Tuesday, January 22, 2008

shirt and tie

I dreamed a dream...

I was at my parents' house in Utah, and lots of extended family was there too. It was a Saturday evening. I walked into the living room to find at least a dozen family memories hanging about. I saw my son in the center of room, playing with three of his male cousins. I saw with annoyance that all of the boys had on white shirts and ties, as if in preparation for church, including my son. (Who had a Star Wars tie on, to his delight.) I could see he was enjoying the group uniform, the feeling of being one of the crowd. Obviously, one of the adult members of the family had decided to introduce this particularity of the Mormon church to my son, as if grooming him for more exposure to the One and True Living Gospel.

As I stood there steaming about it, my dad asked me, right in front of everyone, "When you are going to have Little FTA baptized?" My son is a couple years away from the Age of Accountability still, but in the dream, he was just old enough. Just old enough that people were wondering when the date of the baptism would be.

Just after my dad asked that question, my husband came and stood by my side. I answered, "Not until he's 18, if he wants to at all." That created quite a ripple through the crowd, and I left the room, only to be hounded by others about why we would wait so long. The dream ended.

Now I have to think, how would I answer?


-We feel that childhood is not the appropriate time to join a church, any more than it is the time to join a political party.

-We're not going to baptize him. And, no, you can't baptize him either.

-Little FTA doesn't believe in god.


Nomoxian said...

he's good to have strong parents like you... i was seriously doubting god at age 8 but got dunked because "it was the thing to do"

Phoenix Touch said...

I am imagining that the moment will come when this very conversation takes place. It's inevitable.

My daughter turned eight the year I had my name removed from the records of the church. I told no one in my family for a long time afterwards that I had left the church. My father, being huge into the religion, knew I had no husband so the responsibility of getting her baptized would fall to her. He would NOT give up on the idea.

I finally relented and allowed her to go to church with them. She came home and said, "I never want to go back there. It's weird." Thus, it was her decision, not mine, at age eight to not get baptized.

I believe that, given ALL the information and not just that which the church wants them to know, our eight-year-olds are bright enough to follow their intuition and make the decision for themselves.

hm-uk said...


I'm sure that if I was in your position that (theoretically) I would want to say something like, "Now that FTA can be held accountable, he can decide for himself if and when he'd ever want to be baptised. I can no more decide for him than to remove his accountability, right?"

Good luck. I'm sure that if this topic ever arises that you will have something intelligent, compassionate and wise to say to those who question you...

Becca said...

I was raised Anglican and we were baptised at birth and then "confirmed" at 12 or so, but it was still too young. we had to take classes to make sure we understood what we were agreeing to, but i was still doing it just because everyone did...its silly to expect any kid to make a decision like that.

Mai said...

Oh, boy! My opportunity to tell another Mani and Sandeep story:

Sandeep begged his Dad to let him take amrit (become a Khalsa, the Sikh initiation, baptism) from the time he was about 7. But every time he asked, Mani firmly said, 'No, you're not ready.' One day, in early November, 1984, he said to his Dad, 'I need to take amrit,' and Dad agreed, not because of the circumstances, but because instead of asking, Sandeep told him. It had to be him own need and his own decision. And it was.

FTA, since we met because of the turban I think you might be interested in this article. It's the second article under Op-Ed.


Anonymous said...

The one fear I have is that my baises will affect my kids. They need to learn and think for themselves and not just because I believe something. How do I teach my kids HOW to think without teaching them WHAT to think?

notpotable said...

Social pressure can be incredibly strong, and can certainly outweigh logic and rationality, for children and adults.

from the ashes said...

Thanks for all your thoughts!

I'm sure when the real moment comes, I will say something reasonable and nice, but firm. There's not a chance we'll buckle under the pressure and allow him to be baptized--no way.

Yesterday, he and I were looking through a scrapbook and found a program with picture of someone getting baptized, from his uncle's own baptism. DS asked what it was all about it, and I explained shortly that many churches have a ceremony involving water, either dunking or sprinkling, that shows you join their church. He asked, "You get dunked all the way under?" I said, yes, that's what I did when I was eight. He said, "I don't want to do that!" More out of fear of being dunked than anything, really. I told him not to worry; he won't have to do that.

An Enlightened Fairy said...

Been here, done this, unfortunately it wasn't a dream.
I told my parents the same things you mentioned. My mother was quite upset when I told her that my children were free to join any religion they wanted when they're old enough to understand the consequence of their actions and the beliefs of the organization. I pulled the "when he's an adult, he can make his own decisions about church" card. Something I was told time and time again when it came to the fact that I HAD to attend church.
Didn't go over well, but we're used to that drama, right?
Love the dream.