October 28, 2008

God can wait a little longer

Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob
It started innocently enough. Schuyler came home from school with a little sticker on her device. That's not unusual; it usually has about half a dozen or so stickers on its case at any given time. This one was a little different, however, and it gave us pause.

It was an angel.

We didn't get too worked up about it, partly because we try not to be THOSE earnest, humorless Whole Foods liberals. I'm sure that whoever gave it to her didn't even think about it, much less set out to somehow evangelize to our daughter. Also, Schuyler thought it was a fairy anyway, so we even got to dodge the explanation.

It did start a larger discussion with Schuyler, though, about religion and what to say to anyone who decides to take it upon themselves to save our kid's immortal soul. It's happened in front of us a few times, after all, and so it's only logical to expect it to happen when she's at school or otherwise away from us.

Here's the thing. I don't care if Schuyler learns about or even buys into a belief system other than ours. In fact, Julie's no-bullshit Atheism conflicts pretty strongly with my own metaphor-laden Agnosticism. (And please, I beg of you, before you start asking what's the difference or making snotty little remarks about how they are basically the same, please do me and yourself a favor and go read up. Seriously. Your hungry brain will thank you.) We make it work just fine because we don't need to have a monolithic belief system in our home. We intend to make sure that Schuyler gets a good, relatively balanced overview of the belief systems of the world.

But not yet. Not now. Schuyler isn't ready. I know there are people out there who took their eight-year-olds to see The Passion of the Christ (wackadoos), and plenty of parents send their young kids to Sunday school. But here's the thing about that. These are parents who have chosen to raise their kids within their own belief system, with the intention of their kids adopting that belief system for themselves. And that's great for them. I have no problem with that.

I guess in a sense, by raising Schuyler in what is technically an Agnostic environment, I'm kind of doing the same thing, in my own way. But it is the absence of Big-F-Faith and restrictive doctrine that will give her paths of her own choosing down the road. Julie wants to expose Schuyler to other religions as well. (Sometimes I think Julie is sort of a crappy Atheist, honestly.) When Schuyler is ready, we'll open up a whole world for her. It sounds like fun to me.

But not now. Schuyler is of an age, or perhaps more importantly of a stage of development, in which she still takes things at face value. Does she understand the difference between Belief and Fact? I don't know, but I don't really think so. Maybe soon, but for now, she's still very susceptible to suggestion. It's tricky, but for now, this is the right thing to do for her. We choose to delay that conversation a little longer, rather than confuse her now, which is exactly what we would do.

We'll have that conversation with her one day, and probably sooner than later, but it'll happen when we think she's ready. So for the time being, if anyone tries to talk to her about God or church or Jesus (sadly, probably the only red flag words that she really needs to beware of in Plano, Texas), she knows to simply say "No, thank you." That's how it's going to be for now. She knows how to say no to drugs and Jesus.

Her one dalliance in the world of religion? She has chosen to be the Devil for Halloween. Well, the Chicky Devil, anyway. That ought to raise a few eyebrows. Not to worry, though. Lest anyone see fit to try to save her little soul, she'll be protected by a 6'2" chicken, plus whatever Julie comes up with. (She's working on a bat costume, although we'll see if her ambition lasts all the way through the final stages of production.)

I don't care how devout you are. Being chided by a giant chicken won't be fun. Don't try me.


Anne said...

Rob, I've said this before, and I don't mean to be pushy, but I bet you would *love* the Unitarian Universalist community. They specialize in exactly what you're looking for: exposure to every spiritual belief under the sun, with no dogma and a humanistic philosophy. I'm not UU myself, so please don't think I'm just pulling for my own team...but from what you've said, I'd highly recommend at least reading a bit about it. There's one in Plano. :) http://www.communityuuchurch.org/

Karen Harrington said...

I'm glad you are my friend and that your family has come into my life. :)

Donna said...

This post really struck a resonance with me, since DH is agnostic and I'm atheistic. I know that this has nothing to do with your post except in a tiny sliver of a way, but pay attention to the Texas Board of Education this coming year. They are reviewing the science curriculum, and three members of the executive board are rapid fundies (at least one served with the Discovery Institute in Seattle and has written an ID text book). From ehsy I can see down in SA, its going to get nasty before it gets any better.

Hope that Schuyler has a great Halloween!

Michelle said...

