05 July 2009

A Boring Theological Post on Church (Part II)

Do you train your children to be good church attenders and/or follow YOUR chosen faith? Lately, various blogs have been exploring the issue of the control parents and faith organizations have over young minds. My "training children in sound theology" may be your "wacko right-wing fundie indoctrination."

I'm doing such a great job of it, too, that my children are mindlessly obedient. They always eat daintily and discuss *nice* things at the table. Their dress and manners are impeccable. They've memorized the Westminster Catechism. Just the shorter version, I'm sorry to report. We're not overachievers, you know.

Don't believe me? Hm. Then whyyyyy is it when religious doctrine is taught to children, that it's often automatically assumed that one is unfairly indoctrinating a child? Brainwashing, even? If I can't get my kids to quit discussing farts at the dinner table, do you think that somehow I'm going to be able to turn out zealots for Jesus who believe exactly as I do? Come on, now.

I know there are cults out there that allegedly have perfect little kids who don't know what crayons are (um, and I doubt much of the media accounts on that, BTW), but I'm just one of those boring Pentecostals without the magical hairdo and symbolic dress.

It also doesn't follow that every religious order "grooms" its children. Maybe it comforts you a little to see that even atheists are being accused of that; I don't know. (Sick world. Can't we just assume the best about someone else until we're presented with clear evidence otherwise?)

Let's get down to it: any parent is going to try to influence his child as he feels best. I do understand some people need to feel all "concerned" about other people's children if they're in a religious home. After all, we've solved the problems of hunger, sexual abuse and homelessness that plenty of children *used* to go through, so we can turn our attention to other things. Like that Duggar lady who has "too many kids." She ought to have a license for stuff like that. Oh! And if she insists on breeding so much, she ought to at least put those kids into public school so they can learn about the "real world."

I need to stop reading the comments section on those AOL stories, don't I?


  1. Mrs. C, you have a great future in comedy if only you didn't have all these kids to tend!

    (The best comedy comes from painful truths . . .)

  2. I just tuned in ... when I read about the farts at the dinner table.

  3. Even in the best homes small indoctrinated children turn into teenagers with hormones & the sort of opinions to set mum & dad's hair on fire! lol Stop reading the comments section before you kill me off with lauughter. ☺

  4. We just got rid of our cable service (no signal at all without it) so we could indoctrinate our children with Veggie Tales DVDs. What does that say about us? I hope the government isn't monitoring your blog...um, I mean our neighbors just got rid of their TV so they indoctrinate THEIR children with all that religious stuff. We are raising our kids on good old fashioned non-religious American values--you know violent video games, all the sugared cereal they can eat, and PG-13 movies for the under 10's.

    You really should consider a career in comedy when you are done raising all those kids!

  5. JJ, thanks! I think. :]

    Anonymous, are you a member of my family? Specifically, did someone teach my daughter to type? :p

    Ganeida, I absolutely, positively agree. We couldn't indoctrinate our kids even if we wished to do so. :]

    Bonnie, you know there's something "queer" about a talking fruit with a cucumber for a best friend. Maybe I need to stop reading the ultra-conservative blogs AND the AOL comment section. (eew)

    Have you seen the PREVIEWS for the G stuff in the theatres?? OH. MY. WORD! You're better at home with a good book!!

  6. LOL! Those indoctrination comments just about make me roll my eyes out of my head. Do those people actually believe they are teaching their children absolutely nothing?! I mean, do they really believe that their kids aren't picking up on their own intollerance toward people of faith, for one?!

  7. We got rid of programmed television by mutual consent of every person including the 20-year-old who was the last hold out. The 16=year-old was for it because he thought his sister was too addicted to mindless channel surfing! There was no indoctrination, just a simple bribe (one Netflix DVD subscription for each person who gives up the cable monster).

    I think the worrywarts totally miss the boat on this. I think that God is calling for us, whether we are big or small. When a child hears His call, do-gooder busybodies will not be able to stand in God's way. As a Christian parent, I am going to share my faith, live a transparent life, and encourage my children to become a Christian because it is truth. Why would I lie to them about what I truly believe?

    I do not force anyone to go to church! I hate being a nag and I do not have this proud chip on my shoulder about "we go to church as a family," which I heard one mother say who watches "Desperate Housewives" when she is not busy going to church. I attend pretty faithfully and, most of the time, I actually look forward to going (except for that dark period of time when I attended a church that I grew to despise and only did so out of obligation to the choir).

