Author Topic: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home  (Read 10674 times)

BlueHouse

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #100 on: March 08, 2017, 11:34:05 AM »
FWIW, my money is on HS bullshit.  You should mentally thank your SIL for demonstrating that being raised religious is no guarantee of becoming a good person.

Honestly, the question itself is insulting.  There are billions of people on this earth who have grown up without religion of any sort, much less evangelical Christianity.  The implicit assumption that they therefore must be inherently immoral, barring some sort of miracle, is narrow-minded, sad, and offensive. 

My opinion on this is formed from my conviction that if God didn't exist, we'd have invented Him anyway.  In order for humankind to populate the earth and become the dominant species, we needed to learn to work together in larger and larger communities.  That requires generally-understood and -followed codes of conduct, empathy, shared sacrifice, doing unto others, and all of that.  These rules can be conveyed and enforced by secular rulers or by religious ones, with equal effectiveness.  The universality of many concepts across many religions underscores this for me:  they are, at heart, the very foundations of our society.  The difference today is that religions make it easier to accept a pre-selected series of rules and behaviors, if you are so inclined; if you do not subscribe, you must develop your core principles yourself.  Both ways have pros and cons, and neither is a guarantee of success.

FWIW, I was raised atheist, joined the Episcopalian church in HS, faded away over the years, married a Jewish man, and now take our kids to a Reconstructionist synagogue.  I like our synagogue because the main tenets are strikingly similar to those I was attracted to as a teen, minus the Jesus bit.  I have known both good and bad people, in both religious and unreligious categories.  I would currently classify myself as agnostic -- at heart, I don't have the faith the truly religious have, but I wish I did; I don't really believe but would love more than anything to be proven wrong.  My vision of God is that, if He exists, He is far, far greater than any human mind can comprehend in full, and so all of the various religions represent individual humans seeing and interpreting their own little sliver of the whole.  Which means, by definition, each interpretation is inherently limited and fallible, just like those humans who first envisioned/interpreted them.

With respect to the SIL, as an old fart who has been through the younger know-it-all relations phase, I would advise to simply ignore her and don't engage.  I have a SIL, whom I actually like quite a bit, but who sometimes is breathtakingly condescending and unaware of her own presumption.  She also feels like the "overlooked" sibling, so I assume these two behaviors are connected -- it is so important for her to be right, to know best, to prove/establish her place in the family.  I mean, at one point, she told me I needed to have a second child so my first wouldn't be lonely (guess which one of us decided to stop after one kid?); at another point, she got ridiculously angry at my DH when their mom was in the hospital, because he showed up for a visit on "her" shift.  WTF?  The problem is, people like that are literally unable to see their own shortsightedness; they are so wrapped up in their view of the universe that they don't have the maturity or perspective to really understand that other people may be different from them, and that that is ok.  But, you know, when I get past the insecurity, she is still a decent person, and the family as a whole is awesome.

So why give someone like that the power to control your interactions with her whole family?  She's basically having a tantrum.  What do you do when kids have tantrums?  Do you engage, argue, try to persuade the they are wrong?  Of course not!  You pat them on the head and say "there, there, let's talk when you've cooled down," and go about your business.  Which, of course, only pisses them off further, because you are not giving them the attention and power they crave.  My mental image comes from 1-2-3 Magic, where the guy talks about being the horse in the field, enjoying the sunshine, calmly chewing on some grass, while this horsefly buzzes around, poking, poking, trying to get attention, and the horse just periodically swishes his tail and goes on with what he's doing.  When you respond to the bullshit she's throwing around, you're giving her the power to control the relationship.  OTOH, if you just ignore the taunts and hypocrisy and condescension and metaphorically pat her on the head and go on talking to her and everyone else as if it didn't happen, you take back your power from her.  It's hard, because you have to let a lot of wrongheaded and insulting stuff go.  But if it got my 4-yr-old in line, it can work with a 22-yr-old know-it-all.  :-)
I loved every word of this response.  Thanks for sharing your perspective!
Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #101 on: March 08, 2017, 07:40:59 PM »
I would say it's closer to the truth that you can't be truly moral if you are religious. Morality in religion is treated as a fixed decree rooted in the power and authority of a deity rather than in adaptable reason.

This is both awful and inaccurate.

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Necessarily, this moral ideology is stagnant and unchanging.

"Being good" should change often or else it's "stagnant"...?

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But any reasonable pursuit of knowledge must involve possible falsification and revision of belief, so a fixed moral system is profoundly wrong at a meta-ethical level--even if (as Christianity does) it embraces a fair amount of reasonable moral ideas by happenstance.

Religion isn't a piece of bread you eat and then are done with. There IS revision of belief among many religious, just like there's revision of belief among philosophers, and there is rigidity and inflexibility among BOTH groups as well, because both are made of PEOPLE. The efforts of 2000 years of philosophy and 2000 years of religion did not come upon moral ideas "by happenstance."
How is it inaccurate? Is there now an 11th Commandment? Was the 8th Commandment repealed? Is there an addendum to the Bible containing erratum being studied in Catholic schools? I understand the position of a church may change over time and it may put emphasis on different components of the religion's ideology, but that does not seem to equate to the sort of foundational changes in belief of the sort that have punctuated the Scientific Revolution (e.g. Einstein usurping Newton). Arguably, many of the ontological changes religion has adopted were informed by rational efforts within the auspices of the Enlightenment.

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Regarding Vindicated's comment in the UUs, I have gone to a few of their meetings and found their talks (as well as strong coffee) invigorating in comparison with tired regurgitated sermons at more traditional religious institutions.

You are conflating an experience at one church with one group and the entire religion. This is like viewing a painting and then making a declaration on painting as an artform. You could view a hundred paintings and not really be great at making declarations about what it means to paint.
This was intended as an anecdote and not a generalization.

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Moreover, if religious notions of sacrifice and suffering for the sake of illumination are to be taken seriously as ideals to strive for, the harder path of no moral authority (other than what reason can determine) is the more "pure" path in that regard. Religious authority is the cheap way out of embracing the actual complex universe we live in and if the blue pill is what you choose, you might as well chase it with the Soma of false enlightenment that religion offers.

I am not a Christian. And I have done study groups with some good friends of mine who are Catholic. I can assure you that examining a moral authority with an honest, emotional openness is not "easy" or "cheap." Existentialism that leads to religion requires significant courage. I don't know why you assume reason has a unique call on "purity." Embracing the universe is not an embrace of only calculations.
Predicating truth in an absolute authority is inherently anti-rational since one can always declare that something is the way it is because God said so. To the extent one does not rely on God said so as an explanation, I will concede intellectual progress is consistent with a religious worldview. Consequently, there is still a lot of room for deists to make moral, scientific, and other forms of rational progress. Notably, Christianity was a reasonably good incubator of critical thought in the West during the Middle Ages (notwithstanding things such as the Index Librorum Prohibitorum and the Inquisition; I found this to be a good overview).

I don't think I said that embracing the universe is a matter of calculations, unless you are reducing all of reason and epistemology to mere calculations. I'm curious: if you think reason is not the only way of approaching truth, then what are the other approaches and how do you argue in their favor without using reason?

