Agnostic Humanist In The South

Easter to the non-Christian.

It’s no secret that we talk a lot about religion in this house. Mainly because my kids get grilled about not being Christians by peers at school, but also because my kids – Nikki especially – finds it all so fascinating. Her new interest is that fact that there are still groups of people in the world who believe in multiple deities. She thought that was a “Olden Days” thing left behind with the Greeks. This came up when someone insisted to Wesley that there’s only ONE GOD! and he reminded this friend that there are religions who believe otherwise. Nikki said, “Well…they all believe in ONE God, right? But just that God might be different?” And I pointed out that no! Depending on how you define “deity” or “god” there are plenty of people in the world who have more than one in their religion. And again – this was one of the many times I wished I had a world religion scholar on my speed dial.

But lately the talk is about Easter and Zombie Jesus. I don’t mean that to be crass, but it’s VERY hard to explain to a non-Christian the spiritual aspect of the resurrection of Christ in the age of Zombies. When I was a kid, zombies were not part of pop-culture so it never occurred to me that someone “rising from the dead” was anything but spiritual. But nowadays, zombies are EVERYWHERE, so referencing someone rising from the dead has a connotation to it that has nothing to do with heaven or God.

Actually – let’s back up a second. Let me ALSO point out a difficult point I’ve had to explain recently: Jesus and Christ are the same person. Nikki still forgets this and doesn’t get it, and will often reference, “Jesus And Christ” when she’s talking about religion. Again – this is something that, growing up, never occurred to me as weird…that we used different names for Jesus and sometimes we put them together. He’s Jesus, He’s Christ, He’s Jesus Christ. That’s very hard to explain to an 8-year old. I’m sure there are theologic definitions explaining to when to use which one, but the average Christian uses them interchangeably, which confuses those of different faiths. She thought they were two different people and still thinks that sometimes.

Okay. Back to the Resurrection. It’s hard as hell to explain the spirituality of the Resurrection to a kid raised in the Zombie era. She has no problem with most of the Christian teachings, and sometimes talks about going to Church some day, but the Rising From The Dead thing as being something good is REALLY hard for her to grasp. No matter how much I explain the relation of Jesus to God, it’s hard because – in reality – even the bible sometimes wavers in it’s own text about when Jesus “became” God. And there’s TONS of theologic debate about that, did Jesus believe he was God? Did he become God with the resurrection or was he always God born as a man? Did he become God when he was baptized? Even the most devout of theologians can debate that, so explaining it to an 8-year old? Basically impossible. I tried to explain it in the different ways different parts of Christianity believe – but then it gets tricky because there are plenty of people on earth who don’t believe Jesus was anything more than a prophet.

So, yeah. Explaining Christmas is MUCH Easier.

One of these days I’m going to find me a World Religion Scholar and we are going to sit down and write kid’s books together explaining the World Religions in a way that makes sense to a kid in elementary school.

And maybe then…it will make sense to me. Because, god forbid she ask me to explain holidays observed in Judaism. I consult this wiki page constantly just so I can try to interpret Facebook statuses of my Jewish friends. I feel like an idiot that I can’t keep it all straight, considering how big of a religion Judaism is. Which is what I remind myself regarding my kids and their confusion re: Christianity. At least I was raised a Christian so that stuff I can explain, but damn, if we lived in a community where they had a high concentration of Jewish friends? I’d be screwed. I’m terribly uneducated in any religion but Christianity. And I’m often very ashamed of that. I do learn more each time she asks me hard-hitting questions, but the retension of information is minimal. I bet I’ve looked up the basic tenets of Hinduism 100 times and I still forget them whenever she asks.

Basically, she’s being taught by an idiot, so she’s screwed.

Anyway! I hope everyone has a great weekend, no matter how you celebrate it.

11 thoughts on “Easter to the non-Christian.”

  1. I agree these are hard questions. My daughters go to a Christian daycare because it is one of the best in town. It is open to all religions but they pray, learn bible verses and songs etc. I don’t mind that they learn these things but it was hard to explain to my 6 year old why they were off yesterday because the teachers told them it was to “reflect on Jesus dying and rising again”. I appreciate your posts on this because it reminds me to keep things more educational when talking this through with them and also letting them know they can chose if and when religion will truly be part of their lives.

  2. I bought The Jewish Book of Why several years ago, and loved it. But I like that sort of thing anyway.

  3. (Oh bottoms!!! Was almost ready to hit post and Safari on my phone crashed!!)

