Accidental Polytheist

The Birth of Venus.

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Began reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians novels to Dee this past spring. They are a bit old for her, but she adores mythology and I figure, it can’t hurt, right?

But it seems that her 8-year-old world view is still grounded enough in fairies and Santa and magic to latch onto the idea of gods, satyrs and demigods and add them to the moral base Rob and I are instilling in her.

Long ago I toyed with the idea of raising her in a creed, thinking that everyone benefits from having a theology to test the world against and use as a springboard to spiritual openness and independent thinking and analysis; the latter, I believe, is critical if one is to avoid being swept up in dubious (and sometimes blatantly self-serving) dogma.  But my experiences with Catholicism as it is practiced by more than a few and with the stench of hypocrisy that overwhelms whatever good there is about most religions, led me to discard the idea and allow Dee to question and come to her own decisions.

For the moment, she has decided to believe in gods and goddesses. Though she assures us that she knows they are make-believe, she seems to be forming her ideas of right and wrong moral behavior with a decidedly Greek Myth Meets Druidism perspective.

I am not sure if I am a complete failure as a moral guardian or a success beyond belief.

We ventured over to the arena today for the Country Craft Fair. The last Saturday in November, all the little rural communities around here hold craft fairs and there is a tree lighting and fireworks at the Firehall at the end of the day. The fair is decidedly crafty and bakey.

As we wandered, an older gentleman blocked our path and began that sort of grandpa-ish banter with Dee. Her curls, big blue-gray eyes and too serious for a child demeanor attract attention, and older folk in particular can’t help but try to engage her.

“Why aren’t you in school?” he demanded.

She backed away and frowned. Dee isn’t a child one should joke with. She has inherited my literal take and doesn’t always recognize “teasing”.

“It’s not a school day,” she finally replied.

“Well, do you go to school on Monday?”

She nodded.

“And Tuesday?”

Affirmative.

And the gent proceeded to tick off the other days of the week.

“What about Sunday?” he ended with.

“There’s no school on Sunday,” Dee said.

“You haven’t heard of Sunday school?” he asked.

“No,” she said.

“Well, Mom, ” he addressed me, “what do you have to say for yourself?”

If I’d had time to think, or even see this coming – though I should have because the community is quite religious – I might have retorted with something that could have cost me a bit in terms of acceptance in the rural society I find myself on the edges of, but I didn’t.

“Um, nothing,” I said. “No.”

It probably wasn’t what I said. I said literally “nothing”, but I’ve been told that my face is rather open and telling. And my eyes do this flat, squinty thing that served me well as a middle-school teacher and, apparently, frightens old men too.

He backed away and we passed.

Polytheism? Judgemental Christianity? Really not much to weigh, in my opinion.

2 responses to “Accidental Polytheist

  1. I distinctly remember telling my elementary school PE teacher that I was an atheist. “I don’t believe in God, but if I were going to worship anything, it would be the sun, because without the sun there wouldn’t be any life on Earth.” In retrospect the poor woman must have been having a fit: This was the Bible Belt, after all.

    And look where I wound up!

  2. i think you can claim this as a success on all fronts… that she is able to pull elements together from the things she knows to form her own view on ‘higher powers’ is brilliant. the fact that she recognizes that it has elements of make-believe? even more so…

    and jacking the fella that assumes all humans must be christian? bonus points!

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