MrsPete

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #102 on: March 09, 2017, 07:48:51 PM »
Christianity is not about being moral or "good".  It's about following God.  Thing is, many churches preach a feel-good, essentially secular message these days; thus, all too many people confuse morality and godliness.  This confusion dilutes and confuses God's message, and it leads to questions like this one.

You can absolutely raise a moral child without God or church. 
You cannot raise a godly child without God or church. 

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #103 on: March 09, 2017, 08:06:18 PM »
Christianity is not about being moral or "good".  It's about following God.  Thing is, many churches preach a feel-good, essentially secular message these days; thus, all too many people confuse morality and godliness.  This confusion dilutes and confuses God's message, and it leads to questions like this one.

You can absolutely raise a moral child without God or church. 
You cannot raise a godly child without God or church.
I can agree with the moral vs. godly distinction, and I'm an atheist! It comes down to one's definition of morality. For most secular people it has to do with maximizing human well-being or doing minimal harm. For certain Christian denominations, however, the definition of morality is doing what God wants. These two definitions often conflict.

Consider the aborted human sacrifice of Isaac. Among Christians, this story is celebrated as a sign of Abraham's goodness that he was willing to murder his child just because God asked him to. However, for someone with the human well-being definition of morality, this reads as a horror tale.

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #104 on: March 12, 2017, 12:59:49 PM »
How is it inaccurate? Is there now an 11th Commandment? Was the 8th Commandment repealed? ... I understand the position of a church may change over time...

(Previously): Morality in religion is treated as a fixed decree...

I'm trying to understand which of these points you most want to make. Is your issue that religion is too slow to change for your liking? As regards things we can know, like where rain comes from, I'm with you. As regards immutable things, anyone should be slow to change.

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Predicating truth in an absolute authority is inherently anti-rational since one can always declare that something is the way it is because God said so.

Tautology is not necessarily anti-rational. Photons are energy and matter. Electrons can apparently be in more than one place at the same time. Physics exist, as they do, because they do. Time has no beginning or end, some say, because "that's the way it is." .9999 repeating is equal to 1 because that's how calculus works. Higgs Boson?

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To the extent one does not rely on God said so as an explanation, I will concede intellectual progress is consistent with a religious worldview.

So it seems more specifically that your qualm is not with religion but with intellectual laziness. In what way are these things different? Religion says use discipline, pursue wisdom, pour yourself into study, set aside time to pray/meditate... though any may do with religion what they will. Science says practice rigor, use peer review, knowledge above personal ambitions, yet we have plenty of scientists fabricating research papers and deceitfully winning grants. We don't blame science for the actions of these people, and it makes similar sense to discern between lazy thoughts and schools of lazy thoughts elsewhere.

A book isn't responsible for the actions of the people who read it.
An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it.

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I don't think I said that embracing the universe is a matter of calculations, unless you are reducing all of reason and epistemology to mere calculations. I'm curious: if you think reason is not the only way of approaching truth, then what are the other approaches and how do you argue in their favor without using reason?

A tricky question to answer! I'll give it shot. Dante would argue that it leaves you incomplete, unfulfilled. His placement of philosophers in his afterlife suggests they have removed themselves from, well, joy, which Dante believed required religion. I would simplify it to say that approaches that work should be considered reasonable even if the mechanism is not understood. We take Tylenol but honestly we have little idea how it dampens the central nervous system's response to pain. We don't take it because we have carefully evaluated its inner workings, but because we know it works. Correct opinion, as it turns out, reaches more of truth than pure empiricism, because empiricism boxes itself in - it forbids correct opinion in order to avoid incorrect opinion, a benefit and a drawback.

Jumping that boundary, if one is accustomed to empiricism, takes a lot of courage. If it improves one's life...? First possessing plenty of reason helps. Dante was kind to the philosophers because of their love for reason, but valor and hope are also valuable. Hope, a kind of faith, is beneficial. Is it not therefore reasonable? Would you have considered it reasonable?

ChpBstrd: I would just say be careful identifying Christians so broadly. I looked into that story a few times to find out how it could be acceptable to anyone, feeling just as you did. The answers I got were varied and interesting. 1) Human sacrifice was common once, so leading Abraham to it and telling him to stop was to end human sacrifices. 2) As a metaphor, being devoted to a cause means focusing on what can be done, without regard for the cost. 3) If you are devoted to something good, or in the Christian message, to God, the message may be that you will not lose what you cannot or should not sacrifice.

farmecologist

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #105 on: March 13, 2017, 07:41:35 AM »
Christianity is not about being moral or "good".  It's about following God.  Thing is, many churches preach a feel-good, essentially secular message these days; thus, all too many people confuse morality and godliness.  This confusion dilutes and confuses God's message, and it leads to questions like this one.

You can absolutely raise a moral child without God or church. 
You cannot raise a godly child without God or church.

This is an interesting point...however, it goes both ways.  There are certainly 'godly' people who are not moral at all ( including the priests in the scandals, etc... ).


lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #106 on: March 16, 2017, 08:13:33 PM »
How is it inaccurate? Is there now an 11th Commandment? Was the 8th Commandment repealed? ... I understand the position of a church may change over time...

(Previously): Morality in religion is treated as a fixed decree...

I'm trying to understand which of these points you most want to make. Is your issue that religion is too slow to change for your liking? As regards things we can know, like where rain comes from, I'm with you. As regards immutable things, anyone should be slow to change.
Religions rely on varying degrees on dogmas, so if I were being more careful with my phrasing (it takes me a lot of thought to get things to come out reasonable in writing!) I would say that to the extent a religion is predicated on unchanging dogma that that religion was in error. It might be that the folk-morality incorporated into the Christian religion contains much wisdom and is fairly robust (I think it is); however, that is clearly not the same thing as perfection. To the extent any dogmas overlap with moral precepts that might reasonably be questioned, I think those views are anti-rational and constrain moral progress.

To expand on a previous point I may have been less clear on, the extent to which this applies is variable across individuals and across history. For those people who take a more open view of Christian theology where they don't respect the dogmas absolutely, there is a path to incorporation of the broader base of human knowledge from science and philosophy. It was this openness that helped spawn the scientific revolution (since a popular view was: to know nature was to know God). However, many religious people I have known use (sometimes unknowingly) religious dogmas or an underlying cloistered religious epistemology where many basic questions in philosophy are considered impolite to even acknowledge (I have a friend who told me some fairly mundane philosophical issues I raised once were "the devil," which is an amusing tie-back to your commentary on Dante's Inferno!).

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Predicating truth in an absolute authority is inherently anti-rational since one can always declare that something is the way it is because God said so.

Tautology is not necessarily anti-rational. Photons are energy and matter. Electrons can apparently be in more than one place at the same time. Physics exist, as they do, because they do. Time has no beginning or end, some say, because "that's the way it is." .9999 repeating is equal to 1 because that's how calculus works. Higgs Boson?
This is a great point and emphasizes that science and reason is no warm embrace. Following the arguments of physicist David Deutsch, there will be no end to the cycle of creating knowledge and asking new questions. The "that's the way it is" statements of the past have been answered by some of the work conducted in the present, and in the future, some of these questions will fall in turn, only to be replaced with new questions. The strength is the answers are not presupposed and so the exploration remains open; the cost is one never has ontological certainty. Arguing religious dogma reasonably fills that gap is a difficult case to make, to say the least.

