Writer’s Workshop: Religion fascinates me

English: Minerva as a symbol of enlightened wi...

English: Minerva as a symbol of enlightened wisdom protects the believers of all religions (Daniel Chodowiecki, 1791) Deutsch: Die aufgeklärte Weisheit als Minerva schützt die Gläubigen aller Religionen, Daniel Chodowiecki, 1791 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”
John Lennon

Religion is as much a hot topic as politics, and yet people continue to get offended (sometimes even surprised) when their opinions are met with question or disagreement.

Often when I tell people we are a home school family, the first assumption is that we made that decision for religious reasons. There was a long list of pro’s and con’s to this drastic educational dynamic, however, religion never made either list. Yet, ironically, The Hare and I have been talking a lot about religion lately.

Currently we are studying about immigration. The Hare has learned that immigrants, much like the Pilgrims, poured into America to escape tyranny & persecution. They were seeking religious freedom and educational opportunities.  The Hare was quite amazed how religion and culture lived side by side in tenement housing. People had to learn to live together in order to survive. I am not naive enough to think that this wasn’t problematic for some, but as a whole, people’s focus didn’t seem to be about who was right, but about how to feed their families and educate their children. Somewhere along the way, as the waves of immigrants found a foothold in the American dream, we forgot why we embraced each others diversity. Our lessons have pointed out that it is a mix of beliefs that has shaped and molded who we are today. Many of the holidays or traditions I celebrate with my family are rooted in religion or culture brought by these immigrants.

I like the third definition of religion as described by Dictionary.com : the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices. One of the things The Hare’s lesson asked of her, was to research some traditions that are unique to our family’s history. The history of my family, both my mother and father, is quite extraordinary actually. My mother’s father was a Jew. His mother and two of his aunts escaped religious persecution by immigrating here between 1912 and 1913. Another of the aunts escaped to South America, and sadly, neither parent or brothers were able to escape at all. My father’s parents immigrated here in 1949 after spending years in camps, first in concentration camps and then in displacement camps in Austria. By the time they found a sponsor to bring them to America, my dad’s oldest brother was a toddler and my dad was soon to be born. That side of my family is Russian and immigrated here to find religious and political freedom. So, as you can imagine, religion and a desire to find religious freedom is very important to my family.

The Hare has taken it quite personally too, so much so, that she has a desire to integrate some new traditions into our holidays this year to honor our family’s history and diversity, things like Hanukkah or recognizing the Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. She wants to embrace the things that make us both unique and connected to a “body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices“. She does not want their stories and beliefs to disappear as our generations unfold.

“Mom,” asked The Hare, “If America is a melting pot of culture and religion, do you think heaven is too?”

“Yes,” I answered, “Yes I do.”

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s weekly Writer’s Workshop.

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About My Pajama Days

I am Emily Okaty Wilson, freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. It sounds better than saying I stay in my pajamas all day eating salt and vinegar chips. I claim to be a wife, a mother, a homeschool teacher and a musician. Sometimes I'm funny.
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6 Responses to Writer’s Workshop: Religion fascinates me

  1. Mom says:

    Very nice post, Daughter. Glad you are talking about these things because they are so important.

  2. Becky says:

    I love this post. And LOVE seems to be exactly what people are forgetting about when it comes to religion. The love for others, the love for you family, the love for yourself. My friends run the spectrum of Christian (me), Jewish, atheist, unsure-ist (dh), and the ever popular “can’t we all just agree that there is a God and he/she is good.” And I think in my circle, we can, and we do most of the time.

    Sometimes I think of religion as a game of telephone that has gone on for thousands of years. If one word can get messed up in a matter of minutes, think of all the things that could have gone wrong with God’s original message. I believe if you look for God here and now, you will find him. The most important religion is your personal relationship with the God of your choosing, and the respect and love it leads you to show others.

    Also, sounds like you are doing a great job with your daughter!

  3. janekinpis says:

    I think it’s wonderful how Hare is embracing tradition and culture. We actually became Unitarian Universalists for the exact reasons you stated above.

  4. Miriam Joy says:

    It’s very interesting you should post this on a day when I dithered about whether or not to write a blog post about my own personal beliefs. But I totally agree with what you say at the end there – I think there are too many similarities between different religions for all of them, or all but one, to be totally false. How can it be false if aspects of it are the same? And so I’ve always imagined that heaven is not the ‘exclusive’ thing we seem to paint it as.

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