Do you care what religion (or not) your children will choose? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 04:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is sort of a spin-off from my thread about 'Happy Holidays'. I have been amazed at how lively that discussion has become, and it has given me much food for thought.

One of the things that intrigues me is the strength of feeling about religious education in schools. Of course, I understand the issues of separation of church and state, and explained in the other thread that this is not the same in the UK, where I was educated. I feel that I have a greater understanding of other religions than, for example, dh, who was raised in the USA.

I'll try to explain what I'm grappling with at the moment......

I was raised within the Church of England, which is a very moderate Christian church. I guess for me, it was more a cultural/traditional experience than a greatly religious one. In any case, the British tend to be uncomfortable with public professions of faith, we have a saying 'never discuss politics or religion'. LOL

In school, (elementary through high school) we learned about many of the world's faiths. I found it really interesting, and loved religious education classes, especially when we got a chance to really debate. I had a great teacher in high school, who I'm sure influenced me more than anyone else in developing a view of religion in general. Everythng was always prefaced with 'Some people believe that...'

So, although culturally I view myself as a Christian, I"m really not concerned about what religion, if any, my children choose to follow later in life. I want to give them exposure to the church, and education about different religions, but from then on, whatever they choose, as long as it is through their own free will, that's fine with me.

So, when someone on the other thread showed how upset she'd be if her child sang a song about Christ, I realised that maybe I'm really unusual in this. I want my children to be exposed to different religions and beliefs and customs and celebrations. I actively want them to experience the wonder and excitement of all different cultures and beliefs.

For example, we joined friends in their celebration of Hannukah last week, and dd loved the dancing, candles, and singing. Dh enjoyed it, as he was raised in a Jewish/Catholic home, which I guess has maybe influenced us further in seeking diversity for ourselves and our children.

Does anyone else feel like this? I once recall chatting about religion to a very devout Catholic, who I met on holiday in Athens, in a hotel elevator. (Weird, I know, but it was a conversation that really struck a cord with me at the time, I was very young and seeking to make sense of my culture and upbringing). He said that he always imagined God up on top of a mountain. He had been born in the 'Catholic' meadow in the foothills of the mountain, so he travelled the Catholic path towards God. I was travelling the CofE path. Others were travelling from the Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or whatever, meadows, but we were all going up the same mountain. Our view may be different, and our path may be different, but our destination was the same.

So, I really want my children to celebrate diversity and the richness of human spirituality. Whatever they choose to believe, or not believe, will be fine with me. I'd welcome them learning the story of Diwali at school, or celebrating Eid, or the solstice. Maybe my feelings also stem from the fact that I don't believe that any one faith has 'got it right'. How can we have it all worked out, if we are mere mortals, anyway? And does it really matter, as long as we live life in the best way we can, according to the principles of our religion/beliefs?

How do others feel about their children's exposure to different belief systems?
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#2 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 10:27 AM
 
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This is strikes with me. I was brought up (if you can beleive) with Catholicism and Hinduism. My parents are both and I have celebrated both of the holidays much of the time growing up. My parents didn't however, spend any time taking us to temples or church (although I did go to some mostly with others). So I got no formal training in either. I wasn;t particularly struck with the either and only recently found myself looking spiritually. I and dh chose the UU church because of its broad acceptance of others. Dh was brought a strict episcalpalian (sp) and needed to find some thing that was more loose/relaxed (his experience based on the churches of the 70s and 80s). His family while tolerating our decision would prefer us to go to their church. My family can't even understand why I'd want to go to church at all.

Our minister was saying recently in a service that only 10% of people who are brought up in Christians denominations tend to stay with it their whole lives. I hope our kids will learn from the UU expereince to be open minded and accepting but do I care if they choose it as their own? Not really. As long as they don;t become extremists in any religion (esp. a Christian religion), I really have no preference.

Sorry I rambled alot.
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#3 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a really interesting combination - Catholicism and Hinduism. I find it strange that although dh was brought up with mixed religions, he has no thorough knowledge of either - in fact, I knew more about Hannukah than he did last week! However, it has made him very open minded about different cultures and beliefs, although, like you, we would not be comfortable with any extreme version of any religion.

Your church sounds interesting. I'll look up more info on it - do you have any good links?
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#4 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 02:51 PM
 
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Sure try www.uua.org.