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To the extent one does not rely on God said so as an explanation, I will concede intellectual progress is consistent with a religious worldview.

So it seems more specifically that your qualm is not with religion but with intellectual laziness. In what way are these things different? Religion says use discipline, pursue wisdom, pour yourself into study, set aside time to pray/meditate... though any may do with religion what they will. Science says practice rigor, use peer review, knowledge above personal ambitions, yet we have plenty of scientists fabricating research papers and deceitfully winning grants. We don't blame science for the actions of these people, and it makes similar sense to discern between lazy thoughts and schools of lazy thoughts elsewhere.

A book isn't responsible for the actions of the people who read it.
An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it.
Yes, the underlying problem is intellectual laziness. Thinking is hard and can lead to uncertain outcomes that challenge one's ego, sense of self, or puts the meaning of one's life into question. Such laziness is probably the default state of the mind, without the influence of particular strains of human culture. There is a lot of garbage, bias, and dogma in secular scientific belief as well and surely enough hypocrisy to make the Pope blush.

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I don't think I said that embracing the universe is a matter of calculations, unless you are reducing all of reason and epistemology to mere calculations. I'm curious: if you think reason is not the only way of approaching truth, then what are the other approaches and how do you argue in their favor without using reason?

A tricky question to answer! I'll give it shot. Dante would argue that it leaves you incomplete, unfulfilled. His placement of philosophers in his afterlife suggests they have removed themselves from, well, joy, which Dante believed required religion. I would simplify it to say that approaches that work should be considered reasonable even if the mechanism is not understood. We take Tylenol but honestly we have little idea how it dampens the central nervous system's response to pain. We don't take it because we have carefully evaluated its inner workings, but because we know it works. Correct opinion, as it turns out, reaches more of truth than pure empiricism, because empiricism boxes itself in - it forbids correct opinion in order to avoid incorrect opinion, a benefit and a drawback.

Jumping that boundary, if one is accustomed to empiricism, takes a lot of courage. If it improves one's life...? First possessing plenty of reason helps. Dante was kind to the philosophers because of their love for reason, but valor and hope are also valuable. Hope, a kind of faith, is beneficial. Is it not therefore reasonable? Would you have considered it reasonable?
That's the crux of the matter: people want to be (or feel like they are) "complete" or safe and secure in their beliefs. It could be that the actual structure of the universe precludes this state of affairs from honestly taking place. If people find utilitarian value in bridging this gap with religiously motivated assumptions, that is up to them, of course! As long as such individuals remain open to the stream of knowledge generated by good science, philosophy, and reason, I can't fault it much.

The issue is when we draw a line (such as Gould's non-overlapping magisteria) that we have problems since that closes off avenues of exploration from each other. Descartes took a similar step by walling off the soul in the pineal gland, though at least that allowed the course of science to continue by allowing everything outside of that gland to be subject to standard materialistic/deterministic forms of scientific inquiry (though I do recognize materialism and determinism should be questioned deeply, in addition to the probing of the "soul" via philosophy of the mind).

The likes of Sam Harris goes so far as to argue for a "scientific" basis of morality in his book The Moral Landscape but he seems to fall into the trap of sneaking utilitarianism through the window to provide room for morals to enter in via the door of science. It's a sleight of hand trick that appears to side-step Moore's open question argument. Morality, if based on reason, needs to be founded in meta-ethical arguments, not in science.

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #107 on: March 21, 2017, 06:10:33 PM »
Just to be clear, I wasn't arguing for Dante's point, I was explaining what it was. As for people who don't respect the dogmas absolutely, I offer you... human beings. It is not exclusively a religious person's tendency to use dogmatic thinking - it is a person's tendency to use it. And, it makes life easier. Heuristics generally make life easier. Micro-analyzing every decision would otherwise use up our lives.

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The strength is the answers are not presupposed and so the exploration remains open; the cost is one never has ontological certainty. Arguing religious dogma reasonably fills that gap is a difficult case to make, to say the least.

Per my previous point, heuristics make our lives better even though we may make imperfect or outright bad decisions based on them sometimes. I would say it would be hard or impossible to live without heuristics, and attempting to filter out religion may make as little sense as filtering out heuristics, if religion makes your life better. For a great many religious, there is no ontological certainty (certainty defies faith, faith deifies certainty). Religion is, for those, an imperative to never stop seeking, contemplating, praying, etc. Mother Theresa struggled with her faith until her death. Religion has no monopoly on intellectual laziness OR rigor.

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If people find utilitarian value in bridging this gap with religiously motivated assumptions, that is up to them, of course! As long as such individuals remain open to the stream of knowledge generated by good science, philosophy, and reason, I can't fault it much.

An accord!

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The issue is when we draw a line (such as Gould's non-overlapping magisteria) that we have problems since that closes off avenues of exploration from each other. Descartes took a similar step by walling off the soul in the pineal gland...

Descartes' ghost can still be found in the will to live. As for morality as meta-ethical argument... Categorical Imperative, then?

Anyway, you're home alone. There's a strange sound coming from the basement that you've never heard before. Maybe intrepid scientists totally hate NOT checking out the noise in the basement. A lot of people will not check the noise, though. Are they bad or their lives worse for it? Maybe, but maybe not. We don't really know before they check. There could be a monster. There could be the answer to cold fusion. There could be just a furnace. The quality of a human life may not change substantially with any of those results. Religion is more concerned with emotional health than you may prioritize, which is also something many benefit from. Religion may also be less likely to assume an inherent value in "progress," technologically. We could already feed the whole world easily - the problem isn't insufficient technology, it's insufficient inclination.

MrsPete

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #108 on: March 22, 2017, 06:24:17 PM »
Christianity is not about being moral or "good".  It's about following God.  Thing is, many churches preach a feel-good, essentially secular message these days; thus, all too many people confuse morality and godliness.  This confusion dilutes and confuses God's message, and it leads to questions like this one.

You can absolutely raise a moral child without God or church. 
You cannot raise a godly child without God or church.

This is an interesting point...however, it goes both ways.  There are certainly 'godly' people who are not moral at all ( including the priests in the scandals, etc... ).
Yes, that's a fair statement. 

All too many people have the idea that Christianity is about being a good person, a nice person, a good citizen who does community service and cares for others.  That's not accurate.  As an example, I'm thinking about a woman at our church ... I really don't like her.  I find her abrasive.  I don't think she's a nice person at all, I really don't think she's raising her children well ... yet she is strongly devoted to God.  It shows in her life, and I don't doubt if for a moment ... but I don't want to hang out with her.

On the other hand, Scientology seems to be all about being a nice person.  However, I don't know much about that topic, so maybe I shouldn't speak. 

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #109 on: March 22, 2017, 08:20:12 PM »
All too many people have the idea that Christianity is about being a good person, a nice person, a good citizen who does community service and cares for others.  That's not accurate.

