I’ve been reflecting on how my young impressionable kids are learning about religion. Through the eyes of someone who is in the process of re-learning it (me), much of what they are being taught makes me want to add in caveat after caveat. I find I answer most questions they pose with “well yes, but…”
We approach teaching our young about whatever our preferred religion is in a very matter-of-fact, this-is-how-it-is way. My children believe in Jesus as heartily as they do Santa right now. And there was a time in my life when I did as well. This makes sense probably for most people. I certainly didn’t question it until my own crisis in faith occurred.
Some of us will grow up and never question what we were taught, never seek more or stumble across things that might make us question our faith. I have no clue what percentage of the population that is by the way. There are others who will, somewhere along life’s path, find something in a book, a college lecture, a personal experience that will cause doubt. That doubt may lead to an eventual total rejection of religion or at least that religion for another. Or it might cause one to dig deeper to find out more. This is the group I place myself in.
I’ll admit I’m bitter. I feel a bit duped. Why wasn’t I taught all these other “things” (the existence of non-canonical gospels, the historical realities of early Christian times, the vast differences in types of Christianity, the corrupt nature of some religious groups) before? Were people afraid that I would never believe that no one would ever believe if they knew this? I don’t want to set my kids up for the same crisis.
I hope that the people who are our religious teachers, our priests, our ministers, our rabbis, etc. are not ignorant of these facts – but they have faced them and moved past them. They have found their faith despite things that may shed doubt on it. I hope they are not the ones who don’t question anything and accept all they are told. That never makes for a good teacher in my opinion.
I’m jealous of those who’ve accomplished this. And I want them to write a guide book. 😉 Ok, maybe I’m only slightly exaggerating. But I feel we don’t hear enough out other people’s struggles with but eventual acceptance of their faith. Surely people do this. I would love to have guidance on how to accomplish this. I don’t want to let go of Christianity, it feels like such a big part of me. But I want to know that I can get to a faith that combines my questions and my beliefs.
I think this is one of the reasons I love reading C. S. Lewis. His writings on Christianity are so intense; you can feel his faith on the pages.
I wish my grandfather Howard was still alive to talk to about this. He was a man of science, from whom I inherited my love of history and also a very devout man of faith. He always appeared to me as a child and even as an adult (he died when I was 27) to have all the answers. It’s ironic that I spent so much time with him talking about everything: his past, family, history, college, men, but never religion. And not because it was a taboo subject; it was just one that didn’t interest me at the time. How much I would give to have that discussion with him now, to have his insight and guidance.
This is one of the few regrets I have in life.