I missed this article in the NY Times last week by Judith Warner, a virtual religious mutt who was raised Jewish, but also attended an Episcopal school and sang in their choir.
Having a very abstract sense of faith – or religion, or God, or whatever you want to call it – works perfectly for me. According to Newsweek this week, having such a “post-modern” form of faith is becoming increasingly common among many other Americans as well.
But how do you pass that on to children? Can children apprehend religion or spirituality or even uplift in such a nontraditional way?
My children’s school is ultra-self-consciously secular. They’ve never even learned the words to “Kumbaya.”
My girls prepare the Jewish holidays with my mother, much as I did. But they do not drive, as I did, out to Brooklyn on the second night of Passover, for a non-seder dinner with my father’s relatives, my grandmother at the head of the table, matzo balls mysteriously designated for particular people. (“Monogrammed,” my father once mumbled.)
That world is gone – dead or dispersed.
My mother, like my father before her, when he was alive, performs our seders very quickly, skipping pages peremptorily, reciting the prayers almost ironically. I think it started as a rebellion against the interminable-seeming seders of her – and his – youth. (My Gourmet-reading friend’s mother says hers, in Hebrew, were incomprehensible.) Now it’s a habit. Instinctual, almost.
Read her whole article here. Does she reflect your experience? I think she reflects much of what happened to a lot of Gen-Xers whose parents rebelled against their religious upbringing or perhaps were simply apathetic to it. Often there's no axe to grind, but rather a simple indifference to formal religion in favor of an amorphous sense of God and an ecumenical spirit of "spiritual tinkering" that Robert Wuthnow the great Princeton sociologist considers to be the norm today with regards to religious practice.
I say similar things in Googling God but I'd really like to know what your religious experience has been. So pass this post around and comment on it and share your thoughts. I'll even comment on my own experience in the comments section as well.