Christians would probably disagree that goodness and godliness are so separate. I think you're significantly weighing impressions of people you know and dislike as if their actions proved something from the religion. There's lots of unpleasant stuff in the book for sure. And there are obviously core sections (ten commandments for example). I think one core piece is that Jesus says basically if you remember nothing else, love, and let others know you by your love. It's pretty hard to not come away with that as including some version of "be a nice person and help the community." If you want to say the culture as practiced can seem unfortunately at odds with that sometimes, I get it, but to say it's inaccurate to describe Christianity that way...? That I don't think fits. You could say it's incomplete, not observed to your liking, not prioritized highly enough, but I don't think it's accurate to say that "be a good, nice person who cares for others" is missing from the religion's advice on conduct.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #110 on: March 23, 2017, 01:25:08 PM »
All too many people have the idea that Christianity is about being a good person, a nice person, a good citizen who does community service and cares for others.  That's not accurate.

Christians would probably disagree that goodness and godliness are so separate. I think you're significantly weighing impressions of people you know and dislike as if their actions proved something from the religion. There's lots of unpleasant stuff in the book for sure. And there are obviously core sections (ten commandments for example). I think one core piece is that Jesus says basically if you remember nothing else, love, and let others know you by your love. It's pretty hard to not come away with that as including some version of "be a nice person and help the community." If you want to say the culture as practiced can seem unfortunately at odds with that sometimes, I get it, but to say it's inaccurate to describe Christianity that way...? That I don't think fits. You could say it's incomplete, not observed to your liking, not prioritized highly enough, but I don't think it's accurate to say that "be a good, nice person who cares for others" is missing from the religion's advice on conduct.
To judge "the culture as practiced" as being an inaccurate portrayal of Christianity would require us to have some objective definition of Christianity. However, Christianity is practiced/believed thousands of different ways by hundreds of sects. It is also amended every day by human influencers: bestselling authors, preachers, and politicians - and this has been the case since its beginning. Today, people envision Dante's hell and a Europeanized face of Jesus popularized by medieval European artists. Most think their pets go to heaven with them - an obviously modern amendment. Warlords changed the cultural norms about the trinity, Jesus' divinity, iconography, and papal authority.

I would have a hard time justifying why today's culture gets it wrong and some other time/place/culture got it right, because those human influencers have always been at work spinning the story in new directions. Even our historical understanding is through the lenses of the victors' historians and theologians.

It's more practical to measure what we can personally see here and now, and speak in the present tense. Christianity is what it is today. So it's a fair question to ask whether Christians are really better people, or whether Christianity just convinces people they are better?

If you are still interested in uncovering a historically authentic Christian ethos, you might be disappointed. Jesus' words of wisdom about loving thy neighbor were spoken among slaveowners who took child brides, and he saw nothing worth mentioning about those sins.

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #111 on: March 23, 2017, 04:40:57 PM »
To judge "the culture as practiced" as being an inaccurate portrayal of Christianity would require us to have some objective definition of Christianity.

Well, why would the reverse be true then, that the culture as practiced should be judged as an accurate portrayal?

Almost everything else you said I agree with. Yes, its practice is as different as there are people. You and I can read the same book, any book, and come away with not only different conclusions about the value of the book, but different conclusions about what the book itself meant! All we know for sure is, according to the religion itself, everyone falls short of the ideal, and the goal is to move towards the ideal. It's absolutely valid (and directly recommended) for each believer to ask how well they're doing that, themselves.

Saying today's culture gets it right or wrong, or any other culture did, is kind of an irrelevant errand, absolutely. Christian practices vary tremendously. And at some point, if you're a believer, you make decisions, consciously or unconsciously, from whether you support gay marriage to whether it's ok to accept the dispensation to eat corned beef because it's St. Patty's Day. Ancient Norwegian Christians wore crosses with Thor's hammer in them - culture affects a LOT. However, if the point of the religion is to try to interpret the ideal and live by it, I don't think it makes sense to say "don't try to interpret the ideal."

I won't try to tell you how to interpret the ideal, but I definitely think a religious person should be trying to interpret it, and even laypeople who want to understand. In that respect, Christianity is absolutely not confined to what it is today, nor is the question "Are Christians better people?" specific enough to be useful. The more useful, very personal question is whether Christianity can improve your own life. If you know 30 professed Christians you like, that doesn't really mean that the religion would be automatically your own favorite practice. Are two-parent homes better for kids? Looks like it. Does a religious background offer some measurable psychological benefits? Some studies have said yes. Are there Christians who are doing pretty bad things? Yes to that too.

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If you are still interested in uncovering a historically authentic Christian ethos, you might be disappointed. Jesus' words of wisdom about loving thy neighbor were spoken among slaveowners who took child brides, and he saw nothing worth mentioning about those sins.

Historically authentic...? I'm not sure where to start about how far this is from anything I ever tried to do, or would try to do. It's overwhelmingly clear we have an incomplete story of Christian thought, frayed by memory, time, translation, and just outright limited recording, and I think it's very silly to suppose we know what was NOT said. As for what I would be interested in when examining it myself is determining whether there were an idealistically authentic Christian ethos. Who would determine that for me? Me. People who conclude "yes" convert, and people who don't don't. But I look at religion as a set of roads from which to begin a search and define the ideals of a life lived - not a set of roads from which to never venture, but a framework for venturing ever further. I don't see any religion as an answer to a great question, but a question asking you to live a great answer.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 04:43:22 PM by Hargrove »

MrWednesday

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #112 on: March 24, 2017, 08:33:24 AM »
I am starting to feel insecure about my ability to raise my boy to be a moral, well-adjusted, and loving human being without the church-going background.  I wonder if my husband and me received immeasurable benefits from growing up with Judeo-Christian values even though we have both since moved away from regular church attendance.  I even toy with the idea of attending church during his childhood and adolescence and let him make his own choices when he comes of age, even though it would be complete ruse on my part that I would have to keep up for 15+ years.

My questions: Anyone else in a similar situation where you grew up with God and recognized the benefits of that upbringing but have since renounced it?  Do you think it's possible to raise a child with all the positive attributes that faith has to offer without the actual "God" part?


If you are looking for help raising secular kids I highly recomend looking up Dale Mcgowan with Parenting Beyond Belief. He has written several fantastic books on raising confident well adjusted freethinking humanistic kids.  https://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Beyond-Belief-Raising-Religion/dp/0814474268 Here is a link to a talk he gave (there are a lot out there, just search it on youtube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgDb_IMoKyQ There are meetup groups based off this book in several cities. You could also try looking into local humanist or freethought societies, most are welcoming places were you will be able to find a peer group involved in the same struggles and work as you trying to raise  "a child with all the positive attributes that faith has to offer without the actual "God" part."

"I even toy with the idea of attending church during his childhood and adolescence and let him make his own choices when he comes of age" I'd be against this personally. While I think religious literacy is important a religious ruse is a bad idea. It also doesn't make sense to me to indoctrinate a child at a young age when they don't really have a choice about what they believe and then expect them to figure it out as an adult. To me it just seems like a backwards way of doing things. To me one ought to get educated and exposed to many different cultures, thoughts and beliefs and then be confident able and mature enough as an adult/young adult to make their own reasoned choices.

Family is important and Dale talks extensively in his books on how best to deal with religious folks who are disappointed with us. One of the points he stresses is finding common ground. Maybe a religious relative would respond well to being asked to take the child to church with you some time? It can be both a part of religious literacy and a part of building nurturing relationships within your family. Maybe the family member and you would benefit from sitting down and talking in depth about what they are afraid of and what they hope for their family. If SIL or other extended family sees and understands you have the same goals and hopes as everyone (a happy, healthy confident and capable child and adult) and sees a way she/they can be included in that, having her/their faith and thoughts play a role in it you all will come out closer and stronger.

