The Pros and Cons of being raised religious - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 03:38 PM
 
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Sorry you feel that way. If it makes you feel better, when I did return to God, I did not go back to my childhood church. Nor will I ever. The point of praying for these people is bringing them back to God, not to our specific church. (Of course, we hope they will join us. But the main purpose is they get right with God.) And like I said in a previous post, we don't discuss their situation or know anything about them. They are a first name on a list.
No, it doesn't make me feel better. If people come to the decision that there is no god, that is their decision, and it should be respected. To do otherwise is just plain disrespectful. I'm an agnostic,and like most people I know who are agnostic or atheist, I believe what I believe after doing a great deal of research and reflection.
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#62 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 03:45 PM
 
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Yeah I think that cultural ties no matter what you were raised in tend to be strong and have a heavy pull, no matter where we go later in life.
I think in Judaism it's especially strong...for example...if you ask a person what they are..they will say "Italian..or Polish...or Irish..Ask a Jewish person and they will say they are Jewish...like they have no other nationality. That was the impossible part to break away from. It took me a VERY long time to just say I was Lithuanian.

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#63 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 03:47 PM
 
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Sorry you feel that way. If it makes you feel better, when I did return to God, I did not go back to my childhood church. Nor will I ever. The point of praying for these people is bringing them back to God, not to our specific church. (Of course, we hope they will join us. But the main purpose is they get right with God.) And like I said in a previous post, we don't discuss their situation or know anything about them. They are a first name on a list.
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No, it doesn't make me feel better. If people come to the decision that there is no god, that is their decision, and it should be respected. To do otherwise is just plain disrespectful. I'm an agnostic,and like most people I know who are agnostic or atheist, I believe what I believe after doing a great deal of research and reflection.

I have one family member who is really freaking about my conversion. It's like, as a pagan, for some strange reason, she could kind of deal. Becoming Jewish has really bothered her because Catholicism is so wrapped up in being Puerto Rican, and Judaism for some reason strikes her as really being too much. I'm really upset because I think it's just going to get worse instead of better. It feels very disrespectful to me.
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#64 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 03:52 PM
 
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Well, actually what I meant was most kids in this day and age raised Orthodox Jews remain Orthodox Jews.

And while we are on the topic of disrespectful.... a "liability"? Oy.
Is that true? I am interested in how one would verify that. I am always getting precis of all of these studies about Jewish identity (from my mom, of course!) and I don't know how to assess how observant people are.

There are so many variables in Jewish upbringing and education that I'm not sure how to evaluate this idea.

But yeah, I don't see how a Jewish education could be a liability. When you get to adulthood, how are you supposed to catch up when there is so much culture and language and just--information--you need to function fully as a Jew? Maybe it's a liability to be raised by people who think crazy things because of religion (something I am positive is true for some people in every religious group).

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I'm one of the ones that ran sceaming from it...it is hard to escape the culture though. I also know of 5 others that went through religious school with me (out of a class of 14) that no longer practice.
I think most of the kids in my religious school class don't practice Judaism like their parents. Some are much less observant, but some are much more. None of us enjoyed that religious school.

It's obvious to me that without Jewish education, my kid won't get as many jokes, enjoy as many songs, eat as many heavy Eastern European dishes. I don't need to believe in God to feel like that by itself would be a tragedy. The other part, the availability of the richness of Jewish spiritual life--yes, he needs Hebrew and cultural context for that, too. It's just a lot easier to give him that in a home with religious observance and community, even though I don't want to close him off to the majority culture and other minority cultures. Tricky balance.

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#65 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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I think in Judaism it's especially strong...for example...if you ask a person what they are..they will say "Italian..or Polish...or Irish..Ask a Jewish person and they will say they are Jewish...like they have no other nationality. That was the impossible part to break away from. It took me a VERY long time to just say I was Lithuanian.
Are you an American Jew with a family that came from Lithuania? Because you aren't giving anyone a picture of your experience if you tell them "Lithuanian" if you grew up Jewish. It was a distinct and very interesting subculture that was not well-integrated into Lithuanian society. (and not really into most of the other E. European societies, either--or we wouldn't be here in the US!)

Jews use Jewish as an ethnicity for important historical reasons!

