In Limbo

My religious background is somewhat varied: my family tended to congregation-hop, and as a kid I remember attending a wide variety of churches, from Lutheran to Presbyterian to Episcopalian to Catholic. (Yah, I know that’s not really much variety in the broad scheme of things, but when most of the people you know are lifers in one denomination, it counts.) Going to church, though varied, was constant – we were pretty much always a member of some congregation. I liked the Catholic and Episcopalian ones best. Although now I consider myself to be a militant agnostic (“I don’t know and you don’t either”), religion was quite important to me at certain moments in my childhood. I liked the ritual of it, the rhythms of the liturgical calendar, the sense of community. And to be honest, though I’m very very vague on the details, at bottom I think I still do believe in something like God. I’d guess Mr. Squab is in about the same position, though it’s not something we’ve ever talked about much. We don’t attend church, mostly due to inertia on my part and total lack of interest on Mr. Squab’s part. When we found out I was pregant, I did think about joining a congregation. I’m pretty ambivalent about many aspects of organized religion, but I also think it’s hard to make a choice about something you have no familiarity with, so I feel like I need to expose the Hatchling to religion in some form. Additionally, given the extent to which Judeo-Christian ideologies underpin our whole culture, it seems like a good idea to give my kids a working knowledge of the framework, you know?

Anyway, this is all by way of saying that we haven’t baptized the Hatchling. And I feel a little weird about it. On the one hand, it feels dishonest to baptize her when neither of her parents has darkened a church door in living memory. On the other hand, I was baptized, and Mr. Squab was baptized, and … well … it just feels like something you ought to do. I don’t buy into any silly notions of limbo or anything – it’s not like I’m afraid she’s going to go to hell. But there is something nice about being formally welcomed into a community, which is what baptism really is in the end, right? Only we don’t so much belong to one of those communities. And I’m pretty sure that Mr. Squab isn’t interested in giving up his Sunday mornings, so if I do decide to start going to church again, it will just be me and the Hatchling. Which makes it that much harder to get up the gumption to get out the door … yeah. Did I mention I was ambivalent? Anyway, what do you all think? Is baptism important? What’s the best way for an overeducated feminist agnostic to expose her daughter to religion? How do you talk to your kids about this stuff?

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