Goldielocks

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #113 on: March 24, 2017, 10:17:59 AM »
I have to chime in here...

I go to church.  My kids often go to church (but not always), and they went to sunday school.  Heck,  I taught sunday school for 3 years...

Going to church does not teach your kids to be moral.   The only thing that comes close is a lot of Jesus stories about helping out others, thinking beyond yourself, asking what's really important and IMO, fighting oppressive governments that do not help all of society.

You can get the same or better, by choosing good kids books to read to your kids at night.  You know, books about sharing, about helping a friend, books about minorities and how they are like us and can be our friends...  that sort of thing.

Church is very good for spiritual teaching, and opening our minds and hearts... but IMO that only begins when they are 12 years old, sometimes takes until a person is ready at 30 years old...  Going to church earlier will only help them be familiar with it and its customs / culture.

galliver

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #114 on: March 24, 2017, 12:41:37 PM »
Came across this yesterday and thought it would be relevant to this thread: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/florida-church-sends-1000-collection-notice-to-single-mother-because-she-didnt-tithe/

Godly? Moral? Shitty? Discuss.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #115 on: March 24, 2017, 01:09:21 PM »
:)      Shitty.

...and the practice, shittiness, or the comments of Maxwell mustn't be transferred to people and groups using the term Christianity who do not do, say, or believe those things.

farmecologist

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #116 on: March 24, 2017, 02:32:57 PM »
Church is very good for spiritual teaching, and opening our minds and hearts... but IMO that only begins when they are 12 years old, sometimes takes until a person is ready at 30 years old...  Going to church earlier will only help them be familiar with it and its customs / culture.

I certainly acknowledge that church does give 'spirituality' to many people.   Frankly, all church ever gave to me is a good nap.

Honestly though...I feel more 'spirituality' being outdoors hiking or fishing, etc...


galliver

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #117 on: March 24, 2017, 05:10:59 PM »
:)      Shitty.

...and the practice, shittiness, or the comments of Maxwell mustn't be transferred to people and groups using the term Christianity who do not do, say, or believe those things.
Absolutely! Bf and I are atheist but his parents are quite religious, and their church and practice seem very focused on service, personal morality/godliness (vs public/proselytizing), community, those kinds of things. His dad has been posting pro-refugee articles from a Christian perspective (which isn't necessarily how most people of their demographic see it). My religiously inclined friends, on the whole, seem to practice/worship in similar ways.

But are definitely those out there who think if you can slap the "churchgoing Christian" label on someone it automatically makes them a good person, and if you can't, they are automatically suspect. And that, I think, is a dangerously erroneous road to go down. Churches and church-goers and church leaders can all be really shitty people. As can atheists. There just isn't a great correlation either way.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #118 on: March 24, 2017, 05:39:39 PM »
I certainly acknowledge that church does give 'spirituality' to many people.

I don't think church does or can "give spirituality" to people. I think at most it can reflect the spirituality already in a person, offer a safe space to talk about spiritual experiences or questions, provide language around some shared experiences, introduce a person to practices that might enhance their personal journey, etc. That's what it does for me (nonChristian who goes to a Christian church a lot, as well as to a bunch of other nonreligious and religious spirituality-focused spaces).

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #119 on: March 24, 2017, 05:52:33 PM »
...definitely those out there who think if you can slap the "churchgoing Christian" label on someone it automatically makes them a good person, and if you can't, they are automatically suspect. And that, I think, is a dangerously erroneous road to go down. Churches and church-goers and church leaders can all be really shitty people. As can atheists. There just isn't a great correlation either way.

100%!

And (not in response to you, galliver, just talking generally about the bigger topic) I think it sucks when people pretend there is or should be a correlation. Every group has people that are great and people that suck. I'm squicked out when people expect more from an atheist or a Christian or a Muslim or an agnostic or an ethical vegan just because they have some beliefs and are trying to align with a certain path. They're still just people! Foibled, imperfect people who are usually trying their best.

And, a lot of people who go to church don't do so because they think they rock and god deserves a chance to gaze upon them inside a particular building on a Sunday, but because they are acutely aware of their imperfections and are taking every opportunity for help and support to become more whole, more balanced, more just, more kind, more open. I like that in a person :)

I was once part of a religion that had a strong message around appearances, because they were aware that people judged them by a higher standard per their religious beliefs. I think that's wrong. I think people should be able to be religious or spiritual (or even both) without others demanding they be perfect, and attacking/criticizing/nitpicking when they're not.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #120 on: March 27, 2017, 11:08:43 AM »
To judge "the culture as practiced" as being an inaccurate portrayal of Christianity would require us to have some objective definition of Christianity.

Well, why would the reverse be true then, that the culture as practiced should be judged as an accurate portrayal?

If, as I'm claiming, there is no objective or historically accurate Christianity, then there is no yardstick or standard we could point at and tell modern Christians that they are Christianing incorrectly. With no other definition, Christianity is what it is, here and now. This is the only observable definition.

I hear this claim often: Christianity is not at fault for the things Christians do, because some Christians are doing it wrong or have a misunderstanding of their own religion. If they only subscribed to my brand of belief, they would be true Christians and be wonderful.

Rather than go down that sectarian rabbit hole, it makes more sense to consider religion to be a series of ever-changing social clubs with few firm principles and flexible "ideals". The truth at any given time is what the authoritarian leader says it is. These human leaders reinvent the religion anew for each generation, with minor changes. Maybe pets can go to heaven. Maybe stem cell research is wrong. Maybe Jesus is aligned with our favored political party. Maybe the earth is round after all.

To me anyway, the world, history, and theology make a lot more sense from this perspective than if I get on my pedestal and lecture followers of religions I don't belong to that they're doing it wrong. I can tell you when your belief contradicts objective observations, but if asked for an opinion about Calvinism, for example, all I can say is "it's one of millions of almost-certainly false religious ideas."

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #121 on: March 27, 2017, 11:37:56 AM »
To judge "the culture as practiced" as being an inaccurate portrayal of Christianity would require us to have some objective definition of Christianity.

Well, why would the reverse be true then, that the culture as practiced should be judged as an accurate portrayal?

If, as I'm claiming, there is no objective or historically accurate Christianity, then there is no yardstick or standard we could point at and tell modern Christians that they are Christianing incorrectly. With no other definition, Christianity is what it is, here and now. This is the only observable definition.

I hear this claim often: Christianity is not at fault for the things Christians do, because some Christians are doing it wrong or have a misunderstanding of their own religion. If they only subscribed to my brand of belief, they would be true Christians and be wonderful.

Rather than go down that sectarian rabbit hole, it makes more sense to consider religion to be a series of ever-changing social clubs with few firm principles and flexible "ideals". The truth at any given time is what the authoritarian leader says it is. These human leaders reinvent the religion anew for each generation, with minor changes. Maybe pets can go to heaven. Maybe stem cell research is wrong. Maybe Jesus is aligned with our favored political party. Maybe the earth is round after all.

