Friday, April 25, 2008

Musings and concerns

My 400th blog post is coming up in two posts. I want to do something fun. One of the things that has been suggested is to do a photo journal (slideshow with captions, most likely) with "A Day in the Life" of the P-fam. Another idea was to ask readers to share their favorite blog post. Both of those ideas sound fun, but I really find myself wondering about the people who read this journal - so...maybe I'll do a reader survey. I also might use that to expand my link list. *thinks* I may do all of those.

I have some reader mail...
Carleen says...What happened with P3 and the girl who was making her upset about God?
I don't know that we ever got a good resolution to that one. Essentially, the problem is that you have a five year old child (the Christian child) who is dealing with a rough home life and her insecurity is manifesting through an insistence that God exists and will take care of her. It's sad, really. I can't even find myself getting annoyed with her anymore because I just can't imagine how out-of-control her life must feel to her. I'm a sucker for little kids. Still...she continues to stress P3 out about us not going to church. What's difficult is deciding how much is too much to say to P3. I've told her that I don't believe God exists...and some people do and that it's their right to believe...and that God is similar to the other myths and legends she knows about. I'm not sure that I'm succeeding in making P3 feel 100% confident that I'm "right". I mean, think about you have a little girl telling everyone that if they don't believe they are going to hell (or going to die). Of course P3 is scared! How do you explain to a five year old that there's no God even if someone is insisting their is and threatening said five year old with such horrible scare tactics? How do you get the other five year old to stop doing it when her life is so terrible and unstable? The teachers all agree that it's becoming a problem...but, what can they do? They've talked to the girl. They've talked to her parents. Her parents did the whole "well... our daughter can say what she wants to say and you can't block her from practicing her religion." I guess my thought is that, in theory, she has a right to believe and practice what she wants, but I don't think that includes recess evangelism and terrorism.

Amanda says...What happened to the podcast?
Jack and I had some scheduling conflicts and health issues that made finding time for the podcast impossible. However, your question is timely since Mark of the Central Valley atheist group has offered to do all the production on our cast if we want to restart it. That would take an enormous load of Jack's shoulders. So, hopefully we'll be pod casting again soon!


corsair the rational pirate said...

Her parents did the whole "well... our daughter can say what she wants to say and you can't block her from practicing her religion."

Of course, a five-year old does not have a religion. Much like she does not have a political party, a favorite college basketball team, a choice of merlot, or an opinion on that hot blonde in accounting. All she is doing is parroting her parent's nonsense.

Why don't people need a license to have kids?

Bill said...

PMomma: I don't think it is a good idea for her to be 100% sure you are right - she needs to decide for herself and be 100% certain that she herself is right.

That will probably involve study of at least some passages of the Bible. You can direct P3's attention to inconsistencies and possible alternate motivations of the authors. It might also be helpful to compare with other religions: if Christianity is right (as far as non-Christians going to hell), then most of the world's population is damned to hell for eternity. Is that a sign of a "loving God"?

corsair: I don't think requiring a license to have kids would be a good idea: Christians are the majority in the U.S., that could backfire badly.

Full disclosure: I am a Baha'i and believe in God and a non-literal interpretation of the Bible.

LK said...

I have an un-serious answer here... that my father used when my younger brother, then about 5 years old, was being worried by my grandmother (Catholic) that being raised an atheist, he will go to hell. My parents raised us atheist - I grew up in Hungary, where this is not at all uncommon. On a summer afternoon when my parents and us kids were preparing some snacks, my brother began to tell us how worried he was that our grandma told him he won't go to heaven if he's an atheist because atheists go to hell. My father looked at him, and with a straight face said, but wouldn't you rather come with us? My brother looked at him, looked away, opened and closed his mouth, and his face registered a look of, well that's a really good point.

In general, we have a truce going with our grandmother - she goes to church, we don't and never did, we behave respectfully towards churchgoing and she behaves respectfully towards us by not trying to convert us. Except for once in the lifetime of each grandchild - I suppose she figures she has the right to that one attempt.

Half rabbit said...

Why don't people need a license to have kids?

Who would decide? If the government had that power I can readily imagine Christians lobbying to have people they don't agree with refused the license(gays, atheists etc(not sure about the current adoption situation but their might be parallels)). Of course with the right safeguards it might go fine and prevent a lot of conflict and strife. I'm just hesitant in knowing whether I would support it or not.

Of course, a five-year old does not have a religion

Of course they don't since their just parroting and not reasoning and questioning it for themselves. But it's still frighting how many people go into adulthood without questioning attitudes and beliefs from their parents (I read a paper somewhere but can't seem to find the link). So maybe five year olds do have a religion :)

My 400th blog post is coming up in two posts. I want to do something fun

For some reason a video of a possum family cream pie fight sounds like a good topic for a 400th post.