The basic ideas are:The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

We really like it and our kids like the religious education.
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#5 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 06:27 PM
 
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I would really like it if my kids could find a path rather than a truth. I used to never think about this (see my thread, dh is a born again christian) because I just assumed my kids would get to decide what they wanted, and with hippy dippy trippy parents like us, fundamentalism would probably not be the first choice.
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#6 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 08:19 PM
 
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i hope my kids open up to their spirituality at some point in their lives. it wasn't until i was in my early 30s that i began my journey. i, too, don't care what path up the mountain they take, as long as it's compassionate. (okay, so i guess i do care what path they take.: )

ps. love the molly ivins quote. she is so sharp!


edited to add: we have also found the uu church and liked its inclusiveness. i taught religious ed there for a few years before having my kids. i don't think i would continue doing it though, b/c the curriculum in our church, at least, was about learning what it means to be a uu and i really feel like these kids aren't uus. their parents are. and it's up to them to decide at some point if they want to become a uu, its not my job to tell them they are and this is what uu's believe. but that's another topic entirely....
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#7 of 46 Old 12-13-2002, 11:11 PM
 
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Do I care? Yes. I hope, hope, hope they don't subscribe to any religion, but are open enough to study books and themselves and follow their hearts. But, if they decide they need/want religion, I really hope they don't become Christians.

No offense to anyone on these boards. There are so many reasons I feel this way, and dh agrees with me, but who knows? No matter what they do, I'll still accept and love them.
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#8 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 01:36 AM
 
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I feel that children need a foundation for life and a basis for believing in the world. You need to give them grounding or rooting in this world. They need to know the difference between right and wrong or you will have a child like the Walker boy from NOrthern California who joined the Osama crowd.

He was looking for something. I guess he found it.

Everybody needs to belong:

...to a family...to a community... to a group.

You need identity. Everyone does.

Where I grew up, my parents were married in a Church and I attended the church school. My younger sibs did too.

But my FAther and Mother divorced, and my Father drifted from the Church. I envy the people who stayed w/ the Church and the Community and married classmates and married at the same Church and live in the same community and have children now going to the same church school. It may make them seem narrow and small to some people, but they are solid and rooted and know who and what they are. There is security there of a kind that you simply cannot duplicate easily.

Yet I would not mind if my children looked for G-d and followed a path to "righteousness" of a kind that made them better persons for seeking truth in this life.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#9 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 11:32 AM
 
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It may make them seem narrow and small to some people, but they are solid and rooted and know who and what they are. There is security there of a kind that you simply cannot duplicate easily.
I actually agree with you on this point. As I said I didn't grow up with any formal religion (although the two I got were at odds with each other big time). I remember as a kid wondering about Xmas and Diwali and wanting to know about it and join others who celebrated them. My parents have the atitude (mostly dad) that it is something you do alone (good Hindu) but there is much to be said about being in a community that accepts you. Eventually everyone has a spiritual moment and at least those who grew up attending religious education in whatever faith have a base to start from which is something I have always missed.

My kids may not understand too much about UU but at least they have something to fall back on. Do I care if they stay with it for the rest of their lives? No but maybe it won;t take them as long as it has taken me to find myself spiritually.
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#10 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 03:19 PM
 
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Than k you.

I know I appreciate searching and questioning myself and my life and my god.

Yet I teach in a private religious school, and I envy my cohorts who have been raised and stay solid in their faith and community.

I search, but often it is a desert out here! I just hope if my children, who I raised in a solid faith, end up questioning their faith, can find a way to commune w/ G-d and their fellow man that is satisfactory with their intellect and their needs as human beeings.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#11 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 07:19 PM
 
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I guess I'm a minority here (not unusual lol)

I do care. I believe there is truth and untruth. I do want to teach my little ones what I believe and I hope they will also believe that.

My faith is very important to me and I feel like part of my responsibility (if not my main responsibility) is to nurture this faith in my children.
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#12 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 08:08 PM
 
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I think it matters to me to a point.
I have been going to the same church for 24 years (since I was 2), I have stayed there because I feel that it allows everyone to follow truth and yet be individuals in how we experience that...if that makes sense. Ok, here is an example: there is a verse that says that women should cover their heads when in worship (or something), well I went to a church where a woman wore a hat with her outfit...no one else did. For herself and her beliefs of the scripture, she felt that that is what she had to do..but no one else did..she was allowed to practice her beliefs and experience her "religion" but no one else has to feel that same need.

Because of the truth that I believe, I feel that at an appropriate age, my children can decide if where we worship is the truth to them. It would be hard for me if they chose that it wasn't but I don't think my place of worship is the only place to find truth so it would just be more of an adjustment.
I hope to teach my children to connect with their spiritual part in their own way, so that their place of worship is just that...a place of worship, not a place that validates their own understanding of truth or their relationship with their Higher Power. I am just learning now after all this time that my spiritual life is truly that, a spiritual one that is secret and personal...not a group hug of people who read the same scriptures.

I do think that being a part of a community of believers that basically think the same way as you do is good for those times when you need support and extra positive energy...

