This is one of those journal-posts where I’m just trying to work out my thoughts. Please feel free to discuss if you have an opinion, but please be serious (that means you Church of Sam) and respectful, if’n you don’t mind.

I am in a weekly mom’s group at my church. Currently we’re reading a book by this guy George Barna who runs a research company (and happens to be a Christian). The discussion that followed today pushed to the front of my mind two of the biggest issues I’ve been mulling since parenting forced me to grow up and figure out what I believe: cultural diversity vs raising a spiritual Christian. I had an incredibly obvious epiphany that I realize has summed up my wariness of my views on faith and what it means in the current American Christian church. I am simply unsure about the inherent absolutism within that model. (And this is not limited to this point. I’m sure I’ll write a whole other post someday about my wariness of replacement theology, but I’m trying to stay on task.)

My experience with religion started as a child in Catholicism, and then as I got older and older ping-ponged between Fundamentalist, Southern Baptist, Charismatic and finally Evangelical Non-Denominational. Some of these churches I found on my own, but others were introduced by family or friends. They’re all fine, whatever, but what I discovered after so many years is that these sects focus on HUGELY different things, and there is an inherent sanctimony that comes with everyone believing they are right and everyone else is wrong. Sometimes it’s subtle, or more likely subconscious, but it’s there. It’s all absolute. And this makes me uneasy – it’s illogical. And I don’t think religion must be logical, but this is just contradictory. If everyone truly believes they are right within the constraints of Christianity then everyone must be wrong, because they cancel each other out. Right?

So some of you are saying, of course Jen, that’s the point. Toss the whole idea. But I can’t, because I believe in God, and for many reasons I feel I’ve been validated I have the ‘right’ one. And if not, then whatever It is is lenient with me believing otherwise. Either way I need to figure out where to go from here.

So in reference to today’s discussion, it’s important to me that I raise my kids to not be one of those segregated, narrow-minded, sanctimonious, self-righteous asshats that I’ve met so many times in my life. (Wanna meet some mean kids? Find a couple preacher’s kids. I tell you what, my experience is about 2-15 with that lot.) I want my kids to listen to Mos Def and read Nietzsche and watch American History X – and Malcom X for that matter – because to isolate yourself from people that are different is not going to make you an empathetic person, but an ignorant one. And this all seems so obvious, but I must be missing something, because the theme in the church is always about avoiding a poisonous culture for fear of negative influences. And I do get that. I don’t advocate my kids doing anything I just mentioned now, obviously. But as a preteen or teenager? I just see it as a disservice to isolate my kids from diversity, especially if I want to raise loving, empathetic adults.

And to me I feel that the Christian church model is counter-intuitive to that. And the epiphany really became clear when I realized that among all my competing schools of thought (Non-coercive attachment parenting vs boundary parenting or natural healing vs Western Medicine) the journey within faith is the only one set up so unabashedly as absolute.

And that makes me uncomfortable. But so does the fact that I feel uncomfortable, because that makes me wonder if I’m negating my own faith. I feel like it’s not supposed to work like this. What am I missing?