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#66 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 03:59 PM
 
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I have one family member who is really freaking about my conversion. It's like, as a pagan, for some strange reason, she could kind of deal. Becoming Jewish has really bothered her because Catholicism is so wrapped up in being Puerto Rican, and Judaism for some reason strikes her as really being too much. I'm really upset because I think it's just going to get worse instead of better. It feels very disrespectful to me.
Since I'm a convert to Orthodox Christianity, which in recent centuries has been very tied in with ethnic identity - Russian, Greek, Serbian, etc. - I'm butting the religion/culture issue head-on.

In my area, the Orthodox "jurisdictions" with the largest number of churches are the Greeks, the OCA (Orthodox Church in America, Russian heritage but very Americanized) and the Antiochians (tons of converts, mother church in the Middle East). The Antiochians have some ethnic influence (Arabic) but two local parishes are ALL converts. Services in English. OCA has all English services (except for two parishes that have drawn lots of Russian immigrants) and lots of converts. Both have convert priests. The Greeks have few converts, lots of ethnic influence, and most parishes have services more than half in Greek. At least one local priest got thrown out of his Greek parish for attempting to include more English in services, among other things. I'm not welcomed by most Greeks as I'm not Greek.

Interesting...

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#67 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 04:09 PM
 
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Are you an American Jew with a family that came from Lithuania? Because you aren't giving anyone a picture of your experience if you tell them "Lithuanian" if you grew up Jewish. It was a distinct and very interesting subculture that was not well-integrated into Lithuanian society. (and not really into most of the other E. European societies, either--or we wouldn't be here in the US!)

Jews use Jewish as an ethnicity for important historical reasons!
Well, I am no longer Jewish at all..I have initiated into another set of beliefs all together, but I am American, I was born and raised here.

I don't see how it's any less of a full picture than my recovering Catholic - Buddhist DH saying he's Italian - just Italian.

Perhaps I am not understanding your question correctly...or maybe I just don't consider Jewish an ethnicity.

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#68 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 04:12 PM
 
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Since I'm a convert to Orthodox Christianity, which in recent centuries has been very tied in with ethnic identity - Russian, Greek, Serbian, etc. - I'm butting the religion/culture issue head-on.

In my area, the Orthodox "jurisdictions" with the largest number of churches are the Greeks, the OCA (Orthodox Church in America, Russian heritage but very Americanized) and the Antiochians (tons of converts, mother church in the Middle East). The Antiochians have some ethnic influence (Arabic) but two local parishes are ALL converts. Services in English. OCA has all English services (except for two parishes that have drawn lots of Russian immigrants) and lots of converts. Both have convert priests. The Greeks have few converts, lots of ethnic influence, and most parishes have services more than half in Greek. At least one local priest got thrown out of his Greek parish for attempting to include more English in services, among other things. I'm not welcomed by most Greeks as I'm not Greek.

Interesting...

In PR culture, so many milestones center around the church - marriage, baptism, quinceaneras or sweet 16s, etc. To me, the other things are important - dancing salsa, rice and beans (Captain optimism has had my arroz con guandules on shabbat ) drinking coquito, speaking spanglish, to me, that's my culture, not the stuff wrapped up in christianity. My cousin disagrees. She views it as being, I don't know, disrespectful of the choices our parents and grandparents made (note: my mom thinks the conversion is a great idea).

This is not to say it's easy. I"m learning Hebrew, and there is a cultural shorthand I don't get, jokes I don't understand, and lets not get started on the food. custom and traditions often center around the practices of Ashkenazi Jews but I"m a woman of color so where am I? We do beans in my house for passover which the rest of my SO's family will not.

So yeah, it's nuts
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#69 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 04:14 PM
 
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Frog, in your experience are Episcopals more progressive on gay and lesbian issues? My SIL chose an Episcopal church in part for that reason, although her previous (and very gay-friendly) church was Lutheran - for her I think it was more about the particular congregation.
It really, really depends on the congregation. On paper, they're pretty similar (as long as we're comparing ECUSA and ELCA). In practice, both denominations are really all over the map.

Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Synod (WELS) are quite conservative and, to the best of my knowledge/last I checked, do not accept the idea that homosexual folks are okay, too.
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#70 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 04:40 PM
 
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EFmom and RubyV:

The first 5 names on the list are:

Adam
Adam
Adam
Adam
Alan

You know who they are don't you? You must, you know all about their situation.... you saw their name on the list.

Point is, I have no idea why these people's names are on the list. I know absolutely nothing about them other than someone cared enough about them to put them on the list. I know why I put two names on the list, that's it. No one else even knows who or why. And for the record, it's not because they decided Christianity isn't for them. It's because they are hurting and need peace in their life. So I don't think it is disrespectful, but thoughtful.

RubyV- I'm glad you found something that works for you. I am all for questioning faith. Like another poster said- a faith that is not questioned is shallow.

For what it is worth, I'm done discussing this because I'm getting so frustrated. I really feel I haven't done anyone any harm. If anyone wants to continue discussing this with me, please send me a pm. Thanks.

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I have one family member who is really freaking about my conversion. It's like, as a pagan, for some strange reason, she could kind of deal. Becoming Jewish has really bothered her because Catholicism is so wrapped up in being Puerto Rican, and Judaism for some reason strikes her as really being too much. I'm really upset because I think it's just going to get worse instead of better. It feels very disrespectful to me.
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#71 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 04:47 PM
 
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Are you an American Jew with a family that came from Lithuania? Because you aren't giving anyone a picture of your experience if you tell them "Lithuanian" if you grew up Jewish. It was a distinct and very interesting subculture that was not well-integrated into Lithuanian society. (and not really into most of the other E. European societies, either--or we wouldn't be here in the US!)

Jews use Jewish as an ethnicity for important historical reasons!
Not to mention that the Lituanians (and the Russians, and the Poles) won't claim you....
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#72 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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Is that true? I am interested in how one would verify that. I am always getting precis of all of these studies about Jewish identity (from my mom, of course!) and I don't know how to assess how observant people are.

There are so many variables in Jewish upbringing and education that I'm not sure how to evaluate this idea.
You are right that it's difficult to assess. One of the issues not even touched on here is that a large number who reject their upbringing when they leave home appear to return at some point. Is it culture or religion drawing them back in? Couldn't say. But with all the investigation of kids who go "off the derech" (leave Orthodox Judaism), the figure that I have seen is estimated to be 10-15%. How they assessed it was a self assessment of keeping shabbos, kosher and "family purity" (I think this last one is the one that is probably the big weed-out factor between "Orthodox" and "traditional"). It also does not take into account how many disenfranchised twenty-somethings make their way back later, esp. after they have children. That would really be an interesting number to tease out, but haven't seen anyone do it yet, though it is an acknowledge phenomena. I'd refer you to the Faranak Margolese book "Off the Derech" for a good read on the topic. The book developed from the dissertation she wrote on the topic.
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#73 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 05:47 PM
 
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I never discussed religion with my parents because there was a very strong vibe from my them that the subject was...not taboo, exactly, but just really not worth even talking about. You know how as a kid, you pick up on these things? My parents never knew that I was interested in religion.

If they had known, I'm sure they would have been happy to talk about it with me. Really, they were/are reasonable, nice people. But I felt like the topic was as embarrassing to mention - if not more so- than sex.
So funny you mentioned that. Sex was by far a hot topic growing up (so hot it couldn't be touched). Religion not far behind. I remember bringing up "the bible", after spending some time at a friend's house and that was a instantaneous "go to your room , what are you, brainwashed? Don't ever mention the bible again!"


This whole discussion is such a large area of gray. It seem rules are the exceptions.

I stuck it out calling myself a Jew for many reasons. I was one. That was a fact. My friends and enemies alike wouldn't let me forget about the fact. I didn't find ties with the other groups of the kind in the area, wasn't Christian, etc. Plus I must have looked different because I always got the "what are you?" questions, so I must be something rare or unique, right? Plus, try to ask where my family came from before the 1930's- what a mess. We were being chased from here and there. We were newly "American" but before that? Jewish. It was the one thing that tied us together. We were part of that tribe. Hated or loved, that was our tribe.
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#74 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 06:03 PM
 