To me anyway, the world, history, and theology make a lot more sense from this perspective than if I get on my pedestal and lecture followers of religions I don't belong to that they're doing it wrong. I can tell you when your belief contradicts objective observations, but if asked for an opinion about Calvinism, for example, all I can say is "it's one of millions of almost-certainly false religious ideas."
I agree with all you are laying out.  Judging culture, or religions gets very sticky very quickly.  However, how else do you battle religious folks claiming the problem with X is the the lack of Christian values (substitute any religion).

If we were to put on our sciency hat the answer would be to compare a cohort of non-religeously active folks to a cohort of practicing (or self reporting) folks with equivalent income/region/race/age/etc from a religion and compare outcomes.  You'd want to look at crime rates, charitable giving, health, etc and evaluate the comparison.

Sadly you can't have this conversation with most religious groups, they want to compare some mythical ideal of what their religion should be to a bunch of negative stereotypes of non-religious folks, or  to other religions.

If we want to start cherry picking the right era to be a proper christian, I could easily pick the era of the Spanish Inquisition, or the Crusades, etc, etc.  Religion is just too malleable to pin down.  Groups that do end up like ISIS and kill, punish, or marginalize those who deviate from the chosen ideal.

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #122 on: March 27, 2017, 03:57:48 PM »
If, as I'm claiming, there is no objective or historically accurate Christianity, then there is no yardstick or standard we could point at and tell modern Christians that they are Christianing incorrectly.

Modern Christians are asked to judge this, of themselves, for themselves, all the time. They're also even asked to help their fellow Christians act in certain ways believed to be good for them. You don't subscribe to this obviously.

And... yet again... we are not actually arguing here... I agree that it would be ridiculous for YOU to tell THEM that THEY were "Christianing incorrectly," if only because it would be very unlikely to have any useful result.

Christianity is not at fault for the actions of its adherents because personal responsibility. Not because maybe they're "doing it wrong."
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 03:59:25 PM by Hargrove »

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #123 on: March 29, 2017, 10:21:14 AM »
Quote
Christianity is not at fault for the actions of its adherents because personal responsibility. Not because maybe they're "doing it wrong."

Not sure if this is what you're proposing, but I often hear a similar argument being made in a subtle way:

If someone does something good, and they are a Christian, they did something good because they are Christian.

If someone does something bad, it's their personal responsibility, not a failure or outcome of their Christian ethical system.

The underlying premise is that because Christianity is good, anything bad could not have possibly come from it. If one believes this to be true, the two statements above will seem true. Any moral failures must be due to something outside of the good Christianity, such as flaws in the self - or at least a personal failure to do the Christianing correctly.

Bottom line, Christianity makes explicit product promises to make people better. But when the product does not deliver on its promise, we make excuses.

Imagine if my brand new car routinely broke down, but I kept blaming dirty air, contaminated fuel, my own imperfect driving, sabatours, the weather, cosmic radiation, or whatever for the breakdowns because my dealer promised the new car was reliable. My belief, er.. faith, in the reliability of my car is forcing me to make justifications and cast blame on myself or others.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #124 on: March 29, 2017, 10:46:26 AM »
^ Some branches of Christianity make explict product promises to make people better or "good." I don't know that the brand of Borg, Spong, Butler Bass, etc, do.

There's a large Christian movement around authenticity, personal healing and growth, integrity, etc, that isn't about external authority, rules, specific practices, etc, but rather about aligning with one's truest, considered sense of alignment with universal principles..proposing that this is what Jesus was getting at.

Or something.

ChpBstrd, loved your point about the underlying premise of some brands of Christianity...that "if Brand is good, anything bad could not possibly come from it." I'd never thought about that before, and it tickles my brain.

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #125 on: March 29, 2017, 04:34:10 PM »
Quote
Not sure if this is what you're proposing, but I often hear a similar argument being made in a subtle way:

If someone does something good, and they are a Christian, they did something good because they are Christian.

If someone does something bad, it's their personal responsibility, not a failure or outcome of their Christian ethical system.

If someone does something good and they are a Christian, they did something good. Not Christianity.

If someone does something bad, and they are a Christian, they did something bad. Not Christianity.

Christianity cannot actions. I don't subscribe to the book-burning sentimentality of "it's the religion's fault." Nor do I think the religion performed the actions that the person did.

Whatever anyone thinks of their religion is what they think of their religion. That assessment IS their responsibility, that assessment IS what governs their actions. You spent several posts saying one could not pin down a single "correct" Christianity (the subtext was "for everyone"). My point is that one is asked by Christianity to seek anyway - for one's self. Not only does the faithful's belief in, of, and about Christianity say a lot about the faithful, it remains their responsibility. Christianity is neither the appropriate actor deserving praise nor the appropriate scapegoat deserving condemnation for the actions of people who make choices. People make good decisions and bad decisions with and without religion all the time.

Quote
Bottom line, Christianity makes explicit product promises to make people better. But when the product does not deliver on its promise, we make excuses.

You only a few posts ago argued the religion has no identifiable single correct expression, then complained that it was a "product" making "explicit promises" and "not delivering." I'm not sure which to respond to. Is it that it's not so simple to nail down, or is it the opposite, that you've nailed it down, it has specific features, and it doesn't give you those features?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 08:45:54 PM by Hargrove »

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #126 on: March 30, 2017, 02:03:51 PM »
Whatever some subgroup of Christians are doing, some other subgroup is doing the opposite. Point to the congregations of racists and someone will point out a rare multi-racial congregation preaching brotherly love. Point to the homophobes and someone will point out a LGBT church. Point to the Christians telling women they should be subservient to men, and someone will point out an online community for Christian feminists. Point to anti-science Christians, and someone will dig up a scientist who is Christian. Point out how Christians say "put it in god's hands" and someone else will say that, for them, Christianity is about personal responsibility.

To some extent, the counterexamples are inevitable when hundreds of millions of people are involved with the task of reinventing the religion on a daily basis. If Christianity is anything, it is a Rorshach Test - a slippery concept that becomes whatever a group of people in a time and place want it to be. And, as noted, there's no way to prove them wrong that they would accept.

Just as Christians can deflect criticism by saying others are just Christianing incorrectly, they can also funnel praise by attributing good behaviors to Christianity and bad behaviors to anything else. The first fallacy is the No True Scotsman Fallacy, and the second is Cherry Picking. Critics of Christianity are routinely thrown off by these fallacies, or drawn into the ridiculous position of explaining how to Christian correctly.

Yet, Christianity is more than just a framework used by individuals to explore or execute their individualistic will or sense of self, which they alone are personally responsible for.

There are shared beliefs/assumptions in almost any church, regardless of denomination, and beliefs always influence behavior. There is an element of conformity to cultural norms, even occasionally tolerant norms. There is the dogma; 99% of survey respondents would agree the Bible is the book of Christianity. And yes, in my experience the vast majority of Christians think their religion improves them.

This leaves us with the following options to discuss the pros and cons of Christianity:

1) Contrast bad behaviors with a presumed correct way to Christian.
2) Talk about what the majority of Christians think/do and ignore the minorities.
3) Think of religion from a systems perspective. This system yields this entire, diverse range of results. Ask if another system can do better than this entire range of results.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #127 on: March 30, 2017, 02:12:16 PM »
^ Yes.

