Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Agnostic's Catholic Son & Other Tales of the Bizarre...

My little altar server!

To those of you who have known me for a while, this may seem like a trip to the Twilight Zone. Yes, I was at the mass where my little boy did the altar thingy. No, I did not burst into hand didn't even fall asleep. Yes, I was very proud of him.

I started out life as a Lutheran. By age 12, I quit the church because I got into an argument with the pastor during catechism (I know, you're soooo surprised). He said dinosaurs never existed...that science just made them all up. He also couldn't sing worth a damn, had halitosis and did I imagine it or was he wearing a bustier under his robes?

In high school, I toyed with atheism but found it too religious. By college, I'd settled on agnosticism. I'd read something by some Greek philosopher named Protagorus (sp?) who said we should be agnostic because we just don't know. That sounded about right. Or lazy.I get the two confused sometimes.

Oddly, one of my best friends in high school was a Traditionalist Catholic. Why? I admired her faith. We were both comfortable with who we were religiously and decided that time spent prosthelytising (sp? again? I got to stop drinking while blogging) was time better spent talking about boys and why I sucked at geometry.

My daughter is far more interested in science and the Ramones and far too sarcastic to get on with faith of any kind, unless it involves Hershey's chocolate and fluffy kittens wearing sweaters with skulls on them.

So, how did it come to pass that my nine year old boy up and joins the Catholic church? And how do I feel about it?

You might be surprised to know that I am very proud of him. Jack has always been very spiritual, even as a toddler. I had briefly flirted with the Unitarian church and we went for about a year and a half. Jack loved it. When he was four, we visited the John Deere museum. He insisted on pretend driving the combine with me as a passenger. As we sat eighty million feet over the cement floor, he told me, "I gotta get one of these!"

"Where would you drive it?" I asked, wondering why there weren't any seatbelts.

"I'd drive you to church every Sunday!" Was his response, as I imagined terrifying the good people of the Quad Cities as we drove down the interstate, taking up five lanes of traffic at a time.

I quit going. And not just because I liked sleeping in on Sundays (although that is a really good point). The minister, who I really liked and who was the same age as me, told me one day that the Pagans had left the church when they cut down some trees. He wanted to get them back. I didn't have time to hunt down cantankerous pagans and I believed at the time that I had a much stronger relationship with my mattress than I did with, well, anything else.

When Jack turned 8, he wanted to work on his Parvuli Dei pin for Cub Scouts. We set him up with my in-laws and every Saturday, Jack spent the afternoon with them, working on the badge and going to mass. He earned the award. He also decided he was Catholic.

Jack asked to start CCD. He took to it with an enthusiasm that made me smile. Within one year, he'd caught up with the other kids. Last spring, he had first communion and was baptized. This year, altar servicing.

This fall, Margaret and I went with him to his first CCD class. The teacher kept trying to send Margaret to the sixth grade class and was confused when I said that their grandpa would be filling out the paperwork and bringing him every week. I watched other parents drag their kids in, cuffing them in the back of the head. I saw their unhappy faces as they looked forward to another year of enforced religious education. I wondered what Torquemada's kid went through ("You're going or else! Don't make me get my pliers young man!").

Last week, Jack came home with a new rosary. They had a quiz in class and if they got an answer wrong they had to sit down. Jack was the last kid standing. He never missed a question.

You see, most of these kids aren't there because they want to be. They're there because their (did you see how in four words I used three different variations of "their?") parents said they had to go. Jack may be the only kid at Catechumenate of Christian Doctrine (that's right...I know what it means) who is there because he truly wants to be. He takes great joy in it. Jack chose Catholicism. It didn't chose him.

I can deal with my kid being religious as long as it's something he loves. Don't all parents say that? And I believe it too! Well, as long as he doesn't become a mathemetician. I mean, I have to draw the line somewhere.

The Assassin


Anonymous said...

That is so cool! I have issues with my own faith, what I truly believe. But I am trying not to let my doubt influence my son. He is just starting to ask us about stuff like that.

Leslie Langtry said...

It isn't easy, is it? I bite my tongue a lot.

