Monday, August 17, 2009

To Baptize or Not to Baptize, That is the Question.

I have a confession to make (okay, another one). I was never baptized. Never went to church as a kid. Never learned much about religion at all, as a matter of fact.

Sure, we celebrated Christmas and Easter. But for us, the holidays were more about giving and getting presents and spending time with family than they were about the birth and death of Jesus.

My dad is an atheist. So is my brother. My mom...well, I'm not sure about her. But she's definitely not big on religion. And me? Well, I believe in God. But I'm not so sure about church.

Not to get all hippy dippy on you, but I'm more spiritual than religious. My God is that wise voice that comes from the deepest parts of me—some people might call it the gut. And  if I choose to listen to it, it keeps me on the right path.

Have you ever read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert? If you haven't, go get it. It's a wonderful book. In it, the author describes what I'm talking about:

"Then I heard a voice. Don't be alarmed, it wasn't an Old Testament Hollywood Charlton Heston Voice, nor was it a voice telling me I must build a baseball field in my backyard. It was merely my own voice, speaking from within my own self. But this was my voice as I had never heard it before. This was my voice, perfectly wise, calm and compassionate. This was what my voice would sound like if I'd only ever experienced love and certainty in my life..."

That's what God sounds like to me.

But now I have a daughter. And I (well, my husband and I) have to make a decision for her. Do we find  a church? Get her baptized, make her go every Sunday and raise her as a Christian?

Or do I stay true to myself, teach her to be a good person and let her make her own decisions about God when she's old enough?

I don't know.

I know that there have been times in my life when I really, really could have used some religious teachings to fall back on. When I wished I was one of those people with unquestioning faith, who just know that God won't forsake them at the end of the day.

Because there have been moments, many of them, when I have felt utterly lost and alone.

My husband comes from a Lutheran background. And he did go to church every Sunday, get confirmed, the whole nine yards. Thanks to my bad influence, he doesn't go anymore. Not that I wouldn't go if he wanted to.  We're  mostly just too lazy to get up early enough to make it to services.

He's said very little about the whole baptism thing (although I'm sure I'll hear about it after he reads this). I know, though, that although his parents haven't pushed us, they would really like to see Tori baptized.

They've even mentioned a time or five that we could come home and have it done in the church Brian grew up in. But that seems like a lot of work. And kind of hypocritical, if we don't actually intend to raise her in the church.

I don't know what the right answer is. I really don't. I guess it's just the first of many tough questions that will come up while raising this little girl.


  1. I just scheduled Bea's baptism... and here are some thoughts from me. Not thay you asked.

    I was raised Catholic. Baptized, communized, Catholic school for 12 years. I went though periods of rebellion- swore I would never go to church as it was the "establishment." And, after all, I was pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-whatever-pissed-my-parents-off-at-the-time. I had pink hair; I'm sure you know the type.

    Anyway, my husband was never baptized, never went to church...I think his parents' rationale was that their kids "could choose a religion when they were old enough." The problem was my husband and his brother were never schooled on various religions from which to choose. So, in a way, his parents made the choice for him: No religion at all.

    Now that I -ahem-32 and oh so wise, I think it is important to have some sort of religion. It is a stable moral education. Can you be a good person without it? Sure, but there are a lot of things religion offers that can't always be easily found outside of church. That hour-long mass each week is a time I can go, think, reflect on the week, and focus on ways in which I can be a better person. It forces me to sit still, to stop and think. It gives me a sense of community and in many ways it grounds me.

    Wow. That sounded really preachy. But, my point is that for me, it's important to give Bea something to start. If she is 18 and decides she wants to be a Rastafarian ( with good reason ) that's fine. I just want to know I did what I thought was best at the time.

    Did I mention I haven't been to church since Easter? No? Well, I haven't, but I am still using Bea as an excuse not to go. Maybe I should there this week...

  2. Yeah, I'm leaning toward committing to a church, but it's just one. more. a life already too full of "things." We'll see.


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