I read your post and I understand you and Julie are agnostic and athiest and you guys really are very good about trying to let Schuyler form her own opinions on the world and determine who she is going to be - whether that is in line with what you believe or not. But, part of what you said kind of contradicts that. By not wanting her to be exposed to Jesus and God right now, isn't that taking away the ability for her to start forming those determinations on what she wants to learn about to form who she is? She may reject those ideas, she may embrace them. She may neither embrace nor reject them. But just like you let her learn about other ideas and ideals, doesn't it fit within your idea of letting her choose to also let her hear about the various ideas on Jesus, who He is and what He means?
It's just a question - I am not challenging you or your parenting or your own personal choice - so please do not take it that way. I am certainly not looking to fight the chicken...and I ask this question with the utmost respect. I was just thinking through what you said. I know you said it can "wait" but kids do start forming their own opinions and ideals right now. And as you know better than anyone, Schuyler is one smart cookie...

kris said...

Say No to Jesus.

This raised-in-the-Catholic-Church-Catholic-schools-all-my-life girl loves it. Granted, I'm a liberal, Jesuit-educated Catholic.

Anonymous said...

As her parents, it is your choice; one of the (many) good things about parenting, I think.

I'm curious, however. If you think she is still in the imaginary stage of thinking, how does she understand 'fairy'? Or devil?

Anonymous said...

I brought this exact topic up to my fiance this past weekend. As someone who was raised Catholic (or is a 'recovering Catholic' as some witty folks like to say) and whose views are widely accepting but fundamentally agnostic, I am all for letting my children gain all the knowledge in the world, and then making their own educated decisions. I remember being forced to go to Sunday school for years. My favorite part was the doughnuts. Now there's a sound religious foundation.

And yet the crazy, obsessive part of me thinks maybe we'd better baptise our future children in the least offensive church we can find as infants. You know, just in case...

Anonymous said...

I hope you can keep them away from her. Yuk.

Robert Hudson said...

I read your post and I understand you and Julie are agnostic and athiest and you guys really are very good about trying to let Schuyler form her own opinions on the world and determine who she is going to be - whether that is in line with what you believe or not. But, part of what you said kind of contradicts that. By not wanting her to be exposed to Jesus and God right now, isn't that taking away the ability for her to start forming those determinations on what she wants to learn about to form who she is?
I know you said it can "wait" but kids do start forming their own opinions and ideals right now. And as you know better than anyone, Schuyler is one smart cookie...

I'm not sure I see the contradiction. It has nothing to do with how smart she is, and everything to do with how advanced her critical thinking and maturity are.

Simply put, Schuyler is at an age where she believes what she is told, based not on the validity of what she's hearing but rather on her trust and love of the person telling it to her. She'll be ready for the next step one day, and probably within the next year or two.

But until then, our job as parents is to guide her, not necessarily to the Truth, but to a place where she can make critical judgments of what she hears and come to her OWN Truth.


I'm curious, however. If you think she is still in the imaginary stage of thinking, how does she understand 'fairy'? Or devil?

It's tricky, isn't it? I guess the difference is in what's at stake. There's the disappointment of learning that Tinkerbell isn't real, and then there's the nagging feeling that perhaps her soul hasn't been saved after all.

It brings up an interesting point, too. How much of what she "believes" (fairies, monsters, etc.) does she actually BELIEVE? It's hard to say, largely because she has such a rich imaginary world and also because of the communications gulf. It's probably easier for her to believe in other worlds than most of us, having spent so much time so far bridging her world and ours.

Anonymous said...

My daughter, like Schuyler, bases belief on
"the trust and love she has for whoever is
telling" something to her. She is 12, plus
as a child with Asperger's Syndrome she is
precocious in terms of logic -- but it's
vital to remember that she is still a child
and that Asperger's doesn't necessarily
mean she is exempt from the same trust
in the grownups in her life as Schuyler --
or even kids her own age. She wears a
WWJD bracelet on certain days to match
her friends, which is nothing I would ever
have expected from a child who has never
asked a single question about God or any
of the whole shebang, and who lives with
an atheist father and a mostly irreligious
but confused mother.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand what you're saying. I'm athiest and my husband is probably agnostic although we still go through the motions with his Jewish family at family dinners. However, it has made me uncomfortable when my 7yr old son has come back from school R.E. classes going on about Jesus. He totally thinks it's fact. It's not a belief at this stage - it is just THE TRUTH. We've ended up saying "It's ok that some people believe that...BUT..." As a result I am strongly thinking of taking him out of the classes although I don't know what they do with them during that time....We'll see. Anyway - I'm agreeing with you, is what I'm saying!

Allison said...

My father was raised in a nonreligious though slightly Jewish-bent household and my mother was a confirmed Lutheran, though by the time I was born they were pretty much nothing. I guess they are agnostic.

