Yvette Warren is a grandmother and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. Her blog, which explores interfaith family values can be found at: One Family, Many Faiths
When I was six years old, and preparing to receive “The Body and Blood” of Jesus for the first time in my First Holy Communion, I was told that my sins had killed Jesus. I was also told that I had to confess my sins and do penance before I was good enough to receive this special gift.
I knelt down, looking at the statue of “Little Baby Jesus” in his mother’s loving arms, and the crucifix over the alter, portraying The Blessed Virgin Mary’s broken baby as a man. The man greatly resembled my poor daddy who I knew was often so sad that he cried. My little girl heart broke because I knew there was nothing I could do to save either one of them; they were already dead. And my mama wouldn’t let me make my daddy laugh anymore. Just like my great-grandma and the baby my parents had, that died before I was born. This is when I believe I went from religion to The Spirit, but had to continue the religious rituals for self-preservation.
For twelve years, I was immersed in Roman Catholic theology, religious dogma, rituals, and tradition. At the age of eighteen, I escaped my parents and Roman Catholicism by marrying a Lutheran. My mother, like a feral cat, had birthed nine live offspring, none of whom she was able to take proper care. I was married in the Roman Catholic Church and baptized my first child according to my parents beliefs. (Ironically, the priest who performed that marriage ceremony and baptized our daughter was a priest who had molested me and several other members of my family. But he and his mother were friends of the family, so this was a great honor.)
I bounced with my children from religion to religion (all of them “Christian”), but never could get comfortable with the patriarchy thing. My children asked me repeatedly, throughout their lives whether I believed in “God”. I would always say the same thing, “Yes, but I don’t believe what people say about “God”.
My poor daughter was so religion deprived that she didn’t know who Judas was when she was in the sixth grade. She wasn’t, however, Spirit deprived, as one of my best friends, a devout Roman Catholic and former nun, married to a former priest, had taught her that prayer was sitting under a tree “listening to God”.
When my daughter entered college, she took a comparative religion course. While still in this course, she declared that she thought I was a Buddhist. This meant nothing to me, but that was okay.
Shortly after this, my daughter decided that she wanted to read the whole Bible for herself. Early in the first chapter (Genesis), she announced that she thought everyone had gotten the story of Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden wrong. Her interpretation was that “God’, like a good parent, told them they couldn’t act that way in “His” house, and that “He” still waits with open arms at the gate, waiting for us to return.
Now that’s a “God” I may believe in, but it sounds more like a mother or grandmother, to me.