Or if there's enough time, get readers to send in personal pictures. Then make a huge collage with pmomma and associates in one big happy (internet)family. Actually maybe personal identifiable photo's isn't a good idea. Possibly drawings or something similar of what each reader thinks other readers look like (e.g. a rabbit being sawed in half) Here's a atheist 'a' logo, minivan and possum I whipped up a few days ago on a whim.

Betsy said...

Pmomma, have you tried talking to P3 about other people's loving interpretations of god and how it doesn't make sense for a "loving" god to send children to hell? The "wouldn't he be more concerned that you were kind and made the right choices than that you believed in him" talk? And does P3 understand that the other girl has a rough life and is using god as a security blanket? It's such a tough situation, not least b/c you're dealing with the age that can't quite comprehend the nuances but is aware it's a big issue.
I know Dale has a post or two on the hell issue on Meming of Life.

April said...

I have a similar struggle with my 7-yr-old, whose friends have her pray with them. I'm just continuing to use reason to explain why certain prayers have been answered, but I know she doesn't believe me right now. I'm encouraged, however, by my 10-yr-old who seems to get more and more turned off the idea by simply living and seeing things around her. I think the same will happen with our little ones.
I too feel bad for the 5-yr-old girl, but maybe - just maybe - P3 will be just the friend she needs when something threatens her world.

victor laszlo said...

How about posting a summary of postings 1-200 to get us up to speed with the storyline thus far (e.g. "previously on lost" or "previously on grey's anatomy")?

Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

I don't know if this is much use to you, but here's how I think I would approach this. I would use this to teach p#3 about control. About the different ways people can get others to do what they want; from trust, mutual agreement, to persuasion to violence and fear. And about why some of these are acceptable and others aren't.

If p#3 has seen Star Wars (4) you could explain that the reason the bad guys built the big evil space station was to keep all the good people under control through fear.

(You could pick some G-rated examples out of the real world too, but hey, I like star wars).

Also we need the idea that people who are already scared can scare more people around them.

Then, you could get p#3 to imagine what would happen if she made up a false story, maybe to scare someone into sharing their chocolate bar. Then ask p#3 what happens to that story, if it spreads, and more and more people get scared over hundreds and hundreds of years.
At the end, there are thousands of people who are scared (of something completely made up) but it's not their fault.
And they'll still be trying to scare other people thousands of years later, all because of a story that p#3 made up herself.

Wow, that was really egocentric of me; trying to give you advice :) Every time I come here I'm humbled by the way you raise your children.

Country Wife said...

We had a similar problem when Big Sis was in public school, only it was a sub. teacher that sent home pamphlets!! Until that moment, she'd never heard the word 'sin' and was pretty upset. I was SO mad!! That was that guys last sub. day at that school!!

We had a different issue with Little Sis. By the time she was five, she would announce loudly, whenever anyone mentioned god, that she DID NOT BELIEVE IN GOD! We had to discuss with her about being respectful of other people's beliefs, while still keeping her own.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

The collage idea sounds good but that's an awefull lot of readers and time spent doing the collage

Anonymous said...

It's awful that your daughter is being subjected to all the hell-talk at such a young age. I can only imagine, vaguely, what the other girl's parents (and church, presumably) must be teaching her all the time! It's one thing to teach a loving god. It's quite another to teach a wrathful one. Even granting that the other girl has a right to practice her religion, she does not have a right to bully and frighten other children. My heart goes out to you and your family. This is a dreadful situation.

Thranil said...

bill said: "...That will probably involve study of at least some passages of the Bible. You can direct P3's attention to inconsistencies and possible alternate..."

That would be a great idea if a 5 year old could think logically, I've been around a lot of kids who are 5 and I have yet to meet one that arrives at a belief due to sound logical thinking.

pmomma: One of my primary objectives with my three kids (6, 4 and 1.5) is to help them think for themselves, and I think I can understand with what you're going through right now. Even though I want them to think for themselves, I know that there are some beliefs that are just too harmful to allow into their world (i.e. hell) for now, so I have no problem at all with saying things like "Hell isn't real" when my kids are confronted with things like this (I leave the question open for the more 'harmless' questions like god's existence in general). I will definitely have an open conversation as they get older about things like hell, but I do not want my kids to get sucked into the fear of another kid who has delusional parents... their time as children is too precious to me!

Brigit said...

I wonder if telling kids that hell is an imaginary place full of boogeyman that some adults use to scare others would be suitable.