Hi all, I've been an occasional 'lurker' on here, but wanted to introduce myself. And hopefully get some advice!
I was raised Catholic, my DH went to church rarely when he was growing up (a Christian church, not sure what denomination), and became Catholic before we got married.
Having kids led us to start questioning everything - from the care we received while pregnant to our birthing choices to diapers, food, parenting, etc.
Most recently our BIG questions (that have been harder to answer) are education and religion/spirituality.
We've pretty much realized we aren't Christian. We sometimes attend our local UU, but work schedules and distance don't allow us to participate as much as we'd like.
At times I'm just feeling so overwhelmed with all the questions I have, and the pressure I feel to know what I believe. (Not that anyone is actually pressuring me, just that I grew up 'knowing' exactly what to believe and I'm not used to, well, figuring it out myself.)
Especially when it's near Christian holidays that I grew up celebrating (and our families still celebrate), I feel the need to learn what holidays our family wants to celebrate and how we should go about it.
I often read about people 'honoring' certain holidays, but what does that mean? Acknowledging that you don't share that religion's beliefs but still following it's traditions? Finding your own meaning in the holiday? Celebrating the historical holiday?
I don't expect anyone to go through and answer all these questions for me. :) But maybe a gentle push in the right direction? Some good books to read? Documentaries? Websites? Sharing the story of your family's spiritual journey?
Maybe all I need to hear is that I'm not alone.
I was raised culturally Christian, which to me means my parents were raised Christian but they did not go to church, read the bible or pray. But celebrated Christmas and Easter and were Christian by default. They purposefully did not want to push religion on us kids because they felt it was pushed on them.
They sent my sister and I to a local church Sunday school via the church school bus picking us up and dropping us off at our house. After a while I didn’t want to go anymore and my parents said that was ok.
I happen to live in a very counter culture town and when I was a teen it was New Age central so being exposed to astrology, tarot and other divinational readings, crystals and the idea that there was more out there than meets the eye.
I tried a couple of Christian teen youth groups but I just didn’t fit in. Partly the social politics of teendom and partly my openness to other things. In my early 20’s I discovered Paganism and that was that LOL Dh is also Pagan but we are into very different traditions. Sometimes this clashes a bit with the teasing but mostly we are cool about it. DS mostly does ritual with me and the groups I hang with, which are geared towards families.
I know a LOT of people who do not like spiritual/ religious labels. They prefer to journey their spiritual path as they feel drawn, exploring different paths, practices and traditions. I also know cultural Christians who deep down do not believe scripture and dogma of Christianity but were raised with certain traditions like Christmas and Easter and have a ton of fond memories around those. They still celebrate with family parties, gifts and feasting. Just not bible reading and church services. I guess I’d say they celebrate the more Pagan aspects rather than the Christian ones. The Pagan aspects are starting become more secular because people like the traditions, away from the religious parts.
And I definitely have friends who are non religious or agnostic who like celebrating the Solstices and Equinoxes – they are not “owned” by any religion, they are astronomical occurrences that many cultures acknowledge. A good way to feel in tune with the seasons, the Earth and tie your own meaning to it. Most kids dig this too J
As for “honoring” something. I see that similar to celebrating it. Some might use those terms equally. For me, celebrating something is all out and might include a large gathering, party, rituals, feasting, etc. Honoring something could be smaller, more reverent – just a simple altar or 5 minute private ritual.
I am not sure I have any books to recommend. Unless you want Pagan or magical books. In that case I whole heartedly recommend Circle Round: raising children in goddess traditions - http://www.amazon.com/Circle-Round-Raising-Children-Traditions/dp/0553378058
The book is geared towards children but great for adults who are newly interested. Book has tons of seasonal crafts and multi cultural stories, plus rites of passage info and rituals.
It sounds like you're now evaluating the things that you do and the traditions you have had to figure out what they mean to you, why you do them, and how you would like to maintain (or not) those traditions in the future. That's awesome! Shouldn't everyone evaluate their beliefs like that sometimes?? You and your DH have figured out that you're not Christian, and that's a good start! From there, take baby steps and see what feels right. What do you think about a diety, or a unity, or the spirit, or the soul? Expect to spend some time figuring out the spirituality side of things separately from the holiday/cultural tradition side.
My story and that of my family is really too long and complex to condense down to a post, but the short of it is that our spirituality, our traditions, and our expression of religious beliefs in everyday life are always changing and developing. And I'm pretty run-of-the-mill Protestant, but that doesn't necessarily make this journey any clearer.
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This may be exactly what you don't want to hear, but it sounds like you're still looking for a book/documentary/outside resource to tell you what to believe and what to do. No disrespect intended because I totally understand how comforting a little guidance can be! I'm sure there are some books out there that share the story of how others have found the right path for them; but gently, I think this is a fabulous opportunity to carve your own direction.
you're probably right.
i think in regards to learning more about holidays and where their traditions originated from (pre-Christianity), books would be really beneficial. so when we celebrate Easter and Christmas, etc. with our extended family (and in our own home if we choose), I can teach my children more than just the Christian beliefs
thank you for the responses!
I was raised atheist and I am now UU. We always celebrated Christmas and Easter and so I have never felt any conflict about celebrating "Christian" holidays without being Christian. I wonder if some people use the word "honor" to indicate that while they may not have the same beliefs, they are trying to be respectful of the other religion's rituals and celebrations and not "stealing" them. There is a blog on raising kids UU that posts about once a month and, conveniently , her current topic is ways to celebrate or not celebrate Easter. The blog can be found here: UU Parenting: Bunnies, Eggs, and Resurrection