My daughter is dating an atheist
My 24-year-old daughter loves staring at the stars, growing roses (which I water) and dreaming about attending art school in England. And as an honest adult, there are times I'm embarrassed by the witness of our church. “If I were an honest teenager, there are times I wouldn’t have wanted to be there either. She would “get over it” just as she had gotten over Beanie Babies, alternative rock bands and her nasty obsession with wearing all black.“I can remember being wary of organized religion, even when I was quite young,” she said. But I kept praying because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. The goal was to start a conversation, explained church administrator Kay Pettygrove. I just rolled my eyes and smugly said, “Well, God isn’t finished with you yet.” I was certain that her “lapse” in faith would not last long. Some would say we failed not only God, but also our child. Kenda Creasy Dean, United Methodist pastor, author and professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, understands the frustrations both parents and children face when their religious worldviews do not match.While I don't feel like I had a particularly religious upbringing, I clearly did. I dumped the idea of a male God and instead prayed to the pagan concept of the Goddess for years.As an adult, I'd place my hand on the outside of the plane while boarding and pray that the "sacred blood of our Lord Jesus Christ" would protect the plane and passengers -- and I believed with my whole heart that it would work (since I haven't been involved in a plane crash, I guess it did). I abandoned all thoughts of God in my twenties, until it became clear that I needed to be sober.They nosh, they gab, and things are grand—that is, until they sit down for dinner.Over bowls of matzo balls, dear Dad-To-Be brings up metaphysics, as one often does over soup.
Now you'll have to excuse me, I need to go blast the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in my office.
But when I returned to my childhood church, he struggled -- just like I struggled when he gave up all attempts at spirituality around the same time. Ultimately, being married to an atheist as a believer is just like being married to someone that loves football when you can't stand the sport; you tolerate the differences because that is what couples do.
It can be the hardest at Christmas, particularly since my daughter has chosen my husband's "side" in the spirituality debate, thanks to her deeply alternative school (full of anarchist vegan atheists) even though she came to church with me extensively when she was little (we let her choose her spiritual stance without judgement; we're THOSE parents).
Bubbe isn't even singing softly to herself anymore. A gray light falls over the room, which is odd, because it's only 5 pm.
If only our young Brooklynite were Jewish, he might have made a mental comparison to a room where people are sitting Shiva, or maybe a Bar Mitzvah luncheon after the lox have run out.
But in my grief I found myself drifting into another liberal Methodist Church, and I found solace there for many years. He grew up without much religious exposure, although his father was a "spiritual seeker," dabbling in everything before returning to the Catholic Church. My husband and his aspirituality cheerfully join me each Christmas Eve at a candlelight service and I drive the car when he wants to photograph freight trains.