Serious Question About Church - Update
After reading everyone's comments and my friends' emails and giving it much thought, I have come up with a Word document. I was so proud of myself when I finished typing this:
I12's Church Attendance Plan
I. Create a word file and give it to me when done. In the Word file, answer the following questions:
1. What do you believe?
- Creation of the Universe
- Who or what maintains the Universe?
- Is there a God?
- What are His relationships to the Universe?
- What are His relationships to people?
- Does He have any rules for people to follow?
- What rules, if any?
- Is there life after death?
- What is life after death like?
- Is it in any way determined by life on earth?
- Which of the following world religions do you feel closer to? (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Don’t Know, Other - describe)
PS. Webster defines God as "any of the various beings conceived of as supernatural, immortal, and having power over people and nature"
II. Read the books:
- C.S. Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters"
- C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity"
- The four Gospels (this counts as one book and you have to read all four)
- Val Grieve, "Your Verdict" *
- If you wish to read an additional book on world religions, let me know and I will get you one.
III. For each book, either have a discussion with me (total time 1 hour for each book, can be taken in 15-minute increments) or type a 1-page report to prove that you have read the book.
IV. Have a meeting with Father (our priest's name) to thank him for his work in the 8 years that you have been member of this church, explain why you want to quit, and listen to what he has to say to you. (He probably won't give you anymore than 1 hr of his time.)
V. Then you can quit if you still want to.
As you can see, I did it all by the book - I spelled everything out and broke it down into small tasks. Last night, I handed this list to I12 with the words, "Do one through four and you can go."
Thirty minutes later, I12 hands me his answers to #1.
Be careful of what you ask for...
You just may get it.
Here they are.
1. What do you believe?
- Creation of the Universe - Big Bang (pulsar-like theory).
- Who or what maintains the Universe? - It does that by itself.
- Is there a God? - Yes/No/Depends on how you define Him.
- What are His relationships to the Universe? - I define God as what made the Universe.
- What are His relationships to people? - He can't think. He is an object. No one believes in what's correct yet.
- Does He have any rules for people to follow? - He can't make any.
- What rules, if any? - None.
- Is there life after death? -Yes.
- What is life after death like? - Exactly like this one**.
- Is it in any way determined by life on earth? - Yes, since it's going to be exactly like this one.
- Which of the following world religions do you feel closer to? (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Don’t Know, Other - describe) - Atheism.
I told him to get on with the reading list... but, WOW.
I did ask him, "How did you go from seven years of Sunday School to, er, this?" He said, "Sunday School didn't do it for me."
So here's a lesson for all of you to take away here. This doesn't really only pertain to matters of faith. I think this applies to anything you want to teach your kids.
First of all, give it to them like it is. Don't make an adapted version so kids can understand. Don't wait until they grow up to give them the unabridged version. Kids today develop fast and teen years will come faster than you think and they will have it all figured out by then... on their own terms. Oh, and most likely, they won't listen to you when they're that age. At least I12 still seems to have some respect for me and my opinions *knock on wood*
Don't be like I was. Don't assume that other adults know it better than you do because they were born and raised in this culture, and you were not, and it would therefore be better if you just leave it to them to give your child answers. I did that with Sunday school and I am kicking myself in the head now.
And last but not least. If there is some information that you feel you really need to pass on to your kids, then pass it on to all of your kids, not just the ones that would listen. K10 has always had an enormous interest in all things church-related, so I talked to him more about these things than I did to I12. As a result, K10 now has some pretty decent theological base, whereas I12 has nothing. Half of our services are in Greek, and the other half apparently went right over his head. He never asked questions, so I never gave him my answers***.
All that said, I don't worry too much. I12 is a smart kid, and I think that he will eventually outgrow his current model of the world and start looking for a new one. I wish him good luck in his spiritual journey, even though it probably isn't high on his list of priorities right now.
* - even though I ordered this book almost two weeks ago, it hasn't been shipped to me yet, but please don't tell I12... this'll be our little secret.
** - I12 believes that, over time, the Universe will collapse, and some time after that, there will be a second (?) Big Bang and the Universe will be re-created. We will then all reappear in this new Universe again, as the exact same combination of particles. Apparently this is an infinite loop.
*** - of course, as we all know, the ultimate correct answer is: "Forty-two". I12 has no idea. He didn't read that far.