Thursday, February 15, 2018

Religious Tourism

My child has been going with me on field trips to other religions' houses of worship lately, because I teach "Neighboring Faiths" at the local UU to middle schoolers. Last week, we went to a Catholic mass.

I personally was admiring how everyone was on the same page with the hymns, call and response, and how beautiful the sanctuary art was. Mass ritual can be so soothing, you know?

Meanwhile, Rowan was confused and upset. We had some talk while we were there that had to be tabled for a larger discussion at home because I did not want to be a bad guest to our hosts.

Things my little witchlet did not understand or like:

1. "Why do they have dead Jesus everywhere? Doesn't that hurt their feelings? Doesn't that celebrate his death instead of his life?"

I had to explain that Jesus was the Christian version of the divine kings who were king for a year, and sacrificed in the summer to create good crops for the people. It was his role to die. God made Jesus so that he could be sacrificed for the people. Except in the Christian version, it's not about fertility and abundance, it's about this idea of "sin" and "forgiveness". (For the record, he doesn't like the pagan version of the divine king story either.)

2. Which led to more conversations about sin and forgiveness. I told Rowan that Christians believe that you have to say that Jesus is your savior to be forgiven for bad things that you do. That everyone does bad things, but you have to make that statement before you die to go to heaven. Otherwise, you will go to hell. I explained the Christian ideas of heaven and hell to him and he thought their God was mighty unfair. "Their God can forgive people at any time, but he makes them do that or he punishes them?"

I told him yes, their god had a lot of rules including not working with any other Gods besides him. So if he were a Christian, he would have to say everyone else's Gods were fake and wrong and only work with God and Jesus. He thought that was prejudiced. He also was confused how Christians become good people if all they do is follow rules and not think for themselves.

I explained that value was not placed on that idea- we, as Witches place value on that idea. But many Christians was Christians to be sheep and follow their leader. That we are more like goats than sheep.

I also explained that god sent lots of punishments to non-believers and tests to his followers, not just when they die- it's a lifelong thing. I explained plagues and the story of Isaac. He was very upset and thinks that the Christian God is a jerk now. He is mad that kids at school who are Christian spout some of the things that they do (going to hell comments), especially now that he understand the context better. He thinks those kids are now "God's bullies".

3. I explained that Mary (the church was named after Mary) was Jesus' mom. He did not know that, and had questions. "So Mary was married to their God?". My response: "No, Mary was married to a man named Joseph." Rowan: "But Mary had a baby with God instead of Joseph?" I laughed and told him he knows many people that have had babies without being married or while being partnered with more than one person. (We know many poly people or people unmarried with kids.) Me: "Well, she did not plan it, God put baby Jesus inside her." Rowan: "She didn't know? HOW IS THAT NOT RAPE?" (At this point, we had to table the conversation to after church, as to not be offensive and disruptive guests.

I mean, the kid has a point of course. I have thought all of these things and rejected Christianity because of them as well. But the kid has to live in a majority Christian world and be OK with others having these ideas.