In my early 20s, I dated a man who, when asked whether he believed in God, said: ‘I believe in me.’ He was a good, kind, smart man; the type who grew herbs on his windowsill and played trombone in a jazz band and coached a kids’ soccer team. Total marriage material. But I knew in that instant it would never work between us.
I am a person of deep faith: a preacher’s kid, a yoga teacher, and a meditation geek with a master’s degree in systematic theology. I’ve spent my whole life belly-deep in the spiritual world. So raising a tiny person of faith shouldn’t be so hard.
But, dammit; it is.
I don’t know what to do about church for my kid. Studies show I’m not alone. Youth are fleeing the organized church in droves. Millennials are increasingly raising their children as “nones.” Self-identified atheism has doubled among Generation Z. And mainline Protestant denominations are famously flailing.
Spiritual trauma and toxic theology run rampant. Between the United Methodist Church’s recent upholding of the ban on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ ministers, the Catholic Church’s ongoing revelations of pedophilia horror, and the Southern Baptists’ February unveiling of vast child abuse, why would any reasonably progressive parent choose to send their child (alone!) into a church basement?
There’s no question that I want to raise my son with a deep spiritual practice and a reverence for mystery. But where to find a religious upbringing he doesn’t have to unlearn?