As we close in on the 2 month point since the whole family completed the move to Richland, AND football season no longer dominates MY Sunday's, my wife has been making it quite clear that she is ready to start looking for a church for the family to attend.
Church is a difficult subject for me. To put things bluntly, I am not a very religious person. That is not to say I am not spiritual, in my own way. It's not often that I blame how messed up I am now on my parents, but this IS something they had a direct impact on. My father is Jewish, my mom was Protestant(I believe her church growing up was Congregationalist). Rather than fight over which one to raise me, there was not much religion at all...we 'celebrated' Christmas, Easter, Pass Over and Hanukkah in equally secular methods. I do remember going to Temple once or twice, though I never had my Bar Mitzvah, and if we were visiting my moms family over a weekend, I would got to her church with her.
For me, a church is a building...while I appreciate the architecture and real estate of some of them, I do not 'feel' anything in a church. Where I DO feel something, is out in the woods, sitting on a hillside looking out at the world. This is my cathedral.
My wife, she is a religious person. She was raised Episcopalian, but is pretty satisfied now with and non-denominational Protestant service. In the past, my wife has stated that she doesn't need a Church to help her talk to ummmm....well, God. But, given the chance, she does like the fellowship of a Congregation, and the grounding in a community that being a member of a Church can give you.
Our different views on religion were never anything we kept from each other. Even before we got married, we decided we would never interfere with each others beliefs, and there would be no forcing, brow-beating, OR belittling(although it should be noted that this conversation first took place after she threw out two Wicca books had bought during a 'curious' phase of my life.
She has never really had a regular church since we got married. Every 6 months or so(usually after football season winds down), she will start looking for one, and after trying 3 or 4, she will settle on one, and then football season starts again, and I tend to lose interest.
I worry about my girls though. If I can do at least as good a job of raising them as my parents did with me, they will be okay. At times, I wonder about what is supposed to guide me through this world. I feel I can live a Good Life and be a contributing member of society without a book telling me to do so, but the subject of religion is one where I would like to try to do a little better than my parents did, even if things are presented to my daughters as more of a history lesson than as the Gospel Truth, and this includes the Jewish side of their heritage.
When our first daughter was born, I worried for a bit that my wife's attitude might change. In one of our pre-child conversations, we had kind of concluded to treat religion like we would treat pierced ears...when our kids were old enough to ask for it on their own, we would allow them to do so. We did not consider it our right as parents to permanently put holes in their ears for them, or bind them to a religion they might grow resentful of with a Christening.
Now that the girls are 5 and 8, and starting to express curiosity, I haven't reneged on my side of the deal, just like my wife didn't try to force a Christening on me during my moments of weakness as a new father. I let her do the research and make the plans, and I do my part by wearing nice clothes, and smiling when we attend a new church. While the original deal was just not to interfere, I love and respect my wife enough to actively assist. Starting at a new Church can be tough, especially if the existing congregation is close-knit. I don't want her to have to start off my making excuses for where he husband is. That is not to say I will attend every day, once she picks a Church...as the spring weather gets nicer, daddy could find himself at the Gun Range every couple of Sundays.
Today, we went to Central United Protestant Church, in Richland. Very nice place...all of the people were very friendly, one of the ushers even walked us all the way down to the children Sunday School classrooms, instead of just pointing us that way. My only problem, and I'm not saying it is wrong, is that it is TOTALLY different from my mom's Church, which accounts for about 50% of my life-time church exposure. Very active and lively...band playing upfront, singing along with words projected on a screen instead of trying to follow along in a Hymnal...it's the kind of Church my wife likes, and that is what matters. Me? Perhaps because I feel most spiritual alone on a remote hill-side, to me, Church should be solemn occasion, not a party. It's not for me though...I am there for morale support and presenting a strong united front.
No complaints about the Pastor. The 'message' part of the service lasted a good 40 minutes, and while there was no fire and brimstone, he was a very engaging speaker. His sermon for the day revolved mostly around 'Accepting your mission', the mission being to Live the Word, and Spread the Word, instead of just trying to survive every day. One phrase he said hit especially close to home: 'Dying for five, just to live for two', referring to how tough it is just to make it through some weeks, clinging to the idea that the weekend will be good enough to make up for it. This is very close to matching up with how I have been living my life during my 'adjustment' phase at my new job...making my weekends with the family get me through my week at work.
The girls had a good time at Sunday School. As my wife observed, much like church services, Sunday Schools are different than they used to be.
I am not sure that there will be any looking at other churches. This one seemed to fit my wife's interests pretty well....they even seem fairly active in community outreach, to the point where they help support a local woman's shelter, where my wife is already talking about volunteering some or her LPN-type skills. No mens bible study sign up for me though.
I just hope the NFL avoids all this lock-out talk, so I have an excuse to reclaim my Sundays in the fall.