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I don't think the cultural identity is as wrapped up in other Christian traditions as it is in Orthodoxy. It is funny that this came up toady as last night I was giving this a lot of thought (I work the night shift and have a lot of time for thinking). About the culture in which I was raising my children. I have no doubt they will identify as Greek. I am starting to identify as Greek. I fought it like crazy. Didn't even want to go to a Greek parish because i knew it was all so tangled up. but it seeps in. (I still refuse to say I am Greek orthodox I just tell people I am Orthodox but that is another whole thing . . .blah blah blah don't want it to be relegated to a cultural thing. that just Greeks are a part of. ) and for my children this will be their identity from childhood. this will be the culture they are raised i. More so than Sweedish or Norwegian culture which rarely plays into their day to day life. but the Greek influance is being woven in every day. by the time they are grown they will have the church of the Greeks, they will be fluent in the language, they will know the jokes and that will be the food they eat (between coffee hour and fasting there is a lot of recipe swappin' that goes on in church). Heck, at their baptism they will be given Greek-ish names and if i fail to make them Greek enough (which I did) people will still call them by their Greek variants heck they already do. These people care little what your real name is their friends and their godparents will be Greek. the culture so permeates everything at church that it is similar to moving to another country and picking up that culture. If we did hat I am sure I would still retain a large part of being an American but my young children would be whatever nationality they grew up and they would identify as that nationality even though they are not genetically that. (thats more along the lines what I was thinking about last night. At what point does adopted culture trump genetic ties. How many generations before someone just identifies as American? or whatever country their family came to rather than the one they were born in. but that is another thread for another forum )

and even if my children leave the church I doubt they will ever shake the cultural ties they have to it. They will always have the language, art, the food and such. They will always have a relationship with their Godparents (hopefully) and even their greek-ish names will stay with them as part of their identity (if any two people ever call them the same thing). it is so woven into church and church is so woven into life that even if you left the church you could never wash its influance from you entirely. You would still be Greek Orthodox even if you were attending church somewhere else or no where.

and of course i don't need to embrace the culture to become a part of the church but everyone is so eager to share their culture. It is hard not to embrace it. And by embracing the culture I am embracing the people. but when you embrace someone they rub off on you. and if they out number you you start becoming more culturally like them.

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#75 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 06:05 PM
 
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I don't think the cultural identity is as wrapped up in other Christian traditions as it is in Orthodoxy.
I'm not so sure about that. I think it really depends on the culture. For example, I know some Polish families for whom Catholicism is a HUGE part of their cultural identity.
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#76 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 07:03 PM
 
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I'm one of the ones that ran sceaming from it...it is hard to escape the culture though. I also know of 5 others that went through religious school with me (out of a class of 14) that no longer practice.
Did you mean religious day school or religious afternoon/Sunday school?
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#77 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 08:28 PM
 
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Well, I am no longer Jewish at all..I have initiated into another set of beliefs all together, but I am American, I was born and raised here.

I don't see how it's any less of a full picture than my recovering Catholic - Buddhist DH saying he's Italian - just Italian.

Perhaps I am not understanding your question correctly...or maybe I just don't consider Jewish an ethnicity.
You just described him as a recovering Catholic-Buddhist. That gives a better picture. Though really, when someone says "Italian" in the US, there are a whole set of historical assumptions people might make. (That the person is from Southern Italy, and that their family came over in the 1880-1920 period when most Jews also came, etc.)

If you say "Lithuanian," you make people think you know a set of dances and foods and language and festivals that are different than the ones you have rejected. "I was raised in an American Jewish family" gives a lot more information than that.

Of course, maybe you don't want people to know that about you. There are still people who discriminate against Jews.

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Not to mention that the Lituanians (and the Russians, and the Poles) won't claim you....
That isn't necessarily true anymore. I think many Lithuanians and Poles and other Eastern Europeans (especially Poles) are really interested in the history of Jewish communities in their countries. Things have changed. There is still anti-Semitism there, but there is also a new civic nationalism, and our history in those countries is also their history.

It's also true that for other folks in E. Europe, religion is a significant ethnic marker. So it's not like "oh Jews are so weird for mentioning their religious background"--in a lot of places, that religious background (sans any current belief!) shapes peoples' experiences.