    My husband's attendance is hit and miss some times and practically perfect at other times. He's a busy hard-working guy trying to keep his J-O-B so that's between him and God. It is not my place to be the nag that tells him to go. He has gone from being a lapsed Christian in name only to someone who listens to the sermon (okay, sometimes he makes a to-do list--I told you he's a busy guy) so we can talk about it later.

    Since the kids have become teens (able to stay home), I do not force them to go to church. My son goes very regularly and occasionally misses when he is very tired or sick. When he gets fed up with the peer-pressure driven youth culture at church, he stops going to youth group. My daughter goes less regularly, but I would say attends three Sunday mornings out of four.

    God is calling their hearts, and I can see it. My daughter reads the Bible on her own. She talks about it sometimes. My son has many flaws like all of us but I have seen some fruit in his life: more patience than he had before, more kindness with his sister (a TALL order), more compassion for the kids who seem like lost souls, etc.

    Are atheists accused of brainwashing? In school, it is not indoctrination to ignore God. Why would it be any different in the home's of atheists? Let's tolerate everything except the intolerable, people who actually believe in God. . . .

    I do not worry. God has a funny way of calling people, even those who never attended church once in their lives as children. He gets the last laugh . . . our pastor's only contact with the church before going to college was to attend a massive breakfast every Thursday sponsored by a church. By the time he left college he was saved and thinking about becoming a pastor. Another friend was forbidden from attending church as a child. At 28 yo, he became saved and is now a pastor!

  8. Sue, don't you know it's a GOOD thing to be intolerant of a religion that is so intolerant? That'll show 'em.

    Anonymous, how odd that you mentioned Netflix. When I first started seeing ads for that, it featured slasher monsters and stuff on it. Nothing like seeing the undead appear unbidden in some giant ad in the middle of my screen to bias me AGAINST the company. I really don't know if I could ever do business with them. No, not to be high n mighty... just the "ick" factor still in my mind. Which they are the ones that implanted there... maybe if they used Bambi and the happy 7Up dot gang or something, I might have been intrigued. :]

    I understand completely about the JOB thing. D doesn't go to church, but even if he did, there are some weeks he MUST work Sunday mornings.

    Oddly enough, the reason HE would have to work is because everyone else would not be on the mainframe system he needs to help maintain. So, other people NOT working means he IS. But yeah, we have to back off and let others develop their own relationships with God. D has at this point chosen "none, thanks."

    And your last paragraph. So true! I didn't go to church as a child and here I am. I didn't even know that Jesus was a substitute sacrifice for sins until I was out of college. Don't you think that I should have known what "Jesus saves" meant before I was 25???

    I didn't. I've seen buttons, though, as a teen that say something like:

    ...with money-saving coupons and careful shopping!

  9. Let's get down to it: any parent is going to try to influence his child as he feels best. I do understand some people need to feel all "concerned" about other people's children if they're in a religious home. After all, we've solved the problems of hunger, sexual abuse and homelessness that plenty of children *used* to go through, so we can turn our attention to other things. Like that Duggar lady who has "too many kids." She ought to have a license for stuff like that. Oh! And if she insists on breeding so much, she ought to at least put those kids into public school so they can learn about the "real world."************

    Because we all know that the real world is just like public school!

    This was a good post. Mirrored my thoughts on a lot of stuff.

  10. To get serious about this, we can think of dogma like diets. From vegan to junk food and everything in between, each human gets to choose to consciously follow a diet or not and if so, to choose which one/s. But as we go about our individual choices, don't force-feed anyone, not even your own children. For universal human health don't make it the fat people against the thin people, or the fish-eaters (Catholics) against the cheese-eaters (Protestants) nor any other war over dogma or diet, because war like force-feeding is itself unhealthy and immoral no matter the beliefs behind the war!

    Like dogma, your commitment to a way of eating isn't a matter of the particular diet you choose to believe in for yourself or your children, but the reality of it in your life once chosen, whether it's demonstrably "good" for you and your family or not. So much depends on how you choose, how well you use your good mind to learn about eating and diets, adapt that knowledge to your own means and needs and then how you practice it over a lifetime, the results you experience, whether it creates and expands human health and happiness, or limits and destroys it, etc.

    Then how do you present your personal diet choices to others? -- are you thoughtfully self-disciplined about that or do you push it, sell it, even legislate it onto others indiscriminately? Go to war over it? Does it bring people closer together or drive wedges between you and others?

