Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent Sunday - feeling my Christian heritage

This year, because of the focus of our church Yule Play and because we are moving into a pillar on Abrahamic religions for our winter session in Religious Education, I feel much more in touch with the Christian winter holiday than I usually do. And the strange thing has been that I really like that.

I do not consider myself a Christian, not in the sense that the word has come to mean one who believes in Jesus Christ as their savior. But I, like many people, come from a family that has been, up until the last two generations, Christian for as far back as they can remember. So when I listen to Christian music or read the Bible or otherwise engage with Christianity, I feel a connection - a connection to my family roots and the faith of my grandparents.

This strange feeling of connection is what I imagine others from more conservative faiths must feel. On a recent tour of the Jewish Temple in town, I was so envious of their talk of "founding families" and "heritage". Because my parents broke with their family traditions, I didn't grow up with a feeling of "heritage". "Freedom", yes - "heritage", "tradition", and "connection", No.

Can you have a heritage that also gives you the freedom to think for yourself and be open-minded and grow based on your personal experiences? Well, yes, I think you can, and of course I think that possibility is in Unitarian Universalism, my chosen faith. I sincerely hope that my children grow up feeling that this is both heritage and possibility for them, and the whole cliche of both "roots and wings" might be true for them.

And for myself, I want to keep exploring this feeling of connection with the Christian tradition, and see where that leaves me. How do I balance that connection with my personal theology? It will be interesting to see where that leads me.

1 comment:

  1. It seems that one of the primary purposes of religion is cultural continuity, so it makes perfect sense that our heritage religion feels like "home": it's designed to. Personally, I can't separate Christianity from its historical and contemporary evils, but I find myself unable to disengage from the holidays and rituals I grew up with. Now that Sylvia is old enough to pay attention to the various elements of the Christmas holiday, it's a real dilemma for me; either I transmit the stories and traditions of this faith that I neither believe in nor esteem, or I share nothing of the traditions that I loved most as a child. I went with the former, and will approach all faith traditions as allegories and lessons in comparative culture for my kids. I'm going to get a bunch of books on creation myths after the holidays :)