I was 12 when I decided to go into a church and ask someone about God. I am the one who decided to attend a Bible study and go to church. And I decided at 19 to get baptized.

While I wish my family believed the same that I do because I am envious of the tight-knit relationships that form when sharing a common bond as strong as God, I am also incredibly thankful that I decided all of this on my own and that I learned about Jesus because I wanted to. Not because I had to.

So, I guess this is to say, I completely understand. And if Schuyler ever has any questions about Jesus, she's more than welcome to ask me.

Jim Howard said...

I'll second Anne's recommendation to try UU if you ever want to expose Schuyler to various religious ideas.

I was married in a UU church (we were given the option of having God there, or leaving him out).

I'd attend regularly if 80% of the members were not in late stages of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

I figure that's less of a problem for you.

Robert Hudson said...

Dude, do you really have to go there EVERY TIME? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

"And if Schuyler ever has any questions about Jesus, she's more than welcome to ask me."

I'l bet if Schuyler ever has any questions about Jesus, she can ask Julie or Rob.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, I'm an No-to-Jesus kind of gal myself, and I might try just to get to be chided by a giant chicken. That sounds kind of fun.

Unknown said...

Hi Rob,
Strangely enough, angels don't really have anything to do with religion. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all mention angels in their sacred texts. I'm not a religious person at all, I even refer to myself as an "Escaped Catholic" but angels have been part of my life for as far back as I can remember. I've had experiences and seen things that I can't explain any other way but to accept and believe.

I've learned amazing things from angels over the years, but the thing that I think is relevant to you is that "religion" is a human construct. God/Creator/Divine Source/Invisible Pink Unicorn/Whatever you want to call It is not a human construct. Some people can lift themselves above all the petty human bullshit and see the truth; that we are all connected, that we are all Divine. We call those people "enlightened"

Anyone can start a religion. You don't have to be enlightened or even particularly spiritually aware. But anyone who tries to tell someone what to believe or "save someones soul" is misguided. Not wrong necessarily, just misguided and I think that you are wise to protect Schuyler from them. Everyone's soul is eternal, divine and fine the way it is.

I think that you and Julie are some bad mamma jammas and I have an incredible amount of respect for the faith and strength that you have demonstrated for all of us to see. Schuyler has excellent role models in the two of you who are so dedicated to helping her fully acutalize her incredible potential to affect the world. Thank you!

The Sasquatch said...

Something about getting into a fight with a giant chicken reminds me of the chicken fights from Family Guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpoki4wBwtA).

If that happens, record it and put it on youtube, because that would be awesome.

Monroegirl said...

Wow...another agnostic in the world...imagine, a father of a special needs child being agnostic...needing proof! Hello! Sounds very familiar, as that's what we are in this house. I've never seen a more unaccepting community than the religious ones we've had to visit over the years...they don't know which box to put the drooling, non-verbal, hyperactive kid in, so they sigh and cluck at us and raise their eyebrows when we've had to attend a service for some reason or another...I feel your pain. So nice to see someone not afraid to question organized religion. I see it as a sign of intelligence, not a sign that you are deficient in any way. Kudos to you and your wife; your daughter will have a much more well-rounded view of life and Sunday mornings (or Saturday nights) than most people will, and her brain will thank you for it, polymicrogyria be damned!

Allison said...


Of course Schuyler can ask Rob and Julie about Jesus. Did I say anything like "Schuyler should *ONLY* talk to Christians about Jesus?" No, I didn't. It was a simple offer from a believer to a non-believer.

Anonymous said...

Children transition out of imaginary or magical thinking at about age 7-years, typically. You might be underestimating her understanding of fairies, devils and monsters. I doubt explaining angels will influence her towards beliefs you don't hold yourself - as your relationship-influence is strong.

It might be worth recognizing the influence of other children at school, too. I don't think children should evangelize at school, but it happens. They also wear clothes with decision and question others about their decisions. Pretty concrete, but opinions begin to be formed, and easily segues into costumes for Halloween.

Anonymous said...

As a (former) evangelical (still a Christian, just not shoving it down poeple's throats), I doubt a simple and polite "No, thank you" will dissuade a proselytizer who sees Schuyler as a perfect target. I imagine that being faced with someone who doesn't take her "No, thank you" seriously will piss her off mightily. Score 1 for No Jesus.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a little late to this, but want to say that I appreciate and enjoy your thought-provoking posts.

comfortably souther said...

Good grief folks, it is just a sticker! This is a little over the top to have a Jesus bashing over a sticker of an angel. Seriously? Rob, I really don't care what your beliefs are. Your daughter is a precious soul and I do pray for her and your family, to Jesus, regularly. I am not crazy and will never force my beliefs or religion on you but I do hope that one day you will quit blaming God.