    Jewish festivals – so from what I know (which isn’t a lot lol). Passover is in celebration/memory of Moses getting the slaves out of Egypt – more specifically the angel of death passing over Egypt and killing the first born of each family so that Pharoah would let the people go. (Passover falls just before Easter. This year it fell on the 14th and finished on the 22nd – just after Palm Sunday which is when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey which kicks off Holy Week). Purim falls in about February or March and celebrates how Queen Esther saves the day. It sounds like a bit of a Disney story in places. The King’s advisor attempted to have a heap of people killed for their heritage. The king agreed at first but then Esther managed to convince him otherwise – I think she walks into the King’s presence without permission and rather than having her executed or something he respects the fact that she was willing to stand up to him. So the Jews celebrate Esther being a superhero lol.

    Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippor always confuse me a bit. I think Rosh Hashanah is to do with forgiveness and Yom Kippor is to do with Jewish New Year.

    I’m not a bible scholar but went to Sunday school from ages 4 and been going to church ever since so if you do have any questions let me know. If I don’t know I can always text the Pastor or my friend Steve who is one of the Elders at church.

  4. P.s. You’re not an idiot. I am sure that you know more about other things – like long distance running – I run (or waddle at the moment) for the bus and that’s about it lol. Whereas you could probably give me all sorts of tips if they were needed.

  5. I am in the same boat with explaining and providing open minded perspective.

  6. Does Nikki like historical fiction? If so, she might enjoy the All of a Kind Family books by Sidney Taylor. They’re about a Jewish family living in New York in the early 20th century and do a good job of introducing kids to Jewish holidays. But about zombie Jesus, I have no clue.

  7. You are a far cry from an idiot. I know so very little about any of it, being raised without any religious affiliations or teachings. I can answer only the most very basic of questions and in fact, your paragraph there about Jesus becoming God made my jaw drop open. I did not know that – I thought they were two different people, always. In fact, I thought there was a third entity, the Holy Spirit. So now I’ve googled that and my goodness! There is so much I do not know. I should get reading up on world religions, I guess, because I’m sure more questions will be coming my way sooner rather than later.

    My kids have both come home from school saying that they were teased that day because they don’t believe in God. I’m just waiting for the time they come home crying because they were told they’re going to hell. *sigh* Parenting is hard, but from the parts of your life that you let us see through your blog, I think you’re doing an amazing job.

  8. I know you don’t necessarily need or want a church, but have you considered you local Unitarian Universalist church. I take my 3 kids to our local UU church. It is nice to have fellow UU parents, many of whom are athiests, to work through some of these things with. It is good for my kids to have other kids who are “undecided” to practice and role play with the “going to hell” thing. Our middle school kids do a whole year exploring a broad spectrum of faith including attending services at other places of worship. I tell my kids they get to decide for themselves what they believe, so other than giving them the Unitarian Universalist label for our church community, they get to decide what, if any, god or gods, they want to believe in. or locally for you, I am only sending this information because being a member of a UU community has helped me raise compassionate, caring, liberal kids in a very conservative, Christian community. . In our area, just saying we go to church relieves some of the pressure. This may not work for you, but someone else might read it and find what they are looking for.

  9. Even having been raised Christian in church my whole life, and raising my own kids in church, questions are hard. About Christianity and esp about Judaism. My 19 year old, who was much more involved in the church when he was younger (not so much anymore, but still very strong in his beliefs) has lots of questions. Sounds like you are doing a great job of answering the best you can!

  10. Okay, here goes…if you don’t already know this, you may be quite surprised that there are religious groups that do NOT consider Easter or Christmas religious holidays. How do I know this? Because I was raised in the church of Christ and that’s the way we were always taught. We are supposed to celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ EVERY DAY instead of a particular day picked by a mortal human. In the more conservative congregations, that is considered “adding to the word which has been commanded” and is forbidden in the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:2). Fortunately, a fair number of churches of Christ have pulled away from this “legalistic” view of things and are including Easter and Christmas in their services. I am a Christian but I do question a lot of the things I was taught as a child. I struggle sometimes reconciling the way I was raised with the way I believe now. I love my parents dearly but I have to lay at least some of the blame for me being so messed up in the head over “religion”. They were doing what they believe to be the right thing but boy, oh boy could I ever write a book about my experiences with the church as a child and teenager.

    I believe you are doing the right thing with your kids…don’t pressure them either way and answer their questions as honestly as you can. They should be well informed enough to make decisions for themselves and not have anyone pressure them to do something that doesn’t feel right to them.

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