Not a whole lot of religious discussion turns up in this space, and since one of my life's priorities boils down to "separation of church and me", this is probably not surprising. As a parent largely absentee, I didn't contribute a great deal to my children's spiritual, um, indoctrination; while their mother was raised in the Church of Christ, a fairly rigid denomination that rejects musical instruments as being non-Scriptural (as are big yellow buses of the sort that filled up the parking lot, though it struck me as churlish to say so at the time), the kids have grown up with a sort of generic American Protestantism that rocks no boats but probably shoots no doctors either.

Then this weekend, out of the blue, my daughter announced that she's thought about studying, and perhaps eventually converting to, the Catholicism I left behind. My mind reeled — what could possibly have brought this on? New relationship? Physical therapists now recommending genuflection? Too many episodes of The Sopranos?

None of the above, as it turns out. In the next couple of minutes, she admitted that she had also considered the possibility of Judaism, and it started to make sense. The one thing that distinguishes both these faiths is their adherence to ritual, the comfort of the familiar, an anchor when all around is stormy. Still in her early twenties, she's already exhibited signs of "There's got to be more to life than this." And I imagine that she wants to be able to pass on something of this suddenly-spiritual self to the Next Generation, who is already 18 months old and will learn to ask questions very quickly. (Any grandchild of mine is almost inevitably going to be inquisitive.)

Something inside of me wants to scream "What are you, nuts?" But something else right next to it is absolutely thrilled. It's not so much for her choice of denomination — I tend to find most mainstream Christian groups fairly interchangeable — but for the very idea that a child of mine has embraced the very adult idea of choosing a spiritual path, without being harangued into it by the likes of, well, me. The depth of her newfound spirituality has yet to be determined, but in my capacity as Dad, it's part of my job to help her find it any way I can. And to my surprise, I'm looking forward to it.

The Vent

#245
15 May 2001

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