Robert Hudson said...

A Jesus bashing? That's really what you got from this? Really? And at what point did I make a big deal out of the sticker? I think I made rather the opposite point.

Having said that, I think it's extremely disingenuous to express dismay over concern about a "mere" symbol like an angel sticker. As an apparently devout Christian, you should (and I suspect do) know better than most how potent symbols can be within a religious context.

That whole passive-aggressive "it's just one little sticker" argument won't fly. Symbols have as much power as we choose to give them. Which is why, if you read again, we chose to grant it as little power as possible.

I'd really like for you to quote the part where I am "Jesus bashing". Disparaging some dogmatic Christians, on the other hand? I can help you out there.

If your prayers are for us to find God, save them. We see his fingerprints every day. Do I blame God for Schuyler's situation? Hard to say, but he clearly has some explaining to do.

Nightfall said...

You and Julie are kind of like me and the Man of the House; he's a hardcore atheist and I'm something along the lines of a non-deist animist Quaker. ;-) And a longstanding member of the Church of the Big Good Wombat. Big Good Wombat lurves you...

Anonymous said...

Amen, Rodney.

Chaos Mom said...

i'm always very torn about the whole religion thing. myself, i'm christian. i believe. but i don't preach. and i find a lot of churches to be totally hypocritical. in some ways i'm also a big bohemian/hippy type. i figure that people need to be themselves, and as long as they are not hurting anyone, to let them be. so part of me ALWAYS wants to say, "but...what about GOD?!?" and the other part of me just wants everyone to be happy no matter how they choose to live their life. so when i read your post, part of me wanted to be all snotty and mention how much 'better off' everyone would be if they just BELIEVED!! but i really do understand and respect what you're saying. and i also respect the hell out of the fact that you are willing to let schuyler follow her own beliefs as she gets older, even if they are not the same as yours. i think the key is being open, and honest, and not judgemental.

just my two-bits on the whole topic.

mek said...

This is just an off-the-wall comment, maybe, as it has nothing to do with religion in the theologic sense...but jr high and high school english classes, and western lit in general, kind of presuppose a familiarity with the Judeo-Christian stories & symbols. From my perspective as an English teacher, it helps to have the background knowledge of the culture you're imbedded in - whether it is knowing the Jonah & the whale story or who John Henry is. (Hopefully...both!) You've got some time before the heavy lit comes, but it is out there!

stephanie said...

Actually being chided by a giant chicken would be terribly funny! Sorta like the "big red chicken" from Dora the explorer. Except in your case it would be the big white chicken with glasses and an attitude!

emjaybee said...

My son's three; angels do show up in books, or other places, now and then, and we treat them as imaginary beings like monsters, because he's three. Time enough for all that stuff later.

We do go to that Plano UU church locally that was mentioned, on occasion; they're good people.

Anonymous said...

We're a very secular household, my husband a lapsed Jew and myself - I'd like to be agnostic but really I think I'm an atheist. Anyway, I have found that my 7-yr-old has started coming home with comments like "God is the boss of everyone" that he has heard from his peers. So, what do I tell him? I don't necessarily want him to grow up an atheist, like you and your wife I want him to find his own path, so I don't say "There's really no such thing as God." But the answer, "Well, some people believe that, but others don't" sounds pretty wishy-washy to a 7-yr-old, especially up against the certainty of his second-grade classmate! This is a difficult topic!

Unknown said...

I don't know why it bugs me, but it does, probably because I live just a skip across Renner in Richardson and have never come face to face with any kind of Halloween costume intolerance, but unless Schuyler is dressed like a Hooter's girl, no judgments are likely to be made. No one is going to raise an eyebrow at a kid dressed as a devil or a witch or a monster or a vampire. You're not living on a fundamentalist Christian compound, for God's sake.

I teach English at two different Collin County colleges, and of my 100+ students this semester, I can count the number of conservative students on one hand.

It seems like you place waaaay more significance in worn out symbols of belief (or lack thereof) than they warrant. Images (and costumes) of Angels and devils are so popularly iconic that they don't particularly serve as religious (or anti-religious) messengers.

Relax, help your kid get some candy, and let her Halloween costume be just that: a costume.

Not everything is so hugely significant.

Robert Hudson said...

Erica, no offense to Richardson, but it's not Plano, and it's CERTAINLY not Frisco or Allen, where she plays soccer and baseball. That short trip across Renner is into a whole different world.

