“God makes me nervous when you get him indoors.” Cousins
Recently, a couple of posters have inquired (for one it was more of an accusation) about my relationship with God. I had occasion to spend some time with Him this weekend when I attended a Catholic wedding. This was my second Catholic mass in about four years (the prior occasion was the last time some Catholic friends got married). I was happy to not have to sit through yet ANOTHER reading of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, as this couple chose some more obscure readings. The priest officiating the ceremony was a Jesuit, and he took the opportunity to give us all a sermon that sounded more like a classroom lecture, which I thoroughly enjoyed from the mommy room where I nursed Baby V and listened to it on the loud-speaker. It was about love, something I’m very heavily invested in. And it was moving and inspiring. Baby V lasted just long enough to see the bride walk down the aisle (she was smiling like a kid on Christmas morning, and it was adorable — when told this, the bride responded “It was VERY exciting!”), and then we had to leave the church and find alternate entertainment for her. V’s ecstatic cry of “DADDY!” when she saw Odie walking down the aisle looking dapper in his groomsman suit was one of the more charming parts of the ceremony. We also popped in during the vows, and when our good friend the groom finished his, Baby V announced, “ALL DONE!” I use all-caps, not to be irritating, but to attempt to convey how she has no ability to control the volume of her voice.
Back to the God, churchy stuff. To give you a bit of background, my parents were Catholics. My father was studying to be a priest and attended seminary instead of regular high school up until his senior year. His mother, my grandmother, was quite religious and when she divorced her abusive, alcoholic husband, I think she sent my dad to be an altar boy because she felt he’d be safe with the priests.
Try to suppress your giggles.
My dad has always been the person I went to with any of my Bible or religion questions, but he claims to be an atheist now. As for my mom, when I was a teenager, she split with her second husband, my stepfather, and took up with her boyfriend in the house she’d kicked her estranged husband out of. The house HE bought them (and, by extension, us). When I, in a strange fit of religious fervor that had everything to do with trying to fit in with the “cool” kids who all went to youth Bible study at the local Presbyterian Church on Wednesday nights, told her she was committing a sin by sleeping with one man while married to another (that it was in the latter man’s home added insult to adultery), she merely laughed at me. No, she cruelly laughed at me. She did that frequently.
It explains a lot about me.
My knowledge of Christianity is more extensive than my average high school student’s. I know this because I often bring up Bible stories in relation to literature, and they almost NEVER know what I’m talking about. I took some religious studies classes in college because I was a literature major and my lack of a Christian upbringing put me at a disadvantage when analyzing the Western canon. As a result, I probably know more about who wrote the gospels, in what order, and for what purpose than your typical existential theist.
Last night, in our hotel room in Fort Collins, Colorado, Odie and I stayed awake with Baby V sleeping peacefully between us on our yummy hotel bed and discussed some comments and emails I’ve received lately (or, I should say “Mrs Odie 2” has received). We both had found ourselves full of love and reverence, inspired by the words of the priest earlier that day as well as the joy of seeing our friends united in marriage, so we were having a conversation about spiritual things. We felt closer to each other, witnessing the taking of vows reminded us of that day just three short years ago when we took our own. It’s good for married people to go to weddings, I think. And to just get out of town together in general.
In particular, our discussion involved two different comments written to me professing the belief that a certain nameless blogger (I’m tired of her name coming up with mine in Google searches) had been GIVEN a child with Down Syndrome by God as part of “His plan.” So, Odie and I were talking about what we thought of that.
Because, if you believe that God is a being who sits somewhere (presumably “on high”) and makes reproductive choices for people, then you believe that he gives us specific children based on what he thinks we need. So, to follow the commenters’ logic, K-Hizzle (for shizzle) was given a child with DS because she is meant to be some sort of herald of the joys of parenting her SN daughter. If you believe another commenter, God chose her to be the mother of this SN child because He knew she had the strength of character, heart, and soul to handle it. Nay, to master it, and to be held up as an example for others.
And as for those of us who have typical, healthy, non-challenging children? I guess God has no faith in our parenting abilities.
For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that. I believe in randomness. Stuff just happens. That doesn’t exclude a belief in a creator, however. Not for me anyway. When you get too far into the “it’s all part of God’s plan” thing, I start to wonder about things like human trafficking and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. My grandmother had two baby daughters born between 20 and 30 weeks. Both died. She never recovered from the grief. Did God do this to her on purpose? Was He punishing her? Or was it just an incompetent cervix and horrible luck? I know that there are ready answers for things like that and it has something to do with free will and Satan and God’s mysterious ways, but it’s a struggle for me to go there. Please don’t mistake my shallow dealing with the subject here for a shallow understanding of the topic. I simply don’t want to get into a deep discussion of religion here.
Except to say this. If you DO buy into the idea that God had a plan when He single-handedly oversaw the meiosis that resulted in trisomy-21 for a specific child, and then guided the hand of the mother to write a story on her blog that would “touch the world,” then you also have to believe that my criticism of the blog (not the people) is also part of His plan.
Because despite what you may think, I am not Satan.
The sermon, the wedding this weekend, my discussion with my husband, my reflection on the feedback of my readers have all given me much to reflect on (and genuflect on). For now, though, it is late and I have to get some rest, lest I not have the strength and courage to go back and see what disaster my substitute teacher from Friday has left.
God help me.