We are of that new order of families whose Sunday routine consists of lazing around in our jammies, eating cereal, and watching movies about space travel. “Church” is just a picture in Max’s Little People book.
Yesterday morning (Easter Sunday), while we were visiting my mom at the ol’ homestead in Badger’s Quay, Max came downstairs exclaiming “Jesus was back alive!” After fighting the urge to tell him that Jesus was a zombie who slowly morphed into a bunny, my straight-up bedtime story had stuck. “Jesus died,” he recollected. “But when it became Easter day, he came alive again.” My good Christian mother was tickled pink.
My atom-splitting science teacher of a husband, however, just glared at me, his thick eyebrows twisting into tornadoes. What have you been teaching our son? “Don’t worry, honey,” I assured him. “I’m not getting all Jesusy on ya.”
I went to church on Easter Sunday with my mom and Max. One time too many, I suppose, for an outspoken skeptic or atheist or agnostic or whatever the hell I am. People were moving away from me in church to avoid the projectile splinters that would surely result from a pew-splitting bolt of lightning.
I was raised in the church. My father was an Anglican lay minister for 50 years. I sang in the choir for ten. I know all the words to several hymns. I even have a favourite –– The King of Love, My Shepherd Is. It still gives me chills. Possibly because I imagine the “shepherd” is Robert Downey Junior in a loincloth, but I digress. Now, do I think it’s all a bunch of biblical bunk? Yeah, mostly. I just can’t bring myself to go to church anymore; it’s all so silly. And I can’t seem to shake the fact that some of the world’s most gifted minds thought so too. Charles Darwin. Albert Einstein. Helen Keller. Ernest Hemingway. John Lennon. Jodie Foster. Maybe I’m like David Bowie – a self-described “reluctant atheist.” I want some kind of faith and hope to hold onto, but my mind just won’t let me believe.
But I’m not one of those hypocrites who expects to get married and buried in the church but never steps foot inside in-between. Let it be known: When I go tits-up, you can throw my ashes into the cavity of an old, broken typewriter.
But I haven’t completely forsaken church. Because I guess I’m still open to the possibilities. Refusing to go – never ever ever – would be like declaring I know something for certain, and that is neither true nor possible. The burden of proof is with you though, Jesus lovers. So forgive me for skipping church and watching E.T. with my family instead. I may not be wrapped in the arms of Jesus, but I’m wrapped in somebody’s arms and somebody’s wrapped in mine. This is what’s real to me. This is my heaven. Send me a Jesus memo when you find something.
But even though I’m not all Jesusy, it doesn’t mean Max can’t be. So I took him to church on Easter morning. As his mother, it’s on me to teach him how to be polite and share and wipe his arse, but it’s not my job to tell him what to believe. Especially when I don’t have the slightest clue myself. It’s my job to guide him, and show him some of the options – like the story of Jesus and Easter and Christmas and Satan (just kidding) – and then he can decide for himself.
Besides, I reckon there are worse things to be than Jesusy. As far as I know, Jesus was a kind, gentle, compassionate man who lived humbly and judged no one. If more so-called Christians acted more like that, maybe I wouldn’t have such a distaste for the whole thing.
Anyway, even though I’m not much of a believer myself, I tell my son about Jesus. So that one day, when he realizes it’s all a bunch of horse shit, it won’t be “because Mom told me so.” It’ll be “because that is what I think.”
On the other hand, if he decides it’s all true, I am open to be enlightened.