I do have to congratulate you, though. You may be the first person to ever argue that Plano isn't THAT conservative. I suspect your experience with young college students might just be a little different than ours with the soccer moms. In fact, I'd bank on it.

Robert Hudson said...

This is actually a fairly good article about Plano. It paints a more nuanced picture of the city than I do, without completely disregarding my points.

The short version is that there's not so much intolerance against non-Christian (or more accurately non-religious) people so much as a lack of understanding.

Which is fine with me. We like it here. We don't always fit, but more often than not we do okay, and we've met some really great people here who are pretty typical, mostly conservative, Christian Planoites.

So there you go. Fair without whitewashing.

Anonymous said...

Really? 6'2"? That's taller than I'd pictured for some reason. Does that include your chicken comb?

Annie B. said...

Very interesting article on Plano.

Since moving to Plano 3 years ago from Southern California, I have developed somewhat of a "love/hate relationship" with our new community. I think it can be such a contradiction and contrast at times. That does, though, create alot of teaching moments with our teenage daughters. . .discussions about what is important and what is not. . .that WHO you are is more important than WHAT you have. (One of the reasons we did not want live in West Plano.) (Although we know some perfectly lovely people who live there)

"Simultaneously cosmopolitan and traditional" is a good description. I also thought paragraphs 14-17 of the article were quite accurate. . .at least to our experience.

(Erica, it sounds like we may be neighbors. . .we are on the north side of George Bush off of Custer.)

Switch subject. . .Rob, which issue of Plano Profile has your article? An upcoming issue or the current one? ( I can't put my hands on the current issue at the moment.)

Sign me. . .a minivan driving, part-time working, conservative, church-going wife and mom in Plano. . .who also happens to have a taste for aged balsamic vinegar.

Robert Hudson said...

It's the November issue, I think it just came out.

Anonymous said...

Somebody put an ANGEL sticker on your daughter's communication device???
Why, those BASTARDS!
What were they thinking, introducing an innocent child to angels? I'm physically ill just thinking of it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hudson, its one thing to choose eternal damnation for yourself, but do you really want that for your daughter too? Think about it!

Anonymous said...

Revelation 3:16

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Anonymous said...

Amen to Anonymous at 9:27 AM.
Think about it Rob.

Robert Hudson said...

God, I love the internet...

Anonymous said...

Angels No.
Devils Yes.
I'm glad you have your priorities straight. Devils are much cooler than angels. It's fun to rebel and shock those boring uncool Plano folks, isn't it?
I should know about rebellion. LOL!
Keep up the good work!
-Love, Lucifer

Robert Hudson said...

Seriously. I just got LOL'd by the devil. It's a beautiful morning.

stephanie said...

Ok seriously. Anonymous 9:27 - just because Rob isn't exposing his child to religion at this age he is choosing eternal damnation for her?

Excuse me - but what the hell kind of "Christian" are you?

Ooooooh the nutbars are all out today Rob - and Lucifer too!

I absolutely love the fact that when people know they are saying something inapropriate they post anonymously. Cowards.

Ceedy said...

Psalms 101:5 - Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence.

At least have the courage to sign your posts instead of hiding being the veil of anonymity. Sheesh; you'd think that, of all folks, Lucifer would have a Google account or two.

Kate said...

1. Rob, I think the first deity in Schuyler's theological journey should be the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (I hear it, Jesus and Vishnu have a poker night on Tuesdays.)

2. Since when is an 8 year old DAMNED TO HELL because she hasn't heard the Good News YET?? What, kids have to be inculcated at birth for salvation to count? Yeesh, Lolcifer, chill out.

3. I'm taking roughly the same approach with my daughter. We are two lapsed Catholic heathens who go through the motions at holiday time... but we read the storybooks MIL sends (Jonah and the Whale, Noah's Ark, Veggie Tales, Hermie & Friends) and she's free to ask as many questions as she likes regarding God and Jesus, etc. She's six. She puts faeries, angels and butterflies in the same category, and most of the time a simple answer is met with an "Okay! Can I have some Cheetos?"

Rob, as long as you're doing what works for you and Julie (and Schuyler) then good for you.

P.S. I'd love to have had a dad secure enough to transform into a 6'2 chicken at my request.

Kelly said...

Rob, I really like you a lot (from what I read) and I totally respect your religious views and the choices you and Julie make for your family.

Honestly... aren't you really making a bigger deal out of this than is necessary? It was just a sticker of an angel. And angels aren't always a symbol of religion. Just look at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for instance. And Shuyler thought it was a fairy anyway.

Unless I mis-read this somewhere, and they stuck a bible verse underneath the sticker, I really don't see why the sticker would give you pause or make you concerned that people are trying to shove religion down your daughter's throat.