At peace,
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#13 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 08:29 PM
 
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Well, I certainly hope she has some sort of spiritual practice, whatever that means to her. But religion is not important to me. It's totally her choice--I feel so grateful to my parents for allowing me to choose on my own. We did baptize her Catholic out of respect to my MIL--I knew it would create a lot of distress for her if her granddaughter were not. But that's as far as we go. I'll present her with all options and she'll learn about religion, she'll learn about what I do, and what her father doesn't do, lol. Really, this is simple for me.
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#14 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 09:48 PM
 
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Well, it's important to me. That doesn't mean I would disown my kids if they practiced another religion but I hope that they will choose to practice Judaism (my religion). I have four great grandparents who died hideous deaths in concentration camps because of their beliefs - I hope that my children will choose to continue the tradition of our family because I feel that then they have not died in vain.

I will say though, my parents (divorced) have each married non-Jews and my brother is in an interfaith marriage. I am somewhat disappointed by it but not to the extent that I have brought it up to any of them. But they are not practicing other religions. If my children practiced another religion I would be greatly disappointed.

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#15 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 10:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LoveBeads, that is interesting. I can fully understand your reasons for wanting your children to follow you in their religious beliefs. In your situation, I would probably feel the same way. I guess that I feel strongly about a lot of things because my grandparents fought and suffered through WW2.

However, I do wonder if the only way for the world to ultimately become a peaceful and tolerant planet (and so survive) would be for each individual to let go of the feeling that their religion/belief/culture/tradition is something that needs to be carried forward by the next generation. :
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#16 of 46 Old 12-14-2002, 11:04 PM
 
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Yes I do. While I would want to educate my child about other religions so she would grow up to be understanding and sympathetic to other cultures I would rather she choose mine.

Not all those who wander are lost 
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#17 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 12:01 AM
 
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No, my dd is free to be whoever she is. I want her to be true to herself.
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#18 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 12:08 AM
 
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Britishmum, that is an interesting question:

"However, I do wonder if the only way for the world to ultimately become a peaceful and tolerant planet (and so survive) would be for each individual to let go of the feeling that their religion/belief/culture/tradition is something that needs to be carried forward by the next generation. "

That's your quote, I don't have the slightest idea how to do it the "official way" but I wanted you to know what question I was referring to.

Anyway, I do believe that religions do divide us, cause wars, etc. but I don't believe the answer is for all of us to forego our religions/beliefs/cultures/traditions - I think it is for all of us to be taught TOLERANCE of each other's differences. I suppose that is why I thought your "Happy HOlidays or Merry Christmas" thread was so important. I'm not saying others aren't tolerant, but I think you understand what I'm trying to say (if not I can get more specific). It's so important for us, as parents and teachers or our children, to let our children know that there are others out there who are different from us and we should learn about those differences, embrace those differences, respect those differences, and realize that the differences don't DETRACT from what we do.

Anyway, I think it would be a tragedy for us to lose our cultures/religions/beliefs because that is what makes people so interesting. And if you think about it, we're much more likely to be able to teach the world tolerance than teach everyone to give up all of these other things (don't say it's gonna happen in my lifetime but it's at least more likely!).

I traveled to the Far East about 6 years ago with my husband and learned a lot about Buddhism. If I were to embrace a philosophy different from my religion, that would be the one for me. I would not stray from my religion however because it feels very much like it is a huge part of what makes me - me.

My grandparents would have been horrified if they had lived to see any of their grandchildren marry outside of the religion (they died before any intermarriage). But their horror comes out of fear, my hope that my children marry within my faith is not borne out of fear, but borne out of pride for my people, my family, my culture. I would hope that my children will cherish it enough to want to pass it on.

Anyway, very interesting thread. Let's hope the tolerance keeps spreading!

Edited to add: Oy. Sorry for starting all those paragraphs with "anyway".

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#19 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 12:12 AM
 
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Absolutely I care.

LB, what you said about the Shoah was very interesting to me ...

My folks used to say, when asked the "why be Jewish" question, that "people died for 3,000 years so that you could be born Jewish."

Well, now, that wasn't reason enough for me. Real downer, IYKWIM. And I found most of what passes for cultural Jewishness in America equally depressing, what with Holocaust museums in every city, etc., etc.

Then I met my Rebbe z'l and learned that Judaism is simply a way of connecting to G-d, or a Higher Power, if you will, and that there are many ways of connecting to G-d, and Judaism happens to be the way that Jews do it (connect to G-d). And it works fine for Jewish people. And it's one heckuva good time, too ... fun, even ...

And you know what? In the end I think my folks had a good solid point. It's not how I live my life, but it has a lot to do with the intensity with which I teach my children.

And so do you (have a point), LB ...



- Amy
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#20 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 12:23 AM
 
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I have to admit I do care. I hope they don't become religious. I do hope I raise them to be tolerant of others' believes.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#21 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 12:54 AM
 
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I hope that whatever spiritual path they each choose to walk teaches tolerance and love for others regardless of their differences.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#22 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 02:08 AM
 
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Dearest Friends;

I have given my dc's a solid basis in a religious background w/ a strong sense of community and tradition. I hope they follow it.

