A Father’s Religious Obligations
And the story goes like this:
There is a knock on the front door followed by a dog parking and the sounds of children running to see who is there. Dad shouts from across the house not to open the door before he gets there, the kids yell back “ok” and the dog just barks.
It took all of thirty seconds for me to cover the vast expanse of the family estate to reach the front gates of the castle. I saw two twenty something men standing there. They were wearing backpacks, dressed in slacks and a tie. It was clear from the get go that I had a pair of missionaries on my hands. I issued a silent curse and rolled my eyes. If it hadn’t been environmentally unfriendly I would still have a moat surrounding the castle and I wouldn’t be dealing with these two boys.Â In fact if it hadn’t been for the economy they would have been met by the chief of the watch and sent along their way.
Unfortunately I had to let him and the rest of my men go. I sighed deeply. In my grandfather’s day they didn’t worry about this sort of thing. If things got tight you squeezed the peasants and if you couldn’t do that you just conscripted them into your army and went a plundering and a pillaging. Damn this kinder, gentler world we live in.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my writing or otherwise slow to catch on that was all tongue in cheek. I most certainly do not live in a castle. Unless things change dramatically my kids aren’t going to inherit a vast empire or grow up as trust fund babies who are able to run amok and get into trouble because daddy’s money/influence is there to bail them out. However they do have a different sort of inheritance that I think is worth far more than cash and property.
They are Jewish and part of something that is exceptional.
Exceptional doesn’t mean that I think that by virtue of being Jewish that we are better people.Â Race/Religion/Color doesn’t bestow magical properties or powers upon anyone. I know Jews who are miserable people that I never want to associate with or be associated with. I can say the same about any group. Read my posts, talk to me and you know that I teach my children to be judgmental. Judge people based upon their actions and respond accordingly.
As a parent it is incumbent upon me to provide my children with an education that encompasses the secular and religious worlds. So it is my choice to decide what religious upbringing they will receive and how it will be implemented. You don’t get to tell them to go to hell- that is my job. And if you tell my children to go to hell you will likely receive my size 12 boot up your ass. I don’t take kindly to it. I am not a good person to witness or proselytize to. I will tell you that I am not interested and then if you insist on speaking I will lay into you and attempt to verbally flay your skin from your bones.
But if you come to my home I am even less tolerant. So let’s take a second step back and review what happened when the lads approached the door.
I opened it and politely asked them what I could do. It was possible that I was wrong and I figured that they deserved the benefit of the doubt.
“Are you of the Jewish faith,” asked the first boy.
Here is a PSA for those who care, members of the tribe don’t speak that way. If you say faith I know that you aren’t batting for the same side and I wonder what you want. So when the guy asked me I said yes and asked him what I could do for him. He responded by telling me that he had a gift. I don’t claim to be the smartest guy, but I am a city kid. Ed McMahon is dead and this guy wasn’t carrying an oversized check so I was skeptical about his gift. When I asked him what sort of gift it was he told me that it was a DVD that some man I had never heard of made.
When I asked him to tell me what was on it he hesitated and then hemmed and hawed.Â Might as well dress up as a red flag sonny boy. You can’t come to the front door and talk about a gift and then not come out and say what it is. It makes people wonder what you are hiding. I politely pressed him on this and he told me to just take it and watch it. I refused and asked him to tell me what was on it- except this time I added a little edge to my voice.
Finally he told me that it was a gift that would change my life and that of my family because it offered something that I didn’t have.
And that is when I laidÂ into him and his friend. I told him that I thought that it was offensive to knock on my door on my Sabbath and ask me to watch something thatÂ is going to tell me that I am wrong and raising my children in the wrong way.Â I asked him what he would do if I told him that he was part of a cult that followed a mythological beast. I asked him what he would do if I told him that if he didn’t believe as I do he would suffer eternal torment and he visibly blanched. And then I asked him to think about what he was doing and suggested that others might be less charitable in their response.
When I took a few minutes to think about it I decided that I came on too strongly.Â I have other things on my mind and was already feeling edgy when they got here. However his initial refusal to be honest about his intentions and purpose set me off as did his coming to my home. I appreciate faith. I understand that some people are convinced that they have something special and wish to share it with others but I think that there are better ways to do it.
I know why I believe what I believe. I am very confident in it. I do not believe in giving children a choice in religion. That is the rule in my house. I am not telling other parents that they have to do it my way. My children receive a secular and religious education so that when they are older they will have the tools and background to make educated decisions. They made decide to do something else. I hope not, but when they are adults that will be their choice and not mine.
I’ll fight to protect your right to practice your religion insofar as it doesn’t infringe upon others.
On a side note, I will never understand how some people can engage in witnessing and then be upset when I witness right back to them. Like I said, I don’t care what you believe as long as it is not hurting others or being forced upon me. If you try to witness after I have said not interested than you have given me license to say what I will. How can you keep a straight face and complain that I am being offensive.
Bottom line- it is my job to provide a religious education for my children and I won’t allow that to be taken away.