008
God can wait a little longer
It was an angel.
We didn't get too worked up about it, partly because we try not to be THOSE earnest, humorless Whole Foods liberals. I'm sure that whoever gave it to her didn't even think about it, much less set out to somehow evangelize to our daughter. Also, Schuyler thought it was a fairy anyway, so we even got to dodge the explanation.
It did start a larger discussion with Schuyler, though, about religion and what to say to anyone who decides to take it upon themselves to save our kid's immortal soul. It's happened in front of us a few times, after all, and so it's only logical to expect it to happen when she's at school or otherwise away from us.
Here's the thing. I don't care if Schuyler learns about or even buys into a belief system other than ours. In fact, Julie's no-bullshit Atheism conflicts pretty strongly with my own metaphor-laden Agnosticism. (And please, I beg of you, before you start asking what's the difference or making snotty little remarks about how they are basically the same, please do me and yourself a favor and go read up. Seriously. Your hungry brain will thank you.) We make it work just fine because we don't need to have a monolithic belief system in our home. We intend to make sure that Schuyler gets a good, relatively balanced overview of the belief systems of the world.
But not yet. Not now. Schuyler isn't ready. I know there are people out there who took their eight-year-olds to see The Passion of the Christ (wackadoos), and plenty of parents send their young kids to Sunday school. But here's the thing about that. These are parents who have chosen to raise their kids within their own belief system, with the intention of their kids adopting that belief system for themselves. And that's great for them. I have no problem with that.
I guess in a sense, by raising Schuyler in what is technically an Agnostic environment, I'm kind of doing the same thing, in my own way. But it is the absence of Big-F-Faith and restrictive doctrine that will give her paths of her own choosing down the road. Julie wants to expose Schuyler to other religions as well. (Sometimes I think Julie is sort of a crappy Atheist, honestly.) When Schuyler is ready, we'll open up a whole world for her. It sounds like fun to me.
But not now. Schuyler is of an age, or perhaps more importantly of a stage of development, in which she still takes things at face value. Does she understand the difference between Belief and Fact? I don't know, but I don't really think so. Maybe soon, but for now, she's still very susceptible to suggestion. It's tricky, but for now, this is the right thing to do for her. We choose to delay that conversation a little longer, rather than confuse her now, which is exactly what we would do.
We'll have that conversation with her one day, and probably sooner than later, but it'll happen when we think she's ready. So for the time being, if anyone tries to talk to her about God or church or Jesus (sadly, probably the only red flag words that she really needs to beware of in Plano, Texas), she knows to simply say "No, thank you." That's how it's going to be for now. She knows how to say no to drugs and Jesus.
Her one dalliance in the world of religion? She has chosen to be the Devil for Halloween. Well, the Chicky Devil, anyway. That ought to raise a few eyebrows. Not to worry, though. Lest anyone see fit to try to save her little soul, she'll be protected by a 6'2" chicken, plus whatever Julie comes up with. (She's working on a bat costume, although we'll see if her ambition lasts all the way through the final stages of production.)
I don't care how devout you are. Being chided by a giant chicken won't be fun. Don't try me.