Sunday, March 4, 2012

That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight. Losing my . . .

As some of you know I'm a contributing author in an anthology that came out last month. To put a long story short, my local religious community shunned the book, removing it from their book club queu and informing the facebook world that they hated it. While I understand if someone doesn't like it and I didnt' frankly expect them to given their conservative leanings, I didn't expect them to defy the norms of politeness and announce it so harshly online for all the world [including me] to see.

I'm not as spiritual as I'd like but I do want my son in addition to having friends of all walks of life, race and faith, I do want him to have friends in the religious community, the issue is where I live my particular religious community sucks. No other word for it. They are stunted at 10th grade with 10th grade bullying, gossiping, drama, and pettiness. They judge you for the cars you drive, the purse you have, and no matter what they will be your best friends as long as you host tons of fun parties and invite them to it. It's small petty and as much as I enjoy me some guilty-Real House Wives of Blank County on BRAVO I don't want it in my personal life.

And yet that is what I have. That is my community.

I want my son to have friends who are part of his faith. I'm terrified that I'm setting him on a road where he will not have faith and for me this is important. HE can choose later if he doesn't want it, but I need to do my part to give him the opportunity to want it. But what do I do? Invite people I hate who are rude to my face and talk about things that dry up my soul so he can play with their kids? My parents did it. Do I have to do it too?

I feel guilt that I want nothing to do with these people. And guilt that all I have to do to give W these friendships is to host a couple of dinner parties and put on a pained smile and then go to the homes of these people myself. I'm so torn over this I'm literally walking around choking back tears. Part of it is hurt to be publicly called out. Part of it is a deep fear of how much my son will be shortchanged.

I've struggled mightily with sharing this on my regular blog but the shitstorm that could erupt makes me think its not worth the trouble especially since the ramifications could also affect my husband and his friendships and I don't think that will be worth it, so I'm coming here to my safe space. Thanks for reading, have any of you remotely had to struggle with this? Any advice or perspective would be much appreciated. Thank you.

5 comments:

  1. Ugh. So sorry you have to deal with this. And, honestly, it's a lovely book and your piece one of the most beautiful discussions of a tricksy concept to get across--and even if there was anything objectionable in your piece, to call you out publicly is just out of line! Whatever happened to tactful silence? It sounds frustrating in the extreme, especially because of what you want for Waleed.

    If it helps (and I'm not sure if it will, but it's worth putting out there) I can trace much of my disenfranchisement with the religion I was raised in to my early confusion regarding the hypocrisy I saw in that church. The glaring contrast between what people supposedly espoused & what they actually DID was too much for my juvenile (and adult) logic processors & it pretty much turned me off of organized religion. Not saying that would happen with Waleed, but just being around random people of any given religion isn't enough to make him want to practice his faith--not unless he REALLY wants to be like those people.

    Playmates are fun, but kids pick up on an awful lot of the stuff that's supposedly "over their heads" and if their parents are hateful to you, then that's not a healthy, fun lesson for him, either.

    I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation--it must be hard with a small community to draw from, to find people who share your values as well as your faith. I'll be interested to hear how you decide to approach this situation. Can you "commute" to a different area where the community is less judgmental/conservative? Perhaps that could be a deciding factor when you decide where to finally settle down?

    Thinking of you, wishing it were easier, and REALLY wishing that people without anything nice to say would just be QUIET already...

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  2. wow. i don't have to struggle with this because we are not religious people and i feel lucky for that. if louise ever has any curiosity about religion in the future i will be more than happy to nurture it but i do worry what she will think about her mom and dad not being religious if she becomes so herself. will she be worried about us going to hell? i guess that remains to be seen.
    i am really curious about the book(s) you co-authored, did you link them anywhere? i would love to read something you wrote.

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  3. I also have a different religion from the majoritary ones in my area. I am a minority in this respect as well. I do not go to the local church because of the same reason you mentioned: pettiness, hypocrisy, material, judgemental minds, etc.
    My child/ren will have little contact with our organized religion, but him/they will know the basics, just like I did when I grew up. It helps that I believe God is everywhere, and we can reach Him even if we don't go to the place people call it His house. I hate how the conventions the puny minds came up with transformed the wonderful ideas of love and tolerance religion was initially based on. I heard only one priest making sense while talking and statistically this is pathetic, spiritual leaders my foot. Main events are celebrated in church (baptism, marriage, death) but we're not really going to go there often. My husband and I appropriated the moral values and ideas of our religion, hopefully we are able to o the same for our child/ren.

    And to publicly slam your work, they should be ashamed. You know better, I hope, than to let such people hold you back or rain on your parade. Knowing your own worth is part of who you are, just like your faith. Don't lose sight of neither because someone says so.

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  4. First off - I read the book. I loved it. Your story was one of my favorites and I think it would have been even if I didn't follow your blogs!

    We don't have this problem yet. Our church doesn't have many young families - they all seem to disappear when the kids are born and then come back when it's time to start religious education (count us in that group). We'll be involved when that starts up, but I am sure that we won't be inviting the other parents over unless we really hit it off. I'm also sure that means we won't be as welcomed or in the "in group". I'm telling myself that I'll be ok with that. The difference is that our religion is pretty mainstream in our area and W won't need to be with that group to find himself. I wish it was that easy for you. I'm sorry.

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