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Mar 27, 2007

Godparent

We don't attend church. I'm a recovering Catholic and Käri is Lutheran. We both attended services throughout our childhoods and fulfilled the usual church commitments. I even attended seven years of Catholic school (I like to blame all those years of wearing a uniform everyday, for the reason I have no fashion and can wear the same thing day after day- but I digress). As a couple, we have sought out religion on several occasions, feeling the void of spiritual type guidance, but nothing has ever stuck. We have been invited many times to varying churches. Usually like this " You should come, I have seen other gay couples there" or "Our church is open to everybody" or "Our congregation is very progressive". And while I don't doubt these statements, my problem is not with the individual congregations, but with the doctrine associated with each church and really organized religion as a whole. I think they are all really just a form of a cult. My favorite invitation is "I know our religion doesn't condone your lifestyle, but our pastor/priest/minister is okay with it". Just makes me want to run right over and join up!

Authority has always been an issue for me and perhaps that is where my rebellion towards church stems... I just can't stomach the idea of given a list of rules to live by. Mostly because I think that if I join, I should follow those rules. And from what I see, and from my experience, there are plenty of hypocrites calling themselves "good [insert religion of choice here] who don't follow the rules. It just irks me and is not something I want to belong to.

Which brings me to- A couple of nights ago we were asked to be Godparents. Now, in my experience, this means you agree to ensure that some religious instruction happens for the child and that if the child is orphaned- it's yours. It's kind of an antiquated definition, I know. It seems that the definition has evolved into a 'your a special person in the child's life and you get to attend all the special occasions that come up' kind of thing. But, it did make me think.

This is my second opportunity to be a godparent. The first time I was asked, I was 15. (Which makes my first god child 25! Yikes!) I remember it well. It was Easter and the extended family was gathered together for brunch. At the beginning of the meal, my Aunt stood up and announced her pregnancy. This was to be her sixth child. I was thrilled! A new little cousin- there were already 15 of us on my mom's side of the family. I clapped and let out a congratulations, as I looked around the table at my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who were all experiencing a moment of stunned silence. I was confused at the reaction and while I was not a naive teenager, I was a teenager, and unaware of all the nuances of the announcement. In the following days and years I discovered that my Uncle was unemployed at the time and they were struggling to pay the bills. The marriage was also rocky and apparently my aunt's announcement was a bit of expressed spite towards my uncle, as they had been arguing all day.

I remember talking to my mom about the family reaction- getting it, but also feeling sorry for the parents and baby. It was new life. Something to be celebrated, regardless of the circumstances. I had a part time job and earned a bit of cash and wanted to buy the baby something. We shopped at the local baby shop and I purchased an outfit littered with stars and moons. The next time I saw my aunt I presented the gift, and while I don't remember her exact reaction, I do remember she was startled. Now, I assume she was surprised to be receiving a present for her sixth child. (In the same way that we were surprised to get a meal after we added number seven and eight last February). In any case, I think it was this action, coupled with being so excited for the new baby, which led my aunt to ask me to be the godmother for my cousin. We had, and really still have, a special sort of connection. We rarely see each other or talk- but when we do, I can still feel it.

But now, I am a grown up, and not just an excited teen. I have never lost that baby thing. I still am thrilled to hear of a new life. I'm not sure when I will reach a saturation point when it comes to babies. If I hear a newborn in the grocery store, I will seek it out. I'll hold any baby if they'll let me. And this baby, that we have been asked to be the godparents of, is the reason we have eight kids, instead of six. The short story is her arrival was the impetus to us deciding to continue to do foster care. So, I already feel a special connection with this one.

Mom approached us hesitantly and literally stuttered out the request. She was worried about the whole church part, reluctant to force her religion onto us. Sensitive to the fact that we will have to agree to support this baby in her religious life to an entire congregation.

In reality, I am honored and for lack of a better term, touched. And I think it was damn respectful of mom to think about us and our views on religion and church. Of course we will be godparents. And if the day were to come that we were called upon to fulfill the antiquated definition of godparent, I would do that too. Because that's what you do. That's how you follow through with promises. Sometimes it means you put your stuff to the side. And that's really what I was thinking about when I started this post...

6 comments:

Toady Joe said...

I have much to say on this post, but alas I am fuzzyheaded, being 0530 and me without my morning Pepsi (yet). So let me start by shouting: YOU HAVE NO FASHION SENSE???? YOU, WHO INTRODUCED ME TO THE COOLEST SHOES IN THE WORLD??? HA. I beg to differ, Missy. And then? We can talk about all the points at which I *totally* identified with you through this post... starting with my excitement at realizing you're a lesbian (I didn't know!), going right on through not going to church (and the reasons why), and culminating with your authority issues. Wow. Cool.

Also? Congratulations, GodMommy! More later, sometime... when I'm not on my way to work. :)

Tracey said...

That was a lovely post. Babies truly are wonderful, and I wish that every single one of them was announced to the sound of excited clapping.

Sandy. said...

I hear you on the whole organized religion thing. I have a tough time buying into it all. "God needed him more than you." Really? More than me and 8 kids? If I would have needed him more, would he still be with us? "God only takes the best." Oh thanks, that's comforting. While my thoughts about religion were once shakey at best, they subsequently really bottomed out. Didn't mean to hijack your post - it just struck a chord with me.

As for being godparents, I think that's an honor. I subscribe to the same antiquated definition and yet, I'm thrilled to hear that you're going for it. I have no doubt you'll be excellent godparents - no matter what the definition.

Sandy.

elena jane said...

babies are wonderful, children are fabulous, and you are amazing.
i think being a godparent is an honour and i choose the ones for our children with care.
i am sad that no one has ever asked me to be a godparent.
i am the wrong religion for my niece/nephews....funny old world!
it is difficult finding the right spiritual home. i haven't found mine yet either! :)

Anonymous said...

i really liked this one.

AmyChop

cole said...

Lovely. You are a bigger man than I Charlie Brown. If asked I don't think I could. I don't believe in anything at all.

Part of why I don't believe is the reasons you gave for not going to church. Hypocritical MFers. I get what you are doing and think it is very, very cool of you. I could not. Unless by godparent they meant I could teach them about all different religions while dogding the question of god because I don't think anyone knows until you die. Gosh, wouldn't it suck if you still don't find out then?sheesh.