Dear Aunt Ron,
Thanks for Persephone’s birthday gift. It will probably take her a while to grow into those clothes, but better too big than too small.
I also appreciated the letter you included. Rest assured, I won’t “disown” you for the suggestions you make regarding Persephone’s religious education. In fact I am touched that you took the time to write about this.
Apparently you were disturbed by the picture I posted recently of the girl handling a tarot card. I hope to set your mind at ease somewhat, and was pondering what I might say when Persephone took matters into her own hands, so to speak. Of her own accord she grabbed a Bible off the bookshelf and opened it.
She’s too young to actually read, of course, but I was astonished when she pointed to a verse with great deliberation. It was Zachariah 14:1, “Behold the day of the Lord cometh.”
Was she playing Biblical Lot? Only heaven knows what question she had in mind. I tell you it sent an apocalyptic chill down my spine.
In all seriousness, though, we don’t want her to be unfamiliar with the Bible or a stranger to the inside of a church. To the contrary, we want to raise our daughter with a well-rounded exposure to the varieties of religious experience, to draw on all the wisdom traditions of the world.
There are certain things we will not do, of course. We will not pretend to know the truth about life, the universe and everything with absolute surety. Being honest about doubts and the limitations of our knowledge is very important to us. The only thing of which we’re totally certain is our lack of total certainty. And that has profound implications. We’re more likely to say, “This is what we think,” rather than, “That’s the way it is.” Please note that this doesn’t mean a wishy-washy perspective devoid of any moral spine. Quite the opposite. Our acknowledgment of doubt and skepticism springs from a love of honest reason as the best source for moral guidance.
As for baptism, you will be happy to know we performed such a ritual on the banks of Bayou St. John last year. I wish you could have been here for it. You can experience the next best thing, because I wrote about it, and there are pictures and even audio of the complete ceremony. I hope you can give it a listen.
And you certainly are welcome to come and visit us in New Orleans if you should ever get the chance.
Awesome letter, Bart. And freaky, the bit about Persephone picking up the Bible and checking it out!
I applaud your views regarding this situation.
Note to Aunt Ron:
I was brought up in a Catholic family and still carry the emotional scars left by the good nuns of Sacred Heart School in New Orleans. By the way, I’m sixty-four years old.
As a Bible scholar and friend, I’d be happy to make sure Persephone is Bible literate, or familiar with the Bible as you say, if she’s interested later in life.
Your views regarding children and religion are very similar to mine. I applaud your thoughtfulness regarding the issue. Nothing bothers me worse than those who have the belief that only one view of life, death, afterlife and it’s origins, etc. are valid.
[…] too, try not to be a raving asshole about my disinclination towards religion. I’ll leave at […]
If your neighbor saw flashes of bright orange, flickering light coming from inside your house and thought it was a fire and came to wake you up and make sure you were safe, does this make them jerks? Or would you thank them for their thoughtfulness? Or would you prefer that they sat idly by, wondering if it were a fire or not?
That, to me, is an example of how those who have faith approach those who do not. It is internally consistent for them to want to share their faith with you. In fact, if they didn’t do this, then that says something profound about them or you. E.g., if your friend truly and dearly believes you are going to hell when you die, wouldn’t you want them to say something? Even as a complete unbeliever, wouldn’t you want that? I mean, otherwise, wouldn’t you wonder why they are content to let you go to hell (again, being internally consistent).
Noted atheist Penn Jillette says is better here:
Garvey, are you sure you’re posting to the right blog? I didn’t call my aunt a “jerk.” I said I was touched by her concern.
Um, sorry, B, that comment was aimed at the notion from Lee that “nothing bothers me worse than those who have the belief that only one view of life.” Meant to put the “@Lee” but forgot. And it goes to a general audience, too, since I know there are many people who take umbrage at others sharing their faith. Not you, though. You politely responded and showed your boundaries.
we always look forward to your postings here. You and Xy are Stalwart
missionaries for Decency- and more real Christian in your outreach to
your neighbor kids, your career dedication, your community responsibilities,
than most berobed-and-collared “clerical” title-holders.
As for Miss P’s scripture choices:
let’s all take heed!
Thanks for your Good Work.