I wrote recently about resources parents can draw on for their kids' religious formation, but, the thing is, there's a bigger issue than resources at stake for me. I mean, I have more theological training than most ordained pastors--I am and always will be a walking theological resource for them. But I want more for my kids than what I can teach them. I want my kids to grow up in religious community. And it'll take a serious leap of faith for me to stick them in religious community and trust that they'll be formed well.
I grew up Roman Catholic. I have a Master's degree in Roman Catholic theology. The easiest thing would be to stick them in Catholic Sunday School and correct whatever they're taught that strikes me as off-base or wrong. In fact, that was my plan before I had kids.
In the last year, though, I've come to the realization that pragmatism won't be able to overcome one vitally important fact: the Roman Catholic Church isn't good enough for my daughters.
I don't want my daughters to grow up in a faith tradition where only men are allowed to do the most important things, like acting in persona Christi to say the consecrating prayers over the bread and wine. I want my daughters to look to the center of the action in religious services and see a woman leading, rather than making way for a man.
I don't want my daughters to hear weekly Mass readings that systematically exclude women. I want my daughters to hear regular references to the many bible stories featuring women who do awesome, even outlandish things.
I don't want my daughters to have to fight their way into the idea that women can do anything men can, especially in a truth-charged religious context. I want them to be empowered by everything they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch in their religious formation.
The thing I've learned as a follower of Jesus is that Roman Catholics aren't the only ones who do Christianity wrong. Christianity has evolved into an exclusivistic club where you have to buy into Jesus as the sole son of (a male) God to get the most grace.
I don't buy it. Christian creeds alone aren't good enough for my daughters.
I do want my kids to learn about Jesus and all the ways he broke the status quo of his religious context--that's critically important to me. I also want them to see beyond what Jesus' followers have canonized and creedalized as right and good. I want them to know that Jesus was born Jewish and died Jewish. I want them to know that Jesus wasn't out to start a new religion--that what he was really doing was being an extraordinary interpreter of Torah. You know, the way rabbis often are.
I want them to dance in the presence of God the way the people at Chochmat HaLev did at their High Holy Day services earlier this month. I want them to laugh and sing out in the presence of Goddess. I want them to regard all places and creatures as holy, and that "more holy" or "less holy" are labels that can only apply to one's actions. I want them to learn that God is both-gendered and beyond gender. I want them to learn that they are sacred bodies as ancient and substantial and changing as the stars, not merely immortal souls as immaterial as infinity. I want them to see how extraordinary--even divine--Jesus is (and isn't). And I want them to see how extraordinary--and divine--they aren't and are.
So maybe I'll take them to a Christian church, and maybe I'll also take them to a Jewish synagogue. Maybe I'll choose a Christian place that rehearses radically and intentionally inclusive table fellowship in its liturgy, and maybe I'll choose a Jewish place in which all are welcome to dance with and kiss and learn and interpret Torah. And maybe both of the religious communities I choose will be led by women as awesome as my daughters are.
Because that would be good enough for my daughters.
This post was originally featured at parentwin.com.