In regards to the bigger picture in that eventually you will need to explain religion and your religious beliefs to Schuyler... I am positive you and Julie will handle that with grace and leave your daughter to make her own decisions.

Anonymous said...

Ok ~ this is really getting scary! and funny, love the comment from Lucifer!

I was raised Catholic, although I don't think that counts as Christian anymore. I must say we found it really funny funny when one three year old said 'look mommy a scarecrow' when she saw a crucifix, and equally funny when they saw a stautues of saints (all marble) and said 'look at the spooky halloween decorations'. I guess my point is, I didn't correct them, because well because I'm the mommy that's why! back off the man Rob -- he doesn't want to introduce Jesus. Why!! because he's the Daddy that's why!


Anonymous said...

I didn't see the Postrel article as really adding to your point, Rob. If anything, it adds to Erica's: Plano might be a lot of things, but the one thing above all else that is respected and valued is doing what's best for children and families. That's why nobody would pick on a kid's Halloween costume -- Jesus has nothing to do with it.

Wanna be a Democrat or a Republican on your own time? Fine, just keep your political opinions out of the schools. Wanna be gay, or evangelical Christian, or both? Fine, just don't force that discussion onto our family before we decide we're ready for it.

And your suggestion that Frisco and Allen are somehow even more conservative... all I can say is, you don't spend enough time in those towns. Ideologically, culturally, socially, they are exactly like Plano -- throw in McKinney for the hat trick, and the whole area is one indistinguishable exurban mass.

Still, whether or not the angel sticker thing was truly significant or a total overreaction, it's yours to have, either way. Your kid = your inalienable right to get up in arms over whatever cause du jour affects her. Everyone has their entitlement. That's the true more of North Dallas.

Robert Hudson said...

Honestly... aren't you really making a bigger deal out of this than is necessary? It was just a sticker of an angel.

And I quote:

We didn't get too worked up about it, partly because we try not to be THOSE earnest, humorless Whole Foods liberals. I'm sure that whoever gave it to her didn't even think about it, much less set out to somehow evangelize to our daughter. Also, Schuyler thought it was a fairy anyway, so we even got to dodge the explanation.

It did start a larger discussion with Schuyler, though, about religion and what to say to anyone who decides to take it upon themselves to save our kid's immortal soul.

My whole point was that we weren't making a big deal out of the sticker, other than as the beginning of a larger discussion that has been ongoing for years anyway. I never intended for anyone to fixate on the sticker. But since we are, one more point:

Unless I mis-read this somewhere, and they stuck a bible verse underneath the sticker, I really don't see why the sticker would give you pause or make you concerned that people are trying to shove religion down your daughter's throat.

Schuyler attends a public school. The separation of church and state, no matter how "innocent", always gives me pause.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment, Rob, on your remark that God has some explaining to do.

Although this is a novel, not a work of fiction, I'd like to recommend the book THE SHACK by Wm. P. Young. This book has God doing some explaining. And it's quite interesting. I am a Christian and found this very thought provoking.

Hopefully, you and your readers will, too.

Anonymous said...

Since you are so pissed off at God all the time, how do you justify celebrating Christmas?

Robert Hudson said...

To make the Baby Jesus cry.

Jill393 said...

My husband says to tell you, Rob, we agree with you and you are doing the lord's work. If it didn't look cheesy for me to put a winking emoticon I would (because I am trying, really, to be ironic).

Anonymous said...

I skimmed the comments, so if I'm repeating someone, I apologize. I think you're doing the right thing. Religion and faith are hard subjects to discuss when you can communicate all your questions and concerns easily. Considering Schuyler's situation, waiting makes a lot of sense.

I'm a Christian, but even so I have chosen not to indoctrinate my kids. I tell them that my beliefs are just that, beliefs. In any other major decision, a child Schuyler's age would not be encouraged to make a lifetime commitment. She's not mature enough to smoke, drink, vote, drive, or marry. So why do we push kids to join churches, be saved, and make a life long, eternal-life long commitments? If it were anything other than God (or Allah, or Whomever), there would be no question that she's too young.

Claire said...

"Say no to Jesus and drugs!" That is brilliant.

Schyuler's devil costume reminds me of an answer I have given to Johovah's Witnesses (after hearing it on the radio)

JW: Do you believe in god?
Me: Of course!
JW: (Relieved look, about to say someting)
Me: Without god I wouldn't exsist.
JW: (Nodding empatically)

Me: For I am the Devil!

Loves Pickles said...