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You may be right in that they are more interested, but my experience with immigrants from E. Europe is that they make a distinction between say "Russian" or "Polish" and "Jewish" as nationalities. To this day.
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#79 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 09:16 PM
 
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You may be right in that they are more interested, but my experience with immigrants from E. Europe is that they make a distinction between say "Russian" or "Polish" and "Jewish" as nationalities. To this day.
At least until 10 years ago (I don't know if it changed since then), if you were born and bred in the Ukraine but born Jewish, your identity card listed "Jewish" as nationality. You weren't "Ukrainian", you were "Jewish".
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double post?
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#81 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 09:17 PM
 
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Am I the only one part of a religious/spiritual community where the vast majority of kids remain grounded in the faith of their upbringing? And don't see it as a liability?
I was wondering the same thing.
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Did you mean religious day school or religious afternoon/Sunday school?
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#83 of 98 Old 12-06-2007, 10:21 PM
 
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I'm not so sure about that. I think it really depends on the culture. For example, I know some Polish families for whom Catholicism is a HUGE part of their cultural identity.
Catholicism is a part of their identity. but with the Greek and Russian Orthodox church the church is defined more by their culture than their culture defined by their church if that makes any sense. In some places ( I have heard, my parish is apparently exceptionally welcoming and global ) if you are not a part of that cultural back ground they wonder why you are at church. even after attending my parish for almost a year i still get the "are you Greek? Is your husband Greek? Did you go to Greece? Russian? then why are you here?" It is foreign to them that someone outside of their culture would be interested in the Orthodox church. I mean they are happy I am there but they are stumped all the same.

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#84 of 98 Old 12-07-2007, 02:36 AM
 
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At least until 10 years ago (I don't know if it changed since then), if you were born and bred in the Ukraine but born Jewish, your identity card listed "Jewish" as nationality. You weren't "Ukrainian", you were "Jewish".


Same thing with much of the FSU (former Soviet Union).

And yeah, c'o, there are some who take an anthropological interest in "their" Jews ... there's even a Jewish-themed bar/restaurant in Poland.

Gross, you know?








But that's OT.

FWIW, I know a whole lot of raised-very-Orthodox (like, raised in Mea Shearim) folks who went off the derekh (stopped being religious). And the reasons they went off are the same as for those in other religions, I think ... the controlling parents, the joyless religious life, the negative associations with their schooling, etc. (And all the off-the-derekh blogs attest to the extreme intensity of their negativity to their upbringing. I read them regularly and find them most helpful for me spiritually. All the things they found soulless, I make an extra effort to keep in touch with the soul of.)




And yeah, I know these particular folks because they went back to their religion (as I did) and generally within the same particular community as I did ... but they at least had the advantage of knowing what they were leaving when they left it, and then knowing fully what they were choosing to return to.

People who are raised without it or in nonobservant homes do not know. They can't make a choice because they aren't given enough information to choose.




FWIW, most of them don't seem to hold all their negativity against the religion itself. They have an awful grudge against the people themselves who passed it over to them so poorly, though.
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#85 of 98 Old 12-07-2007, 03:01 AM
 
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People who are raised without it or in nonobservant homes do not know. They can't make a choice because they aren't given enough information to choose.
Great point.
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#86 of 98 Old 12-07-2007, 09:04 AM
 
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Catholicism is a part of their identity. but with the Greek and Russian Orthodox church the church is defined more by their culture than their culture defined by their church if that makes any sense.
Oh, I understand the distinction you're making. Thanks!
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#87 of 98 Old 12-07-2007, 12:44 PM
 
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FWIW, most of them don't seem to hold all their negativity against the religion itself. They have an awful grudge against the people themselves who passed it over to them so poorly, though.
See, I don't think this is true across the board. When I taught Judaic Studies I had students who were seeking some way to have a Jewish identity, and they spilled their guts about negative experiences in Jewish education.

(Of course, I looked like a nice lady who would listen, that's why!)

I think when people have positions of religious authority and they abuse them, that's a desecration of God's name. (In the Jewish technical sense--if you do something bad while you are representing Judaism, it's at that level.)