    LAst year in the news there was a shocking pro-anorexia site for vulnerable young girls, that glamorized and "evangelized" starvation, presented it as a positive but persecuted community of faith peers who should band together as disciples and fight the rest of the world trying to interfere. That is free belief and free speech but I say it's monstrously immoral no matter whether I personally am fat or thin, or whether my own daughter gets sucked into it, whether I personally believe there's a god who wants one or the other, or not.

    I choose to fight against such seductive public power of story with my own freedoms because I believe it is evil and destructive to humanity. My weapon of choice (literally) is EDUCATION -- not inculcation through schooling of any kind religious or secular, but actual education to help kids develop not a dogma or a diet but a healthy respect for themselves and others as thinking, choosing individuals. If we do it "right" they can freely and consciously choose to commit their own lives, liberties and pursuits to fighting for every human's right to the same. No matter what they eat at home any day of the week. :)

    A quote printed in FavD’s new American passport (currently with her en route to Paris):

    “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect,
    a party or a class —
    it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

    – Anna Julia Cooper”

    Btw I know nothing of her dogma or diet but Dr. Cooper was born a slave and her life story is a good educational sleuth for freedom lovers -- female or not, African-American or not, especially for unschoolers who love Paris like FavD and her friend.

  11. Thanks, Terry. Though I think in some ways the real world IS like public school. See that I'm not smiling while I type that part. :[

    JJ, of course there are a few crazy-os out there who have to twist food into the "enemy." I remember being force-fed hot dogs with cigarette ashes on them out of the trash, so I know exactly the sort of humiliating experience to which you are referring when you discuss force-feeding.

    I hate hot dogs.

    But see, I still eat food even after what I've been through. Maybe too much of it. AND I still think despite some of the abusive things my parents did that they were still decent enough parents overall.

    I mean, I've been through a lot with them. I remember all kinds of things. I'm sure they would say they were driven to it by my bad behaviour since I was... rather strong willed. But should I have been taken away from them? I think of out of the frying pan and into the fire when you look at some of these foster homes.

    I think this is an area we need to tread VERY CAREFULLY into. I'm concerned especially as a mom with autistic kids (note I didn't say "kids with autism," we can talk about that sometime :]) that odd things come to happen in our house. Like, we scoop our cereal out and measure it. We talk with little one-inch icons to each other sometimes.

    Scariest of all?

    Woodjie is non-verbal. He also bruises himself by pinching and twisting his skin, especially on his arms and lower legs. (Therapists tell me this is for "proprioceptive input," another post sometime maybe.) People looking from the outside-in would go:

    Poor kid doesn't talk. Mom must be ignoring him.

    Poor kid covered in bruises. Mom must be beating the crap outta him.

    How to even defend yourself? How to prove that negative, like proving the unicorn does NOT exist in your atheist camp story? :]

  12. Mrs C, that's one of the most intelligent, complex questions I've seen online lately, brava, you inspire me -- let us call it "food" for thought!

    "How to even defend yourself? How to prove that negative, like proving the unicorn does NOT exist in your atheist camp story? :)"

    Before giving it the deep thought it deserves, I'd say arguing for a parent rights amendment as HSLDA does, because homeschoolers want to be sure we can spank our children without scrutiny, is clearly the wrong answer!

  13. Ah, but that's just it. If I'm ever scrutinized by your average social worker, I can almost guarantee I'd lose my children of have a very close call.

    I think I'm doing a fairly good job and wouldn't want to come under that scrutiny if I could possibly help it. I suppose (hm...I hope!!) that I could find a way to wriggle a positive testimonial from our therapists that my home is usually relatively clean. Even then, it would be very traumatic if my children were taken, even for a little while. If you know anything about autism and sameness of routine... well, "trauma" would not cover it. Honestly. It would NOT be like sending your neurotypical kid out for a sleepover with a friend for a few days; there would be lasting problems.

    But no way I can prove I'm NOT beating my kid. Or ignoring him. How do you do that?

    Hey, have YOU stopped beating your kids? (LOL, the legal question with no good answer.. "Yes" means you were beating them before and "no" means you haven't quit!)

    I am for an amendment only insofar as I feel the government would work against what I'd need the amendment to protect me FROM. Hope that makes sense.

    Do we need an ERA? Well... I haven't had trouble voting, and there are specific protections written in federal and state law, so I'm not nervous. At all.

