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December 15, 2003

Baby Philosophy Crisis

Having a child on the way has put me in a crisis of self-examination and reflection about what I believe and, consequently, what I want to teach our child about the world and the mind.

I long ago realized that my point of view is the result not of the positive acceptance of any one religion or philosopher, but rather from a paring down and stripping away of all I see as false or superficial. I think it takes more self-integrity and honesty to say, "I don't know" to many of life's questions than to accept a myth or creed as a mental salve. But, after shedding the fetters that religion and popular culture impose, I have to admit that at times I feel very nihilistic and cynical, and that's not a pleasant perspective, I think, to teach a child.

What, then, to teach Molly? I don't want her to be some atheistic freak that other kids avoid, but I also don't want her to end up suckered into some evangelical cult seeking her spiritual side that I failed to provide. I don't want her to be soulless super-analytical scientist or reject-everything anarchist, but without a positive philosophy of life, what can I do?

I'm happy, but only in the context of rejection of most of my society's beliefs. I'm happy, but only because, as an adult, I appreciate the miracle of life, consciousness, my body, and the universe. I'm happy, but only because the option--to face up to my mortality and the futility of existence--is too unpleasant and self-defeating to accept openly. I'm happy, but only because I survived a childhood questioning everything about my culture.

So, my crisis: find a positive way of presenting my worldview. I, of course, want a child who thinks like I do. But I think the way I do not because of what I was taught in my youth, but rather in spite of what I was taught. Get it?

Posted by tat at December 15, 2003 10:46 AM

Oh, yea--I "Get It?" And I can see why you feel you have a 'crisis' on your hands!! And it isn't about the upbringing YOU had. I can honestly say, that with the 3:00 am feedings, the diapers and the crying, the teething, the dating, and the driving, you will forget all about your "crisis of self-examination"--you'll be lucky to remember your name, much less what philosopher or preacher you were going to critique with the baby!! (or young daughter or teenager, etc.) On the other hand, your own life is the perfect example of why you don't have to have a "crisis" about her upbringing! Your mother WAS Mother Teresa, for goodness sake!! Truly a Saint!! Second only to the actual Mother Teresa. But you didn't turn out to be the Pope--by any stretch of the imagination!! (And I mean that with the utmost respect) You were raised with conservative, Christian faith, yet you have all but rejected Christ. Bryan, religion was not imposed--you took it faithfully and happily--you were THE happiest individual many of us knew!! And you credited it all to your faith!! Cynicism and nihilistic thinking had no place in your life--you laughed freely and often and didn't allow bitterness, negativity, jealousy and other angry emotions control you or your thought process. And, you didn't let others live out those emotions, either!! I refuse to believe this was a result of naivity. Quite the contrary.

Yes, you stuggled with tough situations--but the KNOWLEDGE of the TRUTH that you still know today, always sufficed. You spoke IT for yourself and you shared IT with others.

You are right to reject RELIGION!! At the risk of sounding cliche', "It's not about Religion it's about a Relationship".
You are to be PRAISED for 'paring down and stripping away all that you see as false or superficial' !!! It DOES take more honesty to say "I don't know" to many of life's questions. You don't have all the answers, but God does! But to many of life's questions, YOU KNOW THE ANSWER!! And it is BECAUSE you have NOT been a 'mental slave' or accepted mythological conclusions, that you know the TRUTH. You have been given spiritual and physical proof to your inquiries that allow you to form peaceful conclusions and keep you from wandering aimlessly in a sea of self-doubt, anguish, and philosophical folly.
Am I to believe that the Bryan M. Davis that I knew is no longer the person he was?? Yes. That is apparent. Even glaring!! I see that in his picture. I see that in his writing. I see that in his decision to start a family. We all change, somehow, some way, but the Truth of God's love and acceptance of Bryan M. Davis does not change. It never will--THAT - is what you should teach Molly!! If you will turn her over to Him Who gave her to you and Denise, you will not continue to experience the anguish you describe in this piece and you can get about the business of raising a child that other children are drawn to, not avoided by!! You will have provided her with the truth and she won't be "suckered into some evangelical cult". While she may be a super-analytical scientist , she will be one who knows Who her Creator is and can prove it with the most scientific of methods and evidence!! She won't reject everything, and she won't accept everything you say, either. She will think for herself--because God will give her the brain to do so!!!!! How arrogant, and again, I say this with all due respect, to think that you alone will raise her to be EXACTLY and EXCLUSIVELY what you or Denise want her to be. Are YOU what R.E and Theresa want YOU to be????

Posted by: Cassaundra Smith at December 19, 2003 07:27 AM

how happy I am that I am NOT the same person I was fifteen, or twenty years ago. how much I have learned since then. and, how much I realize I don't know. the important thing, to me, is to keep asking questions, keep searching for truth. notice I didn't say "The Truth". on "The Truth", I think Douglas Adams said the answer was 42.

is religion (little r) necessarily bad. no. it's an attempt to explain things we don't know or take for granted. we do the same thing with eastern religion, philosophy, and even science.

