I was listening to NPR today and there was an interview with Julia Sweeney about her new one woman show, “Letting Go of God.” She was discussing her change from Catholicism to atheism. One of the questions she was asked was basically, “Are there any traditions that you had as a child growing up in a Catholic home that you wish your child had growing up in an atheist home?”
I’ve thought about this one. I’ll be raising the potential child in a totally different way than I was raised. In a way I think she’ll be missing out on some good stuff. I think she’ll be gaining a lot of good also but at times I’ve thought about the things that I take for granted that she won’t know.
1. Every time I walk into Hobby Lobby (and that’s disturbingly often) they are playing instrumental hymns. I immediately know all the words to every one. It is like Christian Name that Tune. It is actually annoying and I wish they played something different but it is a whole body of knowledge that my child won’t have.
2. Cultural touchstones – Biblical references are everywhere. I’m used to just looking at people who have no idea of the origin of stories or sayings with a mixture of disbelief and pity. Want to know all about the Biblical allusions in Moby Dick? I can give you the background. Need to realize that “God helps those who help themselves” is not actually in the Bible? I’m your girl. Don’t understand why people on the news keep referring to Sodom and Gomorrah? I’ll fill you in. Again it is a body of knowledge that she won’t have.
None of these are of life or death importance on their own but it just seems odd to me. Should I have a book of kids’ Bible stories so she understands the cultural significance? I’ve thought about this for a while and haven’t come up with a satisfactory answer. I’m a big fan of knowledge for the sake of knowledge so the idea of purposely not teaching something bothers me a bit.