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Old 12-24-2005, 10:18 PM
RainDog RainDog is offline
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Default On Holidays, Family, and Church

Brief backround: I'm a 23 year old Agnostic (or close enough for the sake of this post) visiting family in California for the holidays. My family history is Catholic, but my mother has gone the route of generic Christianity (as has much of her side of the family). My step-father has recently joined the Christian crew around the age of 55 after his father passed away (who also "found God" late in life). They attend church weekly. I myself have not attended a proper church gathering other than for funeral reasons since I was around 10 years old.

Now for the questions; these are directed towards atheists and non-atheists alike but please state where you are coming from in your responses.

My mother and aunt gave some polite pleading for me to go along to church on Christmas eve. You know, the "it would mean a lot to me" kind of arguments. My step-father on the other hand asked in a subtle yet optimistic fashion, "You're going with us?". When I affirmed the negative he gave a polite but not completely guilt free, "Oh, not your thing huh?".

So I decided not to go along. Now I don't mind attending church for the purpose of quality time with the family in order to make my mother a little happier. But if the reason that it's important for her has anything to do with hopes of me becoming a good Christian, then I feel it would be misleading for me to do so. I also can't help but feel a little dishonest sitting in a church gathering. This doesn't mean I have never gone to a church in the past 15 years or so. I've visited plenty traveling around the world and have found an appreciation for the various faiths others hold. I also admire the beauty and aesthetic value of churches and their architecture (something I'm disappointed that the Protestant crowd has abandoned). Places of religion, even though I don't necessarily follow a particular faith, provide me with a tranquil atmosphere for thought and reflection.

I do have other non-religious family members that have abstained from these family religious outings.

To Atheists and the like: Should I feel guilty for not appeasing my parents and just going along? Would it be a contradiction to my values (or your values, since I can't really place you in my shoes)? Would it be fair to genuine believers to "play" religious when I really think it's all a farce?

To the religious crowd: If it were a son or daughter of yours, how would you feel about them not coming along? If it would bother you, please state your reasoning. Is it because you have hopes of conversion, or would you just like them to be there with you during the special case of the Holidays?

Thanks and Happy Holidays to you all
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

[ QUOTE ]
To the religious crowd: If it were a son or daughter of yours, how would you feel about them not coming along?

[/ QUOTE ]

I suppose I would feel as though I failed as a parent.

My reason for that lies in the fact that (I believe) most fathers want a child who emulates their values, morals, ethics, traditions, and dreams. To a large extent, this happens, both naturally (as the saying goes, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree") and not (the raising of a child, beginning with the teaching of right and wrong).

The life and teachings of Jesus Christ, though not always in practice 100% (nor should that be expected) fall under the "my values" category, which, if not successfully transmitted through the gene pool would, as I said, leave me with a feeling of failure.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:44 PM
bocablkr bocablkr is offline
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

Staying true to yourself is what really matters. Your family should understand that. You can go out of your way to spend 'family time' with them later. Keep up the non-faith.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:45 PM
New001 New001 is offline
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

See, I don't understand this at all, and I bet it's a big reason of why I am not religious at all. Whenever I end up raising a child, I would be happy if he (or she) decided for himself what he should believe. It would exhibit to me a higher level of thinking than just "My daddy did this so I will too."

To the OP, I think it's fine that you aren't going along. I probably wouldn't either, because it would make me incredibly uncomfortable, and I think it's selfish for them to pressure you to come along with them. Maybe offer to spend some time with them elsewhere? A nice dinner, or a movie, or something? That way, you're still spending time with your family, but it's not in a religious setting.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

[ QUOTE ]
It would exhibit to me a higher level of thinking than just "My daddy did this so I will too."


[/ QUOTE ]

To what is extent is a son wishing to emulate his father a lesser level of thinking?
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:57 PM
New001 New001 is offline
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
It would exhibit to me a higher level of thinking than just "My daddy did this so I will too."


[/ QUOTE ]

To what is extent is a son wishing to emulate his father a lesser level of thinking?

[/ QUOTE ]
You don't think that coming to your own conclusion about the world isn't a little more advanced than doing what your father does because your father does it?
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

[ QUOTE ]
Whenever I end up raising a child, I would be happy if he (or she) decided for himself what he should believe.

[/ QUOTE ]

I beg to differ. You would be very upset if your son came to believe that murder, rape, and theft were A-OK.

From the get-go, a value/belief system will be imparted by you, whether you like it or not, and since I suspect that you believe murder, rape, and theft to be wrong, you will be quite pleased when your son comes to the same conclusions as an independent thinking man (if you succeeded as a father, that is).

Hence, this has nothing to do with why you are not religious.
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

[ QUOTE ]
You don't think that coming to your own conclusion about the world isn't a little more advanced than doing what your father does because your father does it?

[/ QUOTE ]

Becoming one's own man is a process that does not automatically imply the abandonment of fatherly emulation. If a son who admires his Dad so much that he wishes to emulate his father to whatever extent (a desire amongst many fathers I'm sure), this does not automatically imply that the son has stagnated intellectually.
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:13 PM
New001 New001 is offline
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

Clearly my statement was about religion, not whether he becomes a criminal. Disdain for "murder, rape, and theft" is shared by more than just religion.

You're right in that a parent's values will be passed on to his children, and that's a good thing. Children often lack the ability to make "correct" decisions, though I'm sure there's a better way to say that. Then, as they age, they can decide for themselves.

I would hope that my son comes to his own conclusions, whether or not I agree with them. I'm not going to gauge my success as a father on whether or not he comes to the same conclusions as me, but (and not solely) whether he came to logical conclusions.
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:17 PM
New001 New001 is offline
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Default Re: On Holidays, Family, and Church

[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
You don't think that coming to your own conclusion about the world isn't a little more advanced than doing what your father does because your father does it?

[/ QUOTE ]

Becoming one's own man is a process that does not automatically imply the abandonment of fatherly emulation. If a son who admires his Dad so much that he wishes to emulate his father to whatever extent (a desire amongst many fathers I'm sure), this does not automatically imply that the son has stagnated intellectually.

[/ QUOTE ]
If I wanted to become a musician (my father's occupation as I grew up), then I can. If I wanted to be Buddhist (his religion), I can. Either of those decisions are going to be made based on what I think is best for me and my life, or my family, or my future, not because it's what my father did.

And what if I do decide to emulate my father? Good for me. I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm just saying that I would hope any son I raise will look at other options and decide for himself what's best.
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