3/8/10

Religion

I recently saw the controversial Shroud of Turin in a wonderful little exhibit here in Sacramento –which reminded me that I meant to post something on religion, in general and relating to adoption. Reading a number of blogs on adoption, I notice quite a few make references to religion: Children as gifts from God. Prayers. Being watched over. Jesus. The Spirit. Having a mission. Blessings. Etcetera. Over time I've become more aware of this (semi-imaginary?) connection (correlation?) between adoption and religion. While this puts my nerves on edge, it makes me think about my own fairly nonexistent religious viewpoints. So in the spirit of straightforward sharing, and in partial justification for why those nerves might be put on edge, I will try to explore and explain my thoughts on religion for anyone remotely interested.

Long before I learned about Marx's opiate of the masses idea, I put a great deal of thought into why people should bother with religion ... was I missing something? While technically I’ve been baptized and am a Catholic, I was never the most devout of followers and began to refuse going to mass when I realized I’d rather be doing other things. To survive what I at the time perceived to be many a dreary speech, I would busy myself with my coloring books and a little set of colored pencils on the side of the congregation, happily uncaring of anyone who might find this offensive. The only religions I've ever felt slightly drawn to have been Buddhism and Jainism, but the former was mostly limited to exploring meditation, and the latter to the prevailing idea of nonviolence and respect for all life including insects, plants, etcetera.

I do not believe in God, but do acknowledge the possibility that there is some greater power "out there." I prefer to claim that the human mind is so limited that one cannot even begin to fathom what is and what isn't. A stab at humility on my part and a legitimate one, I think! As far as I know, values make up the core of religion - and I've noticed most religions share very similar ones. Which is why I consider myself to be highly religious in the sense of "believing in something" as well as vehemently opposed to these so-called religions. In general, I've grown to dislike the connotation of the word, something a historian could easily elaborate on, but which I'm going to avoid altogether.


So I'm not very "religious" in the traditional sense. Extending that to adoption, I do not believe in the whole "savior" idea. In my typical judgmental skepticism, when I read about how some parents feel they’ve been “called upon” by God to adopt, I can’t help but wonder if that calling was the main motivation, second to wanting to raise a child and pass on the love, or if it (more likely, probably) runs parallel to other parental desires. I can’t judge. (As a side note, my mother’s choice to adopt never had anything to do with religion. When asked for an explanation for the blog, she laughed and mentioned love. No further details necessary.)

While I smile at the idea of connection across all borders and boundaries, physical or otherwise, I scoff at "
The Red Thread" proverb, which adoptive families seem to mention quite a bit in relation to their own child-parent destinies: "An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break." Destiny unites, but sometimes it romanticizes a bit too much for my liking.

In an effort to “broaden my horizons” I asked the adoptive mother of “The Tongginator” (a believer in God) for some input. She sent me a link to a post (by “A Beautiful Mess”) with quite a few comments below it relating to religion and adoption. I liked what she wrote, though – it broadened my thinking to all issues relative to adoption and religion – more than I’d realized…

Even if I don’t know about the “God” portion, I liked her way of putting it: God “used things in my life to open my heart to adoption.” She mentioned that the “saving language makes me very uncomfortable” and that “in my mind, God can manage anything He wants with or without our help. Really, He just invites us along for the ride…Do I think I physically saved my daughter? Nope.” She considers her and her husband to be the “Plan B” for her daughter. In the spiritual sense, “If I follow the tenets of Christianity exactly, it's my job to raise her using Christian values to guide my parenting, but it's not my responsibility to "save" her. That's between her and God. She has yet to be baptized. She might never choose to do so. Christianity - done right - is not always an easy road. She's gonna have to make a choice for herself. Now, we have taught her to pray. And we take her to church weekly. But our sole focus during these years is to teach her to have a kind, compassionate attitude and a humble spirit.”

I like this kind of religious open-mindedness. Choice! Universal values! Not just applicable to Christianity, but values that all religions (apparently) emphasize at the very core of their philosophies. And this provide a nice transition to how the “Golden Rule” reigns supreme:

Buddhism: Do not offend others as you would not want to be offended. –Udanavarga 5:18

Christianity: In everything do to others what you would have them do to you. For this sums up the law and the prophets. -The Bible, Mathew 7:12

Confucianism: Is there any rule that one should follow all of one’s life? Yes! The rule of the gentle goodness: That which we do not wish to be done to us, we do not do to others. –Analectas 15:23

Hinduism: Everything you should do you will find in this: Do nothing to others that would hurt you if it were done to you. -Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam: None of you shall be true believers unless you wish for your brother the same that your wish for yourself. –Sunnatt

Judaism: That which you do not wish for yourself you shall not wish for your neighbor. This is the whole law: the rest is only commentary. –Talmud Shabbat 31^

Taoism: The successes of your neighbor and their losses will be to you as if they were your own. –T’ai-Shang Kan-Ying P’ien

From a poster I have. Certainly NOT all-encompassing, as shown by various websites here and there.

Not precisely relating to adoption or policy, but quite the uniting force. And that is what this blog is all about.