WARNING: I'm probably going to be dropping some borderline sacrilegious stuff here before this post is finished. But I want to make it clear from the start that I have great big giant slabs of respect for the Mormon Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Assemblies of God, and all faithful practitioners thereof.
Adolescence is all about discovering yourself. And part of discovering yourself is trying on things that you’re pretty sure are going to freak your parents out. For me it was boxers that hung down below the end of my soccer shorts. For Corinne it was thermal long johns under her cheerleading uniform. And for Josie, evidently, it’s magic underwear.
No, I’m kidding. (They’re nowhere close to letting her wear temple garments yet.) Josie was baptized this past weekend into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Okay, that was flippant and rude. I mean, like I said, I really do have respect for the LDS Church. I grew up with (and still hold) a reverent fear of the Catholic Church. And aside from the no booze thing, I think I'm getting along pretty well so far with the Assemblies of God.
I do have trouble with some of the doctrines, principles and practices of each. But each is an honest, passionate, faith-based route toward God. And, in the end, I think that’s the important thing. You gotta believe in something. As the brilliant Walter Sobchak put it, “Nihilists?! F*ck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.”
I know that makes me sound kind of theologically wishy-washy. I guess my views on structured religion are influenced by my own fallible humanity. See, I’m an idiot. And I know I’m not alone in that. To one degree or another, we’re all idiots.
Soooo, while I do believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God*…I also believe that it was transcribed by humans. Passionate, reverent, faithful humans – but humans nonetheless.
I’m confident that God has spoken to quite a few humans (and probably a few dinosaurs too). And some of those humans probably got their parts right. Others probably garbled the translations a bit. Humans mess things up.
Problem is, we don’t know which parts are which. So the safest course is to assume it’s all divinely inspired and accurate but that some parts are just a little wacky. And where there’s wacky, you’ll get “smart” people who’ll insist on explaining things. And that’s where competing theologies begin to develop.
Given that, do I worry that Josie has chosen a church other than the one her mom and I attend? Honestly, no. (At least she’s choosing a church! I would love to see Erin come to the same conclusion.)
I do worry a little about her reasoning and her timing. Is she joining the church now in a star-crossed effort to hold onto her boyfriend as he packs for his mission trip? Seems likely to me.
But so what if she is? If it doesn’t work out with her boyfriend, she’s “wasted” many hours in church developing her own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Beats the heck out of squandering that same number of hours in front of the PS3 like her brothers would.
So congratulations, Josie! Your mom and I are both proud of you for expressing an interest in exploring faith. Just a word of advice though: don’t let this youthful rebellion thing off the hook quite so simply. As youthful rebellions go, I know you can (and you should) do better.
Being 19 should mean doing some stupid, fun stuff. I’m not requesting that you start dabbling in chemicals and prancing about promiscuously. I’d love it if your stupid fun stuff happened to also be safe and legal.
Dye your hair purple. Try Jeep skiing this winter. Cut classes and road trip to Chicago with friends for a long weekend. Find something so fun that you know you’re going to get yelled at for it…but it’s still worth doing.
As Gardner Barnes so eloquently put it, “Here’s to [you], and the privileges of youth!”
*I have respect for faithful followers of religions outside Christianity as well. I believe what I believe – but I can’t bring myself to believe that a good person who honestly lives by another creed will be damned to eternal misery for picking wrong.