    But I'm nervous about the parenting rights thing. :]

  14. So the issue is how to accomplish that? Like "I want to lose weight and live longer and have more energy" as opposed to "I believe whatever diet HSLDA tells me god wants, is healthiest for me."

    Here we are with no such amendment and wanting to feed our kids well without government interference. The government isn't interfering now but what if they did? I serve my kids veggies but they refuse to eat them, augggh, don't blame me!

    So let's say for the reasons you just gave, we want to get the US constitution amended just in case, thinking it will absolutely guarantee my feeding of my own kids won't be questioned, even though it also guarantees other parents can force-feed their kids hot dogs with ashes on them, or starve and beat them at the table, without intervention. Does that make sense? How would policy analysts respond to that idea, do you think?

    (I'm guessing they might feel the need to START inspecting all kitchens and kids, if they hadn't already thought of it!)

    So it's a Catch-22 politically. You can't get there from here. If you argue we need it, you make the case against it and maybe even cause the very scrutiny we fear.

    I think we should go back to the original healthy questions and drop this unhealthy amendment idea.

  15. For example, the Missouri conservative representative also heading a child protection services board of some kind, in the news for not wanting to feed them at summer school and insisting "hunger is a positive motivator" isn't helping!!

  16. Ohhhh... Now I see your reasoning. Drawing attention to the problem brings on the very scrutiny you don't want. Hm.

    BTW, I happen to agree with her. Her words are taken out of context. I think that PARENTS need to feed their kids, not the government. It's true that our summer school had no cafeteria open. Bring your own lunch or go hungry. Plan ahead.

  17. Exactly -- you agree with her ideology and how it translates to her political position, and yet you can see (right?) that how she is going about advocating for it, is having the opposite effect of what she intends. . .

    Harvard's brilliant Dr. Howard Gardner (of multiple intelligences fame) wrote whole books on educating people for changing minds and thereby changing the world. Hint: this is the uneducated and uninformed, ineffective and thus completely wrong way to do it!

  18. I really do think her words were twisted a bit. Here's the original link.


    Grant you, it isn't "polished," and the media's gonna eat her alive for that.

  19. It's not that it isn't "polished" but that it's uninformed, unrealistic, too simplistic. Like Sarah Palin. It doesn't take reality on the ground into account, only her beliefs -- the beliefs that work fine for people who share her world view and circumstance. And not for those (the majority) who do not.

    She has the absolute right to continue with it but she can't make it work, just by believing it should do.

  20. Yeah, I side with her political opinion. If it doesn't match someone's "personal reality" or whatever, maybe that person needs a new worldview and a job at Target. *wink*

    Seriously? That's our money we're talking about here. I'm very cool with charity, and big on giving to homeless ministries and/or people who are truly disabled. But I WOULD NOT just hand each homeless man, say, $500 according to some federal guideline.

    I would want to give to a charity that matches my philosophy or that would require job training or whatever. We give to City Union Mission in Kansas City. I know "graduates," regular people who now have jobs and families and live just like anyone else, free from being homeless.

    I want to put my money where I know it will do good. I don't want to supplement some struggling mom's income and then see a "poor me" article, complete with pic of her smoking Marlboros. (Yeah, that happened a few years back in the news, some story about welfare parents and the newspaper was "surprised" by the number of negative responses it got back because the cigs were in the picture. Well, you have money to smoke and are boo-hooing about not enough to feed the kids? Bah. SURE, you can't just sell the car or the designer clothes you USED to be able to afford and are still using because they're already paid for, but you can stop buying the cigs and the lotto tickets.)

  21. Gosh, where to begin? It's called the Logic of Failure to reduce complex problems down to what the human mind can naturally deal with. Charity depends on the specifics, and so does government and professions and religions. Are dentists all good, is every poor person lazy, is every rich person hard-working? It's not automatically one good, the other bad. And you or I as individuals each have the responsibility to learn about and consider those specifics in each case, and then act accordingly. So some charities are not what you would support; others are. Same with churches and public education or health programs and oh, everything! Not all "conservative" beliefs are supported by all conservatives, et cetera. . . are movies good or bad? I'm the biggest book-lover you'll ever find but that doesn't mean I automatically prefer every book to every other form of communication and entertainment.

  22. Yep, yep, yep. You just made my argument for me! The government shouldn't get to decide who gets MY money or YOURS. You and I should decide whenever practicable.

    Hey, I can make a mistake about which poor person is lazy or good or motivated or whatever if I give her a job with MY money. And if it hurts me to get shammed out of $1,000 here or there, I'm going to be pretty careful. But the government deals with things on such a big level, there is so much waste and corruption.

