What does an atheist tell their kids about religious holidays?
I’ve been grappling with that question this weekend.
There’s a lot to like about belief. I have some wonderful religious friends (‘some of my best friends, etc etc…..’). And it seems that kindness, care and genuine community spirit lie at the heart of many different faiths.
But equally, I’m often horrified by some of the less charitable elements of religion. Especially when it’s used as an excuse to validate feelings of fear and anger towards people who are different. For instance, I recently had to walk out of a playgroup held in a church, because the vicar was trying to get parents (many of them non-religious) to sign a petition against gay marriage.
I want Austin and Gwen to know that, even though the Daddy D and I celebrate the main festivals, we’re not religious.
Of course, they should also understand that our history and culture would be nothing like it is today, without these fundamental beliefs as a bedrock. And I hope they will respect that many people genuinely believe in the nativity and rebirth of Christ.
But, to us, these things are just stories. Wonderful, life-affirming stories, with beautiful, magical traditions associated. But stories nevertheless.
I’ve let myself off the hook this year. I’ve wimped out of explaining even the basic stories of Easter and Christmas to Austin. Let alone the subtleties of those tales from the perspective of parents who believe in the magic, but not the myth.
It’s all too complicated, and he’s too little. After all, one of Austin’s peers, when a nursery staff member explained (in very simple terms) about the birth of Christ, thought it was a story about ‘cheese sauce’ (Jeee-sus. Geddit?).
So, food is clearly a helpful entry point when holding complex theological discussions with a three year-old.
Hence, this Easter, it’s been all about the chocolate. Here’s what we did.
Here’s hoping you’ve had a good Easter too (secular or non-secular).
How do you celebrate yours?
*Sorry about the product placement. Sadly, we weren’t plied with free chocolate this year by companies hoping I’d blog about it.
I’m linking up with Magic Moments at the Oliver’s Madhouse