If people in other religions behave in these ways, for example the scandals about priests sexually abusing people, they turn people off to religion in the same way. There's no benefit to cultural literacy in that context.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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#88 of 98 Old 12-07-2007, 02:56 PM
 
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See, I don't think this is true across the board. When I taught Judaic Studies I had students who were seeking some way to have a Jewish identity, and they spilled their guts about negative experiences in Jewish education.

I think when people have positions of religious authority and they abuse them, that's a desecration of God's name. (In the Jewish technical sense--if you do something bad while you are representing Judaism, it's at that level.)
I think you and merpk are actually saying the same thing.
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#89 of 98 Old 12-07-2007, 03:54 PM
 
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I don't know, which is better. I know that I wasn't raised with anything other than Santa Christmas and Easter Bunny and it kinda sucks to not have been raised as part of a spiritual and religious community. And while I've converted officially once to a religion it is not the same to come to something as an adult as it is to be raised in it. It wasn't ever really part of my identity the way it is for someone raised in it.

And I see in my dp, who was raised in a religion that even though he no longer practices and he sure doesn't believe the tenets and rules expected of his childhood religion it's still a part of him and his identity. If people ask, he still says he is XYZ even though he hasn't attended in years and doesn't believe what they do.
I will read the rest of the thread but I found this really interesting. My dp was raised without religion and is adamantly atheist. However, he feels he missed out on the rituals and cultural knowledge that comes with being raised in a religion. Especially a Christian one in the US b/c according to him there are a lot of religious cultural references. We do create our own rituals so he's feeling better about that.

The only atheist I knew growing up became a rabid born again Christian when she went to college so I was always a little nervous around atheists until I met dd and the person who introduced us.

As for me, I was raised Catholic and have progressed to being an atheist as well. Although part of me would love to be a Quaker.

As for pros and cons well you can see some of the pros in even my atheist dp's stance. The cons, personally I don't want to raise a child in an organization that basically says, "because" a lot of the time when you ask questions. Even though I was raised in a very liberal enclave of Catholicism I could never accept it in total. And even as my faith left me I still worried about not baptizing dd in case she died. I just don't want her to feel that kind of guilt or fear in something I just don't believe actually exists.
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#90 of 98 Old 12-08-2007, 11:28 AM
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this is a very interesting topic, i think.

i think peppermint's assertion (on page one) about the difference between a religious upbringing with or with out joy has a lot of value.

and while i think that people who are raised with the joy of their religion are more likely to stay in that religion throughout adulthood, it doesn't always happen.

and i'm an example of that.

but it should be noted that i didn't "leave" my childhood religion because i felt that it was wrong, bad, joyless, inappropriate or whatever else.

in my family, the focus was on spirituality and living for/from the spirit. it was very joy filled and fun. we did a lot of religious/spiritual things together, and it was all contextualized in catholicism.

but what was interesting to me is that my parents encouraged me to explore other religions, and my catholic upbringing gave me a grounding from which to "compare and contrast" different religions.

What i discovered is that most religions are basicly the same with the same central ideas (spirituality/philosophy) with the same basic practice (spiritual disciplines like prayer, etc). the differences where in the contexts or descriptions of the religions and then which disciplines were more valued in this religion over that (for example, buddhists highly value meditation over other spiritual disciplines).

I would say that spirituality is very important to my family, and that there is a great deal of joy in discovering one's spirit (or God depending upon one's perspective). and for my family, the context is also important--more important than i thought.

i didn't realize when i decided to move into another context, that it would cause such a stir with my family. my mother bemoaned "but you had such a lovely faith!" and yet, i don't feel that my faith has changed, or my experience of the divine, so mcuh as the language that i use to describe it and the spiritual disciplines that i prefer to utilize to develop it.

i have no qualms with the religion of my family and i value my religious education highly. i have no issue with the church, or my family members, or my religious education. as a teen, i was very frustrated with the social injustices that i experienced at my catholic girl's school--the hypocrasy and the lack of "christian" behavior that I saw at all levels that lead me to question whether or not it is a faith practice that "works" or not.

i believe that it is, for those who do the work of it--as it is for every religion. but i also feel/felt that it isn't the correct context for me.

and so, i changed contexts. and i plan on raising my children in this context instead of that.

and my hsuband's situation is similar.
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