Monday, December 13, 2010

'Do as I Do...'

DairyStateMom directs me to this post by Andrew Sullivan, which in turn links to a Weekly Standard article.

The article itself is a review of a book aimed at Christian parents (and, by context, I'd infer mostly Evangelical parents more than Mainline ones). I'll stipulate that the book's author might define the "life-changing, culture-challenging demands of the gospel" a bit differently than I would, and instead just highlight the same quote that Sullivan does:

Parents who show, by their words or their actions, that the tenets and practices of their faith are vague, unimportant, or only tenuously related to daily life, produce teenagers whose faith is vague, marginal, and unlikely to shape their actions and plans in any significant way ...

Mormons, by contrast, challenge their teenagers and require a lot of time, study, and leadership from them. Mormon parents rise at dawn to go over their church’s history and doctrine with their children. More than half of the Mormon youth in the study had given a presentation in church in the past six months. They frequently shared public testimony and felt that they were given some degree of decision-making power within their community. They shape their plans for the immediate future around strong cultural pressures toward mission trips and marriage. Whatever one thinks of the actual beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it seems obvious that both adult Mormons and the teens who follow them really, really believe.

One thing that this quote skates over is the extent to which traditional Mormon beliefs (and those of certain other high-loyalty religions) are rooted at least partly in authoritarianism -- or at least, that's my perception.

So, a question for us UUs and Progressive Christians, and those of any other faith who seek to decouple our belief system from authoritarianism:

Are there lessons that we, too, can learn from this, that we can implement in a non-authoritarian way?

Some friends yesterday explained in a talk at my church why they (he raised Catholic, she raised as a secular Jew) opted for a UU church for their children (and themselves) instead of choosing a non-religious upbringing in which they would simply learn about religion on their own and make their own choices. He said, You can't really understand religion unless you grow up in a religion of some kind. And having that structure gives you something to question and even rebel against, which is healthy.

I liked that a lot. And I think there's a connection here...

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