I heartily agree with you. I think religion is wrongly pushed onto young people. I think kids will start asking questions about spirituality when they are ready to know. People don't give kids enough credit: they know things. They set their own timelines. They can and will start to wonder about "more than this" stuff in due course. She's got plenty of time to wonder, investigate and decide, or not decide, how and IF she wants to be affiliated.

Hope you all have a fantastic Halloween!! Happy Hauntings ;)

Anonymous said...

You might enjoy reading the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Don't get your hopes up, though; it's not a dirty book.

Tina said...

I'm one who *has* gotten worked up over a little sticker when my kid came home from the county fair with a smiling teddy bear that said "My Mom Chose Life!" No bible verse, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume it was not an athiest who put it there...

I am a Christian and I was deeply offended by that one. Even Christians come in many shapes and forms and do not all have the same belief system. I don't want anyone sticking ANY of their religious views on my children thankyouverymuch.

Love your blog, but possibly love the comment section even more this time.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Hey Rob,

As an atheist who hopes to be a dad some day, I think that you have the right idea on how to handle this. It's slightly different than my own attitude, but not enough to make anything out of it. The bottom line is that we both believe in allowing the child to ultimately make the right decision.

mommytoalot said...

I really dont' see how the innocence of putting an angel sticker on her device is such a big deal. For someone who is agnostic you seem to over react quite abit over something so small.

Robert Hudson said...

mommytoalot said...
I really dont' see how the innocence of putting an angel sticker on her device is such a big deal. For someone who is agnostic you seem to over react quite abit over something so small.

You know what? I give up. I already quoted the part where I specifically said that we didn't make an issue out of the fucking sticker. It was a gateway to a larger conversation.

If you'd like to continue to pretend this is all about some crazy Jesus-hater hysterically overreacting about a sweet, innocent little angel sticker, knock your idiotic self out.

Setting up a strawman argument is a time-honored technique of avoiding larger issues, but the thing about that kind of approach is, it doesn't actually win your argument. It simply ends the conversation.

Kara Melissa said...

Many children are able to think critically long before we give them the opportunity to. I taught at an international school in London last year and one of our units of inquiry (it is a student-centered, inquiry based curriculum) was Cultures around the World and within this came the opportunity for students to share things important to them with the class while learning about their own cultural identity (which is a HUGE concept, even for an adult who has lived overseas for over 8 years). This included their belief systems, traditions, family trees. Basically where the students took the lesson it went. This was a grade 2 class.

Towards the end of the unit, I was walking behind three of my students and overhearing their conversation I was amazed at what they were gaining from the unit. They were all from different backgrounds and discussing what would happen after they died. They decided to meet at each others graves and have a party. This was coming from one kid unsure of his belief system, one kid who was Christian and one atheist. Although they are essentially following their parents belief systems, their ability to have this conversation demonstrated how they think critically about such subjects and apply it to their own level of understanding. This unit would set them up to take a unit in grade 4 about Beliefs (this is not a religious based unit but covers things from religion to environment, etc).

The thing that amazed me about the three boys discussing their after death party was that one of the boys was a 'Christian' in the beginning of the unit but now was unsure. This was based on the fact that he was learning about the world around him and discussing it with his peers and the adults in his life.

Robert Hudson said...

And that's exactly what we want to happen for Schuyler. When she's ready, we're going to be the ones to lead her through that process. Could we be wrong about whether or not she's ready now? Well, of course we could.

But I'm going to be a little arrogant for a moment and point out that we've been pretty good judges of Schuyler's capabilities in the past. We're going to continue to trust our instincts in this.

When she's ready, though, I think she's going to thrive on the kind of self-determination you're talking about. And I suspect that day is coming, sooner than later.

mommytoalot said...

Wow.. a little touchy then aren't you.
sorry to have missed that part.

Robert Hudson said...

mommytoalot said...
Wow.. a little touchy then aren't you.
sorry to have missed that part.

Right. Clearly the issue here is that I'm "touchy".

Nicole P said...

Rob -

I'm sure that Schuyler has some understanding of what some people refer to as "god." We all did at her age - maybe even earlier. Early on - we see things growing and living and we see things dying. We feel love and we see/feel(unfortunately) hatred. As humans, it's hard to avoid the "divinity" in our everyday existence. She may have already started to wonder and think about what she will or will not believe. But then you add the lines that we humans draw around and between us based on what language we use to talk about/define what we believe. And it gets ugly. Complicated.

You're right on, understanding the complexities of multiple belief systems - whether it's atheism, agnosticism, christianity, any number of eastern theologies/philosophies. Most of us, as adults, can't get our heads around it - how can we possibly expect our children to grasp it?

