Let us examine the explications of raising the children which with NO specific religion but that our children be raised in a kind of religious vacuum. The obvious if naive hope would be that we would generate a whole new group of young people, full of compassion and love and that there would be no longer bigotry or prejudice. We would all live in harmony and life would be beautiful.
It is a king of spinoff from the beautiful and poetic fantasy of the American naturalist--the one who says that we should leave it ALL to Nature who or which would allow us to develop with a lovely wholeness undiscovered by the religions of history. Sounds nice but is totally unrealistic from the point of view of an traditional Catholic like me. This is simply because I (and millions like me ) believe in a WOUNDED HUMAN NATURE which is always hurt and inclined toward evil even in the pristine air of the mountain top. So put me in the forest. Give me just a lin cloth. Let me develop naturally and you will see--not a noble savage--but a ruthless, self centered human monster. Alas, human nature has discovered this somewhat brutal reality whether in Freud or the kibbutz or in the protected walls of the nunnery.
We NEED laws or strictures or boundaries or commandments to socialize us. This is why religion on an institutional level has always been considered a must for a stable society. So, my advice is (take heed you simpletons out there), give your kids SOME religion. Give them something clear and definite. Give them something to hang onto. There is no such thing as a completely reliant person or the completely independant peron. We ALL need structure of belief and virtue. Teach them about God and His love and mercy. If in adulthood they wish to rebel, they can, at least, rebel against something The "vacuum" type person is sadly without a force to rebel against. There is the unhappy atheist who can't even than God when he feels grateful. Give your kid something to believe when he inevitably encounters the big smashing difficulties of human experience. Have a heart, for Pete's sake or for you kid's sake but more precisely for God's sake.
Editor's note Looking back on this, I must say it sounds pretty good but where did I get all that stuff?
January 8, 1999