My middle guy and I are battling these days. Different days bring different struggles, but Sundays are always the same. It’s his year to be confirmed, and he couldn’t be more disinterested. It’s stupid, he says. There’s nothing to learn, he says, because religion doesn’t matter.

And I catch my breath and bite my tongue, trying to think before I respond. Because I can feel the rhetoric bubbling up, like heartburn after bad fast food, and I don’t want to spout off platitudes that basically all come back to ‘because that’s what we do, that’s why.’ Sometimes, though, that’s all I have, because I questions, too.

I wonder if he’s really learning anything about faith, or if we’re just checking off the boxes. Recite the Ten Commandments: check. Regurgitate the seven sacraments: check. Deliver the required prayers: check. I wonder if he questioned me about what I believe, if I’d be able to look him square in the eyes and tell him that I’m absolutely certain that it’s important that he be confirmed.

Last night he brought home paperwork. One form was about ‘good touch, bad touch’ and I can opt him out of sitting in for that class. I’m ashamed to admit that the first thought that went through my head wasn’t positive. I thought about the hundreds of young people who have been abused by priests over the years, and how the church has covered those sins up time after time. I thought that maybe, just maybe, direction about good touch and bad touch should be trusted to parents instead of clergy or a few strangers who’ve taken direction from an institution I don’t always trust.

I wondered, too, if I can opt out of other practices. In this week’s bulletin, I read that there’s now a support group for men and women who are attracted to members of the same sex. The group will encourage folks who “struggle” to be chaste, with the help of the sacraments, prayer and moral support. The announcement reads like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, complete with a separate support group for family members and friends of those with same-sex attraction.

And it makes my stomach turn, that the very place I take my kids to ground them in God’s loves wants to teach us that some of God’s creatures deserve to be treated as if they’re less-than, solely because of sexual orientation.

I opt out, thank you.

group

I also watched part of an interview on 60 Minutes last night, in which Norah O’Donnell asked Cardinal Sean why the church refuses to entertain the idea of female priests. She asked why, when the church doesn’t discriminate based on race, it’s acceptable to discriminate based on gender. The Cardinal’s responses infuriated me; he placated with assertions that women hold important roles in the church, that there are many other ways for us to serve.

What he refused to acknowledge is that the only way women are allowed to serve are ways in which men have deigned acceptable for us to do so. We’re not allowed to choose, unless we’re choosing from a list of options that we have no input in creating, solely because of our gender.

I opt out, thank you.

So I struggle, too, and as I watch my boy push back against his weekly classes, I question if I’ve been a good mother to my kids. Why haven’t I fostered more respect for church through the years? I make them attend, just as my parents made me attend. Is that enough for now, until they’re older and have formed their own opinions and start worshiping in a way that feels right to them?

I don’t know. I struggle with that, too.

I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, and posting everyday in November.

nablopomoimage