It's why I think the word Christianity is about as useful as the word autism. Neither tell us much of anything. Only getting to know the individual will tell us anything about their experience, beliefs, interests, etc.

And:
4) Decline to use the word Christianity.

I'm not a Christian, don't need the word, don't really care what other (nonharmful things) others do or use, but if the above were the choices, I'd pick (4).

caracarn

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #128 on: March 30, 2017, 02:33:32 PM »
I think it depends on your understanding.

My point to the conversation is Christianity is not the same as religion.  Religion is a man-made system to try to operate within.  Being Christian is being a follower of Christ.  It's the very definition of the word.  Most of the arguments I hear from people are how it is all "interpreted" by this church or that one.  That's religion and that is not to be confused with Christianity. 

To answer the OP question, of course you can raise good kids in a secular home.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2017, 02:57:43 PM by caracarn »

Hargrove

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #129 on: March 30, 2017, 02:38:22 PM »
This leaves us with the following options to discuss the pros and cons of Christianity:

1) Contrast bad behaviors with a presumed correct way to Christian.
2) Talk about what the majority of Christians think/do and ignore the minorities.
3) Think of religion from a systems perspective. This system yields this entire, diverse range of results. Ask if another system can do better than this entire range of results.

1) Christians are asked to presume "correct way to Christian." If you're a Christian, you're doing this. If you're not, whether you're discussing it this way is a lot less relevant to Christians most of the time, but could be a fascinating discussion! That said, you don't have to be a Christian to acknowledge that there are more clearly correct and incorrect pieces, though nobody nails them all down obviously. Generally, Christians define a Christian as someone who "considers Christ their personal savior." I think Catholics include the Nicene Creed. Protestants are pretty flexible.

2) Eh. I think this is just a disappointingly incomplete and flawed approach. By this method we would have to conclude "diet and exercise" has failed America.

3) That's way more interesting, and I think how someone who didn't inherit a religion may look at it, but again, it's not possible to do this on more than a personal level. If I like cooking, I am certainly not going to use Stouffer's lasagna recipe, which is surely high on the list of purchased and cooked lasagna, because despite the preponderance of consumption and the lack of questioning of whether they're the lasagna to eat, I have a minimum bar for lasagna. Some people are happy with Stouffer's lasagna. I am not one of them. I am absolutely always going to include my personal experience in a field like cooking or religion when it comes to evaluating those fields. I don't think something like that can be evaluated WITHOUT the personal. I don't view experiencing a religion as purely a thought or systems exercize. It's harder than that.

Goldielocks

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #130 on: April 01, 2017, 10:29:07 AM »


This leaves us with the following options to discuss the pros and cons of Christianity:

1) Contrast bad behaviors with a presumed correct way to Christian.
2) Talk about what the majority of Christians think/do and ignore the minorities.
3) Think of religion from a systems perspective. This system yields this entire, diverse range of results. Ask if another system can do better than this entire range of results.



It is just weird to think of religion from a systems perspective...  I think you have nailed Scientology, though.  Maybe kwanza, too (maybe not, I don't know much about Kwanza). 

It's like trying to measure how much you love someone from a systems perspective; it's like assuming we only have so much love to give in our lives or that we must love one child more because we love our kids differently.  Doesn't fit very well.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #131 on: April 01, 2017, 10:36:31 AM »
My point to the conversation is Christianity is not the same as religion.  Religion is a man-made system to try to operate within.  Being Christian is being a follower of Christ.  It's the very definition of the word.  Most of the arguments I hear from people are how it is all "interpreted" by this church or that one.  That's religion and that is not to be confused with Christianity.

I'm confident Jesus would be very sad at the religion-stuff that has developed "in his name", and I share your definition of religion, caracarn.

At the same time, even "follower of Christ" can have as many meanings as people declaring it. Follow as in wear a beard and sandals and walk a lot? Follow as in martyr oneself? Follow as in remain Jewish, even while proposing new ideas? Follow as in...?

I'm good with whatever path (that doesn't harm others) a person takes, I just think language for the Real Stuff is super limited and is difficult to use. Language for the Big Stuff allows people intent on nitpicking and judging to do exactly that.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #132 on: September 07, 2017, 07:12:47 PM »
UPDATE:

Hi everyone, I always appreciate when people who post about relationship issues check back in when there has been meaningful development, so I thought I would do the same.

After months of de facto no-contact with any of my in-laws, my other SILs besides the one I'm in a squabble with (remember, I have 5 SILs ranging from approx. ages 17-30) started texting my husband separately over the summer.  One of them (the oldest) never mentions the rift- she just updates us on general stuff about her two kids and my BIL.  Although they are all the type to avoid conflict, she seems to be the most allergic to it.  I (correctly) surmised this is her way of letting us know that the fight with A wasn't going to affect our relationship with her, which was very nice to know.

Two of them, however, texted him specifically to tell him A has been acting really crazy since all this went down.  In August, I finally told my husband to call MIL, that it was time to clear some of this shit up. 

We called MIL and got the story from her straight.  Over the last few months, my husband and I were still really pissed at A, but we had more important shit to do and worry about, so we kind of forgot about it for a while, assuming A was doing the same.  Not the case, according to MIL and the other SILs.  Apparently she has been stewing over this since January, even going so far as to tell her sisters to "choose sides".  Meaning if they contacted us, it would be seen as a betrayal of their relationship with her.  A told my MIL she would be angry with her if she visited us.

Apparently there was an incident over 4th of July when one of the SILs was texting my husband while they were all playing a board game at MIL's house.  A asked other SIL because it was her turn to roll, "Who are you texting?"  Other SIL answers sheepishly, "I'm texting B."  This prompts A to clam up and act surly the rest of the night.

So, gang, now we know for sure.  This is not about religion in the least, and my fretting ended up being wasted energy.  She's just a crappy person.  When I heard all of this, I was naturally incensed at A's destructive behavior, but I'm slightly ashamed to admit overall I just feel vindicated that I was right. 

By the end of the phone call, we effectively cleared the air with MIL and other SILs, but MIL probably saw a harder side of me she hadn't seen before.  I told her that I was upset about the rift, but no way were husband and I going to apologize just to appease A.  I let her know I wasn't going to put up with her cruddy attitude like everyone else in the family just to get on to get along.  She was a bit defensive of her daughter but pretty understanding of my ire overall.  MIL agreed we would leave this be for now and see what A does.  We reassured everyone in no uncertain terms that although we were angry with A, they were not to "choose sides" (God, does it really need to be said??), that we wanted her to find a way to be happy and to have all the support she needed.

So that's where we are.  I'm no longer stressed that my in-laws are judging me for not being religious enough.  They really don't seem to care much.  They know husband and I are good people overall and dedicated parents, and that seems to be enough for them.  Husband is extremely relieved as well.


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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #133 on: September 08, 2017, 07:17:47 AM »
My questions: Anyone else in a similar situation where you grew up with God and recognized the benefits of that upbringing but have since renounced it?  Do you think it's possible to raise a child with all the positive attributes that faith has to offer without the actual "God" part?

