Thursday, November 19, 2009

Faith & Family - November 2009 Mtg Notes

November’s CityMamas meeting included a good group of moms to discuss the process/challenges to finding/practicing religious/spiritual faith as a family. Each mom shared a bit about their own experience and thoughts on whether/how/where to go to church. It was really interesting to hear each other’s stories, and there were a lot of commonalities. Here are some of the top mentions:

-Want to provide guidance for life’s big questions such as death (of family member, of pet), create a community
-Left a family church as a teen/young adult, haven’t attended regularly as an adult
-Difference in religious background from spouse/other parent
-Logistics of where to find information/resources and research church – too time consuming
-Cherish weekend family time, don’t want to rush out the door on Sunday too (or put kids’ in childcare again)
-Want to have control over what kids are learning, and yet not indoctrinate – help them find their own opinion

Darcy invited the Rector from her church, Grace Memorial Episcopal Church to join in the conversation. Father Stephen was more eloquent, but here are some highlights:

-We should stop feeling guilty about where we are on our religious/spiritual journey. It’s the experience and journey that matters.
-Focus on creating meaningful family traditions – meal prayer/thanks, community giving/volunteering, special holiday traditions
-Find your own family path, connect with other families (his family made up the “5 Families” with 5 annual traditions alternating at each home, they created traditions that lasted throughout their children’s upbringing and beyond)
-People today want three main things: feel authentic, feel connected to community, feel creative/expressive
-Faith community offers a structure for the safe exploring of life's questions, to become self-reliant in living life and making choices
-Faith community can answer how are our values sustained beyond the family? Values that are not consumer/marketing culture
-How to decide where to go to practice faith? See the door (of the church/religious institution) as a series of practices or rituals, e.g. prayer, not as a "checklist of beliefs"
-Check out web sites for info on churches – you can typically check schedules, which give you a good idea about what they offer. Check bulletins - do they offer interest groups that reflect an openness? Do they offer interest groups that capture your own values and interests?
-Favorite Quote “The joy of God is a person fully alive.” Children exemplify this.

Children’s Books:

What Is God? by Etan Boritzer

What is God? is an eloquent introduction to the ideas behind God and religion, and brings forward complex ideas in a way children will understand. It is written with a simple clarity and beautifully illustrated with just the right blend of seriousness and humor. What is God? compares different religions — Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism — and their holy books, looks at misunderstandings and arguments among people of different religions, and talks about praying as well as feeling connected to everything in the world. If you want to talk about spirituality with a child, or introduce them to philosophy or religion, or just help them to begin to center themselves and their feelings about the world, this book is a great beginning.
God’s Dream, by Desmond Tutu

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death

Peaceful Piggy Meditation ~ Kerry Lee Maclean

Web sites & Resources:

Grace Memorial Episcopal Church: Located in inner NE, includes family service at 9 the first Sunday of the month, and well known for their summer Grace Art Camp for children.

Please add information about other places of worship on the comments.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Novemeber Mtg - Faith and Family

Apologies about the last minute notice, but I hope since this is our usual meeting time that you will be able to attend.

We chose this topic after a side discussion that Courtney, Lora and I had about the process/challenge of deciding whether/how to choose a faith as a family, and how, even if you don't "practice," you can deal with inevitable questions that kids will pose, like when a family member dies. You probably don't want to be put on the spot by your child, especially if you and your partner don't agree on the answers. If you have traditions, you may want to find ways that work for your family to enjoy them.

This will be an exploratory discussion, and I've invited Rev. Stephen Schneider (Father Stephen) to help facilitate the discussion. His original background is actually in city planning and equity issues, and he spent a decade at the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, which promotes unity among churches/religions. I think you'll find him very friendly and accessible, like he says, there are no right answers to this question.

This meeting will be held at the Portland Building Room B, second floor

We hope you'll join us...I'll bring some leftover Halloween candy to pawn off :-)