Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Big Question

"Daddy, am I a Christian?"

This is what my 7 year-old daughter asks me today as I pick her and her 3 year-old sister up from a slumber party this morning.

Now, I've dodged a lot of existential bullets from her ("How did God make trees?," "Is Great Pop-Pop in heaven?"), but this was undodgable.

Lucky for me, I've become a bit more bold with my heathen pronouncements as of late. Around Halloween, her good friend JD, whose house she was at last night, developed a fear of devils ("not the red ones," my daughter assured me, "just the blue ones"). So when she asked me if I was afraid of devils, I told her I was not.

"Why not?" All big eyes and wonder.

"Because devils don't exist." I didn't even flinch as I wiped out the king meanie of Christianity, and, by default, it's main recruiting tool.

"But JD says . . ."

"Honey, JD is six. Who do you believe, him or me?"

The fact that she didn't answer right away concerned me.

Which brings me back to this morning.

"Daddy, am I a Christian?"

I'm no Bill Cosby, but even I realized this would require a little something called tact, or as I like to call it, "verbal tap dancing."

"Well, honey that depends on what you believe. Christians believe that Jesus is the savior of mankind. Do you believe that?"

"What's a savior?"

From there it was Christianity 101 taught by yours truly, which if there are any Hollywood execs reading, should be a TV show.

"Did Jesus die?" "Did God die?" "Did God go to heaven when he died?"

I give Christians credit because I have a hard enough time teaching her how to tell time on an analog clock, I can't imagine teaching the holy trinity. Not to mention, if you can explain the physics involved with Noah's Ark without laughing, you're either a great liar or a very dedicated believer.

However, what struck me most is that I really, really, don't want my daughters to be indoctrinated with a belief system they have little to no chance of ever understanding in a rational way. I'm not saying they can't be christians, just not yet. Like sex, drinking and cell phone use, they should at least be teenagers before they go down that path.

As it is with most bloggers, eventually the conversation came back to our favorite subject -- me.

"Daddy, are you a Christian?" She asked.

"No, I'm not" I said.

It felt good, honestly. Maybe because I knew my daughter would not judge me for my lack of faith or wonder if I had any morals or a spiked tail in my pants. She just accepted that her father was not a Christian, which didn't make him a bad person.

I hope she's as understanding when she discovers that while I'm no Christian, that I am indeed, Santa Claus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Religious Experience

It happened.

It finally fucking happened.

On Oct. 28 I had a religious experience.

I'll be honest, Jesus was nowhere around, not unless he was parading as the woman in the Redskins jacket behind me. But shape changing is something I believe only God does (at least he does in the movies and TV shows like "Saving Grace" and "Joan of Arcadia") -- truth is, any person who claims to be God would a get a polite nod from me as I backed away to a safe, distance.

No, my religious experience was based around another swarthy man who mostly goes by one name -- Obama.

And before you ask, Obama did NOT appear at the foot of my bed in the middle of the night nor did he carry me across a beach leaving only his footprints in the sand.

In fact, Obama did not appear before me at all.

That did not stop me from standing outside.

In the cold.

And rain.

For an hour.

And a half . . .

just to cast my absentee ballot for Barack Hussein (yeah I wrote it) Obama.

Now, I don't pretend to know what it was like to march during the Civil Rights Movement or follow Moses through the desert for 40 years, but goddammit if standing in that shit weather felt like a huge, biblical sacrifice.

And for what? Would Obama really win (remember this was Oct. 28 so I didn't know I would be part of history)? At the time, it was still entirely feasible that Sarah Palin would be the American Vice Pre . . . even now I can't finish typing that sentence, but you get the idea.

That's when I realized that voting is an act of faith. It's casting hope into a void for someone you've never met or will ever see with your own eyes. It's a well wish for someone else to triumph and make YOUR life better.

Standing in that line felt a little like prayer or how I think prayer is supposed to feel.

And yeah, it was kind of nice being huddled there with strangers who couldn't help but smile through the misery. We smiled because we all put our hearts and frozen fingers on a future we could only wish for.

I guess what grandma said is true: Voting works.