Before any one attacks me - I am by no means suggesting that children can't understand "god." I am saying that children, before a certain age, can't differentiate between the countless belief systems that exist in our world. Anyone who thinks their child "gets" why they're at mass every Sunday or why they're sitting in temple or why they're standing outside of a grocery store handing out pamphlets that say "Jesus Saves" is fooling themself. Children may understand that there is "good" and there is "bad" and there is a queasy feeling in their stomach when certain things happen and there is beauty around us in everything that lives and there may even be beauty in something that's still and lifeless. But children often don't - and shouldn't be expected to - understand and practice ritual and rite based solely on their parents choices and beliefs.

I am thankful to have had parents who, when I got sent home from Catholic School, on more than one occasion for asking the "wrong questions," (ie: Where were the dinosaurs on Noah's Ark? Why even put that tree in the Garden of Eden if no one could eat from it?) never scolded me for it. They let me feel my way through their religion. And when I made a choice of my own (I'm agnostic too), there was no judgment - there was no anger. What they had was the knowledge that they'd taught me to be a good, upright, loving person with an understanding of the world that belongs to me. And that was enough - for them - AND for me.

That's what I think you'll give Schuyler. And it will most certainly be enough.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading your book and decided for the first time ever to go on a blog. I was fascinated by your story and am full of admiration for your daughter. I know, too, that your love for her has been the foundation of her being able to have her wonderful sense of self - that, and your and your wife's determination that you know her best and can be her best advocates.

I have also been fascinated by the responses to this particular talking point. Never having seen a blog before. I am both interested and frustrated by people's (and your)responses.

Since I've ended up here, I thought I'd contribute a response, too! In reading your book, I've been struck by what a complex person you are and would like to hazard a guess that your complicated reaction to God, whom you definitely seem to believe in, might be related to your very complicated feelings for your father.(Since even those of us who try very hard not to, persist in having an anthropomorphic concept of God!) There is a definite difference in my mind between what God causes to happen and what God allows to happen for His own purposes. I think you and your family are one of the best examples I have seen of how God has brought an infinite amount of good out of something that appeared to be evil. It thrills me to know how not only your daughter but many others will see much more abundant lives because of the circumstances brought together when your daughter was formed in the womb. The thing that makes your daughter the wonderful person she is, is her disability interacting with the unique personality God gave her. She wouldn't be your Schuyler without both things. I believe this with all my heart, but that doesn't in any way minimize the difficulty of the road you're traveling. God has never said this life would be easy, and His people have been promised suffering. After all, no-one can claim that this world is Paradise!! We tend to see it in a different way if we are Christians, but that doesn't take away the human pain!

I certainly will be praying for the three of you whenever I think of you that the very best God has for you will come to be! I understand that the reason the angel sticker caused you to make this entry is that you are serious about a dilemma.


Brian said...

Interesting reading. So if mom and dad do not believe in God and ultimately going to hell due to there belief system are they prepared to allow there child to face the same fate due to there lack of belief in God. Now off course the reply will probably be that there is no hell. Well what if there was would you take the chance of sending her there

Robert Hudson said...

Now off course the reply will probably be that there is no hell.

Am I supposed to be frightened into forcing my child to worship your god, just to be on the safe side? Is that really the spiritual basis of your belief system? And am I really supposed to believe in a god who would punish a little girl (beyond the shitty treatment he has already given her) because of the beliefs of her parents?

You can keep that god, Paster Brian. In my world, we call him the Boogeyman.

Brian said...

My real prayer is that she does get introduced to God through Christ and does not take on your unbelief or belief in the boogeyman (the devil).
Do you actually know that we are made up of more than the body and the mind. And that there is a real after life or continuance of life if you wish.
God does not go around punishing us by the way. Most of the time it is ourselves for lack of faith in God. Other times it is the devil running mankind in circles.
God really does love you but righteousness (God) and unrighteousness (us) cannot live together in one place unless redeemed

Robert Hudson said...

Gotcha. It's funny, though, how your God sounds a lot more like the Devil. "Believe in me or else." I think we'll pass.

Brian said...

I think you are battling with the reality of a father image.
I say this in this context;
You seem to be super protective that no harm comes to your daughter. You dont want her to be hurt by any evil like sickness, poverty or becoming a thief or prostitute for that matter. I am sure that you want no harm to come to her at all especially none of the above. You will instruct,prevent and keep her from all harm. I am sure as well that you never wished or put any of the above on her
Now God is just the same.
If we are going to blame God for everything then maybe we should look at our own lives first. God said He set before us life and death we choose.
Cause and eefect
Now Go