Just look at how many good people there are in the world. Many of them were raised outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition (either athiest or just a much different religion), and they are perfectly fine. You shouldn't worry about it. Just raise them to be respectful (unlike your patronizing SIL), thoughtful, nice, hard-working people, and they will turn out fine.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #134 on: September 08, 2017, 08:08:42 AM »
UPDATE:

So, gang, now we know for sure.  This is not about religion in the least, and my fretting ended up being wasted energy.  She's just a crappy person.  When I heard all of this, I was naturally incensed at A's destructive behavior, but I'm slightly ashamed to admit overall I just feel vindicated that I was right. 


I still think religious privledge and discrimination played a role. Had this spat been about any other subject, you would not have had to worry that your entire family might take sides against you, much less be driven to question what you know is true and right. There's something special about a situation where most people in a family are running software in their brains that divides people into binary good/bad, saved/unsaved categories like some sort of cult. Your SIL's concerns/issues make sense to her based on the religious assumptions she's accepted, and so religion is at the root of this conflict. Because it's a religious conflict, no amount of evidence, argument, or logic can resolve it, and that's a tragedy. She's not necessarily a crappy person, but she has adopted beliefs that cause her to be toxic and destructive to the family. Meanwhile, you've seen all you need to see about religion's much-hyped effects on family cohesion.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #135 on: September 08, 2017, 09:57:11 AM »
Quote
Had this spat been about any other subject, you would not have had to worry that your entire family might take sides against you, much less be driven to question what you know is true and right.

I disagree. I've seen this occur in people who have no "religion" but behave precisely the same over whatever they are passionate about (veganism, monogamy, the chicken pox vaccine, gender bias, whatever). Some people are wildly vehement regarding their passion or position, and most definitely divide families, utilize shaming, urge others to implement isolation in order to bring others around, etc. This is just what I've experienced in my own life, never mind observed.

Jerkiness is jerkiness is jerkiness, regardless of what excuse/cover people use.

OP, I agree with your take. And I'm really glad you got to find out what the scoop was, and protect your relationships with good, open-minded, peaceful people (who are these things whether also religious or not).

Laura33

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #136 on: September 08, 2017, 11:21:07 AM »
UPDATE:

So, gang, now we know for sure.  This is not about religion in the least, and my fretting ended up being wasted energy.  She's just a crappy person.  When I heard all of this, I was naturally incensed at A's destructive behavior, but I'm slightly ashamed to admit overall I just feel vindicated that I was right. 


I still think religious privledge and discrimination played a role. Had this spat been about any other subject, you would not have had to worry that your entire family might take sides against you, much less be driven to question what you know is true and right. There's something special about a situation where most people in a family are running software in their brains that divides people into binary good/bad, saved/unsaved categories like some sort of cult. Your SIL's concerns/issues make sense to her based on the religious assumptions she's accepted, and so religion is at the root of this conflict. Because it's a religious conflict, no amount of evidence, argument, or logic can resolve it, and that's a tragedy. She's not necessarily a crappy person, but she has adopted beliefs that cause her to be toxic and destructive to the family. Meanwhile, you've seen all you need to see about religion's much-hyped effects on family cohesion.

I would actually argue that the causal link runs the other way: it is not religion that creates binary good/bad thinking, but rather that people who tend toward a binary view of the universe are attracted to rigid belief systems that justify this way of viewing the world.  Certain religions serve that purpose (just as others do not), but so do many other "isms."
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Pigeon

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #137 on: September 08, 2017, 12:18:37 PM »
I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic elementary school/jr. high.  I don't have warm feelings about it and knew I would  never be religious from the time I was about 7.  The nuns were some of the most twisted people I've ever encountered and my brothers have  physical scars from the Christian Brothers.  We have raised our kids to be kind, ethical and caring.  We did volunteer work with them and they are both great people who are pretty altruistic.  We tried UU for a time, but I find any kind of ritual intensely boring and didn't get anything out of it.  I like UU values, but I don't have a spiritual bone in my body.

All that said, I suspect there's more than religion going on with this situation.  I started dating my husband when I was 17 and am now 58.  His many brothers really don't, when push comes to shove, genuinely consider me to be their family, nor do they consider anybody's wife to be family other than their own.  Dh and I were the principal caregivers for his parents as we were the closest for over a decade.  I did more for MIL in her declining years than anyone, yet the out of town ones who never saw her were testy about me having any say about arranging for her care.  It's just how they are--I'll always be an outsider, despite the fact that there's no outward hostility.  My family is not like that with the people who have married into the family.  Dh has noticed the difference.

I wonder if the OP may have opened a can of worms by trying to manage the communication among the SILs.  They (and A in particular) may just view her as an outsider who is butting into the family dynamic, and are using religion as an excuse.   


S.S.

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #138 on: September 08, 2017, 01:02:26 PM »
My (as well as husband's) $0.02: this is not about religion or anything "larger" or more ideological.  I gave her waaay too much credit here.  Religion was used as a convenient way for A to try to punish me for hurting her evidently very fragile ego.

Every family has its weird stuff, but after knowing my in-laws almost a decade, I can authoritatively say they are truly kind and good people.  I was accepted and beloved by them instantly.  MIL and FIL have told husband privately they think the world of me and us as a couple.  That's probably part of A's problem with me.  She even said during our FB convo that she thought MIL liked husband and me better than her and her husband.  High school much?

Sorry to disagree, but there's no doubt in my mind now that she's a crappy person.  After hearing about her attempts to strong-arm her sisters and mother into disowning us over this relatively innocuous disagreement, the scales just seem to tip that way.  However, due to her age, husband and I hold out some hope she will get her shit together and this relationship can be salvaged down the line.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 01:11:45 PM by S.S. »

Goldielocks

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Re: Raising Good Kids in a Secular Home
« Reply #139 on: September 08, 2017, 09:29:45 PM »
My (as well as husband's) $0.02: this is not about religion or anything "larger" or more ideological.  I gave her waaay too much credit here.  Religion was used as a convenient way for A to try to punish me for hurting her evidently very fragile ego.

Every family has its weird stuff, but after knowing my in-laws almost a decade, I can authoritatively say they are truly kind and good people.  I was accepted and beloved by them instantly.  MIL and FIL have told husband privately they think the world of me and us as a couple.  That's probably part of A's problem with me.  She even said during our FB convo that she thought MIL liked husband and me better than her and her husband.  High school much?

Sorry to disagree, but there's no doubt in my mind now that she's a crappy person.  After hearing about her attempts to strong-arm her sisters and mother into disowning us over this relatively innocuous disagreement, the scales just seem to tip that way.  However, due to her age, husband and I hold out some hope she will get her shit together and this relationship can be salvaged down the line.

Yes, you mentioned it earlier.  It is very likely that she is jealous of the affection and trust her parents have in her brother (your DH), and very plausible that your in-laws also like you much better than her.  (We love all our children, but we don't always have to like their actions).

Most people do mellow a bit after age 22... by the time they are 30 or a bit older.   My SIL definitely changed into a responsible person from a "victim" before age 25 (or more accurately a "person without ability to do it on her own").   I like my SIL now (she is 36) and trust that she can make the best decisions for her family, now.   Ironically, MIL (her mom) pushes back on that idea from time to time and on me for reminding her, but that is mystory, not yours......!   

TLDR - just keep stepping away from SIL drama for a few years, but not in-laws, even if you need to preface conversations with other in-laws with "SIL is still so young, let's give her time to figure it out..."   and change the subject away from her, I guarantee it will work.