Suzan Harden said...

I'm so impressed by your openess and objectivity, Leslie! Most parents won't let their children make those kind of decisions on their own.

And no, I'm not Catholic. LOL

MsHellion said...

I would definitely draw the line at Mathematics. That's just pure rebelliousness and crazy.

You are a very cool mom...and it's really cool he's passionate about his faith (I'm more agnostic-ish. Well, I believe there is a God but that He is far too laid back to give a rip about our religions. I'm this way because I spend a lot of time arguing about things that I'm not supposed to question.)

Leslie Langtry said...

Thanks guys!

TerriOsburn said...

Too bad more parents aren't like you. The world would be filled with well-adjusted kids.

I was raised Catholic and even did the 12 years of Catholic school bit. The good thing about that? No CCD classes. The bad thing about that? How much time do you have?

I have complete faith in the man upstairs. He takes care of me and we're good. My problem is with organized religion, which if you really look at it, isn't that far removed from organized crime.

Just my opinion, of course. :)

Kudos to Jack!

Fallon said...

That is awesome. I have faith, though it lacks at times.

I made a decision when my daughter was a child, I would wait and let her decide, as I thought it would confuse her. (I'm not saying this is right or wrong, it's just what I believed at the time.)

My daughter recently joined a church and became baptized. She is 16 and wants to go on a mission trip in the spring.

I'm not sure how I will decide that one but I'm glad she is embracing something with such passion, as she appears to have.

You did a great job with your son.

Best of wishes,

Liz Kreger said...

I grew up Catholic and have switched to agnostic Lutheran. Had a real problem with the Catholic church but I'm very impressed that your son knows what he wants so early in life. At ten, my daughter shows absolutely no interest in religion ... part of which is our fault, but I refuse to force something onto her that I myself couldn't stomach as a child.

Leslie Langtry said...

I understand that. And as he gets older, he may choose Buddhism or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As long as its not a cult, it's okay.

catslady said...

I'm a definite agnostic after growing up in the catholic faith. I raised my two daughters to think for themselves. One daughter is Christian (who has a mother and father in law that also don't believe in dinosurs) and my other daughter is currently agnostic. Like you, as long as they are believing in something out of their own free will, I'm fine with it. I think being religious and spiritual is two different things.

Brandy said...

I was raised Catholic until I turned 12 and my mother decided she didn't want to be Catholic anymore and became Baptist. Southern Baptist. I was given a choice and because of that rejected attending after I married. (Before that I would have been grounded. Uh, yeah, my Mom could be scary.) About 5 years ago I decided to try attending a Catholic Church. We liked it so much we joined and my husband converted. My kids love attending Religious Ed classes and my Daughter will be Confirmed in a few weeks and my Son has received his First Communion. Both are happy with their choice, but we tell them (because of personal experience) that it's their choice.
You're the type of Mom I wish mine had been concerning religion. *G*

Brandy said...

Um, meant I WASN'T given a choice. *sigh* Long day.

Leslie Langtry said...

Very long day! You guys made it good for me. It started with my van and the check engine light and ended with my sedan stalled out in a parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Omg. What a great mom you are! It's no use to fight it anyway. They will be what they will be, in spite of us or with our support. Que sera, sera.

My youngest kid is a mathematician. And, ya know? He made me realize that I wanna be one too! (Please don't hate me for it!)

~Gemma's mom

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Leslie, I see a Father Jack in your future.

We're Catholic and my eldest (who's 10.5) serves at church as well. Mostly she just likes being in front of the crowd and bossing the other kid around (as she puts it, it's really cool to be first server). My 7 yr old 2nd grader, though, is another story. He's in the 1st Reconciliation/communion classes right now and I'm afraid they may kick him out. As my mother puts it, "I'm not so sure that boy is Catholic."

Big kudos to Jack for going after what he wants. I think that is so totally cool!

Gemma Halliday said...

That is so cool. You get a good mom award, Les.


P.S. My big boy just joined the Math Olympiad as a mathlete. Does that mean he’s on the road to being a dreaded mathematician? :O

P.P.S. Hi Mom!