If not, I hope they find happiness in the path they choose.

You can plant the seed and nurture the plant, but you need to let go after a while.
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#23 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 03:40 AM
 
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I am torn on this one:

I am very passionate about my faith (Wicca) and I have made sure to include my son in pretty much every celebration we've ever been at. I think that I would be lying if I said that a part of me wouldn't be disappointed if he were to become, say, Southern Baptist (yikes!).

That being said, I am very, very interested in world religions, and there are very few that I find truly disconcerting (to be polite). I wouldn't want my son to be a fundamentalist in any faith- I agree with those who said that it is not religion that divides us, but a lack of tolerance for others (that can sometimes be seen on this very board) beliefs.

I am proud of being a Pagan Parent- and I hope that I will raise a Pagan child. But as I converted away from the path that my parents raised ME in, I would be hypocritical to be upset with my child were he to do the same. I want him to seek after his own truth...but secretly, I hope his truth is the same as mine. :2
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#24 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 04:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Meira:

"I hope that whatever spiritual path they each choose to walk teaches tolerance and love for others regardless of their differences."

Wow. I'm going to print that up and put it on my fridge door.

Lovebeads: "Anyway, I think it would be a tragedy for us to lose our cultures/religions/beliefs because that is what makes people so interesting."

I agree with this 100%. I'm not really talking, though, about forgoing differences, and diluting them down. But about tolerance, and understanding that each individual needs to come to his or her own 'truth', and needs to find his or her own way to make that journey.

As with our discussion about religious education, I wish that everyone could become thoroughly educated about cultures and beliefs other than their own. That they would celebrate differences, and not fear them.

If that were the case, surely we would not need to fear that our children might turn to another religion? Or even hope that they will not?
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#25 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 05:10 PM
 
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If that were the case, surely we would not need to fear that our children might turn to another religion? Or even hope that they will not?
I think the problem in religion esp. for the US is the extremist views held by some groups. And the intolerance. Meira's comment is great. But there are groups who do not hold other's views with the same respect as their own and it would concern me if one of my kids decided to join that.
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#26 of 46 Old 12-15-2002, 05:39 PM
 
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Absolutely Rene, ITA. Those are excellent points.
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#27 of 46 Old 12-16-2002, 03:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"But there are groups who do not hold other's views with the same respect as their own and it would concern me if one of my kids decided to join that."

You are right.

I"m also thinking hard today about the word 'tolerance'. Is tolerance of others' beliefs enough? I don't want my girls just to grow up to tolerate others who are different to themselves. I want them to be interested and excited by diversity and welcome it without fear or suspicion. I want them to do more than tolerate.

But of course, I don't want them to tolerate people who use their religion as an excuse to treat others badly or disrespectfully. Or worse. :
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#28 of 46 Old 12-16-2002, 04:39 AM
 
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I guess I agree with a few other folks. I consider myself a Buddhist and I like the path. I was baptized a Lutheran, I went to church occasionally and the Christian-centered aspect of the society I was brought up in isn't lost on me. However, no one demanded I chose or reflect anything in particular and I was able to make my own choice. Which I'm very comfortable with. And I would do the same for my kids. I think I was presented with fine morals, whether I reflect them or not Hopefully being mindful as a parent I can reflect good values and demonstrate that they can make their own decisions and they will chose a path that makes sense to them. I figure we'll have more to talk about if we're on the same page, but we could still have plenty to discuss if they decide to be fundamental christians. My best friend is a devout christian, and I love her to bits. Although she's aparenty supposed to be setting a good example and showing me the light, she never tries to change my path and respects my choices. I'm grateful for that.

T
Britishmum - did you think my explanation of Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays answered your question in that other thread? Aparently the use of the term politically correct wasn't well received. I stopped reading the thread, so maybe you answered the question there. Sorry to go off topic here, I just wasn't sure, wasn't going to ask, but, I'm here, what the heck - if it's not too detremental to this discussion...

Cheers!!

Lori

edit: But, sometimes I wish I had someone on the same path to talk to. I can discuss moral and theoretical issues, but when it comes to being a "good Buddhist", there's no one in my family to talk to. (I couldn't talk to them about being a good Lutheran, either for that matter). There's a Buddhist temple in my area, but I haven't had the nerve to talk to them, yet.
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#29 of 46 Old 12-16-2002, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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MysticHealerMom - I'll go back over there and see. It's been such a long thread, I need to go back over it. But first, I really must do some work. More later.
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#30 of 46 Old 12-16-2002, 08:40 PM
 
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Sorry, don't work too hard I was the first one to reply on that thread... Cheers! Lori
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