    And you know, I *do* see those nuances there between deserving and undeserving charity cases. Beleeeeeeve me. My autistic children will have great difficulty getting and maintaining a job later. Woodjie can't even speak. He truly needs help! But I just don't think that it's the government's place to say, well, you can earn x amount on this program or that... and it isn't looking at the PEOPLE. Individual givers can.

    And you know, I have NO CLUE what I will do with Woodjie when he is older. It isn't like he can chat with some charity guy about why he needs funds... I wonder how all that works and if anyone will help him later. Naturally I take full responsibility so far as I am able (being the parent and all).

    What will happen to him when I am 70?

    Anyway, yes, I understand the nuances you're discussing. I don't think a uniform federal program is necessarily the solution. :]

  23. Right. :)

    And even if some kids don't grow up to be the public sector decision-makers and policy analysts, some had better! And most will need to be educated voters and citizens, beyond managing their personal choices well . . .

  24. OTOH, back to the funny parts, I saw a classic Dave Barry column in the Miami Herald today, coincidentally touching on two aspects of this conversation in one!

    . . .Sunday Styles recently had a feature about the problems faced by New Yorkers who leave their dogs at their Hampton homes during the week, when they (the New Yorkers) reside at their Manhattan homes.

    You people who are fortunate enough not to have homes in both Manhattan and the Hamptons have NO IDEA what these people go through.

    ''You worry about dogs in these situations,'' states one woman, who pays a person to stay with her dogs, Sparkle and Puccini. There's a photo of the dogs lounging by the pool of the woman's East Hampton home. . . stocked with several weeks of dog supplies, including ''filtered water, beef chews and of course a small supply of Xanax.'' Of course.

    Another dog-owner has his ''staff of four'' arrange Hampton ''play dates'' for his dogs and the dogs of his socialite friends. I could go on, but I suspect you are already close to heaving your Wheaties.

    Which brings us to another recent Sunday Styles feature, concerning another trend: not eating. I don't mean dieting. I mean not eating any solid food at all, for as long as 30 days. People do this to lose weight, of course, but they also claim that it purifies their bodies, and makes them feel energetic and positive. Then they go to the Hamptons and eat their dogs.

    Just kidding! But I am not kidding about this: There's a place in California, called the We Care Spa, which bills itself as ''a holistic fasting retreat,'' and which charges guests up to $3,484 A WEEK. Yes! To starve! (To be fair and balanced, I should point out that the guests also receive enemas.). . .

  25. How funny. I know someone who was an "estate manager." That means that she made appointments, say, for the roof to be fixed or the cleaners to come in or whatever. And I said something like, and I guess you have to walk the dogs and etc.

    She said, no... they have someone else in charge of the dogs LOL! Someone else manages kids' stuff and someone else manages the other properties, etc. And YES how funny you mention, but these people had another home in Manhattan. Can you imagine what a one-bedroom place out there goes for, let alone a nice place?

    Just think how they're helping the economy. Crazy. Looking back, I went to school in that same town and there is *no* wonder I felt like a very poor, deprived child. Because I was. Comparatively. :]

    Trust me, I'm not hiring anyone to manicure my nails or take care of my dogs. I even change diapers and clean and write my own blog LOL.

  26. [If I can't get my kids to quit discussing farts at the dinner table] And just why do boys do this? David thinks potty humor is the funniest thing going. I tell him about a hundred times a day I will be happy when he develops a sense of humor and we can talk about anything else.

  27. LOL, He *does* have a sense of humour. You're just not appreciating it very much. :p

  28. Well, I'm sure impressed with your kids' behavior!

    I'm only now discussing some differences in what I believe from the prevailing religion here. I think my daughter is old enough to critically question some of those beliefs now (she's 15).


  29. Patrick is also 15. He is becoming more conservative as he ages, which... I thought children had to go through this nose-ring rebellion phase? Not get MORE conservative than Mom and then criticise Mom for not toeing the line???

    And ask why they don't preach more on Hell in church? And refuse to wear shorts?? I haven't seen other children like this.

  30. Yes, Mrs. C, you need to remember that "News" is another form of manipulation and indoctrination, so you wouldn't be missing much by giving up AOL stories [smile].


  31. Yeah, I don't wonder if some of these "snakes in a ball pit" type stories get our attention away from the real things going on. :]


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)

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