Keeping an Identity – Religion
When asked “What religion I am?” I often stumble and then mumble something about being culturally Buddhist – but in all honesty I find myself at odds to define that I belong to a specific religion.
I grew up with taoist influences (with Gods, Goddesses and ancestral worship), Buddhist teachings, in a Convent school and have been to Churches (Roman Catholic and a range of Protestant ones too).
We have prayed in Hindu temples, visited shrines, bowed our heads at Japanese Shinto temples and seen the inside of mosques.
If pressed to define, what I do believe in? Everything and nothing. Religions teach us all to be good, to see the good in our fellow man. All religions emphasise the need to be compassionate and understanding, to forgive and to live in peace.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out, quite by accident, that Georgia can actually recite the Lord’s Prayer (not something we do at home). Through school, she has learnt to say ‘Thanks’ before a meal (she occassionally reminds us to do it too), these are all good things, except, at five, I am not ready, nor prepared to discuss religion with her, and yet some part of me, feels that there is a great need to explain to her that Christianity is not the only religion.
It does not help that Churches are the most conspicuous religious buildings available, obviously (!). Buddhist centres and Hindu temples are little shop lots, tucked away in corner streets, Sikh Gurdwaras are one-roomed offices and occassionally, a mini minaret may be seen where there is a Muslim majority.
While it’s understandable given the history of the UK that Churches are everywhere, what is quite interesting is that it is actually really hard to find physical evidence of there being other religions in practise.
Our hopes are that with more frequent visits abroad, Georgia will come to learn and realise that different people believe in different things, and as long as we accept their right to make their own choices in life, we will live in peace.
What is most important to me for now, is not so much to instill a sense of religion, but to ensure that Georgia grows up with a strong sense of positive self-belief, to know that she, and she alone is in charge of her choices and ultimately her future.
What are your thoughts on religion and are you raising your children in the religion you were raised in?
© 2011, Li-ling. All rights reserved.
Religion is a quest, whatever it is, it reveals your soul and transcend it to the divine matter, where it should be.
Hi Yvone, That is an interesting point of view. I like your note of ‘whatever it is’. We do significantly influence our children’s thoughts and actions and I wonder, if a child growing up ‘religion-less’ and completely un-exposed to religion (hardly likely) might either make up a belief system of their own (a quest?) or latch on to the very first one they encounter (also a quest, perhaps).
I personally think, whatever happens, it is important to learn to accept and respect (and I suppose this transcends religion) that everyone has a right to their own beliefs.
I completely understand! I was raised Catholic but left the church when I was 13. I’ve explored so many religions, and I completely agree with Yvone that the quest itself is where it’s at! That being said, sometimes I long for a spiritual community so desperately that it hurts, but I just cannot see joining a group that advocates for things that I strongly disagree with, and so far I haven’t found a group that I could stand with on all the major points.
As for my children, I share with them what I believe and make certain that they know it is just my perspective. I tell them repeatedly that no one can dictate to them their relationship to God/Spirit, and that they can explore but ultimately must decide for themselves.
Elena, I completely understand the desire for a support community (I have at times considered joining a church simply for the social/community aspects – and very quickly turned the idea down!)
We found it so funny, during a recent visit to Malaysia, Georgia was so intrigued by Hindu and Buddhist temples,but she wouldn’t go in – according to her, “They’re very pretty and beautiful – but they smell!” (incense) We didn’t push it, but perhaps when she’s older we will.
I like your philosophy of religion for your children, I think I will very likely travel down a similar path. Thank you for sharing!
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Thanks for pointing me to your blog! Beautiful photos. You’re so right about churches being such an obvious feature of the landscape — whereas it’s hard to point out practising Buddhists. Will keep reading…. Katherine
Thanks for visiting Katherine.
Hi, I’ve come here via Katherine. My 4 yr old asked a family friend yesterday ‘Who is God?’. First time she’s had a question like that which has got me examining my response!
I’d like her to find her own way, she’s been in a Montessori pre-school til now which is completely non-religious but is moving next year to a small school linked to a Baptist church so she’ll be encountering lots more ‘God stuff’ no doubt!
We have Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist friends so I think the concept of choosing what works for you will be easier to explain but shew, it does suddenly feel like a big issue to be tackling!
Thanks for your post, it definitely helped me in my thinking around it.
Hi Molly. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. It’s all good fun isn’t it?