Tuesday, February 08, 2011

76 Months

Our perspective on life comes from those who teach us, the special people in our lives who give us guidance that we believe in, a teacher or mentor in life and definitely our parents. Lucas is getting most of his unique view on the way that the world looks because of us, Xtina and me. Whether that's a benefit for him, time will only tell the tale.

I was raised as a Christian, being taught to believe in the grand idea of an almighty God that looks and acts like human beings, and that Jesus was the personification of that belief sent down to represent humanity's understanding of God in the flesh. It's a strange and lasting story that remains a powerful driving force in our western world. I followed along with this charade for years like a good Christian child until I reached the time in my life where I needed to find belief in myself. In order to do that I had to come to terms with many of the elements of this theology that just didn't quite make sense and, as we learn more and more about the universe, aspects that continue to evade even some basic reason. That's not to say that people who follow the Christian mytholgy do not gain benefit from the teachings, as much of the philosophical understanding of our experience in this lifetime comes down to relating to certain metaphors that help with all of the mystical gaps that our limited awareness is unable to interpret. I believe that this metaphorical interpretation of life through the eyes of various religions can be very profound and helpful in many ways but only if they are addressed with the definitive awareness that they are simply metaphors that we continue to cling to in order to help us through the vast and blinding night.

That wasn't the way that I was taught Christianity and, for the most part, that is not the view that we see when we look at this faith in our culture. It is represented as the truth, it is viewed as a reality, not metaphor, and that is simply something that I have difficulty with because there is no possible way to prove the validity of that dogmatic stance. Unfortunately that opinion isn't the way that most of the western world views the Christian faith and that means that Lucas is being raised in exact opposite of most of his peers.

Something that I tend to take pride in regarding our parenting methods is the way that we are trying to inform our children. Regardless of the subject, we try to be as open as possible with them while also keeping a close eye on certain influential elements that can hinder their growth. For instance, for a child who is six, I believe that the aspect of our culture that we should shield from them the most is violence, which is at the heart of all deviant behavior. Yet, I have no problem talking to Lucas about the nuances and purpose of religion and the way people use it in their lives. He knows that there is a large variety of different religions in the world, as well as being aware of the extraordinary diverse collection of cultures and life philosophies that help guide human beings during this era of life. We are introducing him to all of them but the most abundant religious experience in his life is coming from our Buddhist practice that he sees on a daily basis.

At first I thought that it was good that he was coming from a different perspective and I admired his determination to stand by his belief in the face of opposition. You see, some of his friends have already confronted him about his trangression, as they see it, but he stood up to them and argued and expressed his awareness, as limited as it may be at this point. But a strange thing began to occur. He's become more and more adamant about his belief that "God is not real!", so much so that he shouts that exact phrase with loud determination whenever the word God is introduced in conversation. It's actually pretty surprising how much the word pops up because we've been hearing his signature denial of the almighty very frequently indeed.

This all was a bit amusing at first, expecially beacuse I agree with him, but as it's escalated we've had to come to terms with the runaway train that we set loose. It reached the tipping point the other night when we had my mother over for dinner, who was the parent that was instrumental in the childhood religious education that I mentioned earlier and who still firmly follows the tenets of the late Jesus Christ. Right in the middle of dinner we started talking about the death of George Shearing who is commonly referred to as God by a certain influential writer from half a century ago. Throughout the conversation Lucas was shouting at the top of his lungs regarding his perspective on the existence of a certain deity whenever Shearing's nickname was introduced, much to the bemused shock of his Grandmother on his right elbow.

Now, what I was truly bothered about, wasn't that he was offending his grandmother, so much as that he was being so disrespectful while doing it. The main problem with the conflicts occurring between many of the religions around the world is that one doesn't have any respect for the other. The most important aspect of our human community is the basic understanding of the sanctity of life, which is at the root of all religions, all philosophies. It is impossible to denegrate another human being and not give up this valuable understanding of human interconnectedness. Once that happens, our devotion to our faith begins to lose validity. We no longer have the power to affect a profound and positive change in the lives of others.

Not only that, but Lucas was just annoying the hell out of me. Imagine how he might be annoying to those people who truly do believe in the idea of a Christian God, even if they are only six-years-old? So we had a long talk the next day about respecting other people and the purpose of dialogue in our mutually civil society. No, that's not a joke, and it wasn't the first time that he was given a lecture like that. Like I said, we tend to tell him more about any given subject, rather than less.

But I'm so proud of him in many ways. He does have immense confidence when communicating with others. He believes in the power of his words and he's willing to express it. I never did that when I was a kid. He can stand on a stage and play a musical instrument in front of thousands of people. Something else I didn't do. He has a strength that I always hoped would become him, but he's also very sweet and joyful and generous. Were also beginning to see that he has passion, as well, a fire that burns with dignity. Just something else to admire, I suppose.

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