I think the most important thing is that you are asking questions. don't stop questioning your world.

also remember that Molly isn't going to find these things out all at once, like dumping a program into her brain. it will start off slow, like realizing when she screams that it is she who is making the sound. and then graduate to taking her first few steps, then looking confused when she realizes that she is walking and then falling down. before you know it, she will be going on her first date.

the point is that you don' t know all the answers, your not going to know all the answers, and you can't plan for everything. don't be so consumed with finding answers that you miss her growing up. I know I'm going to spell this wrong, but carpe diem. every day is important

but then again... what do I know...


Posted by: hareball at December 22, 2003 09:54 PM


I look forward to the journey Bryan and I will have with Molly. I am confident in a few things.
1. We are both the strongest and most secure in who we are at this time in our lives than we have ever been.
2. We have a wonderful relationship with strong family & friends to bring a new life into.
3. As long as we are true to ourselves and who we are we can't go wrong.

Yes, we will make mistakes but everyday I look around me and I see life doing the best that it can. Sometimes the outcome is better than others but I am confident that the people that we will surround Molly with will help us in raising a wonderful, creative, thinking human being that will make the world a better place in her own way. My hope is that we can provide a strong ground work for Molly to make her own decisions on. We will give her the information so that one day, when she is ready, she will make up her own mind for herself. What a wonderful gift to us that will be.

Posted by: Denise at December 23, 2003 07:48 AM

Well, Denise, I'm sure that if I ever go down the baby road, I might be having the same thoughts, but maybe not. If there's one thing I've learned in my 34 years, it's to sit back and enjoy the ride! I've mellowed so much in the last few years, and like Craig said, I'm glad I've evolved as a person over the years!

Yes it's good to question everything - I don't think any of us will ever stop doing that and I don't want us to.... to stop questioning means to stop learning and to stop learning means to stop living. So many people never truly live and I personally am glad that we are surrounded by friends and family who constantly question things.

We all know my thoughts on religion though that has mellowed throughout the years also. (I study a lot of Buddhism now) I think that the current crisis (oops, crisES) in the joke-of-a-religion catholic church is a perfect example. So many people have stopped asking questions and have stopped searching for the truth in their own lives - they just take what someone else feeds them and they live their lives by it. That is truly the blind leading and following the blind. Religion is good for some people, but because it is controlled by man, it is inherently flawed, and I wish more people realized that. It will always be society's way of controlling the masses. Perhaps less children would be raped by priests if more people opened their eyes.

But today, religion has nothing to do with God. I think current religions are so godless, it's sad. I would never raise my child with religion, but I hope I raise him/her with a strong sense of a creator. I don't think that going to church teaches them that; I think that giving them more love than is imaginable, traveling with them to see the world and experience the thrills of natural wonders, and teaching them about life on a daily basis while spending every second of free time with them, does just that.

Well I'm getting off on a tangent. (hazards of writing at 6am!) I think that once you have a baby, your whole life becomes "about" that baby. The ability to remember who you were without Molly will dissipate. There will be no time to worry about yourself anymore, but only time to concentrate on giving Molly the foundation to become the strong, assertive, free-thinking woman that you want her to be. The tough part will be when she does everything opposite to what you want her to do! (I'm watching my sister deal with that now!) But the important parts are that she is able to think for herself and more importantly, be able to take care of herself.

You and Bryan will be great role models. We all know that learning begins at home, and with that in mind, Molly will have all the right tools for building a strong foundation. Even Bryan's dim outlook on life won't touch her; the day-to-day routine will be filled with love and laughter, and to quote someone I can't recall, "If you stew them with tons of love, they'll turn out just perfect".

I truly believe in my heart that all it takes is tons of love. And laughter. You can't forget the laughter, truly the medicine for the soul. :)

Posted by: Deb Taranik at December 23, 2003 08:39 AM

Also, do you tell your kids about santa claus and the easter bunny? Do you risk having the child that tells all their classmates that there is no santa claus, just so you're not lying to them? I think that in all the things that you want to teach your kids, in all the things that you want them to know that is one thing that stands out above the rest. Your children have to know that they can come to talk to you about anything, whether it be sex or drugs or whatever. You have to cultivate an atmosphere where they feel comfortable coming to you with they problems, questions, and ideas. If they don't trust you, then you have nothing!!!!! That's all I got to say about that. We're about to try to have a baby, but I haven't progressed from they "how am I going to pay for it" dilemma yet... I'll hit the other ones when Chris is finally pregnant.

Posted by: ToddDrevers at January 1, 2004 12:40 AM

I enjoy reading an ancient middle eastern text that discusses this "futility of existence" you describe. You should check it out. It's called Ecclesiastes and can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Another ancient writing in the Old Testament addresses the fact that we cannot and will not (in this lifetime fully understand the ways and means of God.) It's called the book of Job.
It's a tough read and difficult to understand and accept.

A great philosohper and theologen once said:"We see through a glass darkly..." In other words it's not at all clear. What was that dude's name? Oh yeah, Paul.

Sounds like your starting to figure out the questions you were given the answers to as a child! Cool!
Best wishes on your journey.

Posted by: